If you are someone who worries about letting your kids spend too much time glued to a screen, but also cherishes the rare moments of freedom that said screen time affords you, then you might be someone who will appreciate GoNoodle!
GoNoodle is a fun smartphone app which aims to absorb your kids in movement based activities, so you can get on with the laundry without feeling guilty that they are sitting on the couch all afternoon.
It has been a popular online classroom resource for many years now, and teachers love how it invigorates their students, promotes togetherness and fun, and aids concentration. But does the idea translate into app form? Or are the benefits of GoNoodle lost when tried at home?
In this review we will look at the app's educational value, practicality, design, ease of use and much, much more, so you can decide whether or not it gets the go-ahead in your house.
GoNoodle is essentially a curated collection of videos that encourage children to follow simple dance steps and get physical. It is aimed at kids from 5 to 12 years of age and has over 300 videos and songs in its library.
Many of the videos are original GoNoodle content, however there are also third party videos that have been specifically chosen to add to the library. Most of the videos are in English but there are quite a few Spanish-language videos available too.
GoNoodle has a range of characters that lead the videos and specialise in different styles of movement. McPufferson is the face of GoNoodle, and is an animated purple ball of fun with very long arms and legs.
The app is free to download and has no ads or in-app purchases, which is a huge advantage as it doesn’t leave kids feeling like they are missing out on videos and characters that can’t be unlocked without a credit card.
It also means that your child isn’t constantly being exposed to advertisements and having their activities interrupted by consumerist pop-ups.
Ease of Use
Many youngsters will already be familiar with the GoNoodle characters and videos from dancing along at kindergarten and school, however selecting videos of their own is a different matter.
Luckily, the app is incredibly easy to navigate and is designed to be accessible to even the youngest users. The main interface is clear and even five year olds will be able to browse and select videos easily.
Some users have noted that there is no way of controlling the video once it is casting, since the pause, play and back options disappear. This does mean that you have to watch to the very end of a video even if you don’t like what you have chosen, but the videos are so short that it isn’t a major issue.
The short length of the videos has an additional benefit in that you’ll avoid the usual tears and upset caused when shows have to be paused mid-episode.
Any parent will know how grumpy little kids can get when you tell them it’s dinner time right in the middle of their favorite show, but the brief length of GoNoodle videos means you will be able to wait till whatever they are watching finishes before switching the off button.
Range of Content
As aforementioned, there are over 300 videos in the GoNoodle app library, so there is plenty for your child to choose from. What is more, the GoNoodle team adds new videos every week in order to keep refreshing the content.
This way there are always new options available and the app doesn’t stagnate. However, popular videos remain on the app which is great because kids love repetition and will want to play certain songs over and over in order to master the moves and remember the words.
The style of the videos ranges from mindful yoga to rap and boogie, so there is something for every mood. The yoga videos are excellent if you want your child to wind down and relax before bed, or to help calm them down if they are feeling anxious and fidgety.
The rap and boogie videos are great for energising your kids if they are stuck indoors on a rainy day, and can also help to lift their mood if they are feeling grumpy or frustrated. It really is amazing what a bit of song and dance can do to a child’s energy levels and behavior.
The characters who appear on GoNoodle videos can vary, as some videos are externally sourced, however McPufferson is always in charge and he particularly appeals to the younger users.
Blazer Fresh are a fun trio with lots of swag and style. They tend to appeal to the slightly older kids and have some really funny, daft and educational raps that are incredibly catchy. Other styles of video include: call and response songs, campfire sing along songs, pop songs and throw backs.
Your child will probably find what style they like best and stick to those videos in particular, but the range of content allows you to use the app in multiple scenarios and also means that your child won’t get bored.
Quality of Content
GoNoodle was designed with the help of child development specialists, education experts, and researchers, so the quality of the content is all very safe and well curated. External videos are thoroughly vetted and only make the cut if they meet the app’s high quality control criteria.
The songs and dance routines may seem basic and repetitive to adult observers, but kids love them and will enjoy singing the songs and practicing the moves long after the app has been switched off.
Professional athletes and choreographers help to create the movement content so that it is easy enough for kids to follow whilst also being cool, innovative, physically safe and energising. On Noodle-TV they take popular songs from the charts and release fun movement routine videos that slightly older children absolutely love.
The educational value of the GoNoodle app is more subtle than in other childrens’ apps, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.
The reason GoNoodle has proved so popular in classrooms is that the short bursts of physical activity really help to stimulate learning and increase concentration when children get back to their desks. The same can be said for the app.
If your child is struggling with homework or not focusing in conversations around the dinner table, a quick GoNoodle video can really help reset their energy levels and make them more responsive to learning and socializing.
There are also more overt educational elements to some of the videos, for example raps about counting and the alphabet help with numeracy and reading. Plus, the catchy songs help kids to retain information at an amazing rate.
Songs about food, nature, shopping, animals and much, much more, will all be helping your child to develop and understand more about the world around them without them needing to have their nose in a book.
Social and behavioural development
Another benefit of physical exercise is that it promotes mental wellness and releases endorphins. A bit of a boogie to some jolly music can do wonders to a child’s mood and can really help them to release pent up energy or frustration in a positive way.
The app promotes togetherness through suggested family dance-offs and sibling yoga sessions, as well as through the positive and empowering nature of the content.
The videos are full of positive affirmations and healthy moral lessons, without ever becoming preachy or boring. Plus, when your child learns a dance they can bond with others at school who have also learnt the same routine.
The GoNoddle app can help to keep your child fit and flexible too, because the dance routines are especially designed to include stretches and exercises that youngsters will enjoy.
It can be used as a useful bargaining chip if you need your child to do something that they don’t feel like doing, as it makes a great treat or reward if not used too often. This app might even help to tire the little nippers out before bed!
To sum up, GoNoodle is a brilliant app that will keep your kids healthy and happy in a way that won't leave you feeling guilty about their screen time. It is full of fun, high quality videos in loads of different styles, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The videos all promote healthy lifestyles, good moral values and togetherness, as well as having lots of educational benefits. This app is easy to use, even for youngsters, and as the videos are short it won’t suck your child into a screen time wormhole!
What is more, it doesn’t need wi-fi to work, so if you are stuck in traffic or in a long queue at the mall and you feel your kid getting fidgety, you can fire up GoNoodle and have them happily dancing in no time, no matter how far you are from an internet connection. For physical, mental, social and educational value this app is a winner - and it’s pretty fun too!