Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: Tiny Planets

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was asked to review the website www.TinyPlanets.com.  This is a free, educational game site for kids, ages 4-12. It's designed to be safe for kids because they never actually type anything in. They can "talk" to other players, but only by choosing from pre-programmed phrases & emoticons. The site is ad-free too, to keep it safe for kids.

To be honest, the girls haven't spent much time on this site. While we don't limit screen time, they don't spend much time on their computers, and other than helping them set up their accounts, I didn't "require" them to spend time on the site. They've been busy with all our traveling and such, so it may be that once our life slows down, after Christmas, they'll revisit the site some more, we shall see.

The site, which has a space theme, includes online books to read, tv shows to watch, "My Tiny Planet" for your kids to design and decorate, and games to play.

Some of the features require the purchase of "keys" (starting at $1.95 for 10 keys).

My impressions of this site, so far. . . keeping in mind that I've never been a big fan of video games & such.  The user names are chosen from options provided by the site. This is another safety feature, however, the downside I saw was that they were hard to remember, and we didn't realize until after the girls had chosen their user names, that they would have to type their names in repeatedly (perhaps with a different browser, the site would have saved their information, though even then, if they were sharing a computer they would need to be able to type them in. Many of the words in the user names are quite long/difficult. Especially considering that this site is for children starting at age 4, many children are going to have trouble spelling their user names.

The games (at least the ones the girls tried) also require a reading level equal to or above my girls (we don't use reading books, so I don't know what their exact reading level is, but they read American Girl books, and similar on their own).

The "books" I looked at, were easy reader level, so I assume those, and the tv shows are what is intended for the younger children.

I didn't find much that I considered educational on this site, but I might have been looking for more than what they intended.

All in all, if you're children enjoy space and you're looking for a site they can play on without encountering ads, this is worth checking out.

Disclaimer: I was offered an allowance of "keys" to use on this site in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

2 comments:

Cheryl Henderson-Khalid said...

Thank you very much for reviewing the website. We appreciate your honesty and opinions. You might enjoy www.tinyplanetsblog.com for science experiments, history and space facts for the whole family.

Cheryl said...

Hi. Just wanted to thank you again for reviewing the site. I wanted to let you know that on April 4th the new and improved site was launched. I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have, especially since some of the changes were made because of the Crew's suggestions. You can check us out at www.tinyplanets.com. You can reach me at cheryl@mytinyplanets.com.

Thanks!
Cheryl