Last week, I reviewed Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: Lions, an educational app filled with surprising facts and fun activities to learn more about lion. It was also one of the two iPad apps released by the National Wildlife Federation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ranger Rick, a popular children's nature magazine in the US. The other app is called Ranger Rick's Tree House, and I'll be reviewing it today.
A Trunk Load of Fun
Ranger Rick's Tree House is an interactive digital magazine that offers a wealth of interesting animal information for juniors ages 7-12. Taking place in Ranger Rick Racoon's virtual tree house in Deep Green Wood, you explore rooms filled with interactive wildlife articles, animal videos, multi-level games, goofy jokes, and other fun activities.
To check out a section of the app, you simply tap on a door inside the tree house. Below are all the sections available in Ranger Rick's Tree House along with brief descriptions of them:
Articles. As a digital magazine, Ranger Rick's Tree House includes interactive wildlife articles that are broken down into multiple pages to make them easier to read. In each page, you can tap on several markers to bring up fun facts, silly dialogs, and even real-life sounds made by the animals covered in the articles.
Ranger Rick's Adventures. A feature also found in the original Ranger Rick magazine, Ranger Rick's Adventures is a color comic that follows Ranger Rick and his gang as they explore the wilderness.
Video Room. Contains short footages, about 2 minutes long, of animals in the wild.
bFunny. Hosted by Boomer Badger, this section offers lighthearted entertainment in the form of funny photos, silly riddles and amusing animal illustrations.
Game Room. In this section, you can enjoy several multi-level games like Scranimals, a sliding puzzle featuring lovely animal photographs; Dolphin Dive, a gesture-based game to direct a dolphin's maneuvers; and Leopard Leap, an endless runner in which you help Mama Leopard leap over obstacles to get to her baby.
Mystery Closet. A fun game in which you try to guess the animal behind the colorful door with the help of vague hints.
Badges. Collect badges by answering trivia and completing various tasks.
The Attic. A room for keeping badges and other things. Here, you can see how Ranger Rick's character design has changed throughout the years, admire your collected badges, and decorate the tree house by tapping on the box labeled as 'Decorations'.
The Backyard. In this section, you can admire Ranger Rick's lovely backyard and learn about three great things you can do in the great outdoors. There is also a journal for keeping track of the activities that you have completed everyday.
Parents Need to Know
Unlike other apps that we regularly review on the site, Ranger Rick's Tree House is a Newsstand app. It can be downloaded from the App Store like any other apps, but will appear in the Newsstand folder instead of the Home screen.
A Newsstand app works like a real world publication, with new issues delivered periodically to your device. You can choose to subscribe to automatically download these issues, or purchase each of them manually. If you do not want the app to automatically download new content, you can turn the feature off by going to your device's Settings > Newsstand.
In Ranger Rick's Tree House, you can apply for a yearly subscription priced at $19.99. The subscription includes 5 issues and monthly bonus issues. You can also opt to purchase each edition separately. The price for a single issue is $4.99 and includes 2 monthly bonus issues. If you are unsure about the content, you can try the Sampler issue, which includes several activities and one article, for free.
As of the time of this writing, the app has released 1 issue and 1 bonus update. It is worth noting that when you have downloaded multiple issues, they are grouped together in a single screen. You can then choose the issue that you would like to view or delete the ones that you no longer need to keep.
Things I Like
I have to be honest with you. When we were first contacted to try a digital children's magazine for the iPad, I had imagined that I would be flipping through a stack of virtual pages to read a bunch of articles. I had thought that it would have pretty animated illustrations and maybe some videos, but that was pretty much it. (You'd think that after reviewing apps for more than six months, I would have had greater expectations!)
So when I opened Ranger Rick's Tree House, I was quite surprised. It wasn't anything like the magazine I had imagined--it was a fully interactive app filled with exciting activities. There's interesting articles to read, games to play, videos to watch, and more. My favorite activity is reading Boomer's goofy jokes that you can find in the bFunny section and throughout the articles.
Speaking of articles, I have to say that the app includes some great ones. The edition that I reviewed, which happens to be the first, features two informative articles on leopards and dolphins, respectively. While the articles are quite lengthy, I didn't feel overwhelmed reading them because the app breaks them down into several pages. The gorgeous photographs and fun facts also kept me engrossed in the app. I only wish that there were more articles in each issue as they were enjoyable to read!
Finally, I also like the tiny animations in the tree house, like random animals flying outside the tree house when you tap on the window or the paws making shadow puppets at the entrance of the video room. They made the tree house alive and were really fun to watch.
Ranger Rick's Tree House is an exciting children's digital magazine that packs high quality articles and a great many activities. As a Newsstand app, it delivers new contents regularly and provides additional value without having to create a new app each time. It's a clever way to get juniors excited about wildlife and hopefully, develop concern for their environment.
By the way, if you live in the US and would prefer to receive the physical copy of Ranger Rick magazine, you can also purchase a subscription over at Amazon.
Note: Thank you to the National Wildlife Federation for providing us with a copy of the first edition of Ranger Rick's Tree House. I was quite fond of it.