Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Zoo Whiz (review)

Did somebody say ZOO?  That's all it takes with my kiddos!  Nothing motivates them more than something animal related...  a sticker, a book, a farm, trip to the zoo, etc.  Learning that there was an online educational website that uses the acquisition of animals as an incentive, this Momma knew without a shadow of a doubt that it would receive my children's highest praise.

ZooWhiz is an online learning website for children ages 5-15.  The students practice reading, math, grammar, vocabulary, and word skills while earning coins.  The coins can be used to collect animals thus allowing the child to truly become a ZooWhiz.  


In setting up a Keeper account, a child is able to choose an avatar.  I appreciate that they come in all shapes and sizes with varied hair and skin colors.  A child may choose an avatar that represents himself or one he just finds fun.  Even better, the avatar is never locked in.  The ability to change always exists.  Simply click on the avatar head located on the bar at the bottom of the screen to select a new character.  

The LEARN & EARN section begins by choosing the educational content to work on in math, words, and reading.  Parents are able to customize and set the courses so that the students can work only at their age level or above.  This keeps kids interested because they are not wasting time on material that is too easy.  I've posted some screenshots of some of Caleb's questions below, but you can also browse sample activities for each age group/content.

After learning and earning, children can choose to spend their coins in the ARCADE playing games or in the BIODOME purchasing animals for their zoos.  There are currently 7 timed games from which to choose.  My kids tried the arcade once, but after their first animals shopping frenzy in the biodome, they were hooked.  It's been BIODOME ever since.   

Animals range in price from 100 to 5000 coins.  I found it interesting the strategies my kids used in building their zoos.  Rachel went for the animals she was familiar with and thought were cute.  Caleb sought out the most unique and exotic animals.  Jeremiah wanted a large number of animals in his zoo, so he spent all his coins buying the animals in the 100-300 range.  Isn't it funny how different they can be?!    

When shopping for animals, the child can view them all or by the individual habitats including:  grassland, ocean, tundra/polar, desert mountain, river/lake, domestic, dinosaur, rainforest, mythical, forest/woodland, marsh/swap, forest and extinct animals.  Once an animal has been purchased, the child can view a profile of the animal.  There are 5 tabs to read:  basic info, habitat, details, diet, and threat.  This Momma spent quite a bit of time reading these profiles aloud to the kids... mainly Caleb.


Finally, the MILESTONES section is somewhat self-explanatory.  This is where you are able to measure progress.  The premium account includes:
  • Basic bar graphs giving feedback on overall progress
  • Smiley face reports giving instant feedback on all aspects of work
  • Use the Smiley face reports to see where your child needs help or if the work is too easy
  • Review results by cell, category and step
  • Review actual activities answered and the number of times they have been answered correctly or incorrectly

    The kids really enjoyed ZooWhiz.  I would not consider it a stand alone curriculum by any means, but it was definitely full of fun educational games.  It not only benefitted the kids but kept them entertained, and I appreciate the use of science as a motivator and reward. 

    There were a few things that I would change if given the opportunity.  1) The reading portion is the only section that includes auditory directions.  Therefore, the kids were unable to play the math and word sections independently.  2)  For Caleb especially, the British accent made spelling words difficult at times.  The vowel sounds would throw him off.  3) There are ads that pop up after so many questions.  These ads are from EdAlive which offers FREE educational games.  However, I'm just not comfortable with advertising in a premium account and having the kids leave the approved site.  (They may then think it acceptable to open all pop-ups... oh no!!!! Not a habit I intend for them to instill!)  Therefore, my kids were taught to hit continue everytime as opposed to opening the new window.  Overall, I suppose my issues aren't really problems but are moreso irritants, and the value of the program far outweighs them. 

    From the ZooWhiz website:  ZooWhiz is developing rapidly and can now be used in both FREE and PREMIUM modes. We've recently implemented many PREMIUM features with more to be released in the coming months. You can start using ZooWhiz for FREE today. If you'd like to take advantage of introductory Half Price offer you can upgrade your child's FREE Keeper Account to a PREMIUM Zoologist Subscription.

    As always, I encourage you to start out with the free option.  Allow your children ample time to explore and play before deciding if a financial investment is best for your family.  If you find ZooWhiz to be beneficial and enjoyable for your kiddos, then I recommend you upgrade your FREE Keeper Accounts to PREMIUM Zoologist Subscriptions for:
    • More fun (learning motivation)
    • More detailed info on their progress
    • More options for targeting their learning
    • Rare and endangered animals
    • More cool Arcade games
    • Full access 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
    The one year membership is currently $14.95.  Wow - in the grand scheme of things, this is very inexpensive for an online subscription.  As the site develops, I assume the introductory offer will disappear, so I'd suggest taking advantage of it now.  Still unsure?  Click the button below to read reviews by other Schoolhouse Crew Members.

    Disclaimer:  I was provided a year of Premium Zoologist subscriptions for all of my children in exchange for my honest review. 

    No comments: