You've contemplated how excited children are about these Webkinz pets. You've pondered how that could impact your classroom. Yet, you still aren't sure how to go about using this toy in school.
In the following paragraphs I am going to give you specific ideas for using this toy for learning purposes.
First, the world of Webkinz has an extensive economy based on Kinzcash. You must earn cash to support your pets. So, just maintaining a log of Kinzcash earned and spent is a learning tool for children. Earning Kinzcash happens by engaging in the games and visiting the employment office.
There are two main types of games in the arcade section. One type is just arcade type games, and the others have educational value. Some with educational value include "Quizzy's Word Challenge," "Booger Gets an A" (addition math facts), "Home Before Dark" (visual geometry skills), "Get Eleven Solitaire" and many more. With recording sheets students could keep track of their progress.
Food is an important aspect of caring for your pets. Within the land of Webkinz you can even grow your own food in your garden. You must tend your plants, water them, weed them, and then harvest. If you don't take good care of them you'll have to dig up the garden and start again. Monitoring plants is another way that the world of Webkinz is educational.
Needs and wants are inevitable in caring for your pets. There are so many neat items that you can purchase for your pets but you will have to determine the need and if you can afford the item. By setting goals and saving, you can earn enough Kinzcash to purchase the special items. Children can practice this with their Webkinz pet, and then hopefully apply this to their own lives.
Another educational tie for using Webkinz pets in the classroom revolves around the study of animals. There are all types of animal pets now, including herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores. What a fun way to sort and study animals!
If we look for a moment beyond the virtual world of Webkinz we can tie these pets into writing instruction with activities such as "Make me Love Your Pet...write a descriptive paragraph about your favorite webkinz pet" or "Webkinz Theater...write and perform a play with your pets" or nonfiction animal reports.
Many of these activities are perfect during Literacy Work Station time when students are engaged in an array of various activities. I would encourage you to have each student keep a folder just for Webkinz activities.
Most children have their own Webkinz pets and would be able to participate in these activities on their own logins and accounts. For those children that don't, a class pet or two would allow all students to participate and enjoy the experience.
Whereas most people would think that the Webkinz pets and activities are geared for younger children, that isn't the case. Due to the large number of adults who are addicted to playing Webkinz, I believe that there are activities that people of all ages can benefit and learn from inside the land of Webkinz!
Kathy Cothran is an elementary media specialist committed to helping teachers turn toys into learning tools. Her vast teaching experience ranges from preschool through Master's level education classes.
Download the free "Webkinz Activity Sampler" at http://www.turningtoysintotools.com
For years Kathy has been a "Gadget Girl." She loves technology! Tie that to her extensive teaching background and she has been able to interest, invigorate, and inspire children and teachers to use technology in a rich, exciting manner.