A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zoombinis is an educational math/logic game that originally launched as a computer game in the 1990s. It's deliberately designed with no tutorial or instructions with the intent of teaching kids to explore, develop theories, and test their ideas. Since the logic required may be difficult for many kids, parents should expect that kids on the younger end of the spectrum may need some help early on to get the most out of the learning experience.
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What's it about?
ZOOMBINIS are small, peaceful, blue creatures with specific combinations of hair, eyes, nose, and feet attributes. When the evil Bloats imprison them and take over their home, the Zoombinis decide to escape and make their way to Zoombiniville, where they can once again live happily. The road isn't easy, though, and that's where you come in. You'll have to help the Zoombinis pass some shaky bridges, appease some hungry trolls, find the correct hotel rooms for the night, and get past some fickle rocks. As they go along, some Zoombinis may not make it past a particular trial; if not, they're left at the most recent resting point to be picked up by a future party. You can't leave a resting point with fewer than 16 Zoombinis, so you may need to head back for more. Once you complete a set of puzzles successfully a number of times, the difficulty increases, and there are four difficulty levels for each segment of the journey.
Is it any good?
Although the Zoombinis are cute little creatures, this creative logic game has plenty of tough puzzles in store for kids and adults. Kids are likely to be inspired by the idea of leading Zoombinis to freedom, and the wacky characters they meet along the way make the puzzles playful. Frustration is definitely possible, since the game gets more difficult as kids solve puzzles. But, even when some Zoombinis are left behind, kids know they can return with a future group and pick up any stragglers, so a temporary loss doesn't mean failure; it'll actually help kids push through frustration and persevere. Despite the educational arguments for not providing any sort of tutorial, a bit more help would be nice. Even a stronger introduction -- less about the narrative and more about how to play -- would go a long way to making this accessible for those who haven't already experienced the game. In terms of going from a computer screen to a mobile device, some of the images are quite small, making them a bit tricky to discern on a phone, so a tablet is probably the way to go. Don't let these few drawbacks hold you back from trying this addictive yet highly educational puzzler: It was groundbreaking when it launched, and it definitely withstands the test of time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about logic puzzles. What are some methods for solving these puzzles without losing Zoombinis?
Talk about the concepts of "similar" and "different." Have kids compare objects, such as coins, dolls, or toy cars. How are they alike? How are they different? Try grouping them by similarities.
Discuss the perseverance it takes to work through a tough puzzle. What strategies do you use to keep going even when it's frustrating? How can a game be fun even though it's challenging?
- Devices: iPad, Mac, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows app
- Subjects: Math: grouping, patterns, sequences
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, logic, problem solving, solving puzzles, strategy
Creativity: combining knowledge, developing novel solutions
Emotional Development: persevering
- Price: $2.99-$4.99 individuals; $200-$750/year classrooms
- Pricing structure: Paid (The price for individual downloads of the app ranges from $2.99 to $4.99. Classrooms can sign up for a $200 classroom license (40 seats) or a $750 school license (200 seats) through Fablevision's website.)
- Release date: August 6, 2015
- Category: Educational Games
- Topics: Adventures
- Size: 1000.00 MB
- Publisher: Technical Education Research Centers, Inc.
- Version: 1.0.6
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later; Android 2.3.1 and up
- Last updated: March 23, 2021
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