Review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2014
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Ansel & Clair: American Bowl

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Fast-paced quiz game is fun, but learning feels layered on top

Subjects & skills
  • Critical Thinking

  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Multiple levels and categories help test kids' knowledge of American history, earning them chances to knock down pins as part of a fun bowling game.

Cons: Power-ups, pin configurations, and other game elements take away from the learning opportunities.

Bottom Line: Kids learn some basic facts about the United States, but will spend most of their time focused on the bowling, not the history.

In the classroom, Ansel & Clair: American Bowl could be used for either whole-class or individual practice. While the game focuses on individual players, even allowing teachers to set up profiles for multiple students, it would be a fun whole-class activity, giving students a chance to work together to answer questions, review key facts, and save the bald eagles. The general format, however, favors individual students, making it ideal for teachers to use to get students interested in American history or as a tool to refresh their knowledge.

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Ansel & Clair: American Bowl is a social studies quiz game that challenges kids to answer questions about U.S. history. Kids are tasked with freeing 50 bald eagles that were kidnapped by a villain. To begin, they choose a level from easy, medium, or hard, and select from 14 categories, including Amazing Americans, Black History, and The American Revolution. Kids then answer multiple-choice questions and play a bowling game. At the lowest level, every correct answer results in a chance to bowl. At higher levels, kids must answer questions correctly before heading to the bowling alley. Once they get to the bowling alley, they select a ball designed to represent a specific American symbol, choose a pin formation or a power-up, and let the ball fly. Knocking down all the pins frees an eagle.

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Kids can answer hundreds of questions related to U.S. history, and additional explanatory paragraphs accompany each correct answer. And while this could be an engaging way to review historic facts, much of the learning gets overshadowed by the just-for-fun bowling game. The game loosely connects to history with bowling balls designed to represent American symbols, but most of the gameplay has no relation to the content. For kids who need additional motivation to learn the basics, however, the fun game may be a good way to get interested in American history.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Rapid pace, new bowling balls, and other game features keep kids working towards the goal of freeing all 50 bald eagles.

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

The game is chock full of information, but much of it gets lost as kids focus on bowling.

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

Kids see percent of questions answered correctly and advance in level, but some may find different components of gameplay overwhelming.

Common Sense Reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

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