“Max & Ruby Science Educational Games” by Tribal Nova, based on characters by Rosemary Wells.
Goals: prepare children for kindergarten, teach properties of liquids and motion of objects.
Platforms: iOS 4.3 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).
Cost: free to download basic app, $1.99 in-app purchase to download all levels of games.
Ages 3 to 6.
Found via The iMums, reviewed by Mary.
“Max & Ruby Science Educational Games” includes three games to teach children different elements of science. “Water Blast” involves completing pieces of a path for water to flow across while Max and Ruby tell you about different properties of water, like that it freezes into snow when it gets cold. “Ball-O-Rama” features rolling balls into holes and making adjustments for the type of ball (wooden, tennis, bowling) and any properties of the environment, like walls in between the ball and hole. “Make Believe” is a place where children can create pictures with different characters and backgrounds. This game lets children flex their creativity, but it also subtly teaches perspective by changing the size of objects as they move forward and back in the physical space. “Water Blast” and “Ball-O-Rama” both offer five levels of play for the free version of this app, and “Make Believe” offers up a few possibilities for characters, objects, and backgrounds, but the game makes no secret of the other levels offered, and children will undoubtedly want parents to upgrade to the full game for $1.99. The game uses very little text, using easy-to-understand symbols and having the characters say instructions aloud to help guide children. There are options for further parental control, such as tracking children’s progress, and each of these sections is behind a screen with text that asks parents to hold a button for three seconds to validate that an adult is making any changes.
This app is definitely age appropriate, as the designers clearly understand that preschoolers cannot read text and need simple games to help them learn while practicing their fine motor skills. Children should enjoy the characters and games while learning at a pace that adapts to their skills. This app also delivers on its intended goals by teaching children multiple aspects of science that will be useful when they start school. The ball-rolling game, in particular, works in many elements of science like the weight of a ball, as well as speed and angles. Children can retry different levels as many times as they need in order to master each concept, and the games play like simple puzzle games where they could ask parents for assistance if they need it. The water and make believe games also teach children a good deal, and the water game makes sure to explain new concepts before the game uses images to reinforce that idea. Reviewer Mary agrees that this is a solid app, stating, “I love how the games themselves work on problem solving skills whilst teaching, but at the same time are fun enough children don’t realize they are learning. Having short period of play time in the Make Believe area built-in between the learning games is great for keeping children engaged, and the animated stickers are a nice surprise.” There is a heavy commercial interest in this app, as this app connects to other apps by Tribal Nova that also probably involve paying extra money to unlock higher game levels. Furthermore, the app is based on the TV series Max and Ruby, so it necessarily encourages children to watch the show and purchase associated merchandise. On the other hand, if children like the show already, that could get them interested in this app and learning about science. Ultimately, this app provides a good introduction to science, and with the $1.99 upgrade it could keep children entertained and learning for hours.
Reviewed by Crystal Bandel