Zimmer Twins Animation

April 29th, 2012 § 0 comments

 

zimmertwins

I love the internet. It’s really changed our world and allowed us to communicate, create and share in ways that I never thought possible.

Zimmertwins is one of those unique websites that provide an awesome learning experience for our kids, and the fantastic thing is that our kids don’t even know they are learning while they are creating.

Zimmertwins started for my family as a fun website for my oldest son.  He loves animation and loves creating cartoons. He uses good old fashion computer paper and crayons, Toon Boom programs, and just about anything he can get his hands on if it involves drawing or animating.

We initially bought him a one month subscription to Zimmertwins hoping it would provide him with another avenue to express his creativity. And boy did it!  But what I didn’t know was that he was going to get motivated to write and spell beautifully.  Zimmertwins provides an easy to use, self motivating arena for kids to develop writing, spelling, vocabulary and artistic skills while having fun.

Zimmertwins won the Parents Choice Silver Honor award for kids websites in 2009.

The website features Eva, Edgar and their cat 13. These characters have some pretty spectacular powers and there are oodles of backgrounds and props that can be changed frame by frame. The charachters talk via conversation bubbles that the child creates but sound effects and music can be added to the movies with a simple click of the mouse. The characters move through the scenes that the child creates first in his mind and then on the screen.

When the movie is finished it is given a title and description by the child and then posted on the Zimmertwin website. The Zimmertwins community (which is made up of the kids with accounts on Zimmertwins) rate each others movies, comment on them and can save movies they like to their favorites. They can earn a “Crowd Pleaser” if at least three users rate their movies with five paws.

More rare are the coveted “Must Sees” which are awarded by the Zimmertwins staff. When a child receives a “crowd pleaser” or a “Must See” he is rewarded with front page status on the Gallery page and a cool symbol placed on his award winning movie.

The site is well monitored by the Zimmertwin staff.  A flag system is in place for the community to self monitor as well. My older son had a movie pulled off for something that seemed minor to me but it was reassuring that the site is highly monitored.  I feel confident that the staff is diligent in keeping Zimmertwins a kid friendly environment.

My son used to hate writing and spelling. When other kids started commenting on spelling errors, he was motivated to get a dictionary and start learning to spell better.  He also started using the thesaurus and building his vocabulary.  His went from sporadic random stories, with no real structure to stories with a beginning, middle and end.  They started getting funny and interesting. Not only that, his new skills started spilling over into his work outside of Zimmertwins. Peer review certainly played a big part in his desire to become a better writer.

When he started earning crowd pleasers and then his first must see, he was hooked on writing, spelling and reading.  He now loves to write stories and reports and his spelling and vocabulary have greatly improved. It has also opened up our conversation to matters of grammar, punctuation, contractions, verbs, adjectives and nouns. He is much less resistant to these ideas since he started working on Zimmertwins.

I don’t think it’s coincidental that the world of reading has opened up for him as well since he began working on this site.  I assume this is because he can spell better, understand words better and therefore understand what he is reading better.

My youngest son saw his older brother receiving a lot of attention on Zimmertwins and decided he wanted to give it a try as well.  I have seen major improvement in his writing and reading skills in the two months he has been experimenting with Zimmertwins. It’s been one of the  most effective tools in getting my kids to write and spell that I have ever used and believe me I have tried lots of things.

Here is the basic information:

Costs

Free Account

There is a free account.  The child can make movies on the free account but they don’t have access to as many features and they cannot rate movies nor can their own movies be rated.  Also they cannot receive comments on their movies, which I believe is the motivating force for getting their writing skills better. Since their movies can’t be rated they are not eligible for the “Crowd Pleaser” or “Must See” awards.

VIP Membership

Monthly membership is currently $3.95 per month.  A six month membership is $19.95 which is like getting one month free. Payment is made through Paypal.

The VIP membership includes all available tools and backgrounds, sounds and music on the site.  Kids are able to comment, rate and review other VIP member movies. They can earn “Crowd Pleasers” and “Must Sees” with the VIP membership.  Zimmertwins also provides starters to movies if your child is having a hard time getting an idea going.

There is no contract.  You can pay month to month. There are no automatic charges. If your paid subscription is up the kids account is downgraded to the free account with everything being saved.  The parent is sent an email advising of the expiration of the VIP status. The parent just clicks the link in the email to reinstate his childs account.  Nothing is lost or removed. The moment payment is made the child is back at VIP status.

Getting An Account

Parents must give permissions and an email address before the child can obtain an account.  The child picks a nickname to use on the site and a password is generated by the system.  This information is emailed to the parent and then the parent can help the child change the password if desired.

I have emailed the Zimmertwins staff several times and they have always been prompt with a reply.

Zimmertwins at School – Free Trial Until November 30

Zimmertwins at School is a new website created by the makers of Zimmertwins, with educators in mind.  The site is a set up a lot like described above but is maintained and managed by a teacher or homeschool mom.  You can set up to 40 students in a “classroom” on the site and give assignments on what types of movies you would like your students to make.  This could be used to animate History, Science, Math, Music or just about any subject that you want the children to work in. Watch a seven minute demo here.

The only difference I see between this and the Zimmertwin site is that the movies that the children make on Zimmertwins at School are retained inside of your classroom and can be rated and reviewed only by their peers inside of that particular classroom.  The movies are not put out for the general public to view.  Since my family consist of only two homeschoolers I am going to try it and add some of their homeschooling and non-homeschooling friends and see how successful they are and how much participation I get. After I have reviewed it for the free trial period, I will write a new post giving an update.

An ideal scenerio would be to get kids from your homeschooling group or coop, if you belong to one, and take advantage of setting up a full classroom. You can give “assignments” and the kids can work on them from their own homes with the login that you give them. I love that the Zimmertwin team is trying to get into the education system since I’m all about having fun and learning while we’re doing it.  I love things that bring the learning part in through the back door and the Zimmertwins do just that!  After the free trial the cost is only $89 per year!  That is a real bargain when you’re talking about motivating kids to learn spelling, writing, reading and every other subject imaginable.

I hope this review has inspired you to give Zimmertwins a try. I do not receive any free services or compensation from Zimmertwins.  This is truly a program I believe in solely because I have seen such improvement and motivation from my own kids. If you try it, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

P.S.  I did an interview with Zimmertwins after writing this post.  Here’s the link to that:  http://www.michelleconaway.net/2012/04/the-zimmertwins-an-interview/ 

 

 

 

 

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