Tuesday, July 31, 2012

i Learn with Boing: Savannah Adventures!

i Learn with Boing: Savannah Adventures! is another cute educational app from Tribal Nova. While the previous installment, iLearn with Boing: Iceland Adventures! focused on literacy activities for preschoolers, Savannah focuses on math activities for the same age group. Price: $2.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: A strength with Tribal Nova apps in general is that they do a good job of making the activities have a game like feel. In this case, there are three activities led by animals found in the Savannah targeting counting, specifically quantity-number association, order - counting forwards, backwards, and skip counting, and calculate - early addition and subtraction. As with Iceland, some nice features are the leveling through each activity, adapting to kid's progress, rewards, and the parent center. 

Where it falls a little short is with the details. First, the labels of the activities are a little misleading. "Counting", I think is really enumeration because kids have to judge how many objects are shown and then tap on the corresponding number in "Whack a mole" style. "Order" is actually counting, because it's just all different patterns of counting or getting the frog to jump to the different numbers on the lily pad. Finally, as is, the "calculate" activity is not really calculation but more counting or kinda early or precursor to adding and subtracting. Other little details that could be improved is in the feedback/prompts/scaffolding features. For example, in the counting/enumeration, it would be nice if kids could tap on the items and hear them counted. As is, if you tap anywhere around the objects, it just tells you how many total there are. Kids should be able to be given the objects, asked, how many, and then they can count them by pointing, pushing, grouping, etc. The activity I could see the most improvement is with the calculation activity where kids have to go and catch a target number of ostriches and put them on the truck. At times, there are already some ostriches on the truck, so kids have to "add" x more to get the target number or in the higher levels, there are more than the target number of ostriches on the truck, so kids have to "subtract" x amount. I think the adding and subtracting could be made more obvious - as is, it just seems like a counting activity. Like the already present ostriches should be separated from the to be added ostriches so that kids can see that, for example,  3 already there ostriches + 5 added ostriches =8 total. And that should be highlighted by some voiceover feedback before the truck drives away. In general, the activities are good, - these little details just add a little oomph to help learning. Rating: 3.5/5 (aim for around 4)

Balance: I think the activities have struck a good balance between fun game features and keeping the focus on learning. Again, there are just little details that could be improved - like the objects that are to be counting in counting could be bigger and made more functional. Rating: 4.5/5

Sustainability: The activities are cute, and I see an nice new feature here is that once you've been playing awhile, when you start again, you can pick what level to start with and it gives you the recommended level as well. The rewards are nice and you can go to the reward world to play with them. For more competitive kids or kids who might find going through the levels repetitive, a score or high scores list might be nice, especially with the two-player activity. It seems to take time into account, so it could be easy to convert that into points. Rating: 4/5

Parental Involvement: All iLearn apps are linked to a parent center which provides how well kids are doing on the specific activities and if kids have multiple iLearn apps, parents can see what topics they are spending time with. Parents are also given a brief explanation of the target skills within the activities. Parents can stay involved by reviewing. It'd be great if there were then suggested activities parents can do outside of the app that targets their kid's strengths and weaknesses so parents can share and link to the real world. Rating: 4/5

Total: 16 out of 20 - 4 stars.

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

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