Tiger and Elpho in Animal Land offers four early learning games for the very young. Players can choose from simple jigsaw puzzles, a matching game, a “spot the differences” activity, and tic tac toe for two players.
Designed for toddlers and preschoolers
No reading required for independent play
Three levels of difficulty on jigsaw puzzles
Colorful, entertaining animations and sound effects
The games in Tiger and Elpho are very appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. For the most part, the app is easy to use and fun. All of the features are simply to operate, even for the very young. One large concern, however, is with the jigsaw activity. It is possible to “lose” a piece by completely covering it up with correctly placed pieces. In fact, it’s almost easy to do so, especially when working with the nine piece level. This is because pieces are presented in jumbled spots on top of the guide picture and other pieces can be placed on top of them. It’s also possible to push pieces almost completely beyond the screen boundaries. Both of these instances could be very frustrating for young users.
This app provides a delightful way for young users to practice critical readiness skills independently. Each of the games supports development in an age appropriate manner, and young children will feel an enormous sense of accomplishment. I’m sure some will declare, “I can do it myself!” One small concern is the difficult-to-read font used to indicate the number of pieces on the jigsaw activity. The “4” is nearly illegible, and the “6” is challenging. The only way I recognized the “4” was because of the legible number 9.
The makers of Tiger and Elpho in Animal Land obviously worked hard to make the app friendly to prereaders. No language skills are required to play, and the only symbols to be interpreted are the numbers in the jigsaw activity. It would be nice to see additional levels in the other activities. The jigsaw puzzle activity has three levels, but the matching game and the spot the difference game both only seem to have a single, rather easy level.
The developers should consider a more robust parent section, though. Many parents may not recognize the connections between the activities and academic readiness. The parent section should also include clear directions for each activity, so an adult could easily assist a frustrated child. The operation of the Spot the Differences activity, for example, was a challenge for me to figure out.
This app is very low-key, which is perfect for some children and perhaps a bit boring for others. Correct responses are rewarded with very short animated clips mostly with brief sound effects. For example, the turtle reward shows the character quickly pulling its head into its shell. As far as I can tell, these are the promised “videos” from the app description. While quite appropriate for the target audience, many children are used to a much higher level of stimulation and reward, so they may not appreciate the clips as much as I did.
Tiger and Elpho in Animal Land is a good value if you have very young children who enjoy using the iPad or iPhone. It’s an inexpensive way to help them practice matching, visual skills, and closure. Perhaps best of all, it’s highly likely that your young player can learn to use the app quickly and independently, which is a real confidence-builder, not to mention a great convenience at times. It won’t be a substitute for other forms of play that lead to readiness skills, but it is a nice supplement.
This app contains no outside advertising, no in-app purchases and no links to social media. The parents’ section is protected by an effective security gate. It contains a system that accesses email to contact the developers, links to more games in the app store, a link to the developers’ website and a link to rate the app in the App Store. However, the parents’ section could be made more useful and robust with the addition of some explanation about why the activities are important to children and some clear directions that parents could use to conveniently help frustrated young users.