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Creating Creatures with your Kids

by Oscar Sodani
June 23, 2008

Oscar Sodani is a founder of Help2Go and owner of Help2Go Networks, an IT consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area. Oscar holds the CISSP certification as well as industry certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and Novell.

If your kids like animals, dinosaurs or monsters, (and really, what kid doesn't?) we have a fantastic software pick for you!

Wil Wright is a genius. The creator of The Sims has taken on the idea of allowing us to witness and control the evolution of entire species
in his new game, Spore. Spore won't be out until September, but they have provided us with a gift until then: Spore Creature Creator, which you can download free from

The Spore Creature Creator gives you (and oh yeah, your kids) the tools to create fantastic beasts, from cute unicorns with bug eyes to giant man-eating dinosaur aliens with six eyes and four horns. You can then upload your creatures to the Internet to share with friends, or create movies of them to easily upload to YouTube.

Fun for kids of all ages

My son is almost 4 years old and was instantly hooked. He sits on my lap in front of the family computer and together, we create whatever crazy-looking monsters his creative little mind can conceive of. Click here for a video example of the type of animals you can create within a couple of minutes of playing around with Spore. Or check out this photo:


Spore creature

And of course, when the little one has gone to bed, I sometimes find myself opening up Spore and creating the monsters and dinosaurs and beasts that lurk in the mind of a 33-year old.


Tips for playing with your young children

1) Give up control
When playing with your kids, make sure to give them free reign. Most times, I give my son full control over the design decisions, and I am just the minion who carries out the orders. Other times, we share the decision-making, and create something really neat together.

2) Don't limit creativity
If they want to make a creature with 8 eyes and one leg, let them. If they want to put the eyes on the butt and the mouths one the arms, go for it. They might come up with some really creative ideas.

3) Let them make mistakes
After they make a few animals, they will learn for themselves that perhaps a sole leg isn't the best locomotion for their animals, and that an elephant with 15 legs would probably trip over itself.

4) Allow them to paint and name the animal
I found that my son would often blindly take my suggestions - instead, allow them to come up with their own names for the creatures, no matter how silly. Once your animal is done, they can paint them all kids of different colors, with designs such as spots, stripes, polka-dots and more.

5) Allow ample time in the sandbox
After the animal is "done", you can put them in a sandbox area and have them roar, jump, laugh, and dance. The dancing cracks my son up every time. You will get bored of the sandbox area more quickly than they will, so give them lots of time to play with their new creatures before moving on to create a new one.

6) Ask them what they like and don't like about each creation
Kids can identify and learn from their mistakes more readily than we can.

7) Have fun!
No matter what, make sure that you're having fun and enjoying the time together!


Download or Buy

The downloadable demo is free, and the limited tools it provides are more than enough to create hundreds of unique and interesting animals. For $10, you can order the full version of the Spore Creature Creator from , or just pick it up at the local electronics or game store.

Be sure to check out the minimum hardware specifications before you download - you will need a somewhat recent system to run the game. There are both PC and Mac versions available. Have fun with your kiddos, and don't hog it all for yourself! :)

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