Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Exploring Health and Character Education with MarshMedia

One of the topics we are required to teach in Pennsylvania is Health. When the opportunity arose to review MarshMedia, a company that has been creating health education products for schools since 1969, I decided to give it a try. MarshMedia is hoping to reach out to the homeschool community and they have created a special plan just for homeschoolers. This Homeschool Special is specially priced for homeschool families. 

MarshMedia provides a variety of different health related videos that are available for streaming. You will find videos in the following categories:
  • health
  • hygiene
  • puberty
  • nutrition
  • safety
  • AIDS/HIV/Immune System
  • bullying
  • character education
  • social skills
With this homeschool offer, we have access to 59 of MarshMedia's streamable videos. 

It has been quite simple to use the MarshMedia site. When you go to the site, there are tabs along the top of the screen for each of the categories. Click on the category you would like to explore. This will bring up a selection of products in that category. There are additional products, such as posters available, but those are more geared toward the schools. 

For example, when I click on the Hygiene tab, I come to a screen with thumbnail images of the available videos:

When you click on the image, or the title, you will be able to read more details about the video, such as what it is about, length of the video, age it is appropriate for, and whether it is able to be streamed. If it states, "This program is also available to stream online" and has a red "Streaming Options" button, you are good to go. 

After I click on "Streaming Options," I find myself on a screen where I need to enter the discount code I was given as a Homeschool Review Crew member so I can access the video. In essence, while streaming the video, we are renting it for 24 hours. A video can be watched as many times as desired within that time frame, and it can be rented again during the membership period. So, you really have unlimited access to these 59 videos.

When my husband and I decided we would give MarshMedia a try, we agreed that I would preview the videos prior to allowing the children to watch them. I have done this with some of the health related videos, but we have found that the character education selections are fine for me to have them watch right along with me the first time. We tend to watch these while finishing up our lunch. 

There are 22 character education videos, and about half of them are available for streaming. 

One thing I have found with the character stories is, you have to actually click on the Streaming Options button and click through to the video to be able to read a description of the story. If there is no streaming option, the only way you can see a description of it, is to go under the "Guidance" tab to and click on the Character Education Books link. You will be able to find descriptions of the story under each book.

We started out by watching a cute video about a bear who learned it was important to eat healthy and get exercise. His name is Stanley, and the video is titled, "Stanley's This is the Life!." These videos are not fully animated. According to the site, they use "sophisticated iconographic technology" to bring the stories to life. Movement and visual effects, along with narration, music, and character dialogue, help to bring the watercolor art to life to tell the story. If you would like to see an example of this, you can watch the trailer to this video on the site. You will find it at the bottom of the page.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the video. 

Stanley thought he was living it up when he wandered into the camper unnoticed, and later found his way to a snack shop of a drive in. But he ended up so unhealthy, he could barely outrun the people who started to chase him. He ended up discovering that it is much better to eat healthy and be active. 

A few of the other character videos that the children have enjoyed are: Bailey's Birthday, Bea's Own Good, and Emily Breaks Free. 

Okay, I started this review by mentioning that we needed to teach health in our homeschool. Though we have enjoyed these character education videos, these are not the only things we have watched. In the Hygiene category there are several videos that focus on taking care of different parts of our bodies. We have watched all of these videos, learning how to take care of our teeth, ears, eyes, and skin/hair/nails. 

These are all a part of the series that stars Annie Funelli and the Funsters, and are appropriate for children in grades K-3, though Tabitha is enjoying them as well, and she is in 4th grade. 

In these videos, Annie and three young friends called Funsters discuss the different parts of the body that are being focused on in each video. I like that the characters call the viewers "Funsters" as well. They are taught such things as what the ear and eye look like, baby and permanent teeth, problems that can arise due to illness, accidents, or neglect. Annie teaches the Funsters the proper way to care for these body parts. The characters even get to go to the dentist (who funnily enough looks quite similar to Annie, as does the receptionist and dental hygienist) in "Take Care of Your Teeth."

I have also been looking into the puberty videos. These are definitely ones I wanted to make sure to preview first. I found that Meet the New You! For Girls will be quite appropriate for Tabitha and Amelia. It is recommended for girls in grades 3-5. 

The information is just right for this age group, explaining the onset of puberty and changes that are going to happen. It talks about menstruation very simply and how to keep clean. Personally, my mom never really talked to me about such things, and I struggled with how to talk to the girls about this. So the video has come at a perfect time. The only reason I haven't had the girls watch it yet, was because I thought it would be more comfortable for them if daddy took the younger children to the park while they watched it. I am very pleased that this video didn't go into reproduction at all. 

Now, the children do want to watch a video called A Baby is Born, which does talk about baby development, starting with sperm meeting the egg. I wasn't sure if I was ready for that talk yet. You know, how the sperm got in the vagina to begin with. I am still debating this, but have decided they really need to watch the puberty video first. 

I have to say, I am glad I am homeschooling my children and have the opportunity to preview these videos before I decide if I think my children are ready for the information. 

I know I am going to stick with the videos that are recommended for my children's age group. I watched one that is recommended for grades 5-8, which is about blood and germs, thinking, what will this teach that is beyond my children's age-appropriateness. Well it talks about diseases being spread through blood, such as HIV and Hepatitis C. This video discusses drugs, needles, and brings up sex, though it doesn't go into details, just warns not to have sex. So, yeah, definitely too old for my children. Personally, I wouldn't want my children watching it until the higher grades in the range.

I have been quite impressed with the videos we have watched so far. I admit, I was a bit hesitant at first, as the videos come from a secular standpoint, but I haven't found anything that would be offensive or inappropriate as a Christian. 

The children really seem to enjoy the character education stories.They each have a favorite story. Hannah loves the one about Stanley, and Harold's favorite was Emily Breaks Free. Amelia and Tabitha both say their favorite was Bea's Own Good. They do love honey bees, so that is understandable. They also enjoy the videos about Annie Funelli. Though I admit, we are not quite so protective as Annie is, no mouth guards or sunscreen in winter here. But I do like the way she teaches about the different body parts, showing diagrams, and teaching how to care for them. So far the videos appear to be age appropriate. We will be watching some more videos during the summer. 

Don't forget, if you wish to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce the MarshMedia curriculum to your homeschoolers, click on the link below for more information:

You can find MarshMedia on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube.

And if you want to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about MarshMedia just click on the banner below:

MarshMedia Reviews
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