An honest review of National Geographic’s Puzzle Explorer.
While I’m a big fan of apps, I tend to be rather picky about the kinds of games I allow my daughter to play on our family’s iPad. I LOVE it when I find an app that’s as educational as it is fun, but I’m also especially happy when I discover one that doesn’t have annoying sound effects and speedy graphics that rile my kiddo up.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PUZZLE EXPLORER GEO MAZE MAKER
In App Purchases: The Yucatán Peninsula is free. You can the choose to purchase further exploration packs. The Expedition Package includes Antarctica and the Himalayas; the Exploration Package includes the Nile River Valley and the Australian Outback. (National Geographic’s net proceeds from the sale of this product will support vital exploration, conservation, research and education programs.)
Age Range: Suitable for ages 4 and up.
Availability: iPhone, iPad, Android Phone and Android Tablet.
Puzzle Explorer is a great way to teach kids (and adults) about maze design and making maps.
The app shows you how to build a maze, step-by-step, by demonstrating how to add various elements to each of the mazes. First, you are shown where to place elements as you create “test” puzzles. Then, you are free to make your own mazes using the available features.
In all, there are forty-two unique obstacle blocks which can be mixed and match to provide thousands of puzzle designs! In the case of the included Yucatan Peninsula, elements include Ruin Walls, Trees, Foot Traps, Keys, Iguanas and Cameras.
The cameras – which can be set up in any of the labyrinths – reveal photo facts from five regions around the world, so kids can learn about weather, people, animals, artwork, plants and geography. My daughter absolutely LOVES this feature.
What I really like about this app is that the mazes become progressively more difficult, so the more you learn, the harder it gets to work your way through. As you move through the levels, designing and playing becomes trickier as some of the elements – like quicksand, crocodiles, treacherous ice patches and snakes (which are visible during the building/designing stage) – disappear during the playing stage. And, in the Nile River Valley, part of the maze is in complete darkness.
And, for those who wish to dig deeper, there are free online tool kits available for parents and teachers and there is also the ability to share your puzzles. See below for details.
I agree fully with Dr. Christine Casey (Congressional Medal awardee, and 40-year educator) who says:
“This fun geo maze maker is more than just a game that will entertain children. Not only can you enjoy it as a family or classroom, but it is also a great learning tool to help children with important brain-building skills such as planning, sequencing, strategy, memory, logic, and more.”
FREE PRINTABLE ACTIVITY:
Here for you, courtesy of National Geographic, is a three dimensional paper activity that allows kids to create the Yucatan region through printing, cutting out and assembling the obstacles and characters! Click HERE for the pdf pack.
Parents and Teachers – National Geographic Puzzle Explorer is not only fun, it’s a great tool for children to learn with. Its educational content from National Geographic meets education standards in the classroom. And it builds cognitive skills such as planning, sequencing, strategic, memory, and logic. For FREE Instructor and Parents Tool Kits, go to www.nationalgeographicpuzzleexplorer.com.
Share your amazing mazes with your family and friends. Innovative, unique share feature lets you share your mazes. Just complete a puzzle you made, click the “share” icon in the top right, and a link to your puzzle is automatically saved to your clipboard. Paste it into a SMS, an email, or in your social media. You can even share mazes in regions that you’ve purchased that others have not yet purchased.