Friday, August 10, 2012

RangerKidz Counting Corral

RangerKidz Counting Corral was developed by Sudden Industries. It's a game targeting early math skills and color for preschoolers. It's got a whole Wild West theme where kids have to help Rango Ringo round up all the sheep and animals. You should know by now that I like it when apps have a theme or goal that ties the activities together - so how does this one do? Price: $2.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: The theme delivers. It's definitely a fun way to sneak in some math while kids think they are playing a game. The illustrations, animals, narration, and sound effects are well-done, entertaining and go with the whole Wild West theme. (Does anyone else think that it says "lassu" instead of "lasso"?!) 

While the theme delivers, let's not forget about content though. The educational content always comes first in my book. Overall, color matching, counting, number recognition are all appropriate very early preschool activities. There are 3 levels, with 6 rounds in each level so 18 round total where you cycle through a bunch of variations of activities that target those three skills. So initially, I was fine with the super easy tasks with obvious hints like for color, it asks for the color, but shows that word in the same color, so it really IS just coloring matching instead of learning to identify a color. Or, when it asks kids to catch the sheep in the correct number order, there's a hand that points to each number in sequence so kids know which ones to go for - so this is just really counting along instead of kids actually having to put the numbers in sequence. Where I have a problem is with the progression of difficulty, or lack thereof, through the many many rounds. It's not until level 3 (after 12 rounds), does the hand hint go away. And then all of the sudden, the sequence starts at various numbers - just wish there was a smoother, and faster progression. The same goes for all the other activities. For some, I don't think it actually gets harder other than to increase the number - like instead of taking out the color/word correspondence, they simply add in different animals for level three - which doesn't add any difficulty at all in terms of counting. I think while this is an engaging activity for kids, more consideration is needed some of the details of the content. Rating: 3/5 (aim for around 4 years).

Balance: The features go with the theme and I don't find them distracting from the task. Some additional features could be added to support the learning - like more feedback, especially when they answer it wrong. Kids can answer wrong until they get it wrong, and it just counts as right, so it might be hard for parents to gauge how well their child is doing without constantly watching. Rating: 4/5

Sustainability: As I said, this is an engaging game - kids will probably enjoy it. They might however, get a bit bored of the same tasks that don't increase much in difficulty to challenge them. Rating: 4

Parental Involvement: There is a separate website parents can log-in to. It shows parents how far their kid has gotten in the app and it is where kids can access some of their prizes such as additional puzzles and activities (not all math related). While this is a good start to get parents involved, more useful information could be given here. As is, it kinda has a promotional kinda feel. Rating: 3.5/5

Total: 14.5 out of 20 - 3 stars

Disclosure: I received this app for free for review purposes

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