Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2013


Cartoon "Things" make selective breeding a blast

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
Grades 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.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: A tidy, whimsical design makes learning genetics trait recombination less intimidating and boring.

Cons: Minigames lack learning value, and there's not a ton of depth.

Bottom Line: It's pretty simple, but totally free with just enough charm, critical thinking, and experimentation to get kids excited about he world of genetics.

Teachers can use Thingdom best as a followup to a basic lesson in genetic inheritance and expression. Thingdom provides a poignant follow-up to lessons on Punnett squares as well, as students can see the likelihood of genetic expression while reviewing possible traits before breeding.

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Thingdom challenges kids to breed and collect a diverse family of Things -- cute, fictional cartoon creatures. Students choose a potential mate by reviewing the mate's genetic traits, and the likelihood of trait inheritance. Then students must complete non-educational but fun minigames to help their Things impress their mates. After breeding, students get to choose the Thing they'd like to join their family. Each of the play zones has unique decorations for Things to wear, such as sombreros, and a different pool of mates (and traits). Things are saved between sessions, allowing students to build collections.

Beautifully and adorably packaged, Thingdom has the potential to grab students and get them interested in genetics, but it'll just get the ball rolling. Students will get some good information on -- and practice toying with -- gene inheritance and expression, and some familiarity with statistics. The minigames -- while not tied to the content -- provide an effective break mid-play, keeping students' minds active and alert as they enjoy themselves. Because players are encouraged to collect more Things for their family, they have ample opportunity to practice different gene combinations, creating the types of creatures they want.

Overall Rating

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

Kids breed and collect cute "things," which are cartoon creatures with diverse genetic traits. Colorful graphics make these creatures pop, and provide a light, quirky feel.

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

To produce offspring with particular traits, kids must evaluate the dominant and recessive genetic traits of their creature and its potential mates, and predict outcomes in offspring. 

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

Tutorials to get things started, and feedback is given during play. Challenges can be restarted if kids get stuck. The accompanying website provides further learning about the human body, brains, and genes.

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Christine F. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Van Wyck Junior High School
Wappingers Falls, United States
Cute-but lacks critical thinking
This is a cute appealing game that starts off strong. Definitions of key genetic terms are given up front, and students can select their "thing" and name it. In fact, giving the students choices is one thing that is good about this game. However, too much time is spent on impressing the potential mate, and while it may be true that in the natural world, animals sometimes perform elaborate rituals to obtain a mate, this point may be lost on the learner. Time could be better spent analyzing traits and ...
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