In school and at home, flashcards are a staple in early education. The simple design has changed very little from what I remember as a kid. The cards still contain big, bright images that attract a child’s attention along with words or an explanation on the back.
Cypher Entertainment has added an internet/3D twist to the game. I’ve been testing out their Live 3D Interactive Wild Animal Adventures Cards that was sent to me in advance of the card’s release to the general public in July.
The video below gives the most optimistic child’s reaction to the cards but it does have a nice demonstration of how they work. In my test run, I used the PC version because the Apple version wasn’t yet ready for review.
Items needed are a set of the cards, an internet connection and a working webcam.
The first step before using the cards is opening an internet browser. Cypher recommends Firefox. As I don’t have another browser loaded onto my PC, I went with that. I can’t speak for how it works with Safari on a Mac because I didn’t have that version.
The next step is going to Cypher’s website and deactivating the pop-up browser to prevent the software from jamming. I clicked on an icon the site loads what Cypher calls an “Augmented Reality Experience.” Once that program is running, it’s time to scan the card. Each card has a code on the back in large, child-friendly size. Scan it with the webcam and a 3D image of the animal appears on screen. It’s a moving image, making appropriate noises and walking, stomping or creeping around.
The kids in the video had no problem moving the card around to make it seem like the animal was in the room with them. In reality, the card has to be moved with a little more care to keep the image consistent. Overall, though, I found it a nice setup.
It takes the parent out of the equation, as the computer provides the image and sound, as well as information about the animal. This could be both a good and bad thing. A good thing because a child can use the flashcards on their own and soak up information. Bad because sometimes half the fun of flashcards is interacting directly with your child.
Still, given my youngest son’s fascination with the computer even as a toddler and given the decks are priced at only $19.99, I would have definitely bought them for him if they’d been available and probably all four sets. He taught himself to read at age three by browsing the internet — he was that determined to web surf. If I had had this game back then (he’s 12 now), he would have eaten it up like candy and likely learned a lot more than he did by more random browsing.