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How can we use technology to inspire and motivate reluctant writers?

Night Zookeeper

Marker UK
A digital learning tool that inspires children to create their own characters who live in a magical digital world. The focus is to improve writing skills through gamified learning.

What is the Night Zookeeper?

Paul Hutson
“My students were able to make a year's worth of progress in their writing in one term, as a result of their involvement and enthusiasm for Night Zookeeper.”

Emma Cotton, Class Teacher, Langham Village Primary School, Norfolk, UK

Creativity and literacy skills enable students to lead fuller lives and contribute to society. However, schools have reported that it can be difficult to get children, particularly boys, excited about writing. Lack of motivation can inhibit skills development as students are less likely to practice their writing skills.

Night Zookeeper is an online platform which inspires children to express themselves and to be creative writers. What started as a simple story about magical animals has grown into an online world where children can learn about anything that sparks their imagination. The website inspires and engages children, nurturing a love of writing as they develop core skills across the curriculum.

Issues of motivation have been approached from the child’s point of view. Writing has been gamified to make it an enjoyable experience. A love for writing is inspired through the story, characters, and game, and children are motivated to produce their best writing.

Teachers choose from thousands of interactive lessons from a broad curriculum range and send it to students to access online. Students write, read and draw their way around the Night Zoo as they become publishers of their own creative ideas.

Curriculum content delivered in this way motivates even reluctant students. Work can also be published on a class blog which gives the students a sense of audience and purpose for their writing for further motivation. 

The Night Zookeeper is a tool that teachers and students can use flexibly to fit whatever their particular philosophy and curriculum is at their school.

Teachers can also benefit from the assessment tools within the Night Zookeeper as the online writing tool automatically assesses children’s writing ability and tracks progress. This makes it easy to compare a piece of writing a child submitted at the start of the school year with one they create towards the end.

The potential for this innovative assessment tool for recognizing dyslexia has been recognized and The Night Zookeeper has received funding to develop this further.



Read more ›
Intended Outcomes
5 - 11
Age Group
Resources Needed
Night Zookeeper can be used by one teacher or across the whole school. It can be used immediately after registering and the only resources needed are tablets or computers and an internet connection. The Night Zookeeper costs £200 per teacher. However, there are discounts available for adoption across a whole school. The Night Zookeeper team also subsidize subscriptions for smaller classes and smaller schools.
HundrED Criteria
Night Zookeeper is the first online learning platform to gamify the writing process. Since the launch of nightzookeeper.com, hundreds of thousands of young authors have been inspired to produce millions of unique stories.
Over the past year, Night Zookeeper has helped over 300,000 children aged 6-11 to develop their writing, reading, and creative thinking skills. For every teacher that signs up to Night Zookeeper, 25 students are registered and they publish an average of 360 stories over the course of a school year.
Night Zookeeper is already in use throughout the UK and the US. It is also widely adopted in New Zealand and Australia. It has been translated for use in Japan.

See this innovation in action.

Painting Night Zookeeper animals
The New Night Zookeeper
What is Night Zookeeper?


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Register for an account
Register a teacher account on nightzookeeper.com and you’ll receive a unique class code.
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Select and send lessons
Now that all your students are active, it’s time to send them a lesson or two!
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Get creative
Children are guided step by step to create their own pieces of writing in response to the Night Zookeeper stories.
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Publish work
Once your students have completed some lessons and challenges, it’s time to publish their writing to your class blog.
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Students can take part in global writing competitions throughout the year.
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Assessment and reporting
The programme automatically assesses writing abilities and helps you to track student progress.
Read more

Connect with the innovator

Paul Hutson
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