Common Sense Review
Updated March 2013

Ansel and Clair's Adventures in Africa

Find lions, giraffes, and a robot (oh my!) in this fab app adventure
Common Sense Rating 5
  • Beautifully illustrated map of Africa highlights three specific regions.
  • Starting with the Log-in screen, a page-by-page tutorial highlights all features.
  • Kids tap on pointers for more information about an animal, object, or environmental feature.
  • The Photo Journal is a visual way for kids to interact with the app and recall the animals they've learned about.
  • As kids collect the spaceship's parts in each region, its lights turn from red to blue.
Pros
Engaging for groups with both pre-readers and readers.
Cons
It has a few less-than-realistic scenes of wild animals hanging out together.
Bottom Line
Highly engaging way for kids to discover Africa's fascinating animals and ecosystems.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Engaging for both prereaders and readers. The interactive elements are easy to access and enticing. Kids tap on things they want to learn about and tap on a light-bulb icon if they want to learn more. Kids also collect photos in a journal.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Subject-specific vocabulary, audio and written explanations, and games and puzzles help readers and prereaders learn about Africa and the animals that live there. Kids create an in-app journal.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

Excellent screen-by-screen tutorial, visual prompts, and ongoing verbal tips give kids clear directions and choices.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

In the classroom, Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa can be used to teach the basic geography of Africa and its ecosystems as well as African animals and related vocabulary. The app uses subject-specific vocabulary and kid-friendly images to make this excellent learning experience accessible for both pre-readers and readers. Up to four students per device can create usernames. As kids learn about African animals, they are also learning vocabulary specific to zoology and biology.  A bit of African culture and world geography are also included. Puzzles and games and the in-app photo journal reinforce learning. The African-themed musical score and background sounds can be turned off.

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What's It Like?

Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa, is a geography and culture app that introduces kids to the three major regions of Africa: The Nile, The Sahara Desert, and The Serengeti. Kids explore African geography, ecosystems and animals, with a touch of history, culture, and numbers. The two main characters are Ansel, an alien -- who asks a lot of questions about the African animals and the environment where he landed via spaceship -- and Clair, a robot who answers all of Ansel's questions in a verbal give-and-take that kids can learn from and enjoy. The app features African animals, such as a crocodile, lion, vulture, and lots of others; and also explains other natural features, like an oasis. Each ecosystem has an arrow marker that turn into a check mark once completed. For most items, kids can tap a light bulb to learn more information. Kids can create a travel journal by taking and arranging photos of things they see.

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Is It Good For Learning?

As kids explore this app, they help Ansel and Clair gather their lost spaceship parts scattered over Africa. Kids tap interactive objects, listen to the explainers, play learning games, and add photos to the in-app journal to learn some really cool facts about African habitats, animals, and culture.  By putting kids in charge of their learning, they become deeply engaged with the content.  One game has kids rearranging the parts of a frog's life cycle. In another, they are reuniting baby animals with their parents. With a slider, kids can change a scene from day to night and on the Serengeti, from the dry season to the rainy one.

While there's some less-than-realistic depictions of wild animals hanging out together, the factual content presented is spot on.  Ansel & Clair's Adventures in Africa is an information-packed, beautifully crafted tool to introduce students to the vast continent of Africa.

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