Gingham Games is an interesting iPad application which includes three educational mini games. This app stands out among others like it with its wonderfully rich retro style illustrations that include cherubic, apple-faced kids, creating a wonderful vintage feel.
These wonderful illustrations are the highlight of this application, with images that remind me of such Americana as classic Campbell’s Soup Kids or Shirley Temple.
The three mini-games are nice as well. Ducks in a Row allows the player to count baby ducks in rows on the screen, tapping and dragging them to the bottom of the screen in numerical order. These ducks must be counted from 1 to 10; a tap allows their number to be seen for only a moment, so one must remember where these numbers are found throughout these ducks before time runs out and the ducks run away. This nice, simple game is fun for number sequencing, but also in sharpening one’s memory, a nice touch. The baby ducks used here are cute, yellow and fluffy the way one would expect. I like the polka-dotted background and muted color scene of cream, golden yellow, and sage green which add to the vintage feel as this pattern fades into a scene of a duck habitat of tall leaves, flowers, water, and a mother duck as well, creating a nice style that is found through this app.
In Apple Toss, the player moves a girl across the screen to catch falling apples, learning about alphabet letter sequencing along the way. I like that these apples bounce from the girl's open hands into the basket, and a near miss can be bumped repeatedly until it makes its way into the basket as well. Note that each time the player misses an apple, leaves begin to fill the screen from bottom up, and one has three lives to use before the leaves fill the screen and the game is over. The apples are tossed by a boy in a tree, and his basic arm movement that tosses the apples is very simple, reminding me of the moving pieces seen in an antique toy or bank from very long ago, adding to the vintage feel, something I appreciate.
Shape Catcher is our personal favorite, where the player chooses one of five color and shapes lures that are used to catch corresponding fish off a dock. When the correct fish is seen, line up the lure to catch the fish by tapping the button closest to the direction in which the fish is swimming. There are three rows of fish to focus on, with buttons on either side of the water. I like that one must be patient to catch a fish and then act quickly, lining up things right to make a catch, then continue on until each of the five lures is used. This mini-game makes good use of colors, shapes, and matching, as well as some basic logic to understand which button the fish is swimming towards, something my son enjoys. I appreciate how the boy and this scene in general remind me of a Norman Rockwell painting.
Each of these games is narrated by a child who either counts the ducks, recites the alphabet as the apples are tossed, or names the color and shape of the fish that is caught. These voices include a lot of character one may expect to hear in a young child’s voice, which may be slightly hard to understand by some children. Other than this slight issue, this is a very nice app as the games are cute and the illustrations are wonderfully vintage, slightly kitschy and extremely well-done, appealing to children as well as adults, especially those who collect or appreciate Americana from days past.