Every week can be Shark Week when exploring Discovery Kids Sharks. This very content-rich app for iPad packs in a plethora of information about these aquatic creatures.
Six nicely interactive sections are included that teach kids about where sharks live, the types of sharks that exist, shark features, feeding and family life, as well as a sticker section that one can explore, adding sticker packs that one collects as the discovery challenges are successfully completed.
The question of where sharks live is nicely answered with a world map that is marked with shark hotspots. A tap in the correct space delivers a shark trading card of sorts that can be flipped over to read such details as the habitat in which these sharks live, the food they eat, info about the speed in which they swim, and the size they grow to. They also include a Top Fact about every fish, making each unique. These cards can also be shared by email if one chooses.
Once these sharks are found across the globe, one can partake in a discovery challenge to win a sticker pack. This challenge tests the info absorbed during this section, with element of fun as well.
Here, one must match the shark in question to its corresponding cutout, also answering the question about each specific shark. I appreciate the included puzzle aspect being incorporated, as this allows one to match the outline of each shark, making it possible for children to succeed here even if they do not remember all the answers correctly.
The types of sharks are explored as one goes on an underwater photo expedition, lining up sharks in the sight of one’s underwater camera. These photos are transformed into info cards full of interesting shark facts, the completion of this task leading to a discover challenge where one must match the color, markings and other details that make up shark features and match these skin swatches to a corresponding shark outline.
Shark feeding is accomplished with a fun game: after scrolling though possible choices, choose a shark with a tap and and check out what it likes to eat as well as other facts found within its included info card, tilt the iPad to move the shark around looking for prey, tapping a side button to eat the smaller creature.
The family life of sharks is introduced with a fun peek-a-boo game of sorts as one scrolls through the bottom of the ocean looking for movement or air bubbles coming from behind an obstruction which hides baby sharks. Here one is challenged by matching the shark to the facts offered and to the corresponding head of each shark, allowing kids to use the outline as a further clue. Questions including whether the pup sharks are born alive or if an egg is released are also included.
After each discovery challenge is complete, children will receive five new stickers per stocker pack to add to their underwater scene that one can decorate.
I like how here, one can scroll side to side, creating a lot of space one can decorate and adults will enjoy how these stickers are offered to the players in a small Mylar bag, reminiscent of how trading cards from my childhood were packaged.
There is really a lot of information offered within this app, making it a great educational tool. We enjoy shark week as well, but I worry that sometimes content may be intense for my sensitive son.
This is not a concern here, making it a great choice for shark lovers of all ages, but be aware that this app does not contain narration, making this a good choice for later grade school or younger children provided an adult or older child is willing to read the text out loud.
The look of the sharks and various other illustrations is terrific - very realistic and with the bold colors one would expect from marine life.
Each of these sections has an included video that plays as an intro to the subject matter. These videos look wonderful as well, sometimes including interesting electronic music that really adds to the experience. Other times, the music has a decidedly different tone more reminiscent of that from a horror film or akin to the theme from Jaws.
This choice may be appropriate for the feeding section, although no graphic footage is shown, creating a theme for this section that may be appropriate from the view of the creatures these sharks eat, as to them - these sharks are indeed very scary.
I don’t, however, understand the scary music choices for the videos chosen for the shark features or family life sections, as here the dark tone created by this kind of music does not add to the topic at hand and to me seems like a judgment call of some sort, negative to sharks in general.
The tone created with this negative, slasher-movie-appropriate music, although a very short sample and video, is in great contrast especially in the family video, as here a lovely scene of pups swimming in unison under their momma's belly are introduced with the use of aggressive music that does not at all illustrate the footage of family love.
The interesting electronic music used in the first two sections makes these video clips wondrous and even a little surreal - fantastic choices to go along with the videos in this app. The other, horror-like music, actually may make these videos less child-friendly to the most sensitive of children, which is the only flaw I found within this application.
I do enjoy everything else this app has to offer. The use of the trading cards that one can refer to later is a great way of organizing the vast amount of information offered within this app, which can also be emailed to a friend if one chooses. Each interactive section is intuitive and fun, as are the challenges.
I did, however, have some problems with the feeding section as sometimes the food listed was not recognized as a correct answer, now leaving the player to use trial and error to find the correct oceanic animal to eat - an issue I hope can be looked into.
Having said this, it is nice that this section not only allows one to tilt the iPad, but one can also tap the fish one is looking to eat as well, or drag a finger for the shark to follow - helpful for those not skilled at tilt games, such as myself.
This would make a great app for families or in an educational setting as the included games go a long way in introducing shark data in a way that stays engaging. I like that these challenges are in no way timed, and one can make wrong answers without any sort of penalty.
The theme music found on the main menu page is fun, upbeat and with a rock influence older kids and adults will enjoy, but I do take some issue with some of the other music used. Even with this issue, this is a very worthwhile app, especially to families that have a young shark lover.