Product Review of LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Transformers Rescue Bots: Race to the Rescue
LeapFrog Explorer Learning Game: Transformers Rescue Bots: Race to the Rescue teaches kids about natural phenomena such as heavy rain, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, and lightning. Each of the seven levels focuses on a different natural disaster in which kids help Cody and the Rescue Bots save townspeople, minimize damage, and stop the villain who’s behind it all. They’ll not only learn about the environmental impact of disasters, but how they affect people and how rescue services help those in need. While preparing for missions, kids will help first responders dress appropriately and choose the right gear. Despite some very clever integration of learning, there’s also gameplay targeted just at fun, like leaping platforms, dodging obstacles, and shooting (water hoses, fire, and other objects) at Disaster Bots, all of which adds up to mild but relatively constant violence.
Introduce this title during fire safety week or in conjunction with a visit from a first responder. It can also pair nicely with lessons on natural disasters or environmental science units. It’s an individual game, so it’s best used at recess, during stations, or at a quiet time of day when kids can focus. Do be prepared to talk about safety plans or to reassure kids who may be frightened by the idea of a natural disaster striking at school or home.
This is a tricky fit for classrooms because it’s difficult to measure (in-game) the amount of learning taking place. With no assessment built in, educators will need to figure out other ways to demonstrate student learning. That said, the educational content is excellent, and kids will certainly take away a lot of information about the natural world, as well as how people handle disaster situations. Because of the fine motor skills required to do all the Mario Bros.-style jumping and dodging, Race to the Rescue will work best with more experienced players or older kids. Make sure to also take a peek at the LeapFrog Learning Path website for activities and printables that complement the game.
Overall User Consensus About the App
The platform-style gaming is a fun way to present the content. Glitchy/tricky controls will detract a bit, especially for younger kids, but a desire to see all the missions and defeat the villain will motivate them to power through.
Curriculum and Instruction
By playing, kids can learn about natural disasters and what causes them and then apply the knowledge to the gameplay. For example, kids will remove trees to create a firebreak.
There is little data tracking, but kids can easily see their progress in-game. Parents will find great activities on the LeapFrog website to help kids learn more about weather and disasters.