This guide provides an overview of the activities children can do on the Night Zookeeper platform.
Creating and growing their 'Zoo' is central to the Night Zookeeper experience. Every activity a child does gives them 'light', and each time their light is full they clear some fog on the zoo map and unveil a new 'egg'.
Children then have the freedom to transform the egg into any animal or character they can imagine. Once they have drawn their animal, we encourage them to write about it: describing what it looks like, telling us about its character, family, super powers etc.
Within the animal's den, we continue to inspire them to add to the animal's story through writing suggestions and other challenges. The sense of ownership of their animals and the ideas this sparks acts as a wonderful motivator for their creative writing.
They can also collect animals drawn by other children instead of drawing their own if they prefer, this can be a good tactic to suggest for children who find drawing less engaging.
Top tip: encourage children to scroll down on the collect animals page to find even more animals to choose from.
We have 2 different types of 'game' within Night Zookeeper. We refer to one set as 'Games' and the other as 'Curriculum Challenges' but children typically see both as types of game and both are designed to teach literacy skills.
These are curriculum-linked and aligned with the grade/year group of each child (up to end of elementary/primary school). These progress in difficulty in a pre-defined order, covering a wide range of core literacy topics (see a full list of literacy topics here).
Designed to practice key literacy skills. These use vocabulary/content specific to the child's age and they can choose to play at an 'easy', 'medium' or 'hard' level. Unlike challenges they are not part of a linear curriculum and the level of difficulty remains consistent.
New lessons are published every week and are carefully designed by our education experts to teach core literacy skills in a fun way. They combine video, quizzes, writing and drawing challenges depending on the lesson. Lessons are suggested via the 'Play' menu in each animal's den but a full list can be found in the Lessons menu within the Activities section. The tags shown on each lesson show you what skills are covered in the lesson or lesson series.
There are plenty of opportunities for writing within the platform, including the guided writing within some lessons, the weekly Star Writing challenges, writing reviews of books and writing they can do within projects. Here are some of the main writing opportunities:
In addition to drawing animals, children are given challenges to draw accessories for their animals (e.g. within the 'Play' menu in the animal's den).
Within Projects (see below), there are also opportunities to draw.
Within Lessons, there are also a couple of drawing tutorials from Night Zookeeper Buzz, our lead designer who created all the Night Zookeeper characters and artwork for the books and website. This will help children make best use of our drawing tools.
Aimed at children aged 8 and older (these are hidden by default for younger children), projects provide a space to share writing or drawings on topics that interest them. These topics help to motivate more writing. Everything is moderated, ensuring it remains a safe space. Examples include:
As they create animals and grow their zoo, occasionally they will encounter voids (bad guys in Night Zookeeper) on their map that they need to battle! Battles can also be triggered via the spinners on their map too.
Before you play: Every animal in the Night Zoo has it's own skills card. Take a look in the Customise menu in any animal's den. Each time the animal moves up a level it will get a new 'skill point' to add to the skills card to increase the animal's skill in one area. These skills help them in card battles so do encourage children to assign the skill points they win - some of the older children get quite strategic about it!
In card battles, some of your child’s animals will go up against a series of monsters (Voids or Bosses). Each monster will have a number and skill name above its head. This represents the monster's weakness, the number indicates how much of that skill your animals will need to defeat it. To win each battle, your child must drag one or more of their animal cards onto the monster. The monsters skill number will decrease by the amount that animal had in that skill. When the skill number reaches zero the monster is defeated! They can use multiple cards to defeat a monster but they lose any card that doesn't defeat a monster (they get to keep any card that wins and can reuse it). Some of the cards in their hand will be Special Cards, each with its own power. Tap the card to flip the card and read about it's power (on the back). Drag the card onto a monster to use it. They have to answer a literacy question correctly first. More special cards are unlocked as children progress in the Night Zoo, these special cards also get increasingly powerful.
The number of monsters they have to defeat to win extends as children progress in the Night Zoo (up to 15). Some of the monsters will be Bosses which each have their own special power too.
Don’t miss: The more your child plays with an animal across Night Zookeeper the more its creative skills will grow. Your child gets to customise each animal’s skill card in their animal’s enclosure, assigning new skills across Draw, Write, Sing, Act, Game, Dance.
Pro tip: If a weaker animal in your hand can defeat the current monster (due to having a high skill level), use it and hold onto your stronger animals in case more difficult Voids appear!
Visit your dashboard to check out your child's progress or log in with your child to see the activities for yourself.
You may also find our Night Zookeeper User Guide written for parents, teachers and carers useful.