"Alien Assignment" creates a scavenger hunt for you and your child that uses your iDevice's camera to capture items. Kids meet the Gloops, a family of aliens who have crash-landed on Earth. To fix their spaceship, the Gloops need help with finding photos to share with their on-board computer. The computer uses the photos help it fix the spaceship. For example, to fix the sprinklers, kids are asked to photograph something you use when it rains. For the leaking gas tank, they are asked to take a picture of something that holds liquid.
The app involves parents by telling kids to "show your grownup" the photos taken; and the app then asks parents to give the photo a thumb up or thumb down. This is a perfect opportunity to start a conversation with your kids about why they photographed the objects in the pictures. You may be surprised at the clever ways your children respond. Once you approve of the photos, your kids get to watch as the ship gets repaired.
This app is replayable because the questions asked vary. Parents can set up the scavenger hunt to request 4, 8, 10, 15, or 20 photos. And you needn't worry about the photos eating up memory space; they don't appear in the device's photo gallery. Rather, they just disappear at the end of the game.
By asking kids to come up with photo solutions to questions asked, "Alien Assignment" stretches the way kids think about everyday objects. They may now notice that your office chair has wheels on it, or that the budvase is something you can see through. Since there are endless solutions to the challenges issued, kids can be encouraged to think of new solutions every time they play. "Alien Assignment" offers an innovative way to use the photo-taking capability of your iDevice and turn it into a clever and exciting way for kids to become inventive thinkers.
From Fred Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College, best for ages 3-5, Free, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Jinny Gudmundsen, USA TODAY