We are very much in a creative, literacy mode at the moment. Both the kids have been immersing themselves in stories and then creative games or activities based on the stories. I have loved watching this unfold. One of the books which has really caught their imagination is the Night Zookeeper: The Giraffes of Whispering Woods.
It starts off with Will (the main character) painting a mural on a wall at the local Zoo and he is teased by one of his classmates because his animal is not realistic, it is a creative version (a purple elephant). After Will is made to paint over his picture he sneaks back and repaints it in his original style and this moment he gets transported into the Night Zoo for the first time. The Night Zoo is a version of the zoo where the animals walk around without any fences and can talk (LOVE this a Zoo with no fences). The imagination here is amazing. The way Sam, the spying giraffe has been written is brilliant, both my kids where chirping along – “Oh No Sam not another slobbery kiss.”
Will who is now the Night Zookeeper has to save the Night Zoo from some voids – metallic spiders who destroy everything (ie creativity).
The Story is well written and it really captivated the imagination of my two, they are desperate to read the next book – Night Zookeeper: The Lioness of Fire Desert (only out in August 2018).
The story naturally encourages the kids to get creative – they can come up with their own animals, with unique characteristics and new and exciting events for the Night Zookeeper to get involved in.
Both my kids and I highly recommend this book. But it is not ONLY a book. They have a created a Night Zookeeper website and it even has a catchy tune – here is a YouTube clip with the song – The Night Zookeeper
When you register on the website you get 30 days free trail after which it is £40 per year for a home educating family (The site has been designed for schools but honestly that did not impact our use of the site). Update – I initially registered myself as a teacher and then set up both my kids as students but this did caused a small issue later on and the tech team had to move me over to a parent (they were great about doing this – really impressed with the customer service). So if you are wanting to work on the site as a home education family it is better to set yourself up as a parent. And as someone who has worked on the site as both a teacher and a parent you are not missing out. You have access to all the same lessons and extra bits. It is just when you register as a parent your account does not get as many student accounts attached to it – which why we get the discounted rate of £40 a year.
As soon as the kids register as users they have to create their own avatar (they can always go back and adjust this later if they wish).
Then their first activity was to was draw their first animal and write a short description about it – both of my kids loved this part and could spend ages just creating animal after animal. And if you are kids do enjoy creating their own animals on the website you can always encourage them to start creating some animals of their own on paper and possibly build their own version of the Zoo at home. (We are currently doing a version of this as art project).
As the “teacher” you can log onto the websites lesson hive (which has over 300 different lesson plans and they are always adding new ones), select lessons and then send them to your kids.
When the kids log on to the site their lessons will be waiting for them. Each lesson they complete earns orbs and orbs can be traded to go up levels and to strengthen animals (possibly other things but that is all we used ours for at this stage).
The website suggests 1 lesson a week but you can do as many as you want. In the first few days of using the site my daughter completed 5 different lessons, this really is flexible – YOU choose. You select the lesson the kids do and the number of lessons.
The lessons that we have tried have been perfect. Grammar lessons have been to the point with examples attached followed by short exercises for the kids to do. The comprehensions that we have tried have been on interesting topics. And we have found some interesting Science topics. (So far we have found the questions to be a mix of multiple choice and short writing activities)
They also have a section where the kid can just go and write and they have writing challenges which the kids can choose to do. (I am sure there is more that we have not discovered yet).
I love the creativity that this story has inspired and how they have managed to use this story to encourage the kids to write and get creative themselves.
Both my kids (aged 7 and 9) are enjoying using the website and I am really glad we discovered it. As a home educating mom it is a time-saving resource, I can log on and there are lessons already created for the kids. And there is never any nagging needed. As soon as I suggest the Night Zookeeper website both kids are happy to log on and they sit for ages doing the lessons and creating.
Oxford University Press did send me a copy of the book. We logged onto the website and used it under a FREE membership. All opinions expressed about the book and the website are that of my two little readers and myself.
You can order both books from Amazon
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