4 stars – very good apps

catinhat
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
The iconic Dr. Seuss story, The Cat in the Hat, gets an educational makeover in this fun read & learn app.
4.2

App Info

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

Overview

Oceanhouse Media has taken its traditional version of The Cat in the Hat and has turned it into an educational experience. As kids go through this iconic story they can build a variety of early learning skills including letter recognition, spelling, rhyming, and reading comprehension skills. These simple activities help enhance kids’ experience while they read and make the whole thing more entertaining.

Features include:

  • Highlighted narration
  • 31 learning activities
  • 2 reading options
  • Fun sound effects and images

Quality

Oceanhouse Media is known for creating high-quality ebooks and this new read & learn version of The Cat in the Hat is no exception. The book features an easy-to-navigate format and the option to skip ahead to a selected page. A settings section allows kids to choose from two different reading options. They can also turn off the music, sound, picture words, and learning activities. As kids read through the story, they’ll hear clear narration and fun sound effects, along with slightly animated pictures.

Education

As kids read through the book, they’ll find many of the same educational features found in other Oceanhouse Media books. The text features highlighted narration with the “Read to Me” option and also provides a “Read it Myself” option for more confident readers. Parents can track minutes and pages read in the parent info section. Kids can also tap on individual words to hear them read aloud.

In addition to the standard ebook features, this version of the story includes 31 learning activities. These activities come in the form of basic multiple-choice questions with a few drag-and-drop activities thrown in. They cover a wide range of skills, from phonics to reading comprehension. Kids can find the activities by tapping on different images to reveal hidden stars.

Entertainment

The story of The Cat in the Hat alone provides a wealth of entertainment for kids. Adding in the narration, animation, and hidden learning activities only increases the entertainment factor. Kids will also be entertained by fun sound effects throughout the story and positive phrase when they correctly answer the questions throughout the app.

Value

This ramped-up version of The Cat in the Hat comes with 31 learning activities hidden among the pages. This extra focus on learning increases the value of the app. However, the simple nature of the activities and the advertisements for additional developer apps may make parents wish the app was priced lower than it is.

Child Friendliness

The app has been designed to make it easy for children to navigate and enjoy. All of the parental areas are protected. This includes a link to the Dr. Seuss bookshelf and a basic parental area. Unfortunately, one of the protected elements also comes in the form of a pop-up ad for the Dr. Seuss Treasury that appears when children open the app.

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

358
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Toddlers Musical Tunes is a cute musical app for young children that allows players to explore a variety of sounds and instruments. Easy to use and fun!
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Toddlers Musical Tunes is a cute app full of music, instruments, and fun games to keep little music lovers interested. With various musical homes to explore with a variety of sounds, children are going to learn lots of new instruments and fun songs. This is a great app for the littl music lover in your home.

Features include:

  • 4 Fun houses to explore
  • Instruments
  • Musical quiz

Quality

Toddlers Musical Tunes is a cute and colorful app with lots of musical homes to explore. Children are going to love the various songs, musical notes, and fun instruments they get to explore within each home as the developers have done a great job with the sound effects and music throughout the app. The graphics are brightly colored and with some bouncing images are sure to keep children engaged and exploring as they play. The user interface is also pretty intuitive as children can simply tap and touch their way through the app to explore the various houses.

Education

One of the great things about this app is that it teaches children about a variety of musical instruments and their sounds. Within the various musical houses players can view new instruments. As they tap each image, they get to hear what that particular instrument sounds like as well as learn the name of each. Combining visual and auditory learning is great as it allows children to learn in a variety of ways.

Entertainment

In addition to the educational elements within the app, the developers have done a nice job of incorporating a few fun activities for children to enjoy. The Clown House includes a few fun musical toys for children to explore and enjoy while The Puzzle House offers a musical quiz for children to test their knowledge of the various instruments. The Rhymes House offers some classic nursery rhyme songs that can be played using a variety of instruments. These added bits of entertainment are great for children of all ages as it keeps them engaged and having fun.

Value

This version of Toddlers Musical Tunes is absolutely free with the option to upgrade to the pro version. The free version includes a few activities within each musical house which allows players to get an idea of what the app is all about. For what you get with the free version, this app is a good value with many more options if you decide to purchase the full version.

Child Friendliness

While Toddler’s Musical Tunes is easy for children to use, it does have a lot of (protected) buttons that can get a bit distracting for children as they play. There are various locked activities throughout the app that when tapped take you to the upgrade page. For young children this can get quite frustrating as they then have to close out the window in order to get back to their playing area. Simply using a pop up that is protected to allow for the upgrade might be a better idea so it’s easy for children to continue playing.

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

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Mini Prep

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Mini Prep is a low-key, gentle app that will help the very young practice basic skills of color matching, number matching and number order, letter matching and letter order. The app is simple to use and will help the young users feel very successful.
4.3

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Mini Prep offers very basic games and instruction in each of three areas of early learning: color recognition, numbers 1-10, and alphabet.  Each activity includes a teaching mode and a more challenging mode to test skills.  The action, sound effects, animations and corrections are all very low-key and relaxing.

Features include:

  • Three learning activities
  • Scaffolded presentation designed to ensure success
  • Simple, intuitive controls
  • Provides vital repetition of skills
  • Gentle, non-disruptive correction for mistakes

Quality

Mini Prep is a high-quality app that is well-suited to its intended audience of toddlers and preschoolers.  The app is simple to use and does a nice job of reviewing concepts then providing opportunity to practice them.  Developers did an outstanding job of making characters diverse and of keeping the app low-key so it is soothing to play.

Education

This app features three learning areas: colors, numbers 1-10 and alphabet.  Each activity begins with a review of the concepts and then moves into a randomized challenge where children have the chance to apply what they have learned.  The color activity presents a color and names it out loud, then has children find and pop bubbles of the same color on a randomized board.  The numbers activity has users place numbers onto a number line, first in order, then presented randomly.  The alphabet activity is similar, sharing letters, sounds and key words/pictures first in alphabetical order, then in random order.  The narrator sings the ABC Song between rounds.  The numbers and letters activities use a drag-and-drop action to place the figures into the correct positions.

Mini Prep seems almost too simplistic.  It would be improved by the addition of a few more challenging activities that users could unlock as they master the beginning skills.  For example, the alphabet activity could continue on by having children find the letters requested orally or by having users match letters with the given key word pictures.  The number activity could be extended by presenting the numerals without the guiding number line and having users put them into their proper places.  As it stands, the activities are limited to simple matching exercises, which are fine for the very young or those having difficulty, but the app is not likely to “grow” with users in any way.  Another slight drawback is that the activities are presented in the same order over and over again.  For example, the color matching exercise always begins with green, then moves to blue, and so on.  It would be better if it were not so predictable.

Parents should also be aware that the app is narrated in British English, so the letter Z is called “zed” and the zebra is called a “zeb-ra” (with a short e).  Some children may find these differences to be a bit distracting or confusing.

Entertainment

In a world of noisy, demanding apps, Mini Prep is quite the opposite.  It’s very low-key and quiet.  This will appeal to some young learners, and bore others to tears.  On the plus side, the avatars available for children to choose to use are ethnically diverse, which is a nice change of pace.  The gentle buzz that indicates incorrect responses is also nicely done-it’s noticeable enough that children will realize that they have made a small mistake, but there are no penalties or other obvious problems when they do so.  The item simply resets so they can try again.  Correct responses are rewarded with recorded applause and limited movement of the avatar that simulates jumping up and down as best an immobile character can.  In fact, it seems that the variation in narration and the reward sequence are the only reasons to have avatars at all-they don’t do much.

Value

Mini Prep is inexpensive, but not quite free.  Most children are likely to work through it fairly quickly, perhaps in as little as under 30 minutes.  It would be a good investment for a family with several kids in the right age group, or for a group setting.  It would also be a good app for students with special needs or those who are struggling with these basic concepts.

Child Friendliness

Mini Prep is extremely child-friendly.

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

image (1)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Herbie the Hedgehog is a cute story with read-to-me, read-aloud and auto-play options to make it suitable for young children in a wide variety of situations. The easy choice of languages makes it a great way to introduce or expose youngsters to other ways of speaking.
4.1

App Info

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

Overview

Herbie the Hedgehog is a pleasant and engaging ebook intended for young children. It includes interactive illustration, narration, and three modes of play. The story is also available in four different languages with optional text boxes on each page.

Features include:

  • English, French, Spanish and German narration available
  • Interactive images hidden on most pages
  • Optional auto-play, narration, and read to myself modes
  • Show or hide text on each page
  • Expressive narration to aid comprehension

Quality

Herbie the Hedgehog is a high quality app that is responsive and performs well.  The gesture used to turn pages is reliable and intuitive, as readers swipe from the corner of the screen with an image of a curled page corner.  The narration is clear and well-paced.  Animations hidden in the illustrations are varied and well-connected to the story.

Developers should make it easier for users to find the “Home” option included in each scene.  Presently, it appears only when the text is revealed by activating the “text” button on each screen.  There should also be an option in the settings to show the text automatically instead of requiring users to reveal the text manually on each page.  Finally, there is a glitch in the ninth scene (just before the part where Herbie finds the apple) that causes the text to be duplicated four times, which covers the illustration almost completely and could be quite confusing to young readers.

Education

Herbie the Hedgehog is a fun ebook with several educational aspects.  Most scenes contain hidden interactions that are hinted at by the narration.  Children who listen carefully and follow directions will find them more quickly and easily than kids who simply tap and swipe at random.  The app does include printed text that can be shown on each page, helping early readers cement the relationship between printed and spoken words in much the same way as reading aloud does.

Herbie the Hedgehog offers users an excellent opportunity to see and hear several other languages in the narration.  Parents should be aware, however, that the English version of the app is presented in British English, so there are some unusual usages and accents.

Most of the interactive animations are well-connected to the story, such as when the narrator describes how Herbie can curl into a prickly ball, a tap on the hedgehog causes him to do so.  The app does seem to miss several opportunities for game-like interactions, however.  There is a nice scene where users tap the hedgehogs that appear and disappear to score points that I’m sure children will love.  There is another scene, though, where Herbie hears a voice before he sees its owner, and that seems like a great chance to build in a hide-and-seek game where users could look around the forest scene by moving leaves and the like.  More game-like interactions would definitely increase the educational power of this app.

Entertainment

This app will engage and entertain young children in much the same fashion as a storybook.  If the child latches on and decides it is a “favorite” that should be read again and again, it will see a lot of use.  On the other hand, some children are likely to use it a few times and then quickly grow tired of it once the hidden animations are fully explored.  The story is not particularly gripping, which will help it appeal to kids with a strong desire for security and predictability, but the lack of a serious problem for the main character may seem boring to more adventurous readers.

Value

The first twelve scenes of this story are offered without charge from the App Store, then parents will need to purchase the remaining 8 or so scenes for $3.99 as an in-app purchase.  The first part of the story may not be exciting enough to intrigue young users into requesting purchase, and the price tag seems a bit steep considering that there are few extra features or games in the app besides the animated interactions.

Child Friendliness

Herbie the Hedgehog is very child-friendly.  The required in-app purchase to finish the story is obvious to children, but it is protected by a random multiplication fact that should be beyond the comprehension of the target audience.  The settings for language selection, speakers, and background sounds are all accessible to children from the home screen.

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

IMG_0585

LAMI find notes: Children's Ear Training ! Music for kids

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Adorable musical notes introduce kids to pitch through a variety of musical sounds and challenges.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Adorable musical notes help kids learn to enjoy music and develop their ear for sound in LAMI find notes, an ear training app. As kids move through the app, they’re introduced to new musical sounds and combinations of notes. Throughout the app, they’re encouraged to earn stars and complete challenges. They can also compose their own tunes with a fun “Play Music” section which helps them understand the notes even more.

Features include:

  • Three Modes of Play
  • Increasing Levels of Difficulty
  • Adorable Singing Notes
  • Beautiful Background Music

Quality

From the moment kids open the app, they’re exposed to the adorable cartoon notes who immediately break out into a song of “la”s. They dance and laugh as they sing, getting kids excited about the app. Across the top kids can see the three modes of play: Find Notes, Play Music, and Scoring Game. To access the scoring game, kids must first complete all of the Find Notes section. On the bottom of the main screen, kids will also find a short credits screen and an icon that leads to an explanation of the characters within the app. The sound in the app is crisp and clear, but kids may want to have the volume turned up as they play to help them clearly hear the notes and complete the challenges.

Education

This app focuses on part music education and part memory. For most of challenges, kids hear notes as they appear on the screen. Then they hear a single note or series of notes and must repeat what they hear by tapping on the notes. The goal is to help kids learn to identify pitch in many different ways. The app does a good job with this by incorporating different series of sounds and different notes. Each note is also a different color which may also help kids, although most will be focused on listening to the sounds rather than noticing the colors of the notes.

Entertainment

It’s not the Find Notes challenges, Scoring Game, or Play Music option that make this app fun. It’s the cute notes that appear on the screen throughout the app. Kids are introduced to each note’s personality in a “meet the characters” section. They also get to see the notes interact with one another during short animations that play before each Find Notes section. In addition to the fun characters, kids also get to enjoy silly sounds. For example, they hear the notes as cows, cats, and xylophones.

Value

LAMI find notes is a quality app that has clearly been carefully designed to help children learn to distinguish pitch. Its price is comparable to the other ear training apps for kids, but its a lot more playful than some of the other apps out there.

Child Friendliness

Parents won’t find any in-app purchases, ads, or social media. The app does contain two inactive links to developer websites in the credit section. It also connects with your Game Center account to help encourage kids with challenges.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES connects to Game Center
  • applogo
    Quality
    Education
    Entertainment
    Value
    Child Friendly
    Summary
    Imagination Playground is a virtual 3D building app that is designed to allow children to build anything their amazing minds can come up with. Great for future engineers or little ones who love to build.
    4.4

    App Info

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

    Overview

    Imagination Playground is an interesting 3D building app that allows children to create and build anything their imagination can come up with. With a variety of pieces of all shapes and sizes, the ability to rotate pieces and a gravity function to knock things over, this app is sure to be a future engineers dream app. Based on a real world product that consists of large foam-like pieces of all shapes and sizes, this digital playground is a fun way for children to play on the go.

    Features include:

    • 3D images
    • 14 Building pieces
    • Endless playing time

    Quality

    While the overall concept is simple in nature, the developers have added various ways children can use the app to bring their ideas to life. The app consists of a 3D platform where various pieces can be dropped, flipped, and rotated in various directions to build fun creations. The 14 building pieces that are included are quite diverse, with various notches and holes to piece together which is great.

    The downside is that the functioning of the app takes some getting used to. While it’s simple to add, delete, and rotate pieces on the 3D platform, it’s not quite as easy to piece things together and use the gravity function to roll the ball down the track etc. The concept is great, but the execution in terms of ease of use could definitely be improved.

    Education

    While there aren’t any specific educational elements included in the app, Imagination Playground does give children the opportunity to use their creativity to build fun forts, buildings, tracks and anything else they can imagine. Watching the ball roll down various tracks is also a great illustration of gravity and physics in general which might be a good tool to use in the classroom. The app also inspires children to use their problem solving and logical skills to fit pieces together like a puzzle as they bring their imagined projects to life.

    Entertainment

    For children who love creating, building, and crafting their own creations, this app is a ton of fun and has lots to offer. It is definitely geared toward older children who will likely have a bit more understanding of how the 3D effects and rotations work, but smaller children are also likely to enjoy playing with the pieces as well. The free play nature of the app really provides a ton of freedom to build and create as much or as little as they want which is great for children who are naturals at it.

    One of the things I think would add a bit more value to the app is to have specific shapes or templates for players to try and replicate. It would help children get a feel for the user interface and provide lots of ideas for creating their own creations in the free play area.

    Value

    For children who are natural creators and love building things, this app is perfect and it’s absolutely free which parents will certainly appreciate. With the 14 pieces and free play set-up, it’s a great app to use in the classroom and one that is perfect to try at home.

    Child Friendliness

    The developers have done a nice job making this app safe for children to use. While the user interface does take some getting used to, it does include instructions on what each button and option does within the app to help guide children as they get started.

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

    Icon512
    Quality
    Education
    Entertainment
    Value
    Child Friendly
    Summary
    My Shapes & Colors Farm Puzzles has so much to offer in education and entertainment. With loads of puzzles that include sorting shapes, sizes, colors, letters, numbers, and much more, it is the perfect early learning app for the little one in your home.
    4.4

    App Info

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

    Overview

    My Shapes & Colors Farm Puzzles is an incredibly educational and engaging app that will teach young children how to sort by color, shape, type, and size in a variety of challenging (and fun) puzzles. With lots of vegetables, fruits, numbers, letters, and many other farm items to complete, this app has so many amazing early learning opportunities that are perfect for the little one in your home. Not only are children going to be able to use their problem solving skills throughout the app, but they are also able to work on their hand and eye coordination as they move each item to the appropriate place. Overall this is a fantastic early learning app for kids.

    Features include:

    • 15 Puzzles
    • Bonus game
    • Sorting shapes, sizes, letters, numbers
    • Problem solving

    Quality

    The developers have done a nice job of creating an app that is not only educational and engaging, but very easy to use as well. With little to no instructions, children can jump right in, select their puzzle of choice and begin playing. With brightly colored images and simple background music, this app is one that children can enjoy and learn from without getting too distracted from what they are doing. Parents can also appreciate the simple drag and drop functioning that is used within each puzzle making the user interface very simple.

    Education

    My Shapes & Colors Farm Puzzles is full of amazing educational material and is almost a one stop shop for early learning. There are 15 puzzles in total that vary a bit. While all of the activities are puzzles and they are set up the same way, the items and sizes of the images are a bit different. Children can go from sorting vegetables by shape and size to sorting letters and numbers or vice versa. The further you move into the app the higher the difficulty of the tasks which is a great way to keep children challenged as they play.

    In addition to practicing their sorting and problem solving skills, players also have an opportunity to really practice their hand and eye coordination as well as hone their motor skills with this app which is great. The truth is, this is probably one of the best early learning apps that I have seen that incorporate both educational material and engaging activities.

    One thing that would add a bit more value to the app would be to add a narration option where children can hear the shapes, colors, letters, and numbers as they play. This would allow children to also learn their colors, shapes, letters etc. in addition to everything else that is included in the app.

    Entertainment

    The main concept of this app is puzzles and sorting the items and pieces that come down the conveyor belt appropriately. For children who love puzzles and are naturally challenged by them, this app is a lot of fun. There is also a bonus game that children have access to once they have earned 200 stars by playing the other puzzles that provides access to a memory match activity. This not only provides a goal for children to achieve, but also adds a bit more entertainment value to the app as a whole.

    Value

    Priced at just under three dollars this app is a steal. When you consider all the activities including the bonus game and the amount of early learning skills children will have access to, this app is a no-brainer. Parents will certainly appreciate all that they get for this awesome price.

    Child Friendliness

    The developers have done a good job of keeping this app easy to use for kids. With little to no instructions needed to get started, children can jump right in and start playing with the various puzzles and learning as they go. The parent area offers difficulty and music options, but there is also a link to rate the app that isn’t protected that parents will want to be aware of. Protecting this button is ideal especially since the parent area isn’t protected either.

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

    image (15)

    Say Word

    Quality
    Education
    Entertainment
    Value
    Child Friendly
    Summary
    Say Word is a perfect tool for students in middle to upper elementary on up to use for practice with difficult homophones and easily-confused words. Most will find the vocabulary and concepts challenging and interesting.
    4.1

    App Info

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

    Overview

    Say Word presents players with a list of several homophones (words that are spelled differently but sound the same) and sentences with blanks. Users drag the correct word into each sentence to score points and win stickers. The app ranges from grade 1 through collegiate level, and offers a score card when each grade is completed.

    Features include:

    • Ten free levels and nearly 100 levels all together
    • Colorful drag-and-drop interface
    • Provides practice on sets of two, three, and four word homophones
    • Earn stickers and points for successful responses
    • Unlock level after level to keep the fun going

    Quality

    Say Word is a quality app that will help middle elementary students and above learn to distinguish homophones like “here/hear” and “purr/per.” The interface is simple to use; users just drag the correct word to the blank in the corresponding sentence. There is an optional timer to add an element of speed, and levels can be replayed for a better score or for review.

    However, parents and teachers should be aware that the app has a decidedly British English flair that may confuse some American students. For example, one sentence in an early level talks about a teacher giving a naughty pupil a “knap” on the head. This usage of “knap,” meaning a sharp rap, is not at all common in the U.S., and may confuse some students.  There are also some sentences that use poor grammar.  For example, one sentence reads “The elderly patient was very weak and ail after receiving her medication.” The word “ail” was the supposedly correct response, even though it was not grammatically sound.  Another example of a poorly constructed sentence, also found in the early levels of the game, was “The stuntman performed a def defying feat.”  Developers should consider revising these items and check the rest of the levels for similar problems.

    Education

    Say Word is very educational and will help students practice choosing the correct homophone from sets of confusing words.  Most students need nearly constant review of these sets of words, and mastering them is extremely important, because errors with homophones are frequently missed by spell-check systems. Nearly everyone needs to present writing with sound spelling and grammar, and mistakes on these seemingly simple words look very careless.  Practicing with Say Word will help minimize these kinds of mistakes.

    However, the app does have a few drawbacks. Though the early levels claim to be for grades 1 and 2, the vocabulary and concepts in the sentences are far too challenging for young elementary students. For example, one sentence in the second grade questions reads, “ ‘Who knows?’ is an example of a rhetorical question, because it is a statement that does not ask for an answer.”  The homophone needed for the response is well within the second grade reading vocabulary (knows), but the other words in the sentence, such as “rhetorical”, and the entire concept, are far beyond the understanding of most second graders.  So, while the app claims to reach all the way down to first grade material, a better age range might be at least middle to upper elementary level to introduce it.  The levels do claim to go past collegiate level, as well, so the app is likely to be a good practice tool for older students.

    Also, the app presents the target words in a word bank with the words colored apparently randomly against a colored background. Most of the color combinations are fine, but a few of them are very low-contrast, which could be very challenging for some readers.  Any student with visual impairment could have serious problems seeing the words.  Also, many struggling readers make a lot more errors when reading with low contrast.  App designers should ensure that the words are always in high-contrast combinations against the background color.

    Entertainment

    Say Word is not very flashy, but most learners will find it engaging enough to keep playing if they have a goal of mastering these challenging homophones.  The game moves fast, and feedback is provided for each grade level in the form of a performance “grade” as well as a number score.  Players also can earn stickers for strong performances, but this may not prove very motivating for students beyond middle elementary school.  The app uses positive comments to affirm correct responses, but these are highly repetitive and somewhat difficult to understand.  Incorrect answers will cause the sentence to drop to the end of the list, so there is little negative feedback. This helps lend an overall positive feeling to the app, even for students who struggle.  However, after three missed items, the app closes the activity and puts a “failed” message on the screen. It would be good to refocus that onto a less negative response, such as “sorry” or “let’s try again.”

    Value

    Say Word is free to download and comes with the first 10 levels built in.  This covers homophones through part of the third grade level.  There are 66 additional levels that can be unlocked through in-app purchase.  Users can choose to spend $1.99 to unlock all of the additional levels or can purchase the next 20 levels for $0.99.  The free levels will give users a good sample of the app’s workings and capabilities, but may seem fairly easy to more mature users.

    Child Friendliness

    This app is child-friendly, but has a few negative features that developers need to redesign.  It is a concern that the in-app purchases are visible on the level choice screens, though these are protected by an effective parent gate as well as the user’s App Store credentials.  It is also a concern that there is a link to share scores on Facebook presented with the completion of each grade level.  Both of these items should be protected in a Parents’ Area where they would not be visible to younger players.

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

    backsoon
    Quality
    Education
    Entertainment
    Value
    Child Friendly
    Summary
    The parents head on vacation and leave the kids behind in a cute story that teaches kids how to handle their time away.
    4.3

    App Info

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

    Overview

    Most parents need to get away every now and then, but leaving the kids for a few days can evoke a range of emotions. Back Soon – Parents Vacation uses a cute rhyming story to help kids learn about the emotions they may experience when their parents go away. Even though Anna and her little brother Dan have their grandparents to entertain them, they still miss their mom and dad. By learning from the experience of Anna and Dan, kids will be more prepared when their parents take a vacation of their own.

    Features include:

    • Cute rhyming story
    • Interactive illustrations
    • Read to Me option
    • Read to Myself option

    Quality

    Back Soon – Parents Vacation gains points more for the lessons it teaches than the quality of the story. The story is narrated with an engaging child’s voice, features a fun rhyme and is illustrated with colorful pictures. However, at times the rhyme seems a bit forced and the illustrations, while interactive, are very simple. Still kids will enjoy read through the story which they can do easily using the arrows and the page selector to help guide them from page to page.

    Education

    When it comes to teaching kids about emotions, the story does a good job. It accurately captures the way many children feel when mom and dad go away. The story is also good for encouraging kids to read as it is written in a fun rhyming format. What the app lacks is text highlighting which it could use to boost its educational value, especially because some of the words are a little advanced for the lower end of its age group.

    Entertainment

    Anna has a fun voice that will hook kids from the beginning of the story. Kids will also enjoy meeting her little brother, their parents, and grandparents. As kids read, they’ll have the opportunity to interact with the illustrations. Most of the illustrations don’t do much, but in a few instances kids can complete tasks such as packing a suitcase or matching toys with their shadows. These activities will appeal more to the preschool and kindergarten set, while older kids will enjoy more of the story itself.

    Value

    While priced similarly to other interactive eBooks for kids, the app’s value comes more from the story’s lesson and less from the features it contains. If parents are planning to go on vacation, it’s worth a download, especially for the longing chart at the end of the story.

    Child Friendliness

    Kids will be very safe within the app. Aside from a credits screen which contains information about the people who created the app and an inactive link to the developer’s website, the sole focus of the app is on the story.

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

    IMG_0509
    Quality
    Education
    Entertainment
    Value
    Child Friendly
    Summary
    Explore the United States through its animals, landmarks, and geography with this exciting virtual atlas for kids.
    4.1

    App Info

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

    Overview

    Discover the United States with Kids U.S. Atlas from Planet Factory. In this fun, interactive app, kids can explore all aspects of the United States, from the states themselves to the animals, national parks, monuments, and geographic features found within them. While learning about the states, kids get to test their knowledge with quizzes, puzzles, and other exciting activities while parents can track their progress on the parental dashboard.

    Features include:

    • Quiz and puzzle games
    • Multiple categories
    • Progress tracking
    • English and Spanish

    Quality

    The main screen of the app displays a map of the United States with icons noting the different features. Along the bottom of the screen is a key representing the different categories: national monuments, mountains & deserts, national parks, the fifty states, lakes, rivers, and animals. At the top of the screen icons representing the different puzzles and games available for a particular category. Small icons also highlight the parent info area, more apps, new apps, and the language selector. The app is available in English and Spanish.

    Once kids start interacting with a category, they will find informational paragraphs with clear audio narration and video clips to support the content they contain. Watching the videos requires an internet connection, but otherwise the app runs smoothly and kids can easily find their way through the games.

    Education

    Kids of different ages can explore the content of this app and feel like they are learning a lot. Every paragraph comes with audio narration, so even early readers can understand what is going on. Graphics and videos also support the learning and help the app appeal to multiple learning styles. Kids can also play a variety of games related to the content, including grouping items, answering quiz questions, and solving jigsaw puzzles. Parents can monitor kids’ performance using the parental dashboard and encourage them to focus on particular areas.

    Entertainment

    The way the app is organized allows kids to explore and discover at their own pace. They’ll enjoy tapping on the various icons to discover what hides behind them. They’ll also have a lot of fun playing the games and activities contained within the app. There are tons of options for kids to keep them entertained, especially if parents opt to purchase all of the categories.

    Value

    While the app is free to download, only the animals category comes with it. Parents can unlock additional categories individually or as a bundle. Individually, the categories are fairly expensive and not really worth the price, but the bundle is a decent value for the content they get.

    Child Friendliness

    The app is fairly easy for kids to navigate and provides a safe place for them to learn about the United States. However, it does offer in-app purchases and contains a few icons advertising “more apps” and new apps which can distract kids. Thankfully, they’re protected.

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

    IMG_1206
    Quality
    Education
    Entertainment
    Value
    Child Friendly
    Summary
    Introduce kids to the letters of the alphabet and high-frequency sight words as they play a series of fun puzzle games.
    4.4

    App Info

    Price: $0.99
    AppStore User Rating: 5
    Download on the App Store

    Overview

    Early readers have a new tool to help build the letter and word recognition skills they need to become strong readers. A to Z Playful Learning introduces kids to the letters of the alphabet and high-frequency sight words through a series of six different games. These games combine learning with fun activities such as popping bubbles, growing flowers, and playing with letter magnets. The combination of the two creates a quality app for toddlers and preschoolers.

    Features include:

    • Six learning games
    • High-frequency sight words
    • Letter recognition
    • Fun background music

    Quality

    The app centers around six main games which are highlighted on the main screen. From that screen, kids can select one of the games and start learning. In general, the games are high-quality and fairly easy to play. However, a few of the games, such as the tractor and bubble games, could use clearer instructions. Along with unclear instructions, the audio for the words used in the game could be a bit louder. A speech bubble allows kids to repeat the words, but many times they’ll have to turn off the background music to hear what is said. When kids decide to move to a new game, they can simply hit the home button, but it is occasionally slow to respond and may need to be tapped more than once. Despite these minor issues, kids will still benefit from the games in this app.

    Education

    Kids will learn to recognize both the words of the alphabet and high-frequency sight words. Some of the words seem designed for kindergarten or first grade rather than toddlers or preschoolers. However, the activities are focused more on letter recognition than the words, so younger kids will still be able to understand them. As kids make each word, they hear the letters in the word repeated aloud. American English speakers should note that the letter Z is pronounced “zed” in the app.

    Entertainment

    Each of the activities offers a different way for kids to interact with words and letters. They can use a watering can to help grow letter flowers, watch a train chug in with a new word, and bulldoze a word with a tractor. They can also bake cookies and blow bubbles with letters inside.

    Value

    For the price, kids get access to six different games and are introduced to a large number of high-frequency sight words. Despite some of the quality issues, this app is a great buy for beginning letter practice.

    Child Friendliness

    A small envelope in the upper left-hand corner of the main screen leads to a protected parent area. Beyond that, kids have free reign over the app and it’s educational content.

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

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

    App Info

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

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

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

    App Info

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

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

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

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

    App Info

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

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

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

    App Info

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

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

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

    Education

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

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    profmiki
    Quality
    Education
    Entertainment
    Value
    Child Friendly
    Summary
    Prof. Miki is a good app to use with preschoolers and some kindergarteners and first graders. Even the very young will benefit from its gentle and consistent teaching about the many forms that numbers can take and the relationships between the numbers.
    4.4

    App Info

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

    Overview

    Users can journey through the ocean, darkest Africa and outer space as they count, match and compare numbers with Prof Miki as a guide. The app presents number bubbles containing counters and/or numerals with verbal instructions to count, match or compare the amounts.

    Features include:

    • Very gradual increase in difficulty levels
    • Progression from concrete to abstract work
    • Exercises vital foundational math skills
    • Control of relative volume for sound effects and background music
    • Positive and gentle correction for errors

    Quality

    This high-quality app works well and performs as expected with a few minor exceptions. Occasionally when a player makes an error, the instructions seem to reference other levels by accident. For example, in the jungle level when players are to touch largest and smallest amounts, they may be told to match similar numbers as they did in the undersea level. In the outer space level, they are occasionally told to find the two planets that have the same numbers, but they are really supposed to find ALL of the planets that match and there are more than the two of previous levels. These minor glitches in instructions might be confusing to some young users.

    Education

    Prof. Miki does an outstanding job of helping young children learn about counting to ten, ordering and comparing numbers, and much more. This app does a great job of building often-overlooked foundational math skills, such as recognizing standard groupings of pips (think of the patterns on dice) and recognizing the amounts shown without actually counting. It is designed so that players can take their time at first and then speed up their performance to improve their processing speed and visual memory.

    The third level is particularly intriguing-players are encouraged to internalize the concept that larger numbers are made of smaller parts. These can be grouped in different ways. For example, a group of eight items can be arranged as seven and one, four and four, or three and five. This idea seems very basic to us adults, but young children often need a lot of reinforcement to internalize it, and it is one of the foundational understandings that allows us to add and subtract with fluency. My concern is with the way the instructions on this level are presented to kids. Children see a selection of “planets” on the screen that display various numbers in various configurations. Three or more of them represent the same number, but in visually different ways. Sometimes Prof. Miki asks users to “find all of the parts of the number.” This instruction may not be clear to many users, since each number is complete on its planet. It might be better to refer to “groups that make the number” or something like that, and be sure to clarify that each planet contains the entire number. Players are not looking for fractional parts, and this term may well be confusing to young children who are also exploring fractions at the same time.

    The app offers thirty exercises at each level, with the option to replay as desired. The system can keep track of up to four users’ places in the sequence of activities. It would be nice if accuracy records were kept so that parents or teachers could see how well concepts are being mastered.

    Entertainment

    This app will be fun for the target audience. Activities are short and sweet, in keeping with children’s sometimes short attention spans. It’s nice that the app will retain information about levels and activities completed so that young users can pick right up where they left off. Developers did a good job of varying Prof. Miki’s responses to correct and incorrect choices, as well. The guide is encouraging at every step of the way, no matter whether correct answers were chosen or not.

    However, the game play might get repetitious, particularly for kindergarten or first grade students, since each level presents the same mechanism for response, albeit dressed up in a different “world.” Also, Prof. Miki occasionally responds to incorrect answers with a hearty “Well done!” before instructing kids to try again. That one seems just a bit inappropriate. Repeated mistakes at the same activity trigger repetition of the same corrective phrase, and probably should, at least after the second error on the activity, review the instructions. Not all of the corrective prompts do this, but rather say encouraging words such as “I can see how hard you are working.” A repetition of the activity instructions might be more valuable to the users.

    Value

    This app is a bit on the expensive side compared to other math apps for this age group. It does a very good job of developing important foundational number concepts, though, and will be particularly useful for helping children who are struggling with the very basics of counting and numeracy. However, with only 90 exercises that have a relatively limited scope, the price tag does seem a bit steep.

    Child Friendliness

    This app is very child friendly. Developers have included a section of parental instructions and one for “tips” that can enhance usage of the app.

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

    Georgie

    App Info

    Price: $2.99
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

    • Text highlighting
    • Narration throughout
    • Interactive images

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    coosi_size350

    App Info

    Price: Free
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

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

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    iconoJOKOTOKI

    App Info

    Price: $0.99
    AppStore User Rating: 5

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    • 4 Activities
    • Music
    • Search & find activity

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    tellingthetime

    App Info

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

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    dinosaur

    App Info

    Price: $1.99
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

    • Glossary
    • 160 Vocabulary words
    • 3 Difficulty levels

    Quality

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

    Education

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

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    PHicon1024

    App Info

    Price: $0.99
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    giggletree

    App Info

    Price: $1.99
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

    • 4 Memory activities
    • Sticker book
    • Easy to use

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    2

    App Info

    Price: Free
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    • 10 Animals
    • Narration throughout
    • Easy to use

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    makeascene

    App Info

    Price: $2.99
    AppStore User Rating: 5

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    migalolo

    App Info

    Price: Free
    AppStore User Rating: 4.5

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

    • Narration
    • Educational songs
    • 90 Minutes of adventure

    Quality

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

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

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

    Education

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

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    worldracers1

    App Info

    Price: $1.99
    AppStore User Rating: 3
    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    teddymissing

    App Info

    Price: $2.99
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

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

    Education

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

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    pegcat

    App Info

    Price: $2.99
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    citynights

    App Info

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

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    threepigs

    App Info

    Price: $1.99
    AppStore User Rating: 5

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    chore

    App Info

    Price: $2.99
    AppStore User Rating: 3.5

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    roobarb

    App Info

    Price: $2.99
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    maxresdefault

    App Info

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

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

    This app is not being rated for education.

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    adventre

    App Info

    Price: $2.99
    AppStore User Rating: 4.5

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

    Not rated for education.

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    dipity

    App Info

    Price: $0.99
    AppStore User Rating: 5

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

    Not rated for education.

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    pepi ride

    App Info

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

    Overview

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

    Features include:

    • 4 Characters
    • Driving challenges
    • Car decorations & accessories

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

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

    Wenda

    App Info

    Price: $2.99
    AppStore User Rating: 4
    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

    mia

    App Info

    Price: Free
    AppStore User Rating:

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

    Education

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

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

    Entertainment

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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

    stanley

    App Info

    Price: $1.99
    AppStore User Rating: 4

    Download on the App Store

    Overview

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

    Features include:

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

    Quality

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

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

    Education

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

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

    Entertainment

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

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

    Value

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

    Child Friendliness

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