4.5 stars – excellent apps

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

 

Features include:

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

Quality

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

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

pinkie

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

image(36)

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

This app includes no outside advertisements or in-app purchases. A Parents’ Area that contains information about the developers is protected by a challenging mental addition problem requiring regrouping. In this area, parents and teachers can see other apps by the same developer in the App Store or open a web browser to interact with social media, view the privacy policy or visit the developers’ web site. Parents and teachers do need to be aware, however, that the app allows access to a wide array of ebook applications, AirDrop, and DropBox via unprotected links.  These functions should probably be made less accessible by putting them in the Parents’ section.

  • Protected parent area (contains external links & social media)
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected access to various other reader apps, DropBox, and AirDrop
  • YES unprotected ratings pop-up

 

ready

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

math

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

screen520x924

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

  • 3 Activities
  • Matching
  • Music
  • Math

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

miniu

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Mini-U: OverColor is a fun puzzle app that challenge children in the most delightful way. With various geometric shapes of varying colors, players must replicate the image provided by layering each shape accordingly. This easy to use app is a great way for children to work on their problem solving skills in a fun and safe environment.

Features include:

  • 3 Difficulty levels
  • Animals
  • Easy to use

Quality

The developers have done a great job creating an app that is easy to use and engaging too. With lots of fun colors, geometric shapes, and a fun concept, this app provides players with a fun challenge as they complete each puzzle. The background music is pleasant and allows children to focus on each puzzle without being distracted. The user interface is also very easy to use as it provides a simple drag and drop feature to move the various pieces into place.

Education

Mini-U: OverColor is a puzzle app that really challenges players to use their imagination and problem solving skills to complete each puzzle. Each puzzle consists of an animal made of various geometric pieces that children must correctly layer in order to replicate the given image. There are 3 difficulty levels that provide lots of great practice. While this isn’t a traditional educational app, it does provide a great challenge for children as they play.

Entertainment

With 60 puzzles in total varying over 3 difficulty levels, children who love puzzles are really going to enjoy this app. Each image provides a unique challenge and the open ended set-up allows players to select a puzzle within any difficulty level to try. While it doesn’t have any additional activities, the number of puzzles will definitely provide lots of entertainment for children.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app is a great value for parents. With 60 puzzles, 3 difficulty levels, and the open playing structure, this app is priced very well.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job creating an environment that is great for kids. The drag and drop functioning is easy to use and great for young children. One thing that would be beneficial for this app is to add a ‘hint’ pop up or button for children who might get stuck with some of the more difficult puzzles.

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

cover

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Why Bath Time is a cute storybook app that helps to explain why we need to take baths and teaches children about germs in a fun way. With a simple explanation that is easy to understand, great illustrations, and narration throughout, this app is great to share with children especially if they are not a fan of bath time.

Features include:

  • Narration
  • Great illustrations
  • English & French options

Quality

Why Bath Time is a cute storybook app that is full of fun images, interactive illustrations, and sound effects that will keep children engaged as they read. The narration option allows children to tap each dialogue bubble in order to activate the narration feature which is a bit different than some of the other storybook apps on the market. The simple interactive pieces are indicated with red arrows so children know what to do to bring the image to life. Overall the quality is very good and provides fun features to keep children engaged.

Education

Some of my favorite storybook apps are those that help children better understand a specific concept and this app does just that. For children that may wonder why they need to take a bath everyday and simply don’t understand the reasoning behind it, this storybook app easily explains not only why we need to take a bath, but the various ways people and animals do just that. It also explains that even when you don’t look dirty or smell, there are germs that need to be washed off in order to keep us healthy. The explanation is easy to understand and put in a fun context which is great for young readers.

One thing that I would like to see is an option for text highlighting and a way for the narration to run smoothly without the reading having to tap each dialogue bubble in order to hear the story in narration mode. Doing so would help with the flow of the app and allow children to easily follow along and work on their reading skills.

Entertainment

While there aren’t any additional activities within the story, it does include some simple interactive pieces within each page that help bring the story to life to keep children engaged. There is also a little green frog that seems to appear quite a bit throughout the story and creating a sort of search and find with this could add a bit more entertainment value to the story and create an additional activity within the story. Adding a little quiz or game to test what children have learned might also be an option to enhance the entertainment value a bit.

Value

Priced at just under one dollar, this app is a great value. Parents will appreciate the price and the educational value that this story provides without breaking the bank. Even without the text highlighting feature and additional activities, this story is still a good value.

Child Friendliness

Because this app is a little different in how it is set up with the narration option, it can be a little challenging to use for some children. There is a indicator that pops up on the dialogue bubble that should be read next, however young children may find it challenging to tap them in the appropriate order. The developers have also included arrows through out to indicate interactive pieces of the images which is very helpful and easy to use. The arrows at the bottom of each page are a little transparent and can be hard to see to move to the next page. Adding another option of swiping to the next page might help as children tend to get used to that function with many other apps.

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

holidays2

App Info

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

Overview

Whether you’re looking for games for Easter or simply want some fun arcade-style games for kids, Holidays 2 – 4 great Easter games for smart kids is a good choice. As the subtitle suggests, the app offers four different Easter games designed to challenge kids and build their logic and reasoning skills. While designed for kids ages 4-7, older kids and even adults will find themselves entertained by the challenging games.

Features include:

  • Four arcade-style games
  • Easter-themed images
  • Time to control play time
  • Safe play environment for kids

Quality

The app gets kids’ attention with its colorful Easter-themed graphics. Each of the four games is represented by an Easter egg sitting in a field of grass. Tapping on an egg, gives kids access to the particular game. Since all of the games are modeled on common arcade games, they are pretty easy to learn how to play. The app assumes this by hiding instructions in an info button rather than displaying them when kids first open the game. For most of the games the instructions are not needed, but they would be helpful to review before playing the code game.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

All of the games have that slightly addicting quality you expect from traditional arcade-style games. Each game also offers enough of a challenge to keep kids wanting to play more. For example, during the Connect 4 game, the bunny proves to be a formidable opponent, keeping kids on their toes. The code game is also incredibly challenging, especially when played without the numbers. All of the games help kids keep their logic and spatial reasoning skills sharp.

Value

Many of the games available in the app can be played online for free. The only difference is they don’t come with fun Easter images. They’re also not usually found in a protected environment. The app provides both, making it a better option than some of the free versions out there.

Child Friendliness

Developers have taken care to make sure the app is suitable for kids. The details are included in a protected parent section. There parents can also set a timer to control how long kids can play the app. The timer can be set in five minute intervals.

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

abc

App Info

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

Overview

Tap and Learn ABC helps young children learn to match alphabet letters with their pictures to reinforce sound-symbol correspondence. There is a teaching mode that shows children letters, keywords and sounds, three levels of matching activities, and a game that mimics the popular ninja format.

Features include:

  • Visual and auditory cues for each letter, its keyword and its sound
  • Bright, colorful design
  • Clear human voice for letter sounds and keywords
  • Support for English, Spanish and French
  • Free sample letters A-H (in a separate free version of this app)

Quality

This app is very high quality. The illustrations and letters are clear and bold, the narration is well-spoken, and the app’s design is simple enough for even toddlers to enjoy independently. One concern is that the parents’ section seems to be missing a lot of captioning. The symbols for social media, the internet, email and ratings are clear enough, but there is apparently a leveling system, and something that has green checkmarks on each level, but there are no captions showing to help an adult figure out what’s going on.

Education

Tap and Learn ABC uses proven techniques to help young learners master the relationship between letters, keywords and letter sounds. The Alphabets level allows them to see and hear the letter and the keyword. The Puzzle level offers three levels of difficulty for matching exercises, and the Ninja level adds some visual-motor challenges as players tap pictures falling that begin with the proper letter or have the proper name.

The app is well-designed for the very young. There are no confusing menus, and developers have included clear oral directions for many things, as well. It’s also an interesting option to have a choice of three languages. It’s a well-known fact that children in this age group have a strong ability to learn different languages if they are introduced to them. This would be a good tool to do just that.

Entertainment

This is a very simple app, designed for very young children. That makes it perfect for inexperienced players and even for special needs students. With few bells and whistles, older or more able children may quickly become bored with the format. The entertainment value lies mostly in the ninja game, and perhaps in the animations that are designed to make letters more memorable. If your child needs a more low-key approach to practice, it’s absolutely perfect.

Value

It’s great that developers offer a free “trial” version of Tap and Learn ABC (in a separate free version of this app). Users can try out letters A-H to get a feel for the activities, then can purchase the rest of the alphabet when they find how much kids benefit from the practice.

Child Friendliness

Tap and Learn ABC is very child-friendly. In addition to the well-protected parents’ area, developers have gone out of their way to make the app simple to use. It’s perfect for the very young, with very intuitive design for choosing activities and levels, as well as for learning how to play.

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

bunnybakeoff

App Info

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

Overview

No, Max! Rocks don’t go in the scones! In Max & Ruby’s Bunny Bakeoff kids head to the kitchen with Max, Ruby, and their grandma to bake up some delicious goodies. From making scones to churning their own ice cream, kids will get the chance to put their cooking skills to the test. Of course, when Max is involved, there are guaranteed to be a few surprises along the way. Whether it’s suggesting kids add rocks to the scones or offering up a delicious mud pie, Max has plenty of silliness to contribute to the process.

Features include:

  • A book of recipes
  • Real and disgusting foods
  • Bake or paint options
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Character coloring pages

Quality

The app opens with a developer video that kids can skip by simply tapping the screen. From there, they can decide whether to start baking or get painting. Kids will find both sections easy to navigate. Clear instructions will guide kids through the recipes in the cooking section and reward them with positive praise for a job well done. In the painting section, kids will find a series of Max & Ruby-themed coloring pages and easy-to-use tools. The colors stay in the lines within the picture too, making it easy for little fingers to color the picture exactly the way they want.

Education

While not extremely advanced, the baking section of the app helps teach kids about following a recipe. When kids decide what to make, they follow a series of steps to help them add all of the ingredients and properly prepare the food. While none of the measurements are exact (when told to add a little bit of milk to make ice cream, for example, the game adds more than “a little”), the game still introduces kids to cooking terminology, such as a cup, a pinch, mix, and stir. Kids get to use different kitchen tools too, such as a cheese grater when making pizza and an ice cream churn while making fresh ice cream for Max.

Entertainment

Kids will have fun following the recipes to make scones, pizza, fruit tarts, ice cream cones, and a whole host of other foods. They’ll also love Max’s antics throughout the process. For example, Max frequently suggests they add rocks to the food. He also regularly appears with mud pies and suggests kids make disgusting treats of their own. While fairly standard, the coloring pages are also fun for kids. They’ll particularly enjoy the ability to add fun stickers to each of the pages.

Value

From the different color pages to the wealth of recipes kids can make with Max and Ruby, the app is a good value. Kids will come back to it again and again to see what else they can make.

Child Friendliness

On the main screen, kids can tap on the More Apps button to see all of the other apps Cupcake Digital offers. Access to the apps is protected by a parental lock, but it won’t stop kids from begging for new apps. Beyond that, the app is very child friendly. It’s easy for kids to get into the games and to start enjoying baking or painting with Max and Ruby.

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

IMG_0912

App Info

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

Overview

“Old Macdonald Has a Farm” just became a lot more fun for kids to sing. As the title of the app suggests, kids can sing-along with one of their favorite songs while they play around on the farm too. Whether it’s tipping a cow, watching a cat drink milk, or causing bees to buzz around their hive, there’s plenty to discover within this app. Kids will get to interact with a pig, a horse, a cow, a duck, and a cat, along with all of the other objects and animals found within their individual scenes.

Features include:

  • Five different animals
  • Seek ‘n Find format
  • Praise for kids
  • Peppy background music

Quality

On the main screen of the app, kids have the option to play or tap on options to control the level of the music and sound effects in the game. In the free version, a large button encouraging kids to purchase the full version of the app also appears at the bottom of the screen, but it is protected with a parental lock. Once kids get past those minor distractions and tap the play button, they’re instructed to pick an animal and five different animal heads peer out at them. Some kids may pick their favorite of the five, while others will go straight for the pig because it’s first in the row. Whatever they choose, they won’t be disappointed. Each animal comes complete with an interactive scene full of lots of animations to find. At times the sound effects overpower the background music, which is a little disappointing considering each verse is only sung once, but kids will be so focused on the animations, they won’t really care.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Each of the five animals comes with its own fun scene with a host of hidden animations. The game encourages kids to find them all by displaying the number of animations they found when they tap the back arrow to select another animation. While all of the scenes are entertaining, the highlight is the pig. Kids will have fun watching the pig slide through the mud over and over again. When they take a break and move to the other scenes, they’ll get to enjoy the horse, cow, duck, and cat too.

Value

The app is free to download and comes with the pig scene unlocked. The other four animals come with the full version which is available through an in-app purchase. The app contains a lot of fun animations and kids will return to it, even though the animations in each scene stay the same. That alone may make it worth the price for toddlers and preschoolers.

Child Friendliness

Aside from the strong encouragement to buy the full version, kids will find themselves fully entertained by this app and not distracted by other features. It’s easy enough for toddlers to play and enjoy, but preschoolers will enjoy it too.

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

easter

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Easter Bunny Games for Kids is a cute puzzle app that provides children with a number of puzzles to explore and enjoy. With cute illustrations and celebratory animations, and a fun egg hunt activity once the puzzle is complete, this simple app is a fun way for children to practice their problem solving skills.

Features include:

  • 12 Puzzles
  • 3 Difficulty levels
  • Easy to use

Quality

Easter Bunny Games for Kids is an app full of cute, whimsical illustrations that children are going to love. With a variety of bunnies, chicks, spring flowers, and lots of great colors, the images are very professional and engaging. The simple animations included after each puzzle is completed are also well done and they add a bit of interest to this easy to use puzzle app.

Education

With 12 different puzzles and 3 difficulty levels, children are going to get a ton of practice using their problem solving skills as they piece each picture together. While it would be nice to include a few other educational games, the puzzle set up allows children to use their logic in the higher difficulty levels to test their skills which is great.

Entertainment

For children who love a good challenge and are particularly fond of puzzles, this app is a dream. With 12 different pictures and 3 difficulty levels players can work their way up through each level as they get better and better. The 3 consist of a full-color template, a faded template, and no template which allows children to challenge themselves as they move through each puzzle. The developers have also included a fun egg hunt to play once each puzzle is complete. This fun game is a wonderful addition and helps to keep children engaged.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is priced well. With 12 puzzles and 3 difficulty levels to enjoy, and the egg hunt activity, children will get a lot of playing time out of this app. While it would be nice to have additional activities, this isn’t an app that will break the bank.

Child Friendliness

With simple drag and drop functioning, this app is easy for children of all ages to use. The 3 difficulty levels also make it easy for children new to puzzles to get the hang of it while using the templates. The developers have also done a nice job of creating an app that doesn’t require a lot of direction or assistance from parents.

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

jfk

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

JFK Challenge makes history come alive with immersive lessons about John F. Kennedy and some of his accomplishments. Users can experience a taste of two of his signature programs, the Peace Corps and the Space Program, as they learn about these pieces of our country’s history.

Features include:

  • Over ten unique activities
  • Information from primary sources
  • Multi-sensory experience featuring video and audio clips
  • Realistic related activities for both programs
  • Engaging to all the senses

Quality

JFK Challenge is a wonderfully creative app that truly takes full advantage of the iPad’s power and unique capabilities. Activities incorporate the device’s motion sensitivity and touch screen, among other features. The app is easy to navigate, but needs a button to return to the home screen from various points within the games. Right now, the back button takes users to the previous decision point, but it takes a lot of button pushes to get clear back to the beginning when you wish. Also, the time limit is quite quick on some of the games, such as the building activity in the Peace Corps section. Young children may have difficulty being successful, so this should perhaps be adjustable or capable of being turned off all together.

Education

Multi-sensory and interactive learning is generally the best possible combination, and this app’s developers have done an outstanding job of incorporating many types of meaningful activities into the context of learning about two of JFK’s most important programs, the Peace Corps and the Space Program. The activities provide a nice mixture of academic, logical, and coordination challenges. For example, the Peace Corps section has students start by learning some basic words in Spanish, then has them solve a logic puzzle to lay out a pathway for a canal and then use speed and coordination to mix cement and build a school. It was very refreshing to see such close connection between the activities set up for users and the context and meaning of the program. The Space Program’s training includes learning to “fly” the space craft and “land” it by tilting the device to direct it, and learning to “put together a space suit” using logic and reasoning. After the training in each area, learners complete “missions” related to the actual history of each program, utilizing the skills practiced in the training exercises.

Throughout the entirety of the app, developers have done an outstanding job of incorporating video and audio clips as well as narrators reading from primary sources, actual footage and articles created during Kennedy’s presidency. This sort of immersion, combined with the engaging activities, will make history come alive for young users.

Entertainment

There are ten different activities included in this app, which lend a great deal of variety to the challenges. From simple matching tasks to logic puzzles and coordination/speed based exercises, there’s something here for everyone. It’s nice to have the ‘training exercises’ for each area that teach users how to complete activities. Many are timed, though, and somewhat short times at that. It’s quite challenging to finish before the time runs out! It would be a good idea to incorporate more control for adult mentors in that regard. Some children, particularly those with special needs or with coordination problems, are likely to become frustrated because you cannot skip activities or move past them without successfully completing them. Adding the capability to modify or turn off the timer in the settings would go a long way toward making this app more accessible for children who could benefit but cannot master a particular game.

Value

JFK Challenge is free in the App Store. It is a product designed to encourage youngsters to learn about John F. Kennedy and to remind the public about the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The app will truly help youngsters get interested in this part of our country’s history. The use of actual video and audio clips is a real plus, too, because they make the information come to life.

Child Friendliness

JFK Challenge is child friendly. The app does not include any outside advertising or in-app purchases. There is a pop-up ratings invitation that appears occasionally, and there is no protected parents’ area, but also no live links or other content that should be protected. Children can, however, access the account creation and deletion system as well as the app’s settings to turn sound effects and background music on or off.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)

kido

App Info

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

Overview

Kids’ fingerprints turn into animals and a silly-looking hedgehog named Kido eats letters in this exciting learning app. Kido Magic Finger is so named because when kids touch the screen in five different scenes, their fingerprints turn into cute animals and color in outlines. By incorporating both single-touch and multi-touch technology, kids can see results whether they’re playing with one finger or two fingers, making the game that much more entertaining. Along with creating animals, kids also get to learn how to spell new words, making this app a great way to encourage kids to be creative and to build their basic vocabularies.

Features include:

  • Single-touch and multi-touch technology
  • Two modes of play
  • Five scenes
  • Images from fingerprints
  • Fun sound effects

Quality

On the initial screen, kids see a large play button in the middle of the screen and a smaller info button in the top left corner. From there they’ll be directed to a TV screen featuring five different screens that they can scroll through and select. Once kids enter each scene, tapping their fingers on the scene will produce adorable fingerprint animals. Kids may not realize it at first, but if they tap with one finger, they’ll see a different animal than if they tap with two fingers.

Education

By feeding letters to a hungry hedgehog, Kido, kids learn to spell words like sun, cloud, and moon. Once they successfully feed the monster all of the letters in the word they’re treated to a fun animation featuring the word. These animations help kids learn what the words mean rather than just showing them the spelling of the words. While the vocabulary in the app is somewhat limited and related to the scenes, kids can still learn a lot of words as they play.

Entertainment

In the parent section, developer’s note that the goal of the app isn’t to have kids sitting around playing it all day. While kids will enjoy making fingerprint animals and spelling words, the developers also encourage parents to interact with kids outside of the app by making fingerprint creations of their own. Still, while kids are playing in the app they’ll be entertained with the animated fingerprint animals, crazy hedgehog, and other fun sound effects and animations.

Value

Kido Magic Finger has a lot similarities to other popular ABC and spelling apps on the market. The difference lies in its use of fingerprints and multi-touch technology. This alone makes it unique enough to be worth a buy, although the price may be a tad high for what it offers.

Child Friendliness

Kids will find themselves focused more on the app and less on accessing the parent info section. A basic parental block keeps little fingers from accessing the app’s description and links to social media.

  • Protected parental area
  • NO in-app purchases
  • NO third-party ads
  • YES links to social media (protected)

abcguru

App Info

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

Overview

ABC Gurus provides endless creative fun with the letters of the alphabet as kids color, decorate and accessorize each letter. They listen to the letter names and sounds as they play, then can save their creation as a photo on the device.

Features include:

  • Animated key words to help reinforce the letter sounds
  • Easy, intuitive controls
  • Endless color, design and style options
  • Professional narration of letter names, sounds and key words
  • Save photos of each letter to create an ABC book

Quality

ABC Gurus is a high quality app that will provide many happy, creative sessions with letters for young children. The app works well and is very intuitive to use, making it ideal for the very young and for special needs students. The controls are all based on very clear icons; the crayons select colors, and the crown opens a selection of hats and headwear. One seeming oversight on the part of developers, though, is the lack of a way to go back to the home screen where letters are chosen without finishing the letter and taking its picture. It’s fairly easy to choose a different letter than what you intend; my inclination was to rotate the planet with the letter choices by touching the letters, which caused the app to accidentally select when I did not intend it to. It would be nice to have a button on each letter page that allows users to return to the selection page without finishing the activity if they wish.

Education

This app does an outstanding job of merging play with learning. Most preschool children love to color and decorate things, and they can do just that to the letters they choose. While they play, the app feeds them a steady stream of the letter’s name, its sound, and then rewards the completed project with an animated video of the keyword and allows users to snap a photo of the finished letter. The longer that the kids play, the more they hear the letter’s name, sound and keyword, which is wonderful!

Parents and teachers should be aware, however, that this app was designed for the British market, and there are some differences in pronunciation, letter names, and key words. For example, users are told that the “Z” is “zed” instead of the American name of “zee.” The key word for the letter L is a ladybug in America, but the narration calls it a “ladybird.” Developers should consider an option for parents and teachers to select British or American English.

Entertainment

ABC Gurus is highly entertaining for the target age group. What child doesn’t love creating with colors, stickers and stamps? Best of all, the letters can be played again and again. It doesn’t matter if your child chooses a favorite to decorate over and over, or tries to create alphabet books with different themes. Each time he or she works with a letter, the child will get a healthy dose of letter and phonics instruction and probably won’t even notice it.

Value

ABC Gurus is a great value, since it has tons of replay value and staying power. It should appeal to most young children who are learning their letters, and it’s simple enough to use that the youngest preschoolers will be able to create to their hearts’ content. You will have to look a long time to find another app that offers such consistent, low-key learning opportunities.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. A well-protected parents’ section houses information about the app, other apps from the developer, a sign up for an email newsletter, social media links and privacy policy. It’s also very nice that parents can choose to hide the parents’ section, the privacy policy and more apps as well as turn off photos going to the gallery or disallow access to the camera all together. Kudos to the developers for giving parents the kind of privacy/usage control that they need!

  • Protected parent area (contains external links, social media, app rating request and email links)
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • Ability to turn off parents’ area, more apps, and photos if desired
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

tinyfarm

App Info

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

Overview

What will kids find when they head down to the farm today? Tiny Farm – Animals, Tractors and Adventures! introduces kids to life on the farm through a fun seek and find format. From planting a garden and scaring away the crows to repairing a broken down tractor, kids will get to experience many different aspects of farm life. Best of all – they get to do it on their terms, playing around with whatever appeals to them in the moment.

Features include:

  • Three main scenes
  • Sound controls
  • A key with items to discover
  • Interactive graphics
  • Hidden surprises

Quality

The app is comprised of three main scene. Each scene has different secrets for kids to discover. As kids tap around, the app’s music and sound effects can get a little loud, but the settings screen allows them to turn off the music and the sound. For those that want to hear the sounds, but don’t want to be overwhelmed, there’s also a volume limit setting that can be turned on and off. As kids explore the scenes, the size of the images may seem a bit small for adult fingers, but it’s the perfect size for toddler and preschooler fingers as they tap around to see what they can discover.

Education

While there’s nothing inherently educational about the app, developers encourage parents to get involved and ask questions about what’s going on in the scenes. For example, why is a boy hiding in the hay? What makes the hen’s eggs change color when they go through the tube? What happens on the farm at night? With so much going on in the app, there are plenty of stories that parents can make up. They can encourage kids to make up their own stories too. You’d be surprised what silly stories young kids can come up with about life on the farm!

Entertainment

Older kids may find this app a bit frustrating because there’s not a defined path to follow. However, for toddlers and preschoolers, the app will be a lot of fun. There’s something going on with nearly every image in the app, so almost every tap will be rewarded. For kids who need some guidance, a key directs them to find some of the fun actions in each scene. It’s noisy, it’s busy, and it’ll probably drive parents crazy, which means little kids will love it.

Value

Tiny Farm – Animals, Tractors and Adventures! comes at a standard price point for children’s apps. Without a defined game or focus, parents of older children may opt for a different app, but those looking for a fun and quality app for younger children should give it a try.

Child Friendliness

It’s easy for kids to navigate the app and discover new adventures. On the main screen, there are a few distractions through links to social media and pictures of the developer’s other apps. However, they’re all protected by a parental lock and are quickly forgotten once kids step onto the farm.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES promotes other developer apps (protected, but visible)
  • YES social media, “rate us” and external links (protected, but visible)

parcel

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

A Parcel of Courage is a highly interactive app that includes a fun story, fun games, and educational activities that children will enjoy. With beautiful illustrations, interactive images, lively narration, and fun activities to keep children engaged, this storybook app has a lot to offer children as they play.

Features include:

  • Counting
  • Puzzles
  • Memory activities

Quality

A Parcel of Courage is a creative app with lots of things for children to do. The professional illustrations and interactive images are well done and add a ton of value to the story not to mention the sound effects and narration that is included. While the set up of the app is quite creative and the developers have included simple prompts to help children move through the activities, it isn’t the most intuitive app that I have seen. It could also use some work on the response to user touch and creating a few additional prompts for children as they play.

Education

There are so many activities included in this app and many of them are very educational. With a variety of puzzles, memory activities, counting, and sequencing, children will have lots of opportunities to practice their logic and problem solving skills. With activities that include packing oddly shaped items into a suitcase, replicating a sequence of stamps, replicating color schemes on mandalas etc. children have plenty of educational games to enjoy.

While there are many activities within and accessible outside of the story, the instructions aren’t always clear which can be frustrating for children. The story also doesn’t include a text-highlighting option that would allow readers to follow along and practice their reading skills. Adding a few more instructional prompts and the text-highlighting would greatly increase the educational value of the app.

Entertainment

There is no doubt that this app has a ton of activities for children to enjoy in addition to the story. With in story puzzles and activities and others that can be accessed outside of the story, this app offers children many opportunities to explore, learn and play. And one thing is for sure, they won’t likely get bored using this app because there is so much to offer.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app is a great value. With so many activities within and outside the story not to mention the story itself, this is an app that children are going to be able to enjoy for months to come.

Child Friendliness

The developer has done a great job of creating an app that children will really enjoy with loads of activities and a cute story too. The usability however could leave some children frustrated. Adding a few more verbal cues to help players identify what needs to be done would help create more ease in using the app for younger children.

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

Chuggington

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Chuggington-We are Chuggineers is a great storybook app with fun activities and videos sprinkled throughout that children will love. Players will help the Chuggineers complete various tasks to help them build a bridge to help get them to Tootington. This highly engaging adventure is one that every train lover will be able to enjoy several times over.

Features include:

  • Narration options (Read to me/Read to myself)
  • Text highlighting
  • Games
  • Videos

Quality

The developers have done a great job of creating an app that is easy to use as the user interface is highly intuitive. The illustrations and videos that are included are also very well done and are what you might expect from the television show. With fun music, narration, and sound effects this app is a high quality storybook adventure that children are really going to enjoy.

Education

With narration options and text highlighting, this app allows children the opportunity to practice their reading skills as they follow along with the story. There are also fun games and activities scattered throughout the app that challenge children to use their logic and problem solving skills as they help the Chuggineers fix railways and avoid various obstacles.

Entertainment

The developers have not only done a great job with the entertaining story, but they have also included fun videos and animations through the story to help keep readers engaged. The challenging activities and games are also sprinkled throughout so children certainly will not get bored. Another great thing about the app is how the developers have made it easy for children to access the videos and games outside of reading the full story. By tapping the “contents” tab, children can scroll through the various frames to select the game or video they would like to explore.

Value

Priced at just under five dollars, this app might be a bit more than parents are used to paying for an app like this, but when you consider the high quality images, videos, and games that are included in addition to the story, it’s a fair deal. Train lovers are definitely going to get a lot of playing time out of this app and all that it has to offer.

Child Friendliness

Chuggington-We are Chuggineers is not only a fun app, but it is also very easy to use. With the various narration options and text highlighting early readers will have no problem moving through the app on their own. The set up is also very easy to use with arrows at the bottom of each page and visual prompts to help children as they play each game.

  • 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)

PaccaAlpaca

App Info

Price: $3.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Pacca Alpaca-Austratlia is a great app with lots of great illustrations, animations, and educational activities that children will love. While learning things like their colors, shapes, and numbers, players get to follow a fun Alpaca around Australia for various educational adventures. Highly engaging and fun, this app is one that will likely become a family favorite.

Features include:

  • Shapes
  • Colors
  • Great illustrations

Quality

There is no doubt, Pacca Alpaca-Australia is very well done with professional images and interactive illustrations that will keep children engaged, learning, and having fun. There are fabulous sound effects and music that add more interest to an already great app. While the illustrations and sound effects are quite professional and very well done, it would help to provide more clear directions for children so they know how to proceed with each activity as it isn’t always entirely clear.

Education

There are a variety of educational activities included in this app that will help children learn and practice their counting, shapes, and colors. The developers have also done a great job incorporating the educational bits in a very natural way to keep children engaged in the app. Players also get ample practice in each educational area since there are several activities for each skill that help children learn through repetition. Overall this is a great educational app.

Entertainment

The developers have done a nice job of incorporating the educational activities in a fun and entertaining way. The app seems to share a bit of a story of one Alpaca who is traveling around various places in Australia and on each stop is a new activity to explore. The fun animations like the Alpaca riding in a boat or enjoying a barbecue on the beach keeps children engaged as they move between the educational activities.

Value

Priced at just under four dollars this app is a good deal. The illustrations and educational activities included within the app are of high quality and with the ability to reset the activities, this app is one that children will enjoy several times over. While it might cost a bit more than other similar apps, it is one that will quickly become a family favorite.

Child Friendliness

While each educational activity is fairly easy to use it isn’t always completely clear what needs to be done in order to complete some of the activities. The developers have included various sparkles and arrows to help guide children as they play, but providing a bit more direction would be helpful. Other than that, this app is great for children of all ages.

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

Icon-358x358

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Montessori Preschool App is a wonderful educational tool for preschoolers that provides a wealth of information for children to practice and learn. With categories like colors, numbers, shapes, time, etc. and two games to play, children have lots of material that will keep them busy for hours.

Features include:

  • 13 Categories
  • 2 Games
  • 194 Vocabulary words

Quality

Montessori Preschool App is an easy to use app that is full of brightly colored images and illustrations for children to enjoy. With narration throughout to help with the learning process the developers have done a great job of creating a high quality learning tool for little ones to use and enjoy.

Education

There is no doubt this app is full of wonderful educational material. Each of the many vocabulary words that are included in the learning area are not only narrated, but also written and pictured to help children learn in a variety of ways. With so many words and themes to review including shapes, colors, fruits, vegetables, and even telling time, this app really has so much to offer in educational value and is a great app for preschoolers.

Entertainment

While this is a primarily educational app, there are two games included that allow children to have a bit of fun while testing what they have learned. The “Find Me” game provides children with a variety of pictures while asking them to select a particular word or item. The “Match Me” game allows children to work on their memory skills as they play a matching game. These simple games provide a great way for children to practice what they have learned while keeping them engaged and entertained.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app is a great deal. With so many vocabulary words, educational categories, and games too, this app has so much to offer and at a wonderful price.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job of creating an app that is easy to use and especially great for young children. With simple tap and touch functioning, users will not have any trouble moving through the app on their own. The user interface is very easy to use and doesn’t require a ton of instruction from parents at all.

  • 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)

landofvenn

App Info

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

Overview

Geometry to the rescue! The Land of Venn has come under attack and kids must use their knowledge of geometry to help save it. Of course, they need to learn some geometry in order to make that happen. Starting with points and lines, kids gradually build their geometry skills to help them fight back against the Evil Bookkenriders. To keep the monsters from drinking from the pools, kids must draw lines, triangles, and other geometric shapes to destroy them. At the end of each level is a new skill to learn and a new group of Evil Bookkenriders to defeat.

Features include:

  • Aligns with Common Core Math Standards
  • Builds geometry skills from the ground up
  • Continually increases level of difficulty
  • Offers engaging challenges

Quality

While the initial screens look a bit busy, kids will find that The Land of Venn is easy to navigate. A narrator guides them through each level, providing an explanation of and a chance to practice each new skill, before sending kids off to fight. In most cases, the game responds quickly as kids draw their new shapes, allowing them to quickly eliminate the Evil Bookkenriders, but occasionally the creatures can come so fast it’s hard for kids to keep up.

Education

Developers have worked to align the app to the Common Core Math Standards for first through fifth grade. While the alignment isn’t 100% evident, it is done on purpose. The math lessons are built-in to the game so kids aren’t put off by the learning. Starting with basic points, kids learn geometric concepts one by one. They then immediately put those skills to use as they try to eliminate the Evil Bookenriders. As they make each shape while playing the game, the narrator calls out the name of the shape, helping to reinforce the skills kids are learning.

Entertainment

The game is fast-paced and somewhat addictive. As kids play, they are introduced to new evil creatures and gain new tricks to help keep those creatures from drinking from the pools. Kids can earn up to three stars for each level and also earn badges as they play the game. A store allows kids to purchase potions and other aids using points they’ve earned in the game, which helps make it look even more interesting.

Value

There’s a lot going on in The Land of Venn but the game is still priced fairly high compared to similar apps. However, the number of levels and the level of learning that go into play make it worth a download, particularly if kids need help building their vocabulary skills. The app may be even more worth the value if developers added in the ability to set up multiple user accounts to track progress for different kids.

Child Friendliness

The game is designed to help kids learn geometry. From the subtle lessons to the encouraging narrator that guides them through, it is successful in its mission.

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

EliExplorer

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Eli Explorer is a cute free-play app that allows little ones to explore an interactive world with their friend Eli while learning new words and phrases. This easy to use app is great for toddlers as it uses a simple tap and drag concept to help guide Eli around to various markers through the forest and sky.

Features include:

  • 100 Vocabulary words & phrases
  • 10 Languages
  • Easy to use

Quality

Eli Explorer is full of cute interactive illustrations that children will love. With an easy to use free-play set up, the developers have created an environment that toddlers can easily enjoy and explore on their own. The background music, sound effects, and vocabulary words and phrases that are used throughout are very well done and help to create an overall high quality app that children can enjoy.

Education

Not only do children have the opportunity to learn 100 words and phrases, but there are also 10 languages included which is great for children. Words like cow, sock, shirt, moon etc. are included and phrases such as “Hello Mr. Fish.” and “Orange juice, please.” are used to help children add to their vocabulary. There is also an interactive image that helps children count pears that fall into a basket (up to 10) which is also great for young children just learning to count. With new words, phrases, and multiple languages to explore this app offers great educational value for toddlers.

Entertainment

The free-play nature of the app encourages children to explore on their own without parameters and rules. They can fly Eli to the clouds and have him pop balloons or fly him toward the musical mushrooms that play music when they are tapped. All of the interactive images in between are highly entertaining and will certainly keep children engaged as they learn.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is a great deal. Not many apps offer a safe, free play environment with as much educational value as this one and at such a great price. Young children will most definitely be playing this app over and over again at a price parents will be happy with.

Child Friendliness

Not only is this app great for educational and fun, but it is very easy to use. The developers have done a nice job of setting it up in a way that children can explore and enjoy what the app has to offer without a ton of instructions. There are however, yellow stars that are scattered throughout to indicate an interactive point that children can enjoy. These little markers help guide children easily, while still creating a very easy to use atmosphere that encourages exploring and free play. There is also an option in the app settings section that allows parents to remove the ‘parents’ button from the app, making it even more child friendly.

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

image(4)

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Winky Think Logic Puzzles offer a ton of fun that is so engaging that users won’t even realize just how important the skills are to learning. Each puzzle provides a mental challenge that requires problem solving, logic, memory, eye-hand coordination and other skills that form foundations for learning.

Features include:

  • 180 puzzles in three levels
  • Puzzles gradually become more difficult
  • Foundational to Common Core Math Standards for Kindergarten
  • No reading or language skills required
  • Develops logic and reasoning skills

Quality

Winky Think Logic Puzzles is a high quality app. Every feature is intuitive, and even the very young will quickly understand how to play. Every puzzle adds a level of complexity that makes the game challenging for a wide array of age groups, yet it builds so gradually that young children will enjoy playing as well. The app developers do recommend users turn off iPad’s Multitasking Gestures in the settings before playing, as these could disrupt game play.

Education

Winky Think does an outstanding job of providing practice for important skills that are often difficult to sharpen with most apps. It’s easy to design an app that presents math problems or reading passages that are directly tied to academic success. Winky Think has tackled more abstract skills that are challenging to assess and even more challenging to build, yet the developers have done an admirable job.

The puzzles are nonverbal challenges that require users to drag colored shapes to the matching drop targets. The first few levels are simple matching tasks, then each adds more layers of complexity until it takes some adults multiple attempts to figure out how to solve each challenge. In between, Winky Think throws up physical barriers to the matching tasks, such as bars that the user cannot cross in the drag and drop action. There are mazes, puzzles that require multiple fingers be used to hold objects in place, and obstacles that change the shapes’ colors when hit. Sometimes necessary items are hidden under other items, and there are still more problems to be solved. In short, this app provides hours of fun that will build problem solving skills, coordination, basic readiness skills, logic and memory.

As with many apps, though, developers could improve it by adding a multi-user mode where each person could return to where they left off after stopping a session. As it stands right now, users will need to remember where they were, replay levels they’ve already solved, or risk starting a level that is too difficult.

Entertainment

The puzzles in Winky Think could actually be called addicting! It’s easy to get caught up in the app because the challenges build so gradually. I found myself saying “Just one more…” as I played through the levels and before I knew it, I was past level 100. The clock said nearly an hour had gone by! Young children, with their curiosity and love of exploration, will be fascinated with this app. Older kids will be challenged and everyone will build vital skills as they play.

Value

This app is a good value. It will provide hours of play for most people, including older users, yet is friendly to non-readers and younger users. The skills addressed are important to all ages, even though developers focus on the connection to kindergarten Common Core Math Standards.

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly. Background music can be turned on or off by anyone. There is a link on the puzzle selection page to other apps by the same developers, where any user can see a sales page and a promotional video explaining the other apps. The Download link is protected by a parent gate for nonreaders: printed instructions tell readers to swipe right to proceed. This sort of control does not work well for any child with minimal reading skills, some of whom are at an age where parents might not want them accessing the App Store on their own. Developers should consider including a stronger parent gate and also hiding the promotional information so young children are not likely to find it.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)
  • YES mildly-effective parent gate will only stop non-readers

image(3)

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 3

Download on the App Store

Overview

Highlights: All About allows young children to explore child-friendly topics in typical Highlights magazine style. Each section includes stories, puzzles and activity ideas that will help children take their understanding to the next level.

Features include:

  • Different kinds of puzzles that exercise visual, reasoning and other skills
  • Professional narration on stories with highlighting
  • Stories at various levels for early readers
  • Activity suggestions that get kids up and moving
  • Recording activities

Quality

Highlights: All About is a high quality app that will provide hours of fun for young children. The navigation and controls are very child-friendly, with clear icons that will help non-readers find their favorites or choose new kinds of fun. App developers have included the ability to turn background music on and off, which is always a plus. A short Parents’ Guide will help parents and caregivers find all of the features of the software. Parents should be aware, however, that the downloadable books contain a LOT of content and will take time to load for the first time. On my slower connection, it took nearly 15 minutes to download each one. Best to do that part before you promise your little one a play time!

Education

Highlights Magazine has been providing “Fun with a Purpose” for decades now, and is well-known for its consistently high-quality product. Generations of children have enjoyed the creative stories, the hidden picture puzzles, the brain-teasers, and more, and this app lives up to the same reputation as it brings these features to life on the iPad. Each activity included in the All About sections will help children have fun as they get ready to learn new things both in this context and later in school.

The app includes one free activity “book,” All About Fall. There are ten puzzles, four stories/poems, and six activities included in this free sample, so children will have a wide array of fun with this first section. The puzzles, in typical Highlights magazine style, exercise many important skills that form foundations for learning, including visual closure, eye-hand coordination, matching, and more. Each can be played again and again, and kids are sure to pick their favorites. The reading section has an array of difficulty levels represented, including a rebus story (story with pictures of some of the main items as well as words), poetry, and longer stories. Everything is beautifully illustrated and professionally narrated. I do wish there was a way to turn off the narration for older readers looking for more of a challenge, but it’s always fun to be read to. The activities section includes three creative drawing challenges on different backgrounds, a “recording studio” that uses the iPad’s built-in camera to help the child make a video showing actions to go with a fall poem, and two videos that show other children responding to questions that should get children thinking about interesting topics.

Entertainment

The Highlights: All About app is very entertaining. The activities are fairly short, but very engaging. Nearly any child will find something fun to do, just like the magazine always includes an array of content that will capture the interest of most readers. Everything is bright and colorful, but not distractingly so. Children can find just the right amount of interactivity to suit their current mood, too, ranging from completely interactive tasks like the hidden pictures or the drawing activities to quieter listening to stories or even watching a video.

Value

The Highlights: All About app is free in the App Store and comes with one “book” about fall. There are currently five other books available and five more listed as “coming soon.” Each of the extra activity packs cost $1.99, but if a user has purchased the print version, they receive a code to download the companion volume in the app for free. Each of these packs include about twenty activities, and will give most children quite a bit of engaging fun.

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly. There are effective parent gates on all email, rating, and internet links, as well as purchase of other books. However, when a user presses the wrench on the home screen or touches a new book that has not been purchased, the input fields and buy buttons are visible.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES Parent area (unprotected, but visible, does not contain links)
  • YES external links (protected, but visible)
  • YES in-app purchases (protected, but visible)
  • YES email links (protected, but visible)

image(2)

App Info

Price: $9.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Knowji Vocab 7-10 offers systematic teaching, review and quizzing of the top 500 SAT vocabulary words. The app offers a structured program to improve vocabulary for middle school and high school students as well as adults.

Features include:

  • Common Core Alignment
  • Images and example sentences for each word
  • 4 learning modes
  • Customizable and adaptable with record keeping
  • Pronunciations included

Quality

Knowji Vocab 7-10 is a high quality app. It offers proven methods to truly learn vocabulary words together with a powerful and structured system to commit the information to memory. All features of the app work smoothly, it includes a detailed tutorial as well as a video tutorial, and the controls are intuitive. The only thing missing is the capability to keep records for multiple users, which would make it ideal for the classroom setting or for families with multiple learners.

Education

This app offers a comprehensive review and teaching system that, if used regularly, will help teen and adult students learn words to boost success on high-stakes tests such as the SAT and ACT. The app features 1600 high level vocabulary words and gives users the capability to remove words that are already mastered from study. It optimizes itself for the user, presenting difficult words more frequently than words that are consistently correct. The four learning modes allow users to begin with multiple choice format (the easiest), and progress through a system called “spaced repetition” that optimizes practice. The app suggests when and how often you should practice. It allows users to set goals and keep track of progress.

Each word is accompanied by a definition, an example sentence, a graphic illustration, and information about the word such as its etiology. The pictures can be turned on and off, which will make the exercises more challenging. Students can practice with multiple choice exercises, spelling and other active learning techniques. They can record themselves saying each word and compare their pronunciation with that of the computer. Users can set goals and target dates to complete studying each section, as well.

Entertainment

This app is not really intended to be entertaining, but the developers have managed to inject a bit of fun anyway. The illustrations provided with each word are colorful cartoons that clearly show the meaning of the word. Many users will also appreciate the challenge of turning the progress bar to the successful green color that indicates lessons have been mastered, or will like competing with themselves or others for high scores on the quizzes.

Value

Though this app seems pricy ($9.99 in the App Store), it is well worth the investment for serious vocabulary students as well as for teens whose parents or teachers are trying to coax into studying harder words. It includes 1600 words that high school and college students really should know and understand, and will keep students learning for years. It also provides an excellent review for students, which is likely to improve their scores on the high-stakes exams that are necessary to move into college or graduate school.

Child Friendliness

This app is not meant for younger users who need monitoring and protection from open internet access. There are links to internet content that will open browsers, links to email, a link to rate the app, and links to other apps by the same developer. The app does disclose that it collects some anonymous user information for quality control, and refers users to the developers’ privacy policy for details, but the policy is not readily accessible from the information page. That being said, all of these connections are hidden away in an Information Section accessible by tapping the small “i” in the lower right corner of the home screen.   In other words, students are not likely to find most of it without looking. There is, however, a link that opens a pre-written email recommending the app to send to friends that is also accessible from the home screen (the “send” icon at the lower left of the screen). It would be safer for younger students if these things were not so accessible, but the app is intended for teens and adults who already usually have access to the internet.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO social media links
  • YES “more apps” links (in information section)
  • YES rating request (in information section)
  • YES external links (in information section)
  • YES recommendation email (lower left of home screen)

bloomtunes

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Kapu Bloom Tunes is a cute musical app that encourages children to explore their artistic talents by coloring and creating unique flowers using a variety of colors. Each color coincides with a specific musical note, so as children play with the colors, they are not only creating an artistic masterpiece, but they are creating a unique melody as well.

Features include:

  • Easy to use
  • Music play
  • Coloring

Quality

Kapu Bloom Tunes is a simple, yet very creative app that incorporates both visual artistry and music to create a fun app for young children to explore. The developers have done a great job keeping the user interface very intuitive and easy to use so players can explore the app on their own with out assistance from parents. With simple tapping, dragging, and drawing, children can color and decorate each seed before watering it and watching it grow into a gorgeous melodic flower. Overall this simple concept is very well done.

Education

While this app doesn’t teach specific educational items such as numbers or colors, it does encourage children to explore the various colors and sounds throughout. Adding a simple word association for each color could definitely enhance the educational value of the app.

Entertainment

Since this app is very much a free play game, it is easy for children to get absorbed and have fun on their own. Young children will especially enjoy the melodic coloring of each seed and watching it grow into a cute, colorful, singing flower. Since there are not specific instructions, children are free to play the app over and over again to create new flowers and will certainly have fun as they do it.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars, this app is not only cute and easy to use, but it’s a great value too. The endless play feature of the app allows young children to continue to play over and over again ensuring parents get their money’s worth.

Child Friendliness

Aimed at children ages 0-3, this app is well done. The set up is simple to use and very conducive to young children as it only requires a few taps and swipes of the finger to get going. With no additional instructions needed to play, this is a great app for little ones, especially if they are fond of music.

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

image

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

The Great Inventors invites children from ages four and up to explore three broad periods of history and find out about the development of common inventions. The app includes three interactive games, over twenty inventions, and countless animations and interactions.

Features include:

  • Over twenty descriptions in three time periods
  • Descriptions of inventors and inventions available in three languages
  • Intuitive game play and controls
  • Optional narration for each description
  • Colorful animated graphics

Quality

The Great Inventors is a high quality app. It is easy to use and intuitive in nature. Even young children, who cannot yet read, will be able to play easily. The graphics are colorful and engaging, and the inventions chosen for description are familiar enough that the information will easily connect to users’ prior knowledge.

Education

The Great Inventors is a fun app that will help young children learn a bit about the history of common inventions such as bicycles, airplanes, and trains. There are also descriptions about things that people may not think of as inventions, such as the theater and carrier pigeons. It is refreshing to see that the developers included many innovations that did not originate in the United States.

The app includes three screens representing history prior to about 1800, the 1800s, and the latter half of the twentieth century. It would be nicer if these were more clearly identified for users; it seems to allow a great teaching opportunity slide by to avoid giving the dates that the screens represent. This information would also help children to put the development of these innovations into historical perspective.

Children can touch question marks on the screens to access a pop-up about each invention. Narration begins automatically, but can be turned off if a child prefers to read on their own. It would be nice if a master control for this would be accessible in a protected parents’ area so that adults could have more control over who reads and who listens.

Each period also includes three learning games. A memory game and a matching game help children interact with the information presented in the period. These two activities give users a great opportunity to cement new learning into their brains. A third game offers simple sequencing and patterning challenges. This game, while useful for the very young, could just as easily have been done using colors or letters. Though it uses pictures related to the inventions and inventors of the time period, the game does not truly connect with the information taught in the rest of the app.

Entertainment

The Great Inventors is a fun app. Children can explore each historical scene and activate many animations and sound effects. This is almost always a favorite activity for the very young. The animations and characters are engaging, as well. The three games are quick to play, and are consistent across the three historical periods, though the details change, such as the content of the matching cards. The content always relates to the historical scene from which the player came. To move between the scenes, the developers have created a fun animated time machine. Using directional arrows, users can control their forward or backward movement through time. It’s also possible to trigger time movement by tapping the time machine’s clock face.

Value

The Great Inventors is a good value at $1.99. Children will add to their historical knowledge about important parts of everyday life and will have fun as they learn about inventions and inventors. It would be nice if additional historical scenes were to be added to the app. As it is, it seems a bit short, and children may run out of things to do after a while.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly. The one drawback is the lack of a parents’ area that could include global controls for the narration and language functions, suggestions about other non-digital activities to try, and so forth. The front page of the app also contains a effectively-protected link to the App store to another of the developer’s offerings. This link would be better off in a protected parents’ area, as well, so that children don’t attempt to access it.

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

littlecritter

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Happy Valentine’s Day, Little Critter is another wonderful storybook app from Oceanhouse Media that children will love. This interactive story takes readers on a journey with Little Critter as he celebrates Valentine’s Day with his classmates. Decorating, making cards, and celebrating with friends is what Valentine’s Day is about and this story is a wonderful book to share with little ones this time of year.
Features include:

  • Narration options (Read to me, Read to myself)
  • Voice record
  • Text highlighting
  • Vocabulary words

Quality

Oceanhouse Media always does a great job creating high quality storybook apps that are easy to use and engaging and Happy Valentin’es Day, Little Critter is no different. With narration and an auto play option, this app is is one that children of all ages can enjoy whether they are reading yet or not. The illustrations and sound effects used within the story are also professional and very well done adding a bit more interest to this cute story. Overall this app is very well done.

Education

Happy Valentine’s Day, Little Critter is a great app for children that are just beginning to read as it includes text highlighting and narration options for children to follow along. The illustrations are also interactive and allow readers to learn new words as they tap and touch various images. Another great feature is the voice record option that can provide children with an additional opportunity to practice reading aloud.

Entertainment

While there aren’t any additional games or activities outside the story, there is an in-story game that allows children to search through the illustrations to find the spider and the mouse located on each page. Once they reach the end of the story, readers can see how many they found. Children will no doubt enjoy the story and the search and find game within, but adding an additional activity outside of the story would add to the overall entertainment value.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is priced really well. With narration options, text highlighting and an in story game to keep children engaged, parents can certainly appreciate the overall value of this app.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job of creating an app that is easy to use for children of all ages. With narration options and text highlighting along with the easy to use interface, this is one storybook app that the entire family can enjoy. While the app is safe to use, there is a ‘rate this app’ pop up at the end of the story that really should be located in the parents area, even though it’s protected.

  • 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)
  • YES “rate this app” pop-up (Protected, but visible)

My pony

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

My Little Pony: Hearts & Hooves Day is a cute Valentine’s Day themed storybook app that My Little Pony lovers will really enjoy. With gorgeous illustrations that come to life with the tap of a finger and the fun narration that is included throughout, this app is loads of fun. It also includes a nice message about friendship that is great for children of all ages.
Features include:

  • Narration options (Read to me, Read it Myself)
  • Sight word practice
  • Friendship photo
  • Great illustrations

Quality

There is no doubt the quality of the illustrations and images used in this app are superb. With bright colors and simple animations as the illustrations come to life, this app will keep children engaged as they enjoy the story. The developers have also done a nice job with creating an app that is not only visually appealing, but also has music, sound effects, and professional narration throughout. The user interface is easy to use with arrows at the bottom of each page to move forward. Overall, this app is very well done.

Education

In addition to the wonderful friendship theme of the story that teaches children a valuable lesson about making friends and being honest, this app also allows children to add to their vocabulary using sight words. Throughout the story there are more challenging words that are highlighted in the story. Readers can tap the word to hear it read aloud to help them with their reading skills. The story is also includes text highlighting for children to follow along.

One of the additional activities includes an album of images and words that also help children learn and practice their reading skills. Words like hole, picnic, potion, and punch are used to help children expand their vocabulary and reading skills.

Entertainment

My Little Pony: Hearts & Hooves Day is not only an entertaining story, but the developers have included a bit of animation throughout that adds a bit more interest to the app. While there aren’t many additional activities, the word round up and the friendship photo activities do give readers something else to do in addition to reading the story itself. Adding one more game-like activity would definitely add to the entertainment value of the app overall.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is priced very well. With narration options, educational features, and great illustrations that children will love, parents will definitely appreciate the price.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job creating a storybook app that is easy to move through without a ton of instruction. With arrows at the bottom of each page, readers can easily move through the story. The animated illustrations can be a bit confusing depending on how many characters are involved. Each character is highlighted if they are meant to come to life. In some scenes it can be confusing as to which character speaks first and when to turn the page. Creating a one tap function so the page comes to life in the correct order might make things a bit easier for young children.

  • 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)

Lipa

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Lipa Knight Valentine’s is a cute puzzle app that requires players to help the knight rescue the princess by correctly building bridges that will help the knight continue his journey. These bridges aren’t your regular bridges either, they are made of various shapes and sizes of wood that must be placed in a certain way to allow him to pass across. Simply put this is a cute, problem-solving app that children will find challenging and fun.
Features include:

  • Valentine’s Day theme
  • 20 Challenging levels
  • Puzzle concept

Quality

Lipa Knight Valentine’s is full of gorgeous illustrations with bright colors and animations that are highly entertaining. The sound effects and music used throughout the app add a nice touch to this cute app making it more engaging and interesting. The app is also easy to use with simple drag and drop technology for each of the bridge pieces to be used which is great for young children. Overall the developers have done a nice job creating a high quality app.

Education

This app will definitely get children using their problem solving and logic skills as they piece together each bridge. Each level includes the knight on one side of a path with various dips, valleys, and streams to get over to the other side. There are a variety of pieces varying in shape that must be correctly assembled to create a smooth transition from one side to the other. Each level gets more challenging with more pieces, but it is a challenge children will love.

Entertainment

Not only is this app great for teaching children to use their problem solving skills, but it is also highly entertaining. With each new level, children will not only be challenged, but will enjoy helping the knight get one step closer to rescuing the princess. With that said, adding an additional activity or story to go along with the app would definitely increase the entertainment value of the app and would provide additional things to play with once children pass all of the levels.

Value

Priced at just under one dollars this app is a great deal. With 20 challenging levels and beautiful illustrations and animations this app is one children will enjoy that won’t break the bank.

Child Friendliness

This app is a great child friendly app that is easy to use and fun too. The interface includes simple drag and drop technology which is great for children of all ages. The theme of the app includes your typical fairytale scenario where the knight in shining armor rescues the princess. Adding an option for children to select their character (princess or knight) would allow a bit more freedom as far as who is the hero and would send a very empowering message to young girls. With that said the theme and the overall concept is well done.

  • 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)

starwalk

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Star Walk Kids offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to astronomy for users young and old. The app uses the user’s location and the gyroscope to show the night sky above your location, names the objects in the night sky, and gives information about them.

Features include:

  • Simple, intuitive controls
  • Video and audio explanations of stars, planets, constellations and more
  • Shows star chart matching location and season
  • Easy-to-understand explanations
  • Objects named when touched

Quality

This is a creative high-quality app that will give your family hours of enjoyment. In the daytime, it’s easy to pretend you are looking at the stars. Many videos and audio clips demonstrate complex concepts in simple ways suitable for younger learners, offer facts and statistics about each star, planet and constellation, and more. At night, it shows a detailed star chart reflecting your geographic location and the season. The controls are intuitive, so little instruction is needed. It can be learned simply by using it. It would perhaps be reassuring, though, to include a parents’ area that briefly goes over the uses of the app, its features, and ways to engage children. Without this sort of a guide, I was a bit uncertain that I had unlocked all of the app’s possible features, and I had difficulty figuring out how to locate and get information about specific constellations.

Education

Star Walk Kids is a wonderfully educational app that will take a glimmer of interest in the night sky and run with it. There’s a whole world of beauty and science to explore, not to mention the history of the cultures reflected in the constellations. Star Walk Kids does a great job of latching onto the wonder of looking up into the night sky and connecting it back to the world of science. The app includes dozens of information sections about planets, nearby stars, and constellations. Each section contains the basic information, but most also include audio clips of interesting facts. Some even include videos! And be sure to click the audio file icon several times: most entries have three or more recordings.

Entertainment

This app has a lot of entertainment value, especially for children or families that enjoy spending time together outdoors. The developers have upped the stakes by making the app responsive to your location. It shows the night sky just as it looks to you in that area and at that time of the year. This feature alone puts it several cuts above most astronomy information apps for kids. In addition, the app includes simple and clear video and audio assets that will engage young users. The videos are animated with a simple, clean style that supports rather than confounds the information, and the audio clips are short and easily-digestible.

Value

Star Walk Kids is a good value. For only a few dollars, children can have access to a wealth of information about outer space and astronomy, as well as a hands-on learning tool that simply wasn’t available in years past.  Think of how many adult astronomers would have given anything for an interactive star map that showed them what was in the sky above tailored to their specific location! This app has the potential to set your child on a path to a life-long hobby or even a career.  It’s worth every penny.

Child Friendliness

Star Walk Kids is very child friendly. Parents can rest assured that their young users will have a great hands-on science experience while knowing that personal information, such as location, are protected.

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

thomas

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 3

Download on the App Store

Overview

Thomas & Friends Watch and Play is a cute app for children who love Thomas & Friends. With four different activities to enjoy, this app is one that little train lovers will enjoy. With tracks that can be custom built & repaired, videos, and custom snapshots, this app is full of activities that children will be able to enjoy for hours.

Features include:

  • 4 Activities
  • Easy to use
  • Safe for kids

Quality

Just what you would expect from the Thomas & Friends app, this one is full of great graphics and sound effects that resemble the television show children love. With four different activities to enjoy, each one includes high quality images and easy to use functioning that is great for children of all ages. The user interface is very intuitive and easy to use, which parents will certainly appreciate as it doesn’t require a ton of direction or assistance.

Education

While there aren’t many specific educational features of this app, the Track Repair activity requires children to use their problem solving skills to repair the tracks by selecting the appropriate track that will complete each track. This activity provides several track pieces to choose from and players must select the correct one to complete the track so each train can complete their deliveries. Similar to a puzzle, this is great for children that could use a bit of practice with their problem solving skills.

Entertainment

Thomas lovers are going to really enjoy all this app has to offer. With four activities to choose from including an option to watch videos, this app is quite entertaining. The Steam Team Snapshots activity allows children to decorate various pictures to their liking and save to their device while the track builder allows children to use their creativity to build and decorate their own tracks. The four activities included create a nice diverse app that will keep children entertained for hours.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app is a great value. Parents will not only appreciate the price, but also all the fun activities included that will keep children entertained for hours. With four separate activities that are easy to use and fun too, this app is a great value.

Child Friendliness

The user interface of this app is not only of high quality in regards to the images and sound effects, but it is great for children of all ages. With an intuitive set-up, children will easily be able to move through the various activities without needing much instruction or support from parents, which is great.

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

mia2

App Info

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

Overview

Helpful Mia Mouse is out and about running errands to help her friends. At each stop, players can help her load her cart with items needed for the General Store. Young children can practice readiness skills including counting, following directions, finding which item does not belong with the group and more.

Features include:

  • Unique format for some activities
  • Two levels of difficulty
  • Return to the same place after a break
  • Develops reasoning skills
  • Generous amount of free content

Quality

Mia-The Happy Helper is a high quality app for young children. It is intuitive to use and the narrator gives clear directions and corrections when needed. The illustrations are colorful and well-drawn, in a style that many will have seen in other media. The animations and sound effects add interest as well as support the story nicely.

Education

Developers of this app obviously consulted early childhood experts as they have created an engaging app that will help young children practice some vital skills in a very engaging and pleasant way. Young Mia Mouse is helping friends get supplies for their General Store by loading her wagon at various stops. She picks berries, uses a slingshot to shoot down seedpods, helps figure out which items don’t belong in the group, and more. To accomplish the tasks in each scene, the young players must count, use eye-hand coordination, categorize objects, and more. At the end of the game, children are rewarded by the opportunity to play the virtual piano and add to a collection of tunes that have been “learned.”

Mia-The Happy Helper has an in-app purchase that becomes available partway through the game. The purchase more than doubles the available content, and adds skills such as beginning phonics and logical reasoning to the game. With or without the extra purchase, this app offers a pleasant and positive learning experience for preschool children.

Entertainment

Mia-The Happy Helper is a fun app that children will enjoy playing again and again. The main character is Mia the Mouse. The narrator gently draws children into the story by having them “help Mia” take her cart from one scene to the next, which really helps engage players. When a task is successfully completed, Mia drums her feet and does a little dance because she is so excited. I do wish that the routine varied from time to time, though. It’s a cute sequence, but after several repetitions, it’s not nearly so interesting.

The in-app purchase adds some content that is not commonplace in other apps for this age group. It’s refreshing to see activities built around finding hidden objects, for example, and those based on eye-hand coordination. Each task, both in the free version and in the purchased one, is presented in a unique way, as well. For example, the purchased content includes a matching exercise where players must drag objects to their initial sounds. However, instead of simply placing these items on the screen or dropping them from the top of the scene, the developers chose to theme the task around a snow globe. The items to match are inside the globe, surrounded by the falling snow.

Value

This app is free in the App Store. A complete version of the game is available without any purchases. In other words, the game does not drop off without a satisfying ending. Everyone can finish, no matter what, and that is a huge plus. Partway through the game, players are prompted to get an adult to purchase the additional content or to continue playing on their own. The one-time in-app purchase costs $2.99. It more than doubles the available content and adds several additional scenes to the game, including several that help children begin to learn about letters and sounds. It’s a worthwhile purchase, but even if you stick to the free content, the app has a lot to offer.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. There is an effective parent gate protecting links to social media, email, the developer’s website, and so forth. The in-app purchase is also protected by the same parent gate, but it would be better if the reminder did not interrupt the children’s game.

  • YES Protected parent area containing external links
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchases (Protected, but visible)