ZooWhiz

Common Sense Media says

Go wild at the zoo with math and language lessons, rewards.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Kids are in a safe, welcoming, learning environment here. However, they do complete learning activities so they can rack up coins to spend playing games. Whether or not this feels like a positive message is a value call for parents to make. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

All ads are for upgrading to the premium version, but they're very prominent throughout. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Kids must provide a parent’s email address to create an account, which the parent then has to verify. Kids sign in with a username and a password. There are no opportunities to connect play with social media or play with other users, so everything is private. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that ZooWhiz is a virtual learning playground wherein kids complete math and language-arts learning activities. As they work through lessons, they'll earn coins that can be spent on animals for their personal zoo or used to play games in the site's arcade. Kids must create an account using a parent's email address, but ZooWhiz is private and has no social sharing aspect. ZooWhiz keeps track of your kids' responses to generate performance charts for parents or teachers to see. Kids get rewarded (with coins) for completing learning activities. Though ZooWhiz advertises in abundance that it's free, the free version offers limited access and customization capabilities and a lot of heavy promotion to purchase the premium version. ZooWhiz is made by an Australian company, so some terminology might be new for anyone not from there (and videos have narrators with Aussie accents!).

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • naming
  • phonics
  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • spelling
  • text analysis
  • vocabulary

Math

  • arithmetic
  • ratio
  • counting
  • equations
  • fractions
  • geometry
  • graphing
  • grouping
  • measurement
  • numbers
  • patterns
  • probability

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The zoo premise is creative, and execution is charming. Kids will have fun collecting animals and playing games, but the actual learning drills are a bit less appealing.

Learning Approach

Games and educational activities are separate, though some arcade games do have embedded learning goals. Not all learning activities are of the highest quality, but customization options are great for targeting content at the right level.

Support

There are videos for learning how to use the site, but there's no in-game help for trouble with the learning activities. Kids keep track of progress with coins and can see graphs of how well they're doing in each learning subcategory. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • naming
  • phonics
  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • spelling
  • text analysis
  • vocabulary

Math

  • arithmetic
  • ratio
  • counting
  • equations
  • fractions
  • geometry
  • graphing
  • grouping
  • measurement
  • numbers
  • patterns
  • probability

Kids can learn about a wide variety of math concepts (for example, arithmetic, algebra, measurement, and geometry), "word" skills (such as letter recognition, parts of speech, grammar, and punctuation), and reading comprehension. It's too bad that the learning is pretty drill-based; it would be nice if games and educational content could be melded together a bit. Rather than being an instructional site, ZooWhiz is ideal for reviewing or testing what your kids have learned elsewhere. 

This Learning Rating review was written by Mieke VanderBorght

Parents say

Kids say

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What's it about?

ZOOWHIZ is a comprehensive math and language arts website with a zoo theme. Kids choose an avatar and go to \"Learn and Earn,\" where they (or a parent) choose a subject (math, words, or reading), an age level, and specific learning topics (for example, numbers, calculations, and problem solving) before starting the learning activities. Kids earn coins, which they can use at the store to buy animals for their zoo or at the arcade to play games. Parents set an \"age floor\" so activities are not too easy, and both kids and parents can always see progress in each specific learning topic in a learning chart.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

ZooWhiz boasts a fun, creative, and appealing premise that offers a welcoming learning-themed environment. Kids will be motivated to complete learning activities so they can populate their zoos or have fun at the arcade. The learning activities are mostly drill practice or quizzes, which make them more useful for review than for learning something new. Unfortunately, the fun (buying animals and playing in the arcade) feels separated from the learning. For example, learning activities have graphics and sometimes present silly situations, but they still just feel like jazzed-up drill practice. Also, with 17,000 learning activities, they can't all be good! Some are clever and right-on, but others lack clear instructions or have ambiguous educational value. Sometimes quality is better than quantity. The options for customization are really nice. They allow kids to really focus on areas that are relevant to their personal learning needs.

Families can talk about...

  • Talk about the different animals your kids purchase for their zoos as well as all the math and language lessons they've been learning.

  • Discuss with your kids how learning can be fun, all on its own, without the reward of playing arcade games. Would they want to do these activities if there weren't rewards to look forward to? Why, or why not?

Website details

Genre:Educational
Topics:Wild animals
Pricing structure:Free, Paid

This review of ZooWhiz was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Parent Written bycolbox January 2, 2014
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