Piiig Forest Explorer: Natural Science for Kids by Piiig Inc. is a beautifully crafted app for the younger ones. It is an outstanding introduction to the natural world, and one of its stellar features is its gentle sensory friendly gameplay, allowing children to process all the sights and sounds of the forest and not get overwhelmed by extraneous demands or an endless looping soundtrack. It is now available on the Android platform as well as its presence already on iOS making it available to nearly everyone. Gameplay is flawless, and each scene segues into the next with clear and inviting graphics for self-directed exploration. Chipper the chipmunk is your guide in finding 12 different animals as you explore the inner workings of the forest. In the app, kids explore the natural habitat of animals from the forest over a period of 24 hours, which include night and daytime features. This brings into focus the practical life aspect of time and the naturally occurring activities performed. For most little ones, time is this abstract construct – and some activities in a toddler or preschooler’s life just NEVER seem to end – like going with mom to the grocery store or learning to pick up toys before going outside. By playing, kids begin to pick up the natural rhythm to a day and mark it by the daily routines accomplished.
After finding an animal, kids are rewarded with a puzzle. The puzzles are an introduction into spatial play and learning about making parts to a whole, form constancy, and orientation. Each 12 piece puzzle, provides cues to the placement of the interlocking pieces, and each is a different arrangement adding novelty to the task. When doing the app together, adults can point out the finer contextual cues to the logic of completing a puzzle. It didn’t take long for the kids tested to organically pick up this lesson on their own. Upon completion of the puzzles, there is a short descriptive narration on each animal and its habitat. It’s perfectly timed for the specific age-group – not too long and not too short. Piiig Labs certainly has done their homework with engagement for children in this age group. There are 12 animals to learn about in all.
I must say that I adore this app. It has a calming aspect to it due to its soundtrack, pace, and predictability. It’s also a perfect first app to play prior to a nature hike or as in our curriculum at the school, what animals do in winter – by first learning about animals of the forest. Piiig Forest Explorer: Natural Science for Kids is a TWA Top Pick and earns the badge of excellence. It's available on Google Play and iOS.
Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of SEPA, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing in Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps has been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.