Kids. They're adorable. Especially when they're someone else's. But
when they're yours, they canbe a handful. And there's nothing like an iPad to give you a little break by distracting and entertaining the little angel for as long as their attention span holds. All
you need are the right apps. One of the best choices is the National Wildlife Federation's Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures: Lions. The app was created as a companion to NWF's new magazineRanger Rick Jr.,
spun off from 50-year-old kid-oriented magazineRanger Rick, and animated by award-winning Moonbot Studios, the app introduces Ricky Raccoon, a new character designed to guide kids through the
grasslands of Africa where they will encounter among other things - you guessed it - lions.
The app is broken into three main sections: Explore, Play and Create. Given that we're dealing
with the wilds of Africa, Explore is the best section. It leads kids on a lion's paw-print trail through the long dry grass, which hides many things -
beautiful wildlife photography, videos, animations, fun facts, sticker prizes and links to the games that are housed in the Play section. There are five lion-themed games: Photo Safari, which uses
thegyro in the iPad to present a 3D world visible only onscreen that you can navigate and photograph, while counting the lions in the pride;
Hide and Seek, find the hidden cubs; What's Wrong? which asks you to find what doesn't belong in the picture and eliminate it by touching it; Jigsaw Puzzle, which uses an array of wildlife photos and
lets you choose 9, 16 or 25 pieces; and Match Sounds, which asks you to match the sound to the animal that makes it.
In the Create section, there is a sticker board that let's
you make a picture using all the animal stickers you presumably found in the Explore section. You can flip the images, add them multiple times to create a herd of zebras for example. Using familiar
iPad gestures, you can enlarge, shrink, flip and rotate the sticker images. Before you know it you have a beautiful wildlife scene in front of you. If you're me, the centerpiece is a zebra on its side
with a happy lion devouring its innards. Fun for the whole family. Animal piano arranges animal sounds on a keyboard, while Animal Builder will provide Junior with hours of delight making twisted
beasts from half a dozen different animal's parts. There's also a collection of very short stories that function a bit like Mad Libs in which you choose a random assortment of words that are then
spliced into innocuous animal stories.
I'd like to say I discovered this app, but in fact in the few short months it's been available on the iTunes store it's been written up byUSAToday.com
and the New York Times, and named one of the Top 10 Kids' Apps of 2012 by
Entertainment Weekly. Who am I to argue? Here's looking forward to more Ranger Rick Jr Appventures.