I've reviewed lots of apps for children on this blog, here's one that I think deserves a post on its own. 'Meet the Insects' is actually three apps that deserve some attention. If your child likes to learn and is fascinated by nature then they should love this series of three apps that focus on insects.
Meet the Insects: Water & Grass Edition' (NCSOFT) was released in September and is the third app in the series of iPad encyclopaedia apps from iaction books. I will mention the previous apps after reviewing this most recent offering. Each of the apps in the series is an effect interactive encyclopaedia for young entomologists. What I love about the apps is the variety and quality of opportunities for learning. As with the previous two apps ('Forest' and 'Village'), it comes with five ways to learn about insects. The app uses information from the National Science Museum of Korea. One lovely feature is that, at the touch of a button, you can view the insects by day or night.
In this latest app, the focus is on insects that live in or near waterways. With the tap of an appropriate image the main menu offers access to:
a) Information on insects - This comes in animated form and covers what insects are, life cycles, how they breathe, and varied characteristics.
b) Multimedia - This contains the most fabulous images and videos. The resolution and quality of the videos is stunning! You can watch a Backswimmer catching a fish, insects fighting over prey under water, a water scorpion hunting and so on. All have commentary and music that is at an appropriate level and is very engaging.
c) 'See the Insects' classificatory information on insect orders - this appears in the form of slide presentations with commentary that can be read as well as listened to. This is scientifically accurate, but it also has fun elements to click for extra information. You navigate through the encyclopaedia by helping an insect to move up or downstream. Over thirty insects are featured from the orders of Hemiptera (Water Bugs and Striders), Hymenoptera (bees), Coleoptera (beetles), Mantodea (Mantis) and Odonata (dragonflies and darters). There is also a cute magnifying glass to zoom in more closely and learn more about body parts. You can also move each insect as you touch them, and there are short notes for each. Each page also has post-it notes with more information if you tap them.
d) Observation Journal - this is a wonderful feature that allows the young learners to record their own observations. It also has the option to include your own photos as well as text and other information (e.g. weather). I love this feature.
e) Quiz - finally there is an excellent quiz that allows you to learn as well as test your understanding. The tests are relatively easy and will encourage users to revisit the various sections of the app if they get anything wrong.
As I indicated at the start of this post, there are two earlier apps that are of similar format and quality. The very first app in the series was 'Meet the Insects: Forest Edition'. This app features insects that live in the forest. The video that follows reviews all aspects of the app.
All three 'Meet the Insects' app is available for $US 6.99 each from the iTunes store and are excellent value.
As in my other app reviews, I have used a rating scale that attributes a score from 1 (Poor) to 10 (Outstanding) to indicate the extent to which the app meets the following criteria:
- The app is enjoyable to use
- Children learn new things because of the app
- The app makes it easier for children to learn
- The app interactive elements don't distract from the key learning goals
- The app is well designed, attractive and engaging
- The app represents good value for money
My rating of this app series is 9/10.