Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Gilbert Gas Science Experiments and Phonics Review

Gilbert Gas is a universal app that teaches children science and phonics in a fun and interactive capacity. It is the first app from the series released by the developer The Quirkles. The app is based on the book of the same name published by Creative 3 in the US.  It is written by Terri Johnson & Sherry Cook, and illustrated by Jesse Kuhn. It is available for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. It requires iOS4.0 or later. 

Gilbert is one of 26 Quirkles who loves to experiment and has a vivid imagination. Gilbert Gas is a gleeful Quirkle who loves to have fun and help out all the other inhabitants of Quirksville.

 The app brings us on the journey of Gilbert Gas and his friend Gary Goat as they learn all about carbon dioxide.We see Gilbert and Gary having a regular day out like any other friends, which inevitably leads to some sort of mischief and natural curiosity. Gary Goat opens up a dropped bottle of gola which leads to a minor explosion of gola all over himself and his friend Gilbert. Gilbert teaches his friend Gary all about Carbon Dioxide and the way it is used in fizzy drinks and in plants to help make food.

 Phonics play a huge part in the Quirkle apps and stories. The phonics are reinforced time and again through alliteration, specifically the repetition of 'g' words. For example "He loves to play games, make glorious music with his guitar, and do good....".

 The Quirkles is a very clever way of teaching children scientific facts in a fun manner. The developer even added in a section detailing two experiments that are safe for children to try out for themselves at home. My son loved this and rummaged through the cabinets looking for the pieces required so he could pretend he was a Quirkle too. At the end of the experiment section we are given a more scientific explanation of things mentioned in the book like the quantities of the four gases that make up the air we breathe, including carbon dioxide.

 The home menu contains options for matching games, puzzles and colouring pages for your child to ensure hours of entertainment value. The matching puzzle option was a favourite of mine as I absolutely love these games. You have two options to choose form here, a 16 card game or a 32 card game. Each time you find a matching pair they stay face up for the user to see. Once all the cards are matched correctly the user is greeted with a five star picture and the phrase 'GREAT Job!'. This is a huge bonus for children with special needs in particular as many of our kids strive for reward and recognition of any achievements made. The matching game requires concentration and observation and also is a great way of increasing time spent on an activity. Once your child has mastered the 16 card level they can advance on to the 32 card level , thus increasing the time they spend on the task.

 Five different puzzles are presented for completion in the games mode. Each puzzle contains twelve pieces. There is no outline of the pieces drawn on the blank canvas once the puzzle pieces are moved to the side on beginning the task. However once the piece is placed in the right spot a musical note is played to alert the user. The completed image remains at the bottom of the screen so your child can have a quick glance down for guidance if needed. On finishing the puzzle a little tune is played as a reward. The pieces require a bit of fine motor work to get them into the right position on the page so this section is particularly useful for those who need to focus on fine motor areas.

 Colouring mode is the final section on the games option. My daughter and my son both loved this. I found this section to be very beneficial as it has so many options within it. There are six different images to choose from. There are seventeen different colours, five different brush/crayon strokes and three different ways of seeing the completed image to choose from. You can choose to allow your child to only see the painted image in such a way that then perceive themselves to have stayed within the outlines of the drawing when colouring, or you can let the child see the image as it is actually coloured , mistakes and all. You can also remove the black outline of the picture on completion , thus allowing the user to see the display of colours as they would look without the outline markings in place. The user can also save the image to the photo section of their iOS device by the touch of a button.

 The narration option of the app includes allowing your child to record their own voice and then play it back. They can re-record it over and over until they are satisfied .

At the start of the app the developer has included the option of watching a short video clip which introduces the user to the rest of the Quirkles.

Gilbert Gas is an excellent app for any child who loves to try out their own scientific experiments and who could also benefit from the teaching of phonics at the same time. I personally can not wait to try out more of the Quirkle collection of apps. Some may say that they are a little expensive, but I believe that they are worth every cent. Your child will benefit from hours of entertainment and learning from this action packed app. The illustrations are excellent and the games options included provide enormous amounts of educational value.

If you would like to purchase the app now please though by using this link iTunes. The app currently retails at $9.99 in the US iTunes Store.

To find out about the rest of The Quirkles science and literacy children's book series please visit their Facebook page or their website for more information.