A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
Multiple-choice questions cover Common Core ELA language and reading skills for grades 1-5. The developers claim the content adapts according to performance. There's lots of learning content available, though it's unrelated to game play. Pushes to buy premium subscriptions can be distracting.
Free avatar creation starts with a randomly chosen default model that suggests a gender, but is not explicitly labeled "girl" or "boy". From there, kids can customize with 10 longhaired options or 11 shorthaired options. Most hairstyles are largely Euro-centric. Eight skin-tone options range from light peach to burnt umber. And kids can choose from a few options for eye shape and color, and eyebrows, nose, and mouth. More customization occurs through outfits and accessories picked up later in the game. Overall, options for age or body shape diversity or visible disabilities (e.g., wheelchair) are absent.
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Ease of Play
A visual guide introduces the game. After that, kids are on their own. It isn't always clear what to do, but with a little exploration, most kids will figure it out.
Products & Purchases
The free version comes with lots of pressure to become a paid user. Ads throughout remind users that subscriptions make it easier to level up more quickly. Selecting "at school" playing mode lessens the pressure, though kids can still see locked content and see prompts that ask kids to talk to their parents about linking accounts (which could mean paying if parents and kids want all of the perks).
Parents Need to Know
Is It Any Good?
The virtual village in this game-based learning platform offers kids so much to explore that some may find it more of a game than a learning tool. Parents familiar with the strengths and shortcomings or Prodigy: Kids Math Game will find much of the same in Prodigy English. In short, the gaming aspect is fairly fun and is right on for the target age range. Prodigy English focuses on creative building and accomplishing missions rather than on battling, and there's no option to play with peers. Because learning content adapts based on performance, and kids guide their own play, the experience feels personalized. At the time of review, the parent dashboard is limited to showing only the most basic data, but there are promises for more detailed reporting in the future, and with paid subscriptions.
It's disappointing however, that overall the learning content still feels like a side note. There are some limited learning supports such as definitions of new vocabulary words and grammar terms. It's nice that kids can change their response when they answer incorrectly, but because they can do so easily and still get "credit," there's little motivation for them to make an effort to pay attention and choose the right answer. Overall, these multiple-choice ELA questions are best for review and practice, and come with little feedback. And most of all, they feel like annoying interludes that kids have to get through in order to get back to playing the game. Just as with Prodigy: Kids Math Game, it's easy for kids to spend their time in their virtual village rather than engaging with the learning content in any kind of meaningful way. And, there's still an issue with paid memberships. Some may find the ever present push to purchase a subscription overwhelming, or even a source of conflict. Parents will need to be clear with their kids about their intentions to purchase or not purchase an upgrade. And if kids are using it at school, the kids with premium accounts will get perks that other kids won't, which sets up an inequity in experiences. As a whole, Prodigy English will appeal to kids and has some value for ELA review and practice. Parents may want to be ready to help their kids focus on actually paying attention to the questions and manage their expectations around paying for membership.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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