Piiig Forest Explorer: Natural Science for Kids, developers of award winning Piiig Labs, is an app designed to introduce little ones to the few forest animals. It is an early science app, best suited for children up to first grade, and can be played in 8 different languages: English, French, Japanese, German, Swedish, Russian, and Chinese. The game begins with a chipmunk peacefully sleeping inside its burrow. When you tap on the chipmunk it awakens and scampers up, revealing that the opening to its burrow is a hole in a tree stump. Now it’s time to explore the forest to search for food and meet some new friends. Guide the chipmunk by tapping the area on the screen you want it to go to.
On the top left of the screen, you will see a grayed-out puzzle of a chipmunk. Clicking on it will reveal 12 animal silhouettes. They are of a chipmunk, a beaver, a deer, a frog, a rabbit, a turtle, a woodpecker, two bees, a blue bird, a mole, a skunk, and a spider. All these animals, except the chipmunk, are hidden in the forest. When you find an animal, its silhouette is replaced by a full color icon of the animal, and a puzzle featuring it is unlocked. As for the chipmunk, you have to figure out what special action it needs to perform to unlock its icon and puzzle.
The puzzle consists of 16 large pieces. The pieces are revealed one at a time, and the game will guide you where to put the very first piece. Subsequent pieces revealed will always connect with one that is already placed on the puzzle board. You have 6 seconds to figure out where to place the new piece before the app tells you exactly where to put it. After all the pieces have been placed, the puzzle comes to life with a cute little animation. The animal’s name is shown in colorful letters, and an audio plays that tells you something interesting about that animal. For example, you will learn that frogs drink water through their skin and lay eggs that hatch into tadpoles underwater.
Guiding the chipmunk around is simple and a lot of fun. You can direct it to different objects to see if it will interact with it. It will climb trees, hop on rocks, run inside hollow tree trunks, eat berries, and more. You may also find something different happening in a scene that you have visited before. For example, the deer family can either be sleeping or grazing when you come upon them.
They are a few thing that I feel would make it even better. First, I think that there should be a replay button so that children can hear the animal trivia again if they want to without having to exit the puzzle and solve it all over again. Second, I think it would be great if the completed puzzle would include some interactivity to enhance learning. Children would benefit from hearing and seeing the name of the objects they tap on. On the frog puzzle, for example, children should be able to tap on the frogs, tadpoles, water/pond, and lily pads. Third, I would like a home button to return to the home screen, so that parents can access the settings without having to exit or close the game completely. Finally, the settings should also include a volume control or toggle switch for the background music and audio. I found that the background music was sometimes too loud, overpowering or competing with the animal trivia audio, which is more important for children to hear and listen to.
Forest Explorer is excellent for little ones. Would I recommend this app? Absolutely! It does a fantastic job of introducing children to forest animals and their habitats. If you have young children, this is definitely worth checking out.