Cognitive Kids’ “Ansel & Clair” apps feature an intergalactic, time-traveling duo that visit Earth on fact-finding missions. The apps’ winning combination of information and game play has garnered Cognitive Kids an impressive list of awards. Here are two apps in the series—we’ll be back to take a look at another group soon.
The celebrated 1775 midnight ride of the Boston patriot receives the full treatment in Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride (Cognitive Kid, $4.99; Gr 4-6). Viewers are introduced to well-known and less-familiar Revolutionary War figures and get a taste of the intrigue surrounding events associated with the conflict. They are guided by a young alien journalist, Ansel, and his able robot, Clair, who are on Earth to learn about the era. The app, part history lesson, part game, offers historical detail, appealing visuals, and a variety of engaging activities.
The opening screen delivers a brief tutorial on how to use the app and the chance to name a player that works along with the adventurers. Ansel and Clair arrive on Earth aboard their spacecraft, which can travel through space and time. Clair sets the stage with some background information and the first game: a puzzle of the 13 original Colonies. It’s then off to meet Paul Revere in his silversmith shop.
Each scene is rich in narrated information, characters that describe the events and the Loyalist’s and the Patriot’s points of view, interactive animations, and period music. Built-in clues guide players, though they sometimes take a while to appear. Viewers can travel through the app in a linear or nonlinear fashion, as well as activate the sophisticated notebook and camera and map and satellite functions that are part of Ansel’s information-gathering tools.
Depth and quality content characterize this production. Children will learn about some people and places that usually only get a passing mention in most history textbooks. Built-in quizzes review the information provided and reinforce the sequence of events. All and all, an entertaining introduction to American history.
In Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa (Cognitive Kid, Inc. S4.99; Gr 1-5) the aliens are back on Earth to take photos and notes. Along with their guides, travel enthusiasts can explore three distinct areas of the continent: The Sahara Desert, the Nile Valley, and the Serengeti Plains. Unfortunately, on this trip to Earth, Ansel and Clair’s space vehicle, Marley, has lost parts. In order for the pair to travel home they will need the help of viewers to locate the missing items scattered across the continent. The opening screen offers a brief tutorial and an opportunity for viewers to create up to four separate players (and archive the play).
Each realistically drawn locale offers narrated information about the flora and fauna and sites, interactive scenarios, animations, quests, puzzles, and leveled games complete with original music and sound effects. Twenty-nine photographs can be collected and placed in Ansel’s journal. The dialogue, along with arrows and an information screen help guide viewers, who can choose their own level of interaction based on icons such as a light bulb that activates “ClairVision” for more detailed information, or a puzzle piece to trigger a game that takes full advantage of the iPad’s retina display.
In keeping with the series proven strengths, this adventure informs and encourages questioning and synthesis on multiple levels while remaining entertaining and engaging. Younger elementary students can enjoy it with some assistance, while older elementary students will be able to navigate it independently.—Elisabeth LeBris, Director Library Tech Services, SD 38, Kenilworth,IL
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