Bottom Line: An apt name for an app which introduces many of the wonderful animals, cultures, places and music that make up our world. Download is free with additional segments available through in-app purchases.
If you would like to download Kids Planet Discovery (Free, iPad/iPhone with in-apps $.99-$4.99), please use the Smart Apps for Kids link provided:
When I agreed to squeeze in one more review before year end, I didn't realize I'd have to go to the ends of the earth to get it written. Kids Planet Discovery - adventure games to explore the world by Barcelona based LA FACTORIA D'IMATGES, SERVEIS GRAFICS, SL touches on just about everything you'd encounter on one of those circle the globe cruises I've always wanted to take. There are six different areas to explore and children are free to roam from one to another at will.
I started my journey with music which includes Find Me or Memory. In Find Me, users are asked to match an instrument playing sheep to one of 72 likenesses on a grid. The game is easy enough for young children to participate. What makes it really fun is that each sheep represents a different type of music which plays as kids try to find the match. I never even dreamed there were 72 different types of music. I challenged my almost 11 year old to identify each type of music which was interesting and is the sort of enrichment in the arts that is lacking in schools. Reggae, ska, punk and even teen pop all feature in this segment. Even the dreaded Memory game is a cut above since the music type plays each time a match is made.
Planet animals is another huge chunk of content. Kids are introduced to dozens of land and sea animals that populate all corners of our planet. Three activities are included in this module: find the intruder, memory and puzzles. The puzzles are fairly challenging compared to most preschool fare but memory is back to the same ole same ole. I enjoyed find the intruder which requires tapping which animal does does share a habitat with the others pictured. Here the animal names are shown when tapped. The addition of audio would be helpful so pre-readers could identify the animals as well. About 50 different animals are featured on the map and a shape denotes which activity each presents.
The cultures pack has much the same set-up as animals except it adds dress up to the roster of activities. Kids get a paper doll figure and have to dress it in a native costume. So, for instance, dress up in Africa involves a kente cloth head wrap while in Asia, there are various kimonos. Each outfit can be added to the device photo roll when complete. Stars show on the map for each culture that has been explored already. US culture is apparently represented solely by baseball which may bear some truth but is disappointing nonetheless.
The US does get its fair share of exposure in a map puzzle. There are easy and hard modes and play is timed. I have a wooden puzzle just like this high on a shelf. In easy mode the states have their names on them, but it would be nice if the name was called out when the piece is placed so younger kids can learn the state names. The hard mode of play has the US map interior without lines for each state.
Discover Africa and India should be the most interesting of the many elements in this app, but this is where the journey goes a bit off the rails. India begins with a preface that discusses how in India people dress differently depending on their caste. The caste system is well beyond the scope of an app for young children and it's never really explained anyway. Users journey across India in search of alien friends and pick up small facts along the way. Unfortunately this trek involves a never ending series of memory games. The tiles feature Indian animals, foods and other cultural hallmarks, but without them being named many remain entirely foreign even after completing the torture of the game.
The journeys across India and Africa of course would not be complete without a spot the difference task or two. They are well done as far as these things go but still a bit of a bore especially after endless memory and matching games. While I appreciate the concept behind this app and believe the amount of content justifies the in-app price (currently $4.99 for all packs), it lacks the zing and originality needed to really impress. Also, it's hard to decide what ages it would appeal to. The games are simple enough for a five year old, but without narration, the text requires parental help or ages 7+ to decipher it.
I'd suggest spending $.99 for downloading the music piece and concentrating on it. It's actually rather fascinating and avoids the morass of memory-puzzle-spotthedifference monotony found throughout the app. I would rather journey to Africa with Ansel and Clair or catch of glimpse of life in India aboard the Magnificent Travelling Palace.
Jill Goodman and her twin boys discover the planet's food and culture at Epcot and its animals at Busch Gardens. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.