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Monday, April 4, 2011

Go Go Kabongo Review

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Go Go Kabongo is an online game for children ages 4-7 to help them develop reading skills.  Rather than seeking to instruct children in "right" and "wrong" answers, it encourages them to develop critical thinking skills essential to becoming strong readers.  Go Go Kabongo automatically adjusts to the level of your child, and your child is advances through its different learning levels as they succeed in their games.  And as they successfully complete their tasks, they earn rewards.  Parents are sent e-mailed progress reports to let them know how their student is doing.  Go Go Kabongo is FREE, but like many online sites, you can purchase the ability to do more.   For example, there are three different learning habitats available, but only one is free (actually right now, you can get two for free as they are still in beta testing).  Go Go Kabongo's philosophy is, "Kids learn best by learning to think.  And they learn even more when they are doing something they love."

The three learning habitats are shown below.  Galaxy Gardens is the one that is free as part of their special offer.  Laughter Lake is the basic habitat that is always free.  Twister Top is the other habitat you can buy.  Habitats are a one time purchase of $4.95.  There is no monthly fee!




Below are the characters you will meet in Go Go Kabongo.


This chart shows all the skills Go Go Kabongo focuses on, and which ones are emphasized in which habitats. 

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The games have nice graphics.  Below is an example.
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So how does it work? Basically, your child logs in, and they begin their adventure in their Tree House.  The first thing to do is create their avatar-they can choose head, body, and "wheels" (everyone rolls around Kabongo).  Then they are off to visit their habitats.  As they play each game, they earn rewards like a sticker for their very own "create your own" comic book, decorations for their Tree House (see a sample below), or pieces for their personal skate park.  In addition to the games, children can go on "quests" to help out the characters of Kabongo.  Parents can access information about their child's progress via the parent dashboard and the e-mailed progress report even gives you suggestions to continue the learning at home.

Kabongo home


The pros:  This website is visually unique from the pack of other early kindergarten learning sites.  It's quirky, fanciful, and fun.  Sari enjoys playing the games (the robot one is her favorite) and so she wants to play regularly.  I like that I get parental feedback about how she is doing and letting me know when she changes levels. 

The cons:  I want to love this site, especially as I read all the great information on their site.  I really, really do.  But...it just kind of rubs me the wrong way.  In the Tree House, the phone rings and the characters leave messages  for your child.  Mimi is self important.  Karl is sarcastic, pessimistic, and snarky (and I LOVE snarky...I am snarky, at least in my head, but I don't want to foster snarky in my 6 year old).  Duffy, your host, is a surfer dude on steroids.  They are very stereotypical, and very much NOT the characteristics I desire for my children to develop.  And that is why I don't love Go Go Kabongo even with all the other wonderful things it has going for it.

The bottom line: Go Go Kabongo is free, and not everyone is as prudish as I am, so I'd encourage you to check it out yourself and form your own opinions.  I'm certain I probably am in the minority, as the fact that it's won several toy and parent awards speaks to. 

To check out Go Go Kabongo, go HERE.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received access to all three habitats on Go Go Kabongo for free.  That access was the only compensation I received for my honest review.
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