4 stars – very good apps

napoleon
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Discover the bones of the skeletal system in this simple, but fun kids app with a punny name.
4.4

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 1
Download on the App Store

Overview

Despite its name, Napoleon Bone Apart has nothing to do with the French Revolution. Instead, it’s a simple, but fun app designed to teach kids about the skeletal system. While the skeleton looks a bit too large to be that of the well-known, but petite, Napoleon Boneaparte, we still appreciate the clever play on words in the title. What we appreciate even more is the way kids can drag and drop the bones onto the skeleton and learn the names of some of the major parts of their bodies.

Features include:

  • Dancing skeleton
  • Drag and drop activity
  • Labeled body parts
  • Positive reinforcement

Quality

Kids pretty much go straight into the activity when they open the app. After hitting play, an on-screen guide shows them what to do and they can immediately set about doing it. If kids forget what to do, they can simply tap the help button to get a refresher. The app features a simple drag-and-drop platform where kids drag the bones from a bank at the bottom of the screen onto the skeleton. The bone’s location is highlighted to make it easy for kids to place. Unfortunately, many of the bones are skinny and small, so it can be a bit tricky to grasp them and drag them to the right spot. Once kids get ahold of them, though, the process runs pretty smoothly.

Education

When kids select a bone, they hear its name. Once they’ve placed the bone, its name appears on the screen and the name of the bone is repeated twice. The repetition helps cement the names of the bones in kids’ memories. In the settings section kids can also turn on labels which displays all the names of the bones on the sides of the screen. While this doesn’t seem to be an extremely useful feature, it does offer one more way to help the names of the bones stick in kids’ minds. The simple nature of the app makes it ideal for a range of ages and grade-levels. Even a kindergartener can place the bones and begin to understand where they’re located on their own body.

Entertainment

There’s not much in the way of extra entertainment value in this simple app. Once kids correctly place all of the bones, they’re rewarded with a hearty congratulations, and then they get to watch the skeleton dance. Then the bones reset and they get to do it all again.

Value

For the price, kids get a decent introduction to the skeletal system with the names of all of the bones clearly highlighted. Since the game resets after kids complete it, they also get the chance to practice placing the bones as many times as they want.

Child Friendliness

While the parental gate that restricts access to the parent info section could be strengthened a bit, the app itself is fairly child-friendly. However, parents should note that some younger kids may be scared by the bright white skeleton on a black background, particularly when it starts to dance.

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

duckie
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Duckie Deck Card Wars puts a high tech twist on a traditional card game many have grown to love. A perfect app for long car rides or to pass the time on vacation!
4

App Info

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

Overview

Duckie Deck Card Wars puts a high tech twist on the traditional game of war played with regular playing cards. This digital version plays very much like the traditional game only in a more compact and fun way with fun sounds and animations with each card that is played. Great to use on long car rides or while on vacation, this is app is one children will definitely enjoy.

Features include:

  • Easy to use
  • Great graphics
  • Play alone or with friends

Quality

Duckie Deck Card Wars is a simple and fun way to keep children engaged while on long car rides or a rainy day indoors. With lots of fun graphics, music, and simple animations, children are able to enjoy this classic game with a digital twist. The developers have done a nice job of making this app simple to use with tap and touch technology making it accessible to children of all ages. While the set-up is very easy to use, for children who have never played this game before, it could be a bit of a challenge getting started. Including a simple intro for children to better understand how to play, would be a great addition and it would definitely make it a bit easier to use.

Education

While this app is more of an entertainment app, it does give children the opportunity to practice simple math skills. The winner of each hand is the player who has the higher card so being able to recognize which number/card is higher or lower is key. For children who are new to this concept, this game provides great practice in a fun and engaging way.

Entertainment

One of the great features of this app is that you can play it alone (playing both sides) or play with a partner. The general set up is the same for each way of playing as children playing alone would simply play both sides. Adding an actual single or double player option where the single players are playing against a ‘computer’ would be ideal as it still keeps the competitive feel. With that said the game itself is fairly entertaining and for siblings and friends to play it can be quite engaging and a fun way to pass the time.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app is a bit more than you might expect to pay for such a simple game. Of course there are fun images, animations, and sound effects that add to the overall feel of the app, but the options within the app itself are a bit slim. Adding the option to play against a ‘computer’ or another simple activity would definitely increase the overall value of the app.

Child Friendliness

It is always nice to find apps that are not only easy to use, but safe too. Duckie Deck Card Wars has done a great job of keeping the app virtually distraction free. The main page does offer an ‘other apps’ tab with additional apps from the developer with each additional button being protected. Adding the protection on the main page is ideal, however there are no other buttons or distractions to be concerned with.

The only other thing that would make this app a bit more child friendly is to add some brief instruction on how to play the game for children who may be new to the concept.

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

IMG_0498
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
The Berenstain Bears are going on a car trip and they're inviting kids to read along in this illustrated ebook.
4.1

App Info

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

Overview

The Berenstain Bears are headed on a car trip in this illustrated ebook about the popular family of bears. Kids can go along for the ride while they listen to a narrator or read the book themselves. They’ll find highlighted text, tappable words, and classic Berenstain Bears illustrations accompanied by peppy background music and sound effects. Kids won’t find animated animations or a lot of other features designed to entertain them, but they’ll still get access to a classic story that they will enjoy.

Features include:

  • Read to Me option
  • Read to Myself option
  • Record your own narration
  • Tappable words and pictures

Quality

Oceanhouse Media ebooks are known for their quality and this book is no exception. However, it has a few surprising flaws. When kids go to turn the page, they may find that the book is not as responsive as they would like. They’ll also notice that the page selector doesn’t actually include all of the pages in the book, so while kids may think they’re actually selecting the final page of the book, they’ll actually have a few more pages to go. Aside from that, the narration is clear, although it may be a bit fast for younger readers. The background sound is engaging, but quiet enough not to distract from the text.

Education

The book features text highlighting and tappable pictures and images. Many of the tappable words in the story are designed to focus on the early elementary level. Kindergarten and first grade students may find a lot of new words, while second and third grade students will more easily read through the story and enjoy its theme.

Entertainment

The lack of animation makes the book a little less exciting for kids. Thankfully, it has the benefit of classic Berenstain Bears illustrations to capture kids’ attention. Kids can also choose from three different options for reading the book, including one option that allows them to record their own narration. Since there are multiple characters in the book, kids can experiment with funny voices to help make the story more exciting.

Value

Considering the story does not come with animated illustrations or any games for kids to enjoy, it does not offer the best value for the price. However, for parents who want to build up their child’s virtual ebook collection, it’s a solid choice to add to the shelf.

Child Friendliness

Unfortunately, most Oceanhouse Media ebooks contain a lot of features to distract kids. At the end of the story, a “rate this app” button pops up. The main screen of the book also contains an info icon, a more apps icon, and an icon leading to the OM Bookshelf. While all of these are protected areas, it’s still a bit annoying to see them featured so prominently on each book, including this Berenstain Bears title.

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

lucky2
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Lucky, a squirrel, and a series of educational games will entertain kids, but may be a bit challenging at times.
4.1

App Info

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

Overview

Head on over to Lucky’s tree and get ready to enjoy nearly 20 fun and educational games for kids. Lucky’s Tree of Puzzles features matching games, math games, word games, puzzle games, spatial awareness games, and many other types of games kids will enjoy. As they play the games, kids will also get a chance to build their motor skills as they play games that utilize multi-touch and tilt features. The wide variety of games and they different ways to play make Lucky’s Tree of Puzzles a whole lot of fun for kids.

Features include:

  • Multiple player profile
  • Play limits
  • Track performance
  • Three levels of difficulty
  • Available in English and Suomi

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’ll see Lucky’s tree clearly labeled with the names of the different games. Kids can move from the top of the bottom of the tree to focus in on the games they want to play while they listen to the cheerful background music. A settings screen allows kids to turn off the music and vibrations. They can also set up a different player profile, see their game stats. Parents have the option of setting a playtime limiter, although sneaky kids can turn it off themselves. They can also change the language from English to Suomi.

The games themselves are not very involved, but all feature clear instructions that are both written and read-aloud. With nearly 20 games, it should be expected that there will be a few kinks and indeed there are. Some of the games could use a bit more polish. Others, particularly those that utilize multi-touch and tilt technology, are a bit clunky and difficult for kids to play.

Education

Kids can build many different skills by playing the games found in the app. They can build emotion skills with the Learn Emotions app, test their animal knowledge and learn to pay attention to detail with the follow instructions app, or test their listening abilities and reflexes with the speed test. There are also multiple games that test basic math and spelling skills. The app doesn’t seem to focus on one particular age group. For example, the Learn Numbers game is best suited for preschool and kindergarten, while the Hint Into Word game is better suited for first, second, or third grade.

When kids play the games, they must be careful to pay attention the exact instructions, as the games don’t deviate from them at all. In some instances, however, even listening to the instructions may not be enough for kids. For example, in the Follow Instructions game, when asked to tap an animal with hooves, a horse wasn’t accepted. In the pancake game, kids were warned not to let the pancake burn, but there was no visual change of color to let kids know when the pancake was done.

Entertainment

Each game comes with 3 levels of difficulty. For younger kids, many of the easy levels will still be extremely challenging. Thankfully there are so many games to choose from that kids can quickly move on to something else. As kids play, they’re given the opportunity to earn stars. Randomly throughout the game, Lucky will also appear on the screen and instruct kids to quickly catch a nut. If they do, they’ll be rewarded with a special card for their animal collections.

Value

The app offers nearly 20 different games for kids, but those games come with a high price tag. Considering the inconsistency in the level of difficulty in the games and some of the quality issues present in the app, the high price tag isn’t quite justified.

Child Friendliness

Kids won’t find any in-app purchases or advertisements in the game, but they will find access to Game Center. Parents should review their Game Center accounts to make sure kids are safe while they play the game.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES Game Center access

Georgie

App Info

Price: $3.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Georgie & The Birthday Girl is a cute storybook app that takes readers on a fun, musical journey with Georgie and his friends as they prepare a special gift for their friend Pebbles. This interactive storybook app is great for children of all ages especially those who love musical instruments.

Features include:

  • Text highlighting
  • Narration throughout
  • Interactive images

Quality

Georgie & The Birthday Girl is a cute storybook app with narration, interactive images, and a fun storyline that children will love. The developers have done a great job with the illustrations and images throughout the app. The interactive pieces are simple to use, but could definitely use a bit of work to create more engagement from the reader. With that said children will most definitely enjoy the music and sound effects used throughout the story as they follow along with the narrator.

Education

Not only does this app give children the opportunity to practice their reading skills as they follow along with the narrator, but it also teaches children to be quite resourceful. In the story when Chaos the Crow steals all of the musical instruments the animals must get creative and find another way to deliver their birthday song to Pebbles. With paint cans, bells, and a flute made from a carrot, the friends were able to perform their birthday song for their friend.

Since this app is narrated throughout and includes text highlighting, it is important to make sure there are no spelling errors and it appears there is a typo on page 16. with the world ‘practicing’. Making this quick change will ensure children are reading and recognizing words appropriately and are learning the correct spelling as they read.

Entertainment

While there are no additional activities or games included in this app, there are some interactive images and illustrations for children to stay engaged as they read. Tapping the images helps to bring them to life a bit and is especially great for the musical scene with each friend playing their instruments. While the story and the interactive images are great to have in the app, it would be nice to include an additional activity or a bit more interactivity within the story to help children stay engaged overall. Adding a musical activity at the end of the app would also be a great addition.

Value

Priced at just under four dollars this app is a bit more than you might expect for what is included in the app. Adding an additional activity or game as well as increasing the engagement with more interactivity in the app would definitely make this a more valuable app. With that said the storyline is entertaining and the educational benefits are good so young children will definitely enjoy the app.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job making the app easy to use for children of all ages. With arrows at the bottom of the page and various indicators throughout the story to help children move through the story, this app is quite easy to use. The narration throughout also makes it so pre-readers can enjoy the story while following along with the text-highlighting.

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

coosi_size350

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Coosi Box is a creative art app that allows children to use their imaginations to create fun pictures that are turned into interesting animations. With the ability to share pictures with others and support the artwork of other children around the world, this app puts an unique twist on the traditional art apps out there.
Features include:

  • 9 Picture themes
  • Picture share capability
  • Creative set up

Quality

Coosi Box is a full of fun images and animations that children will enjoy. This virtual art app allows children to draw, paint, and color their own images that are then infused into fun animations. While the graphics are well done, the set up needs some work. It isn’t completely clear what needs to be done and how to use the app and having a little how-to video or instructions would definitely be helpful. After a few drawings children may get the hang of it, but it would be nice to have a bit more instruction up front.

Education

While this isn’t an educational app it does allow children to explore their creativity as they draw, paint, and color fun images to be included in the animations. Once users get the hang of how to move through the app, they can really use their imaginations to come up with fun and fantastical interpretations of each picture and animation.

Entertainment

There are 9 picture themes in addition to one blank canvas for children to explore and enjoy. After selecting the theme, children are provided a blank slate to create their masterpiece using one of three tools; a crayon, a small paintbrush and a large paintbrush and 16 colors to choose from as they complete their masterpieces. Once their picture is complete, they can see it utilized in the themed animation in a fun way. For instance, one of the themes includes a plate and a fork and when the animation begins it shows someone eating the picture that was just created.

This app also allows children to view pictures that other children have drawn and give a heart to the ones they like and also see which of their pictures receives hearts from other children. This is definitely an interesting reward-like system that is meant to boost each child’s confidence in their drawings.

While the app allows children to utilize their creativity and wonder it would be nice to have a few other drawing tools and options to add a bit more to the app.

Value

When you consider what you are getting in this app for no cost at all Coosi Box is a steal. For children who love drawing, coloring, and creating their own artwork, this app is perfect!

Child Friendliness

As mentioned above it isn’t completely clear how to use the app at first glance and takes a bit of experimenting to really understand how it works. Adding a simple how-to animation or simple instructions would help make this app easy for children to understand and use.

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

iconoJOKOTOKI

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

The Magic Pond is a cute app with great graphics that includes 4 simple, but fun activities that children will love. Each activity brings a little bit of magic with singing frogs, magical stairways to the moon, and a challenging game of search and find with chameleons that will delight young children. Simply put, this app is a combination of magic, music, and fun that little ones will love.
Features include:

  • 4 Activities
  • Music
  • Search & find activity

Quality

The quality of the images in this app are very good and include bright, crisp colors that are engaging for children. The music and sound effects also help to bring the app to life and make for a fun online playing area for children to explore this magical pond of fun animals and characters. The developers have also done a great job creating an easy to use app that is very intuitive for young children to use without a ton of assistance from parents.

Education

While this app isn’t specifically educational in nature, it does provide children with an opportunity to use their problem solving skills as they search and find the hiding chameleons in one activity. Children can also explore the many animals in the pond and sing along with “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as the words are shown on the screen. Adding an additional one or two activities that are more educational in nature would definitely increase the overall value of the app.

Entertainment

The Magic Pond includes four activities for children to explore including a search and find game, a magical bubble pop activity, the pond’s band, and a free play activity that allows children to interact with tons of pond animals and enjoy ‘Row Your Boat’ song. While the activities are fun and easy to play, they may not keep children engaged for long periods of time. Once children have been through the app a few times it may lose it’s excitement. It would be nice to add a few other options or levels for some of the activities to enhance the entertainment value.

Value

Priced at just under one dollar this app isn’t going to break the bank. While there are four activities to enjoy it seems to be a better fit as a free app with an offer for an upgrade. The upgrade might include additional levels for the search and find game as well as other activities for children to enjoy in order to increase the overall value of the app.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job of making this app very easy to use and safe too. Children can easily tap their way through the activities without a ton of assistance from parents which is great. The intuitive set up is great and especially easy for young children to enjoy.

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

tellingthetime

App Info

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

Overview

Telling the Time Ages 4-5 is part of a series of apps designed to help kids learn how to tell time. Though a series of quick quizzes, timed progress tests, and other practice opportunities. By going through the app’s quizzes and activities kids will become more confident in their time-telling and clock-setting abilities.

Features include:

  • Multiple levels
  • Quick quizzes
  • Timed quizzes
  • Practice opportunities
  • Multiple users

Quality

The app itself is fairly simple. The main screen shows three main play options: Quick Quiz, Let’s Practise!, and Progress Test. It also features a clock showing the current time. On the main screen, kids will also see a more apps button in the upper right-hand corner, and an info button in the lower left-hand corner. When kids open the different play options, they encounter both written and verbal instructions and can easily move the hands on the clock to show the correct time or select the correct answer.

Education

The app is full of quizzes to help kids learn to tell the time in many different ways. They focus on moving the hands to set a clock, looking at a clock and selecting the correct time, and answering questions related to the days of the week. The questions increase in difficulty as kids play. However, the quizzes require outside teaching in order for kids to be successful as there are no lessons built into the app. Using the progress tracking feature, parents can add multiple player profiles and see how well children do when it comes to answering different types of questions.

Entertainment

The app doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles, so it feels less fun and more educational. Digit, the cartoonish dog that appears throughout the app, adds a bit of an entertainment factor. The timed quizzes also make the app a little more entertaining because they give kids a reason to race to try and answer the questions on time.

Value

Kids will find a large number of quizzes to complete which makes the app worth the price. However, if parents already have the app for one of the other ages, there may not be enough of a difference to justify the purchase.

Child Friendliness

While all of the parent sections are protected, kids can still see some of the content. For example, the parent section displays the content of the page behind the lock box so kids can still read some of it while it is locked. After completing quizzes, kids will also see a share button which, while protected, encourages them to share that they took a quiz by e-mail or on social media sites.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES More Apps (protected, but visible)
  • YES Share button (protected, but visible)

dinosaur

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Theasaurus is a great educational app that teaches children 160 vocabulary words in a fun game like setting. With three difficulty levels to work through the app provides a wide range of words that can be practiced and learned while also including a glossary for children to use to learn new words.

Features include:

  • Glossary
  • 160 Vocabulary words
  • 3 Difficulty levels

Quality

Theasaurus is a unique educational app with that is very easy to us. The concept is quite simple as children must match the given word with its synonym in a list that is provided. The user interface is very intuitive as it only requires simple tap and touch technology to move through the game and select the correct word. There is some background music and narration of each of the words that is an added bonus for children and very well done.

Education

With 160 words to learn this app has tons of educational value. The glossary includes a long list of all of the words and their definitions that players can read through for practice. The game provides a fun way to test what they have learned by matching the given word with its synonym out of a list of 4 other words. There is no time limit for each set which provide children with as much time as they need to think through the words. There are also 3 levels increasing in difficulty and players must complete each previous level before unlocking the next.

While there are a great deal of words for children to learn it seems the developers are using UK English. Adding a US English option would be a great addition and help make the app a bit easier for children who are not accustomed to the UK English words like (mum & rubbish).

Entertainment

While most of the app is based around the game itself it is a bit limited in the entertainment value. Adding another activity to play with the synonyms in the form of a game would definitely make this app more engaging. The developers have included a high score tracking option that makes it a bit more fun for children who enjoy a good challenge of beating their highest score etc.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars, this app isn’t going to break the bank. When you consider the number of vocabulary words there are to learn and practice, it is priced well.

Child Friendliness

Overall this app is great for kids to use since the user interface is quite intuitive. With simple tap and touch functioning, children will have no problem moving through the app and if they do the developers have also included a simple ‘how to’ area to explain things a bit more.

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

PHicon1024

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Treasure Hunt By Photos is a unique app that allows parents and children to play a scavenger hunt game with the help of an app. With up to 20 clues and secret codes that children must enter to move onto the next clue, this app puts a fun technological twist on the traditional scavenger hunt that is great for a rainy day indoors or a little outdoor fun.

Features include:

  • Up to 20 clues
  • Easy to use
  • 2 Theme options

Quality

Treasure Hunt By Photos is a very easy to use app once you understand the concept and it is one that will keep children active as they search for their next clue. The actual user interface is quite simple, with two theme options (coins or eggs) and easy to use tap, drag, and drop technology to help children move through the app. At first glance it is unclear on what needs to be done in the app to move forward and the information button is almost hidden at the bottom of the screen. Making that option a bit more obvious as well as polishing the graphics in the themes would definitely increase the quality of this app overall.

Education

The idea behind this app is to make children use their problem solving skills to identify each clue so they can find the code (hidden with the clue) in order to unlock the next one. Children will be provided with pictures that the other player or parent has loaded onto the device and app that signify where the codes are hidden. As children view the picture/clue (or a portion of the image) they will need to figure out what it is and locate the number that will unlock the next clue. If done strategically enough, this game could become quite a challenge for children as they use their problem solving and logical skills to the test.

Entertainment

What I love about this app is that it is not one that can be used simply sitting down with the device. It actually requires players to go in search of the next clue. This idea of combining physical activity and technology is great and this app is a fun way for children to challenge themselves. This is certainly a game the whole family can play. One thing that is a little disappointing is that you can only set up one scavenger hunt at a time. Adding a multiple game option and a reward system with different stickers or other rewards would be ideal and would definitely add more entertainment value to the app.

Value

Priced at just under a dollar, this isn’t an app that will break the bank. With the limited themes and options included in this app, it might be better suited as a free app with a paid version that offers multiple scavenger hunt options, a reward system, and some extras that would enhance the overall value of the app.

Child Friendliness

At first glance it isn’t very clear what needs to happen in this app and might be challenging for children to use. There are instructions included however they are a bit hidden in a small button on the bottom of the main screen labeled with a question mark. Making this a bit more visible would help children navigate through the app. The answer key (with all of the codes for each clue) is automatically stored in the photos on the device, however making it an automatic password protected option within the app is ideal.

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

giggletree

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Giggle Tree is a simple to use app that combines music and memory to create a game that children will love. With 4 memory activities to enjoy, children will enjoy exploring all of the fun giggle bugs and the musical instruments they play.

Features include:

  • 4 Memory activities
  • Sticker book
  • Easy to use

Quality

Giggle Tree is fun app full of wonderful images and illustrations that children will love. Gigglebugs are exotic looking creatures that make fun noises and play great music and the developers have done a nice job creating an easy to use interface for children to explore these silly bugs.

Education

This app is great for children that need a bit of practice for focus and memory. Each Gigglebug hides behind various leaves and players must find each match by remembering each bug’s location. Once a match is found, children are greeted with a fun musical number as the bugs begin to play their instruments. While there aren’t any other educational aspects to this app, there are 4 memory activities that increase in difficulty which gives children a nice challenge.

Entertainment

Aptly named, Giggle Tree is sure to bring some giggles to players as they explore the various music playing bugs that are hiding in the trees. With each new match, children enjoy a nice tune as the bugs play their instruments. There is also a sticker book that players can enjoy. For each new match that is found, a new sticker goes into the sticker book allowing little ones to decorate pages later. This simple addition creates a bit of diversity and certainly increases the entertainment value of the app.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars, this app is a great deal. Perfect for parents that are looking for a fun way to help children focus and work on their memory, this app offers lots of practice at a price that won’t break the bank.

Child Friendliness

With a fairly intuitive set up this app allows children to freely explore and play without a lot of instruction which is great. The easy to use tap and touch functioning is particularly good for young children and the open ended play allows players to use this app over and over again.

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

2

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

FeedingTime with Fred & Olive is a cute app that teaches children about responsibility as they help to feed various farm animals. With great illustrations, simple animations, and narration throughout, this easy to use app is a great tool for young children to interact with fun animals and learn a bit about responsibility too.
Features include:

  • 10 Animals
  • Narration throughout
  • Easy to use

Quality

The developers have done a great job with the illustrations and animations in this app. The images are clear and engaging and the added sound effects really help to bring the app to life. Children will have no problem moving through the app as it is very easy to use with simple tap and drag functioning to feed each animal. There is also a brief tutorial that shows children how to use the app which is great.

Education

FeedingTime with Fred & Olive is an app that aims at teaching young children about responsibility. Players must move through the app and feed each of the animals in order to help uncle John on the farm. As they feed each animal they are also learning the various foods that each animal might eat which adds another educational element to the app which is great.

Entertainment

While the full version of this app offers 10 animals to feed with three foods each, there aren’t any additional activities included in the app. Once each animal is fed, they fall asleep and you can’t go back to re-feed the animal unless you restart the app which isn’t ideal. Adding another activity and the option to re-feed each animal without starting over would definitely increase the entertainment value overall.

Value

The free version of this app allows children to feed a handful of animals, and the full version is offered in an in-app purchase for just under two dollars. With only 1 activity for each animal (feeding), it would be nice for the full version to offer another activity for children to enjoy at that price. While it’s not an app that will break the bank, children will likely get more playing time out of the app with another activity or two.

Child Friendliness

There is no doubt that this app is easy to use and well suited for young children. The user interface allows children to easily feed each animal by dragging and dropping the foods accordingly. The developers have also included a bit of instruction on the main page to help children if they are unsure of how to proceed.

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

makeascene

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Make A Scene: Easter is a cute animated sticker app that allows children to explore their creativity by creating a variety of scenes using stickers of all shapes and sizes. This easy to use app also includes narration for each animated sticker that is added to the scene creating an educational opportunity for children to learn new words and phrases.

Features include:

  • 60 Animated stickers
  • 7 Backgrounds
  • Narration for each sticker

Quality

The developers have done a nice job creating an app for toddlers that is easy to use. With simple drag and drop functioning, children will have no problem moving the stickers to the background to decorate each scene. The illustrations and stickers are also very well done with bright colors and just enough animation to keep children engaged.

Education

While there are no specific educational games or activities included in the app, there is an opportunity for children to learn a variety of words and phrases as they play. As players move each sticker to the page, the narrator will identify the item or animal helping children learn new words as they play.

Entertainment

Make A Scene: Easter is a simple app, but it is one that allows children to use their creativity freely as they decorate and set up each scene. With 7 backgrounds and 60 sticker options, there is no limit to what kids can create. The stickers consist of animals, people, food, and Easter eggs that can be hidden in the grass. The developers have also included a slight animation for each sticker which creates a more engaging app for children to enjoy.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app might be a bit more than parents expect to pay for such a simple app. There are a number of stickers and backgrounds to choose from that provide children with lots of playing time, so when you consider that, the price is pretty good.

Child Friendliness

Overall the app is very easy to use and provides children with a fun environment to create a variety of scenes and pictures to enjoy and share. With that said it seems a bit heavy with the external links and advertisements and while they are protected, they can be very distracting for children on the main page. Limiting those a bit more or putting the links in one parent area would definitely increase the child friendliness of the app overall.

  • YES “external links” (protected, but visible)
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)
  • YES “social media” (protected, but visible)

migalolo

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Migalolo is not just an educational ocean ebook, it is an overall musical experience that provides children with wonderful information about the ocean in a fun way. With lots of songs, fun characters, and great information about how we can take better care of the ocean and the animals that live there, this musical book is great for children of all ages.

Features include:

  • Narration
  • Educational songs
  • 90 Minutes of adventure

Quality

Migalolo is a unique educational app that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The developers have done a nice job of incorporating music, educational facts, and an engaging story in an animated way that children will really love. The quality of the images are well done and the music and narration is flawless and really makes the overall experience very engaging.

The set-up however could use a bit of work. There are 10 chapters included in this ebook and it is approximately 90 minutes long all the way through. The developers have included a ‘bookmark’ function that allows children to save their place and resume the story at a later time, however the ‘resume’ button doesn’t always recognize the readers touch. There is also an option for children to scroll through the index to move to a particular place in the story, however it often will kick readers out of the app entirely when using that function. The in app purchase to get the final chapter of the story isn’t a smooth transition and needs some work.

Fixing those couple of bugs would greatly increase the quality of the overall app and help make the app easier to use for children.

Education

There is no doubt there is a ton of educational value in this app. With so much information about the importance of keeping the ocean clean, how humans affect the wildlife that lives there, and other fun facts, the developers have done a wonderful job organically weaving the information into the story. Some of the songs are also very educational in nature which is great for children who are musically inclined and prefer to learn that way.

There is narration throughout the story, however the developers have not included a text highlighting option that you might see in other storybook apps. Adding this simple feature would help early readers follow along and practice their reading skills.

Entertainment

This entire app is an entertaining musical adventure through the ocean. Each chapter has great information, an exciting storyline, and music that will keep children engaged and coming back for more. There are no in app activities or games to play, but with 90 minutes of music and a story to go along with it, you don’t really need them.

Value

The developers have done an amazing job of giving most of this app away for free with the final chapter available for download for just under a dollar which is an absolute steal! Parents, this is a no-brainer and absolutely worth every penny and then some.

Child Friendliness

While this app is so creative, engaging, and a ton of fun for kids, the set up needs a bit of work. The app is quite long and it would be nice to have an area where children can easily access each chapter as a whole (without getting kicked out of the app). Also the buttons don’t always recognize the readers touch so that needs a little work as well.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected and visible)
  • YES “in app purchase” (unprotected and visible)

worldracers1

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 3.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Grab your keys and your passport — it’s time to head off on a trip around the world! World Racers: Family Board Game will take kids to different cities and countries as they race to be the first car to cross the finish line. While there’s not much else to the game, it’s a great way to get kids used to taking turns and gives you a way to get your youngest family members involved in Family Game Night.

Features include:

  • Choose from four cars
  • Select the Number of Laps
  • Play with up to four players
  • Play against the computer
  • Spin the spinner

Quality

It’s easy to get started playing World Racers. Simply tap on the main screen, and then choose the cars you want to play with. Each game can be played with up to four different cars, which are either controlled by humans or the computer. You can also select the number of laps (up to 5) to determine how long the game lasts. Once the game starts, you move by spinning the spinner, just like you would in a real board game. The numbered triangles are pretty self-explanatory – simply tap the circle to move the correct number of spaces. However, a couple of the other triangles are more confusing. For example, if you land on the ?, the game chooses a destination or other action for your car to complete, but since the game advances your car to the destination for you on this option, it’s hard to keep track of where you’re going. There is a board view option that allows players to see their position in relation to the other cars on the road after a play is made.

Education

You would think with a name like World Racers, education and geography in particular would be a focus of the game. There’s little geography in the game aside from a few international flags and pictures of national landmarks. Kids will barely notice them. They will, however, learn some basic counting skills as they move their cars the correct number of spaces. They’ll also learn about turn-taking as they wait patiently for their turn to arise again.

Entertainment

Spin and move is the basis of the board game. There isn’t a lot of other actions. Little kids who love cars will enjoy seeing their cars race around the board and will want to continually check the position of their car to see what place they’re in. Most of the entertainment, however, will come from sitting around your device and playing a game together.

Value

World Racers: Family Board Game is reasonably priced. However, its lack of entertainment value makes its price seem a bit high for what it offers. Those looking for a board game appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers, particularly those who love cars, may find it worth a download though.

Child Friendliness

It’s easy for kids to play this game. All they have to do is spin the spinner and move the correct number of spaces. Aside from a privacy policy on the main screen, there’s nothing else to distract kids and keep them from focusing on the game.

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

teddymissing

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Teddy is Missing is an interactive storybook app that allows children to choose the path of the story, providing a ton of freedom and fun. This magical tale is very well done with educational and fun games within each story path for children to enjoy in addition to the story. With animated characters, interactive illustrations, and lively narration, this is one story children will enjoy for a long time.

Features include:

  • 6 Story paths
  • Magical storyline
  • 6 Mini-games

Quality

Teddy is Missing is a cute storybook app that is easy to use and lots of fun. The lively narration and interactive images are great for keeping young minds engaged and the ability for children to select the path of the story is even better. The set up is easy to use and quite intuitive so readers can easily move through the app without trouble. The developers have done a nice job with the illustrations as well as the sound effects to create an overall creative experience for children to enjoy as they read.

With that said the transitions and response to user touch on the interactive images could use some work. Some of the pages load a bit slower than others and their is often a lag in reaction time for some of the interactive illustrations.

Education

The developers have included some fun mini-games that provide children with a bit of educational practice as they move through the different paths of the story. These include connect the dots, matching colors, a puzzle, etc. that will help children get some practice with their problem solving skills.

Adding a few extra reading options would help enhance the educational value of the app. Adding simple text highlighting and read to me/read to myself options would allow readers to practice their reading skills while enjoying this creative storybook app.

Entertainment

This app is full of highly entertaining bits that children will love. The story itself is very engaging and has a magical feel with the witch that has stolen Teddy. The ability for readers to select the story path adds a fun twist to the typical storybook app and gives children the freedom to enjoy the story on their terms. Each interactive illustration, storyline, and image included has fun sound effects and narration to add more interest to this highly entertaining story.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app is a great deal. In addition to the fantastic story, alternate story paths and fun interactive illustrations throughout, the developers have included mini-games within each story path to add more value to the app which is great. Overall this is an app that parents will certainly get their money’s worth as it will quickly become a family favorite.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a good job making this app easy to use for children of all ages. With simple arrows at the bottom of each page and magical sparkles to indicate an interactive image, readers are able to easily move through the app without a lot of trouble or instruction. The transition from page to page could use some work as there are some pages that load a bit slower than others and the touch response for the interactive images could use a bit of work as well.

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

pegcat

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 3.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Cat has a problem! He keeps getting himself stuck in trees. Using their basic geometry skills, kids must create a path to help Cat get down from the tree and back to Peg. They get to do this in a variety of settings, from a winter storm to a suburban park and a backyard garden. Kids will love interacting with Peg+Cat characters and helping Cat solve his problem as they play the different levels of this app.

Features include:

  • Different habitats and seasons
  • Multiple levels
  • Increasing difficulty
  • Popular characters

Quality

A rotating menu makes it easy for kids to navigate through the different settings in the game. They select a tree, followed by a level. Then they listen to the directions. During a few of the games kids need to listen closely to hear what to do. A help button will give them hints but not repeat all of the instructions. However, since each game is pretty much the same, just with different details, kids will have it all figured out in no time. Then they’ll get to enjoy the antics of Cat and have fun interacting with two of their favorite characters.

Education

Peg+Cat: The Tree Problem focuses on helping kids build basic math skills. As they create paths they’ll focus on shape size and concepts such as higher and lower and shorter and taller. Some of the settings require kids to be very precise. For example, they must choose the right sizes of rectangles to build a bridge. Others require them to be less precise. For example, they stack snowballs to form a path, but the path doesn’t have to be even. Cat likes to take risks and is sometimes willing to make big jumps down from the tree rather than have kids build the path all the way up. This is good for kids who are just learning or just want to play for fun, but not as challenging for kids who could work to get it right.

Entertainment

While each game has a few unique shapes and other components, kids pretty much play the same game in each setting and at each level. As a result, they may not find themselves playing more than a couple rounds of the app each time. As they successfully complete paths, kids receive praise from Peg and Cat which helps motivate them to play a little more, but the app would be improved if the paths were a little trickier or if the game changed a little more for each setting.

Value

If kids love Peg+Cat, they will enjoy this app. However, it is priced a bit high for those who aren’t fans of the characters. Yes, the app offers multiple settings and multiple levels within the settings, but since each setting and level offers essentially the same game, it’s hard to justify the price.

Child Friendliness

Aside from a Parents button and a More Apps button at the top of the screen, the app keeps kids focused on the game. It’s easy for them to use and a help button helps give them hints when they get stuck.

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

citynights

App Info

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

Overview

City Nights is a soothing ebook featuring vivid descriptions of the city at night in rhyming verse. Young readers will enjoy the sounds of the city slowing in the evening. Kids who live in the city will enjoy the familiarity and kids who live in the country will relish a unique experience.

Features include:

  • Unique art work
  • Vivid, poetic language
  • Read to me and read to myself modes
  • Interactive animations
  • Engaging and realistic sound effects

Quality

City Nights is a well-made app that children will enjoy. The interface is intuitive, and the narration is of high quality. The animations and sound effects on each page are simple, yet effectively represent city sights and sounds. However, there are times when the interactions didn’t seem to respond to touch like they should have, and several instances when the menu did not activate completely. It was showing, but the links were not responding. The problem seemed to be that the menu bar was incompletely extended up from the bottom of the page, and when it was pulled farther upwards, it worked well.

Education

This app provides young children with some wonderful vocabulary and sensory images. The text is filled with vivid, sensory words that evoke the sights and sounds of the city. To a child who lives there, it will seem very familiar, and to a child from another environment, it will seem exotic and interesting. It is a poem, so will afford young readers with some great opportunities to discover rhyme and rhythm. The story is short, however, and the book does not offer much variety in the way of interactions (most are drag and drop and a few are toggle switches that turn something on or off).

Entertainment

City Nights is a very soothing app, and makes a great bedtime story for young children. The artwork is done in a unique style that many will find engaging, and the animations (though simple) will be fun for the first time or two. I especially liked getting to help the raccoon tip over the trash can! But I’m not sure that children will remain engaged long with the interactions, because there’s only so many times you want to “drive” the cars down the same city street or walk the shoes off of the page.

Value

As ebooks go, this one is on the short side, with limited interactions. It’s a pleasant story, and if a child latches onto it as a bedtime favorite, it will be used many times. However, once most children have read through it a time or two, I think they will be ready to move on to more engaging activities, since there are no games or other perks to be found.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly, so parents can feel confident that there are no worries when their children play with it.

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

threepigs

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Three Little Pigs is a cute storybook app with beautiful graphics and great narration. This classic story is combined with detailed illustrations that look as though they are made of various fabrics that adds a bit of interest to the story that children will love. With fun sound effects and simple interactive bits throughout this story is great for young children.

Features include:

  • Text highlighting
  • Narrations options (Read to me, Read to myself)
  • Beautiful illustrations

Quality

There is no doubt this app is very well done and the developers have done a great job bringing this classic story to life with simple details in the illustrations and interactive bits. The illustrations have a textured quality that make for more interesting images children will love. While the interactive pieces are very simple and aren’t full-on animations, they are enough to create interest for little ones as they read through the story. The user interface is also very easy to use and simply requires a tap of the finger in the bottom right corner to turn the page.

Education

While there aren’t any specific educational activities included in this app, children do have the chance to follow along with the text highlighting as they read through the story. This function is also great for children who are practicing their reading skills or early readers who will be able to learn new vocabulary etc. Adding an additional educational activity outside of the story would definitely increase the value overall.

Entertainment

Three Little Pigs is a cute story and this app makes it even more entertaining by including fun interactive bits within the illustrations. While they aren’t complete animations, they do add a bit of interest in the story as children tap and touch the various images throughout. The narration and background music and sound effects also add to the overall entertainment value which is great. It would be beneficial to add a few extra activities to make this one that children will continue to come back to. Adding a few games or coloring pages would greatly add to the entertainment value of the app.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars, this app is priced very well. With text highlighting, narration options, and beautiful illustrations, parents are sure to be happy with the value this app provides. Adding a few extra activities would definitely increase the overall value, but at this price it definitely isn’t one to break the bank.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job of creating an app that is easy to use and fairly intuitive. Without a ton of instruction, children can easily move through the app by tapping the bottom right corner to turn the page. The menu options to change the narration and languages etc. are a bit hidden from the main page. Adding a few buttons on the main page that are easily accessible for children would definitely help with this

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

chore

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 3.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Chore-inator is an app that puts a technological spin on the traditional chore charts for kids. With specific chores set up by the parent for each child in the family, this app helps to organize tasks with ease and helps to streamline the chore and reward process. It takes only a few minutes for parents to set up before kids can get busy completing chores and claiming rewards.

Features include:

  • Easy to use
  • Customizable parent settings
  • Multiple child profiles

Quality

Chore-inator is a great app that can easily make the chore and reward process easy for parents and children alike. With a simple parent set-up initially, this app allows children to view and complete their designated chores in order to receive the rewards with ease. The developers have done a great job creating an app with an intuitive interface that allows even young children to tap and select the app they have completed in order to claim their reward. With most of the technical set up on the parents side of things, this app is easy to use for the entire family.

The parent area provides lots of ways to customize the app including chores, payouts, approved payments, and passwords etc. so families can get the most out of the app which is great.

Education

This app is a great way to teach children accountability for their responsibilities around the home. With the ability to set up multiple child profiles, parents can assign age specific chores, rewards, allowances etc. allowing them to easily track and maintain the list of responsibilities in one place for the entire family. In addition to checking off a chore when it is complete, children can also take a photo as proof so parents can look at it later. This is a great app to teach children a bit of responsibility in a fun and easy way.

Entertainment

While this isn’t a game specific app, children are sure to enjoy being able to see their rewards and allowances in real time to keep track of what they have earned for the week or month.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this is not an app that will break the bank and parents with multiple children may find this to be one app that makes their life easier in regards to keeping track of allowances and responsibilities around the home. Three dollars to streamline responsibilities and accountability may prove to be invaluable to some parents. Overall this is a good value.

Child Friendliness

After the initial parent set-up, moving through the app is quite easy. With simple tap and touch functions, children can indicate what chores the have completed and take pictures as proof. Children can also set up a password for their profiles to provide further security. Parents also must set up a password to protect the parent area to ensure they are the only ones assigning chores and rewards.

  • Protected parent area (once password protected by parent)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

roobarb

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Roobarb the green dog organizes a model airplane race in this animated ebook, but his feline neighbor, Custard, nearly steals the show (and the grand prize). The ebook is based on the popular British children’s TV show.

Features include:

  • Read to me/read to myself options
  • Professional narration by British actor Tamsin Greig
  • Interactive animations on each page
  • Record your own sound effects
  • Words highlighted as they are narrated

Quality

This ebook app works well and is easy to use. There is an instruction page to clarify the mechanics, if needed, though. There are a few minor drawbacks that parents should be aware of. The text does contain a few grammatical errors scattered throughout the book. There is no way to turn off the background music or adjust its level, which might make it difficult for young readers with attention problems. Pages turn with a right to left swipe in the middle of the screen instead of the more typical swipe from the corner. One character does call another “stinker” at one point in the story, which may concern some parents. All in all, however, the ebook is cute and it’s fun to learn about new characters.

Education

This ebook offers an engaging story that young children will enjoy. The interactions on each page trigger animations, dialog and sound effects that enhance the story, which is wonderful to see. The text of the story itself uses a rich vocabulary, full of words like “magnificent” and “scuttled.” The Read-to-Me option highlights the words as they are narrated, which is great for younger of less-confident readers. There is also a Read-to-Myself option, but no way for intermediate readers to get clues about the challenging words, such as a touch-activated thesaurus or dictionary similar to other ebooks for this age group. Many pages offer a Record-Your-Own Sound Effects feature, which children will love. I do wish there were a few related activities offered during or after the story, though, to extend its educational value. Parents should also be aware that the app is voiced by people with British accents and also that many words, such as “aeroplane” and “flavoured” are spelled in the British manner, which may throw some children off balance.

Entertainment

Roobarb & Custard: When Custard Was Grounded is a fun ebook with an engaging story. The Record-Your-Own sound effects feature will entrance them, and the interactive animations really make the story come to life. American children may not be familiar with Roobarb and his friends, since they are from British television, but if they enjoy the franchise, there are other Roobarb paper books and toys available, as well as the Boj series of ebook apps from the same developer.

Value

At $3.99, this children’s ebook seems a bit pricy since it does not include any supplemental educational activities. If your child is already a fan of the characters, or if the story becomes a favorite, it will be a worthwhile investment. It’s even a good deal if you have several children who will enjoy the story. However, if your young reader does not fall in love with Roobarb and his friends, the app may gather dust after the first reading or two.

Child Friendliness

Roobarb & Custard: When Custard Was Grounded is a very child-friendly app. Parents won’t have a thing to worry about as their children play with it, because developers covered all of the safety bases in this one!

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

maxresdefault

App Info

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

Overview

Give your kids control of the kitchen with Toca Kitchen 2. In the no rules, stress-free environment, kids get to decide what’s for dinner. Be prepared for some zany concoctions. As kids cook, they can mix a variety of different ingredients to create their own unique meals. Want to make a smoothie with steak and tomato? Add hot sauce to a pear? It’s all possible in the free-range Toca Kitchen and the three patrons in the app are willing to try it all, although their faces will show that they won’t always enjoy it.

Features include:

  • A fridge full of food
  • Three characters to feed
  • Five different kitchen tools
  • Vegetarian setting

Quality

Quality and Toca Boca go hand in hand and Toca Kitchen 2 doesn’t disappoint. Its characters and graphics feature the same style and feel as many of kids’ other favorite Toca Boca apps. While the app promotes no rules and stress-free play, it could use a few more identifiers to make it easier for kids to use. For example, some kids may have trouble discovering the fridge on the side of the screen or may not recognize some of the tools in the kitchen. Adding a more defined handle for the fridge or placing the grill pan on the burner will help improve the game a bit.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Kids can combine any of the ingredients in the fridge and cook them however they want to come up with zany concoctions. They’ll love trying to feed their foods to the characters in the game and see their reactions. To get even better reactions, add a lot of hot sauce or pepper to a dish. Even though kids can combine a lot of different foods, with only five different cooking methods, the game’s play feels a little limited. Once kids have used each of the tools and have cooked with a few different foods, the game starts to loose a bit of its appeal. They may return to it briefly now and again, but it’s not an app that will hold their attention for long periods of time.

Value

Toca Kitchen 2 is worth adding to your collection, particularly if you’re a Toca Boca fan, but if your kids already have other cooking apps on their device, it may not be worth the download. Kids do have a bit more freedom in the kitchen than with some other apps, but overall it has the same feel as many other cooking apps for kids.

Child Friendliness

The app’s settings are contained outside of the app, in Apple’s settings screen. There, parents can opt whether to receive Toca News. They can also select to turn on the vegetarian setting which will only allow kids to cook with fruits and vegetables instead of meat. Parents can also view the in-app parents section which outlines the different tools and highlights the freedom kids have in the Toca kitchen. However, to read the information in the parent section, the device must be connected to the Internet.

  • Protected parental area (can contain links and social media)
  • NO in-app purchases
  • NO third-party ads
  • NO social media
  • NO external links
  • YES link to other developer apps (protected)

adventre

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Time Tangle-Adventure Time is a fun free play app that children will love, especially if they are fond of the Adventure Time characters. This adventurous app takes players on a journey to fix the time tangle issue by chasing down villains, punching things, and collecting coins and other rewards. With a random quest generator, players are able to play this open ended game for hours.

Features include:

  • Random quest generator
  • Free play runner game
  • Simple interface

Quality

Time Tangle-Adventure Time is a fairly simple to use runner game that fans of Adventure Time will love. The developers have done a nice job creating an app that is easy for children to play by simply tilting their device, and touching the screen to jump and punch. While the visuals aren’t crystal clear, they do the job and the added sound effects make for a fun, good quality app.

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

The object of the game is to fix time by hitting and punching bad guys, saving friends, and collect coins and other rewards to help restore order. The joy of this free-play app is that there is a random quest generator that dictates what the object of each quest is and adds a bit of surprise and interest to the game. With a gallery of achievements, friends, & villains, players can keep track of the encounters they have made in the game as they play. With so many villains to defeat and objectives to complete, this app is one children will be able to enjoy for hours.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app isn’t one that will break the bank and parents will definitely appreciate that. The free play set up also allows children to make the most of this runner game as they play for hours on end at a really great price. Overall, this is a good value.

Child Friendliness

While this app is set up specifically for children who love Adventure Time, parents may want to know there is some crude humor including ‘buns’ etc. along with some violence with hitting and punching as the name of the game. Parents may decide this app is not the best idea for young children. The set up of the game is fairly easy to follow with a simple ‘intro’ video and trial option that introduces players to how to play the app.

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

dipity

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

‘dipityPix is an easy to use photo editor app that is a great for children. This easy to use app offers a simple interface to play with the fun colors and filters to create interesting photos in a safe environment. With a straight-forward interface and a few taps of the finger, children can easily explore their creativity with this app.

Features include:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Fun filters
  • Great for young children

Quality

‘dipityPix is a simple, easy to use photo editing app that young children can use and enjoy. The developers have done a nice job of making sure the user interface is kid-friendly and simple to use without any instruction or directions. With a simple tap of the finger on the various bouncing balls, children can easily change the colorful filters included in the app on their own.

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

For children that love taking pictures or playing with various filters, this is a great starter app. While it is a simple concept, children will surely have fun with the various filters that they can view by tapping each bouncing ball. There are also arrows at the bottom of the page to allow users to move back and forth between filters already selected in case they liked a previous one better. Once the filter is selected, users can then save the filtered photo to the album on their phone. This app also gives users the option of taking a photo to edit (much like other photo editing apps) or use one that is already located in the photo album.

Value

Priced at just under a dollar this app is a great value. While it is simple, it is one app that children can use over and over again with different photos and still have a lot of fun.

Child Friendliness

The best part about this app is that it is easy and completely safe to use for kids. There are no complicated instructions needed to begin to play with the fun filters, children can simply tap through the options and use their creativity freely.

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

pepi ride

App Info

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

Overview

Pepi Ride is a cute racing style app that will encourage little ones to use their problem solving skills to collect gifts along their path. With a variety of cars to choose from, simple controls and lots fun challenges to move through, this app is one children are going to really enjoy.

Features include:

  • 4 Characters
  • Driving challenges
  • Car decorations & accessories

Quality

Pepi Ride is full of bright colors, interactive images, and fun sound effects that children will love. The developers have done a great job ensuring that the controls are easy to use as there is a simple forward and back pedals that help children move through the app. While there is a goal to collect all three gifts within each track, children are able to play freely and explore at their own pace.

Education

While this isn’t your typical educational app, it does require children to use their logical skills to move through the challenges. The goal is to complete each track and collect all three presents that are hidden throughout. In order to do so, players must move up steep hills, move through water, and drive backwards to get into tight corners etc. Using their problem solving skills is part of the fun and this app will provide lots of practice for that.

Entertainment

In addition to selecting one of four drivers, children also get to customize their vehicles. With various paints, pencils, and lots of colors to choose from, they can decorate their car as they see fit. They can also add special accessories and stickers to make their vehicle stand out, but that is just part of the fun. Most of the fun comes within each track with lots of fun balls, bubbles, bumpy roads, and other interesting challenges to traverse, kids are going to really enjoy getting creative so they can get to the end of the track.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app isn’t one that will break the bank. With a variety of driving challenges to complete and lots of ways to customize each vehicle, children will get a lot of playing time out of Pepi Ride.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job of making this app easy to use and safe too. The simple controls (forward,back, and bounce buttons) make it easy for players to maneuver through each challenge without needing a ton of assistance or instruction.

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

Wenda

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 4
Download on the App Store

Overview

Wenda The Wacky Wiggler is an uplifting story, one that will teach children how each of us is one of a kind and we should celebrate it.

Features include:

  • Three options for enjoying the story
  • Navigation menu
  • Beautiful illustrations
  • Quiet mode
  • Light animation

Quality

The lovely illustrations and light-hearted music will draw the reader in as they follow Wenda’s journey. A navigation menu available on every page allows for easy navigation and provides options for muting the music or narration at any time. Removing the white transition screens would make the story flow more smoothly.

Education

Three reading options are available; children can easily choose them on the main screen. Parents may need to demonstrate how to scroll through the text in the read to myself option. Adding text highlighting to the auto play and read to me options would benefit beginning readers as they could then follow along as the words are narrated.

Entertainment

Wenda’s story is entertaining in itself; however, adding a bit more story-related animation and a couple of activities would extend the entertainment value and possibly extend the life of the app on a family’s device. Simple activities such as a match game or jigsaw puzzle are always great additions.

Value

Wenda the Wacky Wiggler is currently priced at just below three dollars making it a good buy for families.

Child Friendliness

A protected section for parents ensures that children can enjoy the story without encountering buttons that would cause them to exit the app.

mia

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Messy Mia and her robot guide, Zed, explore the changes to technology over the past few decades in this colorful, interactive ebook. The app also includes some review games and questions for young readers to ponder as they learn about technology.

Features include:

  • 20 interactive pages in the story
  • 4 interactive games to extend the fun
  • 11 thought-provoking questions that promote expression and reasoning
  • Realistic sound effects that create a multi-media experience
  • Optional English or Spanish narration and text

Quality

Messy Mia and the Tale of the Ancient Tech is a fun story that will catch the interest of the intended audience: six to eight year old children. The app works well and kids will find the interface intuitive to operate. Most pages have interactions marked by a yellow triangle with a question mark, and some have multiple interactions. A few of the resulting animations are kind of subtle, such as clicking the switch on a lamp to dim the lights in the room, and none of the interactions work more than once during a viewing. Kids might have a bit more fun if at least some of the interactions were a bit less obvious, necessitating some exploration of the pages.

Education

This ebook presents an entertaining look at past versions of common household technology, such as the evolution of televisions, cell phones and computers. The incredulous Mia gets a tour of things most of us take for granted and how they have changed since her mother was a girl. The app misses an opportunity by just going back twenty or so years in the history of tech when it could even show what these things were like for grandparents and great-grandparents, since there have been many remarkable changes well before the story takes up. For example, instead of simply showing a rotary phone, it would be easy to go back to the early days of telephones in homes with party lines, operators and cranks, and then moved through the rotary stage, the huge cell phone models, flip phones, and finally today’s smart phones. The “think about” questions are very well done, invoking higher order thinking on several levels including categorization and prediction skills. This is a very nice touch.

The app also includes four additional games. The Tidy Mia’s Room game seems a bit simplistic for most early elementary students-it’s a drag-and-drop to move the toys in the messy room to the toy box, and would be more suitable for preschoolers. Color Mia offers one picture to paint, with an option to do a screen shot of the finished product. Match the Tech allows users to pull the old-fashioned versions of each technology onto their modern counterparts. There are four devices to “modernize,” but they are always in the same places and don’t randomize, so the game won’t have a lot of staying power. The Memory game has four pairs that do change positions with subsequent rounds, but again, the game seems a bit simplistic for the intended audience.

Entertainment

Messy Mia and the Tale of the Ancient Tech is a fun story for young children. Kids usually have a fascination with the “olden days” when their parents grew up, so most will enjoy seeing what technology was like a few decades ago. The sound effects for the “old-fashioned tech” are accurate and well-presented. The narration is high-quality, using intonations and expression in ways that will help children maintain attention. The interactions on the pages are appropriate and connected to the story for the most part, but they are marked in obvious ways, which eliminates the added thrill of exploring new pages to find surprises that many ebooks contain. The extra games are nice, but simplistic. It would be helpful to have the option to turn off the background music when needed, as well, if a reader needs help focusing on the story.

Value

This app seems a bit on the expensive side, since it is not likely to have the “staying power” of some other ebooks. It is intended for ages 6-8, but many of the games and interactions would be more appealing to younger readers. Even in the read-aloud mode and playing the games, the app can be completely explored in well under a half an hour.

Child Friendliness

Messy Mia and the Tale of the Ancient Tech is very child-friendly. There are no outside advertisements, no in-app purchases, no links to social media, and no connection to the App Store, email or the internet. The app is easy to use and navigation is clearly marked.

stanley

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 4

Download on the App Store

Overview

U.S. Geography with Flat Stanley HD helps kids learn to name states from their shape and gives them important information about each one that is likely to show up on those school tests about the fifty states in middle grade school.

Features include:

  • Learn states, capitals and other state facts
  • See pictures of important attractions in each state
  • Scrambled letter spelling game to teach spellings
  • Study seven regions or the entire country at once
  • Match state names with shapes on blank map

Quality

U.S Geography with Flat Stanley works as intended, and provides an entertaining way to help kids study states, capitals and other information that many will need in middle elementary school. In case you’re not already familiar with Stanley, the character comes from a popular children’s book, and many classrooms already use him as a geography lesson. Since Stanley is flat, he can easily be mailed around the country and travels well. This app dresses him in an aviator costume and has users send him around the country by airmail….using a slingshot! Children can aim by watching a line of dots and can see if they will hit the requested state because it is highlighted when the slingshot is aimed correctly.

Users can tap each state to see pictures and printed information about the area, and one large concern is that the captions on these pictures have quite a few problems. Some are not printed in their entirety, trailing off in ellipses instead of finishing sentences. Examples of this are the Cedar Point picture’s caption in Ohio and the apple blossom picture caption in Michigan, but the problem is widespread. Other captions contain grammar or spelling errors, such as neglecting to capitalize Henry Ford’s last name in the Michigan section and using “site” for “sight” in the Northern Lights caption in Alaska.

Education

U.S. Geography with Flat Stanley will help students learn to label states on a blank map. It is very helpful to be able to study by regions, but the divisions are different than many classrooms use. Some programs divide the country into five or six regions, and others use eight. This app has seven, and calls the Midwestern states “North Central,” which is quite unusual (at least here in the Midwest!). In other words, the regional divisions in this app will help your child study in sections, but chances are very good that they will not match up exactly with the regions as presented in the classroom.

The app asks users to send Stanley flying via slingshot to the requested state. Once he has landed in the right spot, the screen switches to a spelling activity that presents the letters of the state name scrambled for students to use to spell the target state. However, the instructions include the state’s name, so it would be an easy matter for kids to simply copy it, or there is a handy “skip” button at the bottom of the screen. Perhaps the directions could disappear once the student begins to spell? Once the letters are in place (or the activity has been skipped), users are taken back to the map page to try for another state. It’s quite possible that students will completely skip over the informative section that needs to be accessed by tapping the state’s outline. This section contains information and pictures about the state’s flag, capital, flower, bird, and a few unique features or attractions. Unfortunately, there is no way for the students to see where the capitals of the states are located, and that is often on the school tests, as well.

Entertainment

Playing with a familiar character is always an attraction for many students, and Flat Stanley will be no exception. The mechanism of Stanley’s travel will also be a draw for young students, too. Who can resist a chance to use a slingshot? It does take a little bit of practice to get the correct range and direction, but once players learn to use the cuing system, they will shoot accurately with ease. The app rewards correct shooting with a fanfare and access to the spelling page. Correct spelling is rewarded with a fanfare and a return to the map for another round. If all states in the region are hit on the first try, the app congratulates the user and moves on to the next region.

U.S. Geography with Flat Stanley might have a bit more play value if there were a trivia-type game to assess the information contained in the informative sections. This would also encourage kids to use that section instead of skipping it all together.

Value

U.S. Geography with Flat Stanley is a good value for middle elementary students who are studying states and capitals in social studies. The app will give plenty of practice with matching states to blanks on the U.S. map and offers much of the additional state information that is typically covered in school. Kids will enjoy the sling-shot mechanism, but can possibly choose to skip exploring the visual and printed information about each state, and the app does not help kids learn the locations of the capitals.

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly. There are no outside advertisements, no in-app purchases, and links to social media are embedded deep within the information about the developers inside the parents’ section. There are links to the privacy policy, the developers’ website, the rating system, and an email list inside the protected parents’ section, and there is a protected link to additional games in the series on the home page. Of concern, however, is the effectiveness of the parent gate. To access the protected areas, users are presented with the problem “What is twelve divided by three?” The problem never changes, and students of the age likely to be studying states and capitals may well be able to solve it.

frutasbestappsforkids

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

D5EN5 Fruits is a unique toddler app full of bright colors, fun sounds, and simple interactive images for little ones to explore and enjoy. With 5 characters, fruits, and a simple activities to play, this simple app is good for keeping children busy and entertained.

Features include:

  • Multi-language options
  • 10 Interactive activities
  • Fun sound effects

Quality

D5EN5 Fruits is an app with a simple concept that includes various activities for children to explore. The images are well done with bright colors and interactive components that toddlers will enjoy. The images and activities are also accompanied by sound effects (like giggling, squealing, and crunching sounds) that help to bring the app to life which is also very enjoyable for children.

While the set-up is fairly simple, the execution is a little confusing. At the beginning of the app when the characters are being introduced it isn’t clear whether the words that are shown are the character names or if the app is set in another language. The flow of the app also could be improved a bit. There are 2 activities for each fruit and while there are options to turn to the next activity (and next fruit) on each page it just requires a ‘tap’ instead of a swipe or page turn. Making it a simple arrow would make this more clear. There is also a button located at the top that allows players to move between the 2 activities but doesn’t allow players to move onto the next fruit and without making the the button to turn the page more clear, children could get stuck.

Education

While this isn’t specifically an educational app, it does have a counting activity that will help little ones begin to learn the concept of counting. Adding the names of each fruit or incorporating a bit more in regards to educational activities would certainly help make this app more conducive to early learning.

Entertainment

Each activity that is include is fairly simple to interact with and allows children to tap and explore the various characters and images. The squeals and giggles that are included throughout the app are great and will help keep children engaged as they play. The interactive activities include picking pears, eating watermelon, rocking on a banana with a silly monkey, and creating funny faces with an orange, all of which children will really enjoy.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app certainly won’t break the bank. While there isn’t a ton of educational value in this simple app, there are 10 activities for children to explore that will certainly keep them busy.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job making sure this app is safe for children to use. There is a settings area along with a parent’s section with a protected button on the main page. There is also a small icon that shows other apps by the same developer on the main page that is protected as well. These buttons are not accessible within the playing area so once children get past the main page they are fine. While the other apps button is located on the main page and protected it changes pictures fairly quickly and can be distracting to little ones.

One other thing to note is the option to rate the app on the very last page. This button is protected, but it is in the playing area and really should be included with the other parent only areas and not in the area where children will have easy access to it. With that said there are no social media links or in app purchases to be concerned about.

arthur

App Info

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

Overview

School’s out in Elmwood City and it’s time for Arthur and his friends to have some fun. In Arthur’s Big App they’re traveling around town to make smoothies, visit the library, enjoy some music, and even play a game of freeze tag and they’re inviting kids to join in on the fun. As kids play the four mini games found in Arthur’s app, they earn stars and advance in level. They’ll also unlock favorite characters from the game as they play, giving them a chance to interact with Arthur and all of his friends.

Features include:

  • 4 mini games
  • Multiple levels
  • Unlock favorite Arthur characters
  • Track performance

Quality

While simple, Arthur’s Big App doesn’t lack quality. It’s laid out nicely and easy for kids to navigate. Kids will recognize the same characters they see on the cartoon, but they must unlock them one by one as they play the different mini games. The instructions for the games are all clear and they are all easy to play and come accompanied by fun background music.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

The app contains four different mini games: smoothie making, music playing, freeze tag, and a visit to the library. Each of these games has multiple levels, but the level of difficulty isn’t very high. While kids will enjoy playing the games, it will have more to do with trying to unlock the characters (there are 50 characters unlock) rather than just having fun with the game. The games themselves are also designed for a child younger than the target audience for the app.

Value

While comparable in price to similar apps, parents may wish they got a little more for the price. Instead of having multiple levels to each mini game, the app would be stronger if it had even more mini games or let kids choose which mini game to play rather than presenting the games in sequence.

Child Friendliness

While the developers state that the app is designed for children ages 6-8, it feels more like an app designed for younger children. Preschoolers can easily play all of the games contained within the app. Kids may also find them frustrated by not being able to choose the specific game they play and by the fact that they must unlock each character one at a time. It may take awhile to access Buster, Francine, and some of their other favorites.

spooky

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Spooky Letters offers young learners a chance to practice tracing capital, lower case and cursive letters. The app also features games and activities that will help children review basic phonics sounds, all with a Halloween theme.

Features include:

  • Practice for manuscript capital, manuscript lower case, and lower case cursive letters
  • Review of letter sounds and key words
  • Halloween theme
  • Gentle correction for inaccurate tracing
  • Access puzzles and words for completed letters any time

Quality

Spooky Letters is a good app to build fine motor skills, practice letter recognition and formation, and develop phonemic awareness. The app is intuitive to use, and includes parent directions as well as an option to reset the app so students can play again and again. Young learners will be encouraged to be accurate in their tracing and avoid rushing because missing even one of the guiding dots will cause the letter to reset and force the student to begin again. There are at least two misspellings in the system, as well. Quetzalcoatl is misspelled as “quezacoatal” and Jabberwocky is misspelled as “jabbawocky.” I did not see any reference to British variations in the spellings of these words, but they are so unusual that young children are not likely to notice.

Education

This app is designed with young learners and those with dyslexia in mind. Students choose the format of letters to practice. The app shows the letter’s formation, then prompts the learner to connect the guiding dots to trace the letter accurately. After tracing each letter, there is a short reward activity that varies based on the form of the letter being traced. Tracing lower case manuscript or cursive letters successfully will cause an animated picture of a Halloween key word (such as R for Robot or B for Bat) to appear. The player can then trace a dot-to-dot version. Tracing capital manuscript letters triggers a spelling game. Players unscramble a two- or three-letter word while listening to the sounds of each letter. When all of the letters in the group are completed, there is another reward sequence that can be activated.

Parents should be aware that this app is designed for a British audience, so the words and instructions are voiced with a British accent. There are also a few drawbacks that may be detrimental to some learners, as well. The female voice that names the key words is frequently unclear, making it somewhat difficult to unscramble the words. For example, the word “ant” completely omits the final /t/ sound, and the word “tap” sounds very much like “pat.” The /s/ sound is particularly problematic in this regard, as well as many ending consonants. Another concern is that some of the key words chosen are not phonetically regular. The word “owl” for example, is sounded out as long o, consonant /w/, /l/ which is very different than the /ow/ and /l/ sounds really needed. The narrator also says each sound twice as the words are being spelling, which could further confuse and disrupt learners who are having difficulty with the process. Parents should also be aware that the fonts used, especially for the cursive letters, differ somewhat from those typical taught in American schools. Cursive R and S, for example, are formed nearly like their manuscript counterparts, except they have added connecting lines. Finally, some children may be discouraged when they go to spell words with double letters, such as “zoo.” The system distinguishes between the two o’s, so there is a correct and an incorrect place for each one, which may confuse some learners since there is no visual difference between the two.

Entertainment

Spooky Letters does an outstanding job of highlighting a Halloween theme, which many young students will find motivating. Each key word is related to the theme, and the drawings are cute and often animated. Most of the key words are typical choices for the season, such as C for cat, and H for haunted house. Developers shake things up a bit by using words like “quezacoatal” and “jabbawocky.” The dot-to-dot picture activity is enjoyable, and the system gives a great deal of latitude in connecting the dots to create the complex pictures. Users can make errors, but as soon as the last dot has been connected, the original picture appears, which will please young children and give them a sense of accomplishment.

Value

This app will be a fun addition to your collection if you want to encourage young players to practice tracing letters with a thematic flair. It does a good job of providing practice in forming the letters, and has the added benefit of reinforcing phonics and sound segmentation and blending skills. With three different types of letters to trace, students can practice for several years’ worth of holidays!

However, parents should be aware of the app’s drawbacks before they purchase. Use caution if your student truly is dyslexic or experiencing other learning problems, because the different letter forms, the sometimes difficult and even inaccurate letter sounds, and the two misspelled words could cause more confusion for these students than necessary. It should be fine for students who are developing skills at the usual pace, and those who need practice with forming the letters carefully.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. There are no in-app purchases, no outside advertisements, and no links to social media. The parents’ section is accessible to all users, but contains no outside links. There is a pop-up ad on the lower portion of the home screen that invites users to explore other apps by this developer, but access to the App Store is controlled by a parent gate requiring users to perform complex mental addition.

panpatan

App Info

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

Overview

Head to the city and meet four different monsters who all have music on the brain. Through each round, kids get to interact with the monsters as they play different musical instruments inspired the buildings, towers, and other sights found around the city. For example, smoke stacks make pan flutes and train tracks make a xylophone. Kids can play music solo, using multiple fingers to control the different instruments, or they can play with friends, adding more fingers to the mix to come up with a truly creative song. When the first song ends, kids can start in on a new song, with the same monsters, but fun new instruments to play.

Features include:

  • Four musical monsters
  • A variety of musical sounds
  • Multitouch technology
  • Self-guided exploration

Quality

At first PanPaTan may seem a bit overwhelming to parents. On the screen, four different colorful monsters appear and a bunch of different sounds start to play. Kids, however, will quickly figure out how to jump right in and tap around to see how they can interact with the different instruments. While there’s no way to record the songs kids play or choose which instruments appear on the screen, kids will still have a lot of fun interacting with the various elements.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Kids will get to express themselves creatively and have a lot of fun as they get the various instruments to make different sounds. They’ll learn that music can come from all different types of objects, not just traditional musical instruments, and that it can also be rather funky. Some kids will want to interact with the instruments a lot, while others will find it more fun to set up a tune and start dancing along.

Value

Parents who purchase PanPaTan get a very unique app that allows kids to experiment with 16 different musical instruments as they play along to the beat of each song. Toddlers and some preschoolers will find a lot of entertainment and value in this app, while older kids may only enjoy playing with it once or twice.

Child Friendliness

Kids truly get to take control as they interact with this app. While each song starts with a basic tune, there are no other rules for kids to follow. Instead, they can just tap around and play the different instruments. They can use one finger or all 10 fingers. This makes it particularly ideal for younger children who just like to tap around the screen without a lot of purpose anyway. Although, the more they interact with the app, the more they’ll start to realize that tapping in specific places produces different sounds, giving more purpose to their musical play.

wherearewe

App Info

Price: $17.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

The Where Are We? Learning Library Collection from Oceanhouse Media gives kids access to four different stories featuring Dr. Seuss’ beloved Cat in the Hat. In these stories, kids learn about new locations around the globe, from the depths of the solar system to the heat of the desert with stops at the North and South Poles and other locations on the map along the way. Kids will learn details about these locations, build basic map reading skills, and learn a whole host of science and geography-related vocabulary words, as they read through these rhyming stories.

Features include:

  • 4 different stories
  • Read to me and Read to myself options
  • Highlighted narration
  • Subject-specific vocabulary

Quality

Kids will find the same quality they’ve come to expect from Oceanhouse Media apps. Since this app features four different stories, the main screen is a bit busier, with all four story covers gracing the middle of the screen and icons for other Oceanhouse Media features filling the rest of the screen. The actual stories come with fun illustrations featuring the Cat in the Hat, light animation, and vocabulary words that appear when they tap on images in the stories.

Education

Packed into the traditional rhyming stories is a wealth of information about science and geography. Kids will learn all kinds of new words, such as mesquite, Sonoran Desert, cartographer, and the names of all of the planets. Kids will also build their reading skills through the text highlighting and Read to Me options.

Entertainment

While each of the four stories runs a bit on the long side, the trademark rhymes from Dr. Seuss help the characters get through them. They’ll also find humorous illustrations and a bit of animation to help make learning about the solar system, desert, and North and South poles a little more entertaining.

Value

For the high price tag, kids gain access to four different Dr. Seuss books. While this price may be less than buying each book separately, it still seems a bit high for the stories, particularly if kids only take interest in two or three of the four.

Child Friendliness

While kids will find the stories easy to read and navigate, there are a lot of distractions in the app. A pop-up ad for additional Oceanhouse Media books regularly appears on the main screen and there are also bookshelf and app buttons to distract kids. Thankfully, access to all of these features is contained behind a parental block. This will help kids focus back on the stories and the child-friendly features such as text highlighting and record your own narration that help make the stories more accessible to them.

thisismycar

App Info

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

Overview

Even though it’s likely at least 10 years until your child can get a driver’s license, it’s not too early to start talking about the basics of car maintenance. This is my car – Mechanics for kids does just that, giving kids a chance to create design their favorite car, and then learn all about the car from the inside to the outside and how to stay safe while driving.

Features include:

  • Design your own car
  • Learn how your car runs
  • Clean your car
  • Discover what happens in an accident

Quality

Even though it describes a pretty complex machine, the app itself is fairly simple. Each of the different sections contains easy to understand graphics and simple activities designed to introduce kids to the different parts of a car. Kids can quickly scroll from one section to another, although the app is a bit touchy at times and may take kids to the next section before they’re done with a current section. It also contains small text on the bottom of each section. While the text is read aloud, kids who want to read it may have a hard time seeing what it says.

Education

For an app that has “mechanics for kids” in the title, you’d expect something a little more detailed. While many of the sections, such as those related to what happens in an accident, changing a tire, or checking the oil, offer valuable information for kids, some of the other sections, such as spray painting the car and washing the car are purely added for entertainment’s sake. The app does a good job at explaining the basics of cars, but it could easily include so much more information and interactive components for kids.

Entertainment

Kids will enjoy going through the activities, but they may find themselves a bit bored by the dull background music and the amount of audio descriptions on some of the scenes. While it’s interesting to learn about the different components of a car, it might be more entertaining to give kids little bits of information as they interact with the car rather than offering so much at a time.

Value

This is my car – Mechanics for kids is priced a bit high for what it offers and could do a lot more at this price point. However, it’s also a one-of-a-kind app with not many other options available to give kids a simple overview of what a car does and how to take car of a car.

Child Friendliness

Kids will find themselves focused on learning all about cars as they interact with this app. At first, younger users may become a bit frustrated with the design of the app, finding it easy to swipe from activity to activity, but harder to actually interact with the activities. With a little bit of patience, however, kids will soon be designing their own cars, checking the oil, changing the tires, washing their cars, and taking pictures to add to a photo album.

512x512_G_ICON1

App Info

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

Overview

Make a Song – Gorilla Band 2 is the second book in the Gorilla Band series. The book is a good way to teach kids that music comes from many things, such as the animals and sounds found in nature. Music can be more than what comes from those types of music players requiring batteries. Gorilla Band 2 is similar in design to the first book, Gorilla Band. Read our review of Gorilla Band here.

Features include:

  • Two story options
  • 3D interactive illustrations
  • Text highlighting
  • Book navigation features
  • Ability to delay interactivity

Quality

This app contains navigation features we have all come to appreciate in book apps. The navigation menu allows for easy movement through the book.

Tips, hints and credits are available from a menu within the story. This informational only page provides some details of what can be found in the app, such as the two story options, songs, etc. A better fit for this page would be within the protected section for parents as it adds little value in its current location.

Animations and illustrations are a bit disappointing, both need additional work. Animations should flow better making the movements smoother and the illustrations are not of the quality one would expect for 3D technology and in an app of this price.

Education

Make a Song contains the two standard story options found in most book apps, read myself and read to me. The read to me feature includes clear narration of the story and text highlighting. The pace of narration and highlighting of the words is a little too fast for beginning readers.

One of my favorite features is found in the options menu. Adults have the ability to delay the interactivity within the story.

Entertainment

The ability to easily navigate between the songs and story options is a feature kids are sure to appreciate. Two songs are available from the main screen. Little ones like when they can access the activities, such as songs, without being required to navigate through the entire book.

Value

Multiple options for enjoying the story and two songs are a good start for this app. Increasing the quality of features such as the animations, illustrations and pace of text highlighting would put the price of this app more into range of what parents expect. Animation and illustrations are two design features that are very important to the success of this app.

Child Friendliness

While the developers of Make a Song – Gorilla Band 2 have done a great job designing the app with young children in mind, it isn’t 100% child-safe. Yes, the app contains a protected section for parents and multiple protected menus in other areas throughout the app for items already in the parents’ section. The fact that developers still place some of these items (more apps and join the mailing list) where children can access the protected menus earns this app a lower rating for Child Friendliness. All items meant for adults should be removed from the area intended for children and centrally located in the protected parents section. Gorilla Band 2 does not contain in-app purchases or ads.

buildto100

App Info

Price: $1.99
Download on the App Store

Overview

Whether kids want to learn to count to 10 or to 100, they can learn how to count with Build to 100. This basic math app provides kids with a grid that contains spaces for all of the numbers from 1 to 100. At the beginning, kids see an empty grid and must fill in all of the numbers, but tapping twice on the settings icon allows parents to customize the grid, having kids randomly fill in a specific range of numbers or opt to have kids fill in numbers in a pattern to help them learn skip counting. Whatever settings kids use to complete the grid, they’ll be rewarded with cheers and positive words when they get all of the numbers in place.

Features include:

  • Count by patterns
  • Changeable range
  • Record completion time
  • Hear numbers read aloud

Quality

Kids won’t find much more than the number grid when they access to the app. The simple design allows kids to focus on the counting without getting distracted by bright graphics or background music. In fact, the only sounds they’ll hear are the numbers spoken aloud, a light sound when each number tile is placed, and a cheer when they get all of the numbers in place. The simpleness doesn’t transfer to the settings screen where parents and teachers will find a wealth of options to help customize the game. They can select whether kids build from 1 to 100 or in other intervals of 10. They can also opt to have kids build in a pattern mode where they can select to skip by a number from 2-10 to help kids practice skip counting. These settings help customize the app to fit kids’ individual counting needs.

Education

Kids can learn how to count from 1 to 100 in a variety of different ways. Parents and teachers can customize the board to fit their individual needs. From the settings screen they can also access teaching tips which provide an overview of the settings available, as well as things to look for when working with kids one on one. Examples of observations include questions such as, “Do students apply addition and subtraction to get to the place fairly quickly?” Parents and teachers will also find questions to ask kids, such as, “How did you know the number goes there?”

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

Build to 100 comes in at a price comparable to many other basic math apps. While simple in appearance, the ability to change the settings gives parents and teachers a chance to expand how often kids use the app and help it to grow with their counting skills.

Child Friendliness

Since the bulk of the app is a number grid, kids won’t find their attention drawn elsewhere. They’ll also find it fairly easy to place the number tiles in the correct place. The settings screen is accessed by a small icon in the upper right-hand corner, which must be tapped twice to gain access. Within the settings screen, parents and teachers must tap on the teaching tips button three times to access helpful tips and links to the app store and the developer’s website. The additional taps get kids to think twice before accessing the settings and teaching tips screen and encourage them to stay focused on the game itself.

pirate

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

World’s Best offers an entertaining pirate story for younger children with a nice amount of adventure, colorful illustrations, and a chance to become a part of the story.

Features include:

  • Professional narration
  • Colorful illustrations
  • Capability to add photo faces to the main character
  • High quality sound effects
  • Easy navigation

Quality

World’s Best is a high quality app, with every feature working as advertised. Pages are responsive, turning easily, and developers have included a settings section that allows control of the narration, music, and picture. The navigation is intuitive, with capabilities to page forward and backwards and to choose specific pages from the list.

Education

This app is a straightforward ebook, offering narration and independent reading modes. The story is relatively simply and engaging, which will appeal to younger children. The narrator uses good expression, which will help children engage with the story. Each page contains two sections of text, so when the arrow is touched to go to the next page, sometimes it just fades the first set of text and allows the second set to appear.

The app is missing some of the basic ebook features commonly found in similar apps, such as highlighted words as the narrator moves through the pages, the capability to hear a single word pronounced when reading in the independent mode, and animations to be accessed on each page. There also are no extra related activities, which many other children’s ebooks offer. This seriously detracts from the interactivity of the app.

Entertainment

The story and illustrations are wonderful in this app, but its lack of interactivity compromises its entertainment value. The main (and only) activity is to insert a picture from the device’s camera roll into the face of the main character. Many children will find this amusing, since it is possible to put the child’s own face, the face of a parent or a friend, or even a pet onto the pirate’s body. The picture can be changed at any point during the story, as well.

Some parents may be concerned about the elements of violence and other objectionable things in this story. There are explosions, and at one point, a character throws a rum bottle at another character. There is also a “barroom” scene showing the Pirates’ Haven where characters with foaming mugs carouse, and one character is shown passed out in a plate. If you find elements of this sort to be objectionable, you should definitely preview this app before allowing your child to use it.

The lack of interactions on each page may be a disappointment to young users if they are used to that sort of extra. It’s easy to picture a frustrated child poking and swiping the screen in vain, looking for the usual sorts of animations that many will have come to expect from ebooks. There is not much to differentiate this ebook from a traditional book, since it doesn’t not take good advantage of the ipad’s capabilities except for putting a new face on the main character.

Value

Even for a free app, World’s Best seems quite sparse. With little interaction beyond changing the picture on the main character, many children are likely to become bored fairly quickly with this offering. It’s a good choice for children who are excited about pirates, though, and will entertain kids for a few sessions because they can put pictures of their choice onto the main character’s face.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly. There are no outside advertisements, no in-app purchases, and no active links to the internet. There are no links to social media and no links to email. The settings and information sections are accessible to all users, but there are no risky sections that should not be accessed by children.

twinkletwinkle

App Info

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

Overview

Taking its title from the popular children’s song, Twinkle Twinkle Hear My Prayer provides kids with a soothing bedtime story that teaches them how to pray as they fall off to sleep. Kids can say the simple prayer along with the narrator as they read through the story and tap on the stars to gather the letters in the word peace. They’ll end the story with a sweet song set to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” If kids still can’t fall asleep, they’ll find additional activities to help them learn more about prayer and entertain them until they drift off to sleep.

Features include:

  • Original song about prayer
  • Relaxing background music
  • Read to Me and Read to Myself options

Quality

From the quiet piano music in the background to the soothing voice of the narrator, Twinkle Twinkle Hear My Prayers has the feel of a bedtime story. As kids read through the story, they’ll find a few interactive elements, all pointed out by large arrows. The slight lack of interactive elements may disappoint some kids, but it’ll keep them from becoming too excited at bedtime. Those who can’t fall asleep will find additional activities at the end of the story, but they can only access them by tapping through the entire story since they’re not available from the main screen.

Education

Those interested in teaching their kids how to pray will appreciate the lessons contained within this sweet story. In addition to teaching kids how to pray through the story itself, the app also teaches kids how to pray a Five Finger Prayer with each finger reminding kids what to pray about.

Entertainment

This story could quickly become a new bedtime tradition. As kids read through the story they can pray along, inserting the names of their own loved ones and other prayer requests in between the pages. Before drifting off to sleep, they’ll enjoy singing the simple Bedtime Prayer Song set to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It all ends with the phrase “Peace be with you, little one,” to send kids off to sleep sweetly.

Value

While priced a bit high for what it offers, parents will find it hard to find anything similar. Those looking for a simple way to introduce their kids to prayer will find that it’s a quality, engaging app for kids and worth the price.

Child Friendliness

Kids will find the story easy to navigate. All interactive elements are clearly labeled with arrows and they can quickly tap on bubbles, pull the covers over a teddy bear, and drag the stars containing the letters in the word “peace.” A parental block keeps kids from accessing information about additional apps, which is good. Kids also cannot access the additional activities and Bedtime Prayer Song without reading through the entire story, which is a bit frustrating for kids who have already read through the story and want to review those elements again.

larsandfriends2

App Info

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

Overview

Lars and Friends introduces kids to Lars, a horse who loves to run around with his herd of horses. When the other horses are too tired to run around, Lars finds other animals to help entertain him. As kids read through this story and interact with its beautiful animations, they’ll also learn what different groups of animals are called. They can then reinforce that knowledge through the app’s learning section or put together the animals they’ve seen throughout the story in the puzzles section. All of these features, combined with the relaxing background music, will keep kids coming back to interact with Lars and his friends.

Features include:

  • Animal puzzles
  • Facts about animal groups
  • Read to Me option
  • Watercolor illustrations

Quality

Sweet, relaxing background music greets kids as they open Lars and Friends. Once they enter the app, they can opt to read the story, complete a puzzle, or learn about animal groups, options that are all identified by clear labels at the top of the screen. The book itself is full of beautiful watercolor illustrations, but it could use a bit more interactivity. Kids can tap on Lars and his friends to get them to move a little, but it’s not very involved. They must also tap to have the story read to them on each page, rather than having it read automatically like with similar eBooks. The puzzles and learning activities contained within the app are also fairly simple, but contain many of the same aspects as the beautiful illustrations found in the story.

Education

The story lacks text highlighting and an automatic Read to Me feature that could make it a strong reading app. However, kids can tap on the audio icon on each screen to have the text on each individual page read aloud. They’ll also get a subtle lesson about animal groups as Lars completes activities such as swimming with a school of fish, walking with a memory of elephants, or even hanging out with his own herd of horses. These groups also appear in the learning section of the app where kids tap on pictures of animals to see the names and characteristics of groups of animals.

Entertainment

The beautiful illustrations will draw kids into the story about Lars and his friends. While not as complex as in other eBooks, the interactive elements will also help keep kids interested as they read. After getting through the story, younger kids will appreciate the app’s puzzles which have kids put together pictures of many of the animals they found in the story.

Value

Lars and Friends is priced comparably to other interactive eBooks for kids. While it lacks complex interactive components, it makes up for it by offering simple puzzles and learning activities for kids.

Child Friendliness

Kids will find it easy to read and interact with the story and other components of the app. If they’re not sure where to tap, a TAP icon appears on each page of the story. To access the settings screen, kids must get beyond a parental gate that has parents drag two triangles simultaneously into circles. As hard as it is for parents to get through the parental gate, it seems like it would be nearly impossible for young fingers to complete the task and access the additional information about the story.

photo (2)

App Info

Price: Free

Download on the App Store

Overview

Theo&Julia Children’s Magazine strives to bring engaging content to preschoolers through a monthly digital magazine. Each month parents opt to subscribe to this digital magazine turned app, kids get access to fun new games that have them solving puzzles, finding their way through mazes, making matches, and enjoying other basic activities. Each month, the content varies a little, so kids will get access to a variety of different games and a different letter of the alphabet. While the app’s description highlights short stories, fun videos, art, and cultural appreciation, the real focus of the magazine is on its games and having fun while building academic and motor skills.

Features include:

  • Peppy background music
  • Available in 9 different languages
  • A variety of activities
  • New issue every month

Quality

Perhaps its the peppiness of the background music, but the magazine has a very busy feel. Kids will want to move quickly through each of the activities. Thankfully, most of the activities, aside from the letter tracing, move quickly with them and prove to be very responsive. Each edition of the magazine is clearly designed with kids in mind too. They feature bright colors, kid-friendly cartoonish graphics, and pictures to show what activity kids will complete in each section of the magazine. Some activities could use a few more clues to help kids get started, but all in all, they’re fairly intuitive and fun to play.

Education

Each month, the magazine highlights a different letter of the alphabet. Kids trace the letter and complete other activities, such as identifying pictures and words that start with that particular letter. Other activities introduce kids to numbers, shapes, and concepts such as music. Aside from the letters, the actual academic content varies with each monthly issue. The developer also advertises teaching kids about emotions, art, and other cultures, as well as providing them with short stories, but if these aspects exist, they’re hard to find and get lost in the midst of all of the games kids play. Despite the lack of this advertised content, kids will still build some basic skills and improve their motor skills.

Entertainment

Each edition has over 10 different activities for kids to play, providing kids with plenty to keep them entertained. Even if an edition contains the same type of activities as a previous edition, kids will be exposed to new graphics and a slightly new focus to each game. As kids play the games and complete the activities, they’ll be rewarded with cheers, laughter, and other positive responses, encouraging them to play more and more.

Value

A single edition of the magazine comes free with a download of the app. From there, parents can opt to purchase additional editions either individually or as part of a monthly subscription plan. Purchasing a longer subscription lowers the price of each individual edition, making them slightly more affordable and worth the price, but parents may want to purchase editions individually to make sure their children enjoy them before committing to a longer subscription.

Child Friendliness

The main screen of the app brings up the most recent editions of the magazine and gives users the option to purchase them. A parental gate keeps kids from purchasing editions, but they may still click to preview the other editions before accessing the free edition or previously purchased editions. On the main screen, kids and parents can also select from one of nine languages. Once in the magazine, kids can only access the games, although the final activity on each screen is actually a promotion of other apps by the developer. Aside from the final activity, kids will find that most activities are fairly intuitive and fun to play. If they don’t understand what to do at first, they will usually receive an audio or video clue to help them figure out.