Night Zookeeper Review: Helping Kids with Writing Skills Online

Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Enhance Remote Learning (a.k.a. 'Virtual Learning') with Night Zookeeper! I'm here to give you a review of a fun learning platform called Night Zookeeper, where kids can run their own magical virtual zoo, and WRITE creatively about the animals and experiences they have there.

Disclosure: I was offered a free trial of Night Zookeeper in exchange for an honest review. I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

What is Night Zookeeper?

Night Zookeeper is an online learning platform that helps kids ages 6-12 to improve their reading and writing skills. Good writing games and tools are not easy to come by online, in this humble momma's opinion. Most emphasize reading aloud or basic spelling/vocabulary games. It was nice to find a site that was primarily dedicated to writing. What's unique about Night Zookeeper is that it also offers feedback to its users, almost like an online teacher/tutor. It's not an educational gaming platform, but an actual writing tool to help kids improve their skills, and gain some enthusiasm for writing, too.

Here's some more information, straight from the Night Zookeeper site: "Children draw their own magical characters that go with them through the Night Zoo, developing and growing their creative writing skills.  The foundation of all great writers is their broad and rich vocabulary. We help your children learn thousands of new words through exciting, personalized activities and games.  As children progress, they'll encounter sentence building games, short writing challenges and many more exciting activities that help them to use these new words in longer, more complex sentences. Children are then challenged to put their learning into action, producing stories, reports, poems and other styles of writing. Their work will live in a personal portfolio that can be shared with family, friends and a global audience! Children get instant feedback on everything they write. They’re encouraged to improve their writing as they receive comments from Night Zookeeper characters, as well as personalised feedback from our team of educators."

You can find out the answers to most questions about the service in their online FAQ section here.

Is Night Zookeeper for Home or Classroom Use?

Night Zookeeper offers plans for classrooms and schools as well as individual subscriptions. I, personally, think it's great for classroom use because a teacher can physically walk around and assist students with their progress and help them navigate the site. Teachers can find out more info about Night Zookeeper for the classroom here.

Can I Check Progress?

Night Zookeeper gives you access to a parent dashboard where you can monitor your child’s writing, achievements, and the feedback they are receiving from their tutor.

Can I Add More Than One Child?

Night Zookeeper allows up to three users, but you can contact them if have more children that you need to add. The subscription cost goes up with each user that you add.

How Much Does Night Zookeeper Cost?

You can choose to pay monthly, for 3 months, or save a small amount by choosing a yearly plan. Your subscription cost covers one user, and goes up in price if you add more users (you're permitted up to three, but arrangements can be made if you have more than 3 children at home). You can also try the service free for 7 days to see if you like it. Check their website for current pricing info.

The Night Zookeeper Shop

Night Zookeeper also has an online shop, complete with a set of storybooks centered around the Night Zoo, teaching resources, games, and other novelties. The book series looked really cute, and would be an added incentive for writing.

What I Liked About Night Zookeeper

I loved that Night Zookeeper really centered around writing. It's not a game but a way to improve skills and actually write. It allows children to express themselves creatively and get excited about their own writing. As a teacher, I can tell you that it was often challenging to get kids in my classroom to "add on" to their writing. They usually preferred to write simple sentences: "My creature is cool. It is pink. It is big. It can fly fast." What Night Zookeeper does is offer incentives and encourages kids to develop their thoughts more (for example: "...gain extra points by adding three adjectives," or "challenge: see if you can add 'to rephrase' or 'in summary' to your paragraph..."). This process makes it beneficial for both emerging writers and strong writers ("polish, polish, polish!" one of my co-teachers used to say, "a good writer should always be polishing their work and making it better."). Many school districts now want children to learn different types of writing (such as descriptive, persuasive, expository, etc.) and Night Zookeeper touches on this, encouraging kids to write new and unique pieces in different styles. They have a way of making everything exciting and keeping kids interested, too, since there are plenty of options to choose from (headlines, story starters, videos, challenges, and more).

You can find out more about Night Zookeeper or try it free for 7 days here.

You can also check out The Night Zoo book series through my Amazon affiliate links below!

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