Product: Tiny Planets Online Game
Price: No Charge
Company: My Tiny Planets, LTD.
To Play: Tiny Planets
Age Range: 4 - 12 years old
Other Products Available: Books and TV Shows
From award-winning TV programming to brain games to lesson plans to community fun, Tiny Planets offers an engaging experience for everyone in the family. And not only are the Tiny Planets sites infinite fun, they're safe and easy to use. - from the website
I vaguely remember watching Bing and Bong on television a few times years ago. But I couldn't remember much about it other than the theme song (which is very catchy).
So when I began reviewing the site, I had no idea what to expect. It was all "like-new" to me.
I found the site a little difficult to navigate. But after a while, I got the hang of it. I always found it easier to go back to the home page and click the links from there.
As you can see in the screen shot, the home page has several planets. You click on these to go to the different areas. I found this to be the simplest way to navigate the site.
I even had a horrid time trying to register. If I didn't have to review the site, I probably would have given up. But I also finally figured that out. See the cadet wings in the top right corner? You go there and pick a ship. You then can pick a user name from randomly selected ones. We went through dozens before my children found ones that they liked. It was frustrating to them, not to be able to pick their own names like on most sites. But it is for security reasons. Children are not allowed to enter any actual data on the site. Not even during chats. Kids can only select from the provided options. Frustrating for children at times, especially older ones. But much safer. But back to registering. Once you pick a spaceship, you go straight into a game. You have to complete this mission and THEN you get to select your password. Never saw that before. Never had to play a game, before I could finish registering my child. After you are done, you must create a parent account and add your children to your account and now they can play.
You only have to register for the MY TINY PLANETS part of the site. Other areas seem to be open to all. Without registering, you can access the Tiny Planets books, TV episodes, lesson plans, and games.
The TV episodes: Your child can watch 1 episode for free. It is cute. The rest, well you have to pay for keys to unlock them.
The Books: Again, your child can watch 2 cute books for free. The rest, well you have to pay for those too.
I am surprised that they would charge to see the books and TV episodes.
One of the planets is for Tiny Planets Learning. I like this one. It is free and you don't need to register. The site has full color, adorable worksheets for the letters and numbers. Perfect for the preschool age.
Another planet is Tiny Planets Lab. This site has approximately 30 games. It doesn't require registration and it is free. The games are simple. Maybe for the 7-to-10 year old age. Some of the games are very similar to each other, basically only changing the graphics. Your child earns stars for playing and can use these to buy things. But only a small percentage of items can be bought with these stars. Lots of items require you to buy keys to pay for the items. (Most online games are like this. But usually the percentage of free items is a little higher than this.)
The most popular part of the site (at least for my kids, ages 12 and 8) is the My Tiny Planets site. This is the part that you have to register for. You pick from the preselected user names and choose your spaceship color. Bing and Bong are your space guides. Along the way, you will meet other players that can request to be your friend. As I mentioned before, there is no free chat. Your child can only select from off the list. This is to protect your child. Players also receive their very own "passport". It shows about "you", your stuff, and your field journal.
Drive your spaceship through space. Drive through space rings. Shoot at stars. Warp into other galaxies to play games where you can earn stars and compete for high scores. Stop at shops to purchase items (some with stars and some with purchased keys).
Cadets can also design their own planet and spaceship. My kids love "personalizing" things in their games. They can find "secret research items" hidden in landscapes. They "identify and describe" them and then they get logged in their journal.
It is fairly easy to navigate through space. But I would prefer a map where I could see everything at once. You can only see a portion of the game area at a time.
The game aims to give your child an appreciation for our tiny planet and to encourage them to take care of it.
My kids liked it. It is free to play, so go on over and give it a try.
Other reviews are here. (once available)
Disclaimer: I tried Tiny Planets free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.