Ansel & Clair's Adventure app features animations, quests, puzzles and games in scenic African locations.
School or no school, there's a world of learning opportunities for kids. When they're not exploring outdoors, keep kids engaged in learning throughout the summer months with these enjoyable and educational apps and websites. For kids, playing these games is a cool pastime; for parents, it's another way to get kids to exercise their learning muscles.
- MINECRAFT. This online game lets you build entire worlds out of blocks. Minecraft's visual simplicity belies what is a completely open-ended and therefore terrifically complex world. And the best of that world: it's up to the player to design. Minecraft is what's known as a "sandbox" game, giving players almost complete freedom to build within it.
- CAESAR III. In this simulation, you begin as a lowly citizen trying to eke out an existence in a virgin landscape. The student begins by learning about the basic needs for survival and graduates to increasingly demanding scenarios. By the end, students will have gained a very sophisticated understanding of the influence played by the environment on the development of a civilization.
- ANSEL & CLAIR'S ADVENTURES IN AFRICA. Ansel and Clair are aliens who must recover their lost spaceship parts, and as they travel the continent (the Serengheti, the Nile River Valley, and the Sahara Desert) they not only work on that mission but learn about the geography and history of the area as well. The app takes full advantage of iPad technology -- audio, video, the touchscreen, "tilt the iPad" games, and so on.
- THINKING WORLDS. Kids enter a virtual world that resides on their personal computer. Their avatar can be somewhat modified, and engage in a wide variety of explorations. In the unit dealing with volcanoes and earthquakes, they not only learn about the details, they visit places such as Herculaneum, subterraneous faults, and the ruins of Kobe in Japan.
- QUEST ATLANTIS. Kids are engaged in a narrative as compelling as The Chronicles of Narnia, except not as passive spectators, but as active participants in the story. Their age and school appropriate avatars are able to explore and learn in an environment that is secure, monitored, and dynamically expansive. You can live with the First Nations people of Mesa Verde, negotiate plans to save the Black Rhino with various stakeholders in Tanzania, take rockets to space stations to learn about the technology they will need to deploy and use in order to deflect Near Earth Objects.
- WOLFQUEST. With this online game, you become a solitary wolf, struggling to find your place in the wilds of Yellowstone National Park. You learn about the challenges of life in the wild, and the need for "others." In time, you can mate, and form a pack of your own.
- CYBERNETWORLDS. In this family-run virtual universe called Viamus, kids can build and create any type of environment, like ancient civilizations that ring the Mediterranean.
- MINDSNACKS. The idea with MindSnacks is to offer a mobile gaming and learning experience to help brush up on your vocabulary. The app offers 50 levels of language content, each level featuring 25 words and phrases. The language-learning startup released an Italian language version, available for free for iPhone and iPad.
- PBS KIDS VIDEO. The app gives access to more than 1,000 streaming videos from various PBS Kids' series, including The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, Dinosaur Train, and Sesame Street. The app also includes information about local PBS stations' TV schedules and the ability to mark series as "favorites."
- TRIPLINGO. For learning the most relevant foreign-language idioms and phrases, in each of these languages: Mexican Spanish, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portugese, and Pirate (arr, yes, Pirate).
- TOONTASTIC. Kids can create digital stories with a variety of different characters, settings, musical backgrounds, and their own recorded voice-overs. Its most recently released version features three new space-based settings (and more space-related characters), new drawing tools, faster uploads to ToonTube, and the ability to save your custom-drawn characters and backgrounds so you can use them in any scene or cartoon.
STORIES AND WORD GAMES
For more summer boredom-buster ideas, go to MindShift.
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