4 stars – very good apps

image (1)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Lingokids is a sampler app that allows parents and children to try out five lessons to teach English vocabulary to young children using engaging animated activities related to groups of eight vocabulary words.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Lingokids offers English lessons for young children on three levels (individual words, phrases and sentences) that cover over 3,000 words within the paid subscription version. Lessons are grouped by word function and by parts of speech and are conducted using simple interactive games.

Features include:

  • 5 free lessons to sample the program
  • Supplemental activities available with purchase of subscription
  • Adaptive technology creates a unique learning experience for each child
  • No prior knowledge of English necessary
  • Offline play and multiple student accounts available with subscription

Quality

Lingokids is a high quality app that will encourage young children to play with English words, phrases and sentences. It includes an array of different types of interactions, colorful animations, and engaging sound effects. Developers also included some simple suggestions to help parents make the most of the learning experience with their children.

Education

This app provides a wealth of leveling options to guide young players into the right activities. When the app first begins, users have the opportunity to choose the child’s age and level of experience with English. It would be nice if there were a way to access this screen later in case a parent wanted to change the level, but I could not find a way of doing so.

There are five lessons available in the free sample version of this app, with a total of twenty lessons currently available with the subscription. In addition, subscribers can see records of their child’s performance, download supplemental activities, and activate offline play for times when an internet connection is unavailable.

Each lesson presents a set of related words (such as items for personal care or foods). The words are read out loud, but the corresponding pictures are not highlighted. This seems to be a missed teaching opportunity, and could cause a good deal of frustration for beginning students as they attempt to play the games. The games present pictures of the words in context (personal care tools are in the bathroom, for example), and the narrator asks the student to interact with them in some fashion. In the clothing lesson, children are instructed to choose specific articles of clothing from the set and then hang them to dry or iron them.

Parents and teachers should be aware that the app focuses primarily on receptive language. Children who use it will not become proficient speakers of English, though they may well improve their ability to understand basic sentences in the language.

Entertainment

Young children are likely to enjoy the activities in this app. They are very relatable, and will seem very familiar to kids. The characters are funny and the animations and sound effects are engaging. The artwork is simple and bright, and will appeal even to young toddlers. There is a nice variety of types of interactions, but all are quite intuitive and developers have embedded clues such as pictoral directions and shaking items that should be touched.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, and is intended as a sample for the complete program. There are five lessons available for free, and a total of 20 lessons currently. The app indicates that an additional five lessons are “coming soon.” However, in order to see any of the additional features, such as the supplemental activities, the offline play feature, the record keeping, and so forth, users must sign up for the one month free trial. The app indicates that additional months will be billed at $4.99 per month, but during the sign up process, users discover that they are expected to pay $54 automatically at the end of the free period for a one year subscription. It was very unclear to me if there was a monthly payment option available, and the information within the app did not seem to match that provided in the description in the App Store, which indicates that the monthly fee is $9.99. This is quite confusing, so be sure you understand the terms of the subscription and cancellation policy before you commit.

Child Friendliness

There are a number of links that are visible to children, but that should be in a “parents only area,” such as upgrading to a paid subscription, supplementary activities, reports, and so forth. The links all seem to be protected with an effective parent gate, but it would be better if they were not visible to children at all.

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

weatherpuzzlessun

Weather Puzzles: Science for Kids

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
No matter the weather where you live, kids can experience all kinds of weather with Weather Puzzles: Science for Kids.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Weather Puzzles: Science for Kids is a fun puzzle app that, not surprisingly, is full of jigsaw puzzles related to the weather. All of the puzzles features bright, happy images related to the weather, and are designed to entertain kids of different ages, from toddlers just learning to solve jigsaw puzzles to more advanced puzzle solvers in early elementary school. As kids complete the puzzles, they’ll learn a little bit about the weather and may also be inspired to go outside and experience the weather where they live.

Features include:

  • Multiple levels of difficulty
  • Different types of weather represented
  • Bright, happy pictures
  • Virtual jigsaw puzzles

Quality

The main screen of the app is a little bit busy. All of the available puzzles appear in a horizontal line across the screen and kids can swipe through them to choose the puzzle they want to solve. Below the line of puzzles are icons for the settings area and parent area. Between those icons in a larger box that displays additional apps kids can download. The apps displayed in the box rotate, drawing kids’ attention to them.

Once kids select a jigsaw puzzle to play, the is fairly simple. Kids drag and drop the pieces into the correct places on the puzzle until they have completed the picture. The pieces move smoothly and it’s easy for kids to place them. In the settings area, parents can turn on/off the puzzle outline and the background image to make the puzzle easier or harder for kids to solve.

Education

There are two educational components to the app: the puzzles themselves and the weather pictures. While the app has “Science for kids” in its title, it doesn’t include much information about science. The puzzles are just cute pictures related to the weather. It’d be nice if they also included some weather facts or even words to tell kids what type of weather was being depicted. For example, the smiling sun could say, “It’s sunny today” when kids complete the puzzle. Parents and teachers who are working with kids as they complete the app should engage them in conversations about the weather to help enhance the educational value of the app.

The puzzle component of the app offers a bit more educational value. While the puzzles are fairly simple, the app provides multiple ways to increase their difficulty. In the settings area, parents or kids can choose from a range of puzzle sizes from 9-24 pieces. They can also turn off the background image and outline to make the puzzle more difficult to solve.

Entertainment

Little kids, in particular, will enjoy this app because of the bright happy pictures. Even thunderstorms are adorable when depicted in this app. There are plenty of puzzles for kids to solve, so kids will get many hours of entertainment out of the app’s content.

Value

Given the number of puzzles kids can solve and the various levels of difficulty at which they can solve them, this app offers a fairly good value. It is particularly valuable to kids interested in the weather and kids who like to talk about the weather.

Child Friendliness

One area where the app could use some improvement is its child friendliness. A “rate this app” box occasionally pops up when you first open the app and it’s not protected by a parental block. On the main screen, kids will also see fairly large advertisements for additional apps. While these advertisements, and the parent area, are protected by a parental block, they’re a bit annoying and the block could be stronger.

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

daycape

DayCape - Daily visual planning

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Manage your child's daily schedule with DayCape, a visual planning app designed to help kids feel in control as they go throughout the day.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Some kids need more help getting through the day than others. This may because they have autism or another disorder, or it may simply be that they have a lot of energy and need help staying on track. DayCape is a visual planning app that’s designed to help kids stay on schedule throughout the day. It allows parents, teachers, and even children to fill their days with scheduled activities, and then track the time spent on those activities with fun visual timers. Through the app, kids will feel more organized and more in control of their day.

Features include:

  • Animated timers
  • Customizable platform
  • Individual user accounts
  • Daily calendars

Quality

To get started with the app, parents or teachers must create an account on the developer’s website. There, there will create individual usernames and passwords and create activities. It’s easy to create an activity – simply enter a title, description, the time the activity should be started. and the time period during which the activity needs to be completed. Images can also be added to activities to make them easier to kids to understand. Activities can also be created within the app, as long as the setting is turned on.

Education

The goal of this app is to help kids who need routines and schedules to get through the day and it generally does a good job of that. While it takes some time to set up all of the activities, once the activities are set up, kids will be able to follow them. Included in the app is a voice synthesizer option, so kids with difficulty reading or who need auditory reinforcement can hear the instructions read aloud. A few downsides to the ability of the app to truly meet kids’ needs in this area is that all times are given using a 24-hour clock, so kids in some areas might not understand that 16:30 is 4:30 p.m. The app also doesn’t appear to offer a way to stop a timer once it has been started, so kids may become frustrated if the app says they’ve completed an activity when they really haven’t. The inability to start activities before the designated time or stop in the middle of them also limits the types of activities for which the app can be used. For example, it won’t work as a checklist of activities kids need to get done at their own pace.

Entertainment

When kids log in to the app, they’ll see a schedule of their activities for the day. They can also add their own activities if parents/teachers opt to allow them to. When it comes time to complete activities, kids get to choose from a selection of animated timers and may enjoy watching the timers slowly move across the screen as they complete each activity.

Value

Despite its limitations, the app offers a lot of value to families looking for a visual planning at. It’s not nearly as complicated as many visual planning apps out there and it can be used by multiple children through the creation of individual user accounts.

Child Friendliness

Once kids log in to their individual accounts, they do have access to the settings screen. This allows them to pick a timer, determine the number of activity days shown, turn on/off the ability to create activities and turn on/off the speech sythesizer. Aside from the opening screen when the app is first opened, there are no external links or other content designed to take kids out of the app.

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

elemelon
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Elemelons is a simple to play, yet highly addictive game that adults are going to love. Not recommended for children.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 3.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Elemelons is a new kind of addictive gaming app that is simple to use and lots of fun. For people who love a good challenge and are partial to beating their best score, this app offers literally hours of entertainment. While not recommended for young children as it has unprotected links, this is one app that older kids and adults will really enjoy.

Features include:

  • 4 Elemelons
  • Increasing difficulty
  • Easy to use

Quality

Elemelons is a very creative gaming app that offers awesome graphics and fun images. While the game itself is quite simple, the developers have added a ton of character and interest with the game increasing in difficulty. The functionality of the game is really easy to use as it only requires a simple tap and slide function to play the game. There is also a bit of a tutorial once you start the game to give players a feel for how it all works. Overall the quality is very good.

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

Elemelons is certainly a highly entertaining and addictive gaming app. The concept is simple as there are only 4 Elemelons varying in color. The idea is to crash the correctly colored Elemelon to their corresponding side that is also color-coded and to do so quickly. As the game progresses, there are more Elemelons that pop up and occasionally the corresponding sides move around, creating a bit more of a challenge. While trying to beat the last highest score, this game can easily become addicting and one that players are constantly coming back to because of how fun it is. Simple concept, but highly entertaining.

Value

What’s better yet is that this app is totally free! When you consider the hours of entertainment players will have with this app, Elemelons offers a ton of value.

Child Friendliness

Unfortunately, while this app is easy to use and has a very simple concept, it is not one that parents will want their children playing as there are many unprotected links, video advertisements, and in-app purchase options that are not safe for children. Ideally these links would be protected through some sort of parent gateway making it a great app for kids, but as it stands, this is not recommended for children.

  • YES external links (unprotected, visible)
  • YES in-app purchase (unprotected, visible)
  • YES 3rd party ads (unprotected, visible)
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected, visible)
  • YES “rate us” (unprotected, visible)

tinytrees

Tiny Trees

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Head put on an intergalactic mission where your purpose is to plant and grow a tree in Tiny Trees.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Tiny Trees takes kids in to space and has them plant a tree. Kids go through the process of planting the seed, adding sunlight, watering the tree, fertilizing the tree, and playing music for the tree to get it to grow. Then they get to plant it in an intergalactic setting. This app, which can be a bit busy at times, is designed to encourage kids to plant trees and offers a positive message about interacting with the environment, be it on Earth or in space.

Features include:

  • Tree-growing activity
  • Interactive animations
  • Fun music
  • Space theme

Quality

When it comes to quality, the app was obviously created with care. IT offers some great images for kids, particularly near the end of the app when kids interact with the characters as they sit by the campfire and watch the moon. It’s also very easy for kids to get started with the app as the main screens are very simple and straightforward. The rest of the app, however, is very busy. For kids, it’s often difficult to determine what button to tap or object to move to complete the next step of the plant-growing process. There are also a lot of animations that distract kids from the overall process. For example, spiders drop down and airplanes fly across the screen inside the space ship.

Education

The main purpose of the app is to give kids a chance to grow a tree from a seed. Kids must plant the seed, give it sunlight, and water it. They must also fertilize the plant with rainbow poo from am alien creature and let the plant listen to music. The process takes time, which may teach kids to be patient as they wait for plants to grow in real life. However, it’s all a bit off because the plant starts its life inside a spaceship and grows on a planet somewhere in space, which may make it difficult for kids to connect it to real life.

Entertainment

Developers describe Tiny Trees as a video game designed for ages 2 through 124. Given the speed and feel of the app, it’s definitely more appropriate for the lower end of that age range and isn’t likely to be very entertaining for kids beyond kindergarten or the adults in their lives. The app moves at a fairly slow speed which may work for little kids but will frustrate others. While there are some interactive buttons and animations within the app, they remain the same throughout the scene, so kids will get through all of them as they wait between the first and second step of the plant-growing process and they won’t be enough to get to entertain them between the other steps of the process.

That being said, the app does offer some entertaining qualities, such as the ability to make a rainbow, peppy music to listen to, and the ability to grow a plant from seed.

Value

While the app takes some time to play and will entertain children for a bit, it only contains one main activity (growing a tree) snd a few silly animations. As a result, it may not become an app kids return to again and again.

Child Friendliness

The app includes a protected parent area which contains links to social media accounts and information about the purpose and developers of the app. As stated in this area, the app is free from third party ads and in-app purchases. It is designed to be a family-friendly app that parents enjoy with their children.

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

childspass
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Childs Pass is a great parent app that allows users to search, find, and book fun activities for the family in a city near you. Great concept and easy to use!
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 1
Download on the App Store

Overview

Childs Pass is an innovative child activity app that allows parents to search for specific events and activities based on their location and interest. This on-demand app allows users to search, find and book specific events for fun family weekends on the go. With everything in one place, Childs Pass is a great tool to have all year round.

Features include:

  • Free to use
  • Book activities option
  • Easy to use

Quality

The idea behind Childs Pass is very exciting. As a parent to be able to easily search, find, and book specific family events on the go is a great opportunity and a time-saver. The app itself is very well done and includes clear graphics and an easy to use function that makes finding activities very easy. The ability to book activities within the app itself is really great so parents can do this on the go right from their phone with ease.

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

While this isn’t a kids app and isn’t directly meant to entertain children simply by using the app it does offer an indirect opportunity for parents to keep children entertained. After setting up the specific profile for your children that includes gender, age, and interests, parents can search based on their city to see what activity options are available. The developers have also categorized the types of activities by including things like, ‘rainy day activities’ and ‘free’ options that make searching for things to do quite easy.

Unfortunately at this time there are only three cities listed for the U.S. which limits the usability of the app for many families. Currently the only cities included for the U.S. are Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. As the app gains momentum there will be other cities available, however as it stands now it is quite limited in terms of who can effectively use the app.

Value

Parents will definitely appreciate being able to use this tool absolutely free. This allows users to search for activities for free and if they decide to book a specific activity they can use the app to make the purchase with ease. Adding more options in terms of locations is certainly ideal and would increase the overall usability and value of the app as well.

Child Friendliness

This app is not meant to be used by children. It really is a parents only kind of app as it includes payment information and gateways that children shouldn’t have access to. With that said, parents will want to make sure this app isn’t on devices children have access to as it could result in unintentional bookings since none of those buttons and options are currently protected.

  • NO external links

mindfulness
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Mindfulness for Children is a great app for parents and teachers to use in order to help soothe and calm children during quiet times or before bed.
4

App Info

Price: $5.99
AppStore User Rating: 5
Download on the App Store

Overview

It’s long been said that meditation is a great tool to calm, soothe, and keep children focused and Mindfulness for Children offers a variety of meditations to do just that. Perfect for use in the classroom or at home, this app offers guided meditation and soothing nature sounds to calm and relax little ones when they need it most.

Features include:

  • 5 Guided meditations
  • 4 Soothing nature tracks

Quality

When it comes to quality the most important thing to note for this app is the sound quality. It’s important for meditation and sound tracks to be free of background noise and to provide clarity of sound which Mindfulness for Children does. The voice used in the guided meditations is soothing and the simple bell sounds offer a nice calm feel as well. The nature sounds are also very well done and have a nice clean sound making it easy to listen and relax to.

Education

While this app isn’t designed to specifically educate children, it does offer a bit of information for parents as they use it. Each of the guided meditations also comes with a brief paragraph on how to expand on the experience for children. For example, in the connecting meditation, parents are asked to check in with their children and as questions regarding how they feel etc. so they get the most out of the experience. This is a great addition to the app and could even be expanded upon to offer more information for parents and teachers who may choose to use these meditations for their little ones.

Entertainment

Not rated for entertainment.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars this app is a good deal. With five guided meditations and four nature tracks, parents and teachers can both get a lot of use out of this app without breaking the bank. Perfect for quiet time in the classroom or as a relaxation ritual before bed, this app will certainly help little ones calm their bodies, minds, and souls before bed.

Child Friendliness

While the content of the app is very good, Mindfulness for Children unfortunately is not an app that children should be playing with. With lots of open links and unprotected social media channels, this app is one that is best used by parents or teachers instead of allowing children to use on their own. It would be nice to allow children to play with the meditations on their own provided the additional open links were protected under a ‘parents only’ section. As it stands now, it isn’t child friendly at all.

  • YES external links (unprotected, but visible)
  • YES social media (unprotected, but visible)
  • YES in-app purchase (unprotected, but visible)
  • YES rate us (unprotected, but visible)

forestexplorer

Piig Forest Explorer

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Explore the forest with Chipper the Chipmunk and learn all about his animal friends in Piig Forest Explorer.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Kids get to experience nature firsthand with Piig Forest Explorer which allows them to travel around the forest with Chipper the Chipmunk. They’ll discover new animals and facts along the way. For example, they’ll learn that mother birds are extremely protective of their eggs. They’ll also discover the names of 12 different animals. While all of the animals and scenery are animated, kids will feel like they really get to explore the forest on their own.

Features include:

  • Available in eight languages
  • Cute animated animals
  • Interactive components
  • Calm background music
  • \

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’ll discover a lush green globe that welcomes them with trees and rainbows. Kids can tap the play button to get started. Once the game loads, the screen opens on Chipper the Squirrel in his den. Kids wake up Chipper and head out to explore the forest. The game is well-designed and features quality graphics, sound effects, and background music. It is also well-organized and easy for kids to navigate. Unfortunately the app is plagued with technical issues. The app moves fairly slowly, so kids should be encouraged to tap slowly and take time to move around the forest rather than quickly changing directions. It also abruptly closes sometimes, making it a bit frustrating for kids trying to find all of the animals. While the audio narration is crisp and clear, it often plays at random times and sometimes plays in multiple languages.

Education

As kids work their way through the app, they’re given the opportunity to learn the names and key facts about 12 different animals. The ultimate goal of the app is to find all of the animals. As kids discover the animals, they learn about them both through how they interact with Chipper and through information that is provided through words and narrated descriptions of the animals. It’s a great way for kids to get some quick knowledge about animals and learn a bit about nature. Younger kids can also complete puzzles of the animals they find.

Entertainment

This app largely gives kids free reign to explore the forest. They can move Chipper any direction they want him to go. Some of the technical issues can make the app frustrating for kids because they may not move exactly where they want to go or the app may close when they’re in the middle of an activity. However, when they can move around successfully, they’ll find that they enjoy finding the animals and learning more about them.

Value

Piig Forest Explorer has a lot to offer kids. It includes tons of animal facts, lets them search for animals, and offers the information in eight different languages. Unfortunately, the quality issues really bring the value down.

Child Friendliness

A protected parent area is visible on the main screen. There parents can select the language, contact developers, and rate the app. Parents should select the desired language when they first open the app because sometimes the app does not open on the main screen after it has been initially opened. Aside from the protected parent area, the app is free from content such as ads and in-app purchases.

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

image (18)
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
The free version of Mathway provides students with ready answers to math and chemistry problems at nearly any level. A subscription must be purchased to access step-by-step solutions that some students may need to understand the process of solving the problems, though.
4.1

App Info

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

Overview

Mathway – Math Problem Solver is a tool for math students of nearly all levels. The app allows users to enter equations at nearly any level of complexity and then solves them.

Features include:

  • Nine levels of math plus chemistry
  • Built-in graphing calculator
  • Subject-specific menus of terms and symbols
  • Covers basic math through high school and early college topics
  • Includes a list of the types of problems covered in each section

Quality

Mathway is a high quality app. The ten sections are easily navigated using tabs near the top of the screen. Each section includes drop down menus of symbols and number arrangements such as fractions and exponents that allow easy input of equations. The app does, however, have a few apparent technical glitches, such as an inability to solve any integral from n to n evidenced by the entire system hanging up (the answer should be zero). Furthermore, it would be very helpful if the developers included some sort of tutorial or written directions-people who are not familiar with the level of math needed (such as parents trying to assist high school students), will have some difficulty figuring out how to enter equations. An information section could also include examples of how to use the app, as some parents’/teachers’ first response may be that it seems like “cheating” to be able to enter an equation and get an answer. The app has legitimate educational uses, such as checking one’s work, but some people may need this pointed out in a clear manner.

Education

Mathway could be a huge help to any student working from basic math concepts such as fractions, division, and percents on up to those taking classes in calculus, linear algebra, and finite math. The app also includes a chemistry problem solver, as well. The free version of the app allows users to input equations and receive answers. The type of process used on the input can be chosen from a drop down menu when there are multiple types of problems that may be created from the given input. For example, the basic math section includes a section designed to work with three dimensional figures such as cylinders. Once the height and radius of the cylinder are entered, the drop down menu allows the user to choose to find volume or surface area.

The app is apparently missing a few common input types, however. For example, it operates in degrees, and there is no apparent method to convert from degrees to radians, which is a common sort of problem at that level of math. The chemistry section does not seem to have a method of inputting the information necessary for working with nuclear chemistry, and it does not apparently show how to balance equations or calculate the products and yields of reactions, which are both very common exercises in beginning high school chemistry. There doesn’t seem to be a method of working with inverse matrices, either.

The free version of Mathway provides answers to problems that are entered, but does not show solutions or methodology. To get this information, which is vital for tutoring or understanding how to solve troublesome problems, users must either pay for a single month’s subscription or an annual subscription. There is a companion website that can be accessed using the same credentials required to use the app that includes a math glossary as well as the same equation-solving engine that powers the app.

Entertainment

This app is not intended for entertainment.

Value

The free version of this app is a great value, especially since it does not require an active internet connection to function. Math students will appreciate the capability of checking their work whenever the circumstances dictate. The subscription to see the solutions may or may not be worth the money, depending on the user’s circumstances. Most of the information is available for free on the internet at other websites, but having it right at your fingertips may be well worth the investment. A one-month subscription costs $19.99 and an annual subscription costs $79.99 at the present time. It is worth noting that when answers to problems are offered in the free version, the step-by-step solution is apparently on the screen, but covered by a pop-up inviting the user to purchase a subscription. The purchase system is readily accessible by any user with an Apple ID, and is auto-renewing unless users go into their accounts and disable this feature intentionally.

Child Friendliness

This app includes a rather aggressive system of soliciting in-app purchase of the subscription plan to purchase access to step-by-step solutions to problems. While this sort of thing is not usually a problem for the high-school and college level students that are likely to use the app, it is a real problem for younger users whose parents may not want them exposed to this sort of pressure. The app also includes unprotected, visible links to social media and to the developers’ website.

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

mathtales_thejungle_icon

Math Tales - The Jungle: Nursery rhymes and math games for kids

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Math Tales - The Jungle combines fun math games with a cute nursery rhyme. Are you ready to party with the jungle animals?
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Head into the jungle to enjoy some math tales. Math Tales: The Jungle combines catchy rhymes and early math learning activities to create a fun experience for kids. As kids read through the rhyme and complete the activities, they learn a lot and help all of the jungle animals get ready for their party. Grab your party hat! The animals are waiting!

Features include:

  • Interactive math activities
  • Six early learning skills
  • Rhyming story
  • Animated illustrations

Quality

The app is organized into nine different chapters. Each chapter starts with a few pages of rhyming text and ends with a learning activity that is focused on one of six key skills. The illustrations in the app feature cute animals that are slightly animated. The app would be improved by making them slightly more animated or by allowing kids to interact with them more as they read through the rhymed text. The rhyming text is narrated clearly, but the text features awkward line breaks. These breaks are designed to highlight the rhymes, but end up making the story more awkward and harder to understand.

Education

Each of the chapters in the app focuses on one of six areas: spatial perception, logic, visual perception, colors, numbers, and math operations. The activities are fairly simple, but they all tie into a larger story about a jungle party. Kids will count birthday hats, find hidden decorations, and make patterned festoons. Speaking of festoons, while the rhyme is cute, many of the rhymes are forced and use awkward words. There are also a few misspelled words. For example, necklace is spelled “neckless.”

Entertainment

While the rhyme is a bit forced, the addition of the rhyme adds an additional entertainment factor to the app. To unlock each new chapter, kids must complete the previous chapter, so they’re motivated to successfully work their way through all of the activities so they can hear the entire story. Kids who don’t like the story can skip straight to the activities using the arrows that allow them to navigate from page to page.

Value

This app combines six learning skills with a cute rhyme for kids. It does have a few quality issues that keep it from being a standout, but it’s still a cute option for kids.

Child Friendliness

A more apps icon is present on the main screen. Kids can access the list of apps, but access to the App Store is protected by a parental block. In the protected parent area, parents will find details about the app, links to social media pages, and other developer resources.

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

toadsuesgod

Toad Sues God

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Toad has a problem, so he heads to heaven to take it up with God in this classic folktale from Vietnam.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

What do toads have to do with rain? The answer to the question is explained in Toad Sues God, a folktale from Vietnam. This unique folktale follows a toad as he travels to heaven to sue God for not providing enough rain. He takes his friends fox, tiger, and bear along with him. The animals face some trouble when they reach heaven, but eventually they reach God and make a deal. Read this unique folktale to find out whether they get what they ask for or are sent back to a dry Earth.

Features include:

  • Interactive illustrations
  • Read to Me option
  • Read to Myself option
  • Shares an important message

Quality

Kids can opt to read the story themselves or have it read to them. Even if they choose the “Read Myself” option, they can always turn on the narration. The narration of the story is accompanied by a weird echo. Perhaps its supposed to sound like a voice coming from heaven or a voice in a rainstorm, but overall it misses the mark. The text in the story could also be improved. It often sits awkwardly over the illustrations. Kids can tap an icon to make it disappear so they can experience the animations fully, but it’d be better if it were placed at the top or bottom of the screen rather than overlapping some of the illustrations. Thankfully, the animations are fun for kids and help redeem some of the misses with the text and narration.

Education

Despite sometimes overlapping the illustrations, the text is displayed clearly on the screen. During the narration, words are highlighted as they are read. Kids can also tap on the illustrations to discover keywords related to the story. This helps improve vocabulary skills. The story itself is also a good for education. Teachers and parents can discuss the moral of the story with kids and even encourage kids to use the story as inspiration for their own folktale.

Entertainment

As kids read the story, they’ll get the chance to enjoy the interactive illustrations. These illustrations are cute, although the toad doesn’t always look like a toad, and will help kids interested in the story. Finger icons direct kids where to tap to start the animations and they can play them over and over again on each page if they choose.

Value

This animated story is priced lower than many of its counterparts. The cost helps offset some of the issues with the narration and text. Parents may find that this is a unique folktale worth adding to their children’s eBook collection.

Child Friendliness

An info screen is accessible from the main page. There kids will find a link to the developer’s website. There are also icons for e-mailing the developers and rating the app. All of these options are protected by a parental lock. Once parents solve the math problem to unlock one link, all of the links remain unlocked until the app is closed.

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

leviatopia

Leviatopia

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Leviatopia takes kids on a journey to a city in the belly of a whale. Is it a real place or it is just a dream?
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Leviatopia tells the story of two children, Ella and Alex, who discover a city that has been swallowed by a whale. They get lost in the city, which is full of magical characters and plenty of sweets, until they use a spell to get themselves back home. Was it all a dream or did it happen for real? Despite some quality issues, this is an animated story worth sharing with kids.
Features include:

  • Read to Me and Read to Myself options
  • Available in English and Hebrew
  • Animated illustrations/li>
  • Audio narration

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’ll see the main screen. This screen is a bit busy, but contains clear icons that lead them to the beginning of the story. They also have the option to choose the language. The story is available in both English and Hebrew. Other icons lead to the about section, which includes short notes from the author and illustrator. Once in the story, kids can opt to read the story on their own or listen to the narrator. The narration starts automatically, but kids can switch it off by hitting the microphone button. However, they should make sure the page is fully loaded or there will be a bit of lag before the app responds.

While the quality of the narration and the text is good, the app does have a few issues. Pages can be a bit slow to load and, if kids are too active on a page, the narration may restart. On some pages, if kids start tapping around before the page is fully loaded, the image will zoom in, causing the text to enlarge and become unreadable. Kids who want to read the actual text of the story will have to continually bring the text up on the screen which blocks the illustrations.

Education

As kids work their way through the story, they must choose between looking at the text and looking at the illustrations. Each page features a large block of text that covers the entire illustration. Kids can read along with the text as the narrator speaks or simply listen to the narrator as they look at the illustration. The app would be improved if both the text and the illustrations appeared on the screen at the same time. It would also benefit from short chunks of text as it may be difficult for younger children to follow along.

The story itself is cute and the narration is strong with a clear distinction between dialogue and the rest of the text. Some of the rhymes in the text are a bit forced, but kids are more likely to find themselves immersed in the sweet city they discover inside the whale.

Entertainment

While the app offers animated illustrations, the animations are somewhat limited. Hand icons indicate where kids can tap on the screen. However, interacting with the illustrations too much during the narration can take away from the story and, occasionally, cause the narration on the page to restart. Little kids will enjoy interacting with the story, but older kids may want to focus more on the entertainment aspect of the story itself. It’s a pretty zany story set in a fun imaginary world that kids may wish they could visit themselves.

Value

Leviatopia is priced comparably to other interactive ebooks. It offers a quality story with audio narration and slightly animated illustrations just like other ebooks offered in the same price range. However, it does have a few limitations that may not make it a parent or teacher’s first choice for a download.

Child Friendliness

The app is free from adds, in-app purchases, and other content that is not child friendly. The opening screen includes icons for Twitter and Facebook, but the icons are not connected to active links. Instead, users are encouraged to search for the app’s accounts on those sites. Kids will find that the app is easy to navigate and use and, aside from a couple credit screens, the app is entirely focused on the story being told.

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

image (8)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Create Storytime is a fun and child-friendly app that will encourage creative writing in a rather structured way. Children can create professional-looking ebooks featuring their own ideas, but some may find it too limiting for extended play.
4.2

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 2

Download on the App Store

Overview

Create Storytime provides five sets of thematic pictures for children to use to create their own imaginative ebooks. Users can type their own text to express themselves over and over again.

Features include:

  • 5 sets of 8 pictures included
  • 3 sample stories included
  • Easily save unique stories
  • Collaborate with other writers
  • High degree of structure

Quality

Create Storytime is a quality app that will appeal to young authors. It includes a brief picture tutorial to get users started, but be sure to watch it first, because it seems to disappear and not be accessible once you begin writing. It is very easy to use, and young writers will quickly get the hang of the mechanics of the program. The pictures provided are high quality illustrations that lend themselves to story-telling, but there is no capability to bring your own photos into the book. This might make some users feel rather limited. Users can, however, mix and match illustrations from the different themed groups if desired. Text can be entered and edited on each page, but apparently there is no provision for deleting entire pages or whole books. This can be problematic if you accidentally insert a page as I did when I was experimenting with the app. The addition of an obvious “delete” system would likely be appreciated by young users as they change and adapt their stories.

Education

This app has a lot of possibilities for education. Not only does it encourage children to tackle some complex written expression, it also allows them to work on sequencing, planning and a host of other important skills. By viewing the selection of pictures in advance, students can be encouraged to think out the plot for their story, allowing teachers and parents to help them understand the elements of plot. They will also be challenged to create a sensible sequence for the pictures. Writing a “mash-up” story that uses pictures from multiple thematic groups would be a great way to challenge creative thinking skills and really boost the self-expression skills.

One minor concern is that there are some grammar glitches in the sample stories, such as putting ending punctuation outside of quotation marks in conversation. It’s important to set an exemplary example for students, since they often imitate the things they see around them. Parents should also be aware that one sample story, “Mean Girls,” has the rather questionable solution to the problem of being bullied-the main characters retaliate by dumping muddy water on the offenders, then decide not to post the resulting video on the internet.

Entertainment

Many young writers will find a great deal of motivation in creating their very own professional-looking ebooks and then showing them off and rereading them. With no apparent limits on the number of books created or on their length, the app is likely to occupy budding authors for quite a while.

Some, however, may feel a bit limited by the structure provided by the themed pictures. Installed sets of pictures include a set about pirates, a set about interpersonal relations, a set about a lazy cat, one about a girl dreaming of being a rock star, and one about jungle animals having a fun day of play together. There are four other sets available as in-app purchases, but creative writers may feel “stuck” or cheated that they cannot write about gym class or community helpers, for example.

Value

This app costs $1.99 in the App Store and includes five sets of 8 thematic images. Four additional sets are available for in-app purchases of ninety-nine cents each, so if you want the entire set, the current cost would be $5.95 plus tax. Given the somewhat limited nature of the app, the total cost for the app plus the in-app purchases may seem a little too pricey for some families or classrooms.

Child Friendliness

Create Storytime is child friendly. Developers did a good job of avoiding common pitfalls of similar apps by limiting sharing capabilities and access to the internet. There are visible in-app purchases, but these are protected by a complex addition problem.

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

pirate
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Pirate Mike and Friends is a pirate themed early learning app that allows children to practice skills in math, letter recognition, shapes and more. Easy to use and fun too.
3.9

App Info

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

Overview

Pirate Mike and Friends is an early learning app that uses a fun pirate theme to keep children engaged while they learn. With fun activities that include shape matching, puzzles, letter painting, math concepts and more, children are offered an entertaining opportunity to learn.

Features include:

  • 8 Educational games
  • Music activity
  • Pirate theme

Quality

While the basic concept of the app is good and the activities are great for early learners, the overall execution could use a bit more polishing. The visuals are good, however the narration and some of the sound effects aren’t very clear or inviting for young children. With that said, the app is fairly easy to move through as it only requires children to tap, touch, and drag their finger across the screen to move through the activities. With a bit more work on polishing the narration, sound effects, and some of the transitions this app could be very good.

Education

The educational content within Pirate Mike and Friends is good. The free version offers three activities for children to enjoy including the letter painting activity, fruit/vegetable catching, and the cannon game. While the free option doesn’t give a ton of educational value aside from recognizing various fruits and vegetables, animals, and practicing the letters in the alphabet, the additional games offer a bit more educational value with shape matching and the math game. The additional activities offer a brief glimpse of what the full version includes so parents can decide whether they want to purchase the additional games through the in-app purchase.

Entertainment

In addition to the educational value included in the app, children are going to enjoy the fun games and other activities included in the full version. The developers have done a nice job of creating a nice balance between education and entertainment in this app. With puzzles, a cannon game, and a musical activity, children are sure to stay engaged.

Value

Pirate Mike and Friends is a free app that includes three activities, however for just under two dollars, parents can unlock the other five activities for children to enjoy. While the overall quality of the app could use a bit of polishing, the content is good and parents are likely to find that the additional activities are well worth the two dollars.

Child Friendliness

While most of the app is intuitive and easy for children to use, parents will want to be aware that there is an in-app purchase included (that is protected) in order to unlock the additional activities. There is also an in-app advertisement (also protected) for an app by the same developer that shows up in some of the activities. This isn’t something you would typically expect in a children’s app and should be kept only in the main home page and not in the playing area. For some parents this may be a big concern.

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

gravity

You Know Gravity? It Attracts You

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
What holds humans onto the Earth? Gravity! Find out all about this powerful force in You Know Gravity? It Attracts You.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Understanding how gravity works can be difficult for kids. You Don’t Know Gravity? seeks to make learning about gravity a little easier. This interactive eBook combines animated illustrations and interactive games with passages full of information about how gravity works. Kids will get to explore the earth and the solar system to see gravity and action, making a difficult concept much easier to understand.

Features include:

  • Short gravity quiz
  • Interactive illustrations
  • Gravity games
  • Helpful tutorials

Quality

Despite being full of information about gravity, the app does suffer from a few quality issue. Positives include a settings screen and on-screen tutorials that guide kids throughout the app. These tutorials, as well as the starting quiz, can be turned off in the settings. The main negative is the busyness of the text-based portion of the app. Between the on-screen tutorials, the multiple arrows, the text, and the other buttons, it can feel a bit overwhelming at times. Kids must pay attention to when they’re looking at a tutorial screen and be sure to tap the OK button to get back to the interactive portion of the app, otherwise they’ll keep swiping at the app and wonder why nothing is happening. They must also be careful to make sure all buttons have appeared before moving forward. Sometimes they’ll tap the forward arrow too quickly and miss an entire portion of the text when waiting on a slightly delayed next button would’ve gotten them there.

Education

This app seeks to teach kids about gravity in a unique way. It starts with a short quiz which requires kids to access their prior knowledge about earth science, and gravity in particular. Once kids finish the quiz, they board a bus and start to explore the concept of downward motion. The app mixes informative paragraphs with interactive illustrations and fun games. They can tilt their devices to make the bus move and orbit the earth to save aliens. There is definitely a lot of information in the app. Unfortunately, some of the text-based passages are worded awkwardly and may keep kids from getting more than a basic overview of they information they’re trying to convey.

Entertainment

While there are many interactive graphics built into the app, its main focus is teaching kids about gravity. As a result, kids may find that it is a bit dull and text-heavy at times. There are efforts to make the text light-hearted and fun, which kids will appreciate, but some of those moments are lost in the lengthy sentences and awkward wording. Still, it’s not an entirely dry presentation and kids will find that it’s a more exciting and visual way to learn about gravity than simply reading about it in a textbook.

Value

The app is priced similarly to other animated books for kids. The main difference is that this book was designed to be educational. Considering the amount of information about gravity it contains, as well as the interactive illustrations to help kids understand how gravity works, it proves to be a fairly good value.

Child Friendliness

The app contains a basic settings screen that allows kids to turn off the starting quiz and tutorials. What looks like a protected parent area is actually just a credits screen to highlight the developers who worked on the app. All of the other content is kid-friendly and focused on helping kids learn about gravity.

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

kprep
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Kindergarten Prep is a fun app that is designed to help preschool children practice some essential skills before entering kindergarten. With six sections having four activities each, there is some variety in the activities.
4.3

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Kindergarten Prep offers skill-building activities for young children in the areas of alphabet, fruit, colors, animals, counting, and shapes. Each section includes a learning activity, a writing/drawing exercise, a guessing game, and a related play activity.

Features include:

  • 6 skill areas with 4 types of activities each
  • Child-centered, friendly environment
  • Fun, low stress games
  • Quality narration and voiced directions
  • Intuitive and easy to use

Quality

Kindergarten Prep is a high quality app that will help young children practice some important skills. The developers did a good job of including scaffolded activities, i.e., activities that teach and gradually require more thought from players. Four of the skills addressed (colors, numbers, alphabet, shapes) are intricately wound into standards for kindergarten students and will directly help kids be more successful in school. The animals and fruits sections are also valuable in that they expand vocabulary and give kids a chance to use words.

One concern is that there are a number of obvious misspellings and grammar problems on the app, including the word puzzles spelled “puzzels” on the title of the game in the Animals section where kids can see it. The Alphabet game instructs, “Pop the balloon to know its alphabet” which is sort of an odd way to phrase the concept. Directions on the Fruits game say “Catch the fruits in basket” and the Counting game instructs “Catch the counting.” Errors such as these set a poor example for young children who are just beginning to sort out the finer points of grammar.

Education

This app does a good job of providing an array of skills practice for preschool children. Most of the sections offer valuable beginning practice with recognition and find motor skills such as writing letters and numbers. The Learn activities in each section introduce the various items within the group and give examples. The Draw activities provide a selection of virtual colored pencils and dotted lines to trace items such as letters and numbers. The section does not seem as related in the Colors area, as children are tracing various items of different colors, but the color names are not mentioned. It is also quite difficult in the Fruits and in the Animals areas, where the dotted figures are far too intricate for most preschoolers’ skills. The Guess section in each area provides children with an opportunity to check their skills, such as counting items 1-20 and selecting the matching numeral. The font used in this area, however, is a poor choice for young children, as the 6s and 9s in particular are very difficult to read. The Play area of each section is a simple game to apply the skills learned. Several sections use a “pop the balloons” type game where kids tap the balloons to hear what they represent. There is a simple jigsaw puzzle in the Animals section, a catching game in the Numbers section, and a drag and drop game in the Shapes section.

Entertainment

Young children will have fun playing Kindergarten Prep. The app provides a nice array of different tasks, so there is some good play value. The illustrations are generally clear, but many are designed to look like a child drew or colored them. For example, there are stray color marks outside of the shapes in the Shapes section, as though a child colored outside of the lines. It’s a matter of opinion, but I would prefer to see a bit more professionalism in the artwork.

I am concerned that children may tire of this app relatively quickly, after going through each of the sections one or two times. It would be nice to see a bit more variety in the games across the sections, or perhaps a randomly-selected game format so that users could not be certain what type of game will come up next.

Value

This app is $4.99 in the App Store, which seems a bit pricy. If the app will be used by multiple children, as in a family setting or a classroom setting, then the cost would be worthwhile. For one child, however, I don’t believe there’s enough play value to keep kids using it long enough to be worth the price.

Child Friendliness

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

ride

RIDE, Learn language, vocabulary puzzle

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Build children's vocabulary in 8 different languages as they match the animals up with their vehicles to create silly pictures in RIDE, Learn language, vocabulary puzzle.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Help kids learn the names of animals and vehicles with RIDE, Learn language, vocabulary puzzle. This simple and silly app gives kids phrases and asks them to find the pictures to match the phrases. Dolphins drive tractors, toucans drive bulldozers, and kids build their vocabularies as they put the pictures together.

Features include:

  • Available in 8 Languages
  • Learn the names of animals
  • Learn the names of vehicles
  • Make silly pictures

Quality

When kids first open the app, they see a large question mark in the middle of the screen, a smaller question mark in the upper right hand corner, and a flag in the lower right hand corner. The quality of the game would be improved by offering kids a few basic instructions to get started. Instead, they must tap on and swipe the question marks to figure it out for themselves. The game could also be improved by enhancing the quality of the images. Some, such as the flamingo, sit tall in the vehicles, while others, such as the eagle can barely be seen. The eagle has other issues as well as many kid will not immediately recognize it as an eagle.

Education

The app is designed to help kids improve their vocabulary in eight different languages: American English, British English, French, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, and Russian. For each language, the game is essentially the same – kids hear a description and must find the pictures to match the description. For example, if the phrase is, “The toucan is driving the bulldozer,” kids will have to find the picture of the toucan and the bulldozer. Most of the images are fairly recognizable. If kids do not know the words, they can simply try arranging different pictures until they get the right combination. While this game is somewhat unique and does reinforce vocabulary skills, it would be much improved by adding the words to the screen along with the audio. This would help kids build multiple layers of vocabulary recognition.

Entertainment

For kids, the game is fairly entertaining. They hear a silly phrase and arrange the pictures to display that phrase. As they successfully complete phrases they earn more animals and vehicles so they can create even more silly pictures. Even if kids do not know what the words are saying, they can scroll through the pictures and come up with their own combinations of animals and vehicles to enjoy.

Value

Parents and teachers who want to encourage kids to learn animal and vehicle names or are just looking for a fun free app should give this one a try. It may not be the most educational, but kids will enjoy it.

Child Friendliness

Aside from the game screen, the app only contains one other screen. Kids can select from different languages. They’ll also see a button to view more apps from the developer, but it is protected by a parental lock.

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

screen1136x1136
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
A Forest of Families is a cute storybook app with fun sound effects and hand-drawn illustrations that teach readers about the many animals that can be found in the forest.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

A Forest of Families is a hand-drawn storybook app that takes readers on a journey through a forest full of various animals and fun sounds for children to enjoy. This rhyming tale offers simple, hand-drawn illustrations that add a bit of character to this sweet app making it quite unique and beautiful.

Features include:

  • Rhyming story
  • Hand-drawn illustrations
  • Read to me/Read to myself options

Quality

The first thing you notice about this storybook app is the simple hand-drawn technique used for the illustrations throughout the story that adds a bit of character to the story. The developers have done a nice job creating a simple to use interface as readers only need to swipe through the pages as they read on their own or with the narrator. While the images add a nice touch to the story, the overall quality of the app could us a bit of polishing with re-positioning the text (currently the text overshadows some of the illustrations) and adding text highlighting to help a bit with the readability of the text.

Education

It’s always nice to find a story book app that provides a bit of educational material for children to learn and A Forest of Families does just that. Not only will readers learn what kinds of animals live in the forest, but they also get to learn a few fun facts about the animals as well. For instance, the life cycle of a frog and the fact that a baby deer is called a fawn and the mother is called a doe are all facts that are included within the story. This is a great way for children to learn while they practice their reading skills.

The developers have included narration options within the app that allows early readers to practice their reading skills, however text-highlighting is not included. Adding this feature would allow early readers to follow along and learn new vocabulary words and strengthen their reading skills as they enjoy the story.

Entertainment

As mentioned before, this storybook app includes lots of great sound effects that accompany the story. Children are going to love reading and re-reading the story to see which animals live in the forest. In addition to the story, there is also a coloring activity that allows readers to draw and color their own pictures which is a fun added activity. Unfortunately there seems to be an issue saving and printing the pictures once they are drawn as it kicks the user out of the app when using those options.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app is in line with most of the other storybook apps available. With the read to me and read to myself narration options, the educational story, and the additional coloring activity included this app is a good value overall.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done an excellent job making sure this app is easy to use for children as it includes narration options and simple swipe technology to move throughout the story. It also includes protected parent-only gateways that are great for younger users to ensure this app is completely safe to use for children of all ages.

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

screen640x640
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Drew’s Dancing Drum is a fun and festive app that sends positive messages to young children including be yourself, don’t listen to bullies, and ask your parents for help when you are having a problem.
4.3

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Drew’s Dancing Drum tells the story of a young boy learning to be himself in spite of criticism from others. The book promotes a number of positive values, such as seeking guidance from parents, handling bullies, and more.

Features include:

  • Highly interactive pages
  • Three languages (English, Chinese, Spanish) available
  • Colorful, engaging illustrations
  • Optional narration
  • Rhyming text

Quality

Drew’s Dancing Drum is a good quality e-book with a positive message that will appeal to many young children. The pages are loaded with interactions; nearly every picture on each page does something when tapped.  Some interactions are very appropriate, such as animating a hug between father and son at a touching moment.  Each page also has a hidden gingerbread cookie for children to find.  Some of the interactions seem quite gratuitous, though, such as trees that grow and shrink or Christmas stockings that bounce.  While they may be fun to find, they add little to the story.

There are some concerns with the mechanics of the book.  Some children may find it difficult to turn the pages, since the page forward arrow is hidden. Users must first use a different arrow to open up the navigation on each page, then tap the arrow to move forward or backward in the book.  It would be nice to have an option to tone down the background music, especially for children who have difficulty concentrating.  The app plays an assortment of Christmas carols, but all at a fairly frantic pace and at a higher volume level than is necessary.  Also, there are a few pages where some text is hidden until the user taps the text to have it read aloud.  There is no indication that there is more to know on the page, so children who are trying to read on their own may miss a few key points in the story.

Education

Drew’s Dancing Drum has a theme of learning to love yourself with subthemes related to managing outside criticism or bullying and listening to parents.  It sends some very positive messages, especially to young children.  It is always nice to find ebooks that build up character!

Drew, a young boy full of the joy of life, has a drum he loves and takes everywhere. In the middle of his happiness, another child makes fun of his drum and sucks much of the joy out of his world. His father helps him see that others’ words don’t need to affect how we feel about ourselves, and Drew resumes his happy outlook on life.

While the book does have a very positive message, it could be improved by making the message more clear. Young children, particularly those who are struggling with bullying, sometimes have difficulty with subtlety. The bullying depicted in the story is extremely gentle, and only comes from one person.  The solution was simply Dad reminding Drew that the other boy was wrong to make fun of the drum.  It might be important for young children to hear a stronger message that they should be themselves and not allow outsiders to influence their self-worth.

Entertainment

This app is very interactive. Each page has numerous animations and sound effects, almost to the point of overwhelm.  Lights can be turned on and off, fires in the fireplace change color, trees grow and shrink, and animals jump and gyrate.  It might be better for developers to focus on five or six interactions that better support the story and theme than to have so many (some pages have dozens) that seem a bit out of place.

Many ebooks also have short games to reinforce the main ideas of the story, and this one would benefit from a greater selection of activities.  As it stands, each page has a hidden gingerbread cookie to find, but no other games that I could see.

Value

Drew’s Dancing Drum is a free app, so it’s a great value even if your child only reads through it a few times.  It’s got a very positive message and might help a child who is struggling with negativity from others consider asking a parent or teacher for help. That alone is important, and when you throw in the fun of tracking down the interactions on each page, it’s well worth your investment of time to download.  I wouldn’t use it as bedtime fare, though!  The background music is very fast-paced and is quite likely to wind children up instead of helping them relax.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly, but might be a bit difficult to use due to the placement of the navigation tools.  There is an advertisement for another app from this developer in the page selection area, but it is not a live link.

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

lipa

Lipa Theater: Story Maker

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Kids become directors as they create and narrate their own animated stories.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Kids become authors and directors in Lipa Theater: Story Maker. This creative app gives kids the chance to play around with characters and record their own short stories using those characters. Along with a host of characters, they’re given backgrounds, props, and other tools to enhance their stories. They can then go to town to make everything come to life. While the app has a few flaws, most kids will find that they really enjoy creating their stories and narrating animated movies of their own.

Features include:

  • Available in eight languages
  • Theater School and My Story Mode
  • Play with Characters or Record Stories
  • Multiple props, characters, and settings available.

Quality

At first glance, Lipa Theater: Story Maker feels a bit overwhelming. The main screen contains a parent section, a Lipa Theater account icon, a settings icon, and a more apps icon. Once kids press the play button, Casper pops up and gives them an introduction. From there, they can choose whether to enter the Theater School or My Story sections. In the My Story section kids can explore the features of the app on their own, but the Theater School section gives them a very thorough, and at times frustrating, overview of all of the features of the app and story making in general. When it comes to creating stories, the app is laid out fairly well with clear icons that organize the different props and functions. The characters are a bit funky and with wobbly limbs that are hard to control, but most kids will not mind.

Education

The app promotes creative thinking and storytelling. In the Theater School section, kids are given a good overview of how to use the app and what to think about when telling a story. Casper, the narrator, encourages them to think about how the characters might interact on a deeper level, including talking about the characters’ feelings. Unfortunately, this section is very long and somewhat boring for kids who simply want to start creating their own stories. Fortunately, kids don’t have to sit through the Theater School (although they really should) to get to the story making. They can jump right in, choose their characters, and create some really creative stories.

Entertainment

Kids will have a lot of fun choosing characters, moving them around the screen, and adding props to make their scenes more entertaining. What they’ll like most is being able to record their stories, including using the microphone to provide their own voices or narration. The characters move somewhat like marionettes and it may take kids a bit of time to get used to maneuvering them the way they want. However, with practice, they’ll be able to put the characters in many fun positions. For those who don’t want to put in the practice, the app is still a lot of fun.

Value

This app contains a host of characters, props, and settings for kids. It also allows them to record their videos utilizing those items. The app is priced comparably to similar apps. Unlike some similar apps, the characters seem a bit lackluster, but kids will still have fun. The theater school section adds a bit of value to the app because it encourages kids to think deeper about the type of stories they can create.

Child Friendliness

The app opens with a few screens designed to be read by parents. While these screens are helpful, they would work better if they were contained in the parent area for parents to access as they don’t provide much information to really help children interact with the app. On these screens and the main screen, children will see more apps areas. Access to the app store is protected by a parental block, but it’s a fairly simple block that many children may accidentally find their way around. The same is true of the ability to post videos to Facebook or share them by e-mail. These methods are protected by a parental block, but children, particularly those who can read, will easily find their way around it. The app also encourages parents to set up a Lipa account.

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

acd2

A.C.D.: The French Files

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Learn French as you try to find the thief who stole famous paintings in this unique French learning app.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

A.C.D. stands for Art Crimes Division. In this French language learning app, kids become agents who must find out who is responsible for the works of art that have disappeared from a Paris museum. As kids search for the culprit, they hold conversations in French and English and learn a ton of French vocabulary. While the game lacks a bit of organization and could improve its intuitiveness, kids who are learning French will find that it’s an entertaining way to learn the language.

Features include:

  • Learn key vocabulary words
  • Use French phrases
  • Search for clues
  • Capture the suspect

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’re given the opportunity to set up a new game. This involves choosing a gender and customizing the appearance of their alien-like detective persona. From there, they’re sent on their first mission. The directions for each mission are given in a combination of French and English. Throughout the app, these directions are read in a variety of voices and even the main detective character seems to change voices throughout the app. This lack of consistency is a bit frustrating. Also frustrating is how the text lines up with the audio. Often the words appear on the screen much slower than the audio. This makes it difficult for kids to read and listen at the same time and causes trouble for kids who want to connect French words to their pronunciation. Kids will have a bit of trouble figuring out how to play, but it’s less because of the mix of languages and more because of the lack of instructions in the app. Basically, they go on a random hunt for vocabulary words and clues, but there are very few hints or other guides in the app to help them.

Education

As far as learning French goes, this app does a fairly good job. With the mix of French, English, and illustrations, kids can generally figure out what is going on and what unfamiliar phrases mean. As they discover new clues and complete tasks, they’ll understand even more of the French that they encounter. There are two main educational components of the app – vocabulary and simple phrases. Kids learn new vocabulary words as they search for objects in the various settings. For example, they can tap on a tree and learn it’s called l’arbre. Other times, kids must infer the meaning of French phrases. For example, the app may instruct kids to “Parlez a l’entraineur” when they enter the gym. Kids are also given opportunities to type the French equivalent of English phrases. For example, when the trainer says, “Pouvez-vous m’aider?” kids must type in “Oui, je peux,” French for “Yes, I can.”

Kids will eventually figure out the correct answers and be able to navigate their way around the app, but there’s seems to be a bit of a disparity in the levels of activities. For example, kids who do not know that a piece of paper is “la papier” are not likely to be able to type in “Oui, je peux” or understand instructions such as “Trouver la casier.” The English instructions included in the app help, but they’re not consistent enough to be the support many kids will need.

Entertainment

Aside from the frustrations that come from not knowing exactly what to do at certain points in the app, kids will find that it is fairly entertaining. They will enjoy searching for objects and completing all of the missions. The mysterious background music helps enhance that experience, as do the different notes, clues, and messages kids discover as they play. Kids will also feel like they’re getting a handle on the French language as they successfully navigate the French instructions they have been given.

Value

Given the organization and lack of consistency within the app, it may not be the best value. However, its unique approach to learning French makes it worth a download, especially for kids who have at least a couple months of French under their belts.

Child Friendliness

The app is free from social media, external links, and other content designed to take kids away from its content. The mix of French and English in the beginning stages is clear enough that kids can figure out how to get a new game set up on their own.

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

potateo
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
I Love Potatoes is an adventure based app that teaches children a very valuable lesson in social change, recycling, and sustainability with an interesting potato metaphor. Unique, educational, and fun to play.
4.1

App Info

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

Overview

I Love Potatoes is an adventure game that takes problem solving to the next level. This interesting app does more than just teach children to use their logical skills, but it also aims to teach players about social change and sustainability. This potato loving community needs help and players must help Chips (the main character) save his village from it’s fateful demise.

Features include:

  • Problem solving adventure game
  • Unique concept
  • Multiple languages

Quality

I Love Potatoes is an interesting app with a unique set-up that children will enjoy. The developers have done a nice job creating interesting graphics and characters that keep children engaged as they play. The user interface takes a little getting used to as children must follow the written clues and dialogue in order to move through the app successfully. While there are sound effects and other background noises, the dialogue is not exactly narrated in the language provided. It seems the characters have a language all their own which makes this app best used by children who can already read.

Education

This app isn’t your typical educational app, instead it tests player’s logic and problem solving skills as they help Chips and his friends save their village. With clues to follow and various tasks to complete, children must stay focused and engaged in order to complete each task successfully. This app also offers a chance for children to learn life-lessons about sustainability and social change by simply playing the game.

While the concept of this app is a great idea to teach children, I’m not sure if the idea translates for children to truly understand the meaning behind it. Making it a bit clearer or more realistic might help kids understand it a bit more.

Entertainment

I Love Potatoes is an adventure game that is sure to keep children engaged the entire way through. Players must think strategically and use their logic to follow the clues as they help Chips save the village. While there are markers throughout to help players at some points in the game, this is one app that challenges children to use their imaginations to help get the job done.

Value

Parents will definitely appreciate the value that is provided in this app because it is absolutely free. With a great educational concept to inspire children to think about social change and a challenging set up, this app is one parents can appreciate for the content and the price.

Child Friendliness

This app is aimed at children 7 and up and the user interface is fairly easy to use. There are some parts of the app that could use a bit more guidance for children with arrows or other indicators to help players through and make the app easier to play. Parents will also want to know that some of the language used may not be language that they deem appropriate. With phrases like ‘move your butt’ and other not very nice words that are used, some parents might be concerned allowing younger children to use the app.

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

crazycursive

Crazy Cursive Letters

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Introduce kids to cursive writing through three different activities, and reinforce phonics and spelling skills at the same time.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Some people think that cursive writing is a lost art, but Crazy Cursive Letters doesn’t think so. This app, available in six different languages, gives kids a chance to practice their cursive writing skills. It does this through three modes of play, having kids write individual letters, short words, and words that they choose on their own. All kids have to do is follow the arrows and they’ll soon be on their way to writing cursive perfectly.

Features include:

  • Three modes of play
  • Top 100 vocabulary words
  • Two styles of cursive
  • Add up to 10 users
  • Select from 6 languages

Quality

The settings section of the app contains many features designed to enhance its quality. Kids can select from two different styles of cursive, opt to practice one letter or multiple letters at a time, and even adjust the settings based on whether they are right handed or left handed. Additionally, the app allows up to 10 user accounts and each user can save his/her own settings.

Education

Once kids set up their profile, they can begin practicing their cursive writing. The app offers two different styles of cursive, so parents and teachers should make sure kids practice the style they are expected to know. The app gives kids three different ways to practice their cursive – by the top 100 words, individual letters, and free writing. With each option the letter or letters appear on the screen along with a series of arrows. Kids move the pen based on the direction of the arrows to write in cursive. In general, this is a great concept and one that should benefit kids. However, the arrows are fairly small and occasionally the pen gets in the way. If the arrows were bigger, the app would be more effective. As it stands, it may be frustrating for kids who are new to cursive writing. In addition to the letters being small, the app only lets kids writer shorter words in cursive. In the free writing section, kids can type in their own words to write in cursive, but the word box only allows 9 letters and the letters are squeezed so tightly you cannot see the individual arrows. Words with 1-4 letters work best in that section.

In addition to teaching kids to write in cursive, the app also includes a phonics option. While the idea is good in theory, the phonics option does not do a great job of sounding out the words, focusing instead on individual letter sounds. This also seems to be a bit low level for the age of kids who are likely to be interested in writing cursive.

Entertainment

For kids, the highlight of the app is likely to be the free writing section. They can type in any word or combination of letters (although not more than 9 letters at once) and it will appear on the screen for them to write in cursive. Of course, this will likely lead to kids typing a bunch of nonsense or silly words, but they’ll still learn to write in cursive, so that’s okay. To boost the entertainment factor, the app also rewards kids with new sounds and fun sound effects as they successfully write letters and words in cursive.

Value

This app is priced comparably to similar apps, but aspects of the app, such as the focus on only short words, cause it to lose a bit of value. What does give it additional value is that it is available in six different languages and the top 100 words change for each language.

Child Friendliness

Once kids have created a profile, which simply involves entering a name, they can start interacting with the app. The main screen displays a more apps button, although it is locked. Kids can also access the settings screen where they can turn the sounds, phonics, pen, and multiple letters options on and off. There is also a reset progress option, but it is also locked so only parents can access it.

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

image (15)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child-Friendly
Summary
Verbs for Kids-Part 1 would be a useful tool to help students of English and perhaps special needs students hear examples of acceptable English grammar and pronunciation, as well as see clear animated illustrations of 180 verbs and sentences. It does have some flaws, however, and parents and teachers would be wise to check the app thoroughly before investing.
3.9

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 3
Download on the App Store

Overview

Verbs for Kids-Part 1 is a free sample of a larger program designed to teach young children, English as a second language students, and those with special needs correct usage of English verbs.

Features include:

  • Animated 3-D illustrations
  • Sound effects
  • Accurate pronunciation
  • 15 lessons in three modes
  • Includes over 600 words and phrases

Quality

This is a quality app that works as intended. It is intuitive and easy to use, making it likely that the target audiences (young children, those who do not speak much English, and special needs students) could use the app independently with little preparation. The pictures are mostly clear illustrations of each verb or sentence, but a few could cause confusion when presented together in the “test mode.” For example, in the “test verb” mode for the word “hold,” a picture of a character holding an umbrella is presented with a character holding a tire as it is being changed on a car. While this differentiation is clear in the sentence mode, both characters are holding something.  Also, the sound quality on this app is not as good as it could be. The narration, while clear, has a hollow sound to it, as though not recorded in a studio. In the App Store description, the developers indicate that the app does not need an active internet connection, but parents and teachers should be aware that a connection is needed on the first usage and when downloading the premium content.  The app apparently needs to load content in a separate step after installation.

Education

Verbs for Kids-Part 1 presents English verbs in word form, in sentences, and in a test format.  There are fifteen lessons with three parts, each focused on four verbs in each section (a total of 180). The Verb mode shows the animated picture with the verb. The Sentence mode shows the animated picture with the verb in an applicable sentence. The Test mode (either verb level or sentence level) presents four flashcards and has users choose the one to match the narration.  Parents and teachers will need to caution students that they must wait to click the advance arrow on each screen until the entire lesson has been shown; there is a pause between presentation of the additional flashcards that may cause some users to think that the lesson is complete but simply lagging.

One large concern with the app is the presentation of all of the verbs in sentences in the present progressive tense.  While this is technically correct to describe the animated illustrations, it is not the most common construction in English, and is not typically used by beginning students or young children.  No other tenses are used or taught. Most beginning students need present and past tenses in particular, and the app misses quite a bit of potential content by overlooking this.

I also have concerns about some of the “verbs” chosen for highlighting.  The term is apparently used quite loosely by developers.  For example, one of the verbs presented is “have a conflict” as in “They are having a conflict.” This is not language or construction that is likely in day-to-day speech, particularly for the populations targeted by this app.  Other examples are “turn back” “take/claim” and “separate into.”  While technically these are verb phrases, the developers would be on more sound educational ground if they had stuck to simpler verbs and incorporated more practice with common tenses.

Entertainment

This app has some truly delightful animated illustrations.  There is a wide array of characters that move to illustrate the target verbs.  This will clearly demonstrate the meanings of most of the verbs being taught.  Between each lesson, a screen with floating balloons, bubbles, or balls appears and children can pop the items for as long as they wish before clicking the advance arrow.  While this activity will be fun for most, it may not be particularly motivating time and again for most users.

Value

Careful reading of the app’s description in the App Store does reveal that the free download includes only two of the fifteen lessons available, but it seems quite easy to miss in the lengthy text. Purchase of the additional thirteen lessons costs $3.99 as an in-app purchase.  Developers may want to consider making that information more clear in the beginning of the description so that users are not disappointed (or angry) when they learn of the purchase requirement.

That being said, the price tag for the full version of the app is a bit high considering the educational benefits.  There is a nice amount of additional content, but adult mentors, parents and teachers should be aware of the limitations of the app, such as exclusive use of the present progressive tense and the unusual vocabulary choices for some of the words.

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly. It does include an in-app purchase that pops up when users complete the second lesson.  While this is a protected link, the gate is fairly simple to bypass (press and hold for three seconds), and it seems like it interrupts play.  It would be better to embed this link in a parents area where young users or those with special needs would be less likely to stumble upon it.  The app also includes a ratings pop-up.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase visible to young users
  • YES Ratings Pop Up

keepsafe
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendliness
Summary
Allow toddlers and preschoolers to view photos on your devices without worrying about them being deleted.
4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 1
Download on the App Store

Overview

Have you ever had a child accidentally delete a treasured photo or video on your device? If so, Keep Safe Eva may be just what you need. This photo viewing app lets parents hand over their device to their little ones without having to worry about losing precious content. Parents can choose the photos and videos they want their little ones to see and ensure nothing bad will happen as they swipe through them.

Features include:

  • Let kids safely view photos
  • Keep kids in the app
  • Prevent photos from being deleted
  • Prevent unwanted sharing of photos

Quality

Keep Safe Eva comes with a bit of a learning curve. Developers offer a tutorial upon request and most parents would be wise to request it. The main portion of the app features a menu with eight different options: Child lock, Auto off, Auto play, Purchase, Rate us, Contacts, Theme, and Album. Parents can select a designate a specific album to use with the app. They can also opt to register for an account and share photos and videos with all of the friends connected to their account.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Since Keep Safe Eva is only a photo viewer, it relies solely on the photos parents select to entertain children. However, for children five and under, particularly toddlers, the photos will be entertaining enough and the design of the app will ensure that children won’t have a meltdown because they accidentally tap away from the photos. Instead, they’ll remain safely within the app.

Value

A free download allows children to look at photos through the app for a limited amount of time. Purchasing the full version of the app gives them access to unlimited photo viewing. The full version is cheap enough to be worth a purchase if parents have trouble with their children deleting content or accidentally sending photos to contacts. Those who don’t may be content to retrieve the occasional lost photo or video from the “Recently Deleted” folder on their devices.

Child Friendliness

The app is designed for kids five and under and is most appealing to parents with children at the lower end of that age range. One thing parents must be sure to do is set up the app before handing their children the device. The base app is not very child friendly and allows children to access all of the features, including the Contact Us form and in-app purchase, if they happen to open it on their own. Parents who use the app frequently will also want to regularly change the position of the child lock. Toddlers and preschoolers are smart and will likely figure out how to unlock the app and access the menu once they see their parents do it a few times.

  • Parental lock to keep kids in app
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase
  • YES rate us

image (3)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Letter Cross-Tracking is a serviceable app that will help children remediate letter reversals and inversions and help them build skills in the areas of visual tracking, attention to detail and position in space, but they may need outside motivation to complete assigned work so they don’t lose interest.
4.2

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Letter Cross-Tracking shows groups of commonly-confused letters and those that frequently cause issues with reversals and inversions on tic-tac-toe-like grids with four to nine spaces. Players need to look at a model showing two or three letters and choose the matching grids from the field of four to sixteen elements.

Features include:

  • Three levels of play
  • 150 puzzles in the free version
  • 450 additional puzzles in the in-app purchase
  • Cute animated monsters and points to reward success
  • Keeps score for up to three players

Quality

Letter Cross-Tracking is a very high quality app.  Developers created a clean-playing activity that is intuitive to use. The three sets of puzzles are nicely divided by complexity, and within each of these sets, there are four levels of play in the full version of this app. Teachers or parents can set up three different players to keep score. One drawback, however, is that the app does not keep specific records of student performance on various subtasks, such as discriminating b’s and d’s or noticing the letters’ position on the grid. This sort of information would be helpful to teachers, in particular, who are trying to diagnose student weaknesses or areas of concern for remediation.

Education

Letter Cross-Tracking provides a thorough practice activity that will help young students learn to discriminate easily confused, reversed or inverted letters as well as learn to pay close attention to detail about position in space.  All of these skills are vital for reading success. This app provides vital practice and repetition that will help students who are struggling with these skills.

The easiest game in the app, “Simple Cross,” offers a four-section grid with two letters in random quadrants of the figure. It presents a model, and four similar figures, one of which matches the model exactly. The second level has a selection of eight similar figures and multiple matches to the model. The third level has twelve similar figures, and the fourth level has sixteen. In this way, developers increase the complexity of the task.

The middle game is called “Complex Cross (2 Letters),” and uses a nine section grid similar to a tic-tac-toe board with two letters in random positions. Again there are four levels within the game, ranging from four selections up to sixteen.  The final game is called “Complex Cross (3 letters)” and increases the difficulty by using three figures in each model with from four to sixteen selections.

The feature that puts this app head and shoulders above most reversal/inversion practice apps is the twist of using the grid to help children scan for position in space.  This skill will help them in many other academic tasks, since it trains the eye’s ability to scan left to right and top to bottom of the page, to notice small differences (on one puzzle, for example, the letter n is in the top left section with a u in the middle left section, and distractors include a grid with a u in the top left section and an n in the middle left section), and to attend to the letters’ position relative to other letters, which helps build sequencing and spelling skills.

Entertainment

This app tries to be entertaining, and while kids might be intrigued for a few rounds, it would get quite repetitious after the lengths of practice required to actually improve the skills involved.  After each puzzle is presented and an answer chosen, a monster makes a brief comment on the effort, either responding with a positive word such as “Awesome!” for a correct response, or a negative sound or word for an incorrect response, such as “Oops!”  The app keeps a running score for a player’s performance (even across levels and games) that increments by ten points for a correct response and decreases by 5 points for an incorrect response.

Developers should consider dressing up the entertainment factors for this app if they want to be more engaging.  Some suggestions include having a goal for the points, such as mini-games that become available after ten or twenty correct responses, varying the reward sequence (the monsters changing color, voices, and phrasing won’t hold children’s interest for long), or unlocking additional reward screens that tell part of a story at various point intervals.

Value

This app is a good value.  The free download includes 50 puzzles at the easiest level of all three games, so parents and teachers can get a good idea of how children respond to the activity.  That’s a total of 150 puzzles, and for many students, that will be sufficient to practice the skills involved.  There is an in-app purchase that unlocks another 450 puzzles for a total of 600 (50 more at each level in each of the three games). This costs $3.99 before tax which may seem a bit pricy to many families.  When combined with the somewhat bland rewards and motivational strategies, it may be tough to get kids who need this kind of practice to actually go through all 600 puzzles.

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly. It does contain an in-app purchase, but there is a parent gate that will be effective for emergent and struggling readers that the app is designed for.

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

spatial
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendliness
Summary
Solve dot and box puzzles to build your spatial and visual memory skills in this app designed by an occupational therapist.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Designed by an occupational therapist, Spatial Line Puzzles helps improve users’ spatial and visual memory skills. This is done through a series of puzzles

Features include:

  • Puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty
  • Option to add multiple users
  • Leaderboard to track progress
  • Cute bird game

Quality

While the puzzles in this app may be good for improving spatial and visual memory skills, the quality could stand to be improved. This is evident from the opening screen where the developer’s logo cuts off in the middle of the word. It is also evident when adding a new user. When trying to add a new user, the user name bar often gets stuck on the screen, making it nearly impossible to read the instructions and complete additional activities. The app is otherwise fairly easy to navigate. Tapping on the play button reveals the different categories of puzzles and completing each puzzle is fairly straightforward. A settings screen allows users to control aspects of the puzzles to make them more challenging.

Education

The app consists of a series of dot and box puzzles designed to improve visual and spatial memory skills. Each puzzle requires users to recreate the image in the space on the right-hand side of the screen. In the settings section, users have the option to determine how long the image on the left-hand side of the screen is visible (5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 seconds) and to turn off the dot or block outline to make the puzzle harder to solve. An info button provides an overview of how the app improves visual and spatial memory skills and each option on the settings screen includes its own info button to help users understand the changes each option makes.

Entertainment

The app is full of a variety of puzzles to challenge users and they really do increase in difficulty. While the activities themselves are not very flashy or high-energy games, they are still somewhat entertaining to solve. The app also allows users to turn on a bird game which appears after successfully solving five puzzles. The game adds something different to the app, but isn’t any more entertaining than the puzzles themselves.

Value

When they download the free version, users get a good overview of the style of puzzles available in the app. An in-app purchase allows users to unlock all of the levels within the app.

Child Friendliness

All of the information users need is contained within the app and there are no external links to take kids away from the app. There is an in-app purchase to allow users to unlock all levels of the game and it is not protected by a parental block, so parents without a password set up may find their kids unlocking the levels without their knowledge.

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

IMG_0685
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Head to car wash and get to work washing some very dirty cars. You'll earn stars that you can redeem for silly rewards.
4.1

App Info

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

Overview

Kids who love cars will love Amazing Car Wash. This funny car washing game, from the developers of My Little Car Wash, is a simple, but highly entertaining app for kids. There’s a whole host of cars ready to be washed. From bulldozers and tractors to clown cars and safari trucks, kids will find a car to suit their needs. Once they get their cars clean, kids can spend their stars and get them dirty again.

Features include:

  • Choose from 14 cars to wash
  • Use 10 car wash features
  • Earn stars
  • Spend stars on 5 special effects

Quality

As a parent info screen explains, this app is designed as a one-finger app. That means kids only have to use one finger to complete all of the tasks. It also means they can only complete one task at a time. Developers have attempted to create a quality app. The opening screen displays a scrolling view of all the vehicles available along with bubbles kids can pop floating around the screen. Once kids select a car, they’re taken to the car wash area. Here the graphics lack a bit of quality and look a lot like overlays on a basic car image, but kids won’t mind. Instead, they’ll focus on navigating through the different car wash functions to clean the car and earn stars. With the stars, kids can buy special rewards. These rewards are also fun for kids, but not created with the highest quality. A few of them, such as the dragon, also take a few moments to appear on the screen.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

From the large variety of vehicles to the wealth of cleaning options and rewards, kids will thoroughly enjoy this app. While they’re encouraged to clean the car by following each of the steps in order, they’re not required to. They also don’t have to complete each step, although doing so earns them more stars. The app adds in fun touches, such as bubbles kids can pop on the opening screen and balloons they can pop after earning enough stars to help make the app more interactive and entertaining.

Value

While this app is a lot of fun, the fun comes at a price that is much higher than the price of similar apps. Little kids who love cars may find a lot of value in this app, but those who are the fence may opt for something less expensive.

Child Friendliness

This app displays a more apps option in the bottom corner of the main screen, but what causes it to lose points for child friendliness is the unprotected “rate this app” option that appears under the settings icon.

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

image (13)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
The Pronoun Party is a bare-bones, repetitive source of practice sentences with pronouns and gender words that will help young children practice understanding these words in spoken sentences and responding to them appropriately.
4

App Info

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

Overview

The Pronoun Party offers basic practice with identifying male/female and plural pronouns in subjective, objective and possessive cases.  The app includes four levels of difficulty and each level can be played on four different themes, which vary the scenery and the props that children can “give” to the person referred to in the sentence.

Features include:

  • 4 levels of difficulty
  • 4 themes within each level
  • Intuitive interface
  • Scoring system
  • Option to turn background music off if desired

Quality

The Pronoun Party is a good quality app that young children will find easy to use. Developers kept everything very simple, so there are not a lot of confusing controls. Users simply choose the level of play, choose a theme/background, and then follow the spoken directions to move objects to the correct person or group of people based on the pronoun used. The app did crash a couple of times during its test, and there were a few sentences that did not seem to have their voice over files, which might make use a bit difficult for non-readers.

Education

This app is very bare-bones.  The games all work exactly the same way: A sentence using one of the target word is presented in the center of the screen and there is an object referred to in that sentence.  The picture of the object is to be slid to the left or to the right to be “given” to the correct person or group of people displayed.  The level of play controls which words are targeted (girl/boy on level one, he/she/they on level two, his/her/their on level three and him/her/them on level four).  The background controls the types of items to give to the characters, such as beach toys in the beach scene and party food in the party scene.  The location of the characters changes from time to time, so players need to attend to the screen or they will make a mistake.

The Pronoun Party requires children to listen to those sentences, process and comprehend the pronoun, and then move the item to the correct character.  The characters change sides of the screen from time to time, and there are several different boys, girls and groups that are used.

One large concern is that many of the sentences are very repetitive, while changing the color of the item to be moved.  For example, at one point, the app asked me to “Give the kite to her” four times in a row, changing only the color of the kite.  Another example can be found in the Beach scene, where the sentence “Give the water toy to the girl” came up many times in succession, while the picture of the toy changed from a sand bucket to a ball to a pair of swim goggles.  Parents should also be aware that this app is Australian in origin, so some of the names of items are different than American children will be used to, such as using the word “biscuit” for “cookie.” There were also a few sentences that did not play their sound files, though this glitch seems to be random rather than associated with any one action in the app.

Entertainment

The play on this app is very repetitive and, while it will help young children or disabled children practice deciphering the meanings of pronouns, many youngsters are likely to find it to be boring.  Though there are four themes with backgrounds, these are simply backdrops that make sense with the objects being given to the characters.  There is no interaction with them at all.  The sentences in each level are very similar to one another, so all children need to attend to is the actual pronoun in the sentence.  In this day of glitzy and complex apps that do everything but teach plumbing for the proverbial kitchen sink, this app is very low-key.  It strives to give practice for one specific skill (and does that well if in plain vanilla style), but definitely could be jazzed up a bit to help it hold children’s attention more effectively.  For example, it would be pretty easy to show multiple items in several colors and ask children to “give the red kite to her.”

Value

If your child needs lots of practice with understanding and using genders and basic pronouns, then this app will be a good value for family or classroom use.  However, for most kids, there won’t be much replay value, so even the $2.99 price tag may seem a bit steep.  It’s possible to play through the entire app (one scene for each of the four levels) in about fifteen to twenty minutes, and without some sort of score keeping or incentive beyond the “Congratulations you’ve finished the level” screen, that is likely to be the last time a child chooses to open it.

Child Friendliness

The Pronoun Party is an extremely safe app for the children to use.  There is no access to the internet or outside sites, no in-app purchases, and no social media.

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

mackthedog
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Follow the down-eared dog called Mack while he searches for his teddy bear and discover 65+ developing nouns for beginning readers at the same time.
4

App Info

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

Overview

The down-eared dog called Mack is looking for his teddy bear. He looks in the sink, in the laundry, in the playroom, and all over the house. In every room, Mack becomes covered with something else. When he finally finds his teddy bear, Mack is a mess. This app combines the delightful story of the down-eared dog with focused noun acquisition activities for kids. Unfortunately, its quality and design make it difficult for it to really accomplish its mission.

Features include:

  • Read to Me option
  • Read to Myself option
  • Animated illustrations
  • Cheery background music
  • Seven learning activities

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’ll find a bright and engaging main screen. Icons invite them to choose between “play story” and “learn”. In the play story mode, kids can opt to “play with audio” or “play with text”. In the learn mode, they can choose from seven levels of basic learning activities. While the app is inviting and appears to offer a lot of value, once kids get into it, they will find it lacks a bit of quality. Inside the story, the narration is dull and is accompanied by a bit of an echo and the animated illustrations are sporadic and not good enough to really capture kids’ interest.

Education

The app has two main features designed to help kids learn – the story itself and the seven levels of language activities. The story itself is cute and kids who read it will enjoy it. However, the narration and text on the screen is a bit hard to follow. It could be improved by adding text highlighting (particularly for the target nouns the developer wishes to emphasize), breaking up the text into smaller chunks, and choosing a slightly larger font size. The learning activities do have some learning potential. Kids will learn high-frequency nouns and how to group words by functions, categories, and parts. However, a few of the activities could use some improvement. For example, the “Identifying Nouns” activity asks kids to name an object, but just assumes that what they said was correct and does not track their scores. Playing with an adult can remedy this solution, but does not make the app ideal for children who wish to play on their own.

Entertainment

While the story is cute and may capture kids’ attention, the narration and illustrations won’t help. They’re both a bit lackluster and may keep kids from reading through the entire thing. The activities, while created with good intentions, are also a bit lackluster. Kids simply listen to the instructions and tap on the correct image, which can get a bit boring after a few rounds.

Value

The app is priced comparably to other interactive eBooks. It also offers seven focused learning activities which help add to its value. However, parents should consider the quality of the app and the usefulness of the activities before downloading.

Child Friendliness

Aside from the ability to turn off the sound, kids are focused completely on the story and learning activities. The developer has not included any parent area or additional apps.

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

creApp
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
CreAPPcuentos is a creative story building app that is perfect for your imaginative story teller at home. With loads of stickers, narration features, and puzzles too, this app is great for children of all ages!
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

CreAPPcuentos is a fun story creating app that allows children to use various stickers, images, themes, and background music to create imaginative and exciting stories of all kinds. With options to record your voice, add text, and lots of images and stickers to choose from, this story creator app is one children of all ages can enjoy.

Features include:

  • Puzzles
  • Stickers
  • Audio record
  • Story creator

Quality

CreAPPcuentos is an app that offers children an opportunity to create their own stories with loads of stickers, images, text, and music. The images used throughout the app are very well done and give little creators lots of freedom in creating awesome stories that they can share with friends and family. The user interface is also quite easy to use with simple drag and drop functions to add stickers and pictures to the story, however some of the more advanced features (voice recording and creating a visual recording of the story) might be a challenge for younger users. With that said, overall the quality of the app is very good.

Education

While this isn’t your typical educational app, it does offer children a chance to get creative and with a bit of support they can learn how to structure a story with fun characters, an engaging plot, and outcome. Adding text and voice narration is also a great feature that allows children to practice typing and reading as they play along. The developers have also included a puzzle feature that allows players to use their problem solving skills to complete and design their own puzzles which is great.

Entertainment

For naturally creative children this app is a ton of fun. With essentially a blank canvas to create fun stories, add music, and narration children are going to love writing, narrating and sharing their stories with friends and family. The ‘design your own puzzle’ function allows children to create a scene and turn it into a puzzle to complete adding another activity for players to enjoy.

Value

The basic version of this app is absolutely free and it includes one pirate-themed sticker pack that allows children to create their own pirate story. Additional sticker packs are available through in-app purchases that offer more options including princesses, robots, superheroes, animals etc. and an option to unlock all of the packs for just under ten dollars (individual packs are $1.99). This allows parents and children to try the app for free and if they like what they see, they can choose to purchase additional packs which is a great idea.

Child Friendliness

While there are some in-app purchases that can be seen within the app, the developers have done a nice job of keeping them protected links. The user interface is also pretty easy to use and the developers have included a bit of a ‘how to’ guide, but it’s a bit buried and not easy for young children to follow. Some of the more advanced features (recording, adding text etc.) might require the assistance of a parent or teacher, however adding a ‘how to’ video might be easier for children to understand.

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

fred
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Follow Sleepy Fred as he gets ready for bed in this cute rhyming story for kids.
4

App Info

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

Overview

Sleepy Fred wants to go to bed, but before he does, he has a lot of tasks to complete. With a “scurry-hurry, scurry-hurry, quack quack quack,” will he get them all done before he falls asleep? This rhyming book takes kids through Sleepy Fred’s traditional bedtime routine and helps build their early reading skills at the same time. The cute story line and colorful illustrations along with the vocabulary and comprehension activities will help engage kids and make building their reading skills fun.

Features include:

  • Read with Text
  • Read with Audio
  • Animated illustrations
  • Vocabulary and comprehension activities

Quality

The story of Sleepy Fred is a cute one with well-placed rhymes to get kids’ attention and help them read along. The story itself does contain a few errors in capitalization and punctuation. While these will largely go unnoticed by the book’s young audience, developers still should’ve taken the time to get it right. The story also lacks voice audio prompts on the main screen which may make it difficult for kids to get to the audio version of the text or a particular comprehension activity. Within the text itself, kids will find cute pictures of Sleepy Fred and his mom. These pictures contain a small amount of animation, such as a clock ticking and a bee flying, but the level of animation could be increased or made interactive for a more engaging experience.

Education

The app bills itself as an app for early language development, however it lacks many features that support language development. For example, there is no text highlighting in the audio version of the story and the comprehension activities lack text to help kids truly build their beginning vocabulary skills. For example, the first activity, labeled “Matching Nouns,” shows kids a picture and instructs them to “Find one like this” in the picture from the story. While all of the items in the pictures are recognizable (plants, cups, bananas, etc.), it would vastly improve the app to say the name of the object at some point during the activity. This isn’t to say that the activities are bad, just that they could be improved. Some of them, such as identifying functions, identifying categories, and identifying parts of an object or animal are good activities to help kids learn to look at objects in new ways.

Entertainment

The story itself is what will engage the kids the most. It is a cute story with a fun repeating rhyme on every other page that will hook kids’ attention. The activities, while simple, are also the type of activities that beginning learners seem to enjoy.

Value

This app is priced slightly higher than other ebooks, many of which are more interactive and of a higher quality than this one. While the story is engaging and kids will like the vocabulary activities, the app doesn’t have an extended value. Once kids have read through it all, they’re not very likely to pick it up again.

Child Friendliness

Aside from the lack of audio narration on the main screen, the app earns points for child friendliness. It does not contain any ads, social media, or even a settings screen that will pull kids’ attention away from the story and activities.

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

funnydirections
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Funny Directions by Speecharoo uses silly sound effects and amusing animations to reward kids for following directions.
4.1

App Info

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

Overview

Funny Directions helps kids build word recognition skills and learn to follow directions in silly ways. Kids can follow one, two, and three-step directions at the park, at the beach, in the classroom, and in the bedroom. Some of the directions are practical, such as “open the backpack and place the pencil in the backpack.” Other directions are silly, such as “tickle the mouse.” When kids correctly follow the directions, they’re rewarded with animated illustrations and silly sound effects. Kids may not always listen when a parent tells them to do something, but they’ll definitely follow the directions in this app!

Features include:

  • Four settings
  • 1, 2, and 3-step directions
  • Voice and text commands
  • Animated illustrations
  • Funny sound effects

Quality

The main screen of the app features four different settings (beach, park, classroom, bedroom) and next to each setting are three balloons labeled 1, 2, and 3. The numbers on the balloons represent how many steps kids will have to follow. When kids tap on one of the numbered balloons they’re taken to an illustrated scene and are given a set of directions. All directions are displayed at the top of the screen and read-aloud. Parents can turn off the text or voice directions by tapping on the settings icon. While the sounds and text in the app are clear, they lack a bit of quality and polish. For example, there’s a bit of an echo-y feel to the directions and the sound effects. Overall, however, kids will have an easy time navigating the app.

Education

One of the developer’s goals is to help kids build their word recognition skills and learn multiple parts of speech. This is particularly clear in the two-step and three-step instructions which require kids to complete more actions and move objects in multiple ways. All three levels of instructions help improve kids’ auditory skills as well, requiring them to listen closely to ensure they follow the directions carefully.

Entertainment

While listening to mom or dad can be unpleasant at times, following directions in Funny Directions is always fun. This is because when kids follow directions they’re rewarded with silly sound effects and animations. These range from a car racing around a room to a frog riding a skateboard and from dancing shoes to barking and jumping dogs. When kids complete all directions for a level, they’re given the chance to pop balloons, making the app even more fun.

Value

Aside from the slight lack of quality in the audio and overall lack of polish in the app, Funny Directions proves to be a good choice for young children. Toddlers, preschoolers, and even kids in kindergarten are likely to enjoy this app.

Child Friendliness

Aside from a basic settings screen, the majority of the app is child-friendly and easy for kids to navigate. At the end of every level, however, an “e-mail results” button appears at the top of the screen and allows kids to e-mail their score report to any e-mail address. This option, while nice for parents, should be protected by a parental block.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “e-mail results” option

ibbleobble
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Words with Ibbleobble is an educational vocabulary app to teach children a wide variety of new words using fun images and illustrations.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Words with Ibbleobble is a cute vocabulary app that helps children learn a variety of new words by associating them with images and fun illustrations. With words ranging by topic and characters, players are exposed to a wide variety of vocabulary words and pictures with the option to play using one of three difficulty levels.

Features include:

  • 3 Difficulty levels
  • 7 Word categories
  • 100s of vocabulary words

Quality

The developers have done a great job overall creating an app with lots of great images and illustrations. The pictures associated with each word are well done and the character illustrations are engaging and fun for kids. The overall set up of the app is a simple concept, however for younger children who are just learning to read, the words and phrases might be a bit tough to understand. Providing a narration option would be a great way to assist early readers and enhance their learning experience.

Education

The main idea behind this app is to expose children to a wide variety of vocabulary words. Within each game, pictures pop up and children must select the correct word or phrase to describe the picture. While the concept makes sense it can be a bit difficult for early readers to learn the new words without a narration option. Adding narration or changing the method used within the app by providing a narrated word and allowing players to choose from a selection of images might make more sense.

Another thing that parents will want to know is that American English isn’t used throughout the app and words like ‘bum’ and ‘wheelie bin’ are used instead. Adding an American English option would be helpful and would add a bit more value to the app over all, as would adding the narration opportunity.

Entertainment

While the object of the app is to learn a variety of new words, children will be having fun as they play as well. With 7 categories and 3 difficulty levels to explore, players who enjoy a good challenge are going to enjoy trying to beat their high score. There is also a reward system of sorts included that offers points for each category based on the favorite items of the character selected. With that said, adding one or two additional games would definitely add a bit more fun and engagement to the app and would keep children coming back for more.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars, this app isn’t one that will break the bank and it offers lots of vocabulary words for children to learn. Adding narration and the option for American English to be used, would definitely increase the value of the app overall.

Child Friendliness

While the app is designed to help children learn a variety of new words, it can be difficult for early readers to follow along with the words since there isn’t a narration option. Adding this option or offering the word (via narration) and asking children to select the correct picture would increase the usability of the app and make it much easier for early readers to use.

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

crayoladj
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
It's time for a dance party with Crayola DJ where kids put their DJ skills to the test as they mix tracks and sound effects to create sweet beats.
4

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 1
Download on the App Store

Overview

Do you have a budding DJ or music lover in your house? If so, check out Crayola DJ, a fun music app that gives kids a chance to put their DJing skills to the test. Kids can mix tracks from different genres, including Hip Hop, Fusion, and Holiday, with fun sound effects to create some club-worthy beats. They can also take their skills to a dance party where they compete solo or against a friend to see who has the top beat-making skills. While the goal of the dance party is to earn points by performing different tricks and mixing unique sounds, kids have free reign to create the kinds of beats they want to hear.

Features include:

  • Different genres of music
  • Crazy sound effects
  • Tempo and volume controls
  • Recording ability
  • One and two-player dance party

Quality

Two turntables and a bunch of buttons greet kids when they first open Crayola DJ. While they’ll be able to pick out some beats and find a way to make a bunch of noise from the start, they will want to tap on the settings icon and opt to begin the tutorial to really understand how the app works. Once kids know how to navigate the app’s features, they’ll find that they all work fairly well. Each turntable focuses on a different type of track and kids can add multiple tracks to each turntable. They can also add sound effects on top of the tracks. Kids will want to test out all of the sound effects and tracks individually before getting too far into the mixing process as it can be hard to hear some of the subtle sounds when a bunch of them are playing at the same time.

When it comes to the dance party game, kids are given a set period of time to try and score as many points as possible. It’s not immediately clear how kids earn points during the dance party which can lead to a bit of frustration, but most kids will focus more on creating and recording a fun beat than actually trying to set a high score in the game.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Parents should break out their ear plugs because kids will be playing a lot of loud, upbeat music as they interact with Crayola DJ. Some of their beats will be surprisingly catchy while others will be incredibly jarring. What’s most important though is that kids will have a lot of fun mixing tracks with sound effects to create their own musical masterpieces. During the dance party, kids can record their beats and save them to play back later. Those that choose to play the game aspect of the dance party may become a bit frustrated though since figuring out how to earn points can be a bit difficult.

Value

Considering all kids can do is mix tracks to create beats, the price of the app is a bit high. However, the app offers appeal to a wide range of kids, from early to upper elementary school, making it a good choice for families with kids of multiple ages.

Child Friendliness

With its peppy beats and dance parties, the app definitely trends a bit older. All of the graphics and sounds are appropriate for kids of any age, but parents may not want younger kids to experience the club vibe in the app until they are a little older. The app also contains a protected parent info section and a protected “rate us” icon, both contained within the settings.

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

historyforkids
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Child Friendly
Summary
Travel back in time and get an overview of the major time periods and events in world history with History for Kids, an animated eBook narrated by kids for kids.
4

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 1
Download on the App Store

Overview

From early history to the first man on the moon, History For Kids takes kids on a tour of some of the major events in world history. This animated, interactive ebook features kid narrators reading a short book about history and pop-up facts about each major period. Some of the periods covered include the beginning of the Earth, the first humans, the foundation of Rome, and the French Revolution. While the app lacks a bit of polish and does not have the quality of similarly priced apps, it does offer a fun way to get kids interested in history.

Features include:

  • Narrated text
  • Pop-up facts
  • Animated illustrations
  • Timeline of key events

Quality

The main issue in the app is its quality. While it offers features such as icons to help kids navigate from page to page, audio narration, and interactive animations, many of the elements come with rough edges. For example, the text and fact boxes on the screen often awkwardly cover some of the illustrations and can occasionally be difficult to read. If kids opt to listen to the narration, they’ll notice that the kids’ voices do not always move in sync with their lips and their lips often keep moving long after the narration has ended. Some of the interactive illustrations have issues too. For example, a play button directs kids to start the volcano, but does not disappear once the lava starts flowing, causing a distraction and partially covering the lava flowing on the screen.

Features such as the timelines at the top and bottom of the screen and instructions screen show that developers want the app to be educational and easy for kids to use. They simply need to spend a little more time refining its features to make it a top-quality app.

Education

This book takes kids on a journey through the major events of history. Each page contains a basic overview of the period. Kids can then tap on the magnifying glass to display more specific facts. Some of the pages are loaded with additional facts, while others only offer one or two pieces of information. Kids can tap to hear the narrators read the text on each page and/or tap on the open book to display the text on the screen so they can read along. The text does contain a few errors, such as plurals missing the final -s, which kids may point out.

Entertainment

As kids read through the book, they’ll find a few interactive illustrations hidden within the pages. For example, they can erupt a volcano, make a balloon float through the sky, and drop an apple on the narrator’s head. There are also sound effects spread throughout the story that relate to the content. While the illustrations in the story lack a bit of polish, they’re designed to be very kid-friendly, using bright colors and styles that will help get kids interested in the story.

Value

Even though the app contains a large amount of information, it is priced higher than your average ebook. Add in the lack of polish and this app would be a much better value at a much lower price point. Still, homeschool parents or teachers looking for something different to spice up their history curriculum may find it is worth a download.

Child Friendliness

Icons are clearly displayed to help kids move from page to page. All of the information contained within the app is child appropriate. There is a non-protected parent information page that simply contains basic developer information and an image displaying more apps to purchase. However, there are no active links within the app.

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

colors
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
A delightful little tale about crayons provides positive messages about self-acceptance and self-confidence for kids.
4.1

App Info

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

Overview

Does your child have a favorite color? In All Different Colors green is clearly Matt’s favorite color and that causes the other crayons to feel left out, especially gray. While the others have worn down tips, gray’s tip is still nice and pointy. As kids read through this animated picture book, they get to experience gray’s feelings as the other crayons are chosen one by one. Will gray ever get its chance? Kids will have to read to find out.

Features include:

  • Animated illustrations
  • Narrated text
  • Page-to-page navigation
  • Relatable story

Quality

The main downside to All Different Colors is the ebook’s lack of polish. While it offers animated illustrations, some of the animations are bit random, while others are difficult to spot. The book also features an amateurish narrator who occasionally misreads the text and could add a bit more distinction to the characters’ voices. However, the app does offer a few quality elements, such as an index of pages, page-by-page navigation, and delightful background music.

Education

Kids will benefit most from the book’s focus on socio-emotional skills. As they listen to the story, they’ll learn how to handle what it feels like to be left out and to not be accepted. They’ll encounter subtle discussions about self-confidence and self-acceptance. However, since the book lacks text highlighting and has a few issues with narration, it is not ideal for teaching reading skills.

Entertainment

As kids read through the story, they’ll be entertained by the fun illustrations and cartoonish crayons. Each page features a few animated illustrations to add a bit more excitement to the story, but kids may wish there were a bit more. Overall, the story is a cute read that most kids will enjoy, but likely not something they’ll feel enticed to pick up again and again.

Value

The app is priced similarly to other animated ebooks for kids, but lacks many of the traditional ebook features (text highlighting, read to myself option, seasoned narrator). As a result, it does not offer a strong value at its current price.

Child Friendliness

Kids will find that the book is easy to navigate. All of the lessons in the book are appropriate. There is no parental area or other info screen to take kids away from the story.

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

clangers
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Explore the Clangers' planet through a series of games and activities designed for young kids to enjoy.
4

App Info

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

Overview

The Clangers have brought their planet to the smartphones and tablets of Earth. These pink, mouse-like creatures, may seem a bit odd to those who have not experienced their children’s show on the BBC, CBeebies and Sprout, but for those who are familiar with The Clangers, the app will seem very familiar. As kids spin around the Clangers’ planet, they get to interact with Mother, Small, Major, Tiny, and Granny in a selection of simple games and activities.

Features include:

  • 3D, spinnable world
  • Popular Clangers characters
  • Multiple games and activities
  • Available in UK and US English

Quality

Fans of the Clangers series will note that the app captures the feel of the series well. Kids will recognize similar background music and narration. The app also features a rotating planet that kids can move to locate the different activities. At times the planet moves a little too fast, so kids must be prepared to go back and forth a few times to get to the activity they want. Once within the activities, verbal and non-verbal instructions help kids understand what to do. Some of the activities work well, while others, such as the pea gathering and shape shifting can frustrate kids because they are too sensitive and make it hard for kids to complete the tasks.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

One of the most entertaining aspects of the app is the ability to spin the planet. As kids spin it around they’ll find different characters and activities to enjoy. The activities themselves are fairly simplistic. In one activity, kids simply open doors to find characters in a game of hide and seek. In another, they listen to a bunch of Eggbots make sounds and must work to repeat the tunes they play. All of the games are fairly intuitive and designed so that even toddlers can enjoy them.

Value

Parents of young Clangers fans will find a lot of value in this app that lets kids interact with their favorite characters. For those unfamiliar with the Clangers, the app’s simplistic games and activities compare to those found in a much lower-priced app.

Child Friendliness

Toddlers and preschoolers will find themselves spinning the planet and enjoying the various activities contained within the app. There is a “More Apps” button that bounces up and down in the bottom corner of the screen, but parents can turn it off in the protected parent area.

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

saveyourplanet
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Save Your Planet Kids is a fun educational app that teaches children simple ways they can work to conserve water, energy and save the planet.
3.9

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Save Your Planet Kids is a simple app that teaches children how to care for the planet with music, interactive activities, and coloring pages. Everything from recycling to conserving energy and water are covered in this eco-friendly app and teaches children skills they can begin to apply in their own homes to help save the planet.

Features include:

  • Coloring pages
  • Music room
  • 6 Interactive activities

Quality

Save Your Planet Kids is a simple app with 3D images and illustrations and fun songs and sound effects that children will love. With simple tap and touch technology through out and narration options as well, this app is easy to use for children of all ages. Overall the developers have done a nice job creating a good quality educational app.

Education

Save Your Planet Kids is a great app that teaches children how to save the planet by recycling and conserving water and energy. With six different activities to explore players get to help each character do their part to protect the planet. Not only are these activities educational concepts that are important for children to learn, but they are also things that children can apply in their own lives by turning off the water why they brush their teeth and recycling the appropriate materials.

Entertainment

In addition to the educational activities included in this app, children have an opportunity to enjoy coloring pages as well as a music room. The music room provides musical ducks and birds that can be used to create unique songs and tunes. While the coloring pages allow children to choose from various images and lots of colors, the quality of the coloring could use some work. The colors show up very faint and it’s quite difficult to stay within the lines no matter the size of the utensil.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars, this app isn’t going to break the bank. When you consider the educational material and the additional activities, it really is a good deal.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job of keeping the app easy to use for children of all ages. With simple tap and touch functioning and arrows to help children if they get stuck, this app is one that children can play on their own without a ton of instruction. And while the parents section is protected, the option to share the coloring pages is not and allows access to social media pages and email. This section should really be protected especially since this app is aimed at young users.

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

image (17)
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Quizlet is a great tool for older students to use for memorizing and studying rote information from their own flashcards, their teacher’s sets, or even sets of flashcards created by other students in similar classes.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4

Download on the App Store

Overview

Quizlet gives users access to millions of flashcards created by other users and organized by topic and class.  The app allows users to create their own sets of flashcards, as well, and share with others or keep private.  Users can opt to have most flashcards read aloud, and there are matching games to help students practice the info.

Features include:

  • Millions of sets of flashcards
  • Practice with games
  • Create your own flashcards
  • Study any time and any place
  • See and hear information

Quality

Quizlet is a high quality app that will help students practice nearly any content.  The app is easy to use, with searchable sets of flashcards and the capability of creating assignments for classes and even password protected information.  Students can use flashcards created by others or make their own.

Education

This app is a great asset to students learning any material that can be presented on two-sided flashcards, ranging from vocabulary through translations, and even to questions and short answers.  The app allows users to access Quizlet’s larger website easily from any device.  The advantage here is that hundreds of thousands of people world-wide have already taken advantage of this learning tool and created literally millions of sets of flashcards on nearly any topic imaginable.  The sets of existing cards, predictably, are of variable quality so users may need to check out several different sets to find one that meets their needs.  With so many available, chances are very good that someone has needed the same information that your student needs now and has already created cards that will help others learn the material.  The app will even read or pronounce the material on the card, or users can add short audio files to cards if desired.

Quizlet cards are two-sided flashcards.  There are many ways to use the learning tool, including putting a word on one side and a definition or translation on the other, writing a sentence with missing words on one side and the answers on the other, or writing the beginning of a statement or fact on one side and the ending on the other.  Learn the material by reviewing these virtual flashcards-try to recall the matching information on the other side of the card.  Once the information is in your short-term memory, practice with one of several matching games where cards are presented in random order and users need to identify the matching information for each.

Finally, teachers and even students can set up an account on Quizlet and create custom-designed cards that cover exactly the material needed.  These cards can be completely private, password protected, or shared with the larger community to become part of the huge collection.  It would be easy to create materials for a class and then give access just to class members.

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

Quizlet is a great value!  It’s free to use and can be accessed with the app or on the internet.  With millions of ready-made flashcards, there is something that will meet nearly any educational need.  The capability to make flashcard sets is also a real plus, since users can create customized sets that are tailored to their precise needs.  Users can choose to upgrade their access to Quizlet and gain additional organizational tools and flashcard creation tools, but the information about this option is just at the website, not in the app itself.

Child Friendliness

Parents or teachers should carefully monitor use of Quizlet by children under the age of 13.  If they use the app anonymously, there still can be questionable content on cards, since this is not monitored by the developers.  For example, a simple search for “pornography” turned up dozens of sets of flashcards focused on scholarly vocabulary for related collegiate psychology and legal classes.  I saw nothing beyond definitions of terms, but there is no way to check all of the sets.  Creative children could likely find (or post) things that aren’t quite so legitimate if they are not supervised.  There is provision to get parental permission to set up an account, if desired, for younger users.

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

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