Wiseland: The First Cartoon Video Game For Kid Philosophers
Wiseland: The First Cartoon Video Game For Kid Philosophers
Our app teaches kids how to think, not what to think. It's fun, quality screen time that features cartoons wrapped in video games.
Our app teaches kids how to think, not what to think. It's fun, quality screen time that features cartoons wrapped in video games. Read more
Ever Met a Kid Who Didn’t Ask “Why?” Me Neither.
I’m a parent, a writer, and an educator, and it’s always frustrated me that so many people wait (or are made to wait) until they’re big to learn to think, I mean really think. Kids, even little ones, are amazing at asking questions, and too often, we adults put them off because these questions aren’t easy to answer.
Kids don’t ask big questions because they’re trying to annoy their parents, but because it’s what makes them tick. They’re built to question, explore, create, and discuss. Embracing these tendencies not only lets kids be kids, but it also helps them develop, mentally, socially and emotionally. Kids who are allowed to question grow into adults who know how to communicate, innovate, and inquire.
So I’ve created Wiseland, a new app that lets kids explore big questions. It teaches them how to think, instead of what to think, and it does it in a way that feels more like play than work.
What’s In Wiseland?
- It’s a cartoon series, wrapped up in a video game experience, for ages 7 and up.
- It features the characters Sophia, a kid thinker herself, and Phil, a robot sidekick who keeps her questioning.
- Kids choose from a series of big, open-ended questions that spark imagination and exploration, and explore various answers in a 3D game environment.
So far, the big questions are:
- What is fair?
- What makes a human?
- What does it mean to be a hero?
Pretty cool, right?
- They also get to use mini-games and creative activities to give their own take on these questions.
- Finally, they can get a famous thinker’s views, and watch live-action video of real kids taking on the same questions.
Wiseland is playable on both iOS and Android devices. The first big question is free to try, and others can be collected through in-app purchases, so that kids can build a library of their favorites, as well as catalog their own ideas.
Building Better Thinkers!
- It’s really never too early to get started on questions like these. Kids really aren’t intimidated by them, and teaching them to walk through an argument, communicate an idea, and consider a variety of viewpoints has positive, lasting effects.
- It’s surprising how many parents and teachers respond to Wiseland too. It’s guilt-free, quality screen time that enriches while it entertains. If mobile games are going to be part of a kid’s daily routine, why not get them to use their time wisely, with something that’s actually fun to play?
- Parents find that their kids want to talk about these big questions long after the devices get turned off. Wiseland sparks conversations around the dinner table, in the car, and on vacation, even when kids aren’t playing it.
- We’ve had a lot of parents (sheepishly) admit that they’ve learned something too. Teaching kids to think has some pretty wonderful trickle-down effects, and we love that entire families get into it.
Where Does My Support Go?
We’ve got 3 big questions in Wiseland already, and the first one is free to try. We’ve been kid and parent-testing it for a while, and we’re getting amazing feedback. I think it goes without saying that there are a lot more than 3 questions that kids are itching to ask, and we want to keep making content!
- Every $10,000 we raise will pay for another big question, including a cartoon with three alternate endings, mini-games, creative activities, famous thinkers, and live-action video of real kids tackling it. If we make double our goal, we’ll make 2. If we triple it, we’ll make 3. You get the picture.
- Your contribution will go directly towards animation, game design and programming, writing, editing, direction, and post-production.
- The timeline is 2-3 months per big question, but if we more than meet our goals, my team can work on more than one at a time.
- Wisleand was inspired by a “ThinkAboutIt: Philosophy for Kids”, a series of books and apps, so it’s part of an ongoing initiative to teach critical thinking to kids through materials that are fun and entertaining.
We want to capture the imagination and interests of all kinds of kids, and to do this, we’ve got lots and lots more questions in the pipeline, including:
- What makes a great leader?
- What’s the real difference between boys and girls?
- Why is it so important to protect the environment?
Although they’re not part of this Kickstarter campaign, we do have plans for a second app, a subscription-based web portal, a resource marketplace for parents and teachers, new characters, and new kinds of activities and media. There are currently no plans for Wiseland breakfast cereal, tube socks, or floor wax yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks In Advance!
- Every little bit of funding helps, and to thank our supporters, we’ve got some fun incentives. You can choose from everything from kid-friendly SWAG like stickers and pendants, to bigger stuff like VIP cartoon screenings and Skype school visits.
- You can also support our efforts by trying out the app for free on iTunes or Google Play, and spreading the word to other kid thinkers, parents and teachers.
Thanks for supporting us, and we’ll see you in Wiseland!
Risks and challenges
1. There are a lot of apps out there for kids, including some that teach critical thinking.
• Critical thinking is considered a vital 21st century skill, and one that’s in high demand, but it’s also one that’s difficult to teach. New approaches are always welcomed by parents and teachers, especially if it’s in a format that kids will enjoy and find familiar.
• While a lot of apps teach critical thinking, it’s usually tacked on to math, literacy or some other subject areas. Ours tackles thinking skill development head-on, with what’s essentially philosophy for kids. Wiseland revolves around big questions that kids actually ask, and for which they don’t always get answers.
• Besides some interactive eBooks that we ourselves produced, Wiseland is the only philosophy app for kids. This means that the questions asked are open-ended, so kids have to think things through for themselves.
• We’re also the only critical thinking app that is cartoon and video game based. Its interactive format means here’s no passive viewing. Kid users have to get in there and try things for themselves. The cartoons are “choose your own adventure”, presented as a quest, and each has its own set of interactive activities.
2. Creating this kind of app requires an understanding of how kids learn.
• I’ve been in education and curriculum development for almost 20 years. I make my living designing learning resources for learners of all ages, and I’ve taught just about every subject area.
• I’ve been a writer for about that long too, with a focus on children’s literature. My work has won a number of awards, has been well-reviewed, and has been recommended by the National Science Teacher’s Association.
• My background is actually in philosophy, and I have a lifelong love of big questions. I’m part of several organizations that teach philosophy to kids, I’ve been a speaker/presenter at a number of conferences, and I do workshops for both kids and adults.
• The team of professionals I work with in producing Wiseland is amazing. They’re experienced and skilled educators, artists, programmers, game designers, media producers, and in several cases, they’re parents too. We’re all passionate about this project, proud of our prototype, and raring to go on new big questions.
• Wiseland has been road-tested with kids of varying ages and interests, as well as with parents and teachers. Feedback has been resoundingly positive, and at every stage of testing, we’ve taken suggestions to heart.
3. Long-term funding will be needed in order to keep adding more questions.
• Along with being a writer, educator, and interactive media producer, I’m also an entrepreneur. I have a vested interest in Wiseland not only being a self-sustaining business model, but also part of a revenue generating ecosystem that will eventually include other platforms.
• The first big question in Wiseland is free to try, but subsequent questions are available as an in-app purchase. Additional questions will not only attract a broader audience, but will also help to fund development of future material.
• In addition to Wiseland, a second app is currently in development, as well as a subscription-based web portal, and a parent/teacher resource marketplace. Each of these will eventually produce revenue to fund the Wiseland project in general.
• Social media channels are also in place to market Wiseland as it grows.
- (30 days)