Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ed's Jungle

Ed's Jungle was developed by OneUniverse Productions and is, as you probably guessed from the title, an app about animals in the Jungle. It combines two pretty popular topics in the app world right now - an "I Spy" kinda game and animals and the sounds they make. Does combining things automatically make it better than the originals? Price: $2.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 5.1 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: "I Spy" and Animal apps are of course appropriate activities for young kids. Here, you see a main scene and have to find all the hidden animals. When you tap on one, it leads to a different scene where you can see the animal in animated action, hear it's name and the sound it makes. I think the "I Spy" element elevates the animal learning making it more interesting than apps that are a bit more "flashcard" where you would simple select an animal and learn more. On the other hand, I don't think the "I Spy" part is better than other "I Spy" games. Yes, it's nice that you can learn more about what you've found - that part I do like. But in the actual spying part, it's a little less engaging. Other than to find all the possible animals, there's no step by step goal to egg you on. So prompts like, "Find the monkey" or "Find something green". These kinds of game elements really add to the experience, especially for young kids who may get bored easily. Further, these prompts could reinforce the learning. Speaking of the "learning" aspect, the label for each animal is presented both visually and orally. I can't decide whether I think the voice is just meant to be weird, or of low quality recording. The animal sounds is of a human making them, so some are better than others. Overall, I found this part of the app's pacing a bit slow. Again - pacing is one of those elements that is important to the whole experience, and factors into attention and engagement. Finally, given the way it's laid out, more information could easily be given about the animals to add another layer to the app - this would help engage slightly older kids who may already be familiar with the animals.

So if your kids love seeing animals, this is a more interesting app than other basic animal apps. But if your kids are really into "I Spy" games, then there are better options. Rating: 3.5/5 (aim for around 3 years)

Balance: Overall, this app is straightforward, no bells and whistles that aren't related to the topic. It also features a "map" where you can see what animals you've found and haven't found. On the other hand, I think adding a couple of game elements would enhance both the experience and learning. Rating: 4/5

Sustainability: There's only one scene so in comparison to other "I Spy" games, this will seem limited. But maybe if was viewed more like a picture book where you can just go through all the animals, it'll have more life. And for some reason, kids just love animals! Rating: 3/5

Parental Involvement: Parents don't have an obvious role here. This is another reason why I think the prompts in the spying stage would be nice - parents could use those as prompts to help, and as conversation starters. Or if there was additional animal facts presented, then parents can go off those. But as is, parents aren't offered much here. Rating: 3/5

Total: 14.5 out of 20 = 3 stars

Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.

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