Of course, we loved the theme right away! Knights, dragons, castles. Your son creates his own "Mini Me" that represents him in the games and learning community. The objective is to collect gold coins by completing levels of various educational activities and then use the coins to build your own castle and to take care of your pet dragon or other animal. The activities are not your typical arcade-style games with lots of action. They are mostly multiple choice type questions with plenty of repetition to build mastery. The mastery part was what impressed me.
In States of the USA, you have to locate and click on states on a blank outline map. At first, it seems like too much repetition, because you have to find the same handful of states over and over again. If you click the wrong one, it shows you the answer before continuing. But as you begin to consistently give correct answers, new states are added in. Each level builds on the previous one until you have learned the location of all 50 states. As any homeschool parent/educator knows, repetition is the key to memorizing and mastering facts.
In addition to geography, there are learning games and quizzes on math, science, language arts, keyboard skills, and even classical music and the Bible. Isaac has discovered that he enjoys classical music and has learned about several composers so far. It fits in with our Charlotte Mason style very well. A picture of the composer is shown, along with some facts about him and the name of the piece that is playing. Then the child is quizzed on the the information, all while listening to the music.
Security is a big deal, as children are learning how to safely interact in an online environment. If you allow your son to join the learning community, you'll be glad to know that it is moderated and all comments have to be approved before they are posted. As a parent, you'll set up your own free account so you can control the social features (learning community), keep track of your son's progress and activity, and dole out gold coins for whatever reason you see fit (chores, attitude, reaching goals, etc.). It was a nice surprise to discover that I had my own "allowance" of gold coins to reward my son with. You also have the ability to earn free months of membership by referring new members to the site and there is a fundraising option for organizations.
To keep Clever Dragons free of advertising, you do have to pay for membership. Due to the personalized nature of the program, each son needs to have his own account. Here's the breakdown:
- Monthly subscription: $4.99/month (first month is $0.99)
- Two-months membership: $9.98 (perfect for summer break)
- 12 month membership: $29.99 (Holiday special - extended membership until 7/1/12 for a total of 18 months!)
- Lifetime membership: $99.99 (this would be the best deal for boys under 10)
Disclaimer: I received a free lifetime membership in exchange for this review. All opinions are my honest evaluation of the website.