4.5 stars – excellent apps

KidsCast

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Kids will always have new content with a monthly subscription to KidsCast, an app full of games, books, and shows.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

KidsCast is designed as an all-in-one entertainment center for kids. Within the app, kids can watch shows, read books and magazines, and play fun games. Parents can curate their own library of content to download for children so it’s accessible all the time.

Features include:

  • Monthly subscription service
  • Books for children to read
  • Issues of Imagine Magazine
  • Games and other activities

Quality

The app is laid out fairly clearly. Kids are first shown the Imaginarium, where they can access books and issues of Imagine Magazine. If they swipe the screen and follow the signs, they’ll find other categories too, such as games, shows, and content to download. Content kids cannot access is labeled with a lock. There is enough content available for free that kids can get a feel for the app before parents decide whether to purchase a subscription or sign up for a free trial. Much of the content, particularly the games and shows, must be downloaded before kids can play it. Therefore, it’s best to set up the app while connected to wifi.

Education

Within the app, kids will find a wide range of content. Some of it is more educational than others. While the goal of the app is for kids to have fun, they’ll get in some reading practice through the access to ebooks and magazines. They’ll also learn by watching the shows included in the apps and may gain some basic logic skills by playing the games.

Entertainment

Kids won’t be bored while interacting with KidsCast. In each category, there are plenty of activities for them to enjoy. The app also adds new content every month, ensuring that there’s always something new for kids to do. With a range of content, the app also appeals to a larger age range than many other apps for kids.

Value

KidsCast operates based on a monthly subscription. For a monthly fee, your children get access to the latest child-friendly content curated by developers. If you’re looking for a safe, fun app for children and your children enjoy the content, it may be worth the fee. However, you should try the app to see what your children think before subscribing. A free 7-day trial is available.

Child Friendliness

In the settings area, kids will have access to information about the app, but none of the links, aside for the link to purchase a subscription are active. The in-app purchase is not protected by a parental block, so you want to be sure purchases through the App Store are password-protected before allowing your children to interact with the app.

  • NO external links
  • NO rate us
  • No more apps
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
NHL Figures League is a fun fantasy sports app focused on hockey. Fans of both the sport and fantasy sports action will enjoy the app, which has many levels of competition and capability to collect figures.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 2

Download on the App Store

Overview

NHL Figures League is a fantasy sport app that allows players to “recruit” real players to create a dream team, then pit them against other teams in a practice or competitive mode. A combination of the players’ real life stats and random dice throws determine the players’ actions in each game.

Features include:

  • Play in three modes
  • Opportunity to play in competitive games
  • Opportunity to win real life prizes
  • Collect and trade figures
  • Earn achievements and challenge friends

Quality

NHL Figures League is a high quality app that will please players who enjoy fantasy sports, hockey, or competitive play.  Developers did a good job of including incentives such as earning awards that encourage developing skills as well as randomizing the game so that anything can happen, just like in a real game.  This app also includes an informative parents’ information section that explains the possibilities of the app, and even tells parents how to manage or protect in-app purchases if desired.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

NHL Figures League offers lots of ways to have fun. Players can compete with themselves, the computer, or others. The practice league mode allows people to learn the layout of the game and understand how it works.  It also will give players an opportunity to improve their skills.  The competitive modes allow play against real opponents in real time and offer real-life prizes such as autographed figurines.  It could become quite addicting!

Value

NHL Figures League is a great value because it’s completely free to play. App developers have started new players off with enough players for free to build a team, and allow choice about what positions users can put them into.  All modes of play are open in the free version of the app.  There are available in-app purchases, but new players can also be earned using points gained within the app.

Child Friendliness

This app connects to social media, Game Center and has in-app purchases. Connection is optional, and purchases can be regulated in the device’s settings, but this is not recommended for younger players.  Players can also connect with other players through challenges, trades, and so forth.  Developers have put limits on trades so that no one can take advantage, such as common figures cannot be traded for rare figures.

  • Parent area (contains external links & social media)
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchases
  • YES connection to social media and Game Center

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Spell Bear is a simple and pleasant app that is designed to help very young students develop basic understandings about letter sounds and word order. The app provides practice with spelling three letter words, sounding words out, and more.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

Spell Bear offers young children an opportunity to spell simple words while learning about the sounds that letters make. Players choose a key letter, then drag letters to target boxes to spell the focus word while hearing the letter sounds. The narrator then sounds the word out while highlighting the letters one at a time.

Features include:

  • Includes 26 key words with focus beginning or medial sounds
  • Three levels of difficulty
  • Fun customization activity allowing kids to use earned points to dress their bear
  • Add your own words and pictures
  • Parent information available

Quality

Spell Bear is a high quality app that will help young children practice beginning phonics and spelling skills. Developers did a nice job of creating simple illustrations of familiar words to focus on the consonant and short vowel sounds. The system to add your own words is easy to use and works well, except for a known glitch that interferes with adding pictures directly from your device’s photo stream. The work around listed on the App Store page is to transfer your pictures to Dropbox or another supported service and import them from there. Developers did include a small information section for parents, but it would be nice to have a more thorough explanation about the three levels and how they help children learn.

Education

Spell Bear is intended for the very young. Preschoolers and kindergarteners will enjoy the app and are likely to learn a lot about spelling the 26 included words as well as the words that parents or teachers enter for them to work with. Children are presented with an alphabet at the bottom of the screen (users can scroll to see the rest of the letters). When a letter is tapped, the key word for that letter is presented with an illustration, the word spelled with hyphens between the letters, and a notation that says “The letter _ makes the /_/ sound.”  Touch the picture, and it is replaced with letter tiles in random order. At the bottom of the screen are tiles to use to spell the word. At the easiest level, the letters are printed on the target tiles. At the medium level, the first letter is printed and the rest are blank, and at the hardest level, all target tiles are blank. When users touch a letter tile, the narrator voices the letter sound, and when the tile is correctly placed, the narrator names the letter. After all tiles are in their correct spots, the narrator voices each phoneme (sounds out the word), then reads the word.

There are a few concerns with the presentation of the skills in this app. Some letter sounds are not 100% accurate, including the letter Y which is voiced as “YE” and the letter W which is voiced as “WWOO” which some children might find confusing. The letter tiles overlap when initially presented, and children can drag them to the targets in any order, instead of being forced to spell from left to right.

The user added words are limited to four, and these must have between three and five letters. The system does not recognize anything except the basic sound of each consonant and short vowel sounds, so words such as “HER” or “CHIP” will not be sounded out correctly. Developers do note that primary sounds only are used, but this should be clarified in the word-adding section, since many parents will not understand the difference.  If a user chooses to skip adding a picture to custom words, the app presents a generic “WORD” graphic which may be confusing to young users. It is also impossible to distinguish one custom word from another without a picture, and the app does not pronounce the whole word, or give users an option to record it.

Entertainment

When children spell words correctly, they earn “Paw Points” which can be exchanged for clothing items for the bear in the Clothing Store. Bears can wear various articles, including hats, glasses, and pants. There are also three options for the bear itself-brown, black, or panda coloring. Optional items cost from 3 to 10 paw prints.

Correct spellings are rewarded with a picture of the bear’s face, complete with the decorations that have been purchased. The narrator speaks a brief congratulatory message in a very mechanical and mostly expressionless voice. Children may quickly grow tired of that!

Value

Spell Bear costs ninety-nine cents on the App Store, which is an excellent value, especially if multiple children will use the app. The feature allowing users to add words makes it particularly valuable, because parents can customize and recustomize it as they wish.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly.

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

Sight Words - Learning Games

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help kids learn sight words through a series of six fun games with Sight Words - Learning Games.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Recognizing sight words is a key skill for students in early elementary school. Sight Words – Learning Games helps kids learn the most important sight words through a series of six learning games. Kids in pre-k through third grade will have a fun time while developing an important skill.

Features include:

  • Learn sight words
  • Play fun games
  • Choose from 5 different levels
  • Hear positive reinforcement

Quality

Overall, the app runs well. On the main screen, the different games are organized in a table with a photo to represent each game. While kids will enjoy the games, the graphics and game actions have a lower quality feel than many early learning apps. Occasionally, after kids have played multiple rounds of a game, the sound may also go out. Restarting the app will fix the problem. The games do move at a good pace for kids and are game play is fairly intuitive.

Education

Sight words practice is available at three different levels: PrePrimer, Primer, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and Third Grade. Kids just learning the words will do best with the word search and puzzle games. These will help them learn the words. In the other games, kids are asked to tap on a particular word as it falls. The game offers positive reinforcement as kids play and nicely encourages them to try again if they get a word wrong.

Entertainment

Kids can play six different games. The first game is a basic word search game where kids find sight words. As they go through the word search, the words increase in difficulty. There’s also a game where kids pop sight words to build an ice cream cone, a race with tortoises and hares, a pelican who eats fish sight words, puzzles, and a space cat and mouse game. The variety is fun for kids and the games are designed with kids’ interest levels in mind.

Value

Within the app, parents and teachers will find six different games, as well as five different levels of sight words. Despite some quality issues, the app offers many opportunities for kids to practice the words.

Child Friendliness

At the bottom of the main screen, the info button leads to a page that contains two external links. One goes to the developer’s website. The other goes to a list of sight words. Otherwise, all of the content within the app is child-friendly and designed at their speed.

  • NO rate us
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES external links

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Good Dog Tobi is a fun app that will help young children learn readiness skills with a collection of over sixty mini-games that are entertaining and fun to play.
4.5

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Good Dog Tobi is an app designed for toddlers and preschoolers that features invitations to children to follow directions and complete tasks as “Tobi.” Mini-games include matching exercises, fine motor tasks, and more, and Tobi is rewarded for successful completion of five games with exciting snacks.

Features include:

  • Over 60 mini-games
  • Play without using data
  • Colorful graphics
  • Silly sound effects
  • Intuitive interface

Quality

Good Dog Tobi is a high quality app that will entice young children to practice important skills. Developers did a fine job of designing Tobi and his friends to be engaging and friendly. The app would benefit from a parents’ area that explains the importance of the tasks and their relation to academic skills, as well as a quick tutorial to help parents understand (and be able to explain) the various games to the kids, because some are not as intuitive as they might be. This app did “hang up” a few times as I was playing, and I had to let the timer run out for the task before it regained control. This might get frustrating if it happens too often for children, because running out of time leads to a “fail” message that could make some kids feel a bit bad.

Education

Good Dog Tobi offers a fair selection of readiness tasks that will help toddlers and preschoolers gain vital skills as they get ready for more challenging tasks in the future.  There are over sixty different games that seem to present in random order, so children will be able to play for quite a while before seeing much repetition.

Some of the mini games that I saw included dot-to-dot activities, matching exercises, and pop-the-balloon games. There were also hide and seek games where a target was hidden under a cup, then the cups were mixed up, and “sweeping” and “mowing” exercises where kids needed to drag a device to all parts of the screen. In other words, there’s a good variety of games and enough of them so it does not seem repetitious.  One downside is that the activities are timed, and failing to meet the time constraint results in a “FAIL” message. It would probably be enough to simply not collect the token for the exercise; some kids might feel quite discouraged if they see that message very often.

Every five games, Tobi the dog collects a snack for his “good work.”  This is a cute reward system, but some parents may be a bit concerned that Tobi is being rewarded with food for his performance, and particularly that much of the food he receives is “junk food” like cookies, pies, ice cream and cakes.  He does have some cute reactions to his snacks, such as turning red when he eats hot peppers and shivering when he eats ice cream.  He does occasionally burp and even fart, then look cutely guilty, which also may put some parents off.

Entertainment

Good Dog Tobi is a fun app that young children are likely to enjoy. With over 60 minigames, children can play for quite a while without seeing much repetition, and even though I played for nearly half an hour, I saw very few repeats.  Kids will also be fascinated with Tobi’s snacks and his reactions to them; he shivers and gets covered in ice when he eats cold snacks, for example, and his eyes turn into hearts when he eats something he really likes.

Value

Good Dog Tobi costs ninety-nine cents on the App Store, and it is quite likely to occupy your toddlers and preschoolers with constructive learning activities for many hours.  The app teaches many valuable skills and it’s fun to play.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Math Bakery 2 – Continue Counting is a fun app that does a fine job of introducing and providing practice with larger addition and subtraction problems that require regrouping.
4.9

App Info

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

Overview

Math Bakery 2-Continue Counting presents easy-to-understand lessons about addition and subtraction with regrouping. It’s designed for children from ages 7-12, but suitable for an even wider range. The app features formatting choices (regrouping numbers at the tops or bottoms of the columns), single player or a challenge mode that pits one live player against another, and manipulative items and hints that demonstrate grouping by 10s.

Features include:

  • 14 games for a varied experience
  • Built-in rewards system for successful responses
  • Step-by-step help system that prevents failure
  • Control of speed and difficulty level
  • Numbers up to 999

Quality

Math Bakery 2 is a high quality app that is remarkably intuitive to use. Developers included a good combination of hints and helps that will make even the most lost student successful. The app will build confidence with math and help kids develop the skills they need to understand place value and regrouping, which are critical to math success.

Education

Math Bakery 2 has all of the niceties and perks that an addition/subtraction teaching system should have. Users can control most aspects of the games, including difficulty level and time allotted. Help screens are offered at the first error, and correction suggestions do not give away answers, but rather guide students into correct process to find answers on their own.

This app is loaded with visual cues and reminders to regroup as well as other hints and tricks to make math easier. For example, problems are written on graph paper, making it easy for the eye to follow the columns downward. Manipulative cookies are placed in rows of ten for smaller problems, and a tap to the screen will allow users to drag the extra cookies around to add or subtract by forming groups of tens and ones.

Entertainment

While this app is highly educational, it’s also quite entertaining. It manages “fun with a purpose” quite nicely. Successful completion of the addition and subtraction tasks yields instant rewards, and completion of sets of tasks gives players the materials to build a gingerbread house.  It’s also fun to play in the two-player, competitive mode.

Value

Math Bakery 2 costs $2.99 in the App Store.  This is a really good value, but I do wish it packed a little more range for that kind of price.  Combining with Math Bakery 1 (which introduces addition and subtraction concepts), or perhaps adding beginning multiplication and division activities, which are often taught around this same time, would be really nice options.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
My4Faces Dreamland offers a few unique and entertaining twists on the popular match-three style game for your smart phone or tablet. It’s colorful, challenging, and fun to play.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

My4Faces-Dreamland is a match-three type game that features colored, crazy faces in the blocks. There’s a lot of variety in this version of the game, and each level adds a new twist.

Features include:

  • 50 levels
  • Tracks number of moves as well as time to complete levels
  • Additional bonuses available to help pass levels
  • Varied game board shape at each level
  • Varied obstacles at each level

Quality

My4Faces Dreamland is a high quality app that creates a match-three type game with several twists on competitors. The app is easy to use if you are already familiar with this type of game. Developers should strongly consider including more information about the various bonus and penalty squares, and how they are to be activated. This would really help parents/mentors who are teaching the game to children.  It would be helpful to see a summary of the various squares and their meanings, as well as how to activate the promised bonuses.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

My4Faces Dreamland is quite entertaining, especially if you like match-three type games. Developers have set it up so that the board is not in the traditional rectangular shape all of the time. With nooks and crannies along the sides, combined with obstacles that are placed in different spots in the different levels, each section is a unique challenge. The app also keeps track of the number of moves needed to complete the level and how many were made by the player. This means that in addition to trying to beat time records, players can work on their strategies as well.

Value

This game is free on the App Store, making it an exceptional value. And unlike many of its competitors, there are few if any outside advertisements or tempting and obvious in-app purchases. Nice job!

Child Friendliness

This app is child friendly.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads

Ole Lion

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Travel through the African landscape and take out alien spaceships in Ole Lion, a simple, but fun arcade game for kids.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Ole Lion takes you on the quest of an African warrior. In this app, you must fight aliens to protect your home. Wait, aliens? In Africa? Yep. The terrain of deserts and grasslands may look familiar, but the creatures in this app are anything but. Can you use some old-fashioned technology to take out futuristic foes?

Features include:

  • Multiple levels
  • Themed music and sound effects
  • High score tracking
  • Easy game play

Quality

It’s not very hard to figure out what to do in the game. There are two main buttons – the circle shoots and the triangle jumps. You must run and shoot the aliens while jumping over obstacles such as ditches and trash cans. The game includes a few directions, such as “jump over the trash cans” when new obstacles appear. One negative is that sometimes you may think you’ve hit jump quickly enough to jump over an obstacle, but it still ends up taking you out.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

While the game is fairly simple, it’s also fairly entertaining. You must try to take out the aliens while avoiding obstacles. As you play, your score is tracked and you’re encouraged to beat your high score. If you successfully complete a level, you’re rewarded with an African proverb from Oloiboni.

Value

The app is free to download and does not have any in-app purchases. It’s simply a fun game for kids.

Child Friendliness

The main screen of the app features a small icon that leads to the developer’s website. This access is not protected. At the end of each round, kids see an icon to share their score via e-mail, text, or social media.

  • Protected Parent Area
  • NO rate us
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES external links
  • YES social media

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
ExplorArt Klee – the Art of Paul Klee, for Kids is a beautifully designed and illustrated ebook that invites users to explore many artistic styles and concepts through play. Let your imagination fly with this ebook!
4.9

App Info

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

Overview

ExplorArt Klee – The Art of Paul Klee, for Kids is an animated, interactive ebook that introduces the creations of artist Paul Klee to children with a fanciful trip to planet PK which showcases Klee’s unique style.

Features include:

  • Six interactive versions of Klee’s paintings
  • Guides Cice and Ku lead the tour
  • Original acoustic music
  • English, Spanish, French, German or Italian narration
  • Free exploration with no competition

Quality

ExplorArt Klee is a very high quality app that is responsive and intuitive to use. It’s suitable for all age levels, with optional historical and background information that can be accessed by older users. The app is easy to use and features a wide array of interactivity on nearly every page. Developers did a good job of providing access to customization tools, including additional conceptual information, voice-over and music controls, and navigation.

Education

This app is very educational, and has achieved that rare state of being very engaging as well. It’s a great way to introduce the world of Paul Klee’s art to children (and adults) of all ages, and will keep readers engaged with puzzles such as a jigsaw-like activity and interactions such as musical whimsy that can be “played” in many different ways. Cice, the guide, and Ku, the cat, will lead users on a pleasant and engaging adventure through six scenes on the planet PK that are really paintings by Paul Klee. Developers did a good job of embedding a nice range of educational activities within the pages of this beautiful ebook.

In addition to helping users learn about Klee’s art, there are also several activities to help them better understand artistic concepts such as themes of nature, spirals, and the interconnection between music, art, and creativity.

Entertainment

ExplorArt Klee is highly entertaining. The graphics are stupendous and the animations and interactions make good use of the iPad’s capabilities. It’s not often you get to reassemble a masterpiece after watching it fall apart before your eyes!  Each interaction is unique and fun, so readers will be inclined to find out what will be on the next page.

Value

This app may seem to be a bit on the pricy side, at $4.99 in the App Store. It’s a good value, but perhaps developers should do a little more tooting of their own horn. Building appreciation for many styles of art is crucial to a well-rounded education, and it takes some habit-forming activities such as this one to whet children’s appetites for more. Exposure will broaden users’ horizons and enrich their lives.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

Retro Shooting

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Experience the feel of a classic arcade game as you try to take down missiles in Retro Shooting.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Retro Shooting is exactly what it sounds like it is – a retro shooting game. This game has the same feel of classic arcade games, but you don’t have to put in a quarter or even go to an arcade to enjoy it.

Features include:

  • Shoot down missiles
  • Enhance your plane
  • Earn medals and stars
  • Level up

Quality

When players first open the app, they’re taken through a tutorial. The tutorial does a good job of laying out the game and its various features. Once players go through the tutorial, they can visit the enhancements screen. There they can customize their experience, changing the main weapon ATK, the missile ATK, the magnetic field power, and skill cooldown time. Users need coins for many of the enhancements which they can earn by playing the game.

The game itself is fairly easy to play. Through the tutorial, players will learn how to use boosts and other features by holding down two fingers during game play. It can take a few minutes to get the hang of these special features, but after some practice, they’ll come more naturally.

Education

This game is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Like many arcade games, Retro Shooting is somewhat addicting. Players will enjoy guiding the plane around the screen and trying to take out the missiles as they approach. The game rewards players with medals and coins for their achievements. There are multiple levels of play, so players are motivated to keep trying to advance.

Value

The app is free to download and offers a quality arcade-style shooting game. If kids enjoy retro arcade games, they’ll enjoy this app. However, parents should be sure to set up password protection so kids don’t try to purchase enhancements from the App Store.

Child Friendliness

Most of the app is child-friendly. In a few instances, such as on the enhancements screen, ads appear at the bottom of the screen. Users can also make in-app purchases to get specialized enhancements.

  • NO rate us
  • NO more apps
  • YES 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchases

COOSHACalendar

Quality
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Keep track of all of your calendars in one place and share them with others with COOSHA Calendar.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

COOSHA is a social calendar app that’s designed to help people stay organized. With the app, users can create and share calendars, categorize events, and keep better track of everything going on in their busy lives.

Features include:

  • Create calendars
  • Categorize events
  • Create lists
  • Share calendars with others

Quality

Setting up COOSHA requires creating an account. Doing so requires an e-mail address. Once users set up an account, they can login using a username or e-mail address. Users are given the option to import existing calendars from iOS, Google, and Microsoft. They can also set up new calendars or add events to the default Home calendar.

One of the benefits of COOSHA is that it allows users to invite others to the app and share calendars with them. Users can create a network of family members, friends, team members, and others they may need to share important dates with. The calendar works well for youth sports teams and clubs, as well as classroom teachers. Events can be categorized and color-coded to help users keep track of them more easily.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

The app is free to download and use. Many of the features it offers are also offered through other free calendars, such as Google Calendar. However, users may appreciate being able to import multiple calendars into one app.

Child Friendliness

This app is designed for teens and adults, although upper elementary and middle school students with busy schedules may benefit from it as well. Users must create an account which requires inputting an e-mail address. The app also asks for permission to send notifications.

  • NO rate us
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

Super Spelling

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help kids learn to spell 400 new words with Super Spelling, a fun spelling game for kids.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Super Spelling helps kids learn how to spell over 400 new words. It does that by showing kids a series of pictures and having them drag the letters to create the word that each picture represents. Kids aren’t left alone to figure it out on their own. The app has plenty of features designed to help them.

Features include:

  • Available in English and Dutch
  • Multiple levels of play
  • Stars and ribbons as rewards
  • Hints and other helpful features

Quality

On the main screen of the app, kids can see the start button front and center. The main screen includes an icon with access to the settings screen. There parents and teachers can customize some of the features, such as determining whether to lock unplayed levels and whether to include the help option. A smaller button on the main screen allows kids to see their achievements.

When kids tap on the start button, they’re shown the different levels of the app. Depending on the settings, unplayed levels may be locked or unlocked. One kids choose a level, the game starts. This is where the quality of the app suffers a little. The images are clear and the letters stand out, but dragging and dropping the correct letters into their spaces is a bit frustrating. Kids may have to move the letters around a few times to get them to fit.

Education

Through a series of levels, kids have the chance to learn how to spell around 400 new words. Each word is represented by a picture with a set of blank boxes below it. Once kids figure out what word the picture represents, they can drag and drop the correct letters into the boxes. A letter turns red and moves from the spot if it is incorrect. A help button allows kids to see the correct word if they can’t figure it out.

Entertainment

Learning to spell new words is something that kids enjoy. In this game, they’re encouraged to spell more new words by the opportunity to earn stars. As kids play, they’ll see quality images and also get to listen to relaxing background music. These features help make the game more entertaining.

Value

Given the fact that Super Spelling is free to download and that it helps kids learn to spell hundreds of word, it offers a great value.

Child Friendliness

The app is free from advertisements, in-app purchases, and other content designed to take kids away from the app. Kids can access the settings section, but the icons are small and not likely to attract attention.

  • NO rate us
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO more apps

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
993 Mine Escape is a fun escape-the-room puzzle app that offers hours of gaming time complete with challenging puzzles that will put your mental capabilities to the test. Be observant, and you just might be able to solve the puzzles and escape from the mine.
4.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

993 Mine Escape is an escape-the-room puzzle game with numerous puzzles and brain teasers that puzzle addicts will adore. Pick up the clues, open the secret doors, and find your way out of each room by solving increasingly difficult puzzles.

Features include:

  • Over 100 puzzles to solve
  • Over 150 doors to open
  • 25 hours of game play
  • Nonviolent game play
  • Build observation, reasoning, and creativity skills

Quality

993 Mine Escape is a high quality app that will occupy puzzle fans for hours. Developers have created a wealth of innovative puzzles to stump players as they try to find their way out of each room. They also have linked to a helpful walk-through that is great for novice players, since it demonstrates how to solve the first puzzle (though things move very fast, and it will take you several views to understand everything).

Education

Puzzles that exercise observation and reasoning skills are always education, even if they don’t really “intend” to be. This app is no exception. Kids have no alternative but to be observant, to apply their reasoning skills, to be curious and to be persistent if they want to win at this activity, and these are precisely the same skills that they will need for success in educational pursuits.

Entertainment

993 Mine Escape is a lot of fun to play. Though the game is timed, there doesn’t seem to be any “time limit,” so it’s ok if a player takes a while to solve the given puzzles. The graphics are enticing, and many of the items in the room can be manipulated. The challenge is figuring out exactly what actions are needed and in what sequence.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it a great value. If you (or your older children) enjoy escape-the-room puzzles, this would be a fun addition to your collection. It features dozens of hours of game play, so it’s tough to beat the price.

Child Friendliness

This app contains outside advertisements running as banners, and will pause the game to show advertisements. There is an in-app purchase to remove the ads if you wish, for ninety-nine cents.

  • NO social media
  • YES in-app purchase to remove ads 
  • YES unprotected outside links
  • YES outside advertisement on banners
  • YES outside advertising videos that pause the game to run

Buzkids

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Buzkids is a personalized app that helps little kids learn their letters, numbers, animal sounds, and fruit and vegetable names.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Buzkids is an early learning app for babies and toddlers. This flashcard based app helps little kids learn their letters, numbers, animal sounds, and fruit and vegetable names. Not only can kids tap through the flash cards to learn, but the app is also personalized, so they hear their name attached to each one. The end result is a unique and fun app for little kids.

Features include:

  • Personalize with your child’s name
  • Learn letters and numbers
  • Hear animal sounds
  • Discover new words

Quality

On the main screen of the app, you’ll see a list of all of the categories. If you click on the settings icon, you can enter a child’s name. This will help personalize the experience of the app. From there, kids can tap away, moving from category to category, and also bringing up fun features, such as fireworks and balloons. One negative is that the app does not limit how fast a child can swipe from card to card, so little kids may swipe very quickly and not get as much from the app. It would also be nice if the app had a human voice instead of a computerized one.

Education

Developers have created an app that utilizes simple flash cards and the repetition of the child’s name to promote learning. For example, the child will hear, “Hey (insert child’s name), Look. A for Apple” when the A card is shown. This gets the child’s attention. Then the child will hear what the object is and see a picture of it. There are five different categories, including Animals, which features pictures and sounds of each animal.

Entertainment

As kids swipe through the cards, they’ll find a lot of pictures to look at. They’ll also enjoy hearing their name. On the bottom of the main screen, kids will also see icons for stars, fireworks, and balloons. Tapping on these icons brings up fun surprises. A color wheel also allows kids to change the color of the menu buttons.

Value

The app is free to download. While there are many flash card style apps out there, the ability to personalize this app makes it nice.

Child Friendliness

Kids can freely play within the app. Parents do not have to worry about settings screens or unprotected links. Everything in the app is safe for kids.

  • NO rate us
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
STEM Storiez-Wootzy Colors is a pleasant e-book designed to introduce the very young to the names of the basic colors. It features cute space creatures that visit their colorful home planets and offers surprise animated interactions on each page.
4.4

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

STEM Storiez – Wootzy Colors is an app designed to help very young children learn about colors in an interactive, colorful e-book. It includes animations and sound effects as well as optional narration and control of the appearance of the text. Wootzy Colors is designed to be used on its own or with a turtle-like plush smart toy called Zumo.

Features include:

  • Control of audio and text features
  • Colorful, interactive animations
  • Multi-sensory experience
  • Control amount and relative volume of audio

Quality

Wootzy Colors is a high-quality app that will engage young learners as they explore colors in the interactive story. The ebook features surprise animations on each page that children will discover as they tap on various parts of the screen. Developers did a great job of making the app customizable for children of all levels and abilities, particularly those who have sensory issues. It would be nice if they included a more comprehensive outline of the features for parents; the app has a lot to offer, but some parents may not understand well enough to appreciate the finer points. Also, the app optionally connects with a smart toy called Zumo, and the link for more information about the toy is incorrect. The correct link is http://zyrobotics.com/our-products/ for interested users.

Education

Stem Storiez-Wootzy Colors is an interactive ebook designed to help the very young learn to recognize and name colors. The story is appealing, and the colorful space creatures (the “Wootzies”) are adorable!  Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy following the story as they see each Wootzy’s home planet. The narrator encourages participation in the story as she invites children to say the names of each color again and again.

I do wish this app included a section for some free play with the colors after the story ends. This would extend its educational value and also make it fun for the youngsters.

Entertainment

Wootzy Colors is a cute e-book that will engage toddlers and preschoolers with bright, interactive animations. Developers did a fine job of creating engaging characters that are just naturally lovable. The book would be more entertaining, however, if there were a bit more of a storyline, and/or some interactive activities based on colors, such as sticker play, coloring, or some game-like activities like “pop the color” where kids could match and tap the target color.

 

Value

This app is $2.99 on the App Store. That seems a bit pricey, considering the simple nature of the interactions and the fact that the ebook does not include any breakout activities.  There is a lot more value to the special needs population, though, since users have such complete control over the presentation of the text and sound effects. This e-book could well be ideal for children with sensory issues or other special needs.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

  • Protected parent area (contains external links, more apps, ratings, and email form)
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Skiplit is a highly-entertaining and possibly addictive “bounce the ball into the goal” app. The extra twists and challenges, such as moving barriers and multiple balls in play, will keep even experienced players intrigued.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Skiplit is a deceptively simple game: All you need to do is get the ball to hit the goal. However, each level becomes increasingly complicated as simple barriers, multiple color-coordinated balls and goals, and even barriers that move around are added. You need to quickly calculate angles and momentum to control the ball. Players have a limited number of bounces (or “skips”) allowed before the level ends, making play even more challenging.

Features include:

  • 72 levels
  • Increasing difficulty on each level
  • Varied types of balls, goals, and challenges
  • Moving barriers

Quality

Skiplit is a simple, yet high quality app. Everything works as expected, and the game’s physics engine is consistent. The developers were creative with their twists on this common form of game (bouncing a ball into a goal), including moving barriers, multiple balls and goals, and much more. Players can take a break from playing, and restart the level where they left off, which is a very positive feature with so many levels. Levels are grouped, and once a group is unlocked, all of the five to ten levels contained in the group are available to play.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Skiplit is highly entertaining, and many will find it addictive. It’s completely nonverbal, relying solely on visual and timing skills to launch the ball at the correct angle to put it into the goal. With 72 levels combined with the developers’ creativity in coming up with unique challenges, the game has outstanding play value. It definitely will cause players to say, “Just one more level…”

Value

Skiplit is free on the App Store, making it a great value. The game is simple, yet fun, and has a wealth of content to explore. There is a paid option available for 99 cents to remove the ads if you wish.

Child Friendliness

This app contains outside advertisements in the free version, unprotected links to email and the internet, and access to Ipad’s “share” system.

  • YES unprotected in-app purchase
  • YES unprotected link to developers’ website
  • YES outside advertisements
  • YES unprotected email link

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Catch the Shapeshifter is a unique and challenging visual perception, attention, and focus puzzle that could quickly become addicting. Spot the Shapeshifter and other creatures that change their shapes as they drift across amazing and fantastic 3-D backdrops.
4.9

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Catch the Shapeshifter is a unique and challenging visual puzzle game that will mesmerize players with unique, 3-D modern art backgrounds and constantly shifting, changing and drifting shapes.  The object of the game is to spot the shapes that morph into other shapes and tap them to earn points, but it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

Features include:

  • 50 levels of difficulty
  • Creative, unique game play
  • Gorgeous 3-D modern art backgrounds
  • Hypnotic background music
  • Challenging visual-perceptual and attention task

Quality

Catch the Shapeshifter is a high quality app that will not disappoint.  The art and music alone make it hypnotic and relaxing (though I found a few of the 3-D background designs to be downright dizzying!).  There is not a clear and obvious tutorial, but I believe developers introduce the game with nonverbal hints (arrows about which shape to tap) to help novice players get the hang of the game play.  Some of us are just visually dense, however, and a separate tutorial that explains the objective of the game would be really nice.  It took me nearly 30 minutes to figure out what I was trying to do, and a lot longer to do it well enough to pass the first level of the app.  I found that aspect to be a bit frustrating.

Education

While I don’t think this app is intended to be specifically “educational,” it has a wealth of skill-building to offer players.  The task is to spot the shapes that morph into other shapes.  Many of the shapes (colorful, abstract animals) fade in and out of view, and some of them change to completely different shapes when they return to visibility. Tapping those shapes gives points to the player. Tapping the static characters deducts points and can end the round early. There are “boosters” that can help players increase their scores, as well.

The task is actually quite challenging. The 3-D, modern art background is moving, as are the creatures. The creatures spin and move at different speeds. It takes a great deal of concentration and attention, as well as a good visual memory and quick reflexes to find and tap the ones that are changing shapes. This game will certainly give attention, focus, and visual perception a healthy workout.

Entertainment

Catch the Shapeshifter is very entertaining and probably highly-addictive. With fifty levels and a few options for degree of difficulty, players can enjoy it to their hearts’ content for quite some time. The artist who created the backgrounds did an outstanding job of creating and animating a wide array of visions. The background music also is very high quality and enjoyable. Both are in such constant motion that if there is any repetition, it’s next to impossible to notice.

Value

This app is $2.99 on the App Store, and it’s a wonderful value for anyone who enjoys unique puzzles and games. It’s quite challenging, and offers 50 levels at two levels of difficulty, so there’s a ton of play value here.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly, but the game is difficult, so young children likely would not be successful. On the other hand, it’s so visually and auditorily hypnotic that they may not care!

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Journey of Haha is a fun puzzle/adventure app that challenges players to collect items, solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and unlock doors to move to the next level. Players need to use their wits and their common sense to meet the challenges as they help Haha find the ancient artifact that she seeks in the castle.
4.9

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Journey of Haha is a puzzle/adventure game that allows players to control movements of the title character as she searches the Tower of Cerebrus searching for an artifact. Along the way, Haha must collect keys, unlock treasure chests, and battle a wide array of enemies as she solves puzzles that threaten to block her path on each level.

Features include:

  • Over 50 challenging rooms to pass
  • Fun puzzles to solve
  • Puzzles that become gradually more difficult

     

  • Save game progress and replay the level if needed
  • Top-down view graphics

Quality

Journey of Haha is a retro-style puzzle/adventure game that challenges players to guide the title character past enemies and around obstacles to collect items and unlock the door to the next level. It’s a high-quality app with “retro-style” graphics: colorful but somewhat low-resolution and pixelated, reminiscent of computer games of yesteryear. Players have a choice of a virtual joystick or virtual arrow keys to control the character’s movement. Developers have provided a clear set of instructions and explanations in the “Help” section, and there are options to control background sounds.  One feature that might be nice (but I couldn’t find if it’s there) would be to have an option to completely reset the app back to the beginning, so that others in the family could play later.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

This app is a lot of fun to play if puzzle/adventure games are your thing. The levels add challenges very gradually, so players can learn as they go.  It’s also very nice to be able to restart a level instead of losing all of your progress if you get stuck.  The “enemies” are creative and varied, ranging from benign eyeballs that simply watch you and block your path from time to time, to creatures like the Fire Oclie that shoots fireballs. Players can also gain assorted powers as they travel through the game which will help them defeat or avoid enemies and make more progress.  The one addition I would suggest to developers is some sort of hint system to rescue players who become hopelessly stuck on a level-it could get quite frustrating if you were to get stuck on one level and never did figure out a way to move on.

Value

This app costs $1.99 on the App Store, and it’s a really good value. With 50 levels, there’s a lot of play value, and a wide array of puzzles and enemies. The app will certainly challenge most players and give them hours of playtime fun.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
RingoWord is a literal “twist” on traditional word search puzzles, with the words being presented in a circular format. The rules are simple and the play is challenging.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

RingoWord –Word Search Game is a unique word puzzle that will tickle word search fans. Each word is presented with letters in a circle, and players must tap the first letter of the word. It’s much tougher than it sounds, especially when the puzzle presents words that have smaller words within them.  Of course, it is timed and the element of competition is added for good measure.

Features include:

  • Competitive or solo play
  • Words in clockwise or counter-clockwise directions
  • Two levels of difficulty
  • Unique word game
  • No internet connection required

Quality

RingoWord is a high quality word puzzle app that is simple to use and challenging to figure out. Developers include the ability to play in seven different languages as well as two levels of difficulty and competitive or noncompetitive options. There is a brief tutorial at the beginning of play when you first open up the app, but it’s hardly necessary since the rules are so simple. One feature that developers may want to consider adding is a button to abort a round and return to the main screen.  It would also be helpful to have a way to access explanation of the incentives and rewards available from the home screen in case users need a refresher course after the opening tutorial.

Education

This app is highly educational. Some of the words are fairly simple, such as “home” or “wide,” but others are quite challenging, such as “proposition” (and these are on the easy level). Most challenging of all are words that have smaller words embedded within them, such as “remarkable.” The game is based on the player’s ability to tap the first letter of the word quickly.  It’s quite easy to tap on the “M” in “remarkable” when you notice the word “mark,” but that is not correct.

The letters to each word are arranged in a circle. Users can control if these letters appear in clockwise or counter-clockwise sequence. This means that the letters are tilted from many perspectives and some are always upside down. This perceptual challenge adds to the difficulty of the task. RingoWorld will build students’ perceptual and closure skills.

The game allows users to play in any of seven different languages, as well. This is a great vocabulary and spelling skill builder for anyone who wants a challenge or who is working on learning a foreign language.

Entertainment

RingoWord is highly entertaining if you enjoy word puzzles. The unique configuration of the word is truly challenging and very different from any other puzzle game that I’ve seen. Developers have also added several incentives that players can earn with good scores and times, including achievements for perfect scores, fastest times, and more. Best of all, some of the awards given can be used in the app’s “store” to purchase things like the capability to ‘freeze’ the screen, to slow the clock, or even to remove the advertisements (things that otherwise require real cash).

 

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it a great value if you enjoy word puzzles or want to try something unique and new. The ability to earn credits that can be used in place of cash is an added bonus.

Child Friendliness

This app includes unprotected links to the App Store as well as outside advertisements that link to the internet.

  • NO social media
  • YES in-app purchase (unprotected)
  • YES third-party ads (unprotected)

Neurotale

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Neurotale helps writers advance their stories by suggesting lines from public domain novels.
4.5
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App Info

Price: Product not found
Download on the App Store

Overview

If you have trouble writing a stories or frequently get writer’s block, you may want to try Neurotale. This smart story generator takes what you write and adds to it using sentences from public domain texts. Write a story entirely on your own and add a few lines here and there or compose a story entirely from lines generated by the app.

Features include:

  • Smart story generator
  • Content from public domain apps
  • Library of created stories
  • Simple interface

Quality

Neurotale offers a very simple interface. When you first open the app, you’re taken to the library. If you don’t have any stories in the library, you’re prompted to create one. The story creation screen looks like a very basic text screen. Type in your story using the keyboard. Click on the icons to generate new lines for the story. Use the settings button to determine how random the lines in your story should be.

Education

Perhaps you’ve participated in a writing activity where students pass a story around the classroom and each writer adds a line. This app works similar to that, except a computer adds the additional lines and it only adds lines when asked to do so. Neurotale helps get students writing. By adding in lines, it can help students get past writer’s block. Also, the app may improve students’ writing by providing them with examples of quality writing.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

Neurotale is free to download. To generate lines from stories, you must purchase the English Novels pack, also a free download. Developers may opt to add additional, paid packs in the future. Depending on the subjects of the packs, they may or may not be worth paying for. As it stands, the app cannot work without the free in-app purchase, so it adds a lot of value to the app.

Child Friendliness

No ads, rate us buttons, or other content designed to take writers out of the app appear in the app. However, you will find a free in-app purchase does not contain a parental block. Links to the developer’s website and an e-mail address also appear in the accompanying help document, but they cannot be accessed from within the app.

  • NO more apps
  • NO rate us
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase

Tales of Aarchie

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Tales of Aarchie tells a humorous story about an armadillo while helping kids learn some of the intricacies of the English language.
4.9

App Info

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

Overview

Tales of Aarchie tells a humorous story about an armadillo while helping kids learn some of the intricacies of the English language. This animated storybook features quality narration and fun illustrations for kids. It also serves as a great way to help kids learn about homophones.

Features include:

  • Highlighted vocabulary words
  • Narrated story
  • Animated illustrations
  • Fun animal tale

Quality

On the main screen of the app, all of the options for reading the story are clearly laid out. Kids can choose to have the story read to them or to listen and play. There is also an option for stopping the story and coming back to it later or going to a specific page. As kids read through the story, they’ll find quality narration and animation. It’s also easy for them to navigate from scene to scene.

Education

The app focuses on helping kids learn the meanings of different homophones. Each homophone is highlighted in the text. When kids tap on the word, they’re transported to a new scene that helps them learn the meaning of the word. It’s a unique way to help kids learn the spelling and meanings of these often confusing words.

Entertainment

Aarchie is an engaging armadillo. His friends are lots of fun too. The story features colorful illustrations and animations to help kids stay interested.

Value

Parents will appreciate the fact that the app is priced similarly to other ebooks. Its educational factor helps increase its value.

Child Friendliness

The app is free from ads and other content designed to take children away from the content of the app.

  • NO rate us
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO more apps

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Discolor Rebounder is a free game app that offers an appealing activity in the style of some of the older, simpler video games such as “Pong” and “Brick.” Developers have combined some of the most challenging aspects of those games into a new and interesting activity that is worth a look.
4.7

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Discolor Rebounder is a Pong-styled game of coordination and skill that takes a bit of practice to master. Players must simultaneously move a large ball to intercept a smaller, faster ball and keep it bouncing. The problem comes in when the small ball bounces off of colored balls at the top of the screen. It changes color, and the large ball must match the color when they collide to keep the game going.

Features include:

  • Simple, easy-to-learn game rules
  • Challenging coordination problems
  • Optional use of two hands
  • Promotes motor planning
  • Improves spatial reasoning

Quality

This high-quality app works without a hitch. The game is highly responsive, and has multiple levels of play that become progressively more difficult. The physics engine allows the ball to rebound very realistically, enabling players to plan complex bank shots. Developers included a simple set of directions accessible from the opening screen.

Education

This game is not really intended to be educational, but players will learn and practice important, fundamental skills. In the world of education, using two hands at the same time to do different things is a foundational skill that promotes and strengthens neurological development.  The game also invokes motor planning, which is critical for so many other physical skills, as well as helping players develop a clear understanding of cause/effect and prediction.

Entertainment

Discolor Rebounder is a simple game, but many players will find it to be addictive. There’s a strong inclination to play “just one more round” to improve the highest score.  The game also optionally connects to the Game Center to open up competitive play and achievement awards.  It’s fun, and just different enough from previous games to be familiar, yet interesting.

Value

The game is free on the App Store, making it an excellent value. It’s nice to have an engaging, simple game that does not glorify violence, so I recommend you check this one out.

Child Friendliness

Discolor Rebounder is not particularly child-friendly, so I do not recommend it for children under twelve or so.  There are lots of outside advertisements, both during and between games, and unprotected access to the internet. The game also connects to the Game Center, which is nice for more mature players, but could be objectionable to the parents of younger players.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES outside advertisements 
  • YES Game Center enabled

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
eTABU Word Search is a fun way to build reading, word recognition, vocabulary and mental flexibility skills. You can even use it to sharpen your languages skills. The app is entertaining and highly-engaging.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

eTABU Word Search is a word search game with a twist: Instead of working to find words from a given list, players must find words associated with one main category word. There are four keywords to find in each puzzle, clued by single letters and blanks that show how many letters are in the word. Points are awarded for completing the puzzle, with extra points given for completion within the time limit.

Features include:

  • Hundreds of puzzles and thousands of keywords
  • Three levels of difficulty
  • Optional connection to Game Center for competitive play
  • Clear directions in the “settings” section
  • Play in any of ten languages

Quality

eTABU Word Search is a high quality app. Developers included clear rules and directions to help new players understand the game play.  The app works reliably and well.  One minor concern is that there are some blocks of text that overlay others, making some areas a bit difficult to read. One example of this is the time/score display after each round.

Education

eTABU Word Search is an excellent tool for building fluency and vocabulary for older students. The app includes three levels of puzzles. The lowest level gives clues to the keywords based on initial letters. The words seem to run horizontally and vertically. The second level incorporates words running diagonally, and the clues show the ending letter of each word. At the hardest level, the words run in every possible direction, including backwards diagonal. The keywords are clued with a letter from the middle, making it very challenging, even for most adults.

The game also includes rich vocabulary in both the primary puzzle words and the keywords.  Words such as “realm” and “anesthetized” pop up regularly. There are a few tenuous connections between primary and key words, such as “Batch” having “parking” as a keyword.  The game will definitely strengthen most people’s vocabulary, as well as their ability to scan letters quickly to find target words.  The ability to change the game play into any of ten languages is also a huge plus- this would be a great game to use when learning a new language or if you wanted to brush up on vocabulary in a different language.

Entertainment

This app is highly entertaining, and includes optional connection the Game Center.  That makes it perfect for more mature players who like a bit of competition.  The rounds are very quick (a minute or two, unless you get stuck), and you will receive points for finishing the puzzle even if it’s not within the time limit, which is highly encouraging.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, which makes it an incredible value, particularly for older players.  It’s a fun way to improve word recognition, vocabulary, scanning, and many other skills.  Since you can play in any of ten languages, that makes it all the more valuable.

Child Friendliness

However, parents should be aware that this app is not particularly child-friendly. There are no parental gates on sensitive areas, such as social media and Game Center connections, and there are numerous outside advertisements, including for slot machine apps and dating services. An ad is shown between each round, and there are constant running ads on a billboard at the top of the screen even during game play.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES Unprotected 3rd party ads
  • YES Unprotected Game Center 
  • YES Unprotected social media

Teeny Sheep

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Build your own wool empire with Teeny Sheep, an addicting building game.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

Since games like Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon were first introduced, building games have been extremely popular. Their popularity continued with games like Farmville on Facebook. Now it continues with Teeny Sheep. This addictive building game gives you the chance to build your own sheep-shearing empire. Forget being a millionaire. With Teeny Sheep, you can become a gazillionaire.

Features include:

  • Build a sheep farm
  • Reach goals
  • Earn rewards
  • Upgrade to new types of wool

Quality

Players will find that the app is fairly easy to navigate. Instructions are provided to help get beginners started. Warning notices pop up to help players stay on top of the game and players are told when they are eligible for upgrades. All of the features players need are displayed in brightly colored tabs at the bottom of the screen. It’s easy to see what you can do to build your farm at any given time.

Education

While not designed to be educational, Teeny Sheep does have a few educational components. Challenges help players increase their earnings and the number of sheep they have. There are also “research opportunities” where players can use their in-app currency to increase the size of their sheep, change the percentage at which sheep reproduce, and earn other bonuses. Players must think about how to use the money they earn wisely to ensure that their farms grow. They must also pay attention to numbers such as the capacity of their barns and fleet to ensure that they can hold enough sheep and transport all of the wool they produce.

Entertainment

It’s hard to imagine that a game about sheep farming would be addicting, but it is. The goal is to keep growing your sheep farm. Every sheep that you “clone” and add to your barns brings in more income. You can also invest in “research” to add to your profits. Once your sheep farm grows to a certain size, you can upgrade to a better quality wool and earn money even faster. As you grow, the game gives you challenges to reach as well. For example, you may be challenged to add 5,000 sheep to your flock or to earn 900 trillion dollars in a second. It may sound impossible, but it’s amazing how quickly a farm can grow.

Value

The game is free to download and play. While there are in-app purchases, they do little to enhance the game play. Without any money, kids can play a slightly addicting, but very entertaining game. However, because of the free status, developers have included a lot of ads.

Child Friendliness

Despite all the fun that is to be had, Teeny Sheep is not incredibly child friendly. When played on a wifi or cellular network, the game regularly invites players to watch videos in exchange for in-app currency. Players can tap “no thanks” to avoid watching the ads. There are also occasional “rate us” pop-ups asking players to rate the game in exchange for a biscuit for the dog in the game. Players can also make in-app purchases to help advance their status in the game through the purchase of golden wool. None of these purchases are required toe experience success in the game. When played offline or in airplane mode, the game is actually pretty fun for kids.

  • NO more apps
  • YES in app-purchase
  • YES third party ads
  • YES rate us

Running Noah

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Solve multiplication problems to build bridges and save animals with Running Noah.
4.4

App Info

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

Overview

If you’re looking for an app to help kids improve their multiplication skills, consider Running Noah. This simple multiplication app gives kids the chance to answer multiplication problems while helping Noah reach his ark. Every time he reaches the ark, he saves a stranded animal. The game moves quickly so kids must be prepared to answer questions quickly.

Features include:

  • Learn times tables in increments
  • Complete different levels
  • Catch lightning bolts
  • Save animals

Quality

There’s not much too this app. It features a simple arcade-style game. Noah runs across small islands at the bottom of the screen. A line of numbers appear on the right hand side. Kids must drag the numbers to make the desired product. Play moves quickly. Kids really need to be able to think on their feet in order to keep up. A tutorial mode gives them a chance to practice before they get into the actual game.

Education

In the free version, kids can practice their times tables from 1 to 4. In-app purchases give kids access to times tables from 5 to 8, 9 to 12, and 1 to 12. Each of the levels works largely the same way, they just feature different animals and landscapes. This app is not really designed for beginning multiplication learners. Kids need to be fairly confident in their skills to move at the speed of the app.

Entertainment

Simple arcade games have a way of entertaining kids. As kids solve problems in the game, they earn points. They can also jump to catch lightning bolts. These help boost their scores. There is a leaderboard within the app. To access the board, simply grant parental permission via a link generated by the app.

Value

Kids can try the first levels of the app for free. An in-app purchase allows them to get additional times tables. If kids do well on the free version, the additional sets come at a good value.

Child Friendliness

The app is free from ads and other inappropriate content. To get their names on the leaderboard, kids are prompted to visit a link, but it is not clickable within the app. There is an in-app purchase, so parents must make sure they have a password set up on their device to prevent unwanted purchases.

Learn Chinese with Lingokids

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Learn Chinese with Lingokids uses an immersive language experience, animated characters, and interactive activities to help kids learn to speak Chinese.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4
Download on the App Store

Overview

Whether children are 2 or 10 they can learn how to speak Chinese with Lingokids. This unique app uses an immersive language experience to help kids learn how to speak a new language. The app contains activities for true beginners, but it also appeals to kids who already know a bit of Chinese.

Features include:

  • Immersive language experience
  • Multiple levels of play
  • Monthly subscription available
  • Animated characters and interactive activities

Quality

From the animations and interactive activities to the educational components, developers have created a quality app. When kids first open the app, they’ll notice there are a lot of steps to take to set up the app. Adults will have to set up an account and choose the levels before kids can get started. Once kids get to the learning component, they may find that the screen gets a bit busy. That’s because there are a lot of options to choose from. However, once kids get started, they’ll find that the functionality is fairly intuitive and it’s easy to move from activity to activity.

Education

The app focuses on providing an immersive language learning experience for kids. When kids first start with the app, they may be a bit confused. However, as they begin to understand more of the language, they’ll enjoy interacting with the app more. Instruction is available for kids starting at age 2. There are also different levels of instructions, from kids who know no Chinese to those who are already familiar with the language. During the activities, kids will find nonverbal clues and images to help them know what to do.

Entertainment

Lingokids seeks to get kids’ attention by using a collection of animated characters who are engaged in entertaining scenarios. At first, kids may simply think it’s funny to hear the characters speaking Chinese. However, as kids begin to understand more of the language, they’ll also enjoy interacting with the characters. The app also has plenty of interactive elements for kids. As kids complete activities and learn words they’re rewarded with medals and given other positive reinforcement.

Value

Language-learning programs are expensive and Lingokids is no exception. However, the app is free to download and new users can try out limited features for free or sign up for a one-month free trial. Be sure to look at multiple age and skill levels during the trial to get a good feel for all that the app has to offer.

Child Friendliness

In order to use the app, adults must set up an account. This can be done either using Facebook (the app does not post to Facebook) or by providing an e-mail address. Within the app, adults will also find the option to purchase a subscription or set up a free trial. All of these features are protected by a parental lock.

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Learn Animals: Hide and Seek is a simple and fun hide and seek game that will also help young children learn to identify farm animals, match, follow oral directions, and develop visual closure skills.
4.8

App Info

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

Overview

Learn Animals: Hide and Seek plays the classic seek-and-find game with toddlers and preschoolers. The animals leave their corral to hide behind random items while the app screen goes dark and children see and hear counting one to ten. Then the app lights up again (“opens its eyes”), and children are invited to find the farm critters one at a time. Some are completely hidden and others have bits sticking out to give a few hints.

Features include:

  • Intuitive game play
  • Fun animations
  • Choice of three background songs
  • Verbal and visual directions
  • Game continues until the app is closed

Quality

Learn Animals: Hide and Seek is a wonderfully high quality app specially designed for toddlers and preschoolers. The drag and drop interface is easy for young hands to use, and the app is set up to be easy to play. Developers did a great job of putting together an app that is both entertaining and educational for the very young.

Education

This app is hugely fun for the peek-a-boo crowd; young children will truly enjoy it.  And while they are having fun finding animals and sending them back to their corral on a flying cloud, they will be learning important readiness lessons to help them prepare for later school experiences.

The app shows one of the farm animals’ faces at the top of the screen, and verbally prompts the child to “find the ___.”  The child can move any of the displayed pictures (of a tree, a corn patch, a hay stack, and similar farm items) to see if the animal they are looking for is back there.  Youngsters will quickly learn that some of the animals are better at hiding than others, and they sometimes leave some clues, such as an ear, sticking out from behind a tree. And as they have fun, kids will be developing the important skills of matching and visual closure, which is the ability to see part of a picture and mentally fill in the missing pieces.

While the animals are hiding, the app mimics closing eyes and counts out loud from one to ten, just like in the real game. Each number is displayed in bright colors with a “fireworks” background on the display that is truly eye-catching.  One big suggestion, however, would be to strengthen the contrast on the yellowish numbers-they blend into the background and might not stand out as well to the children.  But seeing and hearing the numbers as they are counted will really help most kids improve this skill as well.

Entertainment

Nearly all toddlers and many preschoolers are completely in love with various forms of peek-a-boo and hide and seek, so this app is sure to be a kid-pleaser. Children will take delight in finding the animals, and are quite likely to feel superior to the animals that don’t hide themselves completely. After all, everyone knows you shouldn’t let your ears stick out when you hide behind a tree!  There is likely to be quite a bit of giggling as kids play Learn Animals: Hide and Seek.

Value

Learn Animals: Hide and Seek is free on the App Store. It’s cute and entertaining, and definitely worth a download.  The app does offer an in-app purchase (nicely protected from young users). The purchase is another scene with different animals for ninety-nine cents.

Child Friendliness

This app does offer an in-app purchase of an additional scene for the game.  The link is on the front screen, and visible to children. It is adequately protected, but would be better if it were not so obvious to young users.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
FishyPaint allows users to view and interact with a virtual aquarium as they touch the responsive fish, and use their own real-world artwork and pictures to create their own unique and colorful finned friends.
4.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

FishyPaint is a virtual aquarium with a creative twist: users can add their own fish. The main screen shows fish swimming around and offers limited interaction by touching the images. Users can use the device’s camera or existing photographs to add new fish to the scene.

Features include:

  • Includes colorful, animated fish
  • Allows users to add their own unique fish
  • New fish can be created with drawings or other designs
  • Fish respond to screen touches
  • Simple and intuitive game play

Quality

FishyPaint is a high quality app that is very intuitive to use. Developers did include help screens for the main sections, which is very nice. If users allow access to camera and photo stream, they can create their own fish, and even decorate them. However, the custom fish do not transfer to the next play session, and photos taken from within the app do not get added to the iPad’s photo stream, so new creations are quite temporary. Developers should make this clear on the help screen so that children (and their parents) are not disappointed.

Education

This app isn’t really intended to be educational, but there are some ways to incorporate early learning tasks. Simply coordinating movements to tap the fish as they swim is good practice for the very young or players with special needs. Since it is so easy to create custom fish, adults could make fish in specific colors, with patterns, or even add letters or numbers by drawing them on the fish, then having players find and tap the requested fish. Just remember that custom fish will not be saved when you exit the app, and you will need to create new ones for each session.

Entertainment

This app is quite soothing, as it not only provides the visual effects of fish swimming, it also includes the bubbly white noise that accompanies a real aquarium. Children will have a lot of fun creating custom fish and photographing them to get them into the scene. Photos of any sort can be used to make a fish, so a creative child could have a lot of fun making silly creations from pictures of people, pets, and other items. It’s also easy to draw a fish and photograph it, so the sky’s the limit for creativity. Once uploaded, an outline of a fish is superimposed on the picture, showing what design will be on the final creation. There is a paintbrush tool that can be used to “cancel out” portions of the drawing and make it transparent. The width of the tool can be increased or decreased using a slider, but even the smallest size is still fairly wide and would make it tough to create detailed designs. It will also be important to stress to young users that their creations are temporary, and won’t last beyond the current session in the app.  If they want to be able to recreate a fish that they like, make sure to snap the photo outside of the app, because pictures taken within the app are not saved to the main photo stream.

Value

FishyPaint is free to download from the App Store, making it a great value. Young children will enjoy the low-key, stress-free creative activity, and it could be quite interesting and motivational for many individuals with special needs, as well.

Child Friendliness

FishyPaint is mostly child friendly, but the main screen’s help section does include an unprotected link to the developers’ website on the open internet. Developers should consider protecting this link behind an effective parent gate.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES unprotected link to developers’ website 

Wonster Words

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Build your child's spelling and vocabulary skills through fun games and silly animations with Wonster Words.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Wonster Words helps kids build their spelling and vocabulary skills through a series of fun spelling activities and animations. Kids can learn words from a variety of themed word lists, ranging from AT words to Space Adventures. As they do, they’ll be introduced to a host of zany characters and silly scenarios to help make learning to spell a lot of fun. Designed largely for students in elementary school, Wonster Words offers a way to break up some of the mundane aspects of spelling practice for kids.

Features include:

  • Learn to spell new words
  • Watch fun animations
  • Earn digital prizes
  • Purchase additional words

Quality

The main screen of the app features a sliding group of images. Each image represents a different collection of words. Those that must be purchased feature a lock symbol so kids know exactly what they can access. Once kids select a word collection to interact with and are given a particular word, the app shows off its quality animations and interactive components. Kids will find it easy to navigate through the activities and will enjoy the silly animations and fun background music as they play.

Education

In the free version of the app, kids can download the daily words, a themed word list, and AT words. Additional word lists, such as Birthday Surprises and PH words are available to download through an in-app purchase. Developers target the app towards kids and toddlers, but the words contained in the app are not really ideal for the toddler set. Yes, toddlers will have fun watching the animations and placing the letters on the words, but many of the words, including those with simple word parts (such as AT words) contain longer words. Parents may also want to preview words. For example, AT words contains the word BRAT which is not really a bad word, but may not be a word parents want their kids to learn about in-depth.

The app itself is similar to another popular spelling/phonics app series. Kids see a word and must drag/drop the letters into the word. After they do, they’re given the definition of the word and shown a short animation involving the word. This style works well to help kids remember each word.

Entertainment

Kids will enjoy the silly animations as they form the words and will also like watching the videos that help explain the meaning of the word. In themed word collections, once each word is complete kids also receive a prize that they can unwrap. Prizes include silly things like space boogies. Developers have worked hard to ensure that kids are engaged and entertained at every part of the app.

Value

The app is free to download and some activities are included. The free content offers a good sampling of what the rest of the app has to offer and helps parents and teachers determine whether other packs will be beneficial for children. Access to all of the words is available through an annual subscription or by paying extra for lifetime access. Individual word packs can also be purchased for lower amounts, but these can quickly add up.

Child Friendliness

In the protected parent area, adults can gain access to the developer’s contact information, as well as select whether letters should appear in uppercase or lowercase. On the main screen of the app are different word collections. Some collections come with the app or can be downloaded for free. Others must be purchased either individually or as a set. The in-app purchases are protected, but can be viewed by kids who are likely to beg their parents for word sets that look enticing.

  • Protected Parent Area
  • NO rate us
  • NO more apps
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase (protected, but visible)

Sun to Moon Sleep Clock

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help kids fall asleep and stay asleep with Sun to Moon Sleep Clock.
4.6

App Info

Price: $3.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Parents looking for a way to get their children to stay in bed may want to consider Sun to Moon Sleep Clock. This simple app acts as a sleep timer and alarm clock for children. Parents simply set the wake time and the sleep time. Then they start the clock when it’s time for their children to go to bed. With its sound effects and other incentives, the app offers a unique way to help kids sleep.

Features include:

  • Sleep timer
  • Nighttime sounds
  • Wake up sounds
  • Points and rewards for sleeping

Quality

The app is fairly simple in design with the majority of the screen being taken up by a cartoonish moon or a cartoonish sun (depending on the time of day). At the top of the screen, parents will find a clock and an icon representing points earned. At the bottom of the screen is the wake up time and a button that says “Goodnight” (before bedtime). A small settings button also appears at the top of the screen. In the settings area, parents can set the sunrise and sunset times, as well as sleep sounds and sunrise sounds. Parents can also add additional elements to the sleep settings, such as 15 minutes of reading time.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

While this app is designed to get kids to sleep, it’s still entertaining. Kids can fall asleep to multiple sounds: a soothing harp, a blow dryer, waves crashing, whale songs, rain falling, tic toc clock, and music box. Many of the sleep sounds are harsh, but may provide the perfect white noise to get kids to fall asleep. Kids can also wake up to different sounds: digital beeps, birds tweeting, a rooster crowing, wake-up music, bongos, cats meowing, charge fanfare, and trumpet. Special holiday sounds are also occasionally found in the app’s updates. In addition to the fun sounds, kids can visit the Sleep Clock Shop and spend their points on fun add-ons, such as hats, seating, outfits, and accessories for the sun and moon. For example, kids can turn the moon into a banana or give the sun an eyepatch.

Value

This app is much less expensive than many of the trendy sleep clocks designed for kids. If kids have their own tablets or phones, it could be a reasonable option for helping them learn to sleep through the night.

Child Friendliness

All of the content within the app is child-friendly. Parents should be sure to turn on and set the pin for the app so that kids cannot get into the settings section. Otherwise, kids will be able to reset the awake and sleep times to whenever they want, which could lead to an unexpected wake up call at 3 a.m.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO “more apps”

Bogga Jewel

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Go fishing for hidden gems and learn a bit about cleaning up the ocean with Bogga Jewel.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Bogga Jewel, the latest member of the Bogga Tap series, gives kids a chance to go fishing in the ocean. This fun game has kids use three fishing lines to pick up boots and other objects from the water. As they do, they will discover lots of shiny treasures. Bogga Jewel has a simple design, but it’s packed with fun for kids.

Features include:

  • Play as a boy or girl
  • Fish for jewels
  • Unlock fun prizes
  • Build fine-motor and counting skills

Quality

When kids first open the app, they have the option to hit the play button or open the jewelry box. At first, the items in the jewelry box will be locked, but kids can unlock them by pulling up boots and other items in the game. Kids get to choose whether to play the game as a boy or girl. Both characters’ points are grouped in the game, so kids can switch back and forth without losing progress. When kids first play the game, they’re shown a simple tutorial. From there, it’s up to them to press the arrows and move to the proper fishing line. The game runs smoothly and it’s easy for kids to figure out what they do as they play.

Education

The educational components of the app are fairly subtle. As kids cach boots, a counter advances at the bottom of the screen. This helps reinforce counting skills. That counter also appears at the end of each round. In addition to building counting skills, kids can learn about concepts such as recycling. They get to place the boots they catch in a recycling machine and earn a sticker for a job well done. Other activities within the app help kids build color recognition and fine motor skills.

Entertainment

Most of the app involves moving the arrows to catch the boots on the correct line. As kids do, they may also collect other random objects. Hidden in those bags of seaweed and piles of driftwood are gems. Those gems are collected to unlock rings, crowns, and other pieces of jewelry. Kids can then arrange the gems on the jewelry any way they like. The app also has other activities. For example, kids may catch mystery boxes or place boots in the recycling machine.

Value

Given the simplicity of the app and the fact that its educational value is subtle, the app may be priced higher than what the content is actually worth. It may appeal more to little kids who like fishing or who like the idea of collecting jewels.

Child Friendliness

Parents can gain access to the protected parent area from the main screen. There they’ll find the ability to reset the scores within the app. There are also links to the developer’s website, privacy policy, and the “rate us” page.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
MeteoHeroes is a fun app that features child characters that discover they have weather-related super powers as they train and prepare to take on world-wide meteorology problems.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

MeteoHeroes introduces six characters that discover weather-related superpowers as they train and learn together. Their goal is to become superheroes that use weather to save the world from various problems such as pollution. This app poses six levels of challenges to the group.

Features include:

  • Earn Meteocards
  • Explore 6 different environments
  • Explore 6 different levels
  • Learn about 6 kinds of weather phenomena
  • Enjoy unique sound effects and scenery

Quality

MeteoHeroes is a high quality app that will help children learn basic information about the weather. The app’s instructions to users are in printed blurbs that appear on the screen. There are also printed tips to help the environment, however, these often disappear before a child would have a chance to read them. The app has a limited parents’ section that is well-protected. It contains a link to the developers’ website that gives a more complete backstory for the characters and some additional information about how to use the app. Developers included a brief tutorial to help users understand how to manipulate the characters.

Education

This app is listed as being for children ages 6-8, and the game play is appropriate for the age group. The reading levels, however, seem quite a bit higher than this, so many first, second and third graders are likely to have some trouble accessing the educational content. In addition, many children do not study weather in such detail until later elementary school.

The content of the game is very educational for children, explaining various aspects of climate and weather phenomena. The characters are sent on a journey and encounter obstacles in their path such as a burning forest and a frozen ice cave. The user needs to reason out what kind of weather phenomena will help remove the obstacle so the game can continue. For example, the only MeteoHero that can put out the forest fire is Pluvia, the Rain Hero. Only Nubes (the cloud hero) is able to block the extreme sun in the desert. Players can switch active heroes at will, and can choose a new one to face each obstacle. Once the obstacle is passed, the game presents a Meteocard. These cards have weather information on them, and are accessible from the main screen by scrolling to the far right. It’s not particularly obvious where to find them, though, so parents may need to nudge children so they get the most out of the app.

Entertainment

MeteoHeroes will have kids zapping lightning bolts, blowing breezes, and controlling rain showers to overcome obstacles around the training course, which will appeal to many. It did start to seem a bit repetitive after a while to me, though. Kids can experiment with using different characters to overcome the obstacles, but once the reasoning is clear to them, they will realize that one and only one character will get the job done. For example, only Pluvia can put out the forest fires.

Completing tasks also yields Meteocards to add to the collection, but as far as I could see, these were just informational in nature. Not that that is a bad thing, but kids may not particularly entertained for long by them.

Value

MeteoHeroes is free on the App Store, which makes it a good deal. If you have a child who is interested in weather, or one who likes super heroes, this app will be lots of fun. Adults should be aware, however, that this is a big app and will gobble up over 600 mb of your device’s memory.

Child Friendliness

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

Safari School

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Practice counting, color, and sorting skills with Safari School, a basic early learning app for kids.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

All aboard! Leo the Cat and his friends are ready to take kids on an early learning journey. Safari School is an early learning app designed for kids ages 3-6. The educational activities within the app focus on basic early learning concepts. These include recognizing shapes, colors, and numbers. As kids travel along the track, they’re given the chance to complete different activities. As they do, they earn coins to receive sweet rewards.

Features include:

  • Content organized by age bands 3-4, 4-5, and 5-6
  • Basic early learning games for kids
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Non-verbal instructions

Quality

Safari School is an animated app for kids. It features a train that follows a standard track. Different activities appear along the track and a candy counter appears at the top. The app is fairly easy for kids to interact with. Nonverbal clues, such as a moving hand, guide kids as they play. In general, the components of the app move smoothly. However, when it comes to moving characters around at the station and putting coins in the candy machine, it may be a bit difficult for kids to touch and slide the correct objects.

Education

The app focuses on fairly basic early learning concepts. For most activities, kids are asked to sort different objects into train cars. They may sort the objects by shape or color. Each car is labeled with what goes in it. Kids must look at the pictures carefully to make sure they’re putting the right objects into the cars. Once they do, the train chugs along. It should be noted that while the activities in the app are designed for ages 3-6, many of them are fairly basic. The app is better suited for the younger end of the age range. It may also be good for kids who have struggled to learn basic concepts.

Entertainment

Kids will be attracted to Safari School because of the moving train and characters that appear within the app. They’ll also be entertained by the activities and the ability to earn virtual candy. However, because the activities are generally the same throughout the app, kids may not stay engaged with the app for more than a round or two at a time.

Value

The app is free to download and offers basic learning activities for kids. For kids who need more practicing with counting, sorting, and learning their colors, it’s worth a download.

Child Friendliness

A protected parent area can be found in the left-hand corner of the manin screen. The section requires parents to sign up with Facebook to access it. Once they do, parents can view general information page about the app and its developer. Parents can also send developers a code through Facebook Messenger to receive weekly progress reports. However, these may not be necessary, as the content in the app is fairly simplistic. Within the app itself, kids can access the settings screen. This screen allows them to select the age range and language. Some parents may not like that kids are rewarding with virtual candy during the game.

  • Protected Parent Area
  • NO rate us
  • NO more apps
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase (protected, but visible)

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Finding Stubby is a pleasant, low-key app that will help younger children discover some basic information, facts, and more as they pilot a remotely-operated vehicle down into the very bottom parts of the ocean floor.
4.4

App Info

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

Overview

Finding Stubby is a simulation app that pulls users deep under the ocean to explore using a Remotely Operated Vehicle. The app is sprinkled with multiple choice questions that help users learn about a variety of sea creatures as well as labels and explanations for some important processes, such as echolocation.

Features include:

  • No time limits or stressful music
  • Lots of content area to explore
  • Quizzes and explanations embedded in certain items
  • Beautiful graphics and sounds
  • Child-friendly interface

Quality

Finding Stubby is a high quality app. Developers worked hard to make the interface intuitive and friendly for young children. Every feature seems to work smoothly and easily. The one area that could be improved is to add a parents’ area containing an explanation of the app’s features and benefits. For example, by trial and error I discovered that the sub could use its robotic arm to pick up an empty bottle littering the ocean, but I could not figure out what I was to do with it once I had grabbed it. Some clarification for adult mentors would be very helpful, especially for children who are easily frustrated or low on creative sparks.

Education

This app presents some good information, primarily in the form of multiple choice quizzes that pop up when the user clicks on the item or animal. The quizzes are self-correcting in that users cannot choose a wrong answer-it simply shakes and stays in place when correct choices cause the incorrect ones to disappear. There are also some short explanatory pieces, such as one telling how whales use echolocation in the depths of the ocean to find food. The main drawback is that these features are print-based, and some are somewhat difficult to read. This will limit the app’s educational value to children who have a reading level of about grade 2 or 3 and lower. One solution would be to add some optional narration.

Also, this app, at this time anyway, does not seem to have a wealth of content. There are a handful of facts about at least three different kinds of ocean creatures, and an explanation of echolocation and also of a whale skeleton that I found in my explorations, but there was also an awful lot of empty ocean. Players will get a relatively realistic look at different parts of the ocean, with a handy depth monitor that follows the vehicle around as it travels. There is also some educational value in learning how to control the ROV-users will quickly master some basic physics as they figure out how to dive or climb and how to turn the vehicle around.

Entertainment

This app is quite soothing to use, so if your child prefers a relaxed and low-key play setting, it will be perfect. There are no flashing lights or buzzers, just the quiet of the ocean’s depths and some soft music. This “feature” is certainly a matter of taste whether children will find it relaxing or boring. Users earn a star for each correctly answered question, but there is no explanation about whether the stars are useful in some way or if the fun is in watching them accumulate.

Value

Finding Stubby is free on the App Store, so it’s a great value. It’s a very pleasant app with some educational content, and children are likely to play with it for a bit, if only to have the fun of controlling the vehicle. And as they play, they will learn sort of by osmosis as the app presents its information to them in a gentle yet persistent manner.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

MotionBody

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Get an in-depth, animated view of the human body with MotionBody.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

With MotionBody, kids get an in-depth view of the human body. Kids can explore the human body using their finger or a special MotionPen. As kids move around, they’re able to zoom in on different parts of the human body. They also get to read text that helps explain the functions of the individual body parts. This app, and the other motion apps, offer kids a unique way to interact with the apps that they played.

Features include:

  • Interactive stylus
  • 3D animations
  • Information about the human body
  • Educational and fun activities for kids

Quality

MotionBody and the other apps designed to be used with the MotionPen have been designed well. They feature high-quality graphics and animations that make it easy for kids to interact with them. MotionBody works best with the MotionPen, but also functions well with just a child’s finger. The pen itself takes a bit of time to setup, but once it is set up, it is easy for kids to use it. When kids use the stylus, they build their fine motor skills and also find it easier to navigate within the app and interact with the app than if they just used their fingers.

Education

Through this app, kids can explore the human body. The app displays a boy’s body with different circles around it highlighting key areas of the body. For example, one circle shows the small intestine. Kids can move around the body to view the inside parts or tap on a circle to get more information about a particular part. The only negative to the way the information is presented is that it contains small text and there is no audio narration. Younger kids may not be able to benefit from the app as much as older kids because they cannot read the text.

Entertainment

Kids will have fun looking through the human body. The app basically gives kids a magnifying glass which they can use to explore the inside. They’ll see the heart, the intestines, the lungs, and all the other working parts. While the parts of the body are shown as animated images, they’ll still give kids a good idea of what their body looks like.

Value

Downloading the app is free. A MotionPen can be purchased separately. While kids don’t need the MotionPen to use the app, it does make use a lot easier for them.

Child Friendliness

The app is free from most content designed to take kids away from the app. In the settings section, there is a link to the developer’s website. It is not protected, but it is small and unlikely that kids will try to access it.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO rate us
  • NO more apps
  • YES external links

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Spelling 9-10 Andrew Brodie Basics is a practical and hands-on method of practicing commonly troublesome spelling words for middle elementary students. Users can choose from standardized word lists, create new lists from the included words, or add their own words to create a unique spelling practice tool for each student.
4.5

App Info

Price: $3.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Spelling 9-10 Andrew Brodie Basics is a comprehensive spelling practice app that features a built-in list of age appropriate words as well as the capability to develop and record individualized lists for students. Players can practice words with the see-say-cover-write method and can take tests on the word lists to earn recognitions.

Features include:

  • Comprehensive grade level word lists
  • Practice and testing modes
  • Capability to choose one of three levels
  • Words given in context
  • Clear audio

Quality

Spelling 9-10 Andrew Brodie Basics is a high quality app that uses proven methods to help students master spelling words. The app’s sound quality is excellent, though parents should be aware that the speakers have a slight accent that makes a few words difficult for some to understand. The included sentences clarify the words tremendously, though. One minor mechanical drawback to the app is that the response fields seem to be a set number of letters larger than the correct words, so a student will get a cue that they are on the wrong track if they try to spell “thoughtlessness” instead of “thoughtful,” for example, because the longer word simply will not fit in the answer space.

The app does include minimal directions to parents/teachers, and these could be made just a bit more explicit to help adults know how to help students use the app.

Education

The study strategy used in this app (the see-say-cover-spell method) is highly effective for most students. The app is divided into two sections: one for practice and one for testing. Each included word is accompanied by a sentence in context so that students can see and hear how the word is to be used. The included sentences are visible in both the practice and the testing sections. The practice section shows the word and has students copy it into the answer section. The testing section shows the sentence with the word missing and voices it, then the student is required to type the target word into its place.

There are three built-in levels of difficulty. The included words are right on target for words that many students find troublesome at this age. They can be recombined into personalized lists so teachers or parents can create customized practices as needed covering just words that students have had difficulty with. In addition, it is possible to add words to the list by typing them in and recording the prompt. Added words, however, do not seem to have the option of displaying a prompt sentence like the built-in words do.

Entertainment

The app awards trophies based on student performance in an effort to keep student interest. This aspect could perhaps be flashier…spelling is notoriously tedious, and kids usually need a bigger dose of sugar to make it go down willingly. More differentiated levels of trophies, perhaps, or other types of “prizes” might help kids play more willingly and for longer periods, which would be necessary for this app to have the desired effect.

Value

Individually, this app is on the expensive side, considering that it might turn into a chore for children to want to use. The app costs $3.99 in the App Store. It is, however, available as part of a larger bundle. All six apps in the series covering ages 5-11 are available for $11.99 at Andrew Brodie Spelling Bundle. This is a bit more of an investment, but would be particularly valuable for families with several children or in a classroom setting.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Mighty Colossus Storybook is a powerful, yet flexible system for creating digital storybooks using built-in characters, backgrounds, and props, or user-generated artwork, pictures, and other content.
4.8

App Info

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

Overview

Mighty Colossus Storybook is a digital book production app that allows users to create ebooks using provided characters and original text as well as imported photos and drawings. The books can be saved to a variety of formats, and exported or shared in a number of ways.

Features include:

  • Select from a variety of backgrounds and props, or provide your own
  • Change characters’ facial features, poses, colors, and more
  • Choose text fonts, colors, sizes and positions
  • Use an intuitive user interface to create and edit books
  • Share in a wide array of formats

Quality

Mighty Colossus Storybook is a high-quality app that offers users a seamless experience of creating, sharing, and reading digital storybooks. Developers have worked hard to build a powerful platform to satisfy nearly every creative urge while keeping the interface simple enough for all ability and technical levels. They included clear help options and a comprehensive tutorial to assist beginning users. Books can be saved, shared digitally in a variety of formats, or exported as PDF or PNG files for printing.

Education

This app does a great job of removing technical barriers from the process of creating digital storybooks. It is powerful, yet simple to use. Users can choose from an array of provided characters with editable poses and features, or they can import their own photos or drawings. There are objects and props to add detail to the story, as well as seven provided backdrops for each page. Users can add text in speech bubbles or directly onto the pages, controlling fonts, colors, and sizes. There are three starter books provided, with option to add to each story to finish it, as well as the tutorial book that explains how to use the app’s features.

Book creation has a wealth of educational value. It nurtures creativity and self-esteem, provides practical and hands-on experience with design and language, and promotes self-expression and language skills. This app is so easy to use that it will complement nearly any educational setting as well as provide hours of fun to families. It could even inspire some authors to share stories to a wider audience.

Entertainment

While this app is not really intended for entertainment, users will have fun creating and sharing their own stories. The embedded creatures and characters are whimsical and fun, and the provided props are quite creative. Best of all, users can import their own artwork or photographs as backgrounds, props or characters, leading to an array of possibilities. Mighty Colossus Storybook will encourage creativity, which is nearly always fun for all.

Value

This app is a fine value at $3.99 in the App Store. Most children will adore the opportunity to be creative and share their books with family and friends. The app is powerful and flexible, and can grow with the user. This one’s a keeper!

Child Friendliness

This is perhaps the only drawback to this app. While developers have taken pains to avoid third party advertising and tempting purchases, the app does have unprotected links to email and the main website. It would be much better if these could be protected from children who are too young or whose parents do not want them to have access to such things.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO third-party advertising
  • YES external links, email link, all easily accessible

MyTeeth All Inclusive

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help kids learn to brush their teeth with the interactive timers and how-to resources in MyTeeth.
4.4

App Info

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

Overview

Parents looking for a tooth brushing timer for their kids may have found the answer in MyTeeth. This interactive tooth brushing timer allows kids to choose from four different characters that show them how to brush their teeth. Included in the app is also a wealth of information for parents about brushing techniques. This app is designed to motivate kids to brush their teeth and ensure they brush them properly.

Features include:

  • Four different characters
  • Customizable settings
  • Information about toothbrushing
  • Tooth brushing timer for kids

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’re shown a basic home screen. The screen features the four main characters. A small info icon takes users to some information about the app’s developers. The How & Why button takes parents to an overview of the tooth brushing process. There’s also a share button at the bottom of the screen that is protected by a parental lock. Within the actual timer, parents have the option to create separate settings for each character. These settings allow them to select the music kids hear and choose different elements of the brushing process. Those elements include toothbrush hand, order, brushing technique, and timing for each section (side teeth, middle teeth, chewing surface).

Education

MyTeeth is focused on helping parents and kids learn the right way to brush. In the “How & Why” section, parents will find information related to the basics of tooth brushing, different brushing techniques, and strategies to help kids brush their teeth. There are a few small typos in this section, but otherwise, the information is good. The interactive timer portion of the app is laid out in a way that is much more kid-friendly. The characters brush their teeth in the proper sequence (parents can choose a specific sequence for the character to follow) and a timer counts down the time, breaking each section up into smaller intervals to make it easier for kids to follow.

Entertainment

Kids can choose from four different characters to use while they brush their teeth: Lenia, Linus, Lisa, and an alien. Each character has a big smile and knows the proper brushing technique. As kids brush their teeth, they can imitate the character they chose. Kids can also listen to the in-app music or select a song that’s already on their device to make the process even more fun. Many kids will also enjoy watching the countdown timer.

Value

If you search for a tooth brush timer app, you’ll find plenty of different options. Many are free, while others have in-app purchases. Out of all of the toothbrush timer apps, MyTeeth is priced slightly higher. However, it is one of the only apps that comes with extensive how-to documents to help parents teach their kids how to brush their teeth. While you may be able to find this information for free online, you would have to look at multiple sources. You also wouldn’t have it organized as nicely as developers have organized it within the app.

Child Friendliness

On the info screen, kids can tap on links to developers’ Twitter profiles, e-mail addresses, and external websites. However, all links and any additional content not appropriate for children are protected by parental blocks. Most of the how-to content is written more for adults. However, it is all appropriate to be viewed and read by kids. The one big negative is that in some of the how-to documents, kids may see small ads for products related to oral hygiene.

  • NO more apps
  • YES 3rd party ads
  • YES social media (protected, but visible)
  • YES external links (protected, but visible)

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Lewis Dot CHEMISTRY is a handy reference tool to aid high school and early college students in understanding Lewis Dot diagrams and also to connect various traits of compounds to their structures.
4.8

App Info

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

Overview

Lewis Dot CHEMISTRY is a reference app designed to help chemistry students practice and review basic chemistry concepts, particularly those related to Lewis Dots. Students can look at specific compounds and see how the electrons and bonds are arrayed in Lewis Dot nomenclature, see basic information about the compound, an explanation of the compound and its traits, as well as review the rules for depicting compounds using Lewis Dots.

Features include:

  • Extensive (nearly 100) list of compounds referenced
  • Picture of the Lewis Dot structure for each molecule
  • List of the rules for Lewis Dot Chemistry
  • Handy periodic table
  • Explanation of the information contained on the Periodic Table

Quality

Lewis Dot CHEMISTRY is a high-quality app that is relatively intuitive to use. Developers have, however, tucked a lot of information into corners of the app, and users would benefit from a quick tutorial or at least a list of features to look for and how to access them.

Education

This app is a useful reference and practice tool for high school and early college chemistry students who are befuddled by Lewis Dots. Each of the nearly 100 compounds has a one page reference that shows the structure, indicates the charge, shows where bonds are, and more. The page lists statistics about the compound such as the molar mass, melting and boiling points, state at standard temperature and pressure, and more. There is a simple, step-by-step list of instructions for creating Lewis Dot diagrams for other compounds.

The app also includes a periodic table with all of the usual information about each element. A reference page about the periodic table includes basic and more advanced information about how to read the table and the information about groups of elements, reactivity, and more.

There are a few inconsistencies, however (noted by my resident professional chemist). The developers may want to consider adding more information about how to determine the charge for each molecule, as this might be unclear, especially to struggling students. Some compounds apparently do not show resonance as the developers indicated they should, and the geometry of some ionic compounds is shown in crystalline form instead of molecular form with no explanation about why this should be so.

Entertainment

This app is not intended for entertainment.

Value

For $1.99 in the App Store, Lewis Dot CHEMISTRY offers an inexpensive and handy reference tool. Students can surely find similar information available for free on the web, but this app balances its small investment with the convenience of not having to search each individual compound to determine its structure or to check many homework assignments.

Child Friendliness

This app is intended for high school students and older. There is a ratings pop up as well as a system to contact developers to submit Lewis Dot diagrams and information for compounds not yet included in their database.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “rating” pop-up

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Bloom by Megalearn is a fun and entertaining way to learn about some important aspects of biology and plant life cycles, and activates some important higher-learning skills such as generalization and finding similarities and differences.
4.8

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 2
Download on the App Store

Overview

Bloom by Megalearn offers young children an interactive, animated look at how three types of plants reproduce and live their life cycles. Players choose the type of plant to explore, see how it grows and blooms, how the seeds form, how they spread from one area to another, and how new plants begin the cycle once more.

Features include:

  • Three types of plants to explore
  • Simple quizzes to test knowledge
  • Gorgeous artwork
  • Several types of interactive animations
  • Soothing background music

Quality

Bloom by Megalearn is a very high quality app. Developers did a great job of creating an engaging look at some basic facts of biology suitable for younger elementary children. The interface is simple and intuitive on each interaction, and the quizzes are self-correcting so there is no frustration. Every aspect of this app is perfect for the target age group.

Education

This app will truly speak to young elementary students by satisfying their curiosity at the same time as it engages them through varied by appropriate interactions on the screens. The focus of the app is on how plants spread their seeds. It uses three example plants: coconuts, dandelions, and raspberries to show how water, wind, and animals can help seeds to travel. Along the way, players get to help the process of growth and dispersion along by making the wind blow, the sun shine, and rain to fall from the clouds. At one point, they even control the movements of animals. The interactions are different, ranging from jiggling items to tap, horizontal sliders to move, and vertical sliders to manipulate. Some items are draggable, and others move by themselves. Each scene has something to explore, and most have multiple interactions.

The science being presented is perfect for the age group, as well. Young elementary students enjoy science that satisfies their hunger for learning with practical information about the world around them. The hands-on and interactive nature of this app are really good vehicles for this type of learning.

Entertainment

Bloom is an entertaining app. It almost grabs participants and drags them along on the journeys that the plants and seeds take because of its interactive nature. Each of the three plant sequences is different enough that they will hold children’s interest, yet similar enough that they will be able to see important commonalities and make generalizations.

Value

At $4.99, this app is somewhat pricy, though. Most children will not return to it again and again as a favorite, because there will be no new surprises or information waiting for them. It takes about five or ten minutes to go all the way through the app’s content, and the interactions, while engaging, are not fun enough to bring children back again and again on their own. In other words, it’s a very high-quality app, but is likely to have little staying power in a child’s collection. Teachers of young children, however, that could use it with a steady supply of new players are going to love it.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly, with no possible way to connect to the internet and no other hidden hazards for little fingers to find.

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

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