While I agree that learning the mechanics of writing is essential, it absolutely sucked the joy out of it for my fourth grade daughter. I knew there was a writer in there somewhere just begging to get out, but our curriculum was not flaming the fan of desire for her that I had hoped. Things changed when we discovered Night Zookeeper. Check out our Night Zookeeper review below.
Note: I was not paid to write a review, I just feel very strongly about this resource and couldn’t help myself from writing about it. All opinions are my own. Click here for our disclosure policy.
I was contacted by Night Zookeeper about their online writing tool for kids that supposedly would inspire a love of writing in my child. I figured with summer here, I might be able to get my daughter to unknowingly work on some creative writing skills.
Night Zookeeper Review
Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations. I mean, it was summertime and she groaned when we did writing throughout the school year. Night Zookeeper proved me totally wrong and I am sold on this program now so much that we are incorporating it into our homeschool twice a week (but I imagine she will spend more time on it than that).
What is Night Zookeeper?
Night Zookeeper is an online writing tool built for children in grades K-8 that can be used across all devices. It encourages children to write creative stories (and boy, has my daughter written!), draw online pictures, complete fun writing lessons, and earn points that rank them according to words written. That leaderboard sure has brought out her competitive streak!
They have a new feature my daughter is excited about that walks her through book reports, so your child will even be encouraged to read. Night Zookeeper has helped over 300,000 children aged 6-11, to develop their writing, reading and creative thinking skills.
A Child’s Night Zookeeper Review
This is what my 10-year old has to say about Night Zookeeper:
I really like Night Zookeeper because it lets me write all different kinds of stories, like play scripts, poems, and adventure stories. I’m really excited to use it this next school year when I write. My “teacher” helps me understand how to write better grammar. And one of my favorite parts about Night Zookeeper is that you have a flashlight you power up using reading time. You search for the book you are reading, add on time, and write a report. Once you reach a certain amount of time, your flashlight will glow and you will earn another one to power up, it’s called reading light.
The lessons are really cool, and you learn a lot of new things too. You get to design your own animals for your night zoo, and write a report about your animal. You can make new friends, and try to get on the monthly leaderboard. To get on the leaderboard you have to write lots of words and earn a lot of points. You can also play really cool and fun mini games; my favorite is forest word climb where you hop on the tree that has a similar word to the one they gave you. They also have a leaderboard for mini game points too. You can earn virtual currency called orbs, which you can use to teleport to other areas in the Night Zoo, and other cool things too. – Anna age 10, fifth grade
I don’t think I can adequately explain how this has transformed her desire to write without going into great detail. Keep in mind she started using Night Zookeeper just 9 days ago (at the time this post was written).
- In 9 days she has written 12 creative writing short-stories or reports, averaging 175 words each. Most have been non-fiction report styles based on Japan and weather (she is super passionate about both of these topics). Her creative writing is not graded or proofread, however some of the comments she has received as feedback from “her teacher” let her know areas that she needs to improve upon. Here is one she wrote titled “Detecting a Storm.” I actually ran it through a plagiarism checker to see if she really wrote all that and it looks like she did! That doesn’t surprise me much because she goes around spouting off stuff like this all day long. :-)
- She has completed 7 animal reports – these are made up reports about animals that she creates using her imagination. Here is one that she wrote about a creature who travels on a mystical hoverboard. Above each animal report is a space where the students can use a mouse and draw a picture of their animal.
- She has created 18 drawings – each drawing requires creative writing to accompany it. Students can only draw for some lessons or when creating a creature/animal. She loves to draw and learning how to draw with a mouse helps improve small motor skills.
- She has completed 5 writing lessons. Night Zookeeper’s writing lessons help children improve their writing skills. Some of the lessons she has completed link to a video for students to watch and then there are quizzes and prompts to finish the story; she really enjoys that.
Here are the creative writing lessons she has completed (lessons are separate from creative free-writing):
- Creativity Challenge: Wanted Poster
- Creativity Challenge: Save the Forest
- Describe the vehicle of the future!
- Creating a Night Zoo Character
- World UFO Day
How Night Zookeeper Works
Word Games – Night Zookeeper has fun, engaging games that will help increase vocabulary and improve your child’s spelling. Children learn thousands of new words through personalized activities and games.
Practice Sentence Building – The puzzles and challenges will help develop grammar and structure skills that are needed for successful writing. The sentence building games, short writing challenges and fun activities help kids use these new words in longer, more complex sentences.
Creative Writing Prompts and Lessons – The inspiring prompts and story creation lessons spark imagination.
My daughter loves that she gets instant feedback on everything she writes. She has been encouraged to improve in various areas and the comments from Night Zookeeper characters, as well as personalized feedback from “her teacher” really help build her self-confidence.
When she logs in she sees her dashboard and can choose from lessons, games, writing, and more.
I like that I can login to my parent dashboard where I am able to monitor my daughter’s writing, achievements, and the feedback she receives from her tutor. I also like that there are NO ADS and it’s a safe and moderated environment.
What does Night Zookeeper cost and is it really a worthy investment?
If you have ever tried to instill a love of writing in a child and your curriculum failed you, or writing in general made them feel deflated, then you will absolutely love Night Zookeeper!
It is worth every penny of the $12.99 a month just to see my kid EXCITED about writing – and getting so much better at it! If you want to save money, you can get an annual membership at 50% off.
You can try it yourself for 7 days and see if your kids love it as much as my daughter does. I think you’ll definitely see the benefits of adding Night Zookeeper to your homeschool.
Carrie Fernandez is the founder of Homeschool Giveaways and owner of Daily Skill Building. She has been homeschooling for over 18 years, has two girls and works side by side at home with her awesome husband. She has been saved by grace, fails daily, but continues to strive toward the prize of the high calling of being a daughter of the Most High God.