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Despite a disappointing start, we ended up having a lot of fun with this app. I wouldn’t substitute my regular curriculum in any way with Adventure Academy, but on an easy day, my kids do have fun relaxing and logging in to complete some activities.
If you’ve heard of ABC Mouse, you’ve likely heard of Adventure Academy. It’s made by the same people, but it’s the product offering for older children. It’s well-developed, although the sign-up process could be better.
One thing you should know upfront is that this is a massive multiplayer online (MMO) game, so your child will be online, playing with other real children. Some parents don’t like that. It makes them feel very uncomfortable.
Before you completely freak out and veto this tool now, you can turn this feature off completely. I think it’s important to know that upfront, as well.
All in all, it’s not bad, but I’m not shouting it from the rooftops, either. It gives my kids something to do, but there are a number of reasons I won’t end up paying for it. You can make your own decision after reading.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Learning App
Every child learns at their own speed and in their own way. Some children need a lot of structure while others will self-regulate. Sometimes rewards systems work and others have excellent self-motivation.
You need to evaluate how your child learns and then find the tools that will motivate them without adding stress. If you feel that an app will offer the engagement your child needs and help them to retain the information better than a traditional classroom setting, then learning tools like Adventure Academy may work for you.
However, how lessons are being taught is just as important as what is being taught. Effective methods with enough repetition to solidify the concept are necessary to the learning process, and often, apps like this just don’t get the job done.
They’re not tailored to your individual child’s needs, and your involvement is critical to their success. You need to make sure that whatever app you choose has a parent dashboard that allows you to monitor progress.
If you’re prepared for that commitment, then apps like Adventure Academy are great solutions, because they’re interactive and customizable, but you can still check in to make sure your child is learning.
Adventure Academy is brought to you by the same people who created ABC Mouse and Reading IQ, but its curriculum is designed for ages 8-13. If your child loved ABC Mouse, but eventually outgrew it, you may love this.
It’s a virtual school, not designed to replace your child’s primary school, but can address what the company felt were low levels of academic proficiency among both elementary and middle school students.
Your child can walk around the virtual campus exploring classrooms, talking to other students, and getting assignments from teachers. There are puzzles, books, videos, and games. There are motivating tasks, excellent graphics, great character development, and learning opportunities.
At first, when I went to the website to sign up, I was a bit annoyed by the constant pop ups.
Take advantage of this deal now!
Are you sure you don’t want to click here for more discounts?!
Don’t forget if you pass this up you won’t get it again!!
Just give the free trial already!
After all of that nonsense, I was directed to a two page survey about how I heard of Adventure Academy and what interests my child has. Look, I’m sure there’s a point to all of this, but if they’re not going to tell me how it benefits me immediately, I’m out.
I navigated away from it, because I’m a busy parent with little to no time for that kind of stuff. I really hate it when apps that claim to be marketing to people like me seem to understand me so little.
Downloading and logging in
Downloading the app is free and it was pretty seamless. Make sure you check your device compatibility before you sign up or pay. Their device compatibility is pretty extensive, but you’d hate to pay for it and find out it doesn’t work.
Once the app downloaded, my first impression was that it wasn’t too impressive. I liked ABC Mouse so much better. The login screen was basically just a mobile version of the website. I was prepared for a pretty terrible experience.
However, once I logged in, it was very well developed.
While I think the desktop version runs smoother due to the larger screen and the mouse controls being easier to use, the app was fine once I got logged in.
The one thing I will say is that because the developers spent so much time on the learning side of the platform, I think they skimped on the parent dashboard. It’s not as well developed or as easy to use as the parent dashboard of ABC Mouse was.
After the game loads, you set up your parent account and privacy settings. You can always update these settings at any time, so don’t worry about anything being permanent.
You’ll also set up your child’s user account, gender, and name. Be aware that because this is a massive multiplayer online game, this is the name that real people will see online (did I mention this was online?), so it’s wise not to choose their real name.
It’s also wise to watch them like a hawk while they play, because, did I mention it’s online?
They can design the character’s clothing, face shape, skin tone, hair color, eye color, and everything else about them. It’s basically an avatar. They can change these things later, and they can buy additional clothing and accessories throughout the game.
After setting up their character, they can begin exploring. Glowing exclamation points will lead them to quests and tasks where they can earn XP (experience) which will help them advance to new levels, or coins which they can use to purchase things.
There are a bunch of games, books, puzzles, and videos in kiosks throughout the academy. They can approach the kiosks anytime they want or follow quests.
Features & Benefits
Adventure Academy has plenty of features, but whether you think your child will reap the benefits of these features is up to you. Like I said, the entire game is online, which I just can’t emphasize enough.
We’ve spent since, well, birth protecting our children from the horrors of what we know is online, so it’s terrifying to think of letting them loose in this type of environment.
I know, I know, you can’t keep them in a bubble. If you’re less protective than we are, maybe this app will pack more punch for you than it did me.
The virtual world
There are quite a few areas to explore in the virtual world of Adventure Academy. Just in the short 30 day free trial we had, we were able to explore about ten different areas. As you progress through the levels, you’ll probably unlock more.
The Academy includes all of your classrooms, like the science wing, the math wing, and the library, the headmaster, and the campus store. It also includes all of the learning kiosks we talked about earlier where you can pick up quests.
The Commons is like the commons you might find on a college campus with a cafe, a fountain, a maze, and friends. You’ll find cotton and other quests like dandywinds, berries, and sticks.
You can shop in the Marketplace with the coins you earn, where you can pick up new clothes, accessories, or furniture for your character. Shops include The Clothespin clothing store, Amelie’s Armoire furniture store, Patty-O’s outdoor furniture store, The Couch Potato furniture store, and Pure Illumination lighting and fixture store. You may find that some shops are hidden. Shady Dave’s isn’t so easy to find…
You can get your haircut at Trim and Proper, but beauty treatments cost coins, too.
If you can’t find what you need for a quest, you can make custom items at The Craftsman Ship. You can also accept challenges from the shop owner, Alonso.
If you’re interested in selling things you no longer want, you can open your own shop in the Grand Marketplace. You can also buy things here, but some kids will try to sell their things for way too many coins, so be careful.
You can learn more about Adventure Academy and the quests contained within the Newspaper Office.
You have your very own home in the Neighborhood, so be sure to check that out. You’ll want to decorate it so you can have your friends over. You can plant a garden in the front yard, fish, talk to your neighbors, or complete quests.
The Pier has a beach, an aquarium, a boardwalk with carnival rides and games, and a lighthouse with a telescope. Rides, games, and the telescope will cost you money. There are shops here, too, like Beachy Keen, Deep Sea Treasures, Midway, and The Adventure Cove Aquarium.
The graphics make the aquarium look incredibly real, and you can fish near the beach. You can explore tide pools and a sea cave. You can even mine for rocks and minerals.
Kids can create their very own Clubhouse and invite only the friends they want to join. There’s a new caretaker here and new tasks to complete. There’s a treehouse here, a firepit, fishing, a garden, and so much more!
If your child happens to reach Level 30, they’ll be invited to join the Honor Society. They’ll gain access to the secret shop, and only Honor Society members know where that is. No gold coin will work in this shop. Only blue coins can be spent here.
The shop sells a variety of items you can’t purchase anywhere else, and your child will be considered a graduate now. They can’t level up anymore, but they can still earn points and complete quests.
Character customization is great because it allows your child to immerse themselves in the world and feel like they belong. They can literally be anyone they want to be. They can choose a name and their appearance, and then change it at any time.
The name floats above their character as they walk through the academy, so a made up name may make you feel more comfortable than their real name.
The characters can also perform basic movements like wave, dance, and jump. You can earn purple gems through challenges that will allow you to purchase new movements, called emotes.
The more the character levels up, the more extras will be available for purchase. Whether your child wants clothing, shoes, earrings, backpacks, other accessories, hair color, eye color, skin color, or something else, it’s available through leveling up.
No matter what the other features are, it all boils down to the educational activities. Luckily, with Adventure Academy, you can’t level up unless you complete the educational activities.
Whether it’s completing new quests, getting to new areas of the map, or buying more accessories, your child will have to complete educational activities to get there.
Kiosks contain all of these opportunities. There are different subjects with videos, games, and interactive questions. There are too many to count, explain, or show, and they’re copyrighted anyway, but there are a lot.
In addition to the learning kiosks, each classroom has screens that load facts and stories with more information. They’ll often have quizzes at the end of each activity that will earn your child more coins.
Here are just some of my child’s favorite games to play on Adventure Academy:
- Honey Harvest
- Math Realms
- Fast Facts
- Crash Course
- Escape From Fred
- Run, Bigfoot, Run
- Science Fair
- Crossword Puzzles
- Word Scramble
- Science Alliance
- Secret Life of Ordinary
- Paint by Numbers
- Dig Deeper
These are a mix of language arts, math, and science. They vary in length from a few seconds to longer than 5 minutes, but my kids aren’t picky. They love to learn and they love all subjects.
Now for the best part. Your parent dashboard gives you a detailed view of the lessons they’ve completed so you can see what they’ve been learning.
There’s no easy way around it. As I said before, they simply cannot level up if they don’t complete the learning activities. The game will not let them.
Your child can’t skip ahead, they can’t fast forward the videos, and they can’t flip through the pages of the book too quickly. The system will not register the lesson as complete and it won’t give them the coins.
One of the best ways to figure out what they’ve been learning is to look at the parent dashboard and quiz them yourself. It’s the perfect evaluator of whether or not Adventure Academy is worth your time and money.
Chat settings and safety
Now to the part that makes parents a nervous wreck. Good news, folks. You can turn this feature off completely. Hurrah!
When you first begin, it might be smart to disable this setting until you get used to the game and how it works.
However, with this setting disabled, your child won’t be able to communicate with anyone at all, including teachers, neighbors, shop owners, etc.
Instead, you might want to try enabling the Quick messaging setting, that allows your child to choose from a set of pre-selected messages like “Hello” and “How are you?” They can also send friend requests and approve or deny them.
Each player gets their own ID code so strangers can’t just send random friend requests to anyone, which might also make you feel a little better. If you want to friend an actual real life friend you have to know their ID code.
If you open up the chat feature, Adventure Academy does have the ability to report and block users. They have filters that don’t allow you to share personal info like phone numbers, addresses, or social media names.
They also employ a team of full-time community monitors who have the ability to remove players from the academy.
They are also KidSAFE+ COPPA-certified.
Honestly, Adventure Academy is relatively new, and there’s nothing else quite like it. You’re not going to find any direct alternative, but you may find something to supplement a particular subject.
If you’re looking for a learning app like Adventure Academy, you might want to give one of these alternatives a glance before making a decision.
Khan Academy is a website that offers courses on all kinds of different subjects. While it’s not an interactive app like Adventure Academy, you can use it to supplement any subject, literally. I can’t think of a subject they don’t cover.
If your child is struggling, there’s a Khan Academy course for that. If your child wants to learn more about something, there’s a Khan Academy course for that. If your child thinks something is super boring, there’s a Khan Academy course for that.
They turn traditional learning on its head, and it’s a great resource for homeschoolers, public schoolers, unschoolers, and everyone in between.
This online tool was developed by MIT so that kids could learn how to program. They can design their own applications, games, and art, and then share them. They’ll get comments from real people about their finished project.
They can start by playing other people’s games and then learn how to build their own. It’s great for kids starting at age 7 and can even be great for adults who want to learn.
I don’t like promoting a video game as a learning tool, but what I will say about Minecraft is that it has really engaged my son in terms of his critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Minecraft is a virtual world in which you build with blocks, but it’s also interactive. You have a character, and you can interact with other characters. You can allow your child to play online, or turn that feature off, like I do.
However, my son is very interested in engineering, so games like this, as well as toys like LEGOs, help him to expand his knowledge. It’s a STEM subject that doesn’t get the attention it should in a traditional school setting, which is why I like it.
If your child is super interested in geography or astronomy (and what kid doesn’t love staring at the night sky?), then this app is so fun! You can zoom in and out, stare at it forever, change it to the satellite view, and look at virtually anything. The possibilities are endless.
Countries, continents, planets, stars, everything is on Google Earth!
Take this one step further and download apps like Sky Map. Check it out. You’ll thank me later.
This online math tool is like a video game, but it will teach your child math without them even knowing it. School districts use it sometimes, too. It’s that good. It’s not free, but it could be worth it if you’re in desperate need of a math tool.
Funny name. Cool website. There are over 350 recipes, all in video form, made just for kids to watch and try. Cooking can teach kids really valuable life lessons about measuring, nutrition, safety, and responsibility.
Plus, if your kids can eventually take over dinner duty, won’t you feel like the winningest parent in the history of parenting?
It’s free, but there are ads, so be careful there.
While I was pleasantly surprised by Adventure Academy, I don’t think I’ll continue to use it. However, it would be an excellent tool to prevent that dreaded summer regression. It’s also a great tool for homeschoolers to supplement certain subjects or still feel like you’re doing something educational for your child on an “off” day.
There are a lot of really great educational activities that your child will love and they’ll have fun doing it. Plus, with a 30 day trial, why not try it for yourself? If you love it, subscribe! If you hate it, you didn’t lose anything!