My First Words: Dinosaurs – A Kid Puzzle Game for Learning Alphabet
By Alexandre Minard © AR Entertainment
Over the next few days, you will notice that our reviews will be zooming in on one particular development group, AR Entertainment as they have created an educational game collection where “learning is fun” while building academic skills and puzzles. At a very early age, children are manipulating with various types of puzzles, card board and wooden versions. As an educator or parent, I am sure many of you are aware of the collection of puzzles that Melissa & Doug have developed. As toys are evolving with the excitement of mobile devices, now while on the go, in a restaurant, sitting at home or on vacation, game pieces no longer have to get lost. AR Entertainment has designed for your Apple devices running iOS 3.0 or later a wonderful collection of games for children ranging in ages from 2 to 6 years old. This collection is very user friendly, offered in multiple languages, and provides users the feeling of manipulating real wooden pieces while reinforcing academic skills and/or building ones fine motor and problem solving skills.
Do you have a young archeologist in your family? Then you will want to download My First Wood Puzzles: Dinosaurs to encourage this love as they build their recognition of both upper and lower case letters and the alphabet. My First Wood Puzzles: Dinosaurs is initially a free download as it provides all parties, parents and children, a quick glance at what the app has to offer. The free version gives users access to all levels of difficulty and experiences with upper and lower case letters, however, only a certain number of puzzles are unlocked. Your young archeologist will be asking for more once they are unable to ‘dig’ any further. With an in-app purchase of $1.99, dinosaur and building lovers alike will have access to all packages, 75 puzzles in total. Once the full version is downloaded, there are no limits to building and what can be learned. Regardless of which level is chosen, gaming happens sequentially. Users may not jump puzzles unless it has been manipulated once. Repetition at this young age is so critical and also rewarding for those building.
Upon entering each level, users will see a dinosaur button chart. This chart visually explains to children what has been successfully completed, as dinosaur heads are colored in by its level: blue – level 1, yellow – level 2, and pink – level 3. It also indicates where to go next with a dinosaur head colored in and stars twinkling around it. Those dinosaur heads hollowed out indicate what puzzles still need to be put together. As mentioned early this educational app encompasses several skills: letter recognition (upper and lower case), its placement in the alphabet and the use of ones fine motor skills to build. The concept of building is supported in different ways within each level.
Level 1 – focuses primarily on manipulating individual pieces. As you progress through this level, users will see the number and sizes of pieces changing. To support all learners, developers have included a nice feature, when players touch a piece all other pieces become transparent, making it easier to focus on one thing at a time. Puzzle pieces will be scattered around the wooden backdrop and the dinosaur shape with the puzzle piece outline will be in the middle. The objective is to drag and drop pieces to match the outline of that puzzle shape. Pieces do not need to be dropped in any particular order. As your child drags pieces hover over an outline to see if it will line up. If correct, it will drop into place on its own. Once the entire puzzle has been built, pieces will 3 dimensionally pop up. A note to the developers – might it be possible after the 3 dimensional effect to have pieces merge together as one, showing users how they fit together to make an actual dinosaur.
Level 2 – encompasses building and letter and order recognition of both upper and lower case letters. Puzzle pieces will now have the chosen type of letter, upper or lower case, on the pieces themselves. Level 2 still provides the outlined pieces within the dinosaur shape to guide children. Unlike level 1, level 2 puzzle pieces must be dragged and dropped in a certain order. This order is indicated by an ABC box in the lower left hand corner of your building screen. As you tap pieces, letters will be announced as it reinforces both the visual and verbal naming of that letter. If unsure of what letter or piece comes next, be sure to review this box as the necessary pieces are highlighted in white. As you progress through level 2, users will notice that the alphabetical order will change, helping children to recall the correct order of the alphabet.
Level 3 – is very similar to level 2 in that it provides users an added skill of learning both upper and lower case letters as they build 15 puzzles in each. Since level 3 is considered the most difficult, some of the support systems that were in place in level 1 and 2 are no longer visible here. For example, the hollowed out dinosaur no longer has the outline of the necessary pieces. The ABC box is still present if children are unsure how to build. A note to the developers – as we progressed through level 3 we noticed that the ABC box never went away. Might it be possible as children come towards the end of building in either upper or lower case letters, that this indication box disappears. It would a good indication to see if a child truly grasped those concepts being taught through this application. This would tell a parent or educator that no matter where someone starts chanting off their ABC’s that their child can pick up the song at any point.
Overall, Applicable2U liked what My First Wood Puzzles: Dinosaur had to offer. The free version allowed us to get our feet wet, however, to truly build on two very appropriate skills for children ages 2-6, the full version was the way to go! Be sure to continue following the AR Entertainment reviews this weekend as we talk more about letters, animals and spelling. If you would like to learn more about AR Entertainment, please visit their website here. Try out My First Wood Puzzles: Dinosaurs for free today by clicking here to access it from your iTunes library.