While most activity apps are great for honing basic skills, sometimes they do not present practical examples. Granted, designing problems with real-world context is not an easy task.
For example, it is relatively simple to write math problems like this:
4 + 5 = ?
But it is more difficult to design a problem like this:
Before we leave for our vacation in Bali, Philip's mom packs everyone's clothes. She learns that she can only bring nine pairs of socks to fit in the bag. If the space is allotted for Philip's and Noah's socks, how many can she bring for each of them?
Although these types of problem are more difficult to design, they offer greater value as juniors can learn to use their basic skills for solving real-world problems. Today's app pick, Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.!, attempts to tackle this challenge.
Solving Prehistoric Problems
Dinosaur Train is a TV series that airs on PBS Kids. Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.! is an iPad app that was designed using the characters and prehistoric background from the TV series. Guided by Buddy the friendly T-Rex, your juniors try to solve three problems that hamper Troodon Town's preparation for their Olympic-like sporting event.
The first problem that you need to solve is how to build a bridge that would connect the two sides of Troodon Town that are currently separated by a cliff. The first thing that you need to do is to measure the length of the gap between the two unconnected sides. You drag a finger from one side to the other and the app will tell you their distance, measured in the width of wooden logs. Then, you will need to choose two from three wooden logs that would fit the gap.
The second problem is to properly feed a number of hungry dinosaurs. Each dinosaur has a different size and eating behavior, so you need to measure its meal using a weighing scale. You drag one or more meals to one side of the scale to try and find the perfect weight balance for each dinosaur as determined by the app.
The last problem in Troodon Town is entitled All-Star Sorting. Each time you play the game, the app shows you three or more dinosaurs with different heights. Your task is to sort them by the order of their houses on the hill. Some games ask you to sort in ascending order, i.e., from the shortest dinosaur to the tallest, while other games ask you to sort in descending order.
Parents Need to Know
Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.! is an app suitable for juniors ages three to five. The games are fairly forgiving when dealing with mistakes; it simply reverts your incorrect move and informs you of your mistake through Buddy's narration. In the scale balancing game, for example, Buddy would tell you whether the meals you put on the scale are too few or too much.
I personally find the feeding game to be an opportunity to discuss with your juniors different eating behaviors. Some dinosaurs are carnivores, while some are herbivores. You can also discuss how humans are omnivores, but some of us choose to be vegetarians.
There is one side note that you may need to keep in mind: this app does not include any animated example for playing each game. So you may need to accompany your juniors when they play the games for the first time to make sure that they understand what Buddy requires them to do.
Things I Like
After trying out the app for a few times, I have to say that Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.! is a great app. I like how the games are designed to reflect real-world problems, as well as to introduce interesting new concepts. For example, in the bridge building game, juniors learn to measure distances and fit items into empty slots.
In the second game, juniors are introduced to the weighing scale. Speaking from my own experience, I don't encounter this type of device often nowadays. Even though the digital weighing scale is more accurate and more efficient to use, it's always good to have juniors learn how devices have evolved over the years.
Finally, in the last game, juniors can also learn about swapping and sorting. Sorting helps them see everything in sequential order, and swapping helps them solve problems where physical space is limited.
Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.! is an excellent math-themed activity app for juniors ages three to five. The Dinosaur theme is appealing, especially if you are familiar with the Dinosaur Train TV show. You should consider getting this app to help your juniors hone their problem solving skills in a fun way.
Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr.! is available for iPad
Get it on the App Store: iPad
App was provided for our honest review.