Ansel and Clair App Series by Cognitive Kid, Inc.
Claire and Ansel are "Virtoosians" who need to learn about the world by flying around on their spacecraft, affectionately named Marley. There are currently 3 exceptional apps in the series from Cognitive Kid, Inc.: Ansel and Clair: Paul Revere's Ride, Ansel and Clair: Cretaceous Dinosaurs, and Ansel and Clair's Adventures in Africa. The latter is the only app of the three to have an iPhone/iPod touch version available; the other two are for iPad only.
My ( almost 9 year old and 5 year old) kids love all three- they keep playing them over and over- I am pretty certain they have completed each app but they continue to play anyway- the developers have managed to make learning really fun!
Ansel and Clair: Paul Revere's Ride by Cognitive Kid, Inc. (iPad2 and later only, $4.99 at time of review)
In Ansel and Clair: Paul Revere's Ride kids are able to learn about a part of colonial history by seeing, hearing and doing- everything is hands on- the child has a satchel with "tools" to help him or her learn about Paul Revere and record his/her knowledge for review later. The child must listen as different scenes unfold, complete a related activity, and/or take snapshots of his/her surroundings. There are quizzes to test a child's knowledge, and more "fun" tasks too, like the 13 colonies puzzle, or my sons' favorite, feeding the tea to the shark- my kids learned about what had fueled the Boston Tea Party and why the colonists were so angry and indignant about "taxation without representation". Of course, they will get to relive Paul Revere's ride too, but there is much to do and learn beforehand. They also were able to "see" a bird's eye view of other historical locations as they look today, through the map feature. This app has been fun for us to play together, too- I actually have relearned what I forgot from elementary school, and can now tell you who the Mechanics are. (No, not the ones working on your car!)
These screenshots were taken while my son played Ansel and Clair: Paul Revere's Ride.
Really "cool" features:
Visual and Auditory Cues
I appreciate the use of visual and auditory cues. Throughout the app there are arrows, icons and narration to guide the user. There are also "help" buttons if a child is stuck.
Rich Media / Narrated Scenes
Find out what taxation without representation means and much, much more through the use of narrated scenes. The app is full of illustrations interspersed with animations, real photos and representations of actual historic documents and relics. The concepts we "memorized" in childhood can be lived out and actually learned, imagine that!
Jump to already completed scenes
|Jump to a completed scene (shown as lit up).|
Tap the looking glass to find points of interest on the map- you can switch between map and satellite view-tapping the red dots marking the special interest spots will bring up illustrations and facts from historical moments such as the Boston Massacre, for example. On a side note, you can zoom in or out as much as you please, which means we also took a virtual side trip to my grandparents' home outside of Boston, and then headed over to the west coast to view our own house!
Within the scenes quizzes pop up to see if you are paying attention. My five year old was able to handle these written quizzes, but I would like to see the answers read aloud first before the child makes a selection.
Who's Who Photo Booth
Choose a historical figure to go in the photo booth and get a quick briefing on each figure's historical impact (along with a three-framed strip of portraits for each, of course)
Take snapshots during game play to place in a journal. The camera, journal and map features can be accessed by tapping on the napsack symbol in the lower right hand side of the screen.
Wish List ( I always have one!)
Hide the links to iTunes- The "More apps" button present when the app first opens should be hidden under the Information tab. Update/ Response from Developer: I wanted to let you know that we take your feedback seriously. What we have now done in the latest update of Paul Revere (you can download on itunes for free) is that users now have to answer a multiplication problem (eg 4x12) before being able to leave the app. Eg. if kids click "more apps" or facebook page link and cannot answer the question correctly, they cannot leave the app. This way we can maintain the values of our Company (i.e., not market to kids, but still be able to do a bit of marketing for adults). Of course, as always, we do not have any in app purchases, ads etc in our apps.
Size- Unfortunately with its size, we will have to put this app in our app rotation- it simply takes up too much space on our iPad to keep it there full time. We had some issues with crashing- it turns out this app takes more than twice the stated amount of space in iTunes (480 MB versus 181 MB),which really needs to be stated in the iTunes description. This was better when I deleted some apps off the iPad and then closed a bunch of open apps- I should also mention that I have our 16gb iPad packed to the max with special needs apps, so this is likely a problem unique to me, but something to be aware of if you are in a similar situation.
Confusion about Compatibility- The iTunes requirements says this will run on any iPad, but screenshots for the app in iTunes clearly state iPad2 or later only. If I were you, I would go with the developer's information.
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