Jetpack Journeys: Space exploration for pre-schoolers
The developer of this app shared the following with us:
I wanted my son to learn about space. All the information out there for his age (he was 4 at the time) was too complicated – it was great for me to tell him how amazing things were but there was nothing for him to learn by himself. I think children can learn through playing at their own leisure, so I created Jetpack Journeys as a sort of digital ‘play-mate’. Children can build space ships (tapping into their creativity but also encouraging a sense of wonder and excitement at the possibilities) and then fly that space ship through the Solar System - there they get to associate planet names with their appearances. I struggled for a while on how much written information to include; having none seemed to limit older children but having too much would be daunting for younger ones. So I've tried to put interesting and easily read facts as well as a lot of diagrams - where this planet is in relation to the others and to the sun. These things are important. Also important, I feel, are the characters who guide children through their journey. I wrote 5 characters of different abilities (and I have fun creating stories for these in the free magazine - www.jetpackjourneys.com/magazine). I think children will identify with at least one of the characters and so feel that little bit more inspired to keep on exploring and learning as they go.
Upon opening the app, you are introduced to 5 characters in turn via a funny video that is colourful and the soundtrack used here is befitting to the adventure that lies ahead. When the video stops, you are presented with two options: ‘Parents’ and a ‘Play’ symbol.
Clicking on the parents button open up a list of text which explains the purpose of the app and how it can benefit your child. There is also contact information to get in touch with the developer. The text is presented in the theme of the opening credits seen in the Star Wars films, which makes it enjoyable to read even for parents as I’m sure many of them still remember how excited they were when they watched the original Star Wars Trilogy! On this screen, clicking on ‘Close’ will take you back to main home screen of the app.
Clicking on the ‘Play’ button starts the journey through space! You are presented with a Spaceship which you can drag to explore the solar system. On the bottom left of the screen you have a picture of one of the 5 characters seen in the opening video. Clicking on this picture opens a screen where you can choose one of the other 4 characters. Each character is different in colour, size and shape- giving your child the option to choose what they are comfortable with. The bottom right corner of the screen shows a picture of a planet with an arrow pointing you in the direction of where it can be found. Clicking on this picture opens a screen showing our entire solar system. Your child can select the planet that they want to journey to; you are then taken back to the previous screen and the picture in the bottom right corner will change to this selected planet instead along with an arrow showing where to locate it.
Once you reach the planet, you are presented with the option to either land or carry on exploring. If you select land (Tick button), you are given a screen where your can build your own spaceship! On the left of the screen you have an outline of the part required. On the right you have 9 different shaped parts, but it’s down to the child to select the part they want to use to fill the gap on the left. Upon selecting the part, you then go through the same process again and again until the spaceship is fully built. The exercise of following directions to reach a planet and building a spaceship helps with cognitive development. However, I would have liked this to be a bit more challenging; for example, when building a spaceship the user should be given an outline of a part to fill but from the 9 options to choose from only one of these should be correct. As a result, the ship can’t be completed until all the correct parts have been used. This would not only help with a child’s cognitive development but at the same time improve their critical thinking which is equally important even at an early stage.
Once you land on the planet, you are presented with a scenario where all the parts that you used to build your spaceship are scattered around the planet. As you drag your character around the planet to search for these, you are given a glimpse of the type of landscape that forms the planet you are on. Having to search for the parts, especially when weaving in and out of tunnels, helps again with improving your child’s cognitive skills. Once all parts are collected, you can go back to the spaceship and then go back to the solar system to search for another planet. The cutscenes used for landing and blasting off a planet are really well done and the soundtrack used throughout the entire adventure is fun and appealing for kids. My only concern here is that, eventhough the landscape of each planet differs, the process of searching for a planet, then building a spaceship and then searching for scattered parts before leaving the planet can get a little repetitive.
Overall, the app is very good in that your child can learn about the names of the planets in our solar system and what order they appear from the sun. The process of journeying through space and building spaceships helps improve cognitive skills in that it requires your child to use hand-eye coordination. The animations, colours and soundtrack used throughout are very appealing and would definitely help engage a child’s attention. At $3.99 it comes highly recommended as it is a fun way to learn about our solar system, and if you’re quick you can pick the app up for the discounted price $0.99 (limited time only).
From the Developer
Jetpack Journeys is a way for pre-school and early-years children to explore and experience our solar system in a fun and imaginative way and be inspired about the wonders of Space for the very first time.
Created as a digital toy, children are encouraged to play any way they like. There are no goals, no stresses and no endings. Children are free to enjoy the environments and spend as much time as they wish in each of the three sections: Explore! Build! Collect!
NO IN-APP PURCHASES
5 playable characters
8 planets to land upon
Mix-and-Match Spaceship builder
Thousands of potential Spaceship combinations
Beautiful, responsive music
Solar System map
Roam the Solar System in a Jetpack Journeys Spaceship of your very own design. Fly through Space and follow the Cosmic Compass to discover the order and beauty of our eight planets. Explore! is a free-roaming environment in which children can begin to appreciate and understand where Earth is in relation to the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Learn to recognise each planet through beautiful art and associate the name for greater understanding.
NASA no longer builds Spaceships so you're going to have to. Drag and drop pieces of Spaceship to make your very own fun Spaceship. From classic styles to giant robots and even an ice-cream, the mix-and-match Build! stage enables children to explore their creativity and aspirations. Simple enough for even the youngest fingers and fun enough for older children, Build! is a wonderful part of Jetpack Journeys.
Land on each of the eight planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) and explore their environments. Collect Spaceship parts or stars as you jetpack about with any of the five playable characters or jump straight into your Spaceship and launch into Outer Space.
Want to talk to us about space? We LOVE talking about space. You can find us over on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JetpackJourneys or you can firstname.lastname@example.org - Come and tell us about all the great things your children build or the stories they tell.
FREE BONUS MAGAZINE - download Jetpack Journeys issue 1 from our website for FREE. The Jetpack Journeys magazine is packed with stories, puzzles and facts about space. A beautiful BONUS available whether you buy our app or not! Get it now at http://bit.ly/JJ-Magazine
Inkology build stories for children, enabling them to discover their world, themselves and how the two go together. Through digital toys and story-books, Inkology is making joy happen.