Tuesday, October 9, 2012


* I apologize for the kooky font changes. Blogger is being disagreeable.  
** Apparently Photobucket has gotten an attitude, too. Some of the pictures are refusing to show. 

This has become the everything-wants-to-go-wrong post. I hope my words don't follow suit and disappear from the screen, as well. Although, it might be interes

Do you like animals? Have you ever wanted to own a giant anteater, a T-Rex, or a unicorn as a pet?? Do you think it would be fun to work in a zoo???  Then ZooWhiz might be for you!

ZooWhiz is an interactive, online learning program for children ages 5-15. It allows them to practice math (numeration, + - × ÷, fractions, geometry, etc.), word skills (letters, spelling, parts of speech, punctuation, etc), and reading (phonics, phonemes, grammar, vocabulary, etc.) As the students answer questions, they earn coins (20 coins if they answer correctly on the first try, 10 coins if they answer correctly on the second try.) They can then use these coins to buy animals for the zoo or playing games in the arcade.

My kids (6 & 4) have really enjoyed using this program. The activities vary a lot, so the they don't get bored doing the same things over and over. They finish patterns, match pictures, answer questions, and listen to sounds. The part they really like though is the silly clips that play between the sets of activities. Oftentimes, I'll be washing dishes or helping one of the other kids when I hear, "Hurry, Mom! You gotta see this!" That's always followed by 2 giggly kids. They especially like when the elephant is sucking up peanuts as he's walking and accidentally sucks up another animal! They also like watching the gorilla blow noise makers out of his nose and mouth. These simple additions really add to the program. They also like the feedback they receive when they answer the questions. Since ZooWhiz is based in Australia, the narrators have different accents than we do. When they say things like absolutely fabulous and crackerjack, there's more giggling and then repeating of the phrase. I have a couple of little Aussies running around now.

Their absolute favorite part is buying animals for their virtual zoos. The two of them are constantly comparing which animals they have. I love when they log on, check their coin total, and let me know how many more they need to earn in order to purchase their next desired animal.They flip through their lists of bought and unbought animals. They can click on a specific animal and learn all sorts of interesting facts: scientific name, class, habitat, diet, and more. It's like adding in a mini science lesson.

Like I said, the kids love viewing their animals. There's just one problem I find with it though. That's all you do - view the animals. You don't watch them interact. You don't feed them. You don't even see them actually in the zoo. I think if they added some of those aspects to the game-play, it would be even better. My kids have never questioned it, but I would think older ones might.

They can also use their coins to play games in the arcade. Honestly, I had my son play one time, the day we registered. I didn't mention it again, and he didn't question it. I personally don't think the arcade is necessary. It doesn't even follow the theme of the zoo. I do think it would be a great idea to have another option to spend the coins on other than the animals. I think some sort of shop to purchase items for the zoo - like a ball for the seal, nectar for the hummingbird, specific food, water, or plants for the animals - would make it even more interesting and allow the students to learn more about the animals themselves. 

One thing that I as a parent really like is the detailed results page. I can easily hop on and see where my kids are excelling and struggling. It's shown by little faces which makes it easy to understand. The bigger the smile, they better they did. If you notice a bunch of sad faces, it might be best to change the level at which they are being drilled. I like that the content is customizable for each section. It ensures that my kids are being challenged, but not to the point of disappointment.

Zoo Whiz is in Early Release Stage 2. It's still being developed and new content is being added. Another area I hope they consider is making all of the activities narrated or at least having the option to be. It's not too often I'd have to help my son read something, which is fine since I'd prefer he read as much as possible anyway. My daughter needed me to read all of those sections though.   

Overall, I think this program is wonderful. My kids loved playing it. I think the content and activities are great. I'm excited to see what changes are made as they continue working to improve.

You can take a look at some sample activities and sign up for a free Keeper account and start building your own zoo or you can upgrade to a Premium Zoologist subscription. The premium account offers a larger variety of animals, maximum motivation, detailed feedback, optional email updates and more. It is currently only $14.94 for an entire year! And that, my friends, is {insert Australian accent here} fantastic!

Head on over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews of ZooWhiz.

* Disclaimer: I was give a premium subscription for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  1. This was fun to read. Great review! We loved the Aussie accent, too! :-)

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I laugh every time they walk around the house talking like that. :)