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App of the Week – Murky Reef

By Matthew McDonnell:

Murky Reef is simply an awesome educational app. It’s an incredibly fun way to develop math, reading, problem solving and critical thinking skills, while simultaneously learning about marine science. The app is also very well designed and has a high quality user interface that can stand up to the most demanding little fingers.

The app opens with “The Story” as explained by a helpful puffer fish named Puff. He and his friends make their home on murky reef. Unfortunately, the reef is plagued by a ravenous shark named Ogee. His insatiable appetite is disrupting the ecosystem and Puff would like to enlist your help in keeping Ogee away from Murky Reef.

In order to help Puff, you’ll have to answer questions from five different content areas:

  • 1st Grade Math
  • 1st Grade ELA
  • 2nd Grade Math
  • 2nd Grade ELA
  • Marine Science

The real educational impact from this game comes from the fact that you never know which content areas the next question will test, as you help Puff and his friends keep Ogee at bay. The activities teach critical thinking skills by encouraging the user to determine which recently acquired skills are required to solve novel and interesting problems.

As you progress through the game, you are aided by 18 different sea creatures. Murky Reef includes the correct common names for creatures such as Box Jellyfish, Sea Stars, Blue Cromis, and Porkfish. In the “Creature Play” mode, each of these animals that you encounter shows up on your own little portion of the reef. By dragging each animal over the nuclear powered submarine that serves as the game board for displaying questions, a small blurb appears describing each animal’s feeding habits and its place within the ecosystem.
The most impressive aspect of Murky Reef is its ability to deliver a high volume of relatively dense content in a really fun game. Murky Reef consistently capitalizes on “teachable moments.” For example, when teaching the user the rules of an adding activity, Murky Reef uses Sea Stars as the digital version of math manipulatives and sneaks in some extra marine science content by explaining that Sea Stars are also called starfish and live on the ocean floor. 

My favorite aspect of this game is that its central theme is one of the most ignored aspects of science curricula – marine science. In all likelihood, Murky Reef really does fill a gap in your child’s formal education. The app gives the user just enough information to deepen and broaden her understanding of marine science without getting bogged down in extraneous details.

Fortunately, the game retains its high entertainment value by engaging the user’s imagination. As a result, it’s virtually impossible not to develop an interest in marine science, and we can say with confidence that Murky Reef is fantastic at encouraging learning beyond the digital confines of your tablet or phone.

Murky Reef is for the iPad (iOS 4.3 or later) and is offered as a free version, full version, and in 5 smaller apps that address the specific content areas outlined above. This virtually guarantees that whatever your needs, Murky Reef can meet them in a fun and engaging way.

Murky Reef is recommended for Kids (Ages 5 to 9) for adorable graphics and elementary level educational concepts. Find screenshots, reviews and family-friendly ratings for Murky Reef and more of the best iPad apps at Famigo.com.

Developer: Frolyc

Compatibility: iPad (iOS 4.3 or later)
App Category: Education

Price: Free (Murky Reef Lite), $4.99 (Full version), and from $0.99 for individual units

Famigo Family Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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