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YouTube as a Learning Tool?

It all started two weeks ago with a library book about the Titanic.  Since then, my son has been on a fact-finding mission to learn everything he can about the Titanic, not to be mistaken with the Carpathia or the Californian which were other ships involved in the story of this disaster.  The questions are endless, what are smoke stacks for? Where's the engine?  What are the rudders on a ship? What about the propellers?  How did the ship sink?  Most often, I do my best to explain things using my limited knowledge, but it still does not satiate the mind of my curious 5 year old.  I have come to accept and realize that the best thing to do is to feed his curiosity by encouraging further discovery and exploration into whatever subject matter that seems to pique his interest.  For the Titanic, I used a most unlikely resource (for me) YouTube to help further his understanding to better explain the things I could not.  Who knew that Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On is helping to tell a 5 year old the story of the Titanic? 

I'm curious, do you allow your kids to watch YouTube (of course with parental supervision)?  Aside from the Titanic, we've watch the space shuttle launch, the eruptions of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Pinatubo to name a few.  Do you use other electronic media?  What about encyclopedias?  With the Wikipedia and the vast "resources" on the Web, do you feel there is still a place for doing research using books?


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One of my son's (3.5) favoritest things to do is watch "videos" on my computer. I go to google and search for "steam engine" or "airplanes" or some other vehicle he is obsessed with and he loves watching the videos. Even if it's just a (to me) boring home video of a train going by, he is fascinated. He also is a fan of the Mt. St. Helens photos/videos out there. I always do it with supervision, and try not to do it too often because we only have one computer!

All. the. time.

Same as beth, but with ponies, ducks and chickens.

Same as above with the photos and videos on the Oregon Zoo web site:


I have also used the Google image search when my preschooler has expressed interest in things we don't have many photos of here at home (volcanoes, Saturn's rings, insects, etc.)

Yay for Youtube! My kid loves it.

Thank you for the idea of weatching the space shuttle and other cool images! As a no TV family this is a great way to see things that really are far better in motion (wild animals, flying machines) I also came across Google Earth the other day and what a cool way to see space - without treking to the planetarium st OMSI (which is a fun, diff experience).

My three-year-old daughter loves to watch music videos on the laptop. Candylion by Gruff Rhys and Nature Anthem by Grandaddy are her current favorites and I would highly recommend them as well! Also, listening to animal sounds has been fun. I think using the internet selectively is so much better than tv or even a dvd.

We watch YouTube occassionally with my 4-year-old son. He has a couple marching band videos he enjoys, and there is lots of good kids stuff there - Sesame Street, Muppets, and School House Rock!

We're another YouTube family. My son is addicted to the home videos of steam engines on it. Since it's literally footage of a steam engine pulling into view and around a corner past the camera, I figure it's not too much different from watching a steam engine from a window. Other than the fact some of it is accompanied by goofy music. Fire engines are also popular.

Yup. My 1.5 year old has seen about 10 minutes of TV, ever. But she's watched Sesame Street clips and videos of puppies on YouTube several days a week for several months now. It's so much easier to edit what they'll see, and to search by topic of interest!

We are also fond of YouTube for spur of the moment videos and supplemental research. But I also work in a library and hope that kids will always use books in research projects. Sometimes it is hard to find information for a patron interested in a very specific topic. But overall, the library has SO MANY resources (including electronic media for MP3 players and such) and just the process of finding information gives kids a personal relationship with books that will last a lifetime. Also, many authors have an incredible commitment to their subject matter that online writers may or may not have. So, while YouTube and other online resources are great - they must complement and not replace books.

Watch out for sadisitic posters on YouTube. Once I was watching a video of Elmo's song with my 2 year old and out of nowhere Elmo turned into a really scary bloody face with screams for sound effects.

That's a HORRIBLE story about Elmo!!! Thanks for the heads up. We youtube for the exact same thing - trains, rockets, etc. Speaking of the computer, if you have a Mac, there is a great game based on Dr. Suess' ABCs. It's incredible. My 2 1/2 year old loves it and so do I! I work from home so it's a great way for him to join me in my office after his nap - he gets to play ABC while I wrap up for the day! He has completely mastered using a mouse.

We love researching via the internet and use: YouTube for videos, Flickr for photos, and Wikipedia for general info. It is just so accessible and easy to find out more with just a few clicks. Earlier this morning, we looked up "tuk-tuk" when my daughter's teacher referenced it in an email he sent over spring break about his time in India.

I also agree with an above comment about using the internet as a supplement to books. We use books regularly to learn more. We also went through a Titanic phase and brought home a dozen books about the ship, ships in general, the stories of people on the ship. We completed that whole research project with family movie night watching "Titanic, the movie" as a family one Friday night. I know, not the most scientific flicks, but still fun nonetheless.

oh yes.. our 4-year-old loves youtube.He loves watching animals, disney songs in different languages, and to see how it looks like in different countries etc. It makes kids more aware of the world.. and more open minded

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