4 stars – very good apps

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Missing Friend-Lite is a cute ebook that features the Icky Mr. Fox and his friends (who star in several other apps). The story is cute and engaging, the illustrations are fun, and the book has a nice level of interactivity.
4.3

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

This ebook tells an engaging story of the kidnapped Mr. Mole and Mr. Rabbit’s daring rescue from Icky Mr. Fox. It features interactive pages, vocabulary-building labels, and narration for all text.

Features include:

  • Quirky scenes and characters
  • Narration of all pages
  • Interactive pages activated with taps and swipes
  • Tap objects to get their names

Quality

Missing Friend – Lite is a high quality ebook app that is designed for the very young. The app tells a fun and engaging story, and the illustrations are delightful. Each page has at least an interactive labeling system which allows children to tap pictures and see/hear their names. Some pages have other interactions as well.

Education

This ebook is great for prereaders-the story is entertaining and the interactions are not overwhelming. Developers did a good job of embedding items with unusual names that will be outside of most children’s working vocabulary, such as diamonds and shards buried in the ground. However, there are some things that seem to be somewhat gratuitous, such as aliens and spaceships that float through with no connection to the story.  These could be more of a distraction than a help.  It would also be nice if there was an option to turn the narration off for slightly older kids, or those attempting to read on their own.

Entertainment

This e-book is engaging and fun, and the illustrations are fabulous.  They are whimsical, yet clear and appropriate for the very young.  Though the story includes some misdeeds by the “Icky Mr. Fox,” there is no violence, just a healthy dose of humor and suspense.

Value

The Lite version of this app is free in the App Store, but parents should be aware that there are outside advertisements that show before the book starts.  There is another version of the app (available at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/missing-friend/id1236379583?mt=8) that costs $1.99 but is ad-free.  Parents may well feel that the paid version of the app is worth the cost to upgrade.

Child Friendliness

This app includes protected but visible links to other apps, social media, and an in-app purchase.  Ideally, these things should be behind a parent gate and not visible to the children.  Furthermore, the Lite version of the app displays third-party advertisements with unprotected links to the advertiser’s page in an open web browser. These aspects make it difficult to recommend this app for child friendliness, and parents will want to supervise its use closely. Concerned parents do have the option of purchasing the ad-free version for a small fee.

  • YES more apps (protected, but visible)
  • YES Social Media (protected, but visible)
  • YES in-app purchase (protected, but visible)
  • YES 3rd party advertisements, unprotected links to the web

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Incredibox is a music exploration program that allows users to create beatbox mixes based on one of four basic tunes. The app promotes creativity and experimentation, and users can share their creations with others on the developers’ website.
4.3

App Info

Price: $3.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Incredibox allows users to control a band of “beatboxers” who make a variety of sounds that can be put together to create short musical clips. Drag accessories to the characters, and they will begin to make a matching sound. Creations can be recorded and shared, and the app includes unlockable hints and tips to improve the mixes.

Features include:

  • Includes 7 beatboxers (7 part music)
  • Includes 15 sounds to have the beatboxers make
  • Includes 4 base songs to modify and mix
  • Record tracks
  • Share tracks on the website

Quality

Incredibox is a high quality app that works very well and is quite intuitive to use. There are several nuanced ways to use the singers, such as creating solos or pausing them. Users can save their creations on the developers’ website, as well as share the link to them through social media or email. There is a short tutorial that clarifies the niceties of the app.

Education

This app is not really intended to be educational, but some students may enjoy creating introductory or background music for class presentations.

Entertainment

Incredibox will be highly entertaining for aspiring DJs or beatboxers and for anyone who enjoys mixing music tracks. However, if a user is not inclined in that direction already, the app is likely to lose its interesting shine relatively quickly. It takes a person with inclination and talent to explore the possibilities and to discern one mix of beatboxing from another.  So if you (or your child) have an interest or inclination this direction, the app will be a worthwhile investment. Interested parents or users can try the app for free online on their computers at http://incredibox.com.

Value

This app sells for $3.99 in the App Store, which seems a little pricy compared to similar apps. I would recommend that new users try the online version for free to see if it will have lasting value, then consider purchasing for iPad if it meets your expectations.

Child Friendliness

Incredibox is not particularly child-friendly. There are unprotected links to the internet and to various social media sites, as well as public sharing of user name and digital creation

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

Autism Games 4 Matching

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help kids with autism learn new words, colors, letters, and numbers with a series of simple matching games in Autism Games 4 Matching.
4

Overview

Autism Games 4 Matching offers a series of matching activities for kids with autism. Designed by a professional, the app is focused on helping kids with autism learn basic information, such as letters, numbers, shape and color recognition, and common words. This app is designed largely to be used by adults with kids, rather than having kids use it on their own.

Features include:

  • Themed categories
  • 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, and sequence matching
  • Instructions for adults
  • Non-flashy interface

Quality

One of the first things you may notice about the app is that it’s designed with a lot of white space. Also, the app has been designed more for adults to use with children than for children to use on their own. It has a more formal interface with a lot of teacher-facing or professional-facing instructions. The activities themselves are very simple, but they do offer demonstrations where necessary. One thing the app lacks is the ability to get back to the main screen while in a matching game.

Education

Kids can play a series of matching games within the app. They can choose from five different categories: shapes, letters, words, numbers, and pictures. Within each category are additional options, such as 1:1, 1:2, or 1:3 matching and sequencing activities (for letters and numbers). The app would benefit from audio instructions or captions for the different objects kids can match. However, since this app is largely designed to be used with an adult, the adult can provide that audio.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

The app is fairly simple. It also seems a bit expensive for what it offers. However, professionals and parents may find it appropriate for certain kids with autism.

Child Friendliness

On the opening screen and matching games screen, kids can click on the developer’s icon which gives them access to the developer’s website. Otherwise, the app is free from ads and other content designed to take kids’ attention away from it.

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

The Sweet Little Monster

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Tilt your device to collect the colored monsters in The Sweet Little Monster, a simple game for kids.
4

App Info

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

Overview

Can you move the monster so that you only collect the falling monsters in the right color? That’s the premise of The Sweet Little Monster, a simple game that has kids tilt their devices to play.
Features include:

  • Tilt technology
  • Fun monster game
  • Connection to Game Center
  • High score tracking

Quality

There’s not a lot to the app. Unfortunately, it’s still a little confusing to figure out how to play it. To move the monster, kids have to tilt their devices. This may not be obvious at first and can lead to some frustration. Their overall goal is to collect the objects of the color designated at the top of the screen. At the end of each round, their score is shown and buttons make it easy for them to play again. The app does feature ads and asks kids to sign into Game Center when they start it.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

The Sweet Little Monster is a very simple game, but it will still be fun for kids once they figure out how to play. What’s most fun is that rather than tapping the screen, kids have to tilt the device to make the monster move.

Value

The app is free to download, but the free version comes with ads. Parents can make an in-app purchase to remove the ads for a small fee. If kids enjoy the game, parents may find the fee worth it to gain an ad-free game.

Child Friendliness

On the main screen of hte app, kids will see an icon to share the app via e-mail or any relevant social media apps the device has loaded on it. The app also contains ads which appear in between rounds and can be removed via an in-app purchase. A button to do this is found in the settings section and access is not protected. Kids can also log in to Game Center to compete against their friends.

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

Fregger's Play: Learn to Code in 3D

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help kids learn to code and encourage them to create their own games with Fregger's Play: Learn to Code in 3D.
4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 2
Download on the App Store

Overview

Fregger’s Play aims to introduce kids to coding by allowing them to create worlds and interact with different scenes. Kids can add natural elements, buildings, and characters, as well as create their own rules for the environment. The app also offers ideas for stories and main characters to help get kids started.

Features include:

  • Build your own world
  • Play with different characters
  • Make up creative stories
  • Come up with your own rules

Quality

When kids open the app, they’re shown a screen with a plus sign that allows them to create a new world. They also see a few pre-created worlds off to the side. Once kids opt to create their own world, all of the items they can add are laid out through a series of icons and image collections on the side of the screen. Once kids place an object, they can decide what it does and when it does it. The list of options is large and may be a little overwhelming for young kids. The app doesn’t offer a lot of instructions to help them figure out what to do. Also, while the images and other features seem to be of high quality, the app occasionally closes without warning.

Education

One way the app promotes education is by encouraging creativity in children. The app suggests story lines and main character descriptions to help kids as they build their worlds. Kids must also use logic and reasoning skills to figure out how to play and make objects move.

Entertainment

With so many options and few instructions, the app may prove frustrating for kids who want to access all of its features. Young kids may not actually utilize the coding components and will likely focus on just placing objects in their worlds without adding any functionality to them.

Value

The app is free to download. An in-app purchase allows kids to purchase items to use in the app. This is a one-time purchase and the app offers good value with or without it.

Child Friendliness

Information in the info section of the app takes kids out of the app to external websites. Kids can also send e-mails through the Contact Us link. Thankfully, all of this content is still appropriate for kids, but it would benefit the app to add a parental lock. Additionally, kids can purchase a set of items for the app through an in-app purchase.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Croc’s World Construction Kit allows users not only to play an almost infinite number and variety of levels in this game, but it also offers the tools for ambitious players to create and share their own creative level designs.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Croc’s World Construction Kit is an arcade style game that features the Croc navigating various worlds by running and jumping over obstacles and finding rewards, extra lives, and various other treasures.  Users can create their own unique levels with the construction kit portion of the app, then share them with others by making them public.

Features include:

  • Create new levels for Croc’s World games
  • Choose one of five worlds
  • Add tiles for obstacles and treasures
  • Share levels on the internet
  • Play levels created by others

Quality

Croc’s World Construction Kit is a high quality app that puts the user in the driver’s seat, so to speak. The app operates smoothly and as expected.  The graphics are appropriate for slightly low-resolution retro video game along the lines of older Mario, Sonic, or similar games. Developers may want to consider adding a tutorial for new users who are not yet familiar with the various symbols and options normally available in the game.

Education

While this app is not intended to be educational, there is a lot of value here. Students who build worlds in Croc’s World Construction Kit will be exercising planning, prediction, and spatial skills. Those who play will be nurturing memory, logic, and reasoning skills. While none of these things will automatically help improve grades, they all work together to improve studies in academic areas as well as in writing, since writing requires the same kind of organization and planning as creating a new world in a video game.

Entertainment

Croc’s World Construction Kit is highly entertaining. It’s a great way to take control of the world and offers many options for creating new levels in a popular game. Kids and adults alike will have fun thinking up new challenges and designing new puzzles for themselves, friends, and other users.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it an outstanding value. Whether you enjoy playing new levels (almost an infinite number) or want to design your own, there’s a lot of content here to explore. The app does include 3rd party advertisements, though, which might not be desirable for younger players.

Child Friendliness

This app is not child-friendly. There are 3rd party advertisements, unprotected links to more apps, the internet, and social media.

  • YES more apps
  • YES 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected links
  • YES unprotected social media

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child-Friendly
Summary
Picstagrab – Repost Photos & Videos for Instagram is a handy utility that will simplify and automate the process of grabbing, captioning, and posting photos on your Instagram Account.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Picstagrab is a handy utility that allows users to grab, post and repost pictures from Instagram with or without captions or optional watermarks. The app does a quick search to see if the picture has already been used multiple times, and reminds you to make sure you have permission to use photos owned by others.

Features include:

  • Store list of favorite users and hashtags
  • Share captions, watermarks and more between iOS devices
  • Create and upload captions from your PC through Itunes
  • Easy access to favorites via “recently-viewed” section
  • Easy upload and management

Quality

Picstagrab is a high quality app that will be quite useful to users of Instagram. The app allows users to snag pictures off of the Instagram feed, caption and/or place a watermark, and post. Pull pictures from your camera roll, your feed, and more.  The app reminds users to be sure they have the right to use the photo before posting, and will check and notify users if a photo has been used before.  The one thing it could use is a more detailed tutorial…it can seem pretty bewildering for anyone who is not already an Instagram user.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Instagram users will be thrilled with this app since it simplifies and automates the process of putting up pictures with optional captions and/or watermarks.  The app is easy to use and offers a wealth of creative options.  It definitely would make the job of putting content onto Instagram easier and less time-consuming, making it ideal for both business and personal use.

Value

Picstagrab is free on the App Store, making it a great value.  If you’re not sure if the app is what you need, you can easily try it out for a while with absolutely no risk.  There are optional in-app purchases to remove the various kinds of advertisements, ranging from ninety-nine cents to three dollars and ninety-nine cents.

Child Friendliness

This app is not really intended for children’s use. It has third-party advertisements and at least two unprotected in-app purchases (to remove ads), as well as unprotected ratings pop-ups.

  • YES 3rd party advertisements
  • YES unprotected in-app purchases
  • YES unprotected social media
  • YES unprotected ratings pop-ups
  • YES unprotected links and email

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child-Friendly
Summary
Jumping Miner is a cute arcade-style app that is simple to learn and takes quite a bit of skill to master. Developers have included over 1000 levels, so there is a huge amount of content here for dedicated players.
4.3

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Jumping Miner is a simple arcade game with over 1000 levels to keep players challenged and interested. The basic premise is for players to control the miner’s jumps and runs to collect moons around a spinning planet and avoid hitting dangerous items such as black holes.

Features include:

  • Cute miner figure
  • Funny animations
  • Peppy background music
  • Challenging, varied levels
  • Simple controls

Quality

Jumping Miner is a high quality app, despite its simplicity of use. Developers did a good job of embedding unique challenges within each level, and so keeping players’ interest on a simple game. A word of caution to persons who have trouble with dizziness, though-the world is constantly spinning, and it can change speeds and direction of spin abruptly, which could trigger vertigo in susceptible individuals.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Jumping Miner is an entertaining game.  The set up presents some interesting challenges of timing and directionality (it’s possible for the miner to change directions mid-jump, sending him into a black hole or other obstacle). Each level presents a new challenge, and the world spins at different rates and in different directions, seemingly at random.  I did get a little bit dizzy after a few levels looking at the spinning in different directions. Though I doubt this would be a problem for most people, if a user is prone to that sort of issue, motion sickness, or vertigo, they might want to try the game with care in that regard.  The game did seem to get a little repetitious, though new challenges were presented on each level, all so far involved running and jumping to avoid or hit targets.  I played through level 12, though, so admittedly there might well be other variations in the 1000 or more levels that I did not see.

Value

Jumping Miner is free on the App Store, making it a great value. Users who enjoy arcade-style games that require timing and coordination will definitely enjoy it. Developers also have been quite generous with available levels, so players who enjoy themselves will find a lot of material and content to enjoy for a long time.

Child Friendliness

This app is not child-friendly. There are numerous third-party advertisements, connections to social media and unprotected links to the open internet.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES more apps (visible and unprotected)
  • YES numerous third-party advertisements
  • YES unprotected social media
  • YES unprotected outside links

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
MessagePet is a cute app that will entertain and amuse pet lovers by allowing owners to send and receive messages as their pet. Imagine putting your pet’s words, wants and wishes out for the entire world to see (or at least your connections through the app). It’s social media for pets!
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

MessagePet is a self-contained messenger app that allows users to communicate with connections via text messages without incurring data usage or message costs. Users can also set up subaccounts for their pets (2 on the free version and 15 on the paid version) that will allow the pet to send and receive “messages.”

Features include:

  • Free on the App Store
  • Easy to set upEasy to use
  • Send messages from your pets and receive from others’ pets
  • Connect with other pet owners on the app’s sharing system

Quality

MessagePet is easy to use and could be a lot of fun. Let personalities shine using multiple pet profiles as well as your own. Pets can “chat,” take selfies, and more. The app includes a brief tutorial that is helpful in set up and getting started.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Nearly every pet owner enjoys imagining what their pet would say or making comments on their behalf. Now you can take the game a step higher by letting your pet send texts to your contacts within the app. Pets can talk about their current situation, their thoughts on life, or anything else you can dream up.  You can attach photos to the messages, so your pet can “send a selfie.” The game could be quite entertaining, especially for friends and family members who are distant and miss a favorite animal, such as a child away at college.

The app also offers connections with other app users via a posting board where you can “like” and “follow” others. Users may find some like-minded pet owners there and make friends in the real world.

Value

This app is free on the App Store. The free version allows you to set up two pet profiles in addition to your own, which will be plenty for most people.  In order to message others, though, both parties need to have the app installed on their devices. Once that’s set up, you can message as much as you want.

Child Friendliness

This app has unprotected in-app purchases, as well as third party advertising and the capability to encounter other users of the app.

  • YES unprotected in-app purchases
  • YES 3rd party advertisements
  • YES unprotected social media system

Monkey Stick Crossing

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Can you get the monkeys from tree to tree? Grow your sticks to the right length and see if you can make it in Monkey Stick Crossing.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

Can you grow the sticks to the correct length and get from tree to tree? It’s not as easy as it sounds. In this free game, kids can guide Charlie the Chimp and a host of other primates across the trees. They have to be careful though. A stick that’s too short or too long will cause the primates to fall.

Features include:

  • Improve your high score
  • Collect bananas
  • Purchase upgrades
  • Unlock new monkeys

Quality

On the main screen of the app, kids see a large number of buttons. On the top of the screen, they can purchase an ad-free version of the app, restore any IAPs, and view the leaderboard. On the bottom of the screen, they can access a tutorial, control the sound, and select a monkey. Somewhat ironically, the main monkey is named Charlie Chimp, but he has a tail. Don’t think kids will let that fact slip by! Tapping in the middle of the screen takes kids to the game. Playing the game is fairly simple and the tutorial does a good job of showing kids how it’s done.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

To play the game, kids must grow the stick, and then use it to cross from tree to tree. If the stick is too long or too short, the monkey falls. Then the game ends. Kids will find that the game is fairly easy to learn how to play. However, getting the sticks the right length is a bit trickier. This happens particularly because the width of trees and length between them continually changes. Still, kids will enjoy trying to improve their high score.

Value

An in-app purchase allows kids to play without ads. However, the ads are not very prevalent. In general, the app offers a fun free game for kids. Just make sure purchases from the App Store is password protected.

Child Friendliness

Monkey Stick Crossing features a ton of unprotected in-app purchases. Kids can purchase a version of the app without ads. They can also purchase items to use in the game, such as additional watermelon slices and a chef’s hat. Ads appear at the bottom of the screen while kids play. They also occasionally appear as videos between rounds. However, they are not highly noticeable. An option to invite friends or share your high score via social media appears after each round.

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

Kids Scooter

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Guide the scooter down the road and avoid obstacles with Kids Scooter, a rad scooter-riding game for kids.
4

Overview

Kids Scooter gives kids the chance to practice their scooter skills as they ride through different themes. As they do, they’ll face obstacles that they must jump over. They’ll also get the chance to collect coins. The more they ride, the better they’ll become.

Features include:

  • Choose from multiple themes
  • Jump over obstacles
  • Collect coins
  • Play with different characters

Quality

It’s pretty easy for kids to figure out how to work the app. On the main screen, they’ll see a play button to help them get started. Then they can choose a theme. Only one theme is available at first, but they can unlock others as they play. At the beginning of each round, kids are shown how to move and jump. At times, the app can be a bit slow and jerky. In general, however, it works fairly well.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Kids who like scooters will enjoy helping their character avoid obstacles and ride down the road in this app. The game is accompanied by rock-style music that parents might find loud and obnoxious, but skating fans will love. That, combined with the themes, helps make the game more fun for kids.

Value

It’s free to download and play the game. An in-app purchase allows kids to purchase additional items. However, most of these are not necessary.

Child Friendliness

On the main screen of the app, kids will see icons for more games and rate us options. Tapping on those apps takes them out of the app and into a browser. Ads appear at the bottom of the screen and occasionally pop up between rounds. None of these elements are protected.

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

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Taskmenizer is a stream-lined task management app that is attractive because of its simplicity. It covers the basics of setting up, assigning, and reminding about tasks, and it can attach files to those tasks for sharing.
4.1

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Taskmenizer is a simple-to-use task list and reminder system that will help individuals or teams of any size to get things done on time. Add contacts from your device’s contact list, assign tasks, attach files to tasks, and more.

Features include:

  • Notifications and reminders
  • Individual or group tasks
  • Comment on tasks
  • Share files related to tasks
  • Keep track of your own or the group’s progress

Quality

Taskmenizer is a good app, but it does have a few quirks and drawbacks that might make it less than perfect. Users can set up a group or team using contacts from their phone list, and share tasks with one or many. One very nice feature is the ability to attach a file that is related to the task, such as presentation that needs updated. However, the file size is somewhat limited, so larger presentations/videos/other large files may not work so well. It would be great for documents, though. The app could use a more detailed tutorial to explore all the features and how to use them for those of us who are not inclined to use the “try it and see” method which often takes too much time. I did not see a way to prioritize tasks or to reorder them in the dashboard so that the important ones could be highlighted, and I’m not sure you can easily set up subgroups.  In addition, each team member must put the app on their device and be added to your contact list, which may not be feasible for everyone. One possible glitch that surfaced as I was testing the app is that the task times seem to automatically reset themselves an hour earlier than what I set them to. This happened repeatedly, on both start and ending times.

Education

While this app is not really intended to be educational, it could be useful to students as an organizational tool.  It is very easy to use and very streamlined.  For students who have limited inclination or ability to learn complex systems, it would be a great way to keep track of school assignments and their due dates.

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, so it’s worth a look to see if it meets your needs. On the plus side, it is very simple to use. On the downside, competing apps may have more flexibility and features.  It will depend on your needs and preferences, so take a look and check it out for yourself.

Child Friendliness

This app is relatively child friendly. It does have connection to email and to a third-party app for communication that are unprotected. It may well be a good choice for younger students who need a personal to-do list that is easy to use and streamlined.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES unprotected connection to email and internet

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
PepeLine is a fun tile-slide puzzle that offers hundreds of individual puzzles with a range of difficulty and special effects. There are hints available (for purchase or in exchange for watching advertisements), so players don’t have to give up when they get stuck on a particular level.
4.4

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

PepeLine is a sliding tiles puzzle game suitable for all ages. The app includes 28 levels with sixteen puzzles each. Players must slide tiles to complete a path so that the main characters, Pepe and Line, can happily meet up in the middle.

Features include:

  • Easy game play
  • Lots of levels
  • Puzzle and obstacle variation
  • Variety of board types
  • Special tiles with helpful properties

Quality

PepeLine is a quality app that is fun and easy to play. The app would benefit, though, from a slightly more extensive tutorial video to help those who are unfamiliar with tile slide games. There are also some sound quality issues that could get a bit annoying, most notably static that interferes with the sound effects that play when the unused tiles fall away from the completed path.

Education

This app is not really intended to be educational, but tile slide games, by their very nature, offer a number of skill-strengthening aspects. Tile slide games require quite a bit of logic, planning and prediction. They also nurture visual skills and pattern recognition.  All of these things will strengthen the many foundational skills needed for school success.

Entertainment

PepeLine is loads of fun to play. Developers did a good job of adding twists and challenges at the various levels to keep things interesting, so the game will provide hours and hours of enjoyable recreation.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it a great value.  If parents find the advertisements objectionable, there are in-app purchases to minimize or eliminate them.

Child Friendliness

This app is not particularly child-friendly. There are numerous advertisements ranging from ad banners that are constantly visible to a system where users can access hints to solve levels by watching advertisements.  The app also has unprotected links to more apps, in-app purchases, social media, the Game Center, and more.

  • YES “more apps” unprotected
  • YES unprotected in-app purchases
  • YES unprotected third-party ads
  • YES unprotected access to social media

Little Doggy Run

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Run around the world, get points, and earn items with Little Doggy Run, a fun racing game for kids.
4

App Info

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

Overview

Little Doggy Run gives kids the chance to let their dog run around town. As the dog runs, kids must make him jump, crouch down, or move to the left and right to avoid obstacles. They also have to collect different colored bones. The more bones they collect and the more obstacles they avoid, the more points they earn.

Features include:

  • Race different dogs
  • Avoid obstacles
  • Collect bones
  • Purchase items for your dog

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’re prompted to give their dog a name. The app warns them that they will not be able to change the name, so they should choose one that sticks. The opening of the app also lays out the general structure of the app: go around the world, collect bones, get items. As kids run with their dog, they’ll find that the app responds pretty well. However, it is not the best at quick movements, so kids should make sure they’re prepared to jump, move over, or crouch down. In the settings section, kids can adjust the sound and extra skill level. There are also links to the privacy policy and a few typos.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Little Doggy Run uses two main strategies to entertain kids. First, they can race the dog around the world and earn points. Second, they can use those points to buy items. The items include things like different leashes and even different types of dogs. Once kids get the hang of the game, they’ll have fun seeing how far they can get and how many bones they can collect to help them buy new items.

Value

As a free game, this app has the potential to be fun for kids. Unfortunately, its value is hampered a bit by the large number of ads kids are asked to watch. Kids will also want to buy more coins, but they don’t add a lot of value to the app.

Child Friendliness

When kids are racing, if they hit an obstacle, they’re asked if they want to watch a video to continue. The videos contain third party ads. Kids can also watch videos to earn additional items. In addition to the ads, kids can also purchase additional coin packages through a series of in-app purchase. Access to these purchases is not protected.

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

Mimics

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Gather your friends and make crazy faces while playing a game of Mimics.
4

App Info

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

Overview

Mimics offers a fun online or in-person party game where players get to make crazy faces. The goal of the game is to mimic a crazy picture and get others to guess which face you made. The result is a hilarious game that involves making a lot of funny faces. You might make a fool out of yourself, but you’ll have fun while doing it.

Features include:

  • Play against others online
  • Play against friends in person
  • Make funny faces
  • Connect on social media

Quality

There are two main modes to the game: online and party. In online mode, players can connect with Facebook and sign up for an account. Unfortunately, this part of the app is a bit glitchy and does not always work. However, the party mode works well and considering that it does not involve creating an account, it is the best option for play. In party mode, you can play as part of a 2 player coop or in teams. Player 1 looks away from the screen while Player 2 makes a face, and then Player 2 guesses, and vice versa. The game offers instructions throughout.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

What players will enjoy about this game is the ability to make silly faces. In each round, an animated face is shown and a player must imitate that face. The other player is then shown a selection of animated faces and choose which one the player made. At first, it’s pretty easy, but the faces get trickier as they play. Even if you play alone, you’ll enjoy making all of the crazy faces.

Value

Players can download and play the app for free. You can download a premium version of the app through an in-app purchase. However, for most users, the free version will be enough.

Child Friendliness

On the main screen, players will see icons that allow them to share on different social media accounts. In the setting sections, players can also make an in-app purchase (unprotected) and click on a link to view the developer’s privacy policy. The app also requests access to the camera for taking photos and it stores the photos in an in-game gallery. Players can transfer photos to their device’s photo album or opt to not save photos at all.

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
EZVid is a great free option for a host of video-editing options that will please most amateur enthusiasts. Use it to add a personal touch to video clips before you share them on social media or send them to friends.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

EZVid is a video editing app that offers an array of tools to add pizzazz to videos, including cropping, speed control, frames, borders, and more. Access videos on your device or record from within the app.

Features include:

  • Control timing of features
  • Record video or access from your library
  • Includes a selection of sound effects
  • Custom cropping
  • Edit in multiple ways

Quality

EZVid is a powerful video editing tool that offers many options not usually found in free apps. It includes lots of options including filters, sound effects, framing and bordering, and control of the speed of playback. Developers did a good job of including features that users will enjoy using to customize their productions before sharing on social media or dropping clips into larger works. The app would benefit from a few tweaks, including the ability to pause sound samples without completely shutting down (the pause button doesn’t seem to be working), and perhaps a tutorial or a clear set of directions that instruct users on how to get the most from the system without having to use a lot of trial and error.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

While this app is not really intended to be entertaining so much as utilitarian, developers have opened a world of creative possibilities. Using your own videos and adding features such as those offered with this app will boost anyone’s inventiveness and add life to home recorded videos. The sound effects collection is outstanding, and the app also allows users to pull sound clips from their device’s library (though users should be aware of the copyright rules governing use of these things in any work that will be used commercially or displayed publically, such as on video compilation sites like YouTube).

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it an outstanding value.  There are a lot of advertisements, though. An ad is played between many actions that users want to take, and ads are shown in the margins of many pages. There is an in-app purchase option to remove ads for $3.99.

Child Friendliness

This app shows many outside advertisements and has unprotected in-app purchase opportunities. There is an unprotected connection to email and the app rating system.

  • YES unprotected in-app purchase
  • YES many outside advertisements
  • YES unprotected access to social media and sharing tools

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Mini Militia Army War is a shooting game that pits the user against a horde of enemy soldiers that need to be killed or avoided, using an array of increasingly powerful and impressive weapons.
4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Mini Militia Army War is a shoot-‘em-up war game that pits users against other soldiers. The user is a “wanted man” and must avoid or gun down opposing characters.

Features include:

  • Sound effects
  • 12 levels
  • Optional upgrades of weapons
  • Two characters to choose from
  • Control character using control console on the screen

Quality

Mini Militia Army War is a quality app that seems to work seamlessly, allowing users to move forward, backward and more as they try to destroy opponents and avoid being killed. The graphics, while quite violent, are not particularly realistic, so most young users are not likely to be caught up in problems of distinguishing fact from fiction. It is somewhat difficult (at least it was for me) to use the on-screen joystick that controls the character’s movements-but I’m admittedly not very experienced with this type of game. The game would benefit from an explanation for parents detailing the advantages of play as well as the policy on in-app purchases.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Mini Militia Army War is relatively simplistic as such games go, with a rather one-dimensional storyline for the main character. Level one consists of a forward-backward city street with opponents that come across the screen trying to shoot the main character. The main character can shoot them, lob a grenade, or jump over them.  There are a few obstacles that must be jumped to move past them, and the character can land (or hide) on a few rooftops or alcoves above street level.  The developers note that there are 12 levels with increasingly difficult challenges better weapons, including automatic rifles,  helicopters, and so forth.  These are available in exchange for earned coins in the game or through in-app purchases. Players can also purchase (with real money) an ads-free play experience. The game does connect to social media and the Game Center for competitive play.

Value

This game is free on the App Store, and can be played again and again at least at lower levels by watching advertisements to gain extra lives.

Child Friendliness

This app has numerous in-app purchases and a lot of outside advertisements. There are unprotected links to social media and other websites. The premise of the game is quite violent, and many parents may not believe it is suitable for younger children.

  • YES unprotected in-app purchases
  • YES unprotected connection to social media
  • YES violent themes and imagery
  • YES outside advertisements

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Pick-A-Pic is a simple app that encourages young children to match pictures of common items to their written word names. It’s easy to use and provides both practice and quizzing modes.
3.9

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Pick-A-Pic is an app designed to help very young children learn to match categorized words with simple pictures. Children can review the pictures, hear the words and see them spelled out, then can take a quiz that shows the word and offers a selection of four pictures to choose from to find the match.

Features include:

  • Categorized words (groups of 10)
  • Clear, easy to understand drawings
  • Complete control of background sounds and music
  • Instant feedback during the quiz
  • Five available categories of words

Quality

Pick-A-Pic is a high quality app that will help the very young learn to match printed words with clear pictures of common items in categories such as animals, clothing, fruits and more.  The app is very simple to use and intuitive to play. It provides good, solid practice with the printed version of many common items. Developers did a good job of making the app easy to use and understand. One possible drawback is the level of contrast on some of the pictures.  In the Animals set, the frog is a light green on a slightly different background, which could be very difficult for some children to see, especially if they have any sort of visual impairment.

Education

Pick-A-Pic is intended to teach young children the connection between printed words that name common items and simple pictures.  The app is listed as being intended for use by children under five years of age.  Educators are likely to debate the value of having kids memorize words at that age, and the app is basic enough that it is not likely to interest children who are trying to learn words just a few months later.

The app presents the ten pictures in the group. If a user clicks the picture, a narrator says the name of the item and the word appears below the group of pictures.  After all ten pictures have been presented in this way, the app moves to ‘quiz’ mode. It shows four pictures and a printed instruction to “Find a ___.” Tap the correct picture, and the narrator says the name of the picture and the word “Correct” is displayed. Tap an incorrect picture, and a large red X crosses it out. Completing all ten animals correctly starts a fireworks display with the words “You have found all Animals! Go and try another category!”

One large concern about this app is that it really does little to help young children learn the words. If they can’t already read the prompt sentence (“Find a ___”), then they are quite likely just to guess randomly.  It’s quite possible to page through the initial sequence without seeing or hearing the words, and then landing in the quiz with absolutely no idea what’s going on.

Entertainment

This app is basic, especially the free version.  It does the job it’s intended to do and does it nicely.  However, there’s not much glitz or much to attract children in the age group that it’s intended to be used with.  Correct answers are rewarded with the word, “correct,” but most young children won’t be able to read it.  A correct completion of the entire task (correctly identifying the ten words in the set) will set off fire works, which are a bit more rewarding, but would likely get tiresome after a few views.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it a good value. However, the free version is quite limited, having only one group of words containing ten pictures.  There are four additional groups available, but users must make in-app purchases to use them. If your plan is to simply stick to the free version, there’s not much content here. It is, however, enough that you could judge if your child enjoys it and benefits from it, which makes it a good value.

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly, but it does contain in-app purchases on one of its main pages. If a child taps a word group that you do not already have access to, there is a message to “Ask your parents to buy new category,” and an effective parent gate that requires solution to a complex math problem requiring use of order of operations to solve.

Child Friendly Review

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Clue Story-Interactive Novel with Riddles is a fun mystery story that takes good advantage of the capabilities of technology to blend traditional stories with multimedia and interactive content.
4.2

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Clue Story is an interactive mystery novel that places the user in the role of investigator and main character. Read a chapter at a time, then watch a video and solve a riddle to continue. Hints are available.

Features include:

  • Realistic mystery story
  • Interactive
  • Hints available
  • Video clues
  • Clear instructions

Quality

Clue Story is a good app.  The system presents several screens of text that move the story forward, followed by a video clue and riddle to lead the user to the next chapter. The app works well and is easy to use. Developers included a clear set of directions and some background information about how the story is intended to be used. One downside to the app is that the text is full of grammar errors and awkward constructions. These could perhaps be translation errors, but they do detract from the overall quality of the app in English.

Education

Clue Story is really intended to be more entertaining than educational, but it will challenge students’ reading comprehension and problem solving skills.  Clues are moderately challenging to figure out, and hints are available to keep players from becoming too frustrated.

Teachers and parents should be aware that though the reading level of the novel is relatively low (fifth-sixth grade), the developers’ choice of vocabulary is somewhat more challenging and younger players may need to have a dictionary handy. Words such as “surname,” “prudently,” and “spontaneous” make it more difficult to read than the sheer text complexity measures would indicate.

There also seem to be some instances of innuendo that may not be appropriate for younger readers. For example, one riddle near the beginning references “something a priest has but does not use, that your father has but your mother uses, and that some men have long ones and others have short ones.”  This one would definitely titillate preteens and young teens, until they discover that the real answer has absolutely nothing to do with what they were thinking.

Entertainment

Clue Story is quite entertaining.  Interactive stories such as this one are appealing to anyone who enjoys taking a role in the story, similar to a role playing game or video game, yet this one requires quite a bit of mental gymnastics to keep the story moving.  If players enjoy mysteries, they will find this story well-constructed and enjoyable.

Value

Clue Story is free on the App Store.  There is also a version for Kindle that is free as well.  There are in-app purchases (unprotected except by the user’s App Store password) that range from ninety-nine cents to nearly four dollars to get extra points that can be used to purchase clues to the riddles.

Child Friendliness

This app is not particularly child-friendly. It contains unprotected (and tempting) links to social media and the App Store for in-app purchases, as well as unprotected links to the developers’ website. In addition, there is implied violence and some innuendo that some may consider inappropriate for children.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected social media
  • YES unprotected in-app purchases
  • YES unprotected external links

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
My Postcards: The Postcard & Greeting Cards App is a handy way to send personalized, physical postcards, greeting cards, or photographs to anyone in the world in one simple, easy-to-use system. Send right from your device, and avoid searching, filling out, and mailing your greetings.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

My Postcard: The Postcards & Greeting Cards App allows users to create and send physical postcards and greeting cards to anyone in the world through the postal system. Use your own photographs, design the card, include a personal message, and send your greeting off to anyone.

Features include:

  • Selection of styles
  • Optional frames
  • Earn free credits
  • Order prints if desired

Quality

My Postcard is a high-quality app with lots of options to make your postcard or greeting card unique. The app even lists estimated shipping times to various parts of the world, mostly in a couple of days, but ranging up to a few weeks for remote areas. The instructions are clear and the payment plans and methods are laid out in easy-to-read format.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Unleash your creativity and communicate with loved ones near and far with this app.  After all, who doesn’t like to get real mail once in a while?  The app can access photos from your camera, your device, or Instagram. Once you’ve chosen a picture to work with, you can crop, resize, and add borders. There are also multiple styles of presentation you could choose, including a single picture and various multi-pics.  The app is clear, though-if you need to edit your photo, you need to do that in a different system and then save your photo somewhere that My Postcards can access.  All in all, it’s a fun, personal way to keep in touch.

Value

This app is free to download, but be aware that sending postcards or greeting cards, as well as ordering prints, does cost real money. It is $2.29 to create and send a postcard, and $3.99 to do a greeting card. Greeting cards start at $2.29, and a box of photos starts at $10.99 plus shipping costs. The app accepts Paypal and various credit cards, and users can also earn free credits by convincing friends to sign up for the service.

Child Friendliness

This app is not intended for use by children. It has unprotected social media log ins as well as requiring a credit card or Paypal account for use.

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

Switch Sides

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Try to move your cube to the other side of the path before your energy runs out in Switch Sides, a unique logical thinking app for kids.
4

App Info

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

Overview

Can your kids move the cube to the correct square before their energy runs out? That’s the premise of this unique cube game. Kids use their logic skills to determine the fastest path to the flashing square. As they move, they can look for power ups to help speed the process along. When their energy runs out, the round ends, but they can always try it again.

Features include:

  • Earn gems
  • Build new creature blocks
  • Improve your high score
  • Use logic skills

Quality

Switch sides is a game that has kids roll their cubes to key squares on a game board. While the game doesn’t offer instructions, aside from a flashing square, game play is fairly intuitive. Arrows appear at the bottom of the screen and kids tap them to move the cube. The app responds fairly well to players’ taps. Unfortunately, it also contains a lot of ads. The amount of ads that appear in between rounds and to help kids earn more gems and cubes make the app seem like it is of much lower quality than it actually is.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

To claim prizes within the app, kids are subjected to third party ads. Watching the ads, which advertise different apps, helps kids earn more gems or crystals. Kids use the gems to get different creature blocks within the app. To play the game, kids must move their creature block to designated squares. They only have so much energy with which to do this. The goal is to hit as many special squares as possible before their energy runs out.

Value

The app offers a fun game for kids. It is also a unique game. Unfortunately, game play is frequently interrupted by ads. If kids like the game, purchasing the ad-free version may be worth it.

Child Friendliness

On the main page of the app, kids will find an icon that takes them directly to the developer’s Facebook page. There’s also a “No ads” block that opens up an in-app purchase. Access is not protected to either of these elements. Without the in-app purchase, the app does display ads. These ads appear in between rounds and as a way to help kids earn more gems. Kids can also tap on the settings icon to share the app via e-mail, text messaging, or social media.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
The Turtle, Hare, and Friends Learning Puzzle Race is a free app that features three simple games suitable for toddlers and preschoolers. The app is pleasant, but somewhat limited in scope unless parents make some in-app purchases.
4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

The Turtle, Hare, and Friends Learning Puzzle Race is a selection of preschool games and activities that build basic skills such as counting, following directions, coordination, and listening skills. Players need to follow oral directions to play each game and can play again and again.

Features include:

  • 12 Learning Games (3 in the free version)
  • Builds dexterity, observation, and many other important skills
  • Spoken directions- no need to be a reader
  • Colorful illustrations
  • Peppy background music

Quality

The Turtle, Hare, and Friends Learning Puzzle Race is a high quality app that will help young children build important skills for later academic success. The app is easy for nonreaders to use, and so quite suitable for its audience. There is a protected parents’ area that gives further information about the developers and tells what skills are developed by each game. One fairly large problem I had with some of the games was that the audio/animations did not always keep up with my game play, and sometimes sounds would overlap in a confusing fashion. For example, when “picking carrots,” I was able to dig carrots that did not get counted by the narrator. In the frog-catching game, I caught frogs quickly and the counting narration overlapped with the previous comment, making it quite difficult to hear.

Education

The games provided by The Turtle, Hare, and Friends Learning Puzzle Games are valuable early learning activities. The free version of the app provides access to three games that will help children develop skills such as dexterity, visual closure, observation, counting, and more. However, each game is quite limited in scope. They seem be nearly the same on replay, when more variety on the same task would benefit most children and serve to keep interest longer. For example, the lady bug hide and seek game uses the same mushrooms decorated with dots as hiding places. The mushrooms appear in different spots for each successive round, but they are always the same items. The carrot garden always has 12 carrots, where it could be varied to help children count to different numbers each time.

On the plus side, I do really like the subtle cluing that developers have embedded into some of the games. For example, the hide and seek game features a tricky lady bug that hides behind mushrooms with one to four colored dots. The dots glow and sound a musical tone one by one before the graphics rearrange themselves and challenge children to find the hidden insect behind the mushroom in a new position.

Entertainment

This app will be fun for your toddler or preschooler to play with for at least a little while, but it may not have much staying power in its free form. The three games seem like they could get quite repetitious since there is little variation from round to round. It’s also a bit disingenuous to list 12 games in the app’s description, and not clearly state that nine of these are available as in-app purchases.

Value

A limited version of this app is available for free on the App Store.  This version contains three of the games. Nine more games are available for purchase, costing $1.99 for three more or all nine for $2.99 at a savings of 50%. The in-app purchase options are visible to children, but protected by an effective parent gate for the age group.

Child Friendliness

This app has visible in-app purchases that to a toddler or preschool player may look like available games (they have a lock icon on them and say “preview,” but many young children will not understand those codes).  These should be less tempting for young children.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Light Medley is a simple and repetitive game that challenges players’ memory, attention, and sequencing skills. Each level presents one more light in the series that must be duplicated, creating an on-going challenge to improve the score.
4.2

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Light Medley is a visual and auditory memory and sequencing game in the style of Hasbro’s electronic Simon game. Players are challenged to recall sequences of increasing length and complexity and aided by the graphics’ position, tone, and visual cue of light bulbs “lighting up.”

Features include:

  • Six “light bulbs” that light in random sequence
  • Increasing difficulty levels
  • Pleasant musical tones to aid memory
  • Simple, intuitive game play
  • Builds memory and sequencing skills

Quality

Light Medley is a simple but high quality app that works smoothly and reliably. The app presents sequences of increasingly complex sets of lighted graphics paired with musical notes that players must repeat in proper order to move to the next level. In spite of somewhat ungrammatical (or badly translated) instructions, the game play is easy to learn and clearly outlined. Developers may want to consider rewording some of the instructions to improve grammar and overall flow of the language.

Education

This app is not really intended to be educational in the strictest sense of the word, but it will provide valuable practice in several areas, including attention, memory and sequence. The task does get quite repetitious, though, so it may be challenging to hold the attention of students who are not as skilled at the game.

Entertainment

Light Medley is entertaining for those who enjoy memory challenges. Players who have a strong drive to compete to best their previous scores or those of other people will enjoy the game’s set up of moving to ever more difficult levels. The game is repetitive by its nature, so probably not the best choice for players who prefer novelty or a wide array of challenges.

Value

Light Medley is free on the App Store, making it a good value. It may or may not have “staying power,” depending on the individual’s preferences, but it’s tough to turn down since there’s no investment involved other than time. The game does offer an option to continue playing when an error is made by watching an advertisement.

Child Friendliness

Light Medley has an option to watch an advertisement when you break your streak of successful progress through the game’s levels. This may or may not be problematic, depending on the player’s age and maturity level, but most parents may not find this feature suitable for younger players. It would be good if developers included an option to turn this feature off (with or without an in-app purchase).

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

ABC Puzzles Game for Kids

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Kids can drag and drop objects such as letters and animals into simple puzzles in ABC Puzzles Game for Kids.
4.1

App Info

Download on the Google Play Store

Overview

ABC Puzzles Game for Kids is an early learning app that helps kids learn basic concepts such as letters, numbers, and the names of animals.

Features include:

  • Learn the alphabet
  • Learn numbers
  • Learn about animals
  • Learn fruit and vegetable names

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’re shown the main screen which has a circus theme. Tapping on start takes kids to a screen that features the app’s categories. Once kids choose a category, they’re taken to the puzzles for that category. A hand appears to help kids see how to complete each activity. There’s also a help button to make the hand appear if kids get stuck while completing the puzzle.

As kids play, they’ll see the circus theme throughout. They’ll also hear fun sound effects. There are a few issues with the praise. For example, at the end of a puzzle, kids may see the word “Hurree!” which does not represent a proper spelling of the word “hurray.”

Education

The idea of the app is to help kids have fun while learning skills. Kids can complete puzzles related to letters, numbers, animals, vehicles, and fruits/vegetables. Most of the puzzles are easy for kids to complete and the app offers them plenty of help if they need it. Some of the aspects of the game could be improved though. For example, in the alphabet game, the font used makes it hard to distinguish what some of the letters are. While it’s a fun font, it’s more confusing for kids to see letters such as a backward S and an a that has a line long enough that it could potentially be a q. The app also doesn’t say the names of the objects the kids drag and drop.

Entertainment

Basically, kids see a circus truck with objects sitting on it and they must drag and drop those objects into the correct places. The app focuses on objects that kids like, such as vehicles and animals. As a result, kids will likely have a lot of fun.

Value

ABC Puzzles Game for Kids is free to download and offers a ton of puzzles. It will keep little kids busy for some time.

Child Friendliness

On the settings screen there are icons for rating and sharing the app. These options are not protected by a parental block.

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

63 - Find Sixty Three Numbers

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Can you find all of the numbers in 63, an engaging math app for kids and adults?
4

App Info

Download on the Google Play Store

Overview

63 is a unique numbers app that challenges players to solve number puzzles by tapping on the correct numbers. It’s not as easy as tapping the numbers in order from 01 to 63. Players must figure out what the puzzle is, and then tap out the numbers in the correct order.

Features include:

  • Multiple modes of play
  • Hint to help solve problems
  • Logic-based number puzzles
  • Fun game for kids

Quality

Unfortunately, the app suffers from a few quality issues. It takes some time to start and it may freeze up at the beginning and during play. The app is laid out well and the numbers appear clearly on the screen in a good font size. On the side of the screen, the timer is displayed clearly as well. However, if users pause the game and open the menu, the screens can overlap a bit and the game must be restarted to get it display clearly.

Education

Kids must figure out how to tap the numbers to make the disappear from the screen. Each puzzle focuses on something different, but what the game focuses on isn’t immediately clear. However, kids will improve their logical thinking skills and their knowledge of numbers as they play and try to figure out the game.

Entertainment

It can be a bit frustrating to try and figure out how to play the game. However, once kids learn how to play, they’ll find that the game becomes a great way to pass the time. They’ll be encouraged to improve their time for each round and that will keep them playing multiple rounds.

Value

The game is free to download and play. Unfortunately, it features a lot of ads in between levels of play and also has kids watch ads to earn additional hints.

Child Friendliness

To play, users need a Google Play Gamer ID. This is automatically assigned and doesn’t use any personal information from kids. The game also features a lot of ads between levels, when pausing a level, and when players want to earn additional hint lights.

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

UnicornRunner

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Kids can put their knowledge of prefixes, suffixes, and base words to the test through a series of fast-paced quizzes in UnicornRunner.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Unicorn Runner helps kids learn English by focusing on prefixes and suffixes.

Features include:

Quality

Before playing, kids might find it helpful to review the help section of the app. This gives a brief overview of how to play the game. The game is divided into three levels: 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. Kids must pick a level to play. Each grade is also divided into sub-levels. Once a level is chosen, the quizzes begin. The instructions appear at the top of the screen with the questions and answer choices below. Each question is timed which makes the quizzes fast-paced.

Education

To play, kids work their way through different quizzes. In each quiz, they’re asked to identify either the parts or meanings of given words. Kids must read and answer the question in the given time period. All questions are multiple choice, but the type of question asked changes frequently, which helps keep the game interesting.

Entertainment

A short time limit for answering each question helps keep kids on their toes, but it may make the game more frustrating than entertaining at times. At the end of each level, kids are shown their score and encouraged to try to do well in the next round.

Value

UnicornRunner is free to download. Despite the annoyance of the ads, it offers a large collection of practice questions for kids, making it a great value.

Child Friendliness

When kids first open the app, the first thing they see is an ad. Ads also display at the bottom of the screen. While the ads are a bit of an annoyance, kids will be so focused on the game that they may not notice them at the bottom.

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

SLWG - Study! a Language Word Game

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
A fun block-style word game helps kids learn a foreign language in SLWG - Study! a Language Word Game.
3.9

App Info

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

Overview

Study! Language Word Game, SLWG for short, helps kids learn or practice a foreign language through a series of block-style word games. As kids advance through the levels, they learn more words. While the app focuses more on the game than the words, it still offers a unique way to help kids learn a language.

Features include:

  • Five different languages
  • Fun block word game
  • Multiple levels of play
  • Three modes of play

Quality

On the main screen, kids will find all of the app’s options clearly laid out. They can choose from three options: Story, Practice, or Survival mode. Each of the options gets progressively more difficult. Within each option, there are also multiple levels of play. As kids play, they may struggle a bit because of the app’s quality. Moving the letters can be a bit sluggish. However, the game is easy to figure out how to play. Developers also promote the old-school style graphics, but these actually prove to be somewhat of a negative, as they make the app look like it was made with a lower quality.

Education

Kids can practice one of five languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese). While developers promote the learning aspect of the app, the real focus is on the block-style word game. Kids are encouraged to make words from their list, but they’re allowed to make any words they want. This takes some of the focus away from the educational value of the app. It also takes way too long for the correct letters to drop to form the given words.

Entertainment

In the game, kids must drop letters onto the board and move them to form words. The game itself is similar to many popular word games, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. As kids play, they’ll enjoy forming words and trying to figure out the best places to drop the blocks.

Value

The app has the quality of a free word game, but it is not free to download. Parents or teachers looking for a way to motivate kids to learn a language may find it useful. However, for most students, there are better options out there.

Child Friendliness

After each round of play, the app invites users to share their score on Facebook. This feature is not protected by a parental block.

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Pigs & Bricks is an old-fashioned arcade game in the style of “Frogger” that challenges players to hop their pig across logs moving in opposite directions in a river. Obstacles and enemies are added with each successive level, making the game harder and harder as you progress.
3.9

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Pigs and Bricks is an arcade-type game where players must jump obstacles and avoid hazards while they build their house. Players can earn special powers, boosters, and other rewards for skilled play, and can compete with friends nearby or worldwide through the Game Center.

Features include:

  • Colorful, animated graphics
  • Five worlds with dozens of levels
  • Unlock “super powers” and other incentives
  • Increasing difficulty
  • Ability to “purchase” extra lives

Quality

Pigs & Bricks is a high quality app that challenges players’ visual perception and timing skills. Developers have created a multitude of worlds with hazards worthy of a fairy tale, including the Big Bad Wolf and aggressive mosquitos. There is a brief tutorial available, but it would help novice players if it were a bit more detailed. The game involves jumping across moving rows of logs on a moving river, and there are times when the pig’s jumps do not end as expected- occasionally he will seem to miss his log and stay afloat for another jump, and once in a great while he seems to land safely, and then fall in at the lower levels.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Pigs & Bricks is a fun, free app that will satisfy players who enjoy old-fashioned arcade games in the style of “Frogger.”  Each level becomes progressively more challenging, so as players master the art of jumping across the moving logs, enemies such as flying bugs appear to knock the pig into the water. As the pig jumps, he builds his house by accumulating bricks for each story, and when the house is completed, so is the level. And there are lots of levels to explore (20 in each of five worlds), though they begin to look an awful lot alike after the first few. Developers also included incentives for skilled play-you can earn super powers, extra time, and other bonuses as you accumulate points. And if you’re willing to watch an ad from time to time, you can acquire an additional life when you sink your last pig.

Value

Pigs & Bricks is free on the App Store, making it a great value if you or your kids enjoy games in this category. It does take some amount of skill and coordination to rise in the game, though, so be prepared to play a while if beating levels is important to you!  Parents should be aware, however, that there are in-app purchases for things such as infinite lives available and unprotected in the app.  Infinite lives currently costs $11.99, and the option to remove the ads costs $4.99.  Other purchases available include extra time and partial completion of the house for ninety-nine cents and some of the super powers for $3.99 each.

Child Friendliness

This game contains outside advertisements, unprotected social media, and Game Center access.  It is possible to play without connecting to Facebook or Game Center, but these links are unprotected.  If you do not connect, game progress is saved to your device. Players are offered the opportunity to watch video ads to continue playing once their allotted lives are exhausted.  There are many in-app purchases offered, and the purchase area is not protected.

  • YES unprotected in-app purchases
  • YES unprotected social media
  • YES unprotected Game Center access
  • YES 3rd party advertisements

More 4 Monkey

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help kids build beginning number sense through a series of simple games in More 4 Monkey.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

More 4 Monkey introduces kids to basic number skills. As kids go through the different activities within the app, they learn concepts such as more/less and basic counting skills. They also get a chance to boost their memory skills.

Features include:

  • Fun math games
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Repetitive instructions
  • Multiple user profiles

Quality

When kids first open the app, they’ll see the main screen. On the top of the main screen is an area where parents can set up a profile for the child. The app supports multiple child profiles. On the bottom of the screen are buttons for the tutorial and to play. If kids select the tutorial, they’ll get an overview of the app’s main activities. If they select the play button, they’ll be taken to a map. From there, they can select what area to play in. In the free version, only portions of the map are enabled. Parents can unlock the rest of the app through an in-app purchase.

All of the graphics and sounds within in the app are designed for kids. However, the graphics lack a little bit of the same high quality and polish that are found in similar kids apps.

Education

Kids build number skills through the activities within the app. Most of the activities are very similar. For example, kids will see two pools filled with items and be instructed to “touch the side that has more things.” In another game, they may watch items go into a picnic basket and then identify which picnic blanket shows the correct number of items. Repetition is used to help kids understand the concepts.

Entertainment

As kids play the games, they’re rewarded with stars and other elements of positive reinforcement. Kids will also enjoy playing games from different parts of the map.

Value

More 4 Monkey can be downloaded for free. Parents can purchase access to the full app and a parent dashboard/progress monitoring through an in-app purchase. The price for the in-app purchase is higher than apps that cover similar skills. A lack of quality in the app also makes the in-app purchase price seem higher than it should be.

Child Friendliness

On the main screen, parents can tap on the parent icon to see information about the in-app purchase. Access to the in-app purchase is protected by a parental block.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Fido & Pumpkin Position Words is a fun app to help young children learn about position in space, covering words such as “in,” “up,” “down,” and “between” with colorful animations and multiple-choice endings to sentences that describe the characters’ positions.
4.3

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Fido & Pumpkin Position Words is an app designed to help young children learn about position words such as “under,” “in,” and “beside.” The app presents the title characters in animated pictures, and asks children to complete a sentence telling the animal’s position relative to something else in the picture.

Features include:

  • Bright, colorful animations
  • Instant feedback
  • Optional audio narration/questions/answers
  • Incorrect responses trigger a demonstration animation to compare
  • Optional background music

Quality

Fido & Pumpkin Position Words is a high quality app that will help young children learn about position words.  The app is intuitive to use, and developers included clear instructions immediately following the opening screen. There is an option to “skip instructions” in the lower right corner of the screen, but I could not get this to work. While having the instructions is great, it should be easier to skip over them once you are familiar with the app.  Also, each screen of the app should have an option to exit and return to the home screen.  At present, this option is only present at the end of each activity.

Education

This app does a really good job of introducing position words to young players. Words covered include in, outside, beside, on, behind, up, down, under, over, between, and in front.  There are 11 activities, one for each word. The eye-catching animations clearly demonstrate each one, which will help keep young learners’ attention.  Players can choose which section to play, or can use a “play all” button to go through all eleven sections.

I was particularly impressed  with the management of incorrect responses.  If a player chooses an incorrect position word, the animation immediately shows what that would look like and how it is different from the correct response.  This is a wonderful feature, that will truly help youngsters better understand the meanings of position words.

That being said, the app does lack the practice that would cement learning.  While children can replay to their hearts’ content, each segment is exactly the same each time it is accessed.  The words are the same, the animations are the same, and even the order of the multiple choice answers is the same.  It would be easy for a child prone to memorizing to remember the correct responses without really thinking about the meanings of the words.  It also reduces the amount of play time before the app will become boring for many.

Entertainment

This app’s main entertainment value likes in the colorful illustrations and animations.  These will attract and hold children’s attention very nicely.  The title characters are very child-friendly, and the voice overs are narrated by children with outstanding expression and intonation.  The main drawback to the entertainment value of this app is the fact that it is always the same on each play of the same segment.  Even if the answer choices were to be randomized, that would help with the extreme predictability.  It would also be fun if there were segments where the user used the device’s drag and drop feature to place items in positions relative to fixed things on the screen.  Those two changes would add quite a bit of value to the system.

Value

This app costs $1.99 on the App Store, which is a good value if your young user needs to develop skills with position words.  However, the app’s static nature and limited number of position words do limit its value somewhat.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Wordrop-Addictive Word Puzzle Game is a fast-paced, high action word game that is perfect for building fluency with spelling and writing, as well as stretching vocabulary.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Wordrops is a fast-paced spelling and thinking game that challenges players to think fast on their feet and make words from letters that drop from the top of the screen. The game has two modes: single and multi-player, as well as numerous levels of difficulty. There is a leaderboard for multi-player competition, as well as cash prizes for the best players each month.

Features include:

  • Single or multi-player modes available
  • High quality graphics, animations, and sounds
  • Play in English, Spanish or French
  • Suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities
  • Unlock levels by scoring points within a time limit

Quality

Wordrops is a high quality app that features simple, intuitive game play. Developers included a help screen with brief directions, but it’s hardly necessary. Just select single or multi-player games, then start watching for letters that can be made into words. The letters are assigned various point values, and must be clicked in order to make valid words, and players must remember to click “submit” after spelling each word to make it count.

Education

Wordrops will hone spelling and vocabulary skills as players create words. It also requires players to think quickly; the letters fall across the screen fairly rapidly, and not all of the letters to make a word are visible at the same time. Players will need to have quick reactions and be able to process letters quickly into words to be successful. The more words you know, the higher you will score.

There are a few ways that developers could make the game more attractive for students, though. It’s not immediately obvious if a word is accepted for points, since one has to pay close attention to the letters currently dropping. It would be nice to have a negative sound if a non-word is submitted. The other feature that developers should consider to help players improve is to pause between levels and show a list of submissions and their accept/reject status.  That would very much help students improve their performance and subsequently, their working vocabulary.

Entertainment

This game will be highly entertaining for players who enjoy competitive, higher-pressure games. In single-player mode, there are time limits and points goals that will unlock progressively more difficult levels. Players will feel a sense of accomplishment as they unlock new levels. There is a leader board where the best scores are displayed, and the developers promise that the highest score on the Leader Board at the end of the month will be eligible for a cash prize. This makes it very motivating to play!

In the multi-player mode, players can challenge other players in real time.  This is sure to appeal to those who enjoy competition.  Multi-player games, however, do not count for the cash prize Leader Board.

One feature developers should consider adding is an untimed “practice mode” that will allow players an unstressful opportunity to learn to play the game and to improve their skills in a non-threatening environment.

Value

This app is free on the App Store. It’s a great value for people who enjoy fast-paced games, multi-player games, and word games. The app does, however, serve ads between and during games (action pauses while the ads play), and has no protections to keep young players off of the internet.

Child Friendliness

This app is not really designed for young users. There are frequent ads during pauses during and between games, as well as advertisements that can be clicked during game play. The app requires registration, and allows game play with others on the system.  It also offers a cash prize for first place on the Leader Board, which may not be legal for younger players to participate in.

  • YES  frequent outside advertisements 
  • YES registration required
  • YES competitive option to play against others

Random99 - Find the Number

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
How many numbers can you find before time runs out? Find out in Random 99, an addictive find the numbers game for kids and adults.
4.3

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Random99 bills itself as an addicting numbers game and addicting it is. The premise of the game is simple – look for the number provided. However, playing the game proves to be a bit of a challenge. With numbers appearing in different sizes all over the screen, finding the number you need can be tricky. How many numbers can you find before time runs out?

Features include:

  • An addicting game to play
  • Number recognition activities
  • Mental processing speed skills
  • Focus on paying attention

Quality

On the main screen, players see an no-adds icon, a sound icon, and an in-app purchase icon. Once they’ve played around their best and current score also appears. To start the game, players simply tap on the screen. This isn’t immediately clear, but it’s easy enough to figure out. It’s also not immediately clear what players must do to play the game because it’s easy to miss the faded number in the background. However, once players figure it out, they’ll be ready to start finding the numbers they see.

Education

This game is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Although the app is very simple, it is very addicting. A number appears in the background and players must race against the clock to find that number and as many numbers as they can afterwards before time runs out. Motivating background music plays as the timer counts down. At the end, the final score is displayed. The app tracks a players’ best scores which helps motivate them to keep playing and try to score higher.

Value

It’s free to download the app and all of the features are available with a free download. An in-app purchase is available to remove the ads. However, while the ads are unwelcome, they are not extremely prevalent or annoying.

Child Friendliness

This app loses a significant number of points for its lack of child-friendliness. Parents can purchase an ad-free version of the app. If they don’t, players can watch an add to reveal a number that is difficult to find. Clicking on the app advertised in the ad leads directly to the App Store. After some of the rounds players are invited to rate the app. This also is not protected by a parental block.

  • YES in-app purchase
  • YES rate us
  • YES ads

An Adventure of Our Own

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
An Adventure of Our Own offers a unique adventure story that encourages kids to communicate with one another.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

An Adventure of Our Own takes kids on their own adventure. This app, designed for two kids or a kid and an adult to use together, features a story about a heroic mission. Kids get to choose the different elements of the mission. What will they wear? Where will they go? What supplies will they need? It’s all up to them. While the idea is fairly innovative, the app suffers from a lack of quality. This quality really keeps it from being a stand out app for kids. However, parents and teachers willing to overlook that may find something new for kids to enjoy.

Features include:

  • Encourages two-way communication
  • Features interactive illustrations
  • Offers an engaging story
  • Gets kids involved

Quality

One thing this eBook lacks is a bit of polish. Instructions and text appear on a plain gray background. Combined with the font size, it’s easy to get lost in. On the main screen, the gray text also covers the image. It can easily be moved and removed, but it would be nice if there was a way to display both the text and the full image at the same time. The app also features fairly basic illustrations. When tapped, there is a bit of lag time in the response.

Education

This app encourages conversation and face-to-face interactions. Parents may use it with their children. Teachers may use it in the classroom as a whole group exercise or have students pair up and use it together. Kids complete tasks and talk about the choices they’ve made. For example, they’re asked to pick clothes for a recuse. They they’re prompted to explain why they chose the clothes they did. Kids get to play a role in the story.

Entertainment

Kids have lots of choices in the app. They pick an alarm. They pick clothes. Then they get to take a picture of themselves dressed in the clothes. After that, they get to pick the supplies involved in the story. The story itself can really engage kids. The trick is to get them involved. With the basic text and illustrations, it may be a hard sell for kids at first.

Value

The eBook is priced right, especially given some of its quality issues. Parents and teachers looking for something that less about the bells and whistles may find it appealing. On a positive note, kids are encouraged to get away from the screen a little and talk to one another.

Child Friendliness

Kids will not find any inappropriate content or ads within the app. They do have access to the “About” area. This area contains a description of why the app is important and information about the developer, including the developer’s website. However, there are no active links in this section. Kids also need access to the camera for an activity within the story.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Pocket Sight Words provides a simple and effective way to practice recognition of 220 sight words from the Dolch List. It has few bells and whistles, which results in a very intuitive interface that should be apparent to preschoolers and kindergarteners in the target age group, but also is not likely to be exciting or intriguing for most children in this age group.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Pocket Sight Words is a simple app that will help young or struggling readers practice recognition of basic sight words from the Dolch list. The words are presented in isolation and embedded in simple sentences (designed by kindergarten teachers). The app includes an interactive exercise requiring players to find the spoken word from a list of distractors. It keeps point scores based on the number of words correctly selected in the interactive exercise and automatically advances when all words on the list are selected accurately.

Features include:

  • Includes 220 sight words presented in order from the Dolch List
  • Integrates audio prompts and examples throughout the app
  • Features brightly-colored illustrations for many words and sentences
  • Clear voice over saying the words and sentences with Australian accent
  • Sight words presented in groups of five for improved mastery

Quality

Pocket Sight Words is a high quality app that provides practice with 220 basic sight words appropriate for young children or struggling readers. The app is easy to use and intuitive, with a simple “find the word” interactive activity to check progress. Developers did a good job of making the app simple and straight forward; there are few bells and whistles, but the meat of the system will help readers master basic sight word recognition.

Education

Pocket Sight Words presents 220 words from the Dolch lists in order beginning with the preprimer list. The words are presented in groups of five, and sectioned into units of five groups. The slow, even rate of presentation is a plus for most students. The introductory section for each group presents the word in written form, and if students tap the microphone icon, they can hear the word pronounced. Touching the magnifying glass icon on the screen shows a sentence with the word used in context and again, a microphone icon that begins a recorded version of the sentence. Once all five words in the group have been previewed in this manner, the app presents a screen with a target word and distractors. The word is spoken aloud, and the student is expected to tap the matching written version. Any errors on this segment will force the student to repeat the section rather than allow him or her to progress to the next list.

Pocket Sight Words uses basic principles of learning to tap into critical memory skills to encourage sight word recognition. It would be better, perhaps, if the app automatically voiced each word in the practice sessions. As it stands, however, users can quickly tap through the practice segment without getting the auditory versions and move on to the more game-like portion of the system. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on the student and his or her needs.

I also feel this app is somewhat limited in the type of practice it provides. Matching a spoken word to a list of possibilities is a very different skill than reading a word outright, and such recognition is not necessarily indicative of the ability to recognize the word without prompting. Developers should look into including several types of games that require increasing complexity of response, such as sentences with missing words, typing or writing a word from oral prompt, and so forth.

Entertainment

This app plays a pleasant tone and a vocal praise when words are selected correctly on the interactive portion. It awards points for each correctly selected word, as well, and when all words are selected correctly from the lesson, it advances to the next level automatically, unlocking new content. All in all, it’s pleasant, but not particularly exciting, which again might be a good thing for some learners, and not enough motivation for others.

Value

Pocket Sight Words definitely achieves the goal it sets out to accomplish, which is to provide recognition practice with sight words. It costs $1.99 on the App Store, which is a reasonable price, and covers 220 basic words that all readers need to master quickly. It is definitely worth the money for families where several children will use it, or in classroom settings where multiple children will use the app. However, some children are likely not to find it particularly interesting or exciting, and may become bored with it before accessing most of its content.

Child Friendliness

This app, while intended for young children, has an unprotected link to email and one to Facebook on its front page. Developers should seriously consider putting these links behind an effective parent gate, as there are certainly some ambitious youngsters who will check them out without parental permission.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “unprotected social media and support links on front page”

Animalia - Kids Learning Games & Interactive Story

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Kids learn a lesson by reading through the story and playing the games in Animalia - Kids Learning Games & Interactive Story.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

The story of The Lion and the Mouse gets an update in this interactive ebook. Animalia tells of a lion and a mouse who like to watch horror movies together. As kids read through the story, they can interact with both the lion and the mouse. While the illustrations and narration are high quality, the interactive animations could be improved. As it stands, it’s still a unique retelling of a classic story.

Features include:

  • Story with a moral
  • Interactive animations
  • Fun mini games
  • Easy navigation

Quality

Kids can choose to view the stories in two ways – as a video or as an interactive story. The video moves quickly (perhaps a little too quickly) and is a good way to introduce kids to the story. The interactive story is easy to navigate through, however, it doesn’t have quite the same quality feel. This is largely because of the interactive components. When an opportunity to interact with the story is available, kids see flashing dots, but the dots are a bit off-putting. There is also a slight lag for some of the interactions. The app does do a good job of showing kids how to move their device at particular points in the story. For example, kids must tilt the device at times. It also features cute animations and quality narration.

Education

Developers say that the goal of the app is to engage kids and help them learn through motions and language. However, the main educational value in the app lies in the story. Kids will learn through the moral of the story about the lion and the mouse. There are elements of the story that are a little too modern and unbelievable. For example, the lion is watching a horror movie on his laptop. For early readers, the story is narrated. It is also accompanied by text that appears as the story is narrated. However, the text is a bit small for kids who want to read along.

Entertainment

As kids read through the story, they can interact with the animations on the page. For example, one of the first tasks kids get to complete is to feed the lion. The tasks are all fairly simple and generally relate to the story. One downside is that the written instructions, such as “tap the laptop” aren’t read aloud, so early readers may not know what to do. Also, while there’s a lot of tapping and tilting, many of the animations have the same feel, so kids may stop being entertained by them.

Value

The app is priced comparably to similar interactive ebooks. However, the quality knocks down its value a bit. If developers could increase the text size and improve the quality of some of the animations, it would have a much higher value.

Child Friendliness

A protected parent area gives parents access to additional developer apps, in-app settings, and a brief user guide. All of the content contained within the app is child-friendly.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
KazuTime will help young children gain a better understanding of the passage of time, and may assist them with developing the self-control required to wait for anticipated events. It is also useful for timing activities that parents wish to have continued for a specific amount of time, such as brushing teeth or cleaning a room.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

KazuTime is an app designed to help young children conceptualize and learn about the passage of time. It functions as a timer, but instead of displaying elapsed time or doing a traditional countdown, KazuTime shows a friendly husky and his playmate on an “adventure” or journey towards a designated ending. When they arrive at their destination, the time has passed.

Features include:

  • Multiple cues to help children gauge the passage of time
  • Users pick their own puppy to be Kazu’s companion
  • Users can collect reward stars for finishing tasks early
  • Adults can add personalized tasks with pictures to time
  • Customizable alerts for timer

Quality

KazuTime is a high quality app. Developers have made it intuitive to use and very quick for adults to set. The app includes nine preloaded tasks and events, such as dressing or bedtime, as well as a simple system to add tasks or events that are personalized using pictures from the camera roll. The app includes simple, clear instructions, and everything seems to work smoothly. The only feature that was unclear to me how to access was the capability mentioned to set an alarm to sound at quarter intervals through the period. This would be really handy, but I could not find a way to set this up.

Education

KazuTime is intended to help very young children (toddlers and preschoolers) learn to quantify the passage of time. It can be used as a timer to limit the amount of time spent on a task or to help the child gauge the passage of time before an anticipated event. It’s very nice that users can personalize and individualize the tasks and events using pictures. This makes it possible to, say, take a picture of the child’s bed and pair it with the bedtime task. You can set the timer to “go off” at bedtime, and your young child could quickly and easily learn to see how much time is left before bedtime without asking you and without knowing how to tell time.

Developers included many clues on the timer screen to help young children see how quickly time is passing. Kazu and his friend ride their dog sled to the destination igloo. When time is up, they arrive. There is also a standard time-measuring bar, similar to what some software programs use when loading. Another very nice touch is in the sky. Children (or their adults) can choose the color for the sky and it gradually lightens/brightens as the end of the period approaches.

Entertainment

This app’s entertainment value lies in the screen where Kazu is “on his adventure” during the period being timed. The free version of the app comes with a dogsled riding in a northern theme, with the destination being an igloo. Users can choose one of three friends for Kazu and pit them against one another to earn stars by completing tasks early and tapping the igloo. Two other scenes are available as in-app purchases, and they include other characters and other goals.

The app will likely be appealing to young children, but may not hold their interest using just the provided free material.

Value

KazuTime costs $2.99 in the App Store and does include protected in-app purchase opportunities. The price seems somewhat high for many families who don’t truly “need” instruction of this sort for normally developing children, but it might be a real bargain for families of children with special needs since it could help reduce anxiety and increase compliance. It is of minor concern that there is no indication of the cost of the in-app purchases before you are required to enter your iTunes password, and it’s not clear if entering your password automatically authorizes the purchase. Developers may want to consider making this information a bit more accessible in the protected parent area so people can make informed decisions.

Child Friendliness

KazuTime has a protected parent area that shields all links to the App Store, social media, and the internet. Children can see the themes available for purchase, but they have lock symbols on them and when tapped, they lead to the effective parent gate.

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

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.
4.3

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5
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:

  • Free lessons to sample the program
  • Supplemental activities available
  • 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. The app utilizes technology that the developers term “Learning Gears” and will adapt if the selected content is too easy or too difficult.

There are five types of 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, use the app with multiple learners, download supplemental activities, and activate offline play for times when an internet connection is unavailable.

The Games section includes simple, age-appropriate interactive activities. For example, the Animals section names farm animals as they are dragged to the bath tub, and gives users the opportunity to wash, dry and brush each in turn. A Video section shares a catchy tune with animation, and the My Teacher section shows a live teacher going over the words for the lesson. The Writing section allows users to trace related alphabet letters, and the Printables section (accessible only through a Parent Gate) takes users to the developers’ website where printable pdfs can be downloaded to continue the educational fun off line.

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. A few samples of the five types of lessons available for free, including 4 games, 5 videos, 4 My Teacher lessons, 6 Writing lessons, 4 sets of Supplemental Materials are included in the free sample, which is a very nice array to see what the app can do. The app indicates that an additional five lessons are “coming soon.” However, in order to see the other materials, use 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, and that users will be billed $59.99 after the first free month for an annual 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 with a no-fee cancellation at any time. 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, including links to paid subscription content. Clicking these links leads to a page detailing the free one month trial subscription, with the actual “start” link on the page protected by a parent link. 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)

MATHdoozy

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
MATHdoozy comes with some technical difficulties, but has the ability to offer real-time math help to students.
3.5

App Info

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

Overview

MATHdoozy offers students a way to get help solving tricky math problems in real-time. The app allows students to take a photo of or type in a problem and submit it. From there, the problem is presented to one of the app’s solvers who works to provide an answer for the student. Problems are solved quickly and in real-time, offering students help when and where they need it.

Features include:

  • Real-time problem solving
  • Ability to take a picture of problem
  • Purchase credits to solve more problems
  • Get benefits from referring friends

Quality

When students first open the app, they’re prompted to sign up or sign in. In order to use the app, students must have an account. Creating an account requires an e-mail address, phone number (optional) and password. Students are also prompted to select a username and their grade-level. On the opening screen, students will find a video tutorial to help them navigate through the app and understand the credit system. It is helpful to watch this video, but the app is easy to figure out even if they don’t. When attempting to sign up or login, the app often crashes, so it may take multiple tries to successfully login and get started. Students can access the same service by logging in online, but they must upload problems in a .pdf format.

Education

The idea behind the app is to help students get real-time math help. Students can upload a PDF of a problem, type in the problem, or even just take a photo of the problem. Then they submit it to the solvers. Developers note that the solvers have been tested and come from some of the top universities in the world. They are also available to help 24/7, so students can get help whenever they need it. When you’re able to use the app, the solutions do come quickly and are accurate.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

While the app is free to download, it is accompanied by in-app purchases. Students aren’t given the solutions for free. Instead, each solution costs money. Students can opt to pay as they go or to buy a bundle. Adults can also gift solution packages to students. Solutions aren’t cheap, so students shouldn’t expect to use this app to get answers to ever problem. Instead, it’s designed as a tool to help when they really get stuck.

Child Friendliness

This app requires a student’s e-mail address and grade-level. It also suggests adding a phone number. Developers note that the solvers don’t know a student’s name. Students should take care not to include their names on any problems they submit. The app also has in-app purchases to allow students to purchase additional credits.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO more apps
  • YES in-app purchases
  • YES account required

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Ant and Grasshopper is a classic kids story that teaches children great life lessons in a fun storybook app. This app is not recommended for young children as it includes unprotected links and advertisements.
3.9

App Info

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

Overview

Ant and Grasshopper Kids Book is a storybook app that offers children a chance to learn valuable life lessons. With fun graphics, a quaint story, and the opportunity to play an interactive game, this app has the potential to be highly engaging with a few tweaks.

Features include:

  • Narration options (read to me, read to myself)
  • Food storing game
  • Choose an ending

Quality

At first glance, Ant and Grasshopper is an easy to use storybook app for kids that offer unique illustrations and an engaging story to teach children valuable life lessons. The user interface is easy to use as it includes arrows at the bottom of each page to help children move through the app easily as well as narration options for early readers. Overall, the developers have done a nice job making this app easy to use.

Education

While this app isn’t your typical educational app, it does offer children a chance to practice their reading skills while learning valuable life lessons about hard work. The Ant and Grasshopper story is one that is well-known and it offers children a nice lesson in learning to plan and do the work in order to prepare for the “winter”. The alternate ending also teaches children a lesson about sharing. While the developers have included narration options for children to use as they move through the app, they have not included text-highlighting which would add a bit more educational value for early readers.

Entertainment

Ant and Grasshopper offers music, a great story, an option to choose an ending as well as a game for children to enjoy. With all of that included, it really is a great app for entertainment for children of all ages. The food collection game encourages children to help the ant collect food for the winter. It’s easy, fun and a great addition in order to enhance the entertainment value of the app.

Value

Ant and Grasshopper is a free app which offers the narration options, the food collection game, and a great story without any additional cost. Parents will want to know that there is an option to upgrade the app and remove the ads that are scattered throughout the app which is a bit disappointing. It’s expected that children’s apps do not include unprotected links and advertisements. Parents will likely be disappointed that they have to pay to keep children protected from external advertisements throughout the app.

Child Friendliness

The developers have included some very child-friendly features in the app including narration options and an easy to use interface. Unfortunately, the rest of the app is full of unprotected advertisements and pop-ups that distract children from the app itself. As a parent it’s really disappointing to find such a great story that has so many unprotected links that will distract children from the content of the app.

If it is necessary to include advertisements and other links, it would be nice to have them housed under a protected link that parents have access to. Doing so will allow children to enjoy the app without being distracted.

  • NO social media links
  • YES advertisements (unprotected, visible)
  • YES more apps (unprotected, visible)
  • YES external links (unprotected, visible)

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Fiete Sports offers a quick diversion for kids interested in sports by offering races for medals in track, hurdles, swimming, cycling, and shot put. Some will enjoy competing for the chance to stand on the first-place podium at the end of the competition, or trying to achieve a gold first-place medal in each sport.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Fiete Sports allows players to “compete” with two opponents in running, cycling, swimming, hurdles and shot put as they trek around the world. Players control the main character by tapping and interacting with the screen, and can win a place on the podium and a medal at the end of the race.

Features include:

  • Five sports competitions with four more coming soon
  • Funny animations to maintain player interest
  • Art includes flags and stylized landmarks representing many countries
  • Intuitive game play
  • Encouraging sound effects

Quality

Fiete Sports is a high quality app that works exactly as intended. Players interact with the screen to control the main character’s speed and performance in the various athletic events. The app is intuitive to use, and completely nonverbal, making it ideal for younger users or those with disabilities. It would be nice, though, if developers had included a parents’ area outlining the benefits of play, ways to extend the learning, and connections that some might not consider, such as the Olympics or other major sporting events.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational, but a with a little creativity, parents could add some educational value. Connect the virtual sports with the Olympics and have children play along. Discuss the various countries represented by the flags near the various sports. Go on a virtual scavenger hunt to discover famous landmarks in each country, then use other resources to find out about them.

Entertainment

Fiete Sports currently offers five different competitions where the main character (controlled by the player) competes with two computer-generated characters at running, swimming, biking, hurdles and shot put. For each event, the player must interact with the screen in the specified way to increase speed or performance. For example, to make the character run or swim faster, the player must increase the rate of tapping on the screen.

At this point, this app seems like children would tire of it rather quickly. Even with a vivid imagination, there are only so many times you want to run the same race with a chance of winning first, second or third place.

Value

This app is free in the App Store, so there’s no reason not to give it a try if your child enjoys sports. It might engage the imagination, especially during times when sports are in the forefront of the news, such as during the Olympic games.

Child Friendliness

This app is child friendly, but does contain a link to “more apps” on the home page that is easily accessible by children. It is protected by a simple parent gate, easily circumvented by children who can add single digits.

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