Admittedly, we’re a little slow on the draw when it comes giving our kids the ‘go’ on most online activities.
I’m over-cautious and because my living is made in the social media space, I know what’s out there. And I know there are way too many kids with way to much freedom online.
And sometimes that frightens me.
So when I find something that gives my kids a little sometimes-needed space, keeps them safe, engaged, and interested, and is fun? I’d say that ‘s a huge win for us.
I’ve recently found an online virtual playground of sorts for animal and science fans. For kids who dig the outdoors, for kids who love creating their own, customized spaces, for kids who love playing games and really love learning.
It’s called Animal Jam, and right now, my kids are loving it.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Online Virtual Playground for Animal and Science Fans:
Thanks to the great people of National Geographic for creating this online space for our kids with the goal of providing a fun, exciting, and safe environment for kids to play online.
Apparently, it’s been around for a few years now, but we just discovered it.
It’s the only ‘online virtual playground’ I’ll let my kids hang out in, and here’s why I like it:
- It’s fun. It’s been the ‘go-to’ game for Owen and Cora for the last two months. They want to play because they enjoy the ever-changing platform and the challenges.
- Kids have control. They can customize their characters, name and care for pets, complete missions, attend ‘parties’, buy things, and design anything from their hut to their outfit.
- Kids are learning. They keep track of their adventures in their JourneyBooks, and they collect pictures for each place, a kind of chronicle of their history of the game. When they click on a picture of an animal, plant, landform, you name it, a little bit of information comes up about that thing. It’s SO cool.
- The Golden Rule is stressed often. Little reminders for kids about being nice and interacting kindly are prominent on the site and are shown regularly. Nice Jammers trade, become ‘buddies’ and the idea of being a good ‘digital citizen’ is mentioned often.
- It’s safe. I control the levels of ‘chat’ that my kids can engage in, and I have access to all account information. Safety tips are shared, just like the Golden Rule reminders.
- There’s tons of follow-up and extension activities. I love the Animal Jam Academy, which offers free printables, experiments, activities, videos, and more.
- It’s totally worth the money. You can play free, but members have access to everything on the site–more than just anyone who drops in. I rarely buy these kinds of programs and platforms, but with the added bang for my buck in terms of science learning along the way, I think it’s a no-brainer.
Is it perfect? Probably not. But for us, it works–and especially during the long summer months when kids start getting antsy and need something new, this can be it.
Reading, learning, planning, and thinking. Designing, questioning, and collecting. It’s cool.
Our kids are also loving using the Acer C720P Chromebook for the game–it’s a touchscreen meets laptop, and it’s totally fab for little hands.
fyi: Though I am a new member of the National Geographic Kids Insiders group, this is an unsponsored post. All opinions are my own, as always, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.
fyi: I am in a partnership with Intel AIO . Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value. Affiliate links are used in this post.