When my kids were little, I was always looking for toys or games that would teach them something useful, be it a new skill or new facts. The problem was that choices were limited, we are talking 30+ years ago! However today with on-line gaming the possibilities are endless and when gaming is combined with education it's a win, win no matter how you look at it. That's why I love the idea behind Animal Jam! Animal Jam is an on-line game which combines education with gaming, a setting in which children choose their favorite animal characters, accessories them and interact in a virtual setting, while also having access to fun facts that teaches them about the animal kingdom.
Sounds too much like another video game you say?! Well not quiet, because Animal Jam has teamed up with National Geographic and has placed plenty of emphasize on education. By combining a variety of colorful habitats with educational facts about animals and the environments they live in this interactive interface teaches kids about the life sciences.
Children are actively engaged when they play, much more so then when reading a book and by having them be in charge of their own learning process they can access the information provided about their or their friends characters anytime they want. Learning through gaming seems to be the way to get a youngsters attention! Just think when was the last time you had to threaten your child to put down a book, versus stop playing on-line games?
Players can collect fun facts in their journey books, learn about Animal Conservation in Kimbara Outback, and talk to real scientists, like herpetologist Dr. Brady Barr and marine biologist Tierney Thys. All educational content is accessible to players for free, including Animal Jam Academy. I think introducing children to scientists while they are young is a brilliant approach. The game is geared to ages 6 to 12 an ideal age to ignite that spark that life sciences can be a fun subject to explore and choose as a career later in life.
Players create and customize their own animal characters and dens, chat with friends, adopt pets, team up for adventures, and feed their curiosity about animals and the natural world around them. When off-line, kids can continue playing through free downloadable goodies, participate in contests or learn about the animals through the animal jam blog .
Animal Jam memberships are available for players who want access to additional animals, accessories, dens, and den items. Membership details are located here.
On-line safety is always a concern with parents and I am happy to report that Animal Jam has robust safety options in place which are constantly being optimized based on parent feedback. Chat settings, or the ability to gift and trade can be controlled by parents. Parents can also view the discipline and log in history of their children to make sure their kids are not living in the virtual worlds they create :)
I was impressed to see that Animal Jam even goes a step further and regularly produced educational content for players and their parents about digital citizenship and online safety. Yup it's a jungle out there - we all can learn a bit more about on-line safety!
If you ever hear about Animal Jam coming to your neighborhood make sure to go to the event. They often bring live animals to their shows and allow children not only to hear cool stuff about them but pet them too. Been there, done that and OMG was it fun! Yes for the kids and adults too :)
Does your child know about Animal Jam? What do you think about the game?