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.
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?
Editor's Note: Wizard School is no longer available.
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.
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.