Puzzlecopters by Hoglet Studio is a spatial and sequencing puzzler app for pre-schoolers that also pack a fun cognitive punch. Included with the app are four games with six mini games or levels. Each deals with the order, patterning, and recognizing and responding to orientation in vertical, horizontal, and rotating space. This means that to be successful at a puzzle, kids must be able to vary and manipulate objects into the projected space contained on the iPad. The graphics are kid friendly and cheerful and have a magical zany world vibe that immediately draws you into play. Both the kids I tested and their parents enjoyed the graphics and playing the games together. The direction of play is child driven, which ups the intrinsic motivation for play. A child does need to complete a level before progressing to the next unless all levels are unlocked in the gated parent's section. A nice feature for parents is that to return to the home screen from a section of a particular game that one needs to double tap the home button. This helps prevent both accidental exciting as well as purposefully attempting to avoid a task before completing it. So let’s get started and begin playing with this fun filled app.
The first game deals with recreating blocks sequenced in vertical space side by side with a model. Starting with stacking is a safe achievable way to begin by giving kids something familiar. To stack the blocks, kids will need to target the flying bees to drop the blocks with the symbol they need. The first level within this game contains two different shapes, and the other five are placements of three or more symbols to copy and stack. I do love the dynamic quality to the blocks that make it wonderfully playful and helps kids stay tuned-in and attending. Off-screen opportunities to extend the play by copying stacks of blocks with a variety of attributes (such as colors, numbers, letters and or anything else you can put on a block) are endless.
The second set of games is the under the sea pattern sequencing game with Captain Hedgie as your host. Here, all the classic pre-K patterns are produced by adding pictures in a horizontal sequence. It is not as easy as it looks, but there are shadowed pictures to help prompt kids and guide their way.
The third set of games consists of setting brightly colored flying smoothies in the proper order on top of the unicycle. What??? Told you it’s a zany world! I love the fact that again, the pieces are dynamic and you need to look by scanning the screen to find the color of smoothie you need. Swipe on a unicycle and it moves and produces pleasing tones.
The fourth game is a spatial orientation game where children need to be able to mentally hold and rotate an image in order to correctly copy the block designs made of pictures of fruit. Once the design is complete, fill up the smoothie machine by matching the fruit it calls for. Games like this are great precursors to practical life skills such as finding your way on the playground and even navigating a map later in life.
A bonus game that is just for fun, adds the time to just play and experiment with colors and volume by making smoothies and feeding it to the hedgehog and the thirsty little bees. It’s fun to prepare and watch the glasses filled. Be careful though, in filling the second glass as if you push the first glass too hard it spills! Kids can also decorate their smoothies with fruit stickers or ice cube shapes, and then serve them to Hedgie and the Bee.
If I had a couple of wishes, I would love to be able to toggle off the music but keep the sound effects. The music at times was distracting, and I needed to mute the iPad. In doing so, however, Kids missed the fun sound effects. I would also love to see the smiley and frowny faces removed from every step in completing the sequences. To me, it was more distracting rather than truly giving kids the feedback they need. If unsuccessful in an attempt, it may be better to just not have the placement of an item stick if it is incorrect. Kids could then immediately work on a solution and that keeps the continuity in the game moving.
In summary, Puzzlecopters is a fun and engaging preschool spatial sequencing app. Kids enjoyed interacting with the characters in this zany world and learned about matching, sorting and sequencing patterns. I am very interested in what Hoglet Studio comes out with next. Check it out! Recommended.