App: National Geographic Puzzle Explorer
As an educator I’m always looking for great games, toys and apps that are both educational and fun for my kids. Recently I was introduced to the National Geographic Puzzle Explorers app (Android and iOS). We have a subscription to their children’s magazine, my little ones are always excited when it arrives. I am a long-time fan of National Geographic, so I jumped at the chance to test out this app.
This children’s app is designed to teach kids about building mazes. It’s free to download and play the first puzzle game, and after that, parents can choose to unlock other games for $3.49 each. I always love apps that you can test out before buying
When you first open the app they ask you if you want to play as a kid (without registering) or play as a family (registering). Then you are instructed to pick your character and a name for that character. The system generates names for you, but you can cycle through them to find a name that your child loves. You then start your free game, which is the Yucatan Peninsula game.
Once in the game you begin by walking through the instructions, they take your child through how to play the game step-by-step. They have your child complete the activities to learn how the game works, with seven stages of instructions. You complete each stage building on the skills you learned in the previous one. At first the puzzle seems very simple, you place blocks and your character walks through the maze until the end. It seemed great but as we were going through the steps I thought this could get a little boring for the kids, then we got to the fourth step and I was hooked! This isn’t a simple game of creating a maze with blocks, you have to send your explorer on a hunt for cameras to complete the maze. Your character has to find all the cameras before getting to the finish. With each camera comes a photograph with a fact about the region you are exploring. It provides another level of education for your little one. I enjoyed learning all the facts about the Yucatan Peninsula.
You also have the option of adding lizards to your game that your explorer has to avoid. If he or she gets caught by a lizard they have to go back to the start again. Finally, there are pressure gates that raise if you walk over them as well as locked gates you need to collect keys to open. You can put pressure gates in your maze to help block in lizards or force your explorer to plan out how he or she is going to complete the maze because they can’t turn back after going through a pressure gate. Putting in locked gates and keys adds another element of challenge both for the person planning out the maze and the child completing it.
I love how challenging this game is for kids. It can be very simple for younger kids or more difficult for older children. When I was playing with my kids, I would plan a maze out and test it, sometimes realizing certain factors didn’t work because my explorer couldn’t reach the end. I would then go back and rearrange it so it was solvable.
This is a fun game that is educational and holds kids’ interest. My children have enjoyed playing it together, challenging each other to see who can build the hardest maze. It’s available for Android or iOS
This blog post was sponsored however, all opinions are my own. I only showcase products I love.