Wednesday, October 3, 2012

ZooWhiz (Schoolhouse Crew Review)


My children use computer activities a lot as part of their school days. My oldest daughter attends an online class for Apologia Chemistry and also does music theory, computer programming, and German lessons on the computer. Brennan and Lauren both use computer games to supplement their regular curriculum, and they were excited to add ZooWhiz to their days.

I was excited about the concept of ZooWhiz. The kids complete educational activities to earn coins. They can then spend these coins on either animals for their zoo or on game time in the arcade.

When my children first logged into their ZooWhiz accounts, I was very impressed with the educational activities in the "learn and earn" area. ZooWhiz is recommended for children ages 5-15+, and I would agree that the educational activities span that complete age range. Especially at the upper age ranges, I saw problems that truly challenged Brennan (and me). For younger children, they will likely need an adult to help with the reading because there isn't an option to have the questions read aloud.

Unfortunately, my children quickly found a way to spend more time playing games in the arcade than they spent working on the educational activities. Playing games in the arcade costs 50 coins for each three minutes. When the kids sign into ZooWhiz, they automatically are awarded 100 coins. These coins are often spent on six minutes of game time before my kids even venture over to the learn-and-earn area. When they did work in the learn-and-earn area, it didn't take many questions to get enough coins to go back for another three minutes of game time. If they answered a problem correctly the first time, they earned 20 coins. If they needed a second chance to answer, they still earned 10 coins.

Many children would not be as attracted to the computer arcade games as mine were. The coins students earn can also be used to purchase animals for their zoo collection. My children were not particularly drawn to the idea of collecting pictures of animals for their virtual zoo.

In our family, Zoo Whiz will continue to be a choice available to the kids when they have free time to spend on the computer. Since my children primarily use this program to play the games and do not spend much time in the educational learn-and-earn area, it's not a program that I will often use as a school assignment.

ZooWhiz offers free Keeper Accounts. An upgrade to a Premium Zoologist Subscription currently costs $14.95 per year (75% off of their regular price), and gives children access to more animals, detailed information about the animals, and more games. Also, parents can access more details about their child's progress if they have a Premium account than with the free version.

Disclaimer: I received premium Zoo Whiz memberships for two of my children as a member of the 2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


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