Alien Assignment, by the Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College, will teach your child a great many skills by sending them on a scavenger hunt for day-to-day objects in this oh-so-interactive, and exploratory learning app. What Teachers With Apps likes best is the fact that a practicing kindergarten teacher was the creative and educational expert behind this app. Craig Schatten, a Fred Rogers Early Career Fellow and kindergarten teacher at The Calhoun School in New York, is a multi-talented guy – a musician, puppet designer, and illustrator. He had hoped to be the next Mr. Rogers when he was in college and it looks like his dream may be coming to some fruition.
Following a straightforward scavenger hunt scenario and taking pictures according to the oral directions, these requests will encourage thinking and problem solving skills, as well as get kids up and moving! All of the requests are surely available around the house or classroom, but may involve some creativity! After you have taken pictures of all the required clues the child needs to bring their photos to a grown-up to check over. Then the spaceship can be repaired and another adventure begins.
The app has a settings page that gives the game options for differentiation. Kids can look for just four clues, but up to twenty, to accomplish their assignment. They also have a link to a very helpful page for parents or teachers as to suggestions to enrich the app experience with a “Talk About It” and a “Why This is Important” link.
Parents and teachers can initiate dialogue around Alien Assignment by asking children questions and making comments along the way. The five “W Questions:” where, what, why, etc… can get those little minds churning and answering questions. Talking about things makes the “play” just that more meaningful.
- Alien Assignment is a way to get children thinking creatively and solving problems while using everyday items in a fun and silly new context.
- Children gain valuable experience planning and following multiple step directions as they decide on an appropriate answer to the Alien’s problem, locate the right item, and take its picture.
- Asking children why they took certain pictures gets children in the habit of giving evidence and helps develop critical thinking skills, key parts of being “media literate.”
Staying true to the vision of Fred Rogers, and emulating the guiding principles of his life’s work, the mission of the Fred Rogers Center is to advance the fields of early learning and children’s media by acting as a catalyst for communication, collaboration, and creative change.