Common Sense Review
Updated January 2013

Zimmer Twins at School

Drag-and-drop animation creator is simple enough for younger kids
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
  • Students can either create a movie from scratch or choose from a template.
  • Teachers can add students three at a time.
  • To create a movie, students choose from a menu of actions and drop them in the timeline below the movie preview box.
  • The teacher dashboard lets teachers manage student profiles and view their creations.
  • Students and teachers can view other projects in the gallery.
Pros
The videos are easy to build and fun to watch.
Cons
The price for more than five students and 12 movies is a bit steep.
Bottom Line
The Zimmer Twins at School is a fun, creative way for students to show what they've learned about almost any subject.
Mary Beth Hertz
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Kids will find the Zimmer Twins engaging characters for their short, animated movies. There are limitless options for storytelling, and it's empowering to instruct the characters to perform specific actions or say specific words.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

With simple commands and word combinations, kids can create their stories and can see the results of their efforts immediately. Kids can demonstrate learning across a range of subject areas if they set specific goals for their creations.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Easy-to-follow tutorials are provided, and kids get guidance along the way. A small filmstrip lets kids see their progress and make changes at any point. Kids can watch movies created by others for ideas, inspiration, or entertainment.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

The website is best suited for students in grades 3-6. Teachers can have kids create videos to show what they've learned in class, perhaps about a science or math concept, by having them explain it through a character's actions and words. A language arts teacher could have students create stories from screenplays, build story starters, or create an alternative ending to a book or story they're reading. However, with only two human characters, this can be limiting. One downside to the movies is that they remain private and viewable only to the class unless a teacher submits them to the public gallery.

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What's It Like?

Zimmer Twins at School is the education version of the fun Zimmer Twins animation website. Using an array of simple tools, kids can choose characters, backgrounds, facial expressions, and movements, and then type in words to create dialogue. Student can create a movie from scratch or use an existing template. To make their animations, kids simply drag items such as speech bubbles, actions (like chasing), or text blocks to the drag-and-drop timeline below the screen. The “play” button lets them preview their movies as they create. Sections are easy to remove by clicking the red “x” and can be rearranged by dragging them around the timeline.

Visitors to the Zimmer Twins at School website can make a video without logging in, but their movies won't be saved. With a free account, teachers can add up to five students. With a VIP (paid) account, teachers can add up to 40 students. Teachers have to add students manually and can only manage one class at a time. Each class is assigned a class code, and the teacher can access the student profiles, movies, and passwords all through the one dashboard.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Students will be drawn to the site's fun, colorful design. They'll find the movies easy to make with pre-built templates available for inspiration and ideas. Through trial and error, kids can hone their writing skills to create scripted dialogue that works to achieve their storytelling goals and see immediate results. If kids need help, they can check out the “How to Make a Movie” screencast to guide them through the process.

The organization of the movie creation tool (characters, setting, facial expressions, action, sequencing, text styling) is a great way for students to learn how stories are built and what they need to consider when creating a story. While the choices are a bit limiting, this allows for more focus on story structure than fancy add-ons or distractions like sounds, music, and animations. Instructing the characters to perform specific actions or say specific words is empowering, and kids can use various word combinations to create their animated stories. They'll see the immediate results of their efforts when the pieces come together and the movie is complete. The Zimmer Twins at School is a creative place to play with words and practice storytelling.

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