This post has a review of the National Geographic Puzzle Explorer app.  In this app, children create their own mazes which will occupy them for hours and will engage higher level thinking skills.  The first geographical area activities are free and takes some time to complete as there are several levels.  It helps teach about maze building and how the app works which provides challenge and entertainment.

Please note: Although this is a review, no money exchanged hands and I downloaded my own free version of the app from iTunes.  

National Geographic Puzzle Explorer App

National Geographic strives to make excellent educational resources, and this app is no exception. They used a team of educators as well as a team of technical people when designing the activities. It breaks new ground as the children help design the levels as they create their own personalized mazes with pieces that come to life. Such fun! Here is a link to the free instructor’s directions. Here are some of the app directions, as well.

This is the link to the free download on iTunes

The first screen says fingerprint, that is right.

National-Geographic-Puzzle-Explorer-start-screen

Next there is an official screen.

National Geographic Puzzle Explorer App

Then a geographical area game is selected.  The Yucatan game is free, so I’m going to select that one. The other games may be purchased one at a time.

National-Geographic-Puzzle-Explorer-select-game

As progress is made through the levels, the game records what has been accomplished for mazes and the photo fact cards collected.

Puzzle-Explorer-see-games- completed

This is a view of the photos collected.  Additional game puzzles are offered for the student to solve, as well.

Geographic-Puzzle-Explorer-see-facts on photos

Children will work with things like iguanas, barriers that pop up, items to collect, and decorations for their mazes. Of course, as they work they unlock incredible photos and educational facts from National Geographic. It adheres to both Common Core and National Geography standards and helps children develop essential brain-building skills like strategy, planning, critical thinking, and trial and error.

My contact at National Geographic shared the following quote from game developers.

“We know that kids love to play with mazes and wanted to make a maze that would actually come to life for them.  We think that’s where the fun and the challenge is.  Our Geo Maze Maker technology does this.  Players can outrun a lizard or out-smart Yak by luring them with fruit.  They can roll giant snow balls that melt to become a bridge over water.  We hope the Wise Owl Factory community enjoys making mazes and their children get all the great learning benefits that mazes provide.” – Josh Freeney, Co-Founder, YETi CGI.

“This fun geo maze maker is more than just a game that will entertain children.  Not only can you enjoy it as a family or classroom, but it is also a great learning tool to help children with  important brain-building skills such as planning, sequencing, strategy, memory, logic, and more.” – Dr. Christine Casey, Congressional Medal awardee and 40-year educator and curriculum author.

My Opinion

I had to be sure I could succeed at all the levels in the free game, and I was only stumped by the highest level with the iguana for awhile. I previously “babysat” an iguana as a class pet for over a year and I couldn’t seem to get over the fact the one in the game can approach and stop the person.  Then I realized iguanas have learned to come up to people and try to get food, so over that hurdle in my thinking I was able to complete all the levels. The facts revealed to me were highly interesting. Children love to astound adults with amazing facts, as we all know, so expect to be impressed.

I used to teach gifted education classes, as well as thinking skills.  One of the units was actually about labyrinths and mazes. We would show a film the school district owned about that topic.  Then the students would draw mazes, we would have them laminated, and they would trade and solve each other’s mazes with dry erase markers.  This is a great end of year activity for keeping students engaged before the school year ends. Not that our students ever day dreamed about summer vacation, of course! Having had experiences with the Puzzle Explorer app, this would be a more interesting activity.  At the end of the year the computers and iPads and everything are removed from classrooms leaving us with old fashioned learning.

More Fun Resources

The Yucatan mazes caught my eye as  last summer I met a blogger who lives in the Yucatan. She used to live in Minnesota. She kindly gave me these souvenirs. This is a link to her short story page about living in the Yucatan.

items-from-Yucatan-Mexico

Thank you for reading, Carolyn

new-National-Geographic-Puzzle-Explorer-app-iTunes

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