Common Sense Review
Updated August 2015

Wizard School

Curated videos and creative challenges ignite active learning
Common Sense Rating 5
  • Kids create their own profile under which they keep track of messages, collect points, and explore.
  • There are a variety of challenge topics to choose from.
  • This challenge includes videos about different bird features and then invites kids to design their own bird.
  • Design a bird with stickers, drawing tools, text, or audio, and watch videos for inspiration.
  • Tap to start a new challenge.
  • Or just explore the videos to find something interesting; the bottom menu takes kids to various messaging features, the challenge menu, or a blank canvas.
Pros
Original, interactive challenges show kids the joy of learning.
Cons
Coin rewards and marketplace for buying stickers and drawing tools seem out of place.
Bottom Line
There's plenty of material to inspire kids to embark on learning adventures that get them to explore, create, and share safely on the screen and off.
Mieke VanderBorght
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

There's plenty to pique kids' interest, with challenges spanning a wide variety of topics. Exploring, creating, and sharing will keep them busy and engaged.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Kids learn through watching videos, reading, and, most importantly, doing. Creative challenges get kids thinking, and the sharing function facilitates group work and learning from peers.

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

Social hooks inspire, motivate, and support learning, and challenges have a solid framework. There could be better support for general app navigation, particularly for early readers or for kids with learning differences.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers should spend some time navigating Wizard School to get a feel for the kinds of available material and what the challenges are like. Watch videos together and propose challenges to the whole class. Have them work in small groups or with partners and then present their work to see how each group came up with different solutions to the same challenge. Or give kids their own profiles and set them free to explore on their own (the developer provides some tips on setting up a classroom). Have kids share what they create with you and with each other to practice giving and getting feedback.

Help kids follow up on topics of particular interest with library time or additional online time for research or with school projects. For example, kids could design a bird and then actually build a bird with craft materials. Have them write up a report on their bird: Where does it live, what does it eat, what are its strengths and weaknesses, what advantages do its physical features and behavioral tendencies give it?

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What's It Like?

In their own unique Wizard School account, kids watch videos, draw, take pictures, create, share, and message with family and friends and engage in multistep challenges. Curated videos and specially designed creative challenges are organized by theme (music, science, world, sports). Challenges such as designing a tree house include background information, prompts, and a general framework to get started. Kids can also just explore and create freely. Play earns coins, which kids use to "buy" stickers and drawing tools. Kids can also share and message with friends and family. Many of the challenges could also easily be linked to a wide variety of Common Core State Standards.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Learn, create, and share in a safe, stimulating, and inspiring environment with this wonderful collection of curated web content and creative challenges that take learning to the next level. Wizard School wonderfully combines the resources of the internet with the interactive capabilities of a touchscreen. Safe messaging and sharing add a social component that's not only fun but also can encourage kids to follow a project, an inspiration, or an interest from screen to classmates to family to in-class, offscreen development and beyond.

That said, some challenges are better than others. For example, there's an overly heavy focus on "making things talk" (adding your own voice to images, animals, and so on). And a "create your own challenge" option could be a great addition. Though the app's organization and interface are a bit cumbersome, kids should get the hang of it pretty quickly. Perhaps the biggest drawback is the coin and marketplace system: The emphasis on rewards and "buying" items to use for creations doesn't fit well with the developer's grand vision of inspiring kids to be active and engaged learners. Yet, overall, this app offers a unique and valuable platform for 21st-century learning. This is interactive learning technology at its (current) best.

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