by Doodle Panda Studio
I started using this app in the classroom with a small group of kindergarteners to see if they would be able to figure it out. Several of the boys had become addicted to the Big Seed app by Mind Research Institute, and I wanted to see if they would find Bumpling equally challenging and interesting. I introduced the app to a group of six children, three girls and three boys and we began to test it out. They were able to quickly catch on and start playing the game on their own. What is nice about having several children figure out an app together is that they talk a lot about what they are doing and how they have figured something out. With Bumpling they were able to work together to figure out how the spinners, v-turns and others obstacles worked and how to get their bugs to avoid or use them depending on the situation. What I like about this app is that it works to develop children's problem solving skills and strategy. They have to be able to figure which is the best move to make and plan ahead so that they can get all the bugs off the screen.
When the second group of children began to play the game we discovered a small glitch in the system. Since children in the classroom often have to share the same iPad, we need to have apps that can accommodate multiple players. We wrote to the developers and they were immediately responsive and have now added a multiple player feature to the app.
Options and Special Features
Sound - I love the fact that you can completely turn off all the sound. The music does not provide anything essential in order to play the game, so it is not necessary. With no sound, children do not need to use the head phones and allows for more collaboration as they go through the different screens.
Themes - You can choose from a variety of different themes for your screen, with different animals (ladybugs, frogs, etc) which can make it a little more interesting.
Hints - If you get stuck there is a hint option that you tap which will tell you how to make the next move. If you use the hint button too many times it affects your overall score but you can still keep playing the game. One child figured out that he could keep going through the app by hitting the hint button first rather than testing out different possibilities. Since he was not concerned with his time or his score he just kept using the hint button to speed through the different screens. In this particular case, the hint option took away the thinking and the challenge and defeated the purpose of the game. I wonder if the hint option could make the bug wiggle to indicate which would be a good choice for the next move, rather than to provide the arrows which indicate the exact path the bug should take.
Time - After you complete one board, a screen pops up to tell you how long it took you to complete the board. While this is a great option for some, I don't really see the need for it in the classroom. I would prefer the focus be on the completion of the task rather than how much time it took to complete. After the children worked with the app for a while, the conversation turned to the speed at which different kids were completing the levels. There is already so much emphasis on speed when it comes to math related activities that it can sometimes turn children off. The children who were able to continue quickly with the different levels really enjoyed the game, but those who were not as fast began to lose interest. It would be great if the time option could be one of the things that you could turn on or off depending on how you wanted to use the game.
Overall, I really liked using this app in the classroom and will continue to use it during the next school year.