ZooWhiz {TOS review) – Where the zoo animals are

Online learning is something I’ve come to realize has a place in our school. It is not the core or main resource for our school, but there are many online programs that can really help teach and reinforce material covered in the classroom.

ZooWhiz creator, Graham East, realized early on that technology would be a great resource in the classroom. East has a background in primary education, so he is familiar with teaching children.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
ZooWhiz is an online learning program targeted to children between the ages of five and 15. The program is literally “fresh out of the starting gate” and in an early release of its second stage having officially launched earlier this year.

The program covers three subject areas: math, reading and language arts, which includes word skills, punctuation and grammar. To make the program just a little bit more interesting and fun to use, ZooWhiz’s setting is in a zoo. We had the opportunity to review the premium subscription.

There are four areas – Learn & Earn, Biodome,

Milestones and the Arcade where students move around through the program.

This is the bigger picture, which just looks like a fun place to play learn.

Comparison Chart


Free Subscription

•Access to all of the educational activities
•Some of the animals for your zoo
•Some of the Arcade games
•Basic reports telling you how you are going
•Limited play out of school hours
  Premium Subscription

•More cool animals for your zoo
•Endangered animals for your zoo
•More Arcade games
•Detailed Dynamic Reports that show you how your work is going and where you need help
•PICS (Premium Integrated Content Selector) to let you choose exactly the right educational activities for you
•Unlimited play out of school hours

It is available to users as a free program or premium program. With free access, users are still able to use the program with benefits, but of course the premium provides just a little bit more. That may be enough to convince you to upgrade to a premium subscription (see current pricing below), which gives students the full offerings entitled to a Zoologist.

FOR THE STUDENT
Quite simply, the student enjoys a lot of fun and learning is tied in well to the program. They are given the title of zookeeper (try it for free now) and may become a Zoologist (see all of the neat features) with an upgrade to the account. Note: If free subscription link doesn’t work, then click here and scroll to the bottom.

Students are able to create their own avatar. For some reason, this is a totally cool feature with many online programs and Lily had fun changing her look often.

The content is engaging and challenging when needed. Students are able to earn coins for completing activities (Learn & Earn) that they may use to play games in the Arcade and also purchase animals for their zoo (Biodome). The zoo theme offers students a chance to learn about various animals while in the Biodome and build their own zoo with animals of their choice. If the student would like, then he may monitor his progress in Milestones.

The student will have so much fun without even realizing that he is learning along the way.

Looking at the toolbar on the bottom of the grid above, you can see what the student has earned. The coins = 33655, the animals collected = 53, zoo level = 16 and questions answered = 595.

FOR THE PARENT/TEACHER
You may easily create a free account for your student opening the door for some “free-time” learning time that can supplement student assignments.

The content for the student is “drawn from a bank of over 17,000 carefully-crafted, finely-incremented learning activities,” which provides him, regardless of his age (from five to 15) with enough activities to benefit from while using the program. The activities are comprehensive in the covered subjects and you are able to set the age floor to prevent the students from working in areas that may be too easy for him.

The “basic” (free access) subscription offers good and quality content for your student. See more parent and teacher benefits.

OUR EXPERIENCE
Every new day of entry onto the website, Lily earned 100 coins. That helped give her something to start with and add to the coins she already earned as she worked towards accumulating more coins to shop and play. Students may purchase a variety of animals and play games. The nurturer in her wanted to be able to feed them and care for them, but that wasn’t available, so she just earned points and purchased as many animals as she could afford. There are regular animals and mythological animals (ex: unicorns are 5000 coins) with different price points from 100 to 5000+ coins.

She has a Saber tooth tiger in her “animal shed.” Did you know they are extinct? Well, that isn’t true because Lily has the one and only one “still in existence.” ;-) If you click on an animal, then it tells you if it is endangered or not. After the animal is purchased, then more information was provided about the animal. She also purchased a Clydesdale horse and a California chipmunk, which is something I’ve never heard of before. Lily loves animals, so this program could do nothing other than be a hit with her.

In the Arcade, each game cost a minimum of 50 coins. Her favorite games to play were Patty-cake Panic and Combo Congo.

We did have trouble, on occasion, when logging in. I grew impatient and would shut the browser window and log in on another session to gain access. This was in different locations with various Internet speeds and I experienced a delay at least one time in each place.

MY THOUGHTS
I was looking forward to using this program with Canyon. I thought the zoo theme would appeal to him and that it would help with his learning in the targeted areas. Instead, Lily was really the one who had the most fun using the program and who also benefited. I think a lot of that may be attributed to the fact that she absolutely loves animals and the zoo theme catered to her interest, while helping her gain reinforcement in the covered subject areas.

Although the program is developed for children ages five through 15, it was not something my early reader Canyon was able to use independently. I had to sit with him while he used ZooWhiz. Even though it was time from me helping another child, he enjoyed using ZooWhiz. I was hoping that he would be able to use the program as free-time alone after spending one-on-one time with me. I believe that when his reading level improves (maybe after using more ZooWhiz), then that will not be a problem.

Lily and Canyon enjoyed the different funny videos that would appear after completing some of the activities.

One of the things that disappoints me about ZooWhiz is that advertisement is allowed in the premium membership area. That is something I only expect to see with free subscriptions.

I can appreciate not wanting the students to spend all day in the Arcade, but it would be nice if they were given more time to use the area especially since they are using coins they earned from completing the activities. Depending upon the skill level of a student, that three minutes may become just seconds and that is such a disappointment.

Since the website is still under construction and already being used by many people (they have more than 100,000 registered accounts), seeing what ZooWhiz already offers gives users something to look forward to. They have a great base to make improvements on and I am looking forward to seeing what new features and enhancements will be offered in future release updates.

You may see some sample activities that are offered at ZooWhiz for children ages five to 15+.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
ZooWhiz may be purchased for just $14.95. I don’t think you can beat that price for what is offered.

You can read more reviews of this item by fellow crew members on The Homeschool Crew Blog.


Disclaimer: The product featured in this review was provided to me in exchange for an honest review by the manufacturer or representing PR agency as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The opinions expressed are my own.
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