I was reminded of this when I tried Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere's Ride. It's an educational app disguised as a video game. Or vice versa, which is a good thing. Kids will get sucked in by the entertaining approach, graphics, and original audio. And before they know it, they're learning an important lesson.
The game is fun, and even challenging, and I learned a bit myself, several decades after I was supposed to learn this stuff in elementary school! The motif involves aliens visiting from a fictitious galaxy sent to take pictures and write stories for their local newspaper.
While kids can learn a lot about colonial America, I just hope they don't take away a belief in aliens! But I digress. The game uses puzzles, photo booths, multiple choice questions and more, as you progress through American history. While the graphics are not going to threaten anyone at Pixar, the audio and original music is well done.
If there is a problem, it's that kids will expect more lessons 'taught' this way, and be disappointed that there are only three such award-winning apps so far. In addition to Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere's Ride, they offer other app adventures including one about dinosaurs and another about Africa. An iPad is required for the Paul Revere and Dinosaur apps, but the Africa one works on the iPhone as well. Ultimately, the Ansel and Clair apps could certainly be used to demonstrate why schools need iPads.