I was recently asked if I would like to review the website Catholic Brain. Intrigued by the name, and even more intrigued by the site itself, I readily agreed. I was given a user name and password and was encouraged to dig around as much as I wanted or needed. No one needed to tell me twice!
Off I went to explore and evaluate the site. As a homeschooling mother and as a catechist, I am always looking for new ways to present our beautiful Catholic faith to my children and to my students. Today’s kids love vibrant and engaging sites. There are so many websites out there clamoring for their attention that to stand out you have to really have something special. Kids want to be entertained and at the same time adults want their children (or students) to learn. Often it’s difficult to combine the two and end up with a really winning website. When you put in the extra requirement of being Catholic and teaching the faith, well, it’s even more difficult to develop a site that can step up to the challenge.
The creators of Catholic Brain have really done a great job of making this magic happen.
When you first click on the page you see that Catholic Brain’s motto is “Learn it. Know it. Live it.” The site says it hopes to transform the way we are able to teach and learn the faith. It’s easy to see that their platform provides the tools necessary to achieve this goal.
The site is very bright and engaging. It is easy to maneuver and easy to use. On the front page you can find the Mass Readings for the day, a Saint of the day, Quiz of the day, and a Summer Catechism. I loved that these are all included before you even get to the lessons, videos, music, and quizzes!
Everything offered on the site has its own button at the top of the page so that you can easily access any part of the site at any time. I think this is a great asset as sometimes kids get bored and want to move on to something else. With these easy access buttons always at the top there is no having to backpedal through tons of pages simply to get back to the beginning.
The tabs at the top consist of links to the Bible where you can find each and every book, chapter, and verse laid out in a no-fuss manner. You simply scroll to fin the book and the chapter you want, click on it and you are there knee-deep in God’s Word.
There is as Books tab that allows you to access curriculum (coming soon), parables, saint stories, and the bible. Each book can be flipped through on your own and read or you can allow the site to read it to you. I found this to be really valuable for my non-readers. Additionally, the follow along with the site is a great way to reinforce beginning readers’ skills.
The site uses the Baltimore Catechism as their basis for catechesis. On the Catechism tab you will find videos broken down by three parts- The Creed, The Commandments, and Sacraments and Prayer. There are 34 videos in this section each highlighting a teaching found in the Catechism.
There is a tab for a Dictionary that includes a plethora of Catholic terminology. The definitions are easy to understand.
The Games tab gives you access to five different kinds of games- a name match, memory match, bible order, fill in the blanks, and a word search. I found that most of these games were best for younger kids but a few would challenge kids maybe up to early middle school. Regardless, my kids had fun on them and I thought they were a great asset to the site. I have hopes that perhaps they will include games for a slightly older crowd in the future.
The Lessons tab was one of my favorites. Here as you clicked on the tab you are taken 31 different categories to choose from. Each category then includes several lessons. The categories range from the Bible, the 10 Commandments, the Four Marks of the Church and other church teachings, to how to make a good confession and then to saints and relics. Just about anything you have questions about, Catholic Brain touches on. Additionally it is here that you can download lesson plans, watch relevant videos, play games, access printables, and take quizzes. What’s more is that you can choose the level you wish to teach at- grades 3-5 or 6-8. For each lesson, everything you need to effectively teach is included on the page. It’s great to have everything you need together in one place.
The Music tab is next and this was probably one of my kids’ favorite tabs to use. Here there is music from a few different sources including Brother Francis whom my kids love. Additionally there are songs for Lent, Advent, Christmas, songs about Jesus, the rosary, and particular prayers. The songs are geared towards littler children and kept my boys especially entertained.
The Printables tab has worksheets and fun activities that you can print off to supplement your work or to keep little minds and hands busy. There is anything from coloring sheets to worksheets to crossword puzzles.
The Quiz section allows you to select quizzes for your kids to take on any of the 31 different categories from the Lessons tab. They are an invaluable tool that helps you to see how well your children/students are doing with the lessons. You can choose the level that you want to quiz- either grades 3-6 or 6-8.
The Saints tab has an alphabetical listing of saints so that you can easily find the saint you are looking for. As you click on the saint you are given a life story and a chance to watch a video regarding the saint. I really liked this as some of my kids are more visual learners and respond better to videos than to just reading.
Finally, the Videos tab contains over 200 lessons from throughout the entire website. Broken down into categories it is easy to find a video on your desired topic.
The way the site is interwoven is amazing. Not only can you find specific topics by clicking on the tabs, but within each tab you find related resources to help you teach/learn more thoroughly. The creators of Catholic Brain did a fantastic job of insuring that you don’t have to go far to supplement what you are teaching or learning.
I found that the cost of the site is well worth the investment. They have three different pricing plans: Homeschoolers/Families are able to enroll up to 5 students for the cost of $12.99/month or $129/year; Classrooms can enroll up to 25 students for $29.99/month or $299/year; and Parishes or Schools can enroll an unlimited amount of students for the cost of $149/month or $1499/year.
Catholic Brain is working to provide parents and teachers with the tools necessary to pass on a solid Catholic education in a way that is engaging, interactive, and that will stick with the student. While we want to teach the faith, we also want the faith to be meaningful for our kids. I think Catholic Brain has done a great job of using technology in a way that will help the students learn and engage the faith in a fun and captivating way.
If you’d like to learn more about Catholic Brain, please visit their website. Tell them that Catholic Sistas sent you!
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!
In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.