4.5 stars – excellent apps

thisismyfood
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
This is my Food is a fantastic educational app that teaches children all they need to know about nutrition and eating healthy. Educational, engaging, and perfect for home or the classroom!
4.7

App Info

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

Overview

This is my Food is a great nutrition app for kids that teaches the importance of eating a well-balanced diet. This app covers everything, including various food groups, how certain foods grow, and provides a great option for children to keep track of their own favorite foods. With lots of great information about food, ways of eating, and how we process foods, this app is a fantastic educational tool for kids.
Features include:

  • Nutritional facts
  • Grow a garden
  • Easy to use

Quality

This is my Food is a great app with awesome illustrations, narration, and sound effects that keep children engaged as they learn all there is to know about nutrition and healthy eating. With a simple to use interface that appeals to the curious nature of little ones, this app allows children to explore various areas of the app in their own time. By simply tapping and touching buttons throughout each section, little ones will have no trouble moving through the amazing information that is included within. Very well done!

Education

The developers have done a magnificent job including lots of great information for children to learn. From the very beginning of the app players get to select a character and learn a bit about what is on their plate. By tapping the foods on the plate players will learn fun facts about meats, veggies, fruits, water and so much more. As they continue to move through the app they will also learn about how certain foods grow, how different people eat (vegetarian and vegan), as well as build their own sandwich with their favorite foods.

Kids are going to love this app, but parents and teachers may love it even more as it can be used as a great learning tool in the classroom and at home. The “My Top 5″ section in particular is a great way to introduce children to new foods and to track what they like and don’t like. The “Nutrition” section also includes lots of great information about various food groups, energy sources, and how we process foods as we eat. Overall this app is fantastic in terms of the educational information it includes.

Entertainment

While there aren’t any specific games within this app there are lots of great activities that encourage engagement that children will enjoy. With narration throughout, lots of great areas to explore and an activity that allows children to grow and document their own garden, this app is quite engaging. The other activities that allow players to build their favorite sandwich or track their favorite foods and the free play environment really helps children stay interested as they learn. In fact, the overall set up is done in such a way that children may not even realize they are learning as they ‘play’.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app is a great deal. With so much educational information and the easy to use set-up, children are going to get a ton of value out of this app. Great for the classroom or at home this app is certainly a must-have that won’t break the bank.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job creating an app that is both easy to use and safe too. With simple tap and touch functioning throughout, children can feel free to explore the various areas of the app without any instruction at all. Parents can rest assured knowing that the app is easy and safe to use even for young children.

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

Makesto
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Makesto takes story creation to a whole new level with the freedom for children to craft, illustrate, narrate and produce their very own stories. Fun for children of all ages!
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

Makesto is an incredibly creative story building app that allows children to be the author, illustrator, and producer of their own creations. With loads of features including pictures, drawing, voice record, and the ability to share their creations with others, this app offers loads of creative freedom for children of all ages.
Features include:

  • Voice record
  • Drawing/coloring
  • Story creation

Quality

Makesto is no doubt a great app for natural story tellers as it allows children to write, color, create, and narrate their very own stories. With loads of extras to add to the overall feel of their story, this app offers a great deal of freedom for children to explore their creativity. The user interface is pretty simple to use, however there are lots of bells and whistles that may take some time to explore before children can really get a hang for how to best use the app. Adding a little ‘how to’ video to get children acclimated to the tools available to them would really be helpful.

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

There is no limit to what children can do with this app and those with wild imaginations who love telling their own stories are absolutely going to love what Makesto has to offer. The basic premise of the app is to allow children to craft, illustrate and narrate their very own stories. They can draw in the illustrations, choose from a gallery of images or create their own while telling the story and adding sound effects with the voice record option. There are also added effects that can be used to enhance the interest and engagement in the illustrations to help tell the story and an option to allow the story to play more like a movie which is a lot of fun.

After the story is complete, players can then save, publish or share their story (with a parent’s help). Children can also view other stories that are made public by other users and rate their favorites. Overall children are going to love this app as they explore the various features to create, illustrate, and narrate their very own highly imaginative stories.

Value

It’s hard to believe a creative app like this one with so many options and features could be offered for free, but it is! Parents will appreciate Makesto not only for the price tag, but also for the unlimited play time that children can get out of it.

Child Friendliness

Overall the developers have done a nice job creating an app that is safe and fairly easy for children to use. With a bit of exploration and playing with the different options, children will get the hang of the added features and begin creating their own awesome stories in no time. Adding a brief ‘how to’ video would be helpful for younger users just getting started and would help to make this app a bit more user friendly.

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

jazzyworldtour
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Jazzy World Tour is an excellent educational app with lots of great information and fun activities for children to enjoy. Particularly great for music lovers!
4.5

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 4
Download on the App Store

Overview

Jazzy World Tour is a fabulous educational app that is full of awesome information about various countries around the world. Everything from music, instruments, foods, and other fun facts are included in this app with three ways to play. Players can learn fun facts, play and interact with various instruments or create and share their own scenes. Overall this app is a fun and engaging way to learn about other places and cultures in the world.
Features include:

  • 3 Ways to play
  • Music
  • 10 Countries to explore

Quality

Jazzy World Tour is a creative app that teaches children fun facts about various countries around the world using lots of great graphics and sound effects. The images and illustrations used within this app are very well done and are highly engaging and entertaining for children of all ages. The narration and sound effects in the app also help to create a very engaging and educational experience. Overall the developers have done an excellent job creating a highly engaging and easy to use app for kids.

Education

With 10 countries to explore, children are exposed to lots of fun facts about the various countries, animals, instruments, foods and so much more! Each ‘learn’ section comes with various pictures that when tapped opens a window with a description and picture of the item while the narrator reads the information aloud. While the information is being narrated, it would be nice to include text highlighting to allow early readers to follow along and practice their reading skills. With that said, Jazzy World Tour still offers lots of great information for children to learn about places like the U.S., Japan, Australia etc.

Entertainment

In addition to learning loads of fun facts about various places around the world, players also have the opportunity to interact and play a bit with the musical instruments and images using the ‘play’ option. There is also a ‘create’ section that allows children to put together their own scenes and pictures that can be saved and shared through a protected button. Overall this app has a nice balance of both educational and entertainment features.

Value

Priced at just under five dollars this app might be a bit more than some parents typically pay for an app like this, but the educational value alone is fabulous. With so much to learn and the additional entertainment elements of the app to keep children coming back for more, this app is definitely one that is worth the extra money.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job making this app easy to use and safe for kids of all ages. With simple tap and touch functioning even young users don’t need a ton of assistance as they move through the app because of the intuitive interface.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchases
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)

image (2)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Robot School gives kids a chance to rescue a stranded robot while learning basic computer programming skills and developing a better understanding of how computers work. Along the way, they will build logic skills, observation skills, attention to detail, and other important life skills.
4.6

App Info

Price: $3.99
AppStore User Rating: 1

Download on the App Store

Overview

Robot School: Programming for Kids teaches the steps to creating simple computer programs using icons that control a robot. Players are given progressively more difficult challenges and more sophisticated tools to solve them, and are guided into developing sequences of code to accomplish each mission.

Features include:

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop interface
  • 45 levels
  • Teaches programming logic
  • Codes displayed in Swift programming language
  • New tools unlocked as levels are completed

Quality

Robot School is a well-designed app.  The controls are very intuitive, and developers have included a hints section for many levels.  The robot predictably follows the code input by the player, no matter where it leads.  Users make the programs by dragging and dropping cards with commands into the proper places in the sequence, then test their effort by running the program to see if the robot finishes the required task.

However, I had no success with the Sharing feature.  The app claims that programs can be shared via Facebook, but I could not find the mechanism to connect my account, and when I clicked the sharing button, I was consistently dropped out of the app and had to restart it.

Education

Robot School will help children understand the basics of programming code and logic.  Each level is a simple step to add a skill or concept to the player’s repertoire, and players quickly learn to combine skills and apply them to new situations.  Run the code to see how successful the robot will be at finishing the required task.  If the task is completed, the game moves to the next level.  If not, players can modify their code or check hints to see where they are going wrong.

The program teaches many of the basics of coding that are common across the various languages, including loops, conditional statements, and more.  The working format is a visual, drag-and-drop system that allows players to sequence command cards to create the code.  After placing all the cards in sequence, players push a start button to see what happens.  If the code is correct, the robot performs the task, then the code is displayed in written format using the Swift language. This is Apple’s programming language, and is based on several versions of C. However, the translation to Swift is displayed in a very subdued fashion, and most young players are likely to overlook it.  It would be more educationally sound to display the code before running the robot, and to emphasize the translation between the cards and the code more.  As it stands, many children are not likely to see the connection between what they are creating and computer code that makes apps and programs work.

Teaching coding to young children has a number of advantages, even for students who have no intention of working in IT.  At its heart, computer programming is problem-solving within a given set of rules, and this skill is important no matter where life takes you.  Coding develops logic skills, attention to detail, and many other life skills, as well.

Entertainment

Robot School is lots of fun to use.  R-obbie the Robot is cute as robots go, and the sound effects that accompany his movements and actions are lots of fun.  He has a back story that will intrigue most kids, but this is not very clearly emphasized and really only available in the description of the app on the App Store.  You might want to read through it so you can share it with the kids.  The way that developers laid out the levels also adds to this app’s entertainment value.  New “skills” (programming steps) get added every few levels, so it’s like R-obbie is getting additional powers just often enough to intrigue young users and with just enough practice time between presentations that all of the skills get mastered before users move on.

Value

Robot School rings in at $3.99 in the App Store, and will provide your child with hours of productive puzzle-solving and programming practice.  It’s very easy to get lost in this app, striving to solve “just one more” level before putting it away.  The app also will keep track of multiple users’ progress, so it’s perfect for classrooms or family use-everyone can have their own profile.  Nice job, developers!

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly.  Every link I checked had a parent gate on it and a message that children must check with parents before going to outside sites.  This is wonderful, but it might be even safer to hide these options in the parents’ section or the settings so that young fingers don’t stumble onto them by accident.  Also, the parent gate involves a multiple choice multiplication problem.  Determined kids would have a one in four chance of guessing correctly if they were trying to get into unapproved territory.  A better solution would be to require adults to actually input the correct answer instead of simply choosing it.

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

image
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Cato’s Hike is an entertaining and engaging app that will teach players concepts about creating computer programs. It encourages problem-solving, logic, attention to details, and many more vital skills that will be needed by adults no matter what career they may choose.
4.7

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 4

Download on the App Store

Overview

Cato’s Hike: A Programming and Logic Odyssey uses a popular and familiar gaming format to teach programming language, logic and techniques to children and adults alike.  Users are challenged with progressively more difficult tasks to move forward in the game, and along the way, learn about how computer programs are designed.

Features include:

  • 60 levels and 12 tutorials
  • Colorful and nicely-designed “cards” to use in programming
  • Capability to email solutions to friends
  • Capability to create unique puzzles and maps
  • Well-designed visual manual for adults or mentors

Quality

Cato’s Hike is a very high quality app.  Developers created an intuitive interface that allows even very young children to learn about designing computer programs.  The symbols are very visually intriguing and the map of each level is clear with puzzles or challenges that can be solved by creating a simple computer program that will guide the main character through the maze or in completing the required task.  The app is simple to use, and the tutorial provided by developers will guide even adults who understand nothing about programming, giving them the tools to help the kids when needed.

Education

From the earliest days of personal computers, educators have recognized the power of teaching children to write computer code.  Computer programs are, at their heart, a series of logical steps that the computer must take to solve a problem or perform a particular task.  The lines of code must rigorously adhere to strict rules and “grammar,” and the logic of the steps must be impeccable.  Even for children who are not planning a career in computer sciences, learning a bit about coding has a lot of value.  Kids learn to work within a set of rules, to solve complex problems using small, discrete steps, and to experiment, redesign, and experiment again.

Cato’s Hike is a computer coding instruction tool dressed like a puzzle or maze game.  Each successive task teaches a new concept about programming in such a painless way that children will hardly know they are learning.  You don’t need to tell them until later!  They’ll learn about code concepts such as looping, goto, branching and more as they help the main character move through mazes and complete tasks to move to the next level of play.  Best of all, there are no penalties for making mistakes.  Kids can try and fail and try again to solve each successively more difficult puzzle, and along the way they will be practicing important life skills such as observation, analyzing complex problems, creating step-by-step soluctions, and more.

App developers have also incorporated the ability to create new maps and puzzles that can be shared with friends via email.  In this way, kids can make fun activities for their peers, or parents and teachers can add more practice or functionality to the app if a player happens to be struggling with a given concept.

Entertainment

Any child (or adult) who enjoys mental gymnastics and puzzles will love Cato’s Hike.  The app is masquerading as a puzzle, with levels, challenges, mazes and more.  It looks and acts like many common video games, so the environment will be familiar to most players.  The developers’ choice to set it up in levels was genius.  It’s so much more fun to beat levels than it is to complete lessons, yet that is exactly what each level accomplishes.

Value

Cato’s Hike may seem a bit on the pricy side with its $4.99 pricetag, but it is well worth the investment.  Everyone should have a basic understanding of how computer code works, and this app will provide that in an entertaining and engaging way.  And if players stick with it, they will learn the basics of writing their own code, which just may ignite interest in a future career choice.

Child Friendliness

Cato’s Hike is not quite as child-friendly as it might be for younger users.  The app has the capability to email solutions to friends, and to share them with the larger community on the developers’ website.  There are also unprotected links to send feedback or to rate the app.  It would be nice if adult users could restrict access to these features, but as it stands, they will simply need to keep a close eye on younger players.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES Ratings link (unprotected)
  • YES Feedback link (unprotected)
  • YES Access to Email (unprotected)

image (3)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Shape Gurus is a delightful romp through shapes and colors that toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy again and again while they learn to recognize green circles, red squares and purple triangles.
4.8

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Shape Gurus is an engaging and interactive set of shape and color puzzles designed for toddlers and preschoolers.  Each game encourages children to sort, match and classify while they interact with the artwork.

Features include:

  • 27 puzzles
  • 4 shapes and 9 colors
  • Size matching
  • Intuitive interface
  • 12 languages

Quality

This high-quality app will engage young children in valuable and productive problem-solving and thinking skills practice.  The artwork is brightly-colored and done in a shape-composite style that highlights how everyday objects are made of simpler shapes placed just so.  The audio identification of the shapes and colors is clear and crisp. It is also possible to place shapes quickly enough for the sound files to overlap, making them very difficult to understand.

Education

This simple app will give young children a thorough workout with basic shapes, colors and even sizes.  Each of the increasingly difficult puzzles requires children to match, sort, or classify the shapes and drag them to the correct spot on the screen to complete the picture.  A few puzzles even require players to recognize inner and outer shapes and use visual closure to complete shapes.

Educators know that learning to name, match and classify items such as these is important, but they also understand that puzzles like the ones in Shape Gurus build foundational thinking skills as well.  Learning to recognize and name squares and triangles, and to notice when one is blue and the other is orange are great skills, but the more challenging thinking skills, such as figuring out which of the differently-sized similar shapes will fit into the target area and understanding that the small blue square fits into the empty spot in the larger blue square are as valuable if not more so.

Entertainment

Shape Gurus is an engaging app for the audience.  Each page shows brightly-colored objects made with basic shapes, such as flowers built from triangular petals and circular centers. The pages lead nicely one into the other, such as the first circle that turns out to be an egg that hatches a bird that flies to a nest, and so on.  The content ranges from the bird nest down to the ground and beneath it to find an ant community, some dinosaur bones, and even a mole having a somewhat private moment in his bathroom!  Flowers grow, hot air balloons take off, and rockets jet to other planets, and each scene leads nicely into the next.

Value

Shape Gurus is likely to achieve “favorite app” status with your young users, so it’s a great value at $1.99.  Kids will play again and again and will enjoy predicting the next scene as they complete each puzzle.  And the game doesn’t “end,” but simply circles around to start the puzzles over again when the planet in outer space turns into the egg at the beginning of the sequence.  Best of all, the play is very productive and will help them master skills important for later academic and life-long success.

Child Friendliness

Shape Gurus is child friendly.  Determined children could access the language selection and mechanism to reset the app, but all links and other adult utilities are safely tucked away behind an effective parent gate that requires reading ability.

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

Screen-Shot-2015-08-06-at-11.34.03-AM
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Teachley: Subtractimals is a fabulous tool with two teaching methods to help children learn and practice their subtraction tables in a game-like environment. Perfect for use in the classroom or at home.
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Teachley: Subtractimals is a fun math app that helps children learn and practice their subtraction tables with interesting activities. Unlike many other memory based tactics, this app teaches children two methods of learning subtraction in addition to using their memory. With fun colors, sound effects, and a game-like set up, this is one educational app kids will love.

Features include:

  • Classroom profile option
  • 2 Subtraction learning tools
  • Fun game-like set up

Quality

At first glance Teachley: Subtractimals looks more like a gaming app than an educational app. The developers have done a great job making the app visually appealing with bright colors and fun illustrations. The sound effects and the easy to use game-like set up are also great as they help children stay engaged as they learn and play.

Education

There is no doubt this app is a fun and effective way to help children practice their subtraction skills. While many methods focus on memorization, Teachley: Subtractimals offers two other methods to teach players how to work through their subtraction problems visually with ease. By using the “count back” method, children are shown how to count back to come up with the answer while the “count on” method shows children how to start with the lower number and count up to the higher number for the answer. Both methods are effective and easy to use especially with the visual illustration with each math problem.

What I love about this app aside from the additional learning methods included, is how the problems are random and set up in a way for children to get lots of practice as they progress through the app. Parents and teachers also have the option of setting up an account to manage profiles and track player progress which is a great way to determine when children may need extra practice.

Entertainment

Teachley: Subtractimals is anything but boring as the developers have done a great job making this app more of a game than just an educational app. As children solve various problems, they are awarded with a number of squares that will slowly reveal a picture in the end. There is also a challenge portion of the app where children must quickly answer problems to test their knowledge in a more challenging timed environment.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app is priced well for what it includes. With the ability to set up multiple profiles to be used in the classroom or at home, this app is great buy for parents and teachers.

Child Friendliness

Teachley: Subtractimals is designed to help children learn their subtraction tables in a fun, easy to use environment and it does just that. With two additional learning methods (aside from memorization) and the hint option included in the timed challenge, this app provides lots of great practice for children as they practice and improve their math skills.

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

image (1)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Social Stories Creator and Library for Preschool, Autism and Special Needs is a great tool for designing your own social stories for learners of any age group, ability level, or condition.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 3

Download on the App Store

Overview

Social Stories Creator and Library for Preschool, Autism and Special Needs offers one free story and numerous others that can be purchased to help children learn to navigate social hurdles. Adults can easily create personalized stories to share, as well.

Features include:

  • Easily create individualized, personalized stories
  • Incorporate text, video and audio recordings on each page
  • Use the system to create calendars, instructions, and more
  • Use app offline if desired
  • Share stories with other users

Quality

This quality app offers lots of features to help you create your own social stories for use with students, including recording features and the ability to incorporate photos and text onto each page.  It is easy to use and intuitive.  There are also over 20 pre-made stories available for purchase individually or as a bundle, as well as one free story about caring for an electronic device. One concern is that the app does not seem as responsive as it might be.  It is sometimes difficult to get screens to change, and one screen in the “Settings” section does not seem to scroll at all, though there is obviously content below the fold.

Education

Social stories are tools designed to help individuals with intellectual, communication, or emotional disabilities better understand the complexities of interactions with others and with their environment.  The theory is that if students can see how others handle similar situations, they can model this behavior and apply it in their own lives.  The stories essentially provide a “role-playing” experience that can really help some learners better interact with their world.  This app offers a free story and the capability to create your own social stories customized for your learner.  Paid upgrades allow users to access more ready-made content, save more than two stories, print stories, and more.

The story-creation section is very easy to use and would be very helpful to anyone wishing to create content such as this.  The on-screen prompts are very clear, and it is easy to upload your content (pictures, videos, audio files and so forth).  There aren’t any tools to help you plan out your story, and that would be a nice addition.

There is one free ready-made story in Social Stories Creator and Library.  It is about taking care of an electronic device, which is an excellent choice of topics for the intended population.  The graphics in the story are inclusive-the main character is colorful and relatively non-descript, and the other illustrations are clear and concrete.  The language, however, is relatively complex for many of the students who may be using this app.  The author uses a number of complex sentences.  For example, one page says, “I really like using my device, so I need to make sure that I take good care of it.”  This type of construction may make the language inaccessible for students with language or processing issues, for those with autism, or those with cognitive impairments.

Entertainment

Most students will find this app to be enjoyable to use.  While it’s not really intended to provide recreational reading, the characters are personable and friendly-looking.  Homemade stories will have the added bonus of being recorded in a familiar voice and of showing familiar people and places in the pages.

Value

The basic app is free, and it will help users decide if it is worth the investment.  Free users will be able to create and save two of their own stories, and they will be able to view the free story as well as preview the paid content to decide which stories will be most helpful to them.  There are several options for purchasing the premium content, ranging from buying individual stories for between ninety-nine cents and two-ninety-nine.  Users can also choose to purchase the entire set of stories for $19.99.  It is possible to upgrade the the app to one of two levels.  The Full upgrade increases the number of stories that can be saved from 2 to 6 for $6.99.  The Pro upgrade removes the limit to the number of saved stories and unlocks the ability to print for $9.99. The Pro upgrade can be combined with access to all stories for $24.99.

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly.  There is a protected parents’ area that has access to the in-app purchases, contact email and ratings section, but the protection is a relatively simple addition problem, which some young users will find ways to circumvent.

  • Protected parent area (contains extra links, IAP, and email)
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase (in protected area)
  • YES email access (in protected area)

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Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Nighty Night Construction Trucks is a cute storybook app that allows readers to follow along with various construction trucks and their night time routine. Perfect for truck lovers of all ages.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

Nighty Night Construction Trucks is a cute storybook app that is perfect for bedtime. With a rhyming storyline, text highlighting, and fun interactive illustrations, little readers are going to love this fun story about putting the construction trucks to bed as they too put themselves to bed.

Features include:

  • Narration options Read to me/Read to myself
  • Text highlighting
  • Matching game

Quality

The developers have done a nice job overall with the simple illustrations, sound effects, and easy to use interface which all make Nighty Night Construction Trucks easy to use for children of all ages. With narration options, arrows at the bottom of each page, and indicators that notify readers when there is a interactive image to explore, this app is very intuitive. Children are going to especially love the real life sound effects of rocks falling and trucks tooting along as they finish their work for the night.

Education

It’s always nice when developers include text highlighting and narration options in storybook apps so children of all ages can enjoy the story. This app includes both read to me and read to myself options that allow children to follow along and learn new words while they work on their reading skills. There are also additional words that are highlighted so children can tap them and hear the narrator read them aloud. This function also helps children add new words to their vocabulary which is great.

Entertainment

Not only is Nighty Night Construction Trucks a cute story, but it also includes a brief in app activity and a memory match game at the end of the story. It’s always great for children to have additional activities aside from just the story to help keep them engaged and interested in using the app over and over again. Overall the developers have done a nice job of creating an app that is quite entertaining and highly engaging.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, Nighty Night Construction Trucks is priced pretty well compared to other similar storybook apps. With a cute story, an easy to use interface, and additional activities for children to enjoy, parents will find good value in this app overall.

Child Friendliness

With narration options, text highlighting and an easy to use interface, the developers have done an excellent job of making this app easy to use for children of all ages. In addition to the usability, they have also made sure to make the app very safe too which is always greatly appreciated by parents.

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

image (14)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Duolingo offers a positive and comprehensive language learning experience that most middle school, high school, and adult students will find engaging and fun. It features short, effective lessons and practice, motivational rewards, and a built-in goal-setting feature.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Duolingo offers short and sweet practice sessions with a choice of 13 languages. The app provides several styles of interaction with bite-sized lessons and offers rewards for consistent practice, as well as many other features that encourage learning.

Features include:

  • Short, manageable lesson blocks
  • Pretest out of basic skills for students with some skill
  • Option to slow audio prompts for translation
  • Visual and auditory interactions
  • Read, listen, translate, speak, write

Quality

Duolingo is a high-quality app that will engage learners and keep them coming back for more.  The developers included an array of activities, built in a rewards system, and challenge users in a gentle way at every turn.  The narration is clear, and developers even included an option to slow the speaker so that single words are enunciated clearly to help beginners.  The illustrations used to help students learn the meanings of words are high-quality and very clear.  Each language includes dozens of separate lessons and a wealth of vocabulary words.

Education

The makers of Duolingo demonstrate a good understanding of how students learn foreign languages.  They have incorporated many styles of interaction that will help learners master not only vocabulary, but also grammar, inflection, and conjugation.  The app provides opportunity to translate between languages, to take dictation, and even to speak and have your efforts evaluated for accuracy.  Where possible, words are introduced using pictures and a narration.  The first words are presented in groups that allow sentence building, so learners are working with grammar and spelling right off the bat, rather than tedious vocabulary memorization.

Duolingo’s lessons are short and sweet.  The app prompts users to set goals for daily practice and will send optional reminder notifications.  Choose to work at one of four paces (ranging from casual at five minutes daily to insane at twenty minutes daily), then gather up perks and rewards for consistency.

Activities include choosing words that have the given meaning, listening to phrases or sentences in the new language and typing a translation or typing what was said, matching vocabulary from English and the other language, and listening or seeing a sentence in English and typing or saying a translated version.

Entertainment

Developers of this app have taken a subject that could be dry and boring (learning endless vocabulary, spelling and grammar rules), and made it engaging and fun.  Duolingo pulls many strategies for motivation together to keep students interested.  Setting goals is a great beginning, and sending notifications to the device to remind students to practice will help most people make time, as well.  As lessons are completed, students gain experience points, try for personal best records, and earn “Lingots” that can be used to purchase perks from the app’s “store.” These include the capability to take a day off without affecting standings, change the clothing on the animated mascot, and even “gamble” a little bit on the ability to maintain consistent effort.  The app also accesses the Game Center where players can compete with and challenge one another.

Value

Duolingo is a free app, and an outstanding tool to learn the beginnings of a new language.  It offers thirteen different languages to explore and dozens and dozens of bite-sized lessons.  The app will provide a great way to practice concepts learned in high school or college classes or lessons for recreational learning.  It’s a great value for high school or adult students.

Child Friendliness

Duolingo is best for users over the age of thirteen.  The app contains unrestricted access to social media and the Game Center.  There are links to the developers’ web site (where additional activities are located) and to email.  The app registers students onto the website and requests an email address to register.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES external links (unprotected)
  • YES links to social media (unprotected)
  • YES website registration required

image (16)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Khan Academy’s app provides a comprehensive library of topics and skills that support Common Core goals. It includes a wealth of information particularly on middle school and high school classes, as well as useful topics for college students and adults.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 3.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Khan Academy’s app opens the door to the Khan Academy library of instructional videos and practice activities for thousands of skills from early childhood through collegiate level.  The activities are organized by grade and subject matter, and the search function will pull up specific skills based on keywords you type in.

Features include:

  • Dozens of subjects and topics
  • Thousands of interactive exercises
  • Instructional videos and in-depth readings
  • Progress tracking system on website
  • Built-in scratch pad for working out solutions or writing thoughts

Quality

Khan Academy’s app is just as high quality as you have probably come to expect from the online version of Khan Academy.  The app presents a searchable, well-organized list of subjects and topics, and users are free to explore them in any order.  Instructional videos, detailed readings, interactive exercises, and hints are available for the topics.  The interactive exercises and scratch pad recognize handwriting, so input is easy and intuitive.

Education

Khan Academy includes hundreds of sequential lessons ranging from early elementary math through high school and college topics, as well as test prep and more. Each topic includes some instructional material in the form of short videos and/or reading, as well as interactive exercises that will help students practice.  There are hints available for most topics and students can access the instructional information from the exercises page, as well.

Students who get the first interactive problem correct are passed to the next concept. If they make an error, they are passed to the next section after getting five items correct in a row.  The app also notes when hints or instructional information has been accessed.  All of these records are kept in the student’s account on the Khan Academy website.

The instructional videos that I checked were well-constructed, using voice over and a combination of photos, illustrations, animations and screen captures.  The narrator for each did a good job with inflections and tonal variation, so the videos are easy to listen to.  The skills have at least two different types of interactions for the activities and directions are clear and intuitive, and often demonstrated in the instructional video.

Entertainment

Though this app is not really meant to be entertaining, it is engaging and will keep students coming back for more practice.  After each correct response, a little bit of digital confetti explodes from the counter in the lower right of the screen, and when five in a row are correct, there is a slightly bigger display with a congratulatory note.  The app reminds students periodically that extra practice is the key to mastering skills, and keeps record of the time the program has been accessed and what has been accomplished, so users can see tangible results.

Value

The Khan Academy app is completely free and connects with the Khan Academy website to keep student records easily accessible.  It can be used without an account, however, but doesn’t keep records then.  This is a nice option if you want students to practice but want to preserve their anonymity.  With hundreds of topics and lessons, the app can provide appropriate practice for students at nearly any level, and would make a great remedial system as well.

Child Friendliness

Khan Academy is fairly child friendly, but does require registration and logging in to their website in order to keep records of student performance and progress. Log in can be accomplished with social media accounts or with a separate password.  Students can also access information intended for adults such as coaches, parents and tutors.  The device does need to be connected to the internet for the app to function.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES Khan Account required to keep records

image (13)
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
MyScript Calculator is a powerful scientific calculator that has the advantage of accepting hand-written input on the device’s screen. It simplifies entry of complex equations and has a number of great features that increase its usefulness.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

MyScript Calculator allows users to hand-draw equations on the device’s screen, converts them to text and solves them. It includes the functionality of a scientific calculator and can balance equations with a question mark serving as a variable on one side of the equals sign.

Features include:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Undo/Redo functions
  • Scratch out and overwrite correction functions
  • Copy results to clipboard, email and other outputs
  • Includes basic math functions, trig functions, inverse trig functions and more

Quality

MyScript Calculator is a very useful, high-quality app that is sure to please math students everywhere as well as provide practical help for anyone needing to quickly enter calculations (even complex ones) on the run. The app includes nearly every mathematical operation and function that could be desired for most high school math and science classes.  Developers have done an excellent job of making the app easy to use and accurate.  Users should be aware, however, that the app isn’t quite as versatile as old-fashioned scratch paper.  For example, it gets confused if the user writes problems in vertical instead of horizontal format, as a younger student may be inclined to do.  It also can misread numbers or symbols that include extraneous lines, such as two zeros connected at the top as some do when writing a cursive “100” or a percent sign written as a loop attached to a number seven, instead of both circles being completely separate from the slash mark.  A little experimentation will help users uncover these quirks, and neat handwriting will prevent most of them.

Education

MyScript Calculator is an excellent handwriting input calculator.  It has numerous options and features that will help students get the most out of the app.  A built-in tutorial with video clips of screen shots is well-designed and answers nearly all questions.  The Settings section allows users to control the default number of decimal places in answers, the way the app handles long, repeating or non-terminating decimals (truncating or rounding), the method of reporting angle measures, and even whether the device calculates automatically or on demand.  This feature helps users have more time to write the problem out before the calculator solves it or even to have the opportunity to work on the problem mentally before seeing the answer.

It’s easy to fix mistakes on MyScript Calculator, as well.  The app allows users to cross out, scratch out, or even overwrite incorrect numerals or operation signs. This is actually much easier to manage than on traditional calculators, even on a tablet.  There’s no keyboard, and no need to erase most of the equation to fix a mistake entered early in the process.

If users want to keep track of solved equations, these can be copied to the clipboard, emailed, or shared via Dropbox or similar programs.  This makes it easy to save them for later or to allow someone else to check the work.

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

MyScript Calculator is a free app that will be incredibly useful, so it’s an outstanding value.  Scientific calculators can be a bit pricy, and this app seems to have the same functionality with the added bonus of accepting hand-written input.  The app does offer an in-app purchase for ninety-nine cents that extends the functionality of the system, allowing users to save equations in a history section, to save answers to use in future calculations, and to immediately reuse the answer to a calculation in the next one.  These features are all available on a trial basis when you first get the app and will deactivate after a specific number of uses.

Child Friendliness

MyScript Calculator should not be used by children under age 13.  It contains unprotected links to other apps from the developer, the in-app purchase of the “PowerPack,” and links to email, social media, and the developers’ website.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES links to social media (unprotected)
  • YES in-app purchase (unprotected)
  • YES links to email and other sharing platforms (unprotected)
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected)
  • YES external links (unprotected)

heroki
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Heroki is a fabulous video game-like app with gorgeous visuals, lots of challenging levels, and an adventurous story weaved throughout that children will love.
4.8

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Heroki is an incredible app that plays like a video game without the expensive gaming console that children are going to love. With incredible 3D visuals, challenging game objectives, and multiple levels to work through, this app offers over 10 hours of playing time and endless fun. Best for children ages 9 and up, this app is sure to quickly become a family favorite.

Features include:

  • Gorgeous 3D visuals
  • 4 Worlds to explore
  • Video game concept

Quality

The first thing you notice in this app are the beautifully crafted 3D illustrations and images throughout. Each world is full of vibrant colors, fairy-tale settings, and whimsical images that children are going to love! The simple background music and sound effects add to the overall experience, though there isn’t an option to narrate the dialogue between characters. Since the app is aimed at children ages 9+, there shouldn’t be a problem with reading through the instructions and dialogue as players play.

Heroki is very much like a video game and requires a bit of learning how to maneuver through the challenges and the developers have included a brief instructional section at the beginning of the app to help players. Even with the instructions, it does require some getting used to as players move through the various levels and worlds. Overall though, this app is very well done!

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

From an entertainment standpoint, Heroki is fabulous! With a variety of levels over four different worlds, players have over 10 hours of playing time to defeat unique characters and to meet various challenges. Similar to other video games there are coins to collect, prizes to collect, and secret missions to complete in order to complete the game and with that comes a ton of fun. Children who are partial to regular video games are going to love this app because it’s like a mobile version that they can take anywhere and with high scores and other markers to watch their progress versus others playing the game players can continue to play to beat their previous scores.

Value

Heroki is priced a bit higher than most other gaming apps out right now, but when you consider what you might pay for a regular video game with a console, this is a great deal. Priced at just under eight dollars, it might be more than some parents want to pay for an app, but with over 10 hours of playing time, lots of great visuals and challenges for children to enjoy it is absolutely worth the price.

Child Friendliness

After playing with the app a bit, children will have no problem learning how to maneuver through the levels with ease. It does take a bit of getting used to in terms of how to move Heroki and to control his movements, however after a few plays and moving through the brief instructional section, children will have no problem. Parents will also want to note that this app is designed for children ages 9+ and may be especially difficult for pre-readers since there are several places with dialogue and no narration including the instruction section.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchases
  • YES “external links” (unprotected, visible)

netkids
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
NetKids Digital Entertainment Network lets kids experience unlimited content from many of their favorite characters - for a small monthly fee.
4.4

App Info

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

Overview

NetKids introduces a new way for kids to enjoy apps. Through this all-inclusive app kids get access to videos, games, eBooks, and apps designed by Cupcake Digital. This content includes selections from many of their favorite characters and movies, including Wubzy, Ice Age, The Cat in the Hat, Sid the Science Kid, Madagascar, and Thomas the Tank Engine. With the ability to create parental profiles, parents can customize the content each child sees, creating an all-in-one spot to keep kids engaged during their screen time.

Features include:

  • Multiple player profiles
  • Games, eBooks, videos, and apps
  • Favorite characters
  • 7-day free trial

Quality

NetKids Digital Entertainment Network is a well-organized app chock full of high-quality content for kids. Perhaps the only flaw in the app is the fact that kids have to download all of the content they want to access before they can interact with it. While this makes sense given the massive amount of entertainment options included in the app, download speeds for some of the videos, eBooks, and apps can be a bit slow, leading kids to rack up a whole queue of items to download while they wait. Parents can limit this a bit by setting up multiple player profiles and selecting which characters they want kids to access within the app.

Education

Included among the wealth of content for kids are categories that highlight educational books, movies, and other resources. When parents create a child profile, the app highlights the content based on the child’s age, so a three-year-old will find videos and apps related to his interest and skill level, while a six-year-old will see something totally different. Even if kids aren’t picking inherently educational content to interact with, they’re still bound to learn something as they play videos and watch games. This is because many of the characters included in the app regularly incorporate educational material into their videos.

Entertainment

All of the content contained within the NetKids Digital Entertainment Network is kid-friendly and fun for kids. The app contains content related to so many of kids’ favorite characters that they’ll have no trouble finding something. Kids will also feel a sense of freedom as they interact with the content in the app. They get to decide what videos they want to watch, books they want to read, and games they want to play without having to ask a parent for permission to download them. Parents can restrict the app’s access to cellular data to be sure kids are only downloading content while connected to a wifi network.

Value

Parents and kids can access this digital entertainment network for free. The free version of the app contains a few books, videos, and simple games for kids to download. To access the rest of the content, parents must sign up for a subscription. The app offers a 7-day free trial that gives kids full access to the content and requires a modest monthly fee if parents opt not to cancel at the end of the trial. Whether the monthly fee is a good value depends on whether the app meets kids’ digital needs. Parents who want to control more of what their kids access during their screen time may find that the app is a really good value, while those who already have a wealth of apps and kids who won’t be content to just stay within one network may find that it is not enough.

Child Friendliness

Both the settings area and access to the free trial are protected by a parental lock. Parents can also customize the characters kids have access to while they interact with the app, helping the ensure their children don’t watch videos or see other content they don’t want them to see.

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

image (12)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Vaue
Child Friendly
Summary
CK-12 offers a comprehensive system of review resources and practice questions that will help students get ahead in school. The app does a thorough job of covering vital ideas in elementary math as well as middle and high school high school math and science.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

CK-12 presents practice activities and instructional videos for students to study that will improve their performance in math and science. The app covers math for grades 1-5, as well as middle and high school math and science courses.

Features include:

  • Comprehensive library of science and math topics
  • Instructional videos
  • Progress bar to encourage continued practice
  • Progress report available
  • Connections to teacher, tutor or mentor if desired

Quality

CK-12 is a high quality app that contains a LOT of content. Each subject and grade level is broken down into concepts commonly covered in the course, and each concept has a question bank and an instructional video. The app keeps records for the user, but will only work for one. Once the user name is changed once, it cannot be changed again.  It does require an active connection to the internet to work, however.  Developers should at least consider incorporating a method to reset the app if desired, and ideally, a system to keep records for multiple users.

Education

CK-12 offers a wealth of practice material that will help students study math and science concepts they are currently covering in school, those they wish to review, and those that strike their interest to preview.  Each concept has an optional reading and review video, and practice multiple choice questions. The app sets a goal of answering 10 questions correctly and keeps score in a visible window.  Questions that are answered incorrectly are re-presented later in the activity.

Many of the practice questions involve application of concepts and ideas.  This higher-level thinking is important for school success, and is well-placed in this app.  Many school tasks involve analysis and application, and questions that just call for rote memorization of information are not enough to build the skills needed for success.

At the bottom of each question screen, users can find a virtual whiteboard for calculations and a hints section.  There is also a link to “improve this question” if any issues are found, such as an incorrect response marked as correct or a misspelled word.  It’s nice to have a means to provide specific feedback.

Entertainment

This app is not really intended to be entertaining, but it has features that will help students want to keep using it.  The app displays the number of questions correct, the student’s progress through the exercise, and the amount of time spent practicing.  It even keeps track of “streaks” where the student answers multiple questions correctly in a row.

Value

This is a free app, and loaded to the gills with great practice information for students.  It would be tough to find a better value to help them review, especially in the middle and high school.  The app also would be a good source of information for students needing remedial assistance.

Child Friendliness

This app is fairly child-friendly.  It does require an active connection to the internet to work, and it does contain one unprotected link to the web, as well as a sign-in system that is tied to the device’s profile or email.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES external links (unprotected)

image (11)
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Homework List is a handy tool that will help students get organized with school assignments and stay that way with minimal effort. The fact that it is digital should be appealing to most students.
4.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4

Download on the App Store

Overview

Homework List gives middle, high school, and even collegiate students a centralized, organized method to record and monitor homework assignments and study goals.  The app will send notifications and alerts, and students can also record homework completion dates and other information.

Features include:

  • Set notifications for assignment due dates
  • Enter class details
  • Check off assignments as you finish and record completed work
  • Simple, intuitive design
  • Add priority settings for each assignment

Quality

Homework List is a high quality app that will help students stay organized as they work their way through school.  Developers have things well-organized: students enter classes on their schedule, and then can add assignments when they are given. All fields work well, and the app sends reliable notifications that students can schedule as needed. The app also allows prioritizing of assignments, and color codes them accordingly.

Education

Everyone needs a little help with organization now and then, and this app just may be the digital equivalent of the paper student planning book.  Being digital is a plus for today’s tech-oriented students, and many may be more likely to use this system than the old-fashioned one. Plus, kids are seldom without their phones or tablets, but they frequently leave their book bags and notebooks behind when they are off to more exciting pursuits. Using Homework List with reminders set just may get their attention even when they are out having fun with friends and prompt them to get that assignment finished when they get home.

Homework List includes all of the recommended tools for organization and goal setting.  Students can note assignments, due dates and important details. They can set a priority for each assignment that will color code the assignment.  They also can keep track of completed assignments, either as reassurance that they actually did them or as a way to know where to look for study materials for the big test.

Entertainment

This app is not intended for entertainment.

Value

This is a free app, and really helpful, so it’s a great value for older students. After all, how do you put a price tag on school success?  The appeal of digital tools may well make this app the tool that your student will be willing to use to keep tabs on homework, and that’s priceless.

Child Friendliness

This app should only be used by students who are over age 13.  It has unprotected links to social media, the App Store, email, ratings, and more.  It requires notifications be turned on to allow the app to send those all-important homework reminders, too.  Also, the “Settings” link is a bit disingenuous…this section contains rating tools, sharing tools, and social media connections, but nothing that has anything to do with running the app, other than a help button that reminds users to email or connect on social media to ask questions.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected social media links
  • YES unprotected email links
  • YES unprotected rating system

image (7)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child-Friendly
Summary
Middle School Vocabulary Prep offers hundreds of words with definitions and parts of speech in learning, quiz, and test modes. It will provide middle and high school students with hours of productive vocabulary practice that will improve performance in class and on standardized tests.
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Middle School Vocabulary Prep provides hundreds of words with definitions and parts of speech to study and learn, with practice quizzes and larger, randomized tests. Students can email test results and performance details to teachers or parents.

Features include:

  • Over 300 vocabulary words
  • Definitions and parts of speech included
  • Practice quizzes
  • Two formats for questions: given word to define and given definition to match to word
  • Vocabulary from grade 6 through 12+

Quality

Middle School Vocabulary Prep is a high-quality app that will accomplish the task of increasing students’ vocabulary.  The app is simple: a flashcard learning mode, two different quiz modes, and a test mode allow a range of responses and accommodate different learning styles.  The learning mode presents words randomly, giving the word, definition, and the part of speech.  One minor concern is that the standardized learning page, the format says ____ (the given word) is a _____ (part of speech) and means ______ (definition).  This is a bit troublesome because the part of speech sometimes ends up being somewhat ungrammatical, saying things like “abysmal is a adjective.”  It would be easily solved by simply rephrasing the section to read “…is a/an ____.”  It would set a better example for students and make the app look more professional.  The other, larger quality concern is that there is no way to exit the quizzes or test without finishing.  There should be a “home” or “menu” button added to each page so users can exit early if needed.

Education

This app is well-designed for high school students who want to practice vocabulary on their own.  Students can review random words, then take quizzes that give words and ask for meanings or that give meanings and ask for matching words.  The larger test option can be used to see overall progress with vocabulary in general.  Teachers and parents should be aware that the words covered in the “Learn the Vocabulary” option may or may not be included in the quizzes and tests taken immediately after practicing with the “Learn” section.  The app is definitely designed for multiple session practice.

The included vocabulary is perfect for standardized test practice.  The words presented are generally at the middle school and high school grade levels and range from common words such as mimic and illusion to the more unusual ones such as decamp, egregious, and dendroid.  The email feature would allow teachers to assign use of the app as homework and to later grade the student’s efforts because the progress emails list the words included in the test and the student’s success with them.

The app has an optional upgrade for teachers (available as an in-app purchase for $2.99) that offers the ability to assign specific words, to add individualized student records, and to adjust the size and content of the quizzes and tests.  The upgrade would make the system much more effective for classroom use.

Entertainment

This app isn’t intended to be entertaining, but it does include a few aspects that will make it more pleasant to use.  There is soft background music (classical piano) that plays or can be optionally turned off.  Many studies show that having unobtrusive music playing in the background during study sessions helps some students learn and retain information more effectively.  The screens are clear and colorful, and the app is easy to use.  Developers could increase the app’s appeal to teens by adding some sort of points or scoring system that would allow users to work to improve personal bests in a more obvious manner.  However, the “past results” section does include dates, scores, words missed and elapsed times for previous trials on the test, so this information is available, just not obvious.

Value

Middle School Vocabulary Prep is a great value.  For the $2.99 price tag, users will get a comprehensive vocabulary practice app that covers many of the words students need to be successful in upper grades and with standardized tests.  The optional teacher upgrade will enhance the app for classroom use and provide a fairly comprehensive vocabulary practice system that can be monitored and individualized for as many students as desired for just under a total of $6.00.

Child Friendliness

This app has unprotected email, an in-app purchase, links to the App Store and ratings pop-ups, and so is most appropriate for students in middle or high school.  If parents or teachers have concern about access to email or the App Store, it would be important to disable the internet connection in the device’s settings or monitor student usage carefully.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected and visible)
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)
  • YES email access to send test scores and performance results

image (10)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Middle School Science Pro 8th Grade is an engaging way to encourage students to review middle school science concepts. Two modes of play, the ability to earn banana tokens and unlock levels, and the potential to gather game enhancements will help many students stay more engaged.
4.7

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Middle School Science Pro 8th Grade offers two modes of play to answer five question quizlets at three levels on ten subjects.  Players compete for personal best scores, Game Center leaderboard placement, and to earn bananas that can be exchanged for game enhancements.

Features include:

  • Quizzes on ten topics, including periodic table, weather, astronomy and chemistry
  • Three levels of difficulty
  • Timed quiz performance
  • Achievements and tokens to earn for game enhancements
  • Good performance unlocks more difficult levels

Quality

Middle School Science Pro 8th Grade is a high quality app.  The games are responsive and incorporate both tapping and tilting the device to play.  The animations in the space game are simple, but fun, and the background photographs for the flashcard activity are vivid space pictures.  The app is intuitive and easy to use, yet engaging, especially for students who wish to be competitive for their own personal best or within the Game Center.

Education

This app offers great review for 10 common middle school science topics, including physics, geology, and biology.  Each topic is covered by three sets of five questions in increasing order of difficulty, for a total of thirty levels. Correctly answering the first level in a given topic unlocks the second, and good performance on the second level unlocks the third. Earlier levels can be replayed as desired for extra practice.  The quizzes are also timed, which can motivate students to increase their reading speed and accuracy, important for success on in-class tests and for efficient completion of homework.

Correct responses turn green and prompt the game to advance to the next question.  Incorrect responses turn red, then disappear and allow a second chance to answer.  The question is still scored as incorrect for the purposes of moving to the next level, but a banana is still awarded. A second incorrect response will cause the correct answer to be shown, then the next question will appear.

Developers did a good job of leveling the questions.  For example, the easy level for the Energy quiz has “Which is a renewable way to generate electricity?”  The middle level includes “A coiled spring has [potential energy]” and the most challenging level includes “When substances combine in an exothermic reaction, [energy is released].”  The answers in brackets are chosen from four multiple choice responses.  Each level draws from a question bank, so when levels are repeated, there is usually some difference in the questions presented.

Entertainment

Middle School Science Pro 8th Grade is not really intended to be entertaining, but developers managed to include features that will be likely to engage middle school students.  The competitive aspect of posting quiz scores and times to best and offering Game Center challenges and leaderboard will appeal to many teens.  Players also earn bananas for each correctly-answered quiz question, which can eventually be exchanged for game enhancements such as changing the monkey character for one of eight other options or changing the theme of background photos.  Extra banana tokens can also be purchased with real money in the App Store.

Value

For ninety-nine cents, your middle school student can practice and learn about a wealth of middle school science concepts.  The questions cover many basic concepts about the subjects, and so provide a good review of the ideas.  The organization by topic will allow students to use the app to help them study for chapter tests or review for semester or year end assessments.  The game can be reset to start the review and scoring process over again.

Child Friendliness

This app includes Game Center connections, an unprotected social media link, an email system, and unprotected links to the App Store, more apps, and ratings.  Parents and teachers should carefully monitor the app’s usage by middle school students due to these concerns.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected and visible)
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)
  • YES App Store and Game Center connections

image (6)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Story Chaser offers a fun way to sharpen and improve reading skills for teens and adults. Players will build their speed reading while having fun competing with themselves and with opponents and friends.
4.7

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Story Chaser is designed to build reading speed and accuracy for older students. Short passages of several sentences are presented with an illustration, and players must scan the text to tap the given target word within the short time limit.  Players earn coins and unlock additional levels to progress through the game.

Features include:

  • Short texts from famous works
  • Includes literal level comprehension questions
  • Points and coins to earn
  • Play well to unlock additional stories and levels
  • Hidden animations

Quality

Story Chaser is a high quality app.  It is responsive to taps that need to be accurate and in quick succession.  Developers included a helpful tutorial that will get students reading and tapping quickly, since the point of the game may not be intuitive.  There are options to turn sound effects and music on or off, to share scores and to compete with friends. It would be great if developers could incorporate a reset button somewhere in the settings, to allow new users to start the game again, and perhaps a record-keeping system that could accommodate multiple players on the same device.

Education

This app will be challenging even to the best of readers at the high school level.  It essentially is a speed reading app, designed to teach students how to take in phrases, sentences and even groups of sentences with a few quick visual sweeps while still absorbing the content of the text.  The text for the first sections is taken from The Count of Monte Christo, which is a sixth grade reading level but challenging due to the old-fashioned vocabulary and phrasing.  There are 30 levels available with the free version of this app, which will keep many students occupied for quite a while.

Players are required to keep an eye on a target word placed at the top of the screen and also to simultaneously scan several sentences at the bottom of the screen to find it and tap on it within a few seconds. The faster the tap, the more points are scored.  Every few screens, there is a comprehension question about the text that has been read, and some screens include hidden animations to find in their illustrations, as well.  Levels not passed are repeated, and passing levels opens new levels for play.

Story Chaser will challenge even good readers to become better, and will help average readers improve their speed.  It may be frustrating for struggling readers, however, so be sure to monitor its usage to make sure students are enjoying the experience.

Entertainment

Developers have worked hard to make this app enjoyable and engaging.  The story excerpts they’ve chosen to include are less common fare in many school curriculums, but appealing to the age group.  Players can earn coins that help open new levels and unlock new “skills.”  The app is also connected to the Game Center, where students can compare their standings and high scores with those of their friends and peers and even issue challenges to others.

Value

This is a free app, and one of the only ones I’ve seen that is designed to help good readers become better.  Reading quickly and efficiently is a hugely important skill for success in college and in the workplace, so nearly all students can benefit from improving their reading at an age where the educational focus shifts away from reading instruction in school.  This app really will help teens and adults build reading power that will make a huge difference in their lives.

Child Friendliness

Story Chaser does include in-app purchases that are unprotected.  The developers recommend turning off the option to support in-app purchases in your device’s settings, but it would be more “child friendly” if adult mentors could turn this option on or off for this app in a settings area. There is also unrestricted access to the Game Center, which should be controllable by adult mentors, as well.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchases (unprotected)
  • YES rate app option on settings screen (does not access App Store)
  • YES access to the Game Center and leader board

image (2)
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:

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)

image (4)
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

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: 1
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: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5
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: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5
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: $0.99
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: Free
AppStore User Rating:
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: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5
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: Free
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:
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