For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Friday, October 5, 2012

ZooWhiz - TOS Review

I have said it here on this blog, but this is just so much the case that it bears repeating: the internet and the homeschool community abound with online educational resource  We were yet again blessed with another, relatively new on the market, online program to review.


ZooWhiz is an educational Math and Reading program for kids ages 5-15. As the name suggests there is a zoo and therefore an animal element to the program. As kids go through the program, which consists of exercises in Language Arts and Math, they accumulate coins which they can in turn use to purchase animals for their virtual Zoo or to play games.

So, basically with ZooWhiz your child becomes a zoo keeper by buying animals to build up his own Zoo.

At the Zoo shop the animals are organized by habitat which makes it easier to find the ones you are looking for. They all vary in prices of course, so if your child wants a particular animal he's gonna have to work hard to accumulate the amount needed. In that sense ZooWhiz is a great motivational resource for academic efforts.

ZooWhiz is accessible to all. Anyone can open a free account and have access to a lot of what ZooWhiz has to offer. However, for $14.95/year your account can be upgraded to a Premium account with more info, more animals and more activities and features for parents.

  

This is a shot of the ZooWhiz World


 Learn and Earn is where you do the learning and practice of educational skills. These cover a wide range of skills and topics: comprehensive coverage of Math, comprehension skills, punctuation, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, word skills, phonics, phonemic and reading. The activities are also designed to correlate with curriculum from all over the world, were it be Australian, Canadian, English or American.

A great feature of ZooWhiz is that the parent or teacher gets to set the grade level and the age level at which you want your child to work at.

More on the educational content of ZooWhiz, from the Website:

  • "Children progress year-by-year through carefully sequenced levels 
  • Features a broad range of activity and activity types, including text input, missing answer, drag-and-drop, multiple choice, true or false and more!
  • Easy drag-and-drop with snap-to functionality
  • Positive feedback and correction through detailed answer screens gives visual, and in the Reading content, auditory reinforcement
  • Humorous twists keep students engaged and on-task
  • Each educational subject consists of four to ten carefully-sequenced progress levels
  • Each progress module is further divided into progress steps
  • Each progress step can be divided into one to ten learning categories
  • Over 17,000 individual educational activities"
You can check out sample activities and curriculum links here and here.

Biodome is where you buy your animals. In the Premium version, with a simple right-click, you get to learn information about each animal, which is a nice plus.

Arcade is where you get to use your well-earned coins to play games. The selection is limited, but contains games well-loved by kids. My boys mostly enjoyed playing Tetrow.

Milestones is where you get to check on your progress. The faces tell you how you are doing, going from red (less that 50% correct) to green (more that 95% correct).

The results are divided into
  • For Math: Addition and Substraction, Numeration, Fractions and decimals, Multiplication and Division, Pattern and Algebra, Measurement, Space and Geometry.
  • For Words: Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation and Advanced Grammar.
  • For Reading: Letters and Sounds and Experiencing text.
By clicking on a step, a topic, or a face you can even see what activities were done.

Our opinion:

The boys definitely loved ZooWhiz. My animal-loving son loved the zoo connection and enjoyed building up his animal collection. He found the program at time frustrating as it always seem to have bugs when he was doing the activities. My other son did not encounter these as much when he was on it, so I am inclined to think that it has to do with the way the mouse is handled.

I personally found the activities too varied within the different levels and steps. It seemed to be jumping from one concept to another, and the difficulty levels seemed to be all over the place as well. Again, this problem might be a function of the fact that we are using it with homeschool kids, which by the nature of the case usually are themselves inconsistent when it comes to concept mastery and progression. This to say that may be this would not be a problem for kids accross the board.

A few more specifics of what I liked:
  • The educational activities are truly interactive
  • The activities span a wide range of knowledge and concepts, both in Math and Language
  • The Math activities include a lot of problems and not just mechanics
  • The activities are challenging and require thought; guesses (which my oldest loves to do) won't do it.
  • Children get 2 shots at answering the questions
  • Detailed progress chart
  • Lots of features to come as they keep improving the website
One feature I find lacking in this program is the lack of instruction. When a child does not get the answer right, the correct answer is then given but with no further explanation. I wish there could be a tutor or video that would allow for the child to get an overview or quick teaching of that concept which was not mastered.

I have to also mentioned that their staff is very accessible and a pleasure to deal with.

Overall, I think ZooWhiz is a great program for skill and concept practice, and a good break or even replacement to book and worksheet practice. Interested? Check their Help and Info page to learn more about ZooWhiz.

Make sure to check the other reviews on the crew, and to get a free account to try it out as well.

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Disclaimer:  I was offered, as a member of the TOS crew, a one year premium membership to ZooWhiz in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.




1 comment:

James said...

Hi,
Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Homeschooling Community? Our members will appreciate it.
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James Kaufman, Editor

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