Night Zookeeper is an online learning tool for schools that, in particular, encourages creative writing. Within the online world of the night zoo, at home or at school, children are encouraged to create magical creatures as well as read and write their own stories. The tool can be purchased for one or more classes in school. The class progress is easy to manage by the class teacher and each student is able to logon via the web from anywhere – at home or in class.
Steered by the teacher, the game encourages children to complete creative writing challenges targeted at their age group, providing sufficient prompt to inspire but leaving endless scope for the child’s imagination. Their skills are developed in line with their age such as by requiring a minimum number of words, use of specific words etc and the additional features (community, sharing, gameplay, drawing etc) continue to motivate them.
What our experts think
Night Zookeeper is a fabulous tool for schools. It encourages children’s creative writing and wider creativity skills whilst being great fun to play both during class and at home. At Fundamentally Children we have trialled this in the classroom, monitoring usage for half a term. Children particularly loved the battles and sharing their creatures with each other and we were delighted to see how successfully this motivated them to complete the creative writing exercises and come up with more and more weird and wonderful creatures for their zoo.
The challenges provided by Night Zookeeper were also particularly successful at getting the children writing and we could see how keen the children were to be nominated for the Night Times.
We were impressed to see the effort children were putting into designing their creatures with some being particularly imaginative and we were pleased to see even the battles encourage strategy skills.
The teacher had found it a wonderful tool to engage the class with writing exercises and praised several of its features. The minimum word requirement, prompts and ability to require students to use particular words in their writing were all considered useful. The teacher was also pleased to see how impressed parents were with Night Zookeeper too, children were clearly enjoying using it at home as well as at school.
All in all this is a wonderful tool for the classroom to encourage creative writing in a fun, engaging way.
It would be even better if…
Children commented that the drawing tools were quite basic. They wanted to be able to add/resize particular shapes in particular to give them more creative freedom.
Teachers commented that whilst the initial Skype tutorial was great to help them understand how to use the tool, they wanted more practical help (e.g. lesson plans) to get started. Teacher resources are available via the Night Zookeeper website some teachers may miss these. Links to ‘getting started’ resources (lesson plans, writing exercises) should be sent to new teachers automatically. A forum for teachers to share their ideas and experiences would also be valuable.
What our testers said
“I like drawing characters and writing about them using all my imagination” – Girl, Year 6
“I love the battles and collecting all the good animals” – Boy, Year 6
“It’s interesting looking around the room when they are playing Night Zookeeper in class, you can see lots of writing screens up – it certainly seems to encourage them to concentrate on writing even the more reluctant ones” – Teacher, Year 6