Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors is a PBS Kids app that aims to get families exploring the outdoors. The app is a companion to the PBS Kids show Nature Cat, and includes nature journal, camera, compass, microphone, and daily adventure features. The nature journal can hold user-made photographs, sound clips, and drawings. The daily adventure provides a goal (such as finding animal tracks or heading west) based on the day’s weather (sunny, rainy, snowy, or windy).
For all features of Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors to work, it requires permission to access location, camera, and microphone. The home page includes an icon that opens up a short ad for three other PBS apps. There is also a “Parents” button that opens up a short parents’s guide to the app. As a family app, Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors will help younger children–and everyone in the family, really–develop their thinking skills more efficiently. The ESRB gave Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors an E for Everyone rating. LW4K recommends the app for kids of all ages.
Nature Cat's Great Outdoors helps kids practice and improve the following skills:
Getting started and then maintaining attention and effort to tasks.
The daily adventure feature on Nature Cat's Great Outdoors provides the perfect opportunity to practice both short and long-term focus. The user must remember what the challenge is for the day, even with the abundant distractions that are everywhere out in nature. Some daily adventures will be completed quickly, requiring short-term focus. On the other hand, some adventures may challenge users to really hunt and explore, requiring long-term focus. Either way, maintaining focus is required to complete the daily adventure.
Organizing and coordinating materials in order to complete a task.
The nature journals provided in Nature Cat's Great Outdoors provide an opportunity for practicing organization. Although it is not required--the user can put any journal entry in any journal--it is easy to incorporate. All a child needs to do is to think of different ways to organize their journals (by animal, season, or even type of daily adventure, for example). They really are only limited by their imagination. Discuss with them why organization is important and why they chose the categories they chose. On future days, you can help them to decide which journal to put each new entry in. If they fail to use their organization skills, the app will still work, but it will be much harder to go back and look at previous journal entries.
Developing a systematic approach for setting and achieving goals.
Whether it is for the daily adventure or the nature journals, a child will get the most out of Nature Cat's Great Outdoors if they take the time to set goals (snap 5 pictures of red in nature) or create a system for meeting the daily adventure (animal tracks are easily found in a soft surface). Without a plan, a user is in danger of failing to complete the daily adventures and their nature journals will be disjointed and empty.
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