Saturday, October 10, 2009

Be Your Kid’s Hero: Let Them Play Webkinz

It’s a known fact: many children love Webkinz, but as a parent or educator you may be wondering if it is education as well as fun. With so many interesting and entertaining games and activities it’s no wonder hours can easily be spent on this website. As a parent of a child who loves Webkinz, I decided to take a critical look at several different activities and games that Webkinz offers to evaluate their educational properties. I fortunately found many worthwhile activities, some of which reinforced already acquired academic skills. I was also pleased to find a few activities that not only taught a particular skill, but also helped develop it. Here is a brief overview of each of the games and activities that I researched and my opinion of them.

Booger Gets an “A

This game teaches beginner students basic math skills. The complexity of the problems increase with each level. Students are encouraged to use strategy techniques as the speed is increased.

Get Eleven Solitaire

Get 11 Solitaire teaches and promotes math drills at a higher level then Booger Gets an “A”. It allows students to acquire visual processing skill as well as work on developing their strategy, pattern planning skills, and processing speed.

Employment Office: Example Baby-sitter

This activity offers many benefits including encouraging students to not only work on their visual recognition of facial expressions (sad, hungry, thirsty, tired), but also makes them give the appropriate response. As the levels increase students are given more “children to baby-sit” and the complexity of the tasks increase based on their response time to the facial expressions. This activity also promotes hand-eye coordination, usage of the mouse and is ideal for AS (Autistic Spectrum) kids who have difficulty “reading” people’s non-verbal expressions.

Quizzy’s Word Challenge

This game can encourage hand-eye coordination and mouse usage, while improving planning and strategy skills to earn more points. Although this game reinforces known spelling skills it is not a substitute for phonics or spelling programs.

Tulip Trouble II

This game seems at first glance to offer little in the way of education, yet as I went through the game I found that it allowed students to work on many worthwhile skills. The game offered students the opportunity to exercise their visual processing. It also encourages students to focus and pay particular attention to details and subtleties. Complexity and intensity builds by the level although it is somewhat diminished with the lag time between levels. Hand-eye coordination and speed skills are a part of this game.

Lunch Letters

The ability to type is a great one to possess yet this game does not teach typing skills. If your student knows “QWERTY” this game will most likely reinforce those already acquired skills. Speed and complexity increases with each level encouraging students to push their skills. Note: If your student uses the “hunt and peck” method, this game will simply encourage them to continue using this method and could make it even more challenging for them to transition to another typing method.

Quizzy’s Question Corner

The success of this game depends largely on how motivated your student is and if they are interested in learning the information as opposed to simply earning points. Although some good information may be gained from this game I worry about several aspects. This game makes it exceedingly easy for students to not even read the questions, but simply keep “clicking” the multiple choice answers until they choose the right one by accident (points are still given). This game is also concerning because it fails to focus on mastery of information, yet if the questions are read and the correct age group is selected knowledge can be gleaned from this game.

Goober’s Lab

This activity is a great way for students to work on their visual processing and speed while at the same time focusing on detail discrimination. As students attempt to get three or more of the same color “atoms” lined up in a row they are working on visual organization and planning skills. Good hand-eye coordination and processing speed is encouraged throughout this activity.

Eager Beaver Adventure Park

Many of the same features as Quizzy's word challenge exist in this activity, hover, with the added complication of having to use letters that will "explode" and collapse causing the beavers dam to break over time if you are not quick enough or able to use the needed letters. Helps with word search skills (visual processing), spelling skills, as well as processing speed.

Try these and many other online games and activities. Some other free activities that help exercise cognitive skills can be found by going to , or

If you are interested in purchasing games and activities that keep brain function active, please visit For the hand held electronic SET game please contact The Brain Trainers as it is not yet available for sale on line.

Get a Brain Boast from Webkinz and many other activities that your children already want to do! You may reach Tara Jenner of The Brain Trainers by calling 239-218-4307 or emailing, if you need assistance in cognitive skills testing or cognitive skills training that is specifically targeted to develop new neural pathways using the science of neural plasticity. Our online BrainSkills program may just be the jump start you or your child needs.