Common Sense Review
Updated December 2013


Cartoon "Things" make selective breeding a blast
Common Sense Rating 4
  • By comparing possible outcomes, students can selectively breed for the trait they want.
  • Students are faced with challenges to breed for particular traits.
  • Students unlock new zones by completing the first six challenges.
  • Students must select a mate from a group for its genetic traits.
  • Students get to play with their Things, feed them, and throw them around!
  • The core of the game is genetic recombination; each offspring is unique.
A tidy, whimsical design makes learning genetics trait recombination less intimidating and boring.
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.
Jenny Bristol
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

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? 4

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? 4

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.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

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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What's It Like?

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.

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Is It Good For Learning?

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.

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