School of Dragons
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that School of Dragons is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that's browser-based and requires the Unity plug-in. It's free to play, but a monthly subscription provides bonus advantages. A collaboration between JumpStart and DreamWorks, it's a safe title based on the How to Train Your Dragon films, with underlying educational themes, including the scientific method. Kids will train their dragons, hatching them from eggs and performing tasks such as playing mini-games to obtain food to help their pets grow big and strong.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
- reading comprehension
- achieving goals
- work to achieve goals
Engagement, Approach, Support
School of Dragons imitates the colorful and fascinating movie worlds of How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel. Having a dragon to raise and train via different activities, games, and quests will keep kids engaged. This also is expanded by opportunities to interact with movie characters and other players. Kids can choose to raise more than one dragon with different powers and skills once their first dragon is fully grown.
The Adventure Company, the developers of JumpStart educational software, is the developer of this game and has woven educational content in with the quests and gameplay. For example, kids actually get a mini biology lesson when they learn to raise animals and plants on their mini farms. Next Generation Science Standards were used to develop the exercises and quests in the game. Kids are encouraged to observe and record the results of each experiment in their journals so they can reproduce the same items in the future.
There's plenty of support on the game's website, with How to Train your Dragon-themed worksheets that parents can print out for different grades and subjects. Kids also are encouraged to explore the game's site from its home page, which has section names such as "Hiccup's Science Workshop." This helps expand what kids learn in school and in the game. There also are well-moderated forums for kids to ask questions and on which they can interact. Players can show off artwork, stories, and screenshots of their dragons on these forums.
What's it about?
SCHOOL OF DRAGONS follows the How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2 movies and is set in the world of Berk. Kids create a Viking character and can take a fun personality test to match them with a type of dragon (or ignore the test and select their own creature). Players take part in mini-games to earn coins and food for their pets and quests to help out other members of the village. Eventually, dragons will be grown enough to be ridden, further expanding the action as kids learn to fly and play aerial games.
Is it any good?
Kids who are fans of the How to Train Your Dragon movies (and Cressida Cowell's books that they're based on) will love the chance to jump into the world of Berk, training the dragon that they'll eventually fly, race, and explore with. School of Dragons follows the movies closely, with all the key characters included in the game as quest givers. Graphics are superb for a browser-based game, and actions are simple; even flying is forgiving. Quests are varied to keep repetition low. Plus, educational aspects are subtly woven into the story, which shouldn't turn off educationally averse kids. (For example, the alchemist talks about using the scientific method to complete tasks.)
Kids observe and record the method and results in their in-game journals, which provides a sense of accomplishment instead of the usual one-click crafting recipes that are unlocked as a reward in many other games. There's a lot of reading, so younger kids may need sibling or parental help. Parents also have the ability to disable the game's multiplayer aspect so kids can't join clans or meet other players online. This does block some parts of the game, such as team-based dragon racing, but kids can still play against a computer-generated team. This is a small inconvenience for an engaging title that manages to educate at the same time.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about pets, including the responsibility of raising and training them, as shown in School of Dragons. Why do we train our pets? Do different animals need different types of food and care?
Talk about why games can be addictive and how much game time is appropriate. How long should kids be playing games each day?
What made you want to play this game: the style or subject of the game or the fact that it's based on the How to Train Your Dragon characters and story? Would you have been interested if that tie-in wasn't there?