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Our Favorite Apps Where You Pretend to be Animals or Naturalists
Earlier this month, I shared our reviews of apps where you learn animal facts. Well, my kids Nora and Russell were keen to keep testing apps – so we branched out to a new type – apps for people who want to BE the animal or naturalist in the games.
We learn in different ways and these apps appeal to the type of learner who learns by doing – or a kinesthetic learner. Instead of reading or listening to facts, you LIVE the facts!
In most of these apps, you move through a world by tapping or dragging your finger. Often you can play these games without the ability to read, making them appealing to younger children.
Here are my kids’ favorite apps of this type:
- BeBee the Bee – This was my son’s favorite app of ALL the apps we tested. You are Bebee flying around gathering pollen and nectar. When you see a flower, you tap above it and pollinate the flower. You also have to avoid obstacles such as other bees, thorns and dragonflies. My son was already familiar with the concept of pollination so I don’t know if he really learned a lot by playing this game, but he kept asking to play it because he enjoys games where he moves through a world gathering points. My daughter enjoyed this game as well. There is a free version of this app and you can unlock more levels for $1.99 or $2.99.
- Great Migrations HD – In this app, you learn about migrations of species such as monarchs, salmon, zebras and red crabs. You start with monarchs. One somewhat humorous aspect of this app is that if you have your sound on, the whole time it is playing some very dramatic scary music, like you might hear at the most dramatic moment of a movie. While migrations are definitely dramatic, that gets tiring and in fact, at one point, Nora got so stressed when her monarchs started to die that she said, “I just can’t do this!” I suggested we turn off the sound and then she enjoyed the game very much. She would take the role of the lead monarch, and she would experiment with the wind patterns, predators such as spiders and other obstacles to move her monarch friends to safety. She really enjoyed this game. This app costs $0.99.
- Isopod: The Roly Poly Science Game – You are a “roly poly,” one of those tiny bugs that rolls into a ball when threatened. To play, you hold your iPad in two hands and slowly manipulate it back and forth as if the roly poly was a marble on the surface of the iPad, and you were trying to roll it back and forth. You have goals to bump into some types of insects to win, and avoid others to lose. The insects in the game are realistically drawn and their real Latin names are given. The predator/prey relationships are shown, although some insects have special powers like giving you more health. I found this game exciting because I don’t normally use an iPad this way, and it took practice. My son liked it more than my daughter. Both my kids love bugs, but it would not be a good choice if you are scared of spiders or find it creepy to listen to them chomping on insects. This app costs $1.99.
- Pocket Frogs – This was my daughter’s favorite app of all the ones we tested. It took us a minute to figure this out, but then she was collecting frogs, breeding them and making eggs in her frog nursery. She was completely excited about learning about frogs and managing her froggy world. The sound that the frogs make when they hop around in the pond is completely adorable, and this is coming from a parent who listened to it for a very long time. As Nora got more advanced with the game, she was strategizing which frogs to breed to create the cutest frog possible. This is a free app.
- Wild Kratts Creature Power – My son is a huge Wild Kratts fan. A few years ago, he became so interested that he and his dad designed costumes like the ones in this show out of cardboard and ribbon, so he could be a cheetah and have super powers. So I was quite sure the app would be a huge hit for him. Sure enough, he loved it. Even though it is not designed for iPad yet, we downloaded it to the iPad and it just didn’t fill the screen. But that didn’t stop Russell. By putting on his creature power suits, he could live like a bee, raccoon and elephant. This app costs $2.99.
One feature he loved was that I could take his photo with the iPad and his face would be put into a graphic so it looked like he was wearing one of the power suits.
Which Wildlife and Nature Apps Does Your Family Enjoy?
We’d love to hear about your experiences with these apps or others. Of course nothing connects children with nature and wildlife more than time outside, so be sure to balance your screen time and green time today.
Also, I want to put in a plug for National Wildlife Federation’s award-winning kids’ magazines, because my kids love them. When you subscribe to our magazines, it helps National Wildlife Federation continue our work of engaging children to care about nature! Subscribe to Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr. magazines today!