A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Wonderment is a social network for kids. It focuses on sharing creative works that celebrate things about the world that fill users with wonder. Kids create a custom avatar (a "bot"), explore paths, submit creative works, and comment on other kids' submissions. This helps the users earn new swag for their bot and makes the Wondermeter -- the site's cumulative counter of all users' participation -- tick upward. User submissions are monitored, so there shouldn't be any inappropriate content, but external content may contain inappropriate content. Kids also need to sign up for a free account to see any content.
What's it about?
THE WONDERMENT is a website that seeks to build global awareness, empathy, and engagement through kids' shared exploration of the world around them. Kids encounter individual "wonders" (such as "Hear Your World," where kids capture a real-world sound and submit it to their classmates). Kids start by registering with an email address and create an avatar -- a bot -- that they can then use to visit different learning "Paths" on the site to explore different themes. There's a monthly theme and some weekly Paths to explore, and kids must address their chosen Path's challenge (usually something artistic) and submit their creation before exploring other kids' work. Kids can add their own creative content, a comment, or a sticker, and their submission will cause the Wondermeter to rise. Users can also use their actions to earn the right to update and outfit their bot beyond its simplest, default settings. About that Wondermeter: It's a giant display whose level rises with each user submission on the site. Once it reaches its highest point, the latest user-picked project -- such as a water-sanitation project in a developing country -- will be funded by an outside donor. Kids never pay to use the site, but their participation effectively crowdsources community-improvement projects around the world as chosen by the kids who use the site.
Is it any good?
The idea behind this social-networking site is extraordinary; it's inspiring to find a site whose mission is to inspire wonder in kids around the world. It also manages to leverage those kids' passion to do outreach and service work for those who need it most. The most encouraging thing about the site is its developer's commitment to improvement. Some Paths include outside content (a Buzzfeed video was one unfortunate example), but the site is moving toward making all its video content come from its users (and from teachers in particular). The developer has also enlisted teachers to create new paths -- including lesson plans -- that other teachers might use to drop the Wonderment's activities directly into the classroom, which parents could conceivably use as well. The site doesn't quite deliver on its promise yet -- there's still work to do and a huge volume of wonders to address -- but it's an awfully good start. Overall, this is a neat site for getting kids to create novel solutions to address or depict the things that amaze them in their world, and it's likely to get better and better in the years ahead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about community. What's the best way to create and build community in your neighborhood? In your area? In your state? Are there any cons about this?
Talk about exploration. Is it better to explore a place you've never been or to see that locale through the eyes of someone who's already there?
- Subjects: Social Studies: citizenship, cultural understanding, exploration, global awareness
- Skills: Creativity: combining knowledge, imagination, innovation, making new creations
Emotional Development: empathy, moving beyond obstacles, perspective taking
- Genre: Educational
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free