Zoodles is an educational kid’s browser that filters through all the *junk* out there and displays great games for your children at their age-level in a way that is easy for them to navigate by themselves. Plus, you get a report of how they are doing and what kinds of sites they like to visit. This one is getting two thumbs up from our Home Grown family!!
The best part about Zoodles is the ad-blocking. Throughout our homeschooling experience, we will occasionally use the computer for some online educational games. I really hate having to keep thick, blank pieces of paper next to me to cover areas of the screen if needed. But now, with Zoodles, I don’t have to do that any more! I can feel completely confident that my children will not see some posed woman in a bikini or a seizure-inducing flashing commercial for the latest blood-and-guts video game out there!
Another thing I really enjoyed was the age-level-appropriateness. When I registered on the site, I entered my children’s ages. This helped Zoodles to automatically tailor the games that were shown to my children according to their age. Rarely, but sometimes, we will allow our kids to use points that they earn in our *good behavior system* towards time on the computer. My non-readers don’t have to choose from games that have a bunch of reading in order to play. My readers don’t get bored with games that are too baby-ish.
Speaking of customizing, Zoodles is chock-full of areas to customize! As you register each child, you are asked a short series of questions to help Zoodles carve out only the games that will be useable by your children no matter where they are in their journey of learning. They gear the games according to whether or not your child can type their name, can read basic instructions, whether they can use the printer alone, if they are hearing impaired or color blind. If I had a child that was color blind, I can’t imagine what a blessing it would be to have someone scour the internet for me to find games that my child could have fun using and be successful at!
Other areas that are customizable include content that your child is shown and subject areas. In regard to content, you can decided whether or not they are given the option to see videos or not, whether they can see printables or not, and a few more. Then, you can decide the *weight* each subject area gets. For instance, my oldest son just does not enjoy math – so, I weighted math more heavily thereby making more math games show up when he is using Zoodles. I did this because I figured the more math games he saw, the more of a chance that he would actually click on one that looked fun. And then, if h could find himself having fun playing a math game, maybe that would carry over to his math studies. (Maybe not, but even the practice would do him some good!) Here’s a look at the screen, just in case my explanation doesn’t make sense.
Not only are there tools to make the child’s experience better, there are tools for mom and dad as well! You get access to several reports to get a really good overview of what kinds of games your children are enjoying and how they are doing on those games. The first report is an overview of all the places your child went, broken down into a pie chart by subject area. Then, you can browse the content they have used by genre and by site and by most visited according to minutes they spent. Lastly, you get a map of every game your child can see – hover over or click on the thumbnail for an explanation of what the game is about.
The co-founder and CEO of Zoodles, as his first blog entry on the Zoodles blog, talked about why they started the website to begin with. He came across issues with his daughter’s online experience that I think lots of parents deal with, but he went the next step to fix the problem! Now, we all get to reap the benefits!
The Zoodles browser is free! The Zoodles team believes that every child should have access to a safe and educational online experience! From their website: “Parents will be given a free trial of the Zoodles Premium Membership, including access to the Zoodles Parent Dashboard, which enables parental control and monitoring features. The parent dashboard also allows parents to focus their child’s time online on specific educational areas, like math and reading. For parents interested in becoming Premium Members, Zoodles offers a number of pricing plans, including $7.95 per month, $39.95 for 6 months and $59.95 for the entire year.”
This video will help you understand exactly what you are paying for:
You heard that right! You can get a free trial membership for 2 weeks to see what you think about Zoodles! You will probably love it, just like we do!