My younger daughter just started junior kindergarten (yay!) and she was over the moon for this rite of passage of becoming more of a “Big Girl.” One goal we are working with her on is her reading skills. We want her to start reading easy books on her own by the end of the year. She can recognize certain words, and can recall a whole story if asked, but she cannot read it from start to finish on her own. We were glad when we were approached by Kuato Games to review their new learning game app, Safari Tales!
The goal of Safari Tales is to enhance the literary skills in children ages 4-10. Since children love learning through play, Safari Tales takes place in a rich and colourful 3D world where Darwin the Meerkat leads kids on various adventures, reading the directions Darwin shares with them so they can navigate their way throughout the African savanna. They are also able to ask Darwin questions about the different animals in the game as well as other aspects of their environment by using the tile turner to put together 1 000 sentences.
For this review, we used the iPhone platform to play this game. My daughter and I liked that each adventure could be personalized to each adventure they go on with their name being used throughout the whole adventure. I also liked the Parent’s Corner where parents can adjust the game to the levels they feel would be most appropriate for their child. For my daughter’s experience, I set the game at the shortest adventure length which was 10 minutes. Parents are asked the age of the child playing each game so it can be geared to their literacy level. My daughter is 4 years old. I was also given the choice of having email notifications sent to me when my child creates a new “Tale.” I could also choose whether I wanted the game PIN-protected, so my kids could only play Safari Tales if I allowed them to do so.
We started off the game as Eshe, a baby elephant. We were sent off on an adventure to find and slide down a waterfall slide.
There were signs that pointed in the direction of various locations in the game, and Darwin had a path of paw prints that lead us to our destination. My daughter used the controls on the screen to maneuver Eshe through the terrain of the savanna. She was able to listen and read, with some help from me, along our path to the waterfalls.
By pressing the ”Paint Palette” button, we were able to colour and add designs to our elephant friend just by touching the screen. We had fun testing this part of the app. We giggled at the fun prints we added to our character. My daughter decided she like Eshe’s original look, so we easily changed it back to its original settings.
Along the way, there were sparkly objects such as trees, rocks and food. When she interacted with these objects, some of them made Eshe eat food and drink water, others held hidden stickers and rewards for my daughter to collect, and there were some that did nothing at all. We tried every one along the way to see what each one would have some sort of reaction. We think the ones that did nothing must have been meant for another character or adventure.
There were other areas we explored along our trip. We were able to conduct an animal orchestra that would light up in different colours and play fun musical beats that complemented each other as you pressed their buttons. We had a lot of fun getting side-tracked here, pressing all of the buttons to make them play music, and watching the animals dance to their individual beats. We could not decide which animal was our favourite to watch!
When we finally found our way to the waterfalls, we were led on a swirling adventure on the slide that tossed us in the air and then our character trumpeted in a job well done once on solid ground. Darwin then brought us back home to our Mommy Elephant so we could then read our adventure. As we went through each page of our journey, my daughter and I took the time to read through each page with a snap shots of our adventure. We were also able to change some of the words in our tale as there were highlighted words that popped up with other suggestions to make our story more unique to us. I really loved this aspect of the app since it allowed for her to learn new synonyms and enlarge her vocabulary. We were also able to learn the importance of the rewards and the stickers she collected throughout her journey.
The look of this app is perfect for kids! It is bright and lush with the colours scheme they used. The characters look cute and approachable, so kids would want to play with all of them. It was also fun to splash in the water and run through taller grasses because the graphics and the sound effects blended well together so it seemed real to her. The controls were easy to use, and it was great that the characters were not able to walk off of logs or fall into gores if we accidentally stirred them in that direction.
One issue we had with the game was that we had to start off the game as an elephant. We had to find the other animals on our adventures throughout Safari Tales in order to be able to play as them. Luckily, my daughter loves elephants and wanted to do more adventures with this character.
Overall, we loved playing Safari Tales. It was simple to download and start playing, parents could control aspects of the game to the learning level of their child, and it could be personalized so kids would feel more a part of the game. It was fun learning about the African savanna, the animals within it and its environment! She learned how to move around by following Darwin’s instructions and picked up some new words when reading her tale once the game was over. We will definitely be going on another Safari Tale in the future!
We played Safari Tales for iOS from iTunes, but is available for download at the Google Play Store for Android users, and through Amazon.ca. The cost of this app is reasonable, too. The price is $3.99 + tax. Currently, it is only available in English.
Disclaimer: I was compensated by Kuato Games in order to write this review . The views expressed are my own.