SwitchZoo

Website review by
Jean Armour Polly, Common Sense Media
SwitchZoo Website Poster Image
Outstanding interactivity with an animal theme.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about animal diets, lifespans, habitats, and more. They can get just the facts in profiles of the 142 species at the site, or do activities that apply the info in meaningful ways, like determining an animal's best habitat or creating a new species and writing stories about whatever head-leg-tail combo kids make. Parents should prepare for endless rounds of "Did you know...?" With options for structured and independent play and some funny animal videos, the site offers lots to curious kids.

Positive Messages

Getting to know the animals in the world and their habitats with fun games and cute reinforment along the way provides kids with a entertaining and positive experience.

 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The site does use Google ads on the side bar of every page.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that because this site is in the kids.us domain, there are no outbound links. While there is not any real advertising, the expanded CD version of SwitchZoo is advertised for sale. However, kids will have so much fun with the free online version they may never notice.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

The setting for this game is a very unusual zoo with nine different animal scenes, including a cheetah, a bear, a monkey, and six more. Click on the animal scene you want to visit: the elephant, for example. You'll see the base animal you've chosen, plus nine animal buttons on the bottom of the screen. Click "Head" and choose an animal button and you'll see the elephant's head transform into the animal you've selected. The realistic illustration smoothes out the transition between the new animal head and the elephant body so that it does look like a brand-new species. Don't miss the "Quick Switch" animals on the left. This lets you add in certain wildcard animals that are different at every location.

Is it any good?

At first you might think this is a simple "head of a bear, legs of a giraffe, tail of a crocodile" mix 'n' match game. It is, but there is more depth to it than that, as you'll see. Once you've gotten pretty good at the basics, you can step up the complexity by applying to be a zookeeper. You'll need to find 34 "hidden" animals around the site.

The site uses Flash, and there is an extensive "Help" section if you have problems displaying the animals. You can also title and print your pictures.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about animals and their habitats, make up funny names for the combined fantasy animals, and write captions for the pictures.

  • Do you have (or want) a pet? What kind of habitat would be best for your pet? Why don't wild animals make good pets?

Website details

For kids who love learning and exploring

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