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I love National Geographic but my sons are much too young for it, so we decided to try Nat Geo Kids. Its meant to be for ages 8 -12 but I would say it also good for younger children, especially if you don't mind reading it aloud to them. My oldest had only just turned 5 so its way beyond his reading level but he enjoyed having read to him and we got a lot out of it as we home educate. Although the reading level is not too difficult, the print is small and in all sorts of colours. I would still recommend this for ages 8 + if the child will be reading it alone. It has a good mix of animals, science, geography and some games and art ideas. It also comes with some free gift or gadget each time. I would also suggest the National Geographic Kids website for some fun free ideas.
We subscribed to National Geographic Kids for 1 year and we did get a fair amount of use from it. We often used it as a starting point for other projects. For instance we read the article in the magazine on Cinco de Mayo / Mexico, then we read other stories about Mexico, such as Borreguita and the Coyote, by Tomie De Paola, and Red Ant, Black Ant about how Quetzecoatal taught the people to grow corn. We also made Mexican foods, a pinata, and paper mache morroccas, and learned a few words in Spanish, looked up Mexico online etc... When finished we placed a sticker of the Mexican Flag in our flags book, which is how we keep track of the countries we have studied, but you could use something else like a fake passport, or collect a coin or postage stamp from each country. We routinely do projects like this to learn about countries. We also used the seeds enclosed to plant a bee and butterfly garden, read about both, searched high and low for bees, butterflies and caterpillars and made a number of butterfly and caterpillar art projects. Of course its also a great magazine for ordinary families just to get kids reading!
But, although we enjoyed the magazine, and we did get some useful information. We did not renew our subscription. I just didn't feel it represented good value for money at a subscription price of £24 or £2 an issue. Undoubtedly some issues were worth the price, but others were not. We recently purchased a single copy to give this magazine another try. The issue we chose was on dinosaurs, and there was a very good 4 page article. We also enjoyed a regular feature "Inside Scoop" which offers some world news selected for children. This section is 2 pages and contained a brief article on a Borneo tribe, famine in Africa, the world's tallest skyscraper and badgers affected by tb. I found the single page on life in Mongolia a great way to introduce children to other cultures as well. My son enjoyed a two page dinosaur page, and about half of a two page spread on Amazing Animals. Finally , there was a two page article on Big Cats, and another about life for Florida "Crackers".
What I did not like about the magazine was the number of ads. Out of 52 pages, 13 are ads. Another 4 pages are descriptions of new products which I would also consider advertisements. You also have 4 pages of posters, which we just don't use, and a good few pages we had no interest in, so even though this was one of the better issues, and we did enjoy it, I would say over half of the magazine was wasted. We did get a couple of issues that he had almost no interest in, especially a World Cup issue which just wasn't up to par. But what really counts is my sons opinion and I asked if we should subscribe to this again. This particular issue came with a pack of sweets. He wanted to know if he would get the sweets with issue. When I said no, he still had some interest, but not enough to choose this over 5 Project X books, which would be a similar price.
Overall I do still like this magazine. I may even resubscribe at some point. In the meantime, I'll still pick up the odd copy when the cover story interests us. But I do think they need to either cut down on the ads or reduce the price. I would also like to be certain every issue was going to have a good amount of very interesting material. I would like more focus on science and nature, world cultures and geography, and well as weird and wild things that children love, and less on new film releases, video games and the latest toys Mom can buy. But for all my complaints, I haven't found a better children's magazine yet. I am giving this 4 stars, it is good, but could be better.
We did eventually resubscribe. This is a fun easy to read magazine for most children, and it does have some very good features, but some issues are better than others and my son only read 9 pages out of the last issue, the majority was advertising or new products. In fact the magazine has become a bit like the Argos catalogue - can we have this - can we have that? I am letting my subscription lapse agin, but if you are looking for a simple easy to red magazine that covers a wide variety of subjects and do not mind so much advertising - it might still be worth considering. I do like that it encourages children to learn about other countires and cultures, nature and so on. It isn't a bad magazine, but it no longer suits our needs.