A Learning Adventure App
This is one of the best educational apps for kids on the iPad. It looks gorgeous, has a ton of educational information and is delivered in the format of an adventure with friendly aliens. It is a free-to-try app, where it costs $2.99 to unlock the whole experience. This is a review of the unlocked experience.
In Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa, kids join Ansel, an alien, and his cute robotic companion named Clair. Ansel and Clair have come to Earth to learn about and photograph Africa. As they approach the African continent, their spaceship malfunctions and spews parts all over the Africa.
How to Play
Kids help Ansel and Clair to find the missing spaceship parts by exploring three geographic regions of Africa: the Serengeti Plains, the Sahara Desert and the Nile Valley. As they investigate each region, the screen fills with animals and vegetation common to that area. By tapping on an animal or plant, kids can learn more about it. The option to dig even deeper is present because you can access additional factual screens if you so desire. Once you learn about an animal, Ansel asks you to use his camera to capture a photo; and when you do, it is automatically transferred to your own Travel Log. Sometimes this animal interaction will yield a missing spaceship part.
Kids help Ansel and Clair to find the missing spaceship parts by exploring three geographic regions of Africa: the Serengeti Plains, the Sahara Desert and the Nile Valley. As they investigate each region, the screen fills with animals and vegetation common to that area. By tapping on an animal or plant, kids can learn more about it. In addition to learning about animals and taking photos, the game also integrates puzzles and mini-games into the story. Kids will navigate through a maze found in an Egyptian pyramid, rearrange parts of a frog's life cycle into the correct order, and reunite baby animals with their parents.
The game also encourages you to change the time of the day, so that you can see the Sahara at day as well as at night. In the process, it teaches kids about nocturnal animals, sandstorms and the extreme temperatures of the desert. Likewise, kids can move away the clouds to change the seasons from wet to dry on the Serengeti. This allows the app to teach about animal migrations, and to show kids what the two radically different seasons look like.
Your Kids Learn with Ansel
Ansel's insatiable curiosity will help kids identify with him. For example, in his enthusiasm to learn more about a lion, Ansel moves close to it, only to have it roar and scare him. Likewise, when Ansel gets too close to a vulture, the big bird almost vomits on him; but, in the process, Clair uses this event to explain that vultures are carnivores.
Playing this app is like playing a deep edutainment computer game. Kids will love playing with Ansel in the lovely African scenes. The story is supported by audio, so even kids who can't yet read can enjoy the game. It is also accompanied by a delightful African-themed musical score. This is a hidden gem in the iTunes store and is perfect for kids ages 4-10.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.