Bonjour les amis! If you're interested in a French educational game site for children, you'll want to know about Bayam. My six-year-old daughter enjoys playing on Bayam once or twice a week because it's a fun and educational French resource. Here's how it works:
Bayam is a relatively inexpensive subscription site (around $4/month) created by Bayard and Milan, two major French children's publishers. (I believe Bayam stands for BAYard And Milan.) You can try out Bayam for 30 days free, or 60 days free if you subscribe to one of Bayard or Milan's French or Spanish magazines for children. Parents can choose to download the site for ages 3-7, 7-11, or both. (This review is based on the age 3-7 site.)
Once you've downloaded Bayam to your computer, your child can click the desktop icon to play. Bayam is an online resource, but the download allows your child to play without clicking away to other Internet sites.
Bayam ages 3-7 has 4 main sections:
- Ecouter: Here children can listen to stories, nursery rhymes, and songs in French with animations. They can also print out lyrics and play karaoke versions of the songs. A few songs are in English but most are simple French songs or French translations of English songs.
- Découvrir: Here your child can watch educational documentaries that focus on topics about nature, society, and culture. Recent topics have included how children take a bath in Japan, Russia, and Morrocco; elephants and the savannah; and what happens to trash after it is thrown away.
- Jouer: Game options include simple spelling games, painting/coloring, completing puzzles, and sending e-postcards to addresses that you, the parent, has pre-approved. Children can print their creations or save their artwork to a "museum" wall.
- Regarder: Full episodes of Babar, Petit Ours Brun, Polo, Caillou, Leo & Popi, and other French cartoons are available.
My favorite features:
- French immersion: The site is designed for Francophone children and there are only a few English songs and activities mixed in.
- High online safety: There's no way to click to other sites or interact with other users. Even better, the site is free of advertising and commercials.
- Time limits and parent controls: The parent section allows parents to set playing time limits (from 10 minutes to an hour) for each child. Parents can also select the activities they want Bayam to suggest to their child.
- New content and activities every Wednesday: There is new content for children to discover on a weekly basis, but the site remains easy for children to navigate.
- Educational content: I'm fairly skeptical of the value of sites labeled "edutainment," but Bayam's documentaries are creative, informative, and age-appropriate.
- Animated nature area: Players can leave the activity area to visit an animated nature area off to the side. I'd rather my daughter be playing outside in real life, of course, but the interactive nature scene is a nice touch.
Areas for improvement:
- At times certain activities can be slow to load. If you have a slow Internet connection, your child's experience could be frustrating.
- As with all online games, it can be a tad addictive. For example, each time a player logs on, he or she gets a golden leaf on the tree. After five leaves, a player gets an animated surprise in his or her magic garden. (Once you subscribe to Bayam, a monthly automatic payment is set up, but it's easy to stop your subscription. It may be cheaper and easier to subscribe for a year.)
- I wish all the activities were interactive rather than having passive cartoons mixed in. However, it is nice to have French cartoons available in a closed environment rather than on a site with advertising. Bayam is also cheaper than adding a French TV channel to your cable lineup.
- After closing Bayam, there's always a pop-up window promoting upcoming Bayam activities.
Overall, I think Bayam is a great option for educational entertainment in French. Currently (as of April 2015) there's even a free French children's e-book from J'aime lire Store offered with a subscription to Bayam. Once your child tries out Bayam, I'm sure he or she will ask to play again regardless of his or her knowledge of French!
This review is not a sponsored post--it's just written out of my desire to share a fun French resource for families.