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The Word Zoo – A Fantastic Learning Experience for Little Literacy

If you’re looking for help with literacy in the home, but are scratching your head when it comes to all the different apps and options available, The Word Zoo may just be the clever solution you’ve been searching for.

What is The Word Zoo?

word zoo ready

The Word Zoo is an ingenious, seemingly simple app (works on your iPad and iPhone) that helps kids understand reading through sight words and selection. It taps into short-term memory for letters and words to allow children to solve reading puzzles, keep track of words and letters and recognise (animal themed) short words.

Using pictures and beautifully basic graphics, the game breaks learners into three stages. 2-3, 3-4 and 6+. These aren’t fixed so you can move fluidly between the stages and there’s no pressure if your child doesn’t ‘get it’ enough at their designated age stage. The game is beautiful and aesthetically very pleasing with a cute array of sounds to encourage progress.

word zoo stages

Kids can take photos, record victory jingles and add their own special words to the in-game dictionary. As a parent, you can also modify the dictionary dependant on your child’s individual interests.

A great PLUS for parents when it comes to a game like this is…. (drumroll please)

There are NO in-game purchases and you DO NOT NEED to connect to WiFi once the game is downloaded. Hallelujah!

Word Zoo is a sweet, educational game that you’ll be happy to allow your kids to get lost in. This is positive screen time at its best. It sets challenges, rewards patience and it leaves players with a very real skill set that will easily transfer to a classroom learning environment.

What’s The Word Zoo playing experience like?

word zoo dog

In a word? CUTE. In two words? ACTUALLY EDUCATIONAL. In three? “IT WAS GOOD” (quote from five year old which is actually very high praise, thank you very much).

Your child will select their level (with some help from you if need be) and then get started. Levels are based on age or ability and content is dictated by this selection. Inside each level are a lot of stages. Each stage is broken into small parts. Learners will be presented with animal pictures (careful, the gnu is a little tricky) and then asked to identify their name in a selection of other names. They drag their choice down to a box and are then told if they were successful or not. Simple.

word zoo concentrating

But it’s not simple. This is some complex problem-solving and literacy going on. As children advance through the game, their memory skills are harnessed and this takes on some real pre-reading and reading steam. These skills flow on beautifully to the readers that children have to use in early primary school or the letter recognition that may be going on at kindy or childcare. The decisions that children make in this game, what they remember and the contexts they can transfer that knowledge to are actually incredibly impressive. There are a lot of ‘reading apps’ out there on the market but relatively few who can actually deliver on what they promise the way that Word Zoo can.

Would you recommend The Word Zoo?

Absolutely. The five year old boss of this writer thoroughly enjoys The Word Zoo, particularly after a hard day at prep. He can wind down while learning and enjoys the success that he has navigating his different levels. Starting school can be a difficult time for many kids so having a game like this to come home to has been a nice way to get himself centred and transition from classroom learning to reading at home.

Plus the animals are super cute. Awwwww.

Want to know more?

You can purchase The Word Zoo in the iTunes store right here. You can also visit the creators site right here.

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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