Zcooly’s Time Ranch – Practice the clock and learn how to tell time is a fab app for learning about marking the passage of time. What makes this app stand out from the pack is that it shows what time looks like in terms of activities performed during the day and night. 3 am is dark and sleepy, while there is a lot to do during daylight hours. Using both analog and digital clocks, gameplay centers on the activities on a wild and crazy farm. Initially, the analog clock was confusing when adjusting the time at 12 am -1 am as it registered as 00:00, but once understood that this starts the day it makes sense. Kids take immediate ownership of learning by solving clock riddles to earn money to buy animals and upgrading their pens. There even is a T-Rex! And that is the best part of gamification – having kids take ownership of the educational process and playing at their own pace. Earning coins to buy items or animals keeps reinforcements high for replay – as kids will always want to collect them all. And buying an upgrade for your pet on the farm feels good. Every child's farm is different and it is fun to compare and contrast animals, upgrades, and levels achieved with your peers.
On opening, the game starts out slowly with simple changes to the clock. Hour, one half hour, quarter to, and quarter past. The language used is what people say in real life - giving extra credence to what is pertinent in the here and now. There are 10 weeks of lessons in all, ensuring a gradual but thorough integration of the material. The options setting on the home page lets teachers, parents AND kids choose the level of prompting, music/sounds, and how to address time – either as am or pm or using the more traditional o’clock. Farmer Gunnart is there to assist and has a friendly but helpful Shrek Vibe to him. The 3D artwork is fun and original and kids are drawn to it like butter on bread! It helps that coins are rolled out at every level of success, so they can quickly build up the farm. Keep a watch for chances for extra points too – in glowing orbs and apples!
What we liked about Zcooly’s Time Ranch is that there are many levels of practical life skills being taught. It is not a simple “teaching about reading a clock” kind of game. There are aspects of learning in this fun filled app that go beyond in teaching basic life skills:
- Exchange systems of money for goods and services
- Waiting and saving enough money to buy what you truly want rather than spending it on something just because you can.
- Learning about the cycles of a day or in fact time frames concerning activities of daily living, when to be active and when to rest – this teaches about temporal space and that everything has a definite beginning, middle and an end. Often times this is a difficult concept for kids, as every non-preferred activity seems to last a lifetime and a half.
- Looking after the needs of others in your care... T-Rex is hungry, and he does get kind of cranky if not fed.
Most of all this game is fun. There are enough surprises and external rewards to keep kids playing. The fact the prompts can be faded over time ensures integration of material. I loved the rough-cut 3D graphics that seemed to transport you to another land and time. So take a time trip – literally with Zcooly’s Time Ranch. A TWA top pick!
Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of SEPA, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing in Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps has been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.