Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Ansel and Clair Cretaceous Dinosaurs

Ansel and Clair Cretaceous Dinosaurs

Fall 2012 Mobile Apps
Ages: 4 - 9 yrs.
Developer: Cognitive Kid
Download Price: $1.99
Platform: iPad

Ansel and Clair: Cretaceous Dinosaurs comes from the developers at Cognitive Kid, who are also responsible for Parents' Choice Recommended Award winner Ansel and Clair's Adventures in Africa. Their new app offers an entertaining juxtaposition of a friendly robot, an alien photographer, a helpful paleontologist, and many dinosaurs. As if that was not enough to pique most children's interest, the app also features time travel!

Upon opening the app, players meet Ansel and Clair. The two characters introduce themselves and their mission to learn about Earth's dinosaurs. Clair tends to explain while Ansel asks questions. Each new term is pronounced slowly and defined in simple terms for young ones. Players begin their adventure with a visit to a dig site, where they meet Dr. Lindy Bones. Curious Ansel asks many questions, which Bones answers with clear narration and supporting graphics. A timeline illustrates his explanation of when dinosaurs lived, and what type lived in which time period. To visit the age of dinosaurs, Ansel and Clair need a dinosaur fossil to use as input for their time machine. Dr. Lindy Bones explains how they can do this, which leads into a mini game for kids. The detail of the fossil excavation experience here is impressive. Players get to dig with shovels, finesse rock away from the fossil with picks, and clear it of dust with brushes. Each action uses a different gesture, taking full advantage of the iPad's multi-tap capabilities.

Once children have successfully unearthed a fossil, they travel back in time to learn more about dinosaurs. They go on an adventure to find and photograph the ancient creatures, excavate more fossils, and document their findings. The bulk of the app experience takes place in the Cretaceous period, where players can learn about each dinosaur by tapping on it. Clair, the robot, and Ansel, the alien photographer, guide children through lessons in paleontology, geology, and zoology related to each species. Afterward, players can use Ansel's camera to take a photo of the dinosaur. To keep kids engaged, the developers added activities that appear throughout the app. For example, players might have to swipe the screen clean when a dinosaur makes a mess of it or help a stuck iguanadon out of a river.

Ansel and Clair features high quality graphics, an intuitive interface, friendly characters, and a very reasonable price tag. The app tracks progress for up to four children, adding further to its value. Child testers were enthralled by the enthusiastic learners Ansel and Clair, and they said they cannot wait until their next adventure is available.

Sharon Heuscher   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Sharon holds B.A.s in English Literature and Ancient Studies as well as a B.S. in Psychology. She is currently a masters-level trainee in Clinical Psychology specializing in neurodegenerative diseases. For the past thirteen years, Sharon has focused primarily on raising, educating, and nurturing her five children who range in age from three to thirteen.

Look for this product at:
Cognitive Kid, Inc.
Available on iTunes

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