Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2012
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Big Kid Life Vet

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Gentle feedback helps kids learn empathy and some ABCs

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Grades
K-1 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: It's motivating for a kid to be able to comfort and help animals by giving correct answers.

Cons: In the reports, you can't see which answers your kid gets wrong.

Bottom Line: This engaging and simple veterinarian game helps preschoolers build pre-reading skills.

You can get reports of the skills your kid is working on by email, but these reports don't include enough information to help you help them. You can't see, for example, a breakdown of correct or incorrect answers by category (although you can see when kids get 10 or more correct answers in a row). Rather, the reports show which games and skills they've completed; skills include "identifying shapes by name" or "phonemic awareness." The communication board has links and recommendations for other Fingerprint apps.

 

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In Big Kid Life Vet, preschoolers identify objects in a veterinarian's office. Kids choose an avatar, which they can change, and a level, from 1 to 3. Now, the vet is in her office, ready to see patients! Kids choose from their clipboard one of three animals to see first. The vet has to comfort the animal, then take an X-ray. The X-ray screen opens up pages filled with different pictures. A narrator tells kids to find certain objects, like the letter G, a pentagon, or a helicopter.

All three levels include the same images, like circles and octagons, uppercase and lowercase letters, and lots of pictures. All levels also stick to the same idea for gameplay: vet sees patients. On the first level, kids are asked to "find the square" or "touch the helicopter." As the levels increase in difficulty, the prompts require more critical thinking, such as "find something with wings" or "this is an uppercase T -- find a lowercase t" or "find a shape with exactly five sides."

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Generally speaking, kids love the vet. They love animals and playing doctor, and this is a good combo of the two. Feedback in the game is gentle and goes at kids' own pace. Objects begin blinking if they don't respond immediately, so there's not a lot of time pressure. Also, if they don't answer enough questions in time, they can treat that animal again. But if kids finish before time runs out, they can earn extra fingerprints in a bonus round. When their patient leaves happy, they go on to the next patient. This reward system gives kids good opportunities to try again. It also helps teach cause and effect.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Veterinarians are an easy win for kids, and not only are they in charge of the office, they get to comfort and examine animals and help them by answering questions.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Quizzes about shapes, letters, and pictures are age-appropriate and couched in the fun environment of a vet's office.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Kids get plenty of hints, and the correct answer flashes if they're having too much trouble. Teachers or parents get skills reports over email. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Jerry J. , School district administrator
School district administrator
Muskegon High School
Muskegon, MI
4
Fun Way to Learn Lifeskills and Family Friendly!

Big Kid Life Vet (or Vet Game) is a great app (iOS only at this point) that teaches students to follow directions, learn about animals, and learn matching (shapes, categories, etc). It has three levels which you can work through! Fun for younger children! I think this would be even better to do it together w/ a parent, older sibling, or guardian. There is a parent section (which they register for which is found in Settings - click on the red/orange fingerprint) to unlock progress reports and engagement meters. This can be done across multiple devices!

Once the child is in the app and picks a level, their "doctor" character helps animals get better by dropping the scanner (X-Ray, UV Ray, etc... )over the animal which then activates a game. The game is very touch interactive and the child must listen to the directions. One thing to keep in mind is that a child has to at least begin the game and to get out of it and go back to Home. If the child was only somewhat successful, the animal doesn't feel as good as they could and the app tells the child to "go back in doctor!"

Level 3 is pretty advanced with rhyming, beginning letter sounds and ending letter sounds. It definitely will be difficult for some learners. I would recommend going through each level in order.

The one feature that parents will want to be careful about are the in-app purchases. If you click on the thumbprint and tap on the dice (games option), you are brought to other apps that are created by Fingerprint. However, there is a Grown-Ups "security password" feature built in that requires a person that knows how to read.

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