Once upon a time, in a small and sunny nook of a town in the South Island, a family played Goodie Words. They loved Goodie Words, Father, Daughter Halfthing, and Daughter Shortpants alike. Much fun and frolics were to be had on the iPad in those halcyon days.
Then one day, inexplicably, Goodie Words disappeared from the iStore. No more updates. Vanished. Puff of smoke stuff. The Sunny Nook Family were bereft. They veritably cried into their cornflakes. But then, clever Father discovered that Goodie Words had been rebranded, and was now known as Gazzili Words, part of the expanding Gazzili World. Thus the Sunny Nook family were happily reunited with their favourite app, and delighted to discover that there was more ‘goodie’ goodness to go around. Swell!
Right, enough with the gooey stuff. Let’s tell you what Gazzili World is all about. Starting with Gazzili Words, a series of games designed to illuminate a linguistic concept for your spawnling. A word that’s a bit on the tough side to explain while stuck in rush hour on the way back from school pickup. A word like ‘Idea’.
How does the ‘Idea’ game work in Gazzili Words? Get the cat out of the tree. How? Think up some ideas…like when that vine flashes, try pulling on it…ah, a climbing rope, how about that? The dialogue backs up the concept of ‘having an idea’ simply and succinctly, and what was most impressive… the sneaky ‘outside the square’ ideas hidden in the game. I was most astounded when my halfthing daughter decided that she could ride a swan across the river in order to go and rescue the cat. Nifty!
Each Gazzili Word game has a succinct explanation of what the concept is in its intro. An explanation which is nicely narrated for those a bit shy of reading age, like Shortpants. Now, I’m not sure if my youngest Shortpants (she’s 3 and ¾) still quite understood what was going on from the description, but she soon got the hang of the concept through the game… with a little help from her big sis. Not that much help, mind you.
Something that really impresses me about Gazzili Words is the instinctive way in which it’s set out. It just makes sense. Even on the quite tricky concepts and the EXTREMELY tricky concepts. How the hell do you explain the machinations of the internet to a five year old? Well, check out the photo in the gallery and you’ll see. The little ball is your digital photo and your job is to roll it to your friends’ computer/iPad/mobile phone via the labyrinth of the internet. Makes sense, don’t it?
So I’m thinking that Gazzili Words does a damned fine job of explaining tough words through play, a technique that gives a far richer learning experience than Dad’s hasty explanation at the traffic lights.
And how about Gazzili Puzzles and Gazzili Shapes? Gazzili Puzzles is the only part of Gazzili World that I’m not blown away by. It’s basic jigsaw puzzle stuff. Yes, it’s nice to be able to rotate the pieces to get the right fit, and to have the final image animate for my amused daughters. But it’s not really that much more engaging or challenging than an out-of-the-box jigsaw puzzle. Although you can’t lose the pieces, which is quite a bonus.
But Gazzili Shapes... now that’s up there with Gazzili Words for its simple genius. A series of games where my daughters had to identify, count, and match up shapes in some really engaging ways, like constructing a space rocket! And did it work? Did my girls have their shapes vocabulary extended? Well...yesterday Halfthing (6 yrs old) explained to me what a trapezoid is, and my Shortpants identified a pentagon and confidently told me that it has five sides.
Yup, I’m impressed. Gazzili Worlds has succeeded in turning vocab-building into playtime. In fact, my girls don’t even realise they’re learning something. They’re just playing! So I’m genuinely looking forward to those ‘Coming Soon’ extensions of Gazzili World. And so are two little girls!