Review by Galen McQuillen, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015
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Zoombinis

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Classic logic puzzler gets a beautiful new look

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3-8
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: Increasingly difficult puzzles make for cognitively powerful playtime.

Cons: Some puzzles take a bit too long or are somewhat tedious to complete, even after a solution is found or a pattern is discovered.

Bottom Line: Promote powerful thinking skills, resilience, and decision making through purely fun gameplay that will keep students begging for more.

This would fit nicely in a math unit on patterns and logic for younger learners, or even a change of pace for adolescents who could use some hands-on experience with the mechanics of logic. There are even some higher-level mathematical implications in some of the tasks that a dedicated teacher could dig into for middle or high schoolers. Outside of the math classroom, any teacher could use this to promote problem-solving skills for learners who struggle to persist through complex assignments or who struggle with sequencing tasks.

Since it feels so much like a game, it could even be used as a reward for completion of classwork or as a meaningful time-filler for students who breeze through worksheets or tests ahead of the rest of the class.

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Zoombinis is a logic puzzler straight from the pantheon of classic learning games. Players command a crew of rotund blue characters uniquely defined by features such as eyes, hair, and nose color through a series of puzzles en route to a new communal home. Each puzzle requires pattern recognition, deductive and inductive reasoning, and spatial arrangement based on the characters’ defining features. The graphics defining the world are lush and engaging with interactive discovery features throughout, while clever and funny voice acting adds an extra layer of appeal.

The app almost always feels like a game but promotes persistence, resilience, and intrinsic satisfaction through progress gained by successful solutions and cleverness rather than with points or flashy rewards. If you’re looking for a way to teach kids that problem solving feels great, this is a phenomenal option.

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Zoombinis requires players to form groups, create sequences, and discover matches using their characters' physical features in a world brimming with color, shape, and logic puzzles. As such, it’s great practice for fundamental numeracy skills. Increasingly challenging levels ensure that the strength of those skills continues to grow, as players are motivated by the challenge of familiar tasks with increasingly complex rules. The learning baked in here is excellent. Kids have to think critically throughout this engaging, immersive experience, and helpful, age-appropriate hints and instructional narration help them out along the way.

The skills practiced feel a bit limited at times, and the experience could be tough for kids with attention difficulties, but that's not enough to detract from an overall impressive experience.

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Overall Rating

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

Beautiful graphics, rich narration and voice talent, clever storytelling, lovely music, and engaging gameplay add up to an addictive and memorable experience. Wonderfully stimulating and thoughtfully composed.

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

Encourages critical thinking, deduction, induction, and logic through immersive discovery tasks and complex puzzles. Difficulty increases in meaningful ways to keep the learning going, even on the umpteenth play-through.

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

Help is always a click away in the game, and progress is intuitively displayed on a map interface. There’s a rich fan community and online help available, going as far back as the 1996 version of the game.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Kristen Z. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Perseverance and Critical Thinking disguised as a logic puzzle game for kids!

I really like this app as both a teaching tool, and as a optional app to keep students engaged in something to help build their skills when I can't be working with them directly. My students loved this app and were consistently engaged in the process of going through the levels. I had many different students (from Gifted to Learning Support) and all students loved this app equally. I really liked that students took it upon themselves to help their fellow classmates as well, which was great to see!

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