Bottom line: A creative drawing app that sends daily assignments to the user. Really encourages creativity and problem-solving. Recommended for kids age eight and up, but also great for kids somewhat younger than the suggested age range.
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Many of the apps that I have been reviewing lately have been geared more toward my three-year-old than my seven-year-old, so the opportunity to review Wonky Star's Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch was a welcome change. It’s designed for kids eight and up, but we found that there is plenty to keep kids who are somewhat younger occupied as well.
There is a Night Zookeeper story that your kiddo can unlock with a good, loud ROAR! This story
introduces the user to the world of the Night Zookeepers, along with their missions and monsters. The Night Zookeeper is responsible for taking care of the mystical, magical animals in the zoo, and protect them from the Fear Monsters that steal tools and colors. Your little zookeeper's job is to assist with these all-important tasks.
Each day we receive new, creative drawing missions to complete. My son and I have had a lot of fun together discussing each mission before he starts and setting up a game plan for how he is going to complete each one
Some of the missions involve drawing things from scratch following the guidelines or description in the mission story. Our very first mission described a new animal called a “Flyish” with blue spots. It didn’t take us long to determine that this was a spotted flying fish.
Other missions involve creating traps for the monsters that attack the zoo and steal the tools we need to complete each mission. This opened up lots of new discussions. What do you think a Fear Monster looks like? How would you catch him?
Having the Fear Monsters steal our tools and colors meant that, at times, we had to improvise to complete our goal. It really put my little guy’s problem solving skills to work.
As we completed each mission, we could transmit his creations to an online gallery, the Night Gallery, keeping all of his artwork in one place.
Visually, this game really appealed to my son. It’s a little more sophisticated and “funky looking” than many of the apps we’ve dealt with so far. I think this one really made him feel like he had an app that was meant for him rather than a “baby” app.
The drawing functions work much like you would expect in any drawing app. I think I probably would
have had more success if I had been using a stylus rather than my fingertip, but my son found it quite simple to do even the most detailed things without the stylus. I am quite certain that the lack of stylus is the reason my magical animals did not look the least bit magical. My own lack of artistic abilities had nothing to do with it, right? Fortunately for me, there is no limit to the number of times one can use the undo function.
You do have to set up an account, using an email address, to be able to receive missions and transmit your artwork to the Night Gallery. But having the account also allows parents or teachers to create and send custom missions to each little zookeeper. This function is really great for customizing things to each child’s ability, focusing on each one’s strengths. It’s also great for when your little zookeeper decides he wants to complete all of the current missions before you are due to get more. You can just create a new one and send it out to him.
Parents and teachers can also use an online dashboard to play along. This game can be played online or offline, but you will need to download your missions before going offline if you want to play it on the road.
This app really encourages creativity and problem solving skills in each little user. It's really fun to see how their minds can fashion such vivid creations.
My only complaint would be that you can download no more than four new missions at a time. On a good, long road trip we would have completed these missions and been out of things to do. I know that you can create and send your child custom missions to supplement the others, but there are times when that's just not feasible.
This app is going to be a keeper on our iPad for some time to come. It is definitely a great one to sneak in on my son this summer to keep his creative juices flowing.
Kelli freely admits that her son did not get his artistic abilities from her. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.