Bottom Line: Numbers/counting practice for preschool and kindergarten age, with three different animal-themed games.
Savannah Adventures is designed by Tribal Nova to teach preschool and kindergarten math skills in three different mini-games. Each game is timed, but the time is ample, giving those early in the learning process plenty of opportunity to count the objects and wait for the right number card. There is a clock at the top, and each level has five trials.
The Count game features a meerkat mixing up some soup. The child's job is to count the number of ingredients pictured on a board, then press the matching number held by additional meerkats popping out of holes in the ground, that matches. This game has a very whack-a-mole feel to it.
The objects on the counting screen are very, very small, and seem out of proportion to the board they are on. This makes sense when there are many objects to count, but when there are just five, larger objects would be easier for the younger children.
The second game, Calculate has the option for a one or two player game. In the one player game, the user moves ostriches in a truck to match the number on the truck (but watch out—when their head is in the sand, they can’t move!) The truck already has a certain number of ostriches in it, so the child must take that into account. When the desired number of ostriches are in the truck, the user shuts the door. If the number is correct, the truck will drive away. If not, the doors open again.
In the two-player game, kids compete against each other by filling trucks on opposite sides of the iPad. This is a nice addition, though it did make me wish for two-player options on the other two games, as well.
Again, though, there seems to be a lot of wasted space in this game—the ostriches are very small in comparison to the screen size.
In the third game, there are numbered lily pads in a pond. The child taps the lily pads in numerical order to help the frog get to the other side. In one level the frog starts on the number three and in order to get to the ten on the opposite side, the frog needs to jump on the 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. The lily pads sink if the frog sits on one too long and the player has to start from the beginning.
There are some extra lily pad numbers that aren't used, and they aren’t in visual order, making the task true ordering, instead of just guessing. The scale on this game was better, and more in line with what would be ideal on the other two games.
After the player completes a few levels of one of the games, a gift is presented. These gifts are found in a spaceship, accessible from the home screen. Inside the spaceship there is a tally system which highlights the received gifts. Touching the gift already received is supposed to allow interaction. However, a pop-up prompts the user to “register or login to play with your rewards" and this requires an email address and password to use.
The app also includes a full-tracking system. A parent or teacher can create an account, and then the app keeps track of all data for that child's work both in this app and other TribalNova apps. The parent can see what areas the child has worked on and exactly what is difficult for the child. Unfortunately, there is no way to save data, even under a made-up username, without a parent account.
If a parent/teacher does register, the app takes you to the app store to download another app, i Learn with Planet Boing! That app can then be used in conjunction with Savannah Adventures and the developer's other iLearn with Boing apps as a reward play area. As Ron noted in his review of i Learn with Boing: Ice Land Adventures, the reward area, once you get there, is a real highlight: It "features Boing (an alien who bounces around, making a boing sound) and some of his friends. Children can manipulate the aliens to pop bubbles with items in them, such as pies, and the items do different things when popped. The pie bubble for example send pies humorously crashing into the alien. The guitar bubble starts guitar music, etc. The app gets an A+ for the oft-boring reward area."
As good as it is, there should be a way for the child to be automatically directed to the rewards area after a certain number of correct answers and then directed back to the learning games. As it stands now, the child can return to the awards area any time they wish, even without continuing to work on the learning parts of the app. This means the app works best with an adult.
It should also be noted that although it is called Savannah Adventures, there are no animal facts or tidbits to learn about the different animals.
There are also a few external links in the Parent Center, accessed on the top right of the Home screen. Within that area, there are links for Facebook, Twitter, and different email addresses. In the menu labeled My Apps on a backpack, there is also a link to the App Store.
Overall, Savannah Adventures is a cute app for preschoolers and kindergarteners to practice math skills. The requirement to register and use a separate app in order to interact with the prizes and the oddly small size of some of the animations detracts from its rating however. The price also seems a little high for three easy math games, but is still reasonable, and I recommended this app.
If you would like to purchase i Learn with Boing: Savannah Adventures ($2.99/iPad) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using this link button:
Heather Hetler tried bonking meerkats on the head, but they just kept eating their signs. She is also a graduate intern in speech-language pathology, and she has three kids. None of whom bonk meerkats to her knowledge.