Monday, October 8, 2012

Review of ZooWhiz

ZooWhiz is one of those educational websites that your kids are probably going to either really like -- or really not like.  My kids really liked it! I was initially really excited to see ZooWhiz because my 7 year-old loves animals of all kinds, so the idea that a child could earn coins by completing educational games, and then buy animals with those coins in order to build a zoo - well that was right up Michael's alley!

The graphics on ZooWhiz are very cute, and they are a cut above other sites in the same genre.  More importantly, though, the range of educational games is great.  I normally think of sites like ZooWhiz as being very appropriate for my middle-elementary kids.  I don't usually think that they will have much to offer my gifted 11 year-old. In the case of ZooWhiz I was wrong. So, while I initially wanted to review ZooWhiz because of Michael, I really loved it because of Therese, so it is Therese I want to focus on in this review.

ZooWhiz says that it is for children ages 5-15+, but I was very skeptical of that.  How many programs with cute graphics like these really serve the needs of teens? I was so pleasantly surprised, though! ZooWhiz offers all of the traditional areas of study you would expect: math facts, reading comprehension, etc.  For older kids, though, it goes so much further! Best of all, it touches things that I, as a homeschool mom, don't often "teach" as such, but that I know will show up on a standardized test somewhere, someday.  For example, Therese did poetry analysis, anagramming, code breaking, logical interpretation, and more.  The poetry analysis was something I particularly appreciated.  It is something we do informally all the time, but never in a really "academic" way.  She loved doing ZooWhiz.  I definitely don't have to trick Therese by making her think she's not doing school, but she still didn't consider ZooWhiz school.  She used it to help me review it at first, but then she used it because she was having a lot of fun with it.

Students get instant feedback with ZooWhiz.  A cute little monkey shows up in the middle of the screen when they get a problem correct.  When they get a section correct (and sections are only a couple of problems in some cases), they are given a color of smiley that reflects how well they have mastered the material.  It is easy for you, the parent, to see at a glance how they have done.

Because you set the age limits of the material your child is doing, it is easy for you to see if you have set the limit correctly.  If you find that it is too easy or too hard, it is simple to change it.  Your child can't change the age level - only you can.

ZooWhiz basic comes with a lot of features.  Kids can add lots of great animals to their zoos and play fun games.  You can still set the age limits for their games.  With premium, though, you get a lot more.  Since we started using ZooWhiz less than two months ago, the premium content has continued to get better, and the price has continued to go down.  Right now you can purchase a year of premium for only $14.95!


 I think any kid who likes to learn on the computer would really like ZooWhiz.  The program comes from Australia, so it is possible that some kids may have trouble with the Australian accents, but mine didn't have any.  There are also some very minor colloquial differences, but I found them charming more than troubling.  For example, we have a tempest in a teapot.  Australians apparently have a storm in a teacup! Also, although you collect animals in ZooWhiz, you don't really do much with them.  Michael would have loved to have had more interaction with his animals.  Still, none of these things is remotely enough to make me recommend against purchasing the premium subscription.  There is a ton of content here.  It's getting better all the time.  Premium is really, really reasonable!

My kids really like ZooWhiz, but all kids are different, so read all of the Crew reviews!


Disclaimer: I received a year's premium subscription to ZooWhiz free in exchange for my review.  I received no other compensation.

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