4.5 stars – excellent apps

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Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Foldify Zoo - Create, Print and Fold Paper Animals! is one of those rare apps that reaches out into the real world and gets kids interacting beyond the screen of their devices. Let them enjoy creating animal figures in the digital world and with real paper and scissors.
4.4

App Info

Price: $3.99
AppStore User Rating: 2

Download on the App Store

Overview

Foldify Zoo – Create, Print and Fold Paper Animals! allows users to choose animals, decorate and add details to the patterns, then print, cut and fold them into real three-dimensional models that they can use for toys, decorations and more. Save the animals into your own personal zoo or upload them to the online zoo for everyone to enjoy.

Features include:

  • 3D preview of all projects
  • Robust tools for decoration, including paint, eye dropper, and printed features
  • Share creations digitally or on the Foldify website
  • Compatible with AirPrint or create PDF file
  • Includes 10 animals

Quality

Foldify Zoo is a quality app that will help your kids connect digital fun to the real world.  The animal patterns include all of the cut-and-fold lines needed to make them “work,” and the system for adding details and color even allows artists to preview their creations on the three-D model.  Each animal includes an informative paragraph and a world map showing range.  However, the text included is at a very high reading level, using words like “herbivorous” and “crocodilian,” which may not be familiar vocabulary for younger children, and more troubling, the grammar of the text sections includes a lot of poorly-constructed sentences or sentences with missing punctuation.  Some proofreading is definitely in order.

Education

This app will really get the creative juices flowing for most children (of nearly any age). Many will find the interface fascinating-when adding colors, designs and features to the cut-out animal patterns, the app immediately puts them onto the 3-D model showing to the side of the pattern section.  Kids can swipe to rotate and see the creature from all angles.  They’ll be able to tell exactly how their artwork will look on the finished piece.

Once the creature is completed, the app can use AirPrint or print to PDF to get the pattern out into the real world and onto paper, where it can be cut out, folded and glued into a replica.  This aspect is great for developing fine-motor skills and for improving the ability to follow directions.

It’s a nice touch to include the paragraph of information about each animal, and the text includes many interesting facts.  Some children may need a bit of help translating the material into more accessible language, however, and it is a concern that the grammar leaves something to be desired.  Extend the learning by looking at the range map on the device’s screen, then finding the same regions on a globe.

Entertainment

Foldify Zoo will be fascinating to any child that loves animals or that enjoys arts and crafts.  With the models given and the examples from the online zoo, kids will get a plentitude of ideas to try, and may even want to start an entire collection of creatures to decorate their bedroom shelves.  The little paper animals may turn into toys or even gifts for loved ones.

Value

Foldify Zoo is $3.99 in the App Store, which isn’t too much if you’re fairly certain your child will enjoy it.  It would be nice if the developers provided a free sample to allow parents and teachers to try out one of the projects and see what they and their children thought about it from start to finish.

Child Friendliness

Foldify Zoo is child friendly.  The parent gate that protects links to the App Store and similar content should be strengthened, however.  It requires users to swipe two fingers in the stated direction, and some of the children using the app may well be able to read well enough to bypass this protection.  Also, the app does connect to an on-line zoo where everyone can upload their creations, and does contain a link to “flag” inappropriate artwork.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible via pop-up)

image (1)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
TeleStory will keep kids of nearly any age entertained for hours on end as they take on the challenges of writing, directing and filming shows that will fire up their imaginations.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

TeleStory taps users’ creativity as they create and produce television shows. With fun sound effects, theme music, and on-screen costumes, the possibilities for fun are limitless. Once the show is made, it can be viewed or saved on the device’s camera roll for later sharing and viewing.

Features include:

  • Four themes for shows
  • Over 30 scenes to mix and match
  • Write-your-own scenes
  • Digital costumes using face tracking
  • Animated special effects

Quality

TeleStory is a high-quality app that will really tap into users’ creative juices. The app is intuitive to use and has a wide array of elements to choose when creating new shows.  The face tracking feature places costumes on the user, so it takes a bit of getting used to because the digital hats, features and other props follow the central figure around the screen and sometimes lag behind just a bit as the tablet responds to movement.  Developers did a great job of creating the scenes, music and effects for the four themes provided, and also remembered to leave room for lots of creativity and even “blank” scenes and shots.

Education

It’s tough to pack much more creativity into an app than this one has.  Kids are usually fascinated with video, but this app encourages them to plan their shows carefully and gives opportunity to write the script, choose the sound effects and special effects, and even rehearse before recording.

There are four themes to choose from: TV news show, spy thriller, rock star, and action/adventure.  Once the theme is chosen, users can put together scenes by creating scripts, choosing sound effects and onscreen animations, and dressing themselves in digital costumes.  The costumes utilize the camera’s face tracking feature to show the digital decorations that move with the person’s face.  Young directors can string multiple scenes together to create entire shows, then watch them like movies or send them to the device’s camera roll to share in other ways.

Educationally speaking, this app makes a great reason to apply school skills to fun, every day activities.  The planning, reading, writing and thinking required to create movies of any length will really help kids maintain their focus on a larger project.

Entertainment

Recording yourself has an appeal all its own-what parent hasn’t seen their children grab the video or sound recorder and put on a skit or mock up an interview.  TeleStory adds fun to these intrinsically entertaining activities by adding great theme music, interesting animations and sound effects (who doesn’t love a good “POW” when hitting the bad guy in a spy show?), and great digital hats and costumes.  Kids will enjoy TeleStory for hours and they will play with it again and again.

Value

TeleStory is a great value-it’s FREE!  You’ll have to look a long way to find a more exciting way to occupy kids and get their brains moving.  Your kids are quite likely to leave the real TV or computer in favor of creating their very own shows, and it can be a true family event to view the finished products once they are done.  The shows can even be family projects: collaborations not only bring people closer; they also offer opportunities for modeling important attitudes and skills that you want the children in your life to emulate.

Child Friendliness

This app falls down just a little bit in the Child-Friendly category.  The parents’ area is not protected, and it does contain one live email link that will take kids into your email client.  It was surprising to find it live; there are numerous email and internet links, and developers seem to have taken great pains to make the others non-clickable.  It seems like this one live one sort of slipped through by accident, but it is there, and parents do need to be aware of it.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected parent area containing a live email link
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)

image
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
JumpStart Preschool Magic of Learning is a great, all-purpose app that will entertain kids for many sessions and help them develop some of the skills they’ll need later for success at reading, math, and critical thinking.
4.7

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 3.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

JumpStart Preschool Magic of Learning offers 15 different early learning activities designed to help young children gain better understanding of letters, numbers, shapes, sequencing and other readiness skills.  The games are colorful, animated and fun, with themes that will appeal to preschoolers.

Features include:

  • Fifteen learning games
  • Over ten math, reading, and critical thinking skills
  • Intuitive interface
  • Familiar themes like farm, stars and monkeys
  • Matching, sorting, sequencing and more

Quality

This app is very high quality. Young users will have no trouble at all understanding and using the various interfaces on the games.  The narrated instructions are clear and child-friendly, and all aspects of the app work as promised.  The animations and sound effects are smooth and clearly connected to the theme of the game.

Education

JumpStart Preschool Magic of Learning offers a comprehensive preschool readiness package, with fifteen different learning games to help children practice a host of readiness skills they will need for school success.  In addition to the standard letter and number recognition, beginning sounds, and matching, the app will have kids listening to stories then sequencing, putting numbers into the correct order, sorting shapes and colors, and much more.

The games are short and sweet, perfect for the target age group. They also seem to appear randomly, so kids will never know exactly what’s coming next when they are in the “play” mode.  For those that need a bit of extra practice on specific skills, there is a mechanism to intentionally choose games, which is very nice.  Even the games that are familiar to most kids, such as Memory, are given a new twist.  In this app, players flip rubber duckies instead of cards to make matches, then correct pairs are rewarded visually as they reveal extra pieces of a picture.

Entertainment

This app will be highly entertaining for most preschoolers.  The themes will be familiar, but the action will intrigue kids for many rounds of play.  For example, the barnyard is a familiar scene that most kids already love. In one game, the cows pop in and out carrying letters to tap, similar to the old game of “Whack-a-Mole.”  The pace is appropriate for young minds processing new concepts and young, not-yet-fully-coordinated hands.  All in all, it’s very well done.

Value

JumpStart Preschool Magic of Learning is a great value.  For less than $2, you can provide your preschooler(s) with a very comprehensive and engaging set of activities that they will enjoy and that will help them learn in the process.  The activities are fast-paced and entertaining, so kids will want to play.  All in all, it’s a good investment!

Child Friendliness

This app is mostly child friendly, but there is one large concern.  The home screen contains unprotected access to the App Store where additional products from this developer can be purchased.  There are also occasional pop-ups that encourage users to purchase other apps in the series that are not protected.  Developers need to put an effective parent gate on this link to protect young children from accidentally accessing this content.  In the meantime, parents can turn off internet access in the settings of their device when kids want to play.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO external links
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected and visible on home screen and in pop-ups)

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Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Alphatots is a fun ABC app with 26 interactive games. It is unusual among ABC apps and alphabet books because it uses verbs instead of nouns for the letter sound key words.
4.9

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Alphatots is an unusual alphabet app that uses verbs instead of nouns for key words. This means that each letter has an associated action that kids can do instead of just look at.  There is an opportunity to play and interact with each letter!

Features include:

  • Capital or lower case letters
  • Sing-a-long ABC song
  • 26 interactive mini-games
  • Focus on verbs for key words
  • Choose letters to practice

Quality

Alphatots is a high quality app with some very creative ideas about letter practice for young children.  The interactive games are intuitive and easy to use, and the directions are clear.  Each letter’s interaction focuses on an action instead of on a noun, so young learners will be able to act out the verbs in the real world as well as complete the app’s interactions.

Education

The focus on verbs instead of nouns for key words to represent each letter of the alphabet is a wonderful change of pace considering that most alphabet books and apps use nouns for their keywords.  The use of verbs will help children understand that other kinds of words can begin with the target letters, and will also engage them in every day activities that they can perform even when they are not playing with the app.  In other words, kids will start to see that those letters are not confined to traditional ABC book favorites, since R not only can stand for “rabbit,” but also for “recycle.”

Developers of this app were thoughtful enough to include both vowel sounds (the long and the short) for vowels.  The directions for the games also focus on the target sounds, either by demonstrating them again or even by using alliteration to force focus on them.  For example, the letter A game instructions say, “Can you add candles to the cake?”  The words containing the short and long A sounds are stressed just a bit, so the young users will hear the target sounds right before they play.

The mini-games in Alphatots are great learning experiences in and of themselves, as well.  Kids will be sorting, matching and practicing other important readiness skills as they play, which makes this app do double duty in the learning department.

Entertainment

Most ABC picture apps have fun illustrations, but it’s tough to DO something with that apple that stands for the letter A.  Alphatots is full of things to do.  Each letter leads to a different interactive game that young children will enjoy.  It’s very good that these games are not simply dressed up versions of the same activity where the illustrations are focused on each letter while the interaction remains the same.  Some have kids placing items where they belong, some have them sequencing, and there are even a few that challenge the users to react quickly by touching pictures that appear and disappear.

Value

Alphatots is a good value for families or classrooms with young children who are ready to practice beginning alphabet skills.  It’s priced at $2.99 in the App Store.  The interactive nature of the game will make it a favorite for little fingers since the app offers so much more than a passive viewing experience.  Repetition is one key to learning these concepts, and this app will definitely see repeat uses.  It’s not as fancy as some apps, with bells and whistles, but it is a good solid way for kids to practice their ABC skills.

Child Friendliness

Alphatots is very child-friendly.  The additional apps available for purchase are protected by an effective parent gate, and there are no other connections to the internet.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

nok
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Syllable counting and word building app challenges kids as they build early reading skills.
4.4

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

How many syllables are in the word honey? You could clap it out or you could head to the factory in Learn to Read Nok – Syllables. This beginning reading app helps kids practice counting out the number of syllables in a word, connecting words with phonemes, and building words. In order to fully benefit from the app, kids must have a basic understanding of what a syllable is and how to determine the number of syllables in a word. Those who do will find that the app is a great option for helping them to build their early reading skills.

Features include:

  • Four syllable games
  • Factory-like setting
  • Visual and written representation
  • Early reading skills

Quality

After hitting play, the doors on the main screen open and kids enter a word factory. There they can choose from four different word-building games to help build their early reading skills. Each time kids open one of the games, they’re given a basic set of instructions. A star shape and progress meter helps them keep track of how much they’ve completed. To play each game, kids simply drag and drop items into tubes or select the correct choice. A robotic voice tells kids exactly what to do at each step of the way and repeats itself until kids act.

Education

The app contains four different games designed to help kids build early reading skills. The first game has kids select how many syllables are in a given word. This requires kids to have a basic of knowledge of syllables before they play. In the second game, kids must select the object with the given number of syllables. The remaining games have kids put together words based on their different syllables. In all of the games, visual representations of the word are included to help kids connect the visual object with the written word. While the syllable counting games will not pose much of a challenge for kids, the word building games offer a mix of words designed to make kids think. However, some of these words may be too challenging for the younger set.

Entertainment

Kids will find that the game is more about education than entertainment, but they will still enjoy working through the different challenges. The words are varied enough to keep kids interest. In one game they may be asked the number of syllables in the word salt, while another challenge may have them putting together the word saxophone.

Value

There are not many strictly syllables-based apps available for kids. This app offers a good mix of words to keep kids challenged, but some of the words may be too challenging for the main group of kids who need to build this skill. For kids who just need extra syllables practice, this is a good choice. For those who are at the beginning stages of syllable counting and word building, it may be too challenging to be a good value.

Child Friendliness

The app contains a small credits screen that appears when kids tap the gear on the main screen. Beyond that, the app is child friendly and easy for kids to navigate.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase

tinybuilder
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Tiny Builders is a cute app for soon to be engineers and children who love everything construction related. With loads of machines to explore and a free play environment, this app will quickly become a family favorite!
4.5

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Tiny Builders is a cute, interactive app that allows children to pretend to be little builders and construction workers. With lots of fun machines to explore, players get to experiment with diggers, cranes, dump trucks and so much more in a free play, easy to use environment. Perfect for natural born builders and engineers.

Features include:

  • 12 Machines to explore
  • Customizable builders
  • Free play environment

Quality

Tiny Builders is full of great interactive illustrations and images that children will love. As players naturally explore the various machines including diggers, cranes, dump trucks and so much more, they are going to love the sound effects and animation that is used throughout the app. The developers have done a great job of creating an app that is easy to use too, with simple tap and touch technology to interact with each tiny builder. Overall the artwork, images, sound effects and free play environment of Tiny Builders is very well done and children will absolutely love it.

The only thing that might need a little work in the functioning is when you first open the app. There seems to be a bit of a delay when opening the app, however it doesn’t effect the main play area.

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

There is no doubt that children are going to love Tiny Builders especially if they are partial to building already. What this app offers by way of interactive play in a self-guided environment is fabulous, especially for younger users. As children explore the various diggers, drills, cranes and trucks, they are going to love some of the things they get to do like building towers, pushing boulders, and digging in the dirt. There are also tons of fun sound effects and interesting interactive bits to explore that little ones will never be bored. Players even have an option to customize their builder with different colored clothes and prints. Lots of great entertainment in this app.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is priced very well. Parents are sure to be impressed with all the interactive illustrations and the flurry of activity on the Tiny Builders job site that children will absolutely love. Not to mention all that at a price that won’t break the bank.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job overall creating an app that is easy to use with simple tap and touch functioning through out. Children of all ages are going to have no trouble playing and if they do, there are yellow arrows that pop up to guide children through the interactive illustrations.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

MrGlue_LOGO
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Mr. Glue Stories puts a unique spin on the traditional storybook app by allowing readers to customize each story with their own sound effects, characters, narration, and illustrations to be saved and shared. A very creative app, great for children who love a good adventure.
4.7

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Mr Glue Stories is a unique storybook app full of imagination, character, and loads of creativity. With four stories to personalize, record, add sound effects, and illustrate, this storybook app provides readers with a ton of creative freedom to build, change, and create fun stories at will. The amazing narration and sound effects throughout are highly engaging and the freedom to add your own flair makes this app one of a kind.

Features include:

  • 4 Customizable stories
  • Great sound effects
  • Voice record

Quality

Mr Glue Stories has a very distinct style of illustrations and wonderful sound effects and narration to go with them. Children are going to be immediately drawn to the unique style that the developers have added to this app and are going to find it quite easy to customize each story to their liking. The intuitive user interface makes it easy for children to select their characters, villains, record their voices for narration, and illustrate various pages as they see fit. Overall this app is very well done all the way around.

Education

While this app isn’t specifically aimed at teaching children basic educational skills, it does allow children to practice their reading skills as they become the narrator for each story. Reading aloud can be a challenge for many children and this app provides a fun and creative way for readers to practice their skills.

Entertainment

This is by far, one of the most creative and entertaining storybook apps that I have ever seen. With four stories for children to enjoy and customize, countless characters, sound effects, and the opportunity to illustrate and add their own voice, this app has so many options readers will love. Once the stories are customized, they can be saved and shared with family and friends. The developers also have plans to add additional stories so kids can create their own collection of stories with their own creative flair added to them.

Value

It’s hard to believe that you can get all of the customizable options, sound effects, and four stories at no cost to you! Mr Glue Stories has a ton of entertainment value at no cost at all which is something parents are going to love!

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job overall keeping this app easy to use and safe too. With narrated guidance to help children get used to how the app works and a help option under the main menu, children will quickly learn how to create their own story with fun characters and their own narration and illustrations. There is also a ‘settings’ button that explains how the app works which is helpful for parents to take a quick glance at.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

jackbeanstalk
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Jack and the Beanstalk is a cute storybook app with a coloring twist where children can read, color, and enjoy this classic story in a unique way.
4.3

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Coloring Storybook-Jack and the Beanstalk is a fun storybook app with a twist. Not only will children get to enjoy the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk, but they also get to enjoy a bit of fun coloring throughout the story as well. With narration throughout and lots of interactive images to add a bit of interest, this coloring storybook is a great app for children of all ages.

Features include:

  • Narration
  • Coloring option
  • Animated illustrations

Quality

Coloring Storybook-Jack and the Beanstalk is full of wonderful, brightly colored images that children are going to love. The set up is quite intuitive and easy to use for children of all ages as it includes arrows to move through the pages as well as a brief ‘how-to’ introduction for children to follow. With narration through out, interactive images, and the words of the story included for children to follow along, this app is lots of fun.

Education

As with most storybook apps there is generally always an opportunity for children to practice their reading skills as they move through the story and Jack and the Beanstalk is no exception. This app includes not only narration for children to enjoy, but also an option to follow along with the words of the story by tapping the bean at the bottom of the page. The only downfall is that text-highlighting is not included and it requires children to continually tap the arrows to see all the text as they follow along. Adding the text highlighting option is ideal as it would create an opportunity for children to be able to learn new words and practice their reading skills as they follow along.

Entertainment

I love storybook apps that include interactive illustrations and additional activities for children to enjoy and this app does that with the added coloring component in addition to the story. As children follow along, there are various images that when colored come to life and create a bit of interest and engagement for young children as they read. By simply moving their finger back and forth on the image, the appropriate colors fill in and the image jumps to life.

While the added coloring aspect of the app is fun for children, it would also be nice to have a few coloring pages for children to enjoy in a separate section of the app to increase engagement.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app is priced well for storybook apps. The narration, interactive images, and the coloring aspect of the app makes it one that children will enjoy and get a lot of playing time out of and it is at a price parents will certainly appreciate.

Child Friendliness

With brief instructions at the beginning of the app, narration through out, and arrows to indicate when to turn the page, the developers have created an app that is very easy and safe to use for children of all ages.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

CoverPage1024x768
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Duh Color Stuff is an exciting mystery storybook with lots of additional activities and clues to follow for the adventure lover in your home. Fun and easy to use, this app is sure to quickly become a family favorite!
4.5

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Duh Color Stuff is an adventure-filled mystery with lots of plot twists and added activities for children to enjoy. Follow along as the Neighborhood Watch Kids save the neighborhood by following intricate clues and working together to solve the very strange mystery. With options to choose the direction of the story and lots of interactive activities throughout, this app is far more than just another storybook app. It is an exciting and mysterious journey for children to enjoy.

Features include:

  • Interactive puzzles and games
  • Narration options (Read to me, Read to myself)
  • Multiple story options

Quality

There is no doubt that Duh Color Stuff is a high quality app, not just because of the great illustrations and interactive bits throughout, but because the story is very intricate and entertaining for children. Add that to the easy to use interface with arrows and narration options throughout, this app is one that children of all ages can enjoy. The developers have done a really great job making this app fun, easy to use, and highly engaging.

Education

What’s great about this app is that it not only encourages children to follow along with the narrator and work on their reading skills, but it also encourages them to use their logic and problem solving skills as they decide which direction the story should go. With a variety of choice points in the story that children get to select, they can use their problem solving skills to determine which is the best way to go in order to solve the mystery. There are also puzzles and clues to be found throughout the story that help children engage their problem solving skills too.

One thing that would add to the educational value is if the developers included text highlighting to the story. This would allow early readers to be able to more easily follow along with the narrator and enjoy the story while they learn new words and practice their reading skills.

Entertainment

Duh Color Stuff is a creative story that includes mythical characters and a team of very smart kids who are trying to save their neighborhood. By working together to find clues and piece this puzzle together, they are able to do what the adults could not and save the day. With a story like this, there is no doubt children are going to be highly entertained and engaged as they read. Not only that, but they will also really enjoy the many activities included within the story.

The developers have also included an option for children to make choices about the direction of the story to dictate various outcomes which is a lot of fun for kids. Unfortunately there are some selections that don’t allow readers to move all the way through the story and instead lead readers back to the original choice point to select a different direction. This can get frustrating for kids as they select their own direction and then are guided back to make a more ‘correct’ choice. If there is freedom in selecting the direction of the story, then it should allow kids to move all the way through instead of leading them back again. With that said, the rest of the app moves quite smoothly and is highly entertaining for kids.

Value

With so many fun options and activities for children to enjoy in addition to the story you might expect this app to be priced quite high, but the developers have kept the price very reasonable at just under two dollars. With the option to have various story profiles to save your progress and lots of activities, options, and narration throughout this is one app children are going to absolutely love.

Child Friendliness

Overall the developers have done a nice job keeping Duh Color Stuff easy to use for children of all ages. Not only have they included narration options, but also arrows to indicate when to turn the page and an auto flip option for little ones. By adding a bit of text highlighting they could increase the child friendliness quite a bit especially for early readers.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

tocallifecity
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendliness
Summary
There's one city where parents can set their kids free and let them explore all on their own -- Toca City.
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Another Toca Boca gem, Toca Life: City is part of Toca Boca’s series of apps designed to help kids explore the world around them. The app has a similar structure and feel to Toca Life: Town, but offers kids the chance to interact with the popular Toca Boca characters in a bunch of different places. They can head to the barbershop, the coffee shop, food stands, and other places that you’d find in any major city around the world. With no time limits or other constraints, kids are free to explore to their hearts’ content.

Features include:

  • Customizable characters
  • Free play
  • Hidden treasures
  • Urban locations

Quality

At first glance, Toca Life: City appears to be a bit busy and it may be difficult for parents to figure out how to interact with the characters in the various settings. Kids, however, seem to pick up these skills quickly and are able to maneuver the characters and objects without too much trouble. The app is full of small objects and tiny details designed to enhance the atmosphere and make every element extra fun for kids.

Education

Toca Life: City is focused more on exploration than education. However, as kids interact with the characters in the various settings, they can learn a lot of important lessons. For example, parents may engage their children in conversations about whether the characters are making good choices. Is it okay for a character to just toss an item on to the floor? To steal something from a store? Eat large amounts of junk food? While parents shouldn’t focus on pointing out all the “bad” or unhealthy choices kids make as they play the game, it can serve as a way to bring them up in conversation.

Entertainment

Kids love to have control and Toca Life: City gives them that control. They can customize the characters, transport them to a variety of locations, and engage in all kind of activities. The freedom to take money out of an ATM, visit food stands and order whatever they like, or leave items all around town makes for a very fun app for kids. There are also a lot of hidden treasures throughout the city that will delight kids as they find them.

Value

Because Toca Life: City does not come with a lot of constraints, it offers endless hours of entertainment for kids. There are multiple characters for kids to customize and plenty of locations for them to visit, making this app a good value for the price. The price is also consistent with other Toca Boca apps.

Child Friendliness

Parents will see the standard info section and more apps button on the app’s main screen. Both are protected by parental locks, but the more apps section is still visible to kids. Access to the parent info section requires an internet connection as well. Parents do have the option of turning off the additional apps, parent info section, and background music through their device’s settings menu.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

connect
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Connect-O-Dot is a fun app with lots of great pictures that teaches children their numbers and letters in a variety of fun connect-the-dots games. Great for children of all ages.
4.6

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Connect-O-Dot is a great educational and entertaining app that children will love. With some unique twists to the traditional connect-the-dots game, this app helps children practice their numbers and alphabet while connecting the dots to reveal fun animals and shapes. Great for practicing hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills this app has a lot to offer young children.

Features include:

  • 8 Themes
  • 3 Difficulty levels
  • Alphabet & Number recognition

Quality

There is no doubt a lot of time and thought went into this app as the images and illustrations are very well done. With 8 themes to explore and a wide variety of animals an shapes to explore, children are going to really enjoy playing in this app. The added sound effects, realistic backgrounds and music add to the overall experience making it one of the higher quality apps I have seen. And when you add to that the very intuitive user interface, Connect-O-Dot is the perfect app for children of all ages.

Education

I love how the developers were able to add some educational value in what can traditionally be more of an entertaining type of activity. In addition to learning how to connect the dots via numbers, children also have an option of connecting the dots with upper and lower case letters. Once the picture is complete an illustration of the picture is revealed along with the actual word describing the image. This allows children to start putting words and pictures together as they move through the app.

One thing that would add a bit more value to this app is having a narrator read the word as it pops up. This would further help little ones make the connection between the word and the picture to help support their reading skills down the road. With that said, the app still has quite a bit of educational value that parents will appreciate.

Entertainment

In addition to the fun shapes children get to create with their connect the dots skills, there are also three levels of difficulty to choose from to challenge players even more. This added challenge can be a ton of fun for children as they move through the various pictures and themes included. Children are also going to love the fact that there are 8 different themes ranging from sea creatures to fantasy shapes that they can explore and enjoy.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is priced very well. Parents will certainly appreciate the educational value along with the engaging activities that children will love. With lots of variety in the shapes and difficulty levels, this is one app children will get a lot of playing time out of.

Child Friendliness

Connect-O-Dot is easy to use and safe for kids too. The developers have created a user interface that is very intuitive and doesn’t require any instructions to get started which is great for young children. I also love how they worked in the parent’s section without being too flashy or distracting for children. Overall a very child friendly app!

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

achoo
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Achoo Gaboo is a cute storybook app about a fun elephant with a sneezy problem. Loaded with beautiful illustrations and fun sound effects this app is great for children of all ages.
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Achoo Gaboo is a whimsical and entertaining storybook app with gorgeous illustrations and fun sound effects that children will love. This storybook app tells the tale of Gaboo, a sneezy elephant who tries everything to stop his sneezy ways only to find one surprising cure. Overall a great storybook app for young children.

Features include:

  • Narration
  • Whimsical illustrations
  • Cute sound effects

Quality

The first thing you notice about this awesome app are the wonderful illustrations that are simple, yet very well done. With lots of bright colors, simple animations, and fun sound effects to add to the cute story, this app is both engaging and very professionally done in a way that will really appeal to young children. Overall, very well done.

Education

While this app doesn’t include any specific educational elements, it does allow young children to follow along with the reader as they move through the story. The app does not offer text highlighting which would certainly add a bit more educational value to the app overall and help early readers add new words to their vocabulary.

Entertainment

There is no doubt that Achoo Gaboo is a highly entertaining app for young children. The story itself is quite engaging and a fun read and the pictures, animations, and sound effects really help add a bit of interest to an already cute app. This story is sure to become a family favorite.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app is a bit more than you might expect to pay for what you get, however the quality and time that went into creating the beautiful images etc. is obvious. The narration is a nice addition, however adding another activity and text-highlighting would definitely increase the overall value of the app.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job making this app easy to use and fun for kids. With gorgeous, engaging images and simple tap and touch functioning, and arrows to help guide readers through, this app is quite intuitive. It’s also completely safe for children of all ages, which parents can certainly appreciate.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

sagominiboats
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Pack a bag, choose a boat, and send kids out to the open sea where they can explore the depths of the ocean and find some fun surprises along the way.
4.4

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 4
Download on the App Store

Overview

Anchors aweigh! It’s time to pack a bag, grab a boat, and head out on the open sea. In Sago Mini Boats, kids have the ocean at their disposal. They can fly up above the water, dive deep down to explore its depths, and stop at deserted islands. As they head to their destination, kids will also get to load their boats up with a lot of fun items — or not. How the game to play is up to them.

Features include:

  • Popular Sago Mini characters
  • Multiple boats
  • Fun destinations
  • Numbered signs
  • Free play

Quality

Sago Mini Boats gives kids total control. They get to choose the destination, pack a suitcase, and select the perfect boat. Once they’ve chosen a boat, it’s up to them to get the boat to the destination. Kids can grab the boat to pull it up in the air or down into the water, or swipe their fingers to help it sail to their destination. The app is very sensitive so any small movement of kids’ fingers can pull the boat in a different direction. Kids will have to practice a bit to figure out how to get the boat to move where they want.

Education

Creativity is the name of the game. Kids are encouraged to create their own adventure. In the water they’ll encounter a random variety of items, such as balloons, cupcakes, and buoys, that they can choose to ignore or collect in their boat. The game does incorporate a bit of counting practice through signs counting down the journey to the final destination, but beyond that the focus is really on getting kids to explain the story they’re creating as they sail.

Entertainment

By giving kids control over so many variables, the app hooks kids and creates an entertaining experience. First kids get to choose from a series of three destinations. Next, they fill a suitcase with the clothes of their choice. After that, they select from a large number of boats, including some silly boats, such as a banana, dill pickle, and a shark. Finally, they hit the open sea where they encounter all sorts of objects, from cupcakes they can eat to balloons they can pop.

Value

Sago Mini Boats features high-quality graphics and is very entertaining for kids. It lacks a bit of educational focus which reduces its value a little, but is still a solid choice, particularly for kids who enjoy Sago Sago’s other apps.

Child Friendliness

On the main screen, kids will see icons for protected parent info and more apps sections. Parents can remove these icons through the settings screen on their device.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

diylake2
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Science activities, videos, and simulations encourage kids to explore the lakes and other bodies of water around them.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Instead of sitting inside and playing on their electronic devices, DIY Lake Science encourages kids to explore lakes through indoor and outdoor science experiences. The app was developed by UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science and funded by the National Science Foundation, so there’s no doubt that the information and activities contained within are of the highest caliber. While it may not be the most interactive app, it offers some interesting videos and engaging experiments to help kids learn more about the environment.

Features include:

  • An Under the Lake simulation
  • Multiple activities kids can complete
  • A collection of water-based videos
  • A focus on research and investigation

Quality

The app is organized into three main areas: Under the Lake, Activities, and Videos. Each section is well-organized and all of the components are clearly labeled. In the Under the Lake and Activities sections, information is organized by tabs that detail each step, making it easy for kids to navigate through the information and instructions, as well as quickly find the takeaway. The videos section features videos organized by categories. All videos are embedded from YouTube, so an internet connection is needed to view them.

Education

Developers of the app took special care to make sure kids understand the science behind the different activities and the Under the Lake simulation. While the “Explanation” and “Learn” tabs are a bit text-heavy, they are chock-full of information for kids. In the activities section, all of the activities are laid out in a step-by-step format and each step includes a picture to help kids understand what is going on. The activities are also clearly labeled by age level and the time they take to complete so kids can find something appropriate for them. Most activities are designed for ages 7 or older.

Entertainment

The app itself feels like a textbook or an informational website. Kids can interact with the Under the Lake simulation a bit, but this activity, while educational, is still a bit dull. The videos contained within the app are a mix of videos designed for kids and adults. Some are fun to watch while others may not capture the attention of a lot of kids. They’re definitely great resources for parents and teachers who want to help kids connect science to real life.

Value

Considering it is free, DIY Lake Science is an exceptionally high-quality app with a lot of educational material for kids. It is worth a download for parents who are looking to help their kids learn more about the outdoors and for teachers who want to bring lake science into the classroom.

Child Friendliness

The activities and videos in the app have largely been designed for kids ages 7 and up. All of the videos come from YouTube, but kids do not have access to additional YouTube videos while watching them. Many of the videos were also designed for adults, so while kids might be safe watching them, there may be a bit of content that is over their heads.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase

image (14)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Inventioneers opens the door to creative and inventive play by challenging users to solve problems. Users can position objects and tiny helpers called Inventioneers to accomplish each goal while learning about physics concepts.
4.8

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Each chapter of Inventioneers presents a clear problem, such as moving a cat from the tree into its owner’s basket. The interface is intuitive, allowing nearly anyone the ability to experiment and create until the problem is solved. A resource bank of invention parts and small “helper” characters is provided at the bottom of the screen, and users must arrange them to accomplish the given goal.

Features include:

  • Realistic object movement
  • Creativity, persistence and problem-solving
  • Engaging format
  • Create and share inventions with friends
  • 14 inventions to create in free version of the app

Quality

Inventioneers works like a well-oiled machine, providing a nearly perfect environment to experiment. The app is fully responsive, using the drag function to allow users to set up their creations to solve the given problems. Some of the small characters need a bit of figuring to determine how to activate them, though. It would be nice if there were a more explicit set of instructions tucked away in the parents’ area to allow adults to help children when they get stuck without the adult having to learn the game completely. The full version of the app does include the option to “unlock” the solutions to all levels, but that seems a bit extreme. How about a hint system?

Education

It’s difficult to overestimate the value of problem-solving and creativity, and Inventioneers more than does justice to nurturing both skills. Players (young and old) will be challenged by the tasks set forth. How can you use a swinging boot, a funnel, an apple, and “Windy” (a small helper with a blow dryer) to move a cat out of a tree and into its distraught owner’s basket? This and fourteen other puzzles are offered in the free version of the app, and the full version opens up a whopping 98 more inventions. The action is reminiscent of “The Incredible Machine” that fascinated my children for years, and still does today, on a desktop computer.

Best of all, children will be learning about a lot of important physics concepts as they play. This app’s designers did an outstanding job on the physics engine that makes it work. Objects bounce realistically, they teeter precariously if not balanced correctly, and they fall just the way they are supposed to. In addition, players learn a lot about prediction, cause and effect, and many other fundamental skills that we usually take for granted.

One highly intriguing feature of this app is the capability (even in the free version) to design your own invention puzzles.  After viewing the tutorial and creating a user file, you can create new puzzles and share them. Imagine the possibilities! Are the given puzzles too tough for your child right now? Make some easier ones. Has your child completed all of the puzzles? Challenge him or her to make a new one and let you give it a try.

Entertainment

Inventioneers is highly entertaining. The small helpers that make each invention work are adorable, and the other graphics are captivatingly detailed. The sound effects are very realistic, as well. Balls rolling through pipes sound exactly like balls rolling through pipes, so even though the action is invisible, your mind fills in the gaps and there is no surprise when the ball pops out of the other end.

Value

The full version is well worth the price. It includes eight chapters, more than 100 levels, over 40 objects to use, 10 more characters to help with tasks, and 7 additional “inventioneers” that players can use to help the contraptions work. Characters such as “Blaze,” “Zappy” and “Freezie” add even more fun and flexibility to the app in the full version.

It’s always nice when developers provide a working, self-contained free version.  There are enough puzzles to find out if your youngster will enjoy the app before you plunk down the purchase price, and the capability to make your own puzzles is an unexpectedly nice feature.  Even the 14 free puzzles in the first chapter will keep most kids busy for quite a while.

Child Friendliness

Inventioneers is somewhat child friendly. The app is intended for elementary school children, most of whom can read well enough to bypass the parent gate, which calls for swiping two fingers in a random direction.  The Parents’ Area contains outside links, social media links, email newsletter sign up and the privacy policy.  There is also access to the “unlock” button that will reveal the answers to all of the puzzles. Developers should strengthen the parent gate.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

moppa
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Who doesn't love a cool ice cream treat in the summer? Moppa Ice Cream is a fun app that allows players to get creative as they craft unique cool treats for their monster friends!
4.4

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Moppa Ice Cream is the perfect app for kids to explore and enjoy during the summer months. With endless creative monster ice cream combinations to create and a cute back story to enjoy, this app is perfect to keep little ones engaged for hours. It’s ice cream fun, without the drippy mess!

Features include:

  • 18 Fun containers
  • In app story
  • 25 Ice cream toppings
  • Easy to use

Quality

Little ones are going to love Moppa Ice Cream not only for the brightly colored images and fun characters, but also for the never-ending ice cream creating they can do. The developers have done a very nice job incorporating fun graphics, music, and a theme all children can appreciate (ice cream) into a creative app that is easy to play. With no instructions at all, children can dive right in and satisfy the silly monster’s sweet tooth with their wacky ice cream creations.

Education

While this app isn’t specifically an educational app it does have some potential to incorporate a bit of reading and early learning skills with a few tweaks. The story that is included in the app currently does not offer any narration or text highlighting, but by adding these simple details it could certainly open the opportunity for children to practice their reading skills as they play.

As it is now, the app encourages children to get crafty and creative as they put together fun ice cream creations varying in color with lots of options for different decorations and sprinkles. While not exactly educational in nature, it does bring out the more creative side of young children.

Entertainment

There is a ton of fun to be had in this app especially for young children. To start, children can read the story that illustrates what the Moppa Ice Cream fun is all about and then the fun begins. Players are provided 18 fun containers to house their ice cream creations where they then get to select various ice cream colors and flavors. After they are satisfied with their chosen scoops, they get to decorate it to their hearts content. Every thing from works, hats, funny lips, spider sprinkles, and gumballs are included in the 25 topping options which provide lots of creative opportunities for players. Once their ice cream is complete they can then feed it to one of 6 hungry monsters.

The concept of this app is very creative and the never-ending playtime makes for a great experience for young children. This has quickly become my 5 year old’s favorite app and it will likely be your child’s favorite too.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is priced well. With lots of great options and creative toppings for each creation and the story that is included, children will be getting lots of playing time out of this app which parents will certainly appreciate.

Child Friendliness

Moppa Ice Cream is not only safe for children to use, but it’s easy too. Without any instructions at all, children can jump right in and start creating their fun ice cream treats. The only thing that would make it a bit more user friendly is by incorporating a bit of narration and text highlighting for the story portion of the app. Other than that it’s great for children of all ages.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

plum
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Plum's Photo Hunt is the perfect app for the nature lover and little explorer in your home. With a variety of photo missions and a field journal to add notes, kids are going to love this app.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Plum’s Photo Hunt is a simple, yet fun app that encourages children to get outside and explore nature by taking photographs and notes on what they observe. With a variety of categories to explore including, clouds, water, animal life, plants, etc. this is a great app to keep children engaged and active especially during the summer months. This is a great app that the entire family can enjoy.

Features include:

  • 15 Photo Missions
  • Field Journal
  • Photobombs

Quality

The developers have done a great job making Plum’s Photo Hunt easy to use for children of all ages. With three simple activities, children can find a variety of interesting items, animals, and plants out in nature and log them in their field journal or add a special animated character in the Photobomb section very easily. With fun illustrations and characters within the app, Plum’s Photo Hunt is of good quality for what it does.

Education

While children aren’t learning specific facts about what they find from the app itself, they are putting their observation skills to work as they explore. It also encourages children to get outdoors and inspires them to ask questions about the things they find. As children find various plants, clouds, and animals out in nature and log their findings, they are also given the opportunity to learn lots of great information in a hands on way.

Entertainment

Plum’s Photo Hunt is designed to get children outdoors and exploring their surroundings by providing specific photo missions to complete. There are a variety of categories including, water, clouds, animal life, plants, etc. for players to find and document. There is also a field journal that allows children to include their notes on what they have found and any additional observations they may have. For families that love the outdoors and love exploring nature, this app can be lots of fun. Children are also really going to enjoy the Photobomb section that allows them to take pictures with fun characters included in the background.

To add a bit more entertainment value, it would be nice to have a reward system or an additional activity for children to enjoy along with the photo hunt activity.

Value

Parents will certainly appreciate the price of this app as it is completely free. With lots of things to explore in nature, and fun photobombs they can enjoy, this is an app that is likely going to be a favorite for the entire family.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job of making this app safe and easy to use for children of all ages. With simple tap and touch functioning and the ability to type observation notes the user interface is quite intuitive and easy for kids to enjoy.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

pete
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Join Pete & Mike on their adventure to help and save the townspeople from an angry dragon sleeping in a nearby mountain. With lots of adventure, interactive illustrations, and clues to follow, children will love this app!
4.4

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Pete & Mike is an adventure filled interactive story that children will love. With whimsical illustrations and lots of animated bits throughout, this app combines unique storytelling, problem solving and adventure to keep players engaged as they help Pete & Mike help a small town of people who are afraid of a nearby dragon. Children are going to love being the hero in this interactive fairytale app as they save the day!

Features include:

  • Interactive illustrations
  • Problem solving adventure
  • Unique user interface

Quality

Pete & Mike is unlike any other adventurous game-like app that I have seen. With a very unique user interface, children must use their problem solving skills to follow the clues to solve the mystery and help the townspeople with their problems. While the set up isn’t exactly linear and takes some getting used to, players must get creative and follow the clues provided to know where to go next. Overall the quality is very good with great illustrations and interactive bits and the developers have done a great job of creating a helpful guide with flashing indicators for players in the event they get stuck.

Education

While Pete & Mike isn’t focused so much on educational features, it does provide children with a fun way to use their problem solving skills to move through the adventure and help the townspeople. Since the set up isn’t linear and players must follow the clues, it creates a fun challenge for children and creates an opportunity to really use their logic and reasoning throughout the app. Parents will also want to know that this app is designed for children between the ages of 6-8 and the text and story does not have a narration option which makes it a bit more difficult to play for younger children. Adding a narration option would definitely enhance the app and allow younger children to not only enjoy the app, but also practice a bit of their reading skills as they play.

Entertainment

Since this app is designed to be a bit of a puzzle, children who love that sort of thing are going to really enjoy this app. As players follow the clues to solve the mystery, they are guided to help specific people in the town and they must do it in a specific order. This unique set up can be a lot of fun for puzzle lovers and children who love a good challenge. With that said, it seems that the actual play time of the app is a bit short and adding some sort of bonus round or additional activity would add a bit more entertainment value for players.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app is priced well for what it includes. The illustrations are very well done and the interactive features throughout make it engaging and fun to play. Both children and parents will be happy with what this app has to offer and at a price that won’t break the bank.

Child Friendliness

While it takes some getting used to at first, the developers have done a good job of making Pete & Mike easy to use and child friendly. The help features are well done and are perfect for younger users who might be playing and get stumped. One thing that would help make this app even more child friendly especially for younger users would be to add a narration option.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

charliejumped
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Charlie Jumped out of the Clock is a great app that teaches children to tell time by incorporating educational lessons into an interactive story.
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Charlie Jumped out of the Clock is a cute storybook app that teaches children all there is to know about telling time in a fun way. Following Grandpa throughout his day, readers learn to set the clock to specific times so Grandpa doesn’t miss his daily chores. Along the way readers also have a great opportunity to learn to tell time as well.

Features include:

  • 17 Interactive scenes
  • 9 In-story quizzes
  • Practice mode

Quality

The developers have done a great job of making this app not only educational, but highly interactive in an easy to use way. The user interface is very intuitive with simple drag, drop, and tap functioning throughout. The graphics and simple animations also give a bit of interest to the app which is great to keep children engaged as they learn. Overall, Charlie Jumped out of the Clock is a great app for children of all ages.

Education

Learning how to tell time isn’t always easy, but this app makes it not only easy to learn, but fun too. Readers simply follow along with the narrated story as they learn all there is to know about telling time. Everything from learning what the hour and minute hands are used for to understanding the significance of AM and PM are covered in this app. Children are definitely going to get a lot of practice telling time as they complete each sequence with the additional quiz to test what they have learned all while helping Grandpa stay on task with his daily chores.

Entertainment

While not all educational apps are entertaining too, Charlie Jumped Out of the Clock is one that allows children to learn how to tell time while staying engaged and entertained. The story about Grandpa and Charlie the cogwheel is a good way to keep children engaged as they learn. Adding a bit more to the story or adding an additional fun activity or game would increase the entertainment value, however as it is now, it’s still a good app for kids.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app is a very good value. With lots of great educational material to learn and a fun story to go along with it, children are going to get a lot of playing time out of this app. Parents will also appreciate the educational value for a price that won’t break the bank.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job of keeping this app easy to use and safe for kids too. With simple tap, drag, and drop features to move through the app and narration throughout, players can easily learn to tell time with little help from parents.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

mysterywordtown
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Head to the Wild West and practice spelling sight words as you search for gold and explore Mystery Word Town.
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Put on your cowboy boots and spurs and head to the wild, wild west. Mystery Word Town is full of shady characters and it’s your job to find them. How will you do it? By collecting letters, amassing gold, and spelling common sight words. There won’t be any duels, but there will be plenty of big personalities and a lot of words to get through.

Features include:

  • Multiple player profiles
  • Three levels of difficulty
  • Two modes of play
  • Customizable characters

Quality

Mystery Word Town is home to a collection of buildings such as a general store and a circus tent. These buildings make up the town shown on the main screen. As kids travel from building to building (or level to level), a little ghost and a series of arrows guide them. The game moves smoothly from room to room in each building, but on the more involved levels has a tendency to crash occasionally. Fortunately, the game knows right where players left off when it is opened again. The game also allows multiple user accounts so different kids can play at different levels or progress at their own pace.

Education

While the game focuses on common sight words, it expects kids to have some familiarity with those sight words. There are two different modes of play. One mode allows kids to enter any letter in the blank to make a real word. The second mode says a word and kids must insert the correct letter in the blank. As kids get further into the game words increasingly feature more than one blank and require kids to search around for the appropriate letters. Kids can choose from three different word lists to use while they play. While the word lists appear to be at different levels, all seem to present an equal level of challenge with the design of the game.

Entertainment

Developers worked hard to create a realistic wild west town. Each building contains a series of wanted posters that introduce the various characters in the game. Kids can tap on the posters to hear each character’s story. The stories and the setting in general add an extra bit of entertainment to the game. Kids also have to explore each building to find the gold which often becomes the main focus and spelling the sight word is a secondary focus.

Value

Kids gain access to three extensive word lists featuring common sight words. Adults get access to the ability to add multiple player profiles, making it ideal for a classroom or family with multiple children. These features alone make it a solid value and worthwhile purchase.

Child Friendliness

The app allows kids and parents to adjust the level of word list to play and the mode of play. A more apps button is visible at the bottom of the front screen, but otherwise the game is very safe for children, a feature that is also highlighted in the parent section.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

mathlab
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendliness
Summary
Young kids can build early math skills in 17 different ways as they make their way through this engaging math app.
4.4

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 5
Download on the App Store

Overview

MathLab for Kindergarten gives four to six-year-olds a math app that’s focused entirely on the basic math skills they need. This app combines number, shape, and pattern recognition with concepts such as more or less to help kids gather the building blocks they need for more advanced instruction in school. Two modes of play allow kids to review individual concepts or practice them all together. As they practice, they’re rewarded with cheers, peppy background music, and other positive support to help make learning math very fun.

Features include:

  • Multiple player profiles
  • 2 modes of play
  • 17 different skills/concepts
  • 4 different languages

Quality

On the main screen kids see two main options for play: Trip and Lab. They can also change the language from English to French, Spanish, or German. A small button above the logo allows kids to select their player profile or create a new player profile. Once kids have chosen a profile and start to complete the activities in the app, things move smoothly. The app does not include verbal instructions to help kids understand what to do. To play, kids must simply look at the picture and tap the correct answer out of two choices. They’re then quickly rewarded with a cheer or a shaking screen to indicate a wrong answer.

Education

The app focuses on the basic skills every kindergartener needs to know and it addresses each skill from multiple angles to help make the learning more interesting and to help kids gain a thorough understanding of the skill. Skills covered include number recognition, pattern completion, comparing the size of items, comparing numbers, naming shapes and counting their sides, skip counting, reading a number line, and basic addition. The app also includes color recognition which seems a bit out of place, but is helpful when completing patterns. It lacks basic subtraction practice which is part of Kindergarten standards in the U.S., but is understandable since the app was originally designed to fit Canadian standards.

Entertainment

The activities found in MathLab for Kindergarten all follow the same pattern. Kids see a problem and must choose the correct answer out of two choices. While this may seem like it would get boring, the content is varied so much that kids will still enjoy going through the problems. Kids can also play in two modes: Trip and Lab. Trip mode allows kids to travel to 20 different levels by bus, answering a variety of questions that increase in difficulty. Lab mode allows kids to focus on a specific skill and see how many questions they can answer correctly at one time. The game offers a small amount of progress tracking by showing how many questions have been answered correctly in both Trip and Lab modes, but it would be much more motivating and helpful if it tracked progress by skill or activity.

Value

With MathLab for Kindergarten, kids get access to basic math skills represented in 17 different ways. They’ll see numbers represented backwards, upside down, and in dots. They’ll fill in patterns by color and by shape. These different representations of each skill help increase the value of the app.

Child Friendliness

Everything found in the app is appropriate for children. Parents won’t find a parental dashboard or info screen. They also won’t see any in-app purchases, ads, or other safety concerns. The sole focus is on math.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase

moreorless
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendliness
Summary
Kids use virtual wooden beads to represent the numbers in addition and subtraction problems, helping them gain their own understanding of the concepts.
4.6

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

More or Less helps kids build their basic addition and subtraction skills by using wooden beads to help them manipulate the numbers. The app comes with six levels of difficulty, three for addition and three for subtraction, that allow kids to learn the skills in different ways. Kids can make up their own addition and subtraction problems using the numbers 0-9, solve given problems, and even solve for missing numbers in problems. The high-quality but simple design allows kids to focus on the numbers and the process rather than the bells and whistles. While developers encourage the purchase of a wooden number toy to use with the app, it is a solid skill-building tool all on its own.

Features include:

  • Available in 11 different languages
  • Uses beads to represent numbers
  • Features silly characters and fun music
  • Allows parents and teachers to customize intervals for problems
  • Works with developer’s wooden number toy

Quality

On the middle of the app’s main screen kids see a plus sign and a minus. The plus sign leads to addition activities and the minus sign leads to subtraction activities. Once kids are in an activity, a set of three chickens in the right hand corner represents the level. The activities do not come with a lot of instructions, but are fairly intuitive. A child narrator reads out all of the numbers and problems for kids.

Education

The app focuses on teaching basic addition and subtraction skills. At the first level, kids get to create their own additional and subtraction problems by dragging numbers into the problem. Then next level has kids watch the beads move to create the answer to a given problem. The final level has kids manipulate the beads to find the missing number in a given problem. For example, in the problem 10+?=11 kids must drag 10 beads to figure out how many are left and find out that 10+1=11. Parents and teachers can adjust the intervals of results and operands to help make the activities easier or harder for kids. For example, preschoolers may enjoy the app with intervals from 1-4 to help them understand the concepts before trying more challenging problems.

Entertainment

Rather than simply answering each problem, kids get the chance to move the wooden beads to form the answer. This tactile component helps make the app a lot more entertaining. Small effects, such as the silly creatures on the main page, or the sound effects when kids place the numbers in a subtraction problem in the wrong order add to the app’s entertainment factor.

Value

The concept of More or Less is fun and designed to help kids learn. The app is also a high quality. However, the price of the app, particularly if parents opt to purchase the suggested wooden toy set, is a little high compared to similar apps available. It’s still a great app for teaching addition and subtraction, but parents should expect to pay a little more for some of its features.

Child Friendliness

Parents can access additional information about the app, the wooden toy that connects with it, and similar apps via the Parent Info icon on the main screen. This section is protected by a strong parental block. Kids do have access to the settings which allows them to adjust the intervals of the results and operands used in the activities.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase

stargurus
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Star Gurus is a great app for young children that will help them practice important counting skills which are foundational to learning math in early elementary school. The dot-to-dot game is rewarding in its own right, and the teaching is so gentle and unobtrusive that kids will not even know they are practicing important skills.
4.7

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Star Gurus is designed to help young children master rote counting from one to twenty, number sequence, count odd and even numbers, and skip count by tens to ninety. Players touch stars in sequence to connect them with lines in similar fashion to other dot-to-dot games, and create simple constellation pictures.

Features include:

  • Designed for young children to play independently
  • Optimized for visually impaired players
  • 30 unique constellation pictures
  • Correct pronunciation of numbers and picture names in ten different languages
  • Helps children master important early math skills

Quality

Star Gurus is a high quality app that will appeal to children who are learning to recognize numbers and count. The dot-to-dot format is a perennial favorite of children, and the interface is intuitive. The simple illustrations are bright and easy to see, and the app responds quickly when stars are touched. It is possible to touch the stars a bit faster than the narration, however. This results in the voice saying “eight,” for example, when the user has touched the ten.

Education

Star Gurus offers a great opportunity to play with numbers in a relaxed atmosphere with guaranteed success. Parents or other adults can adjust settings to control the difficulty of the task, ranging from counting from 1 to 10 all the way to counting odd or even numbers only or skip counting by tens to ninety. The star patterns, like real constellations, are somewhat vague, so young children will often be surprised by the picture they have made. The pictures are intriguing, as well, including a brontosaurus, a sugar-glider, and a snail among other things. The narration is clear and crisp, and easy to understand, which will help children name the numbers. It’s very cool that the app can be used in any of ten different languages; with young children’s ability to pick up words in foreign tongues, this is a great opportunity to learn a few new words.

The developers did a good job of making the game failure-proof. The next star in the sequence begins to pulsate after a few seconds, and parents can control the timing of this hint system in the settings. If a child taps an incorrect number, the line appears briefly, then disappears immediately. Every user is nearly guaranteed success.

Entertainment

Dot-to-dot pictures fascinate most young children, so this app will quickly become a favorite. Currently, there are thirty different “constellations” so even though the pictures seem to stay in the same order, there are enough of them that youngsters are not likely to be able to predict which will be coming next even if they’ve cycled through several times.

The app’s illustrations are simple, yet detailed enough to be interesting, and the range of things depicted is wonderful. In addition to real world, common animals such as dog and cat, children are also treated to unicorns, octopuses, centaurs, and mermaids. The app will expand most children’s vocabulary!

Value

This app is a great value at ninety-nine cents. It covers a range of skills that most children learn between the ages of 3 and 7 years. In addition, kids have the opportunity to learn to count and say a few words in many other languages. Developers also indicate that they are adding more pictures with the updates, so it will be interesting to see what comes next.

Child Friendliness

Star Gurus is very child friendly with one glaring exception. The app presents a ratings pop-up after a few uses that is unprotected and takes the user straight to the App Store rating system. This really should be in the protected area to prevent young users from accessing it.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links and social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected and visible by default, can be hidden in device settings)

iTunesArtwork@2x
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Grandma's Preschool is a great virtual learning app with lots of fun, interactive learning games and activities for children to explore. Great for the preschooler in your home!
4.7

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 3
Download on the App Store

Overview

Grandma’s Preschool is an interactive early learning app that uses a virtual classroom to teach children a variety of skills. Players can practice their letter sounds, numbers, shapes, and colors as they explore Grandma’s preschool classroom. With lots of additional interactive features throughout, children will have fun exploring the fun toys and activities included.

Features include:

  • Numbers/letter recognition
  • Colors
  • Shapes

Quality

The developers have done a nice job of making Grandma’s Preschool fun and easy to use. With lots of images and illustrations to explore, children can easily move from one activity to another without a lot of instruction or help from parents. The user interface is also quite inviting with great sound effects, music, and interactive features throughout.

Education

This is a perfect app for the preschooler at home who is looking to get some extra practice with letter and number recognition. There are also activities that allow players to tap certain shapes to hear their name as well as images that teach children the four seasons. There is also a word tree that helps children hear and recognize various sight words. The best part of this app is that it is designed in a way that encourages children to explore all the pieces and to tap through the activities at their leisure. Overall this app has great educational value.

Entertainment

Not only does this app have lots of great educational content, but there are also some activities that are just for fun. For instance, the art center allows children to paint and color images that they can save and share. There is also a class pet that players can help with and a video center that teaches players about the class pet (guinea pigs). There is a nap time activity where children must match the stuffed animal with their owner and recess to enjoy, not to mention the endless interactive images scattered throughout. Children playing this app are going to have a ton of fun as they learn.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app is a great value. Parents will certainly appreciate the awesome variety of activities and interactive images for children to learn and explore.

Child Friendliness

Not only is this app great for preschoolers getting ready for Kindergarten, but it’s also fun and easy to use. With a virtual classroom set-up that allows children to explore it and learn as they go, this app is perfect for young kids. With simple tap and touch functioning, players won’t need much (if any) assistance from parents.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

image (12)

Imagistory

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Imagistory offers a healthy dose of creative thinking and storytelling opportunities to children by encouraging pretending. With two free wordless picture ebooks and four more available for purchase, children will love building story after story, recorded in their very own voices.
4.9

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Imagistory allows users to record narration for wordless picture books, encouraging creativity, story-telling, observation, sequencing, and descriptive language. Stories can be saved in video form and shared by adults over the internet.

Features include:

  • Two free stories to enjoy
  • Four additional stories available for purchase
  • Vivid, colorful illustrations with lots of detail
  • Recording feature
  • Detailed parents/teachers area full of usage ideas

Quality

Imagistory is a very high-quality app that performs exactly as advertised.  It is well-designed both for a child to use independently and for adult-child partnerships or group use. The recording starts automatically after the user gives permission to access microphone and camera (though the access request is not protected and a child could turn these on). Use of the microphone and camera are not mandatory for using the app, however, and each story includes a “quiet read” option that allows users to page through the story to see what happens and to familiarize themselves with the pictures.

Education

This app is an educator’s dream come true.  One of the foundations of reading is solid language skills including such things as retelling stories, describing scenes, naming characters, and sequencing events. This app supports development of these skills and many more.

The app is primarily intended for young children, who can easily be encouraged to tell the story they see in the pictures.  The stimulus pictures are rich in detail, and children can elaborate about many aspects of each.  Older students can work in groups to design a story to go with each set, can write out their stories, or even create a play based on the scenes.  The possibilities are nearly endless, and developers did an excellent job of including ideas for all age groups in the parent and teacher section of the app.

Kudos are due to the developers for the diversity of characters offered in these stories, as well. There are boys and girls of various races and ethnic groups, and the children are of indeterminate age.  Nice job of being inclusive!

Entertainment

Young children love to pretend and to tell stories, so this app fits with these desires perfectly. They also love to hear their own voices and the voices of important people in their lives recorded so they can play them back at will. The stories (both the free and the paid ones) are engaging and interesting.  The visual story lines will be familiar to young children, but the stories have imaginative twists, such as the one about going to the beach where the main character ends up swimming with sea turtles and whales.

Value

This is a free app with two free stories available.  The tips and hints in the parent/teacher section are also available for free. Four additional stories are inexpensive, priced at $2 each.  Alternatively, there is a school version available for $7.99 in the App Store. This version includes all six stories at a slight discount, and educators can download the free version to try out the two free stories in their classroom before making a decision.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. The parent/teacher area is protected by an effective gate that requires reading directions and pressing the correct colored shape for the required time. The one suggestion would be to put a master “switch” inside the protected area to turn the recording features on or off without giving children that option.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchases (protected, but visible)

image(36)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
The Word Creativity Kit provides a unique system to explore the interplay between text and visual design that will stimulate creativity as well as creative writing.
4.7

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

The Word Creativity Kit offers users a playground to make creations with words, colors, designs and pictures. Limited only by their imaginations and vision, users make virtual books that can serve as journals, notebooks, or canvases to be shared with others.

Features include:

  • 7 categories of words or add your own
  • Manipulate fonts, colors, backgrounds, designs and pictures
  • Place words anywhere on the page, change the angle, or resize
  • Includes over 4500 words
  • Save as many books as you wish

Quality

The Word Creativity Kit is a phenomenal app that is very intuitive to use. Designers have incorporated clear directions about the app’s features, accessible from the home screen or the main book page by tapping the question mark. A menu of the app’s functions appears, and when each item is pressed, there is a graphic showing exactly how to use the feature. Users have a lot of control over the look and feel of each page, and can create very attractive composite pieces.

Developers have added the capability to open, read and save creations in several different ereader apps, including Adobe Acrobat, iBooks, and more. Books can also be shared between devices via AirDrop or DropBox.  This is a nice feature for older users, but may present some security concerns for younger users. One improvement for developers to consider would be a system to make creations private to specific users. Since one use for the app would be to journal, the content could get quite personal and some may limit themselves if they feel others could view their work without permission.

Education

This app goes far beyond a simple creative writing system because it combines the visual appeal of an art program with the fun of finding just the right words for poetry, stories, or other text. The app “jumpstarts” the creative process by offering a selection of randomly-chosen words on the blank page. It’s possible to choose few, medium, or many random words.  It’s also possible to begin a page by inserting your own words. Users can add, remove, modify, or rearrange to their hearts’ content. Change the background, add pictures or stickers, change the tense or form of the words, and more to create just the right look and feel for the project. It’s a perfect opportunity for self-expression that will encourage and nurture literacy, writing skills, and vocabulary. The app’s designers say it is appropriate for children ages 8 and up, and it would likely be just as popular with middle and high schoolers as well as middle and upper elementary users. Even adults will enjoy letting their imaginations wander and seeing what they can create.

Teachers will think of many uses, but one big one would be experimenting with poetry. Many students find writing poetry to be one of the most intimidating activities in English class, and this app takes the pain and frustration out of the process, even for the most insecure writers. It eliminates the need to erase, crumple paper in frustration and start over and over again. The app also will lend itself to story-telling, with the included array of backgrounds and stickers, as well as access to your device’s camera roll.

The developers have included a short guide that lists a number of usage ideas for different situations.  This is accessible in the “Usage Ideas” section on the home screen, and the document can open in many different applications, such as iBooks, Acrobat, or various name-brand readers.  The file also can be sent to other devices via Dropbox or shared via AirDrop.

Entertainment

This app isn’t really designed for entertainment, but the sheer joy of creating will make it a favorite for many users. Stickers range from the cute to the sublime, concrete to symbolic. It would be very possible to create an entire story without words using the characters, props and backgrounds, but even the least verbal students are likely to be tempted to add a word or two to their creations as caption or description, since they can control font, angle, size, color, and placement.

Value

The Word Creativity Kit is an excellent value. With an extensive built-in vocabulary as well as the option to add words to any page, the app can grow with the user. The stickers and backgrounds offer a lot of options for visual creativity, and access to the camera roll means that users can take their own pictures, as well. Together, these features mean the app can be very personalized, which is very nice.

Child Friendliness

This app includes no outside advertisements or in-app purchases. A Parents’ Area that contains information about the developers, the rating pop-up, and the Air Drop system is protected by a parent gate that uses a simple multiplication fact with several given answer choices. This may not be very effective, because children in the target age group of 9-11 years typically are memorizing these answers.  In the parents’ area, parents and teachers can see other apps by the same developer in the App Store or open a web browser to interact with social media, view the privacy policy or visit the developers’ web site. The app allows access to a wide array of ebook applications, AirDrop, and DropBox via links protected by the same type of gate.  These functions should be made less accessible by using a more challenging gate that is less likely to be circumvented by the target age group.

  • Protected parent area (contains external links & social media)
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES parent area, air drop, and other links protected by a simple multiplication fact
  • YES ratings pop-up protected by a simple multiplication fact

 

autorepair
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Auto Repair is a creative, hands-on app that allows children to use their logic and problem solving skills to fix a variety of unique vehicles.
4.5

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Auto Repair is a cute app for kids that allows them to get creative as they fix and repair a variety of cars. With lots of fun accessories, shapes, and challenges to complete, this app is one that will not only allow children to use their fine motor skills, but also tap into their creativity as they add fun lights, exhaust shapes, bolts etc. to fix each car.

Features include:

  • 20 Repairs to complete
  • 1 Hidden bonus
  • Easy to use

Quality

The developers have done a fantastic job with this app by adding wonderful graphics and sound effects that bring the app to life. With realistic looking car parts and tools, children feel like they really are fixing various cars. The set up is also easy to use for children of all ages with appropriate prompts to indicate what children must do to move forward in the game.

Education

While this app isn’t designed for educational purposes it does allow children to use their logic and problem solving skills to select the appropriate parts to fix the various issues they find. There is also an opportunity for them to hone their fine motor skills by welding pieces together and putting bolts in the correct spot.

Entertainment

Auto Repair is a blast to play! With lots of problems to solve and things to fix, children are going to fall in love with this interactive game. Each vehicle comes with it’s own set of issues, from fixing the exhaust system to replacing the headlights with fun colors. Once each issue is fixed, players are awarded a badge that they can view in their gallery. Once all of the badges are collected, they are able to unlock a secret part of the game for more added fun.

Value

Priced at just under a dollar, this app is a steal! With 20 activities to complete, plus a bonus activity to unlock and the wonderful images, sound effects and interactive bits, this app is one children with love at a price parents can appreciate.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job of keeping this app easy to use and great for kids of all ages. With little highlights and markers throughout the app, players are guided to what they need to tap or move in order to progress through the app which is great.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

operamaker
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Opera Maker is a fun, creative app that allows children to enjoy a few favorite operas and create their very own. Great for the creative child who loves creating their own stories.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Opera Maker is an app that takes children on a wonderful adventure into various famous operas and allows them to create one of their very own. This creative app is one that music lovers will really enjoy as they create their own operas with fun characters, villains, props, and musical stories that they can save and revisit.

Features include:

  • 3 Famous operas included
  • Creative concept
  • Music

Quality

The developers have done a fantastic job of creating an app that is fun, easy to use, and safe too. With great cartoon-like graphics, music and simple animations, this creative app is one that children will truly enjoy especially if they love to create their own stories etc. The New Opera section provides prompts for children to follow to add their own characters, backgrounds, props, music etc. so they don’t get stuck. One thing that would be nice to have is a narrated version of the prompts in addition to the written versions.

Education

While this app isn’t necessarily set up to be primarily educational in nature, it does teach children about creating stories and the various parts of an opera. In the New Opera section of the app, players are prompted to set up their opera in stages and in doing so they learn the various parts of an opera including casting, overture, recitative I, aria I etc. This hands on way of creating and learning is lots of fun for children as they can see their opera come to life in the end and share with friends and family.

Entertainment

For children who love to create their own stories and who love music, this app is a lot of fun. They not only get to explore and enjoy three famous operas, but they also get to create their own by setting the characters, music, props, backgrounds etc. This is a fun way for children to explore their creativity and to share it with friends and family. One added bonus that this app offers is the ability to record your own voice for the characters making it highly customizable. Players can also save and share their finished operas for later viewing.

Value

It’s hard to believe an app like this could be free, but it is! Parents will definitely appreciate the awesome value that is included in this fun and easy to use app at no cost to them.

Child Friendliness

Opera Maker is an app that is easy to use and safe too. With written prompts throughout the app to guide players in creating their own operas, the developers have done a great job of making this app child friendly. Adding a bit of narration for the instructions would also be helpful for younger players to help guide them through the process of creating their own opera.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

KapuFishing
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help Mr. Fox catch his fish dinner! This easy to use virtual fishing app is full of great images, sound effects, and a creative activity where players can build their own lure!
4.5

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Kapu Fishing is a cute, easy to use app with great graphics and sound effects that allows players to do a bit of virtual fishing for fun. With bright colors, music, and a gorgeous lake to explore, children will certainly enjoy helping Mr. Fox fish for his dinner in this free play app.

Features include:

  • Easy to use
  • Build a lure
  • Free play concept

Quality

Kapu Fishing is full of brightly colored graphics and animations that children will love. Fish of all shapes and sizes are hiding in the water along with other fun lake finds including a pirate ship, a cute cottage and more. With fun sound effects and music to go along with this creative fishing game, the developers have done a nice job making this app easy to use and engaging.

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

Kapu Fishing is a free play app that allows children to have fun exploring a virtual lake and help Mr. Fox fish for his dinner. There is also an added activity to build your own lure with silly faces, accessories, and colors to use while fishing. And if players aren’t catching enough fish, they can simply find a new spot by taking Mr. Fox on a ride around the lake. While the activities that are provided are fun and easy to play adding an additional activity would add a bit more entertainment value to the app overall.

Value

Priced at just under a dollar this app is a good deal. With the free play set-up, awesome images, fun sound effects and the ability to build your own lure, the value is very good. This app may quickly become little one’s favorite app to play and with that price parents will certainly see the value.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job creating an app that is easy to use and fun too. Upon starting the app, there are simple visual prompts that show players how to cast the reel and how to pull it back in to catch fish. This is great especially for younger children and the tap and touch functioning makes exploring the lake very easy. The build your own lure activity is also very easy to use and fun for children to use a bit of their creativity to create unique lures to fish with.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

count2play2
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help young kids learn to count while interacting with silly animations and playing fun counting games.
4.4

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Kids can learn their numbers and play fun games at the same time. Count 2 Play introduces kids to the numbers 1-10 through a series of fun animations that allow them to see the numbers represented multiple ways. Each number is accompanied by a fun game that helps reinforce basic counting skills and help kids build other key skills, such as puzzle solving, finding hidden items, and matching pictures. The counting games and activities help make this app a strong choice for toddlers and preschoolers.

Features include:

  • Numbers 1-10
  • Fun number games
  • Oral counting
  • On-screen guidance

Quality

Count 2 Play is a simple and colorful app designed to help kids learn their numbers. The main screen directs kids to start at the number one. A question mark provides kids with instructions and, if kids do not complete the task within a few seconds, a finger appears on the screen to show kids what to do. All of the counting screens and the activities that follow respond well to kids. All of the numbers are displayed across the top of the screen and kids have the ability to switch from number to number, even if they do not finish an activity. A star appears next to numbers they have already completed.

Education

Kids can learn the numbers 1-10. As each number is displayed on the screen kids must drag the correct number of characters on top of it. The characters are counted out as kids add them and once they add the correct number, helping kids both see and hear the number to reinforce their counting skills.

Entertainment

As kids learn their numbers, they get the opportunity to interact with funny characters. After dragging the correct number of characters onto a number, kids get to enjoy a silly activity, such as putting hats on cats or finding all of the ants that are wearing pants. Most of the activities are appropriate for the toddler and preschool age level, but a few present a higher degree of difficulty. For example, for the number 9, kids must stack 9 fish on a plate by moving their device left and right, but the fish easily fall off the plate, making it nearly impossible to complete the activity.

Value

The app covers the numbers 1-10 and offers a fun activity to go with each number. These activities help increase the value of the app. While parents may find similar counting apps for free, this app is still a quality counting app and worth a download, particularly if kids are working on building their counting skills.

Child Friendliness

The protected parent area could use a slightly more involved parental lock, but otherwise children are focused on the game. Within the game, kids will find the option to adjust the volume and will find a help button to help them figure out what to do.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase

image (10)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Painting Gallery offers coloring book pictures, varied backgrounds, and blank canvas for young artists to make their own using 30 colors and 100 stickers. Young children can save their work in an art gallery, arrange the pictures on the digital wall, and pick the perfect frame to compliment their work.
4.6

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Painting Gallery offers an almost infinite array of opportunities for kids to color, paint and create using a range of backgrounds, coloring book drawings, stickers and other tools. There are even blank canvases to create masterpieces from scratch. Users can save their creations in a gallery with their choice of frames, and even arrange the pictures on the “wall.”

Features include:

  • 30 colors
  • 100 stickers
  • Choice of pencils, crayons, markers or paints
  • Control line width or use a broad stroke to cover entire areas at once
  • Parents can add voice recordings of color names

Quality

This app is intuitive and fun to use, making it perfect for the under-five crowd for which it is intended.  It’s pretty straightforward: choose a picture with or without background and/or coloring book-type drawings, then add colors and lines to make the picture uniquely yours. Save the creations in the app’s art gallery, where you can rearrange the artwork to your heart’s content, or change the frame by touching it.

The app works as intended, but it does seem to be missing a couple of key features.  I did not see an “undo” button to take care of the inevitable “oops” that users, especially young ones, will undoubtedly want.  There also did not seem to be a way to reset a picture back to its original state or to delete it from the gallery.  There is an eraser tool, but it gets quite tedious to erase everything from a picture if you want to start over, and the eraser also takes out the picture’s background art, leaving only whatever coloring-book drawings were provided.

Education

It’s very important for young children to have countless opportunities to manipulate their environments, and tablet usage is no exception. Kids will be learning fine-motor control, basic colors and color names, and developing creativity and planning skills. The app will undoubtedly also foster language skills since young children tend to create art with a running dialog.  It’s great that paintings are saved to the gallery; kids will love looking back at their work and recalling what they did or even calling it up again to work more on it later.

This app has a feature that allows parents to make audio recordings of the color names, as well. This is really neat, because the young artists will learn more effectively when they hear these words in a familiar voice, in their own language, and with a familiar accent. That’s a really nice touch from developers.  You will, however, need to be prepared to broaden your child’s color vocabulary; with 30 color choices, you have to get a bit beyond the basic words like red, blue, green and yellow.

Be sure to point out the lack of an “undo” button to young users, though, especially if they are used to such features in other apps. It could be very frustrating to make a whopper of a mistake or even change your mind about a color choice and find no option for correcting yourself.

Entertainment

There’s something about the sheer joy of filling in blank sections in a coloring book that never grows tiresome, and this app allows plenty of that sort of activity.  Kids will love the huge color selection as well as the various “utensils” and stroke qualities.  The app includes quite an array of pictures and backgrounds, as well as blank canvases that will unleash creativity. There are stickers to add and frames to try out.  All in all, this app is very entertaining.  The one concern is that there does not seem to be a way to reset a picture to its original state.  This feature would be very helpful, especially for families with multiple children who may “outgrow” the app at different times.

Value

The app is an excellent value at $2.99. Kids who enjoy art, colors, and coloring will get hours of play value out of the program, and will build important foundational skills for success in school and in life.  No two creations will be alike, and the ability to rearrange them in the gallery can make the collection seem fresh and new.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. The Parents’ Area is protected by a swiping system that will be effective for the under-five age group.

  • Protected parent area (contains external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

train
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Train Your Hand is a great early learning app that provides players with practice at tracing various lines and shapes to prep them for writing. Great for young children and fun too!
4.4

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Train Your Hand is an early learning app that teaches children to trace various lines and shapes that turn into funny characters and pictures as they play. The idea is to help children with their fine motor skills as a way to help them as they move into tracing letters and numbers. This entertaining app is full of bright colors, engaging music, and is very easy to follow along. It’s great for young children.

Features include:

  • Easy to use
  • Fun music
  • Fine motor skill practice

Quality

Train Your Hand is really designed with a young child in mind. The main page offers fun pictures for children to tap in order to get started which takes them straight into fun lines and shapes to trace. With simple tap and drag technology, children must follow the dotted line to trace each set of lines/shapes and for each one they complete correctly, they win a new award. Overall the developers have done a nice job making this app one that is easy to use and fun too.

Education

As children begin to learn to write their letters and numbers, they must really hone in their fine motor skills and tracing capabilities. This app provides a bit of practice with that with fun lines and shapes. Straight lines, squiggles, and other shapes are used to provide ample practice which is really great for young children.

Entertainment

While there aren’t any specific games outside of the educational tracing that is used, there are some fun animations and music that will keep children engaged. After tracing each line/shape, it transforms into a fun farm animal or item that comes to life. As players continue to correctly trace the lines and shapes, they also earn awards that they can view in their award gallery. Adding an additional game would definitely make this app a bit more fun, but for the young audiences this is made for, it is still pretty engaging.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is a great value. With endless play and the ability to reset the trophies for children to practice over and over, this app is one children can go back to time and again. For early learners especially it’s great because it provides lots of tracing practice.

Child Friendliness

With simple tap and drag technology, children will easily be able to move through this app and trace each line and shape without a ton of instruction or help. Should they get stuck or get too far off the dotted line, there are markers throughout that will highlight the correct path so they can more easily complete the exercise.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

shapekit1
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
ShapeKit is an entertaining and creative way to learn about shapes. It allows several levels of creativity, will encourage young users to explore, and offers an opportunity to save and share masterpieces both on the device and over the internet.
4.6

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

ShapeKit is a fun introduction to basic shapes that will grow with your child to become an artistic creativity app. Users create pictures and scenes by combining shapes in different ways, then can save screenshots or animate the creations and make videos.

 

Features include:

  • Introduces squares, triangles, circles, and more
  • Joins shapes in creative ways
  • Allows users to add eyes, sparks, and other details
  • Provides eighteen shape colors and four background colors
  • Saves screenshots and makes animated videos

Quality

ShapeKit is a high-quality app that will occupy children for hours. It allows users to choose shapes and colors, then combine them in endless patterns to create designs, figures, characters, scenes and more. For example, kids could use the half-circle and a triangle to create an ice cream cone, or three circles to create a snowman. Shapes with flat sides can be joined and turned into one figure that can be manipulated, or users can “punch holes” in shapes and create moveable joints that function similarly to paper projects with brass fasteners. They can take screenshots of their masterpieces, or even animate them into short videos containing five steps. There is provision to share the creations on the developers’ website or through social media. The app includes several short tutorials, as well, that will help young users explore the full range of features.

On the whole, ShapeKit worked as expected, with quick response times and an intuitive interface. The one problem I had with the app was that it crashed on occasion. I could not see a pattern to the crashes, so I don’t know exactly what I did to trigger them. They were a bit frustrating, however, because I lost my “work” and had to start my project over again. On a more minor note, the app changes print colors and background colors for its introductory screens and occasionally the random combination is relatively low contrast, which may make it difficult for visually challenged individuals.

Education

Kids will learn a lot from working with ShapeKit. It provides a hands-on experience with shapes, colors and sizes, and helps children to see how nearly everything in the world is formed from basic shapes. They will see connections to geometry that perhaps weren’t apparent to them before using this app, which in turn will help them conceptualize the things they are learning at school. Each shape is defined in print and with an optional narration, which will help kids learn about them.

The app will help children develop visual skills as well as deeper understanding of relative sizes and position in space. Best of all, the app does an outstanding job of exercising creativity. There is an endless array of possibilities with the tools available, and the animation feature will help kids with cause and effect, planning, prediction, and more.  It’s very easy to use, and easy to amend if desired, so on the whole is very user-friendly.

I do wish the developers would add a few more shapes; currently the app includes squares, circles, right triangles, equilateral triangles, half circles and quarter circles. Kids will be able to figure out how to make a passable “line” by creating a skinny rectangle, but choices are somewhat limited for changing the circles and triangles. For example, one cannot create an oval shape by stretching the circle, nor is there an apparent way to create other types of triangles. Also, developers should consider adding a sound recording feature, since young children’s artwork is typically a story being told, and voice recording would encourage important language skills.

Entertainment

This app is highly entertaining for anyone with the slightest artistic bent. There’s something innately satisfying about building simple shapes into characters and scenes, then saving them or animating them into life on the screen. The possibilities are endless, since users can change the size and color of each shape, can combine them in different ways, and then move them around the screen to create movies as their imaginations dictate.  It’s a wonderful outlet for visual creativity that will keep young artists and animators busy for hours.

Value

ShapeKit is a great value no matter what your purpose may be in using it. Use it to help teach about shapes by providing constant access to the definitions and hands-on experiences with the shapes by having them duplicate shape combinations you have made, or turn them loose and let their creative juices reign as they play in whatever manner appeals to them. You could even set a challenge for video creation, such as “Can you find a way to roll a ball down a hill?”  The possibilities are virtually endless.

Child Friendliness

This app is fairly child-friendly. However, the gate that allows access to your web browser, email and social media is too simple for the intended age group to circumvent. It simply instructs parents to swipe two fingers to the left or right, and many early elementary children can read at this level. Since the app is designed for social sharing of finished products, it should have a more effective parent gate so that adult users can make the decision about utilizing this feature.

  • Parent area (contains protected external links & social media)
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES external links (protected, but visible)

mochupop2
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Mochu Pop is an interesting app designed to help young children retain and build their ability to learn sounds in other languages. Its fun, balloon-popping format will intrigue toddlers and preschoolers and keep them engaged for quite a while, and they will be building a host of important skills in addition to hearing the sounds of English, French, Spanish or Italian.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Mochu Pop introduces the very young to the sounds of four languages: English, French, Spanish and Italian. Scientists and educators know that toddlers’ and preschoolers’ brains are at a critical phase of development for acquiring language skills. In fact, the younger the child is, the easier it is to learn languages. This app introduces the special sounds of each language in a fun way that stimulates memory and prepares youngsters for learning words and sentences.

Features include:

  • Enhances language-learning ability
  • Builds eye-hand coordination
  • Develops working memory
  • Introduces sounds of languages
  • Features blue-light filtering technology

Quality

Mochu Pop is a high-quality app that will fascinate most young children. After all, who doesn’t love to pop balloons? The app works exactly as intended, is easy to use and intuitive, and fun. One intriguing feature is the optional blue light filter. Some believe that blue light emitted by electronic screens such as Ipads, phones, and other devices disrupts the body’s production of melatonin, a vital chemical that controls sleep rhythms among other things. Mochu Pop allows parents to filter these light rays to minimize this possible problem.

Education

Mochu Pop is a very simple app for very young children. Researchers know that the period from birth to age three is critical for language development. They also know that children are born with the ability to hear and create the full range of sounds in every language from around the world. As they learn to speak and understand the world around them, their brains naturally focus in on the sounds that are specific to their native languages until finally as children and adults, they literally cannot make, or even notice, many sounds found in other languages. Of course, this is one reason that learning foreign languages as teens or older adults is so challenging for most people. Mochu Pop is an attempt to forestall this selection process and keep the brain open to these sounds so that language learning can continue well past the usual age. The developers’ claim is that if children are exposed to a wider range of sounds, they will remember and be able to access them well past the normal language learning period. Does it work? Perhaps. Studies show that young children who grow up in households where multiple languages are spoken are far more likely to be bilingual and also have an easier time learning the second language even years later.

The app presents a balloon with a specific color and shape. When kids pop that type of balloon, they hear a sound from the chosen language. Pop other balloons and they just pop without the reward of hearing a sound. The balloons are floating around the screen, so users exercise not only memory skills but also eye-hand coordination. Young children also will be developing self-control as they try to restrain themselves from popping everything in sight.

One downside to this app is that the directions are only in printed form. Since it is aimed at the very young, kids working on their own may need guidance to get started since they can’t read yet. The app also ends each round with a written note about how many sounds the kids have heard and a numerical score, which, of course, parents will need to interpret. The app also floats “character balloons” across the screen from time to time, which deliver positive verbal messages of encouragement. These are wonderfully fun, but they seem a bit counterintuitive to the “pop only these balloons” instruction given at the beginning of each round.

Entertainment

The main source of fun for this app is in the popping of balloons. Young children adore repeatable actions where they can quickly see the outcomes of their efforts, and this app delivers that in spades. For most toddlers, this will be as addictive as tossing the cereal bowl on the floor or hearing the favorite book again and again. Preschoolers, however, may tire of the action fairly quickly. The app does distinguish between age groups, however, and make the game more challenging for older users, which will help. When profiles are created, the app asks for a birth date and calculates an age. The game play is differentiated based on the child’s age. For example, a two-year-old’s profile will trigger a single type of balloon to pop and a single sound introduced per round, at least for the first few rounds. A four-year-old’s profile will cause multiple types of balloons to be remembered and targeted, and the sounds are introduced at a faster pace with multiple sounds used in the early rounds.

Value

This is a free app, and an outstanding value. It’s fun, especially for the very young, and it just might truly help kids’ brains stay more flexible to ease language learning tasks later in life. And in addition to its value as a language learning app, it offers valuable practice on foundational skills such as memory development, eye-hand coordination, cause and effect, self-control, and more.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. There is very little chance of a youngster accidentally stumbling into the protected area.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase

pinkie

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie’s Sister is a cute storybook app that My Little Pony lovers will really enjoy. In this story, children are introduced to the Pinkie Pie’s very unique, very different sister named Maud. As much as Pinkie Pie wants her friends to become best buddies with her sister, things don’t go according to plan. Overall this is a fun story that teaches readers that everyone is just a little bit different and that’s perfectly okay.

Features include:

  • Read to me/Read to myself
  • Vocabulary words
  • Lively animations
  • Text highlighting

Quality

The first thing you notice in the My Little Pony apps are the amazing colors and details in the illustrations. Each page has animated segments where the characters come to life when tapped, which definitely helps to keep children engaged. The sound effects, narration, and music that is included also helps to bring the app to life to create an overall experience that children will love. The developers have also done a fantastic job creating an intuitive user interface that makes it easy for children of all ages to enjoy.

Education

Not only does My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie’s Sister teach children a great lesson about how we are all just a little bit different, but it also offers great practice for early readers. With narration options and text highlighting, children are able to follow along with the story and practice their reading skills. There are also highlighted words throughout that when tapped are repeated which will definitely help children learn new vocabulary words. There is also a word round up located at the end of the story that takes readers through various images with corresponding words to add even more words to the reader’s vocabulary.

Entertainment

Children are going to love the fun story and lively animations that are included in this story especially if they already love My Little Pony. With so many sound effects, bright colors, and enthusiastic characters, this app is more like a cartoon at times than a storybook app. With that said there aren’t any additional games aside from the word round up at the end of the story. Adding an additional activity or game would definitely increase the entertainment value of the app a bit.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app is a good value. With lots of animations, sound effects, narration options, and vocabulary words included, this app is one children will love to read many times over.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job creating an app that is easy to use with arrows located at the bottom of each page and highlighted characters to indicate an animation point. The narration and auto play options also make it accessible for young children who aren’t reading just yet.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

ready

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Ready Set Stack! is a great early learning app that encourages children to practice their hand-eye coordination while they stack various rings while learning new vocabulary words and colors. With the narration option throughout as children tap various images and rings, this app combines audio and visual learning which is great for young children.

Features include:

  • Hand-eye coordination practice
  • Vocabulary words
  • Various timed options
  • Problem solving activities

Quality

Ready Set Stack! is a great early learning app full of bright colors, fun illustrations and sound effects that encourage children to stay engaged and learning. While the app uses simple drag and drop technology as well as simple tapping to interact with the illustrations, it does require a bit of extra assistance from parents. The concept of dragging the rings to the peg appropriately isn’t fully explained within the app and the developers encourage parents to enjoy the app with their child to help them as they play and learn. Overall, this app is well done and a great early learning tool for children.

Education

This simple app has so much to offer in terms of educational value that it’s hard to believe. Not only are children working on hand-eye coordination as they stack the rings accordingly, but they are also learning new vocabulary words and colors as they play. Every time an image or illustration is touched the narrator will say the word out loud. When the rings are tapped and dragged into place, the color of the ring is said out loud creating an opportunity for children to practice recognizing their colors.

As the difficulty level naturally progresses, children are then asked to stack two different color rings on separate pegs which teaches the concept of sorting. There is also an opportunity for children to stack based on size (largest to smallest) and so on. The natural progression of the difficulty is nice as it provides a very organic learning environment that children will enjoy. Another great feature is the ability for parents to set up a timed playing option so children can get breaks from learning regularly depending on parents preference.

Entertainment

While there aren’t specific games in addition to the educational material, there are fun little interactive images and toys in the background of the playing screen that children are encouraged to tap and touch after they complete a sequence. This encourages players to continue playing and learning. There is also a celebratory animation that pops up in the bottom of the screen once each sequence is complete that adds a bit of excitement to the app. While adding an additional activity could be more of a distraction, this app could use a bit more entertainment within the educational material. Even adding a sticker reward of sorts would help keep children more engaged.

Value

There is no doubt this app is a great value since it is absolutely free. There are a ton of great educational components within the app and not having to pay a dime for all that is a steal! Parents will certainly love all you get in this app for free.

Child Friendliness

Ready Set Stack! is an easy to use early learning app that is great for children. With simple drag and drop technology, parents can easily teach players how to move through the app as they learn lots of great skills. And while the app is child friendly with protected links etc. it could use an additional layer of protection by requiring a password upon entry to the ‘other apps’ buttons etc.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

math

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

MathLab for Grade 1 offers a comprehensive system that will allow young children to practice vital math skills at their own learning pace. The software offers two learning modes: a sequential mode that varies skills but gradually increases in difficulty and a “laboratory” mode that allows users to pinpoint specific math skills and practice selectively.

Features include:

  • 2 modes of play
  • 17 vital math skills covered
  • 30 levels of difficulty
  • Recall of highest level and ability to reset play
  • Gradual increase in difficulty level

Quality

MathLab for Grade 1 is a high-quality app that is easy to use and engaging. All features of the app work well. It is also helpful that developers included a “reset” system so players can begin again or new players can start from the beginning. However, to make this app truly useful in the classroom, developers may want to consider incorporating individual “accounts” to keep records for multiple players. As it stands, the app will remember the last level played and can be reset to begin again, but this prevents multiple students from progressing beyond what they can do in a single session. Also, there is a misspelling in the English version on the home page: the Laboratory Section is labeled “Laborytory.”

Education

This app is well-designed to improve students’ understanding of a large array of key math skills, including rote and skip counting, number identification, sequencing, addition, subtraction, and even beginning algebraic thinking and telling time. The two modes offer both an entertaining journey through mixed practice and also a method to focus practice on specific skills if needed. The app is available in four languages, and so will be useful to children from a wide array of backgrounds.

The Expedition mode shows a thirty-step path on a map and offers different math activities at each stop along the way. The exercises are randomly generated, so students will not know what to expect each time a new one is presented. They gradually become more difficult as the journey unfolds, which will keep young learners on their proverbial toes.

The Laboratory mode shows all seventeen skill categories, labeled by icons. Some are relatively clear in meaning, such as a clock with hands but no numbers, while others are a bit more cryptic, such as a plus sign next to an equals sign. It is also doubtful that children in the target age group would recognize the italicized “x” as representing a variable and indicating algebraic practice activities. It would be helpful, especially to parents and educators, to have written labels or a key available somewhere. The Laboratory exercises begin very simply with each skill and get progressively more challenging. When a player has accessed a Laboratory activity, a number appears beneath the icon to show how many exercises were completed correctly of the 20 or so offered. The app ends the Laboratory exercise when an error is made.

Entertainment

MathLab for Grade 1 will be fun for the target age group (preschool through grade 1). The Expedition mode randomizes the skills presented so that players have to think flexibly to achieve success. Correct responses are rewarded with cheers and applause and move the exercises forward. Incorrect responses trigger a slight shake of the graphics and a mild “negative” sound, and players get to choose another answer. In the Laboratory mode, correct responses move the system forward, through up to 20 exercises for the skill. The players hear applause and cheering when they enter a correct response. If an incorrect response is entered, the system stops the exercises and displays the current score. If it is the best on the activity, then the word “Best” appears on the screen. Between activities of either mode, when the decision screen is displayed, the app plays a version of “Eensy Weensy Spider” that could get just a little tiresome if heard enough times. Developers could improve this aspect of the app by offering a better array of correct response rewards and including an optional timer so players could compete with themselves for best times as well as best scores.

Value

This app is a good value for families or classrooms with children who need to practice foundational math skills. It covers a wide range of skills, including counting, number order, sequencing, beginning addition and subtraction, early algebraic skills, and more. The format is engaging and allows for mixed or skill-focused practice. The game might not have the staying power of other apps, however, because it can get a bit repetitious.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. There are no connections to the internet, social media or email. The app is easy to use and very intuitive.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

screen520x924

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

When it comes to being creative, most kids don’t need any help. So rather than helping kids express themselves creatively, Lazoo Art Box seeks to broaden their creative horizons. Through its imaginative prompts and different drawing modes, kids can create fun pieces of art, many of which actually come to life when they’re finished drawing.

Features include:

  • Five different creative modes
  • A palette full of drawing tools
  • Fun animated drawings
  • Engaging sound effects and background music

Quality

Kids will find it very easy to get started. Whenever they open a new area of the game, they’re shown a short tutorial on what to do. They are then given a prompt that is read aloud and highlighted as it is read, so they know exactly what to do. Once they draw, the play button really animates what the kids draw. It doesn’t worry so much about kids staying in the lines, but instead rewards any effort with something fun. The only downside is there doesn’t appear to be a way to save all of the fun drawings kids create.

Education

While this app does not focus on any academic skills, it encourages kids to think creatively. Many of the modes contain prompts for kids to respond to. For example, they must decide what is coming out of the elephants trunk or draw squiggles on lollipops. These kinds of activities help kids learn to think outside of the box and help them later on when it comes to writing stories or completing other creative tasks. The app also includes written and verbal instructions and includes text highlighting to help kids learn a few words as they play.

Entertainment

Kids will have a lot of fun completing the prompts in funny ways. For example, they may give people crazy purple hair or help rockets blast off with zany squiggles. They can create animated drawings in three main modes: squiggle, color, and draw. Kids who want a little more creative freedom can also simply draw on a blank page or take a photograph and draw on top of it.

Value

Even though the prompts stay the same, every time the kids open the app, their experience will be a little bit different. The different modes of play, along with the extensive palette of colors, tools, stickers, and other art supplies will give kids endless opportunities to create new works of art.

Child Friendliness

All of the imaginative prompts are kid-friendly and geared towards the preschool and kindergarten ages. One mode does give kids access to the device’s camera, but it does not save the photos children take. A protected parent area provides a bit of background for the app and links to social media. Kids will also see a protected More Apps icon at the top right-hand corner of the main screen.

  • Protected parent area
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES more apps (protected, but visible)

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Twist and Count-Pinball Math is a simple and easy-to-use app to help young children practice addition and counting skills. Players twist the iPad to guide colorful ball-like characters to the correct answer in this no-fail game.

Features include:

  • No possible way to get wrong answers – great confidence builder!
  • No complex control gestures- just twisting the device
  • Simple design is perfect for the very young or children with disabilities
  • Cute characters to engage and maintain interest
  • Delightful soundtrack to hold attention

Quality

Twist and Count- Pinball Math is a high-quality app that will delight young users. The app works well on phone or tablet, and is very easy to use. The twisting motion required to make the characters bounce into the correct number bin is easy to master, and the game’s no-fail design ensures that children will always get the correct answer.

Education

This app is a wonderful introduction to simple addition sums to nine. Developers have taken the old adage that “simple is often best” to heart and have created an amusing game that will delight and entertain children while helping them internalize some very important math concepts. Game play truly is simple: Users are presented with a math sum when they begin the game. For each addend, corresponding numbers of character-balls bounce onto the screen and line up. When the device is twisted, the balls begin a pinball-like journey down the screen to one of three number bins. The correct answer to the sum is always one of the choices. Twisting the device can help guide the balls around obstacles and into the correct bin, or if the user finds it amusing, can try to deflect the balls and keep them away from the correct bin. It will prove to be an impossible task! The game is designed so that even when balls fall onto an incorrect answer, they zing outward with renewed vigor and eventually make their way to the correct response. After all have landed, the numeral representing the correct answer appears and the balls line up obediently for counting off, should the player wish to do so.

The no-fail design ensures that kids, no matter how they play, will always arrive at the correct answer to the sum. There is also always an opportunity to count the balls both before and after answering the problem. The only suggestion I could think of to enhance the app would be to have an optional system where the problem, counting off, and answer would be verbalized after the correct answer is revealed. But it is really fun as it is, and the simplicity is a real asset, particularly with its target audience of young or disabled users.

Entertainment

Developers hit the nail on the head for entertaining young players with this app. The “balls” are really roly-poly characters with googly-eyes that will appeal to nearly all children. They bounce and roll around the screen with varying speeds, and are accompanied by some very entertaining sound effects. It’s fun to twist the device and to try to guide the ball-characters into the correct number bin, and it’s even more fun to try to keep them from landing where they are supposed to be. Either way, children will still need to predict (or add) to find out which number represents the correct answer, so the goal of the app is met no matter how children decide to play.

Value

This app is a good value for young users. It will help most children gain a more firm foundation with basic addition and counting. Since it only goes up to sums of nine, though, some youngsters may quickly outgrow it. It also may become a bit tiresome for long-term play value, since the novelty of the characters, the movements and the sound effects could wear off. It would be nice if the app had a way to “grow” with the child a bit farther.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. It perhaps could benefit from a parents’ section, however, that could house options about the sound effects and perhaps give suggestions about how to get the most educational value from the game.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Season of Tree is a cute app that allows children to explore forest animals using three unique activities and games. With music, pattern play, matching, math and so much more, this app offers lots of great ways for children to learn, explore, and have a ton of fun.

Features include:

  • 3 Activities
  • Matching
  • Music
  • Math

Quality

The artwork used in this app is very well done. With lots of bright colors, fun illustrations, and engaging sound effects, this app is great for children of all ages. The set up is quite intuitive and doesn’t require a ton of direction to get started. With that said there are areas where children can get a bit of help if they get stuck with a particular activity or are confused about what to do to move forward. Overall this is a high quality app for kids.

Education

With each new activity comes a new way for children to learn and there are lots of fun educational activities throughout. This app helps children use their problem solving and memory skills to replicate musical patterns, match specific animals, and add a certain number of food items to a plate. There is another activity that teaches children about the changes that trees go through with each season. This app does a great job of using a hands-on approach for learning which is great for children who are more visual learners.

Entertainment

With three different activities and smaller games within each section, this app offers lots of entertainment for young children. The Road To Courage activity is especially exciting as children are able to see the forest through the eyes of another animal that allows them to explore in a new way which is great. They even get to fight a scary snake toward the end of the activity which is pretty exciting. With that said, all of the activities include lots of fun with interactive images and music to keep children engaged.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars, this app is a great deal. With three interactive activities and lots of music, sound effects, and fun animals to explore, this app is one that young children will come back to time and again. It’s a great learning tool for kids and one that won’t break the bank.

Child Friendliness

With the hands on approach to learning that is really the centerpiece to this app, the app is great for children. The developers have also added various hints and buttons throughout the app to help children if they get stuck, which is great. With the great images, fun games, and educational activities, this app is a great for young children.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)