My kids have been big Webkinz World fans ever since they got their first Webkinz almost a year ago. They enjoy playing with their stuffed pets and earning Kinzcash for their virtual pets by playing games online. So when I was invited to try and review Shidonni, an online world where kids can create, care for and play with virtual pets, I was definitely interested. I already knew my kids could get into that kind of thing, and Shidonni has lots of unique, intriguing features worth checking out (kids draw their own pets, draw their pets' food, draw backgrounds and worlds for their pet to live in, play games with their pets as the main characters). But I have to admit, I thought they might play with it once or twice, then go back to Webkinz World.
I was wrong -- they haven't really played with their virtual Webkinz pets since I created our Shidonni account! Now it's Shidonni this and Shidonni that and mama, can we play with our Shidonni pets today? I'm sure they'll eventually log back onto the Webkinz World, but Shidonni has arrived at our home and is definitely here to stay. Here are some of my Good, Bad and Bongga thoughts about Shidonni:
Shidonni is a world where kids are definitely #1: from the bright drawings to fun games (challenging enough to hold their interest, but simple enough to avert frustration) to the happy, whistling music playing in the background, everything is cheerful and upbeat and lively. I like that kids can create pretty much all the characters they want (my 3 kids currently share 1 account). Kids start out with some basic drawing tools, then earn fancier ones by playing games and completing missions. The free, basic Shidonni account has tons of features to hold their interest, and the Pro Shidonni account offers even more games and features that will keep kids coming back again and again. There's just so much in Shidonni to explore!
The lack of text is frustrating!! It's become almost a standard to see text when you hover your mouse over various onscreen icons, but that doesn't happen. I realize that 4 and 5 year olds cannot read, but grownups do, and preschoolers do rely on grownups for guidance. I always like to do a quick scan of any online site for kids before I allow them on it, to see if it's age appropriate and so I can help them navigate through the site and its activities to help them get started. But we had to go through a lot of trial and error to figure out the games on Shidonni (later on I discovered the detailed game descriptions on the Shidonni blog).
Whoever thought of letting kids create their own pets by drawing them, then bring them to life is surely a genius. It's what really makes Shidonni unique and special. It's also what keeps my kids coming back to Shidonni again and again. They seem to have a greater sense of responsibility for their pets because the pets are totally and uniquely theirs. The entertainment / cute factor is off the charts. What kid doesn't want to see the drawing he or she created suddenly start walking or flying? Or be the game pieces in a chutes and ladders game? Or ride around in a taxi or eat the food that he or she drew just a moment before? That's Bongga, baby!
There's also an added bonus for parents: Shidonni emphasizes creativity over material acquisition. like many other virtual worlds for kids, Shidonni promotes a sense of responsibility as children care for their virtual pets -- but unlike others, the focus isn't on acquiring money or material things to care for their pets. Shidonni users play games to complete missions, not collect virtual cash, and they are rewarded with more opportunities to create -- like more background music to play, more stamps or paintbrushes or colors to decorate their characters with, more planets to put their creatures on. And since everything in Shidonni starts out as a blank canvas, it also inspires kids to imagine and create.
Want to see for yourself what further flights of fantasy Shidonni can inspire in your kids? Shidonni has generously offered a free 3-month Shidonni pro account to one Bonggamom Finds reader. Here's how to enter:
Go to http://www.shiddoni.com/ and click on the "Play Now" button to try the site out with your child. You can Give it a Try without creating an acount, or create free account if you want to save your child's creations. Then leave a comment here with one thing you liked or didn't like about Shidonni. This entry MUST be completed for all other entries to count.
For 2 extra entries, you can do either or both of the following:
1) Follow shidonni on Twitter (leave 2 comments with your twitter id).
2) Tweet about this giveaway (leave 2 commments with a link to your tweet). Here's a tweet you can copy and paste:
Shidonni pro account giveaway from @bonggafinds and @shidonni : http://tw2.us/WT
For 1 extra entry each, you can do any or all of the following:
1) Subscribe to Bonggamom Finds (leave a comment with your Blogger profile name).
2) Subscribe to Finding Bonggamom (leave a comment with your Blogger profile name).
3) Follow Bonggamom Finds (bonggafinds) on Twitter (leave a comment with your twitter id).
4) Follow Bonggamom(bonggamom)on Twitter (leave a comment with your twitter id).
5) Follow Bonggamom Finds on Blogger(leave a comment with your Blogger profile name).
6) Follow Finding Bonggamom on Blogger (leave a comment with your Blogger profile name).
For each extra entry, please leave a separate comment (don't list down all your extra entries in 1 comment!) . This giveaway ends at midnight PST on April 5, 2009.; I will draw a winner at random on April 6 and post the winner's name on the same day. For additional giveaway rules, click here. Good luck!