ZCooley Time Ranch by Zcooley AB is a universal app for iOS that teaches people how to read both digital and analog style clocks. Teaching your kids how to tell time is a really important life skill. As we have transitioned from analog clocks to digital – at times I worry that the skill will be lost by the upcoming generation. My son often goes over to my iPhone or device to check and see what time it is – he either clicks the home button or will ask Siri what time it is if there is not a clock handy. ZCooley Time Ranch helps kids practice digital, analog and clock skills both with reading and practice setting the clock. It is designed for kids from late preschool (better with digital) through elementary school. It not only teaches you how to read and set the clock but also gives information like “quarter to”, “half past”. The app includes a practice as well as timed mode. As you complete the levels and earn the in-app currency (not an IAP) you can buy additional animals to take care of a new animal.
To set the clock, you tap on the clock and move the hands forward to the correct time. One of the things I liked here was that you couldn’t accidentally move the hands backward which could be a bit confusing especially for kids just learning how to set the clock. After you complete five clock settings correctly, the day is over. Once you set the time, you hit a thumbs up at the bottom of the clock. If the time is wrong, it asks you if you are sure and if you get it wrong multiple times it brings you back to the start of the level. Each time you complete the time correctly, you feed the animals and collect the in-app coin currency for completing the task. As the task comes closer to being completed the scene changes to nighttime. Then the app brings up a new “note” to be completed the next day. As you gain competence “clock” terms like “half past” are introduced” along with a visual model of what the time should look like. You have a variety of options where you can “show” or “hide” the demonstration clock to help kids with the task. You can turn the background music as well as the sound effects on and off.
I really liked the visual model which showed what the clock time should look like in the easier levels and that it was presented again with new terms like “quarter to”. I remember when I learned to tell time, we used small clocks we held in our hands and moved the hands forward. This is a fun interactive digital twist which encourages kids to participate and understand at the moment if they have gotten the answer right or wrong. The visual cues which also showed AM/PM were helpful for my son to understand the difference between night and day. I also liked the reward system of feeding the animals and collecting the coins to earn more animals to help keep my son motivated and moving forward within the app. He liked that each “day” had a task you could complete and that you could go back to the app to continue working even if you needed a break. The difficultly increases as you complete the 70 missions within the app. The texts are spoken with clear narration which means even non readers could listen to the text along with the visual clock to use the app. I also liked that you could move into practice which would be able to try out without worrying about getting the answer wrong. Another thing I liked was that kids could “earn” coins for taking care of the animals – they could either use them to upgrade the pen or save for a more exotic animal like a lion. We used this to have a conversation about how we could buy a more inexpensive item that might not last or if we should save to get the better item. The graphics were fantastic and I liked the switch between day and night and how it moved if you were setting the clock and changed the time quickly and easily.
In terms of enhancements, it would be nice to have a multi-profile option so that a child didn’t have to restart each time and it could be used potentially in a classroom environment for practice. It would also be great if other things like a calendar or even some sort of a schedule were added. Another feature to add could be labeling the clock – putting the numbers at the correct location. It did seem a bit odd at times to be feeding the animals in the middle of the night when you were completing the task.
There are no in-app purchases. There is a link to another ZCooley app but that is protected with a parental gate which requires you to enter your year of birth before it goes through to iTunes.
Overall, this interactive time telling app is one that will teach your kids a very important life skill – the ability to tell time! I liked that it used a variety of clocks (analog and digital) to ensure that time telling skills can be used at any time instead of just with one specific type of clock.
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB
NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.