My kids have always had a fascination with all things underwater, but I think it reached a fevered pitch about a year ago when we brought home a 3D-capable television for our living room. There were only few channels that offered 3D shows, and one of them was a 30-minute “show” about what’s under the surface of our oceans. Even a bowl of only marshmallows from the box of Lucky Charms couldn’t tear them away from the screen.
MarcoPolo Ocean isn’t a large-screen 3D television, but it is a kid-friendly way for young players to explore marine life (no marshmallows required). Enter a world beneath the waves where the 3-7 crowd can play one of five different mini-games with simple drag-and-drop game play and an age-appropriate user interface. There’s also a “freestyle” section that helps to encourage open-ended and imaginative play.
The five different activities (mini-games) consist of building different objects – a fish, a boat, a submarine, a marine mammal, and a coral reef. All of the items are provided and identified by clear voice narration. Different factoids about each of the parts and the finished product are also given in narration, and there’s no reading required to play at any point in this app. Players learn about the role of different creatures as well as the purpose of the boat and the submarine.
Freestyle play lets kiddos explore wherever and however they want, diving through the coral reef and looking at all of the different components. This allows young players to use what they learned in the activities and build on it, encouraging imaginative play and prompting further curiosity about the underwater ecosystem (which is something they learn about in the app).
Not shockingly, my kids (3 and 6) really loved playing this app. My oldest is all about factoids and he has repeated several of the things he learned playing MarcoPolo Ocean, My youngest loves building and she spent the better part of 30 minutes alternating between building the “pirate” boat and the submarine, and yelled “AHOY MATEY” every few minutes to remind me exactly what she was doing.
The download price is $2.99 and considering the educational content, that’s a pretty good deal (and much less expensive than a 3D television). It’s age-appropriate and touches on several early learning skills, and teaches a complex concept that would otherwise be difficult for young players to grasp.
– Easy, voice-guided instructions mean no reading required
– Engaging game play and strong educational content
– Free play option promotes open-ended and creative play
– None, playing this app was a swimmingly good time!