The health of the natural environment and the planet is a multi-generational concern. In order to pass on the critical importance of improving the environment to future generations, parents and teachers need a way to impress how the world's major environmental issues can affect the lives of children and their families. More importantly, websites like Eco Zoo offer adults a way to teach children how even they
can play a very important part in improving and maintaining the environment.
is the brainchild of Aoyoma Creative Studio out of Tokyo, Japan. The core message of the website is that there are very simple things that every person can do to help the environment. As the young child explores this amazing world that's filled with both visual and aural stimulation, they meet animal characters who each have a very important story to tell about helping the environment. The stories are told in amazing detail through wonderful pop-up books that the child can swivel and rotate with the computer mouse, observing the book just as they would in real life.
The Opening Scene of Eco Zoo
As the opening scene loads in the form of a very short movie clip, the following words appear in both Japanese and English across the screen: "The Eco Zoo. If you take a close look at the animals there...you might be able to get some tips to live in a more environmentally friendly way." This simple sentence describes the entire adventure in the simplest way possible. The goal of the "game" is for the child to rotate and move the view of the world up the impressively tall Eco Zoo plant to find each of the animals that live there.
The Base of the Eco Zoo Plant
One of the most impressive aspects of this online application is how graphically beautiful the scenes are, and the rich and vibrant animals sounds that burst from the computer speakers in a beautiful symphony of birdsong and other sounds of the forest. As the child explores this virtual world, they'll feel as though they are right in the middle the wilderness.
Changing the Eco Zoo view
The sense of realism really takes hold once the child clicks and holds the mouse and "pulls" the view of the screen either up and down to explore further up the height of this tower, or left and right to rotate the view around the sides. Various parts of the Eco Zoo tower are covered with intricate details and exciting devices to discover. The ultimate goal of this virtual adventure is displayed in the form of the five characters displayed at the top of the screen. The child must explore the Eco Zoo tower and discover the five animals that live there.
Discovering Eco Zoo Creatures
As the child searches further and further up the plant-tower, she will suddenly come across a creature. For example, the first creature, shown here, is Mrs. Angkor "Watt." Mrs. Angkor's specialty is making sure that the lights are always turned off any time they aren't needed. What's even more exciting than discovering this adorable little creature living in the Eco Zoo is what happens when the child clicks on "Pop-Up Book."
Reading Eco Zoo Pop-Up Books
Each Eco Zoo animal has a wonderful story to share about helping to protect and save natural resources. As the child pages through this virtual book, each page comes to life in the form wonderfully detailed pop-up artwork. Under each pop-up page, the story is printed in text. The stories are easy enough for young readers, but for small toddlers or emergent readers, the child would better enjoy the story with an adult reading the text aloud.
Rotating the Pop-Up Book view
Just as they can rotate and scroll the Eco Zoo tower, children can also rotate and view each of the impressive pop-up books from any angle they like. Here, Mrs. Roo is teaching young children how they can be very smart and bring their own bags to the convenience store. In some scenes, such as this one, in addition to the bottom text, there's also bubble text above the animal to show what the adorable characters have to say.
Arriving at the Very Top of Eco Zoo
As the child explores through this virtual world and discovers each character, learning an important lesson about major environmental issues, the discovered character's image moves from the top of the screen to the bottom. Clicking on any of those formerly found characters will transport the view back down to where that animal lives.
Upon arriving at the very top of this very tall tower, the child will discover a beautiful star-covered globe that seems to glow from within - almost like a precious gemstone. On one side of the globe is the sun, and on the other side is the moon. From this amazing height, the background sounds are no longer a cataclysmic symphony of birds and animal creatures - instead your child will hear the peaceful rushing of the wind, and the distant chirping of birds far below.
On the very top of this peaceful tower, perched atop the starry globe, the child will discover an item that lies at the very core of the website's message. There, the child will discover a very small and fragile plant waving in the wind. The wind tears all of the leaves off, and then a new set of leaves are born. The small plant shares the message that the Earth can be fragile if it isn't properly cared for, but by each person, no matter how small, doing their part to care for the environment, these fragile and wonderful plants can continue to grow and flourish upon this planet that we all share.
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