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

Classic logic puzzler gets a beautiful new look

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Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 2 reviews
Privacy rating
51%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
3–8 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Math, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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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.

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.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

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 Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

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 Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

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.


Common Sense reviewer
Galen McQuillen Researcher

Community Rating

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Kristen Z. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Marshall Elementary School
Wexford, United States
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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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Personal information is displayed publicly.
User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Users can create or upload content.
Unclear whether this product provides processes to access and review user data.
Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Unclear whether data are shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
Unclear whether this product displays behavioral or targeted advertising.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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