Common Sense Review
Updated March 2012

ZisBoomBah

Fun, practical tips and tools for a nutritious, well-balanced diet
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Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Home page where kids can choose to play games, read, recipes, meet kid chefs, and more.
  • Kids choose foods from a menu on the left and watch their protein, carbs, fat, fiber, and 3 S's meters to create a balanced meal.
  • Complete online and offline challenges to learn about nutrition and help Zis, Boom, and Bah save an ant colony weakened by junk food.
  • A kid-friendly recipe.
  • The goal chart allows kids to set goals and keep track of their progress.
Pros
Lots of positive and empowering inspiration for taking an active role in making smart food choices.
Cons
Can be overwhelming and there are links to several games that have little to do with the nutrition theme; also features lots of corporate sponsored products (e.g. Stonyfield Farms Yogurt).
Bottom Line
Great way for kids to take charge of their nutrition that will work best if parents are also involved.
Mieke VanderBorght
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

There's a reason why First Lady Michelle Obama gave a thumbs up to ZisBoomBah. It's fun, engaging, and design is bright and full of energy. Kids'll love making their own "antvatar." 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Lots of tips and guides, and immediate feedback help kids learn about eating healthy, balanced meals and connect learning to real-world actions. However, in-depth info about what makes a food nutritious is inconsistent.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

Find great ways to connect on screen learning to what kids do off screen (like a meal builder that generates a shopping list). There's also advice on getting physically active and helpful info on a wide range of healthy lifestyle issues.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

ZisBoomBah could be a nice addition to your science, nutrition, or health units. Kids who sign up need an adult to verify and approve their account; that adult will also receive information about the kid's progress and the meals that kid creates. Therefore, you'll will most likely want to use ZisBoomBah in concert with parents, which could make it a really nice opportunity create a bridge between home and classroom. You could demonstrate how to use the meal builder to the class, then have kids make their own meals. Kids could create one meal per week in class, which you could encourage parents to follow as much as possible at home. You could also use the goals section and/or the adventure to create in-class activities (e.g., each student could set several goals and everyone could track progress together, or kids could do the offline challenges together in small groups).

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What's It Like?

ZisBoomBah offers kids a variety of interactive nutrition-related information and meal-planning tools. When kids sign up, they design their "antvatar," a personalized ant avatar that accompanies them on their nutrition adventures. The site's main feature is the game Pick Chow, where kids create a meal that satisfies all their nutritional needs (which includes choosing the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, etc. without too much salt, sugar, or saturated fat). Meals also get a star rating (up to 5) based on their nutritional quality and balance. Kids can email the meals they design to their parents who can then generate a shopping list. Other games include an adventure in which kids learn about nutrition and implement a more nutritious diet, and Flip It, where kids learn more about various foods, kid-friendly recipes, goal charts to keep track of nutrition goals, and lots of inspiration for eating healthy and delicious food.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Zis, Boom, and Bah are three ants on an admirable mission: to get kids informed and involved in making healthy eating choices -- and they do a fantastic job. Armed with information and special planning tools, kids will certainly feel empowered as they take an active role in their own nutrition. The meal planner is a great way for kids to explore and experiment with food combinations. Suggestions for similar kinds of foods (e.g., if you like blueberries, you may like cranberries) are great way to broaden culinary horizons.

The interaction between the online experience and offline habits, (like sharing with grown-ups, setting and meeting goals) is particularly important and makes an essential connection to the real world. On the other hand, there can be a lot to read, and not everything is immediately intuitive, which could get overwhelming, especially for younger kids. However, this charming site's features outweigh its few flaws, and its optimistic attitude really promotes the possibility of healthy change.

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