Universal (iPhone / iPod / iPad)

The Sweet Little Monster

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Black Blue is a fun and unique puzzle app that challenges players to choose the best starting point for their color when tracing complex shapes so that they cover more of the shape than the opponent’s color.
4.6

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 3

Download on the App Store

Overview

Black Blue is an intriguing puzzle app that is simple to learn and challenging to play. The game has options for single players and two players. The object is to connect the dots to cover more of the given shape with blue than the computer’s (or the opponent’s) black tracing. A graph at the top of the screen keeps “score” with relative percentages that each color has covered, and starting your play at different dots changes which part of the shape is covered by your blue line.

Features include:

  • Simple game play
  • One or two player modes
  • 72 levels
  • Easy one-handed control
  • Game Center integration

Quality

Black Blue is a high quality app that will keep puzzle fans engaged for hours. Once players understand how the game works (which is easy to figure out by trial and error), the game play seems simple, but the strategies will keep players intrigued. Developers should consider more in-depth directions, though. The short demo videos may not be clear to all players, and simple things like the object of the game should be spelled out for all.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Black Blue is highly entertaining. The puzzles get progressively harder through the levels, and players are challenged with increasingly complex shapes and strategies. There are 72 levels, which should keep even the most dedicated puzzler occupied for quite some time, and having the two-player option is a wonderful way to satisfy competitive itches. The game is also equipped to access the Game Center, where players can compare their scores and performances with players from around the world.

Value

This app is ninety-nine cents on the App Store, which is a great value if you are looking for a puzzle app that is simple to learn yet with enough challenge to provide hours of gaming fun.

Child Friendliness

This app accesses the Game Center, has a ratings section, and allows access the internet, social media and email.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES more apps (unprotected)
  • YES social media (unprotected)
  • YES outside links (unprotected)
  • YES ratings section (unprotected)
  • YES email link (unprotected)

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Pili Pop Francais

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Kids can learn French through fun games and an immersive language approach with Pili Pop Francais.
4.4

App Info

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

Overview

Give kids a chance to learn French by immersing themselves in the language with Pili Pop Francais. This unique app allows kids to learn French words and practice their pronunciation skills through a series of fun games. As they play, they’ll advance in level and take on more different tasks. Before long, kids may be begging for you to take them to Paris so they can practice their new skills.

Features include:

  • Immersive language experience
  • Three levels of difficulty
  • Multiple categories of words
  • Voice recongition and recording options

Quality

Pili Pop Francais is definitely a high-quality app. Parents must input an e-mail address or sign into an account before kids can start learning. Once they do, kids get to type in their name, select their age, and choose an avatar. All of the categories are organized by pictures and by numbered levels. Kids can easily navigate from one level to the next. In the protected parent area, parents will find plenty of information about how the app works so they can help kids as they play and learn.

Education

Developers have created an app that takes an immersive approach to language instruction. Kids will find that all directions and other information within the app are written in French. For beginning learners, this may prove to be a bit frustrating. However, it’s also a good way for kids to begin to make crucial connections related to language. Within the app are multiple levels of learning, as well as activities organized by category. For example, kids can practice numbers or clothing words. The app also contains a dictionary. In the dictionary, kids can tap on a picture and hear each word pronounced. They can also record themselves saying the words. As the app progresses, the app uses voice recognition techniques to help improve kids’ oral language skills.

Entertainment

Many of the activities within the app are in the form of simple games. Kids might find themselves getting frustrated by the immersive approach to language because sometimes it’s hard to understand what to do. However, th games are fun for kids and they get to interact with different characters. They can also earn stars, unlock puzzle pieces, and record themselves saying French words in the dictionary.

Value

Parents can download the app and let kids try it for free simply by providing an e-mail address. With the free version, kids can learn numbers and some other basic words, such as articles of clothing. It’s a good overview of the app’s educational approach and features. If kids do well, parents may want to consider a subscription. However, the subscriptions are pricey, so parents will want to be sure kids are serious about learning French.

Child Friendliness

On the main screen, kids can see a more apps icon, which leads them to brief descriptions of two additional apps. However, access to the apps is protected by a parental block. Access to the protected parent area, in-app purchases, and the support section is also protected by a parental block. In the protected parent area, parents can purchase a subscription to the app, as well as learn more about its features and the educational approach the app takes.

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Story Starters Pro offers a nearly limitless supply of stimulating prompts to set writing off on the right foot. Everyone from students of all ages to professional writers will benefit from the material that this app has to offer.
5

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Story Starters Pro provides writers with stimulating fodder to get the creative juices flowing. It offers selections of words, phrases, sentences, pictures, sounds, or even video clips and clips of famous speeches to provide a jumping-off point for many types of writing.

Features include:

  • Hundreds of stimulating beginnings for stories
  • Encourages story-telling, oral language, and writing
  • HD video
  • Builds vocabulary and word choice options
  • Nurture inference and prediction skills

Quality

Story Starters Pro is a very high quality app that works exactly as developers intended. The app is highly intuitive, and provides exciting and interesting prompts in multiple media formats to help writers (young or old) overcome writer’s block and put pencil to paper. Users simply tap one of the eight opening choices to access specific categories of starters, then choose the one that seems most intriguing.  In addition, the app is easy to navigate and move around in.

Education

Story Starters Pro is a dream resource for classroom use and for personal use by students and writers. The app provides numerous ways to begin a story. Users can choose if they want to base their writing off of random groups of words, interesting sounds, pictures that set up a setting, opening sentences, interesting phrases, videos, and more.

The many choices provide a foothold on writing or storytelling that is likely to get even the most unimaginative or blocked writer out of the starting gate.  In addition, the app can be used to build oral language skills and conversation skills, as well. Each stimulus is carefully chosen to be open-ended and interesting.

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

Story Starters Pro costs just ninety-nine cents on the App Store, and will provide lots of exciting starts to writing and speaking. Teachers, parents, and even writers would have to work long and hard to put together such a collection of interesting ways to start talking or writing.

Child Friendliness

Story Starters Pro is very child-friendly. It can be safely used by even the youngest of children.

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

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

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Pepi Super Stores

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Let kids explore the mall on their own along with a host of different characters in Pepi Super Stores.
4.4

App Info

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

Overview

Similar to the Toca Life apps, Pepi Super Stores allows kids to play freely within a mall-like atmosphere. Whether it’s trying on clothes, shopping for groceries, or serving Asian food, kids can have a lot of fun in the mall.

Features include:

  • Choose from multiple characters
  • Visit multiple stores
  • Enjoy free play
  • Create unique scenarios

Quality

Pepi Super Stores offers a high-quality app for kids. It’s on par with similar apps. Kids can interact with the majority of the items in a store with ease. They can also choose from a host of characters. Occasionally, the app will offer some help. For example, at the beginning a hand points to the button to pull up the list of characters. There are tons of fun sound effects and animations to help keep kids engaged. In general, everything runs smoothly. Kids will only find a few kinks as they play. For example, the clothing store doesn’t offer a lot of pants and when a character puts on the lone skirt, the character’s underwear shows through.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

In this app, kids get to roam freely. If they want to make burgers one minute and play the saxophone the next, they can do that. If they want to play as an alien or a unicorn, they can do that too. The mall offers four levels and eleven different areas for kids to enjoy.

Value

The app is priced comparably to similar apps. For the price, kids get to enjoy free play in multiple environments. They also get to interact with a large number of characters.

Child Friendliness

A more apps icon on the main screen leads kids to a list of additional apps, as well as a box to subscribe to the developer’s newsletter. However, access beyond this screen is protected by a kid lock. Additionally, a rate us button occasionally pops up while kids are playing. In the protected parent area, parents can also sign up for the newsletter and view additional information about the app.

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

Monkey Stick Crossing

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
TSC Music is a utility app that will enhance your music listening experience, check and monitor your hearing levels, and perhaps even improve your ability to hear sounds in certain frequencies.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

TSC Music: Equalizer Balance is a utility designed to work with your favorite music platform that will enhance your listening experience and protect your hearing from damage caused by using earphones incorrectly. In addition, the developers say their auditory training program will actually help most people improve their hearing.

Features include:

  • Test current hearing capacity
  • Listen to music at optimum levels
  • Monitor hearing capacity
  • Exercise auditory skills to improve hearing
  • Adjust sound levels for each ear

Quality

TSC Music is a very high quality app that has both aesthetic and practical applications. The app improves sound quality on your favorite music platform by fine tuning the audio to suit your individualized needs in each ear. It also helps protect your hearing from damage through incorrect use of headphones.  Finally, the app uses a training system that has proven successful in a study published in The American Academy of Neurology’s journal,  Neurology (April 22, 2015). It purports to actually improve some types of existing hearing loss and will help users monitor their hearing over time.

Education

While this app is not intended to help with school skills, it is highly educational, offering a sound way to improve overall health and well-being. Users can take a simple hearing test that the developers believe is indicative of hearing health, then use the provided graphs and charts to monitor improvement while using the app. There is even an automatic sleep mode that allows stimulation of the auditory system while you sleep if you wish.

Entertainment

Any music lover should check this app out. Even if you are not concerned about the state of your hearing, the app fine tunes your device’s audio output to make it sound the best it can be for you. You will notice an immediate difference in your music, and you can also be sure that you are using your headphones at a safe level as well as a comfortable one.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it an outstanding value. Whether you want to check on the state of your hearing, improve your hearing, or simply get the most out of your digital music collection, this app will meet your need. Check it out!

Child Friendliness

This app does require registration with a user name, email address and a phone number. Its terms state that they do not recommend for children under 13, and are primarily thinking adults only should use the app.  There are unprotected links to social media, email, and the internet.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES unprotected access to email and links
  • YES unprotected access to social media
  • YES requires registration with phone and email

Little Tiger: Fire Truck, Submarine, Spaceship

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Encourage kids to use their imaginations and go on journeys with Little Tiger and his friends in Little Tiger: Fire Truck, Submarine, Spaceship.
4.6

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 3.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Little Tiger and his friends panda, elephant, and unicorn are ready for an adventure. Will they drive a fire truck, pilot a spaceship, or navigate a submarine? Kids get to choose in this simple, but very cute and entertaining app.

Features include:

  • Four adorable characters
  • Three fun adventures
  • Engaging interactions
  • Fun background music and sound effects

Quality

Little Tiger offers an engaging, quality app for kids. First, the app prompts kids to choose two of four characters. Then they must choose a vehicle. From there, kids get the chance to power the vehicle and complete the adventure. Everything in the app moves smoothly and there are plenty of non-verbal cues to make it easy for kids to know what to do.

Education

Developers note that this app is designed to help with motor skills and promote logical thinking skills. Throughout the app, kids are given non-verbal cues to help them understand what to do. Using these cues, kids must figure out how to make their vehicles move and what tasks they need to complete.

Entertainment

Within the app, kids can choose from three different adventures. They can rescue cats from trees and put out fires with the fire truck. They can blast off into space and pick up moon rocks with the spaceship. They can also hop aboard a boat and jump off ramps or turn into a submarine and dive deep into the water. Kids get to do all of these with the help of four fun characters. There are lots of fun sound effects, animations, and other interactive components to keep them engaged as they play.

Value

While Little Tiger is a cute app and offers quality animation, it is priced higher than many apps of a similar quality. Still, parents looking for a cute app for kids, particularly toddlers and younger preschoolers may find it worthwhile.

Child Friendliness

A flag on the main screen leads to “new and awesome” apps. However, access to these apps is protected by a parental block. Otherwise, all of the content within the app is entirely appropriate for kids.

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Fruit Heroes Tale is an entertaining and unique marriage of match-three board games and battle-based games. Players have the challenge of numerous leveled match-three boards, and success on the boards increases the player’s battle capabilities.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Fruit Heroes Tale is a match and link game that pairs success on the matching game board with success in the battles going on above the board. The fruit heroes prefer their ammunition to come from their favorite fruits, displayed on the game board. Players slide their finger across rows and columns of matching fruits to provide fire power for the game above. There are also various game board-based incentives and puzzles to add interest.

Features include:

  • Collect gems for game rewards
  • Unlock additional heroes and pets

     

  • Earn booster wheel spins to add to rewards after each level
  • Multiple play modes
  • Compete against yourself to achieve high score and other benefits

Quality

This is a high quality app, and will please fans of both adventure/battle games and match-three games. If players are already familiar with the game format, the game is intuitive. However, developers should consider a succinct tutorial to help new players.  Also, I had a lot of trouble paying attention to the battle scene at the top of the screen, since my focus was on the game board trying to find matches.  It might be better to separate these two modes, possibly by having players earn battles with performance on the game board.  Finally, the font used for printed notices in the game is somewhat difficult to read.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Fruit Heroes Tale has a lot to offer fans of match-three and battle format games. Each round is timed, and becomes more difficult. As players progress, they are presented with new challenges or goals for each level. Some challenges include blacked-out spaces on the game board that make matches more difficult, floating keys that unlock cages with pets when the key reaches the cage, bombs and other tools to use in the battle, and more. The game has over fifty levels, with helps such as extra time available in trade for accumulated gems, so this minimizes the “getting stuck” syndrome that drives people away from the game after playing for a while.

Value

Fruit Heroes Tale is an outstanding value on the App Store. It is completely free, and is more child-friendly than most free game apps. There are some available in-app purchases to get extra time or other game perks available for ninety-nine cents per purchase.

Child Friendliness

This app, while somewhat more child friendly than many of its brethren, does contain tempting unprotected in-app purchases. However, there are no outside advertisements or unprotected links to the internet.

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

Handybot

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Use your logic and creative thinking skills to get the robot down the hole in Handybot, a fun logic-based game.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

If you’re looking for a challenging logic game, consider checking out Handybot. In this engaging game, your job is to help the Handybot get to the hole. At first, it’s easy. However, as you advance through the levels, you’ll find that your logical thinking skills are put to the test.

Features include:

  • Multiple levels
  • Helpful tutorials
  • Sound effects and background music
  • Engaging logic game

Quality

Handybot is a well-organized app that features an engaging logic game. On the main screen, players will see icons that bring up ads and allow them to complete an in-app purchase to remove the ads. There’s also a drop down bar with some settings options. This bar can be collapsed to reveal the full screen. Once players get into the game, they’ll start each level with a tutorial. It’s easy to follow the tutorials and figure out how to make the Handybot move. However, getting the Handybot to the hole isn’t always easy.

Education

This app is not overtly educational. However, it does require players to use their knowledge of lines and angles to figure out how to move the Handybot to the hole. At the beginning of each level, players can view a tutorial to help them. Tapping on the question mark during the level brings up the tutorial again. Each level adds additional movement options, so the game slowly increases in difficulty and complexity.

Entertainment

Players work through multiple levels. In each level, they face new challenges involved in getting the Handybot down the hole. While the first few levels are fairly easy, the later levels present enough difficulty to keep players on their toes and encourage them to keep trying to get it right.

Value

In the free version of the app, players get to move through multiple levels of the game. Ads do exist in the free version, but they are not prevalent enough to decrease its value.

Child Friendliness

The app does contain third party ads, but they are not very prevalent. Occasionally they will appear between levels. Players can purchase an in-app purchase to remove the ads completely from the app.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Divi. is a surprisingly addictive and fun app that will help students gain speed and fluency at factors, multiples, and divisibility rules to help them improve their skills with equivalent fractions, simplifying fractions, and finding common denominators.
4.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Divi. is a math practice app that will help students learn to recognize factors and multiples. The game presents a number and offers two possible factors as well as a “both” or “neither” button. Play is timed, so players must quickly decide if the target number is divisible by none, one, or both factors, then hit the correct response button.

Features include:

  • Simple play
  • Three play modes
  • Encourages fast thinking

     

  • Format encourages improvement
  • Large print/minimalist mode

Quality

Divi. is a high quality app that will keep young math students on their toes as they learn to spot multiples and factors as well as quickly apply divisibility rules. There is a provided tutorial and clear directions. The one drawback was not likely the developers’ fault, but it does detract from the game on occasion. The app plays third-party advertisements between each round of game play, and for much of my trial, an ad was malfunctioning, hanging up the app entirely. Again, this is not likely something the developer has control of, but it does detract from game play when it happens.

Education

Divi. is a wonderful tool to help middle elementary students and older gain fluency and speed with factors, multiples, and divisibility rules. The game play is simple, and having only two possible factors from which to choose will really help some students get the hang of how to perform this task.

Divisibility, factors and multiples are important concepts, particularly in relation to working with fractions. Solid understanding of these concepts is critical for students’ ability to work with equivalent fractions, simplifying fractions, and adding or subtracting fractions.

Entertainment

This app is not really intended to be entertaining, but developers did a good job of making it fun anyway.  They’ve included snappy music (with the option to turn it on and off), as well as a colorful interface. The game’s competitive nature, challenging players to continually beat high scores in the various modes, is highly addictive, and many students will be attracted to it.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it an outstanding value. It’s not often that free apps provide such fun while developing crucial math skills.

Child Friendliness

This app is not particularly child-friendly.  There are 3rd party advertisements shown between each round of the game, and an unprotected link to the internet that shows the game tutorial information.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES unprotected links
  • YES 3rd party advertisements

Let's Go Lex!

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Travel down the river with Lex the hippo and her froggy friends in Let's Go Lex!, an animated story app for kids.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Let’s Go Lex tells the story of Lex the hippo and her froggy friends. As she floats down the river, Lex enjoys many different activities. Kids can join in by tapping on the flies and viewing fun animations as they read through the story. At the end, kids can put together a puzzle.

Features include:

  • Animated illustrations
  • Highlighted text
  • English, Spanish, or Italian text
  • Puzzle to solve

Quality

In general, Let’s Go Lex is a quality app. The narration does feel like it could be a bit better and sometimes the animations are slow. However, everything generally moves well and the app is full of quality features, such as animated illustrations and highlighted text. A crab occasionally appears to offer help. The app menu offers access to page-by-page navigation, sound control, and the ability to select a language. Kids can listen to or read the story in English, Spanish, or Italian.

Education

One of the best features of the story is the highlighted narration. This feature will help kids begin to develop word-to-sound recognition and improve their reading skills. The text is a bit small, but it does not really hurt the story. As kids read, they’ll find the story to be engaging and will enjoy the animated illustrations as well.

Entertainment

In addition to a quality text, the app offers animated illustrations. Kids can typically engage the illustrations by tapping on the flies. Along with a fun story, the app also offers a puzzle for kids to put together at the end.

Value

This app is priced lower than many narrated ebooks. While it lacks some of the interactivity found in higher-priced ebooks, it does offer quality narration and highlighted text.

Child Friendliness

On the first page of the app, kids will see the developer’s website address and a Facebook icon. However, these objects are not active links. All of the content within the story is appropriate for kids.

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

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

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

998 Escape Games - Love of Wizards

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Find clues and solve puzzles in 998 Escape Games - Love of Wizards, a traditional escape game with a mystical theme.
4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

If you enjoy escape games, you’ll enjoy 998 Escape Games – Love of Wizards. This escape game takes you from room to room and has you search for clues to help you get out. While the style is similar to other escape game apps, this one has a wizard theme, so you’ll find spell books and other elements of wizardry as you try to escape.

Features include:

  • Clues to find
  • Puzzles to solve
  • Logic and creative reasoning skills
  • Suspenseful environment

Quality

998 Escape Games – Love of Wizards is a fun game. However, it does have a few quality issues. First, ads display at the top of the screen throughout the app. These ads are not fully visible because the ad bar is too small for them. This gives the game a messier look. There are also some errors in words in the game. For example, the button on the main page say Ads Free instead of Ad Free and ReStore instead of restore. Additionally, there are icons on the bottom of the screen to help players access a video walk-through, turn off the sound, or pause the game, but these icons are small and may easily be missed.

Education

Escape games like 998 Escape Games – Love of Wizards encourage logical thinking and reasoning skills. As players play the game, they’re expected to make inferences and draw conclusions, as well as put all of the clues together to figure out how to escape the rooms. These actions help build key thinking skills.

Entertainment

As you go from room to room, you’ll uncover many clues. This game has a wizard theme, so you’ll find lots of magic books and other objects related to wizardry. You’ll also get the chance to solve a lot of puzzles and figure out tricky codes. The game times your progress, so you can play through it multiple times and try to improve your time.

Value

The app is free to download. Ads are prevalent in the free version. However, they can be removed through an in-app purchase.

Child Friendliness

An ad appears when the app is first opened. Ads also appear on the top of the screen during the game. The in-app purchase to remove the apps is unprotected. Players can also access the video walk-through by tapping on the video icon which gives them unprotected access to an external website.

  • YES 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected external links
  • YES unprotected in-app purchase

996 Escape Games - Free the Love Birds

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Can you find the clues and escape the room to free the love birds in 996 Escape Games - Free the Love Birds, a fun puzzle app for teens?
4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 1

Download on the App Store

Overview

If you enjoy escape games, you’ll enjoy 996 Escape Games – Free the Love Birds. The premise of the game is that two love birds have been kidnapped. It’s your job to find and put together the clues to set them free. As you walk throughout the rooms, you’ll have to solve a variety of puzzles, gather pieces of codes, and figure out how it all goes together.

Features include:

  • Clues to find
  • Puzzles to solve
  • Logic and creative reasoning skills
  • Suspenseful environment

Quality

996 Escape Games – Free the Love Birds and its counterparts are fun games. However, they would be much more appealing if the quality was improved. In general, the game responds well to player interactions and players can fairly easily tap on objects to reveal clues or add them to their collection. Other aspects of the game, lack quality. For example, the introduction is written using fragments, run-on sentences and other errors in grammar and punctuation. The game also features ads at the top of the screen that are partly cut off given the size of the ad bar, making the game look like it is of less quality than it is. During the game, on the bottom of the screen, players will see icons for more information and video. These icons are small and easy to miss. The video icon also takes players out of the app to watch a walk-through of the game which is not set up to be easily viewed on mobile devices.

Education

While not inherently educational, escape games like 996 Escape Games – Free the Love Birds encourage logical thinking and reasoning skills. Players must be able to put together all of the information they find in a way that helps them solve the mystery. They must make connections and inferences and draw conclusions. These are all essential skills that students need to develop.

Entertainment

If you enjoy escape games, chances are you’ll like this one. The rooms are full of plenty of clues to uncover and a clock tracks how long it is taking to escape the rooms. The premise of rescuing kidnapped love birds also makes the game a little more engaging.

Value

Players can download the app for free. The free version comes with a lot of ads. However, the ads can be removed through an inexpensive in-app purchase. How much you enjoy escape games and mind the ads will determine whether the price is worth it.

Child Friendliness

An ad appears when the app is first open and additional ads appear on the top of the screen during the game. Occasionally, ads will also pop up during game play. Users can remove apps through an in-app purchase and access to that purchase is unprotected. Additionally, the app contains unprotected external links which take players to the video walk-through.

  • YES 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected external links
  • YES unprotected in-app purchase

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
997 Escape Games-Jealous of Love is an enjoyable escape-the-room type puzzle that will give players hours of enjoyment. There are many novel puzzles, and players will need to be on their toes to solve them all.
4.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

993 Escape Games-Jealous of Love is an escape-the-room puzzle game themed around romance. Grab clues, unlock secret doors, solve puzzles and unravel the secrets of each level as you solve increasingly difficult puzzles.

Features include:

  • Dozens of puzzles to solve
  • Countless doors to open
  • Hours of game play
  • Nonviolent game play
  • Build observation, reasoning, and creativity skills

Quality

997 Escape Games-Jealous of Love is a high quality app. Folks who enjoy “escape the room” type puzzles will have fun solving these novel click-and-find clues that lead to unlocking secret doors and more. There is a helpful walk-through that is great for beginners because it shows exactly how to solve the first level of puzzles.  It does move fast, though, so be prepared to watch it several times, or plan to stop and start the video repeatedly.

Education

Escape puzzles such as this one are quite educational, even if the primary goal is entertainment. Players must be observant, use logic and memory skills, and above all, be curious and persistent to solve even the first level. It’s no coincidence that these are exactly the same skills needed for success in school at all levels.

Entertainment

997 Escape Games-Jealous of Love is quite entertaining and challenging. The game is timed, but that seems mostly for a self-competitive aspect. There doesn’t seem to be a “time limit” per se, and you could well enjoy just replaying to beat your timed score on the level.  Each level has several rooms to explore, with a multitude of items to collect, objects to manipulate, and secret doors to open with codes or keys. Players must reason out what actions are needed and in what order to move to the next level.

Value

This escape app is free on the App Store, making it a great value for anyone who enjoys escape-the-room puzzles. Players will enjoy dozens of hours of game play, so it’s a real bargain.

Child Friendliness

The app displays an advertisement when you first open it, and also contains advertisements running as banners, and will pause the game to show advertisements. There is an in-app purchase to remove the ads if you wish, for ninety-nine cents.

  • YES unprotected social media
  • YES 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected connections to the internet
  • YES unprotected in-app purchase

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
This free app offers a few simple games for your young preschool children, but it isn’t likely to have much staying power without subscribing to the higher level monthly program.
3.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Smarter Kids offers a selection of letter and number games for young children. Options include counting, number recognition, number concepts, letter recognition, simple spelling, and same/different.

Features include:

  • Several types of games
  • 5 games available for free, additional three with subscription
  • Multiple narration languages available
  • Colorful graphics
  • Intuitive game play

Quality

This app performs as expected and responds quickly to touches and drag motions. There is a “help” section that offers some explanation of the games and of the subscription plans. However, the narrator’s voice is quite robotic and expressionless, which while may be a novelty to the kids for short while, could be an overall detraction from the app’s enjoyability.

Education

This app is designed for the very young. Though developers list it as being appropriate for children from 18 months through 14 years, this is a gross misstatement. The app actually covers counting, number recognition, letter recognition, initial sounds, and some beginning spelling. It actually is educationally appropriate for children from early preschool through possibly late preschool or kindergarten in the free version, and possibly grade 2 in the paid subscription, but there is not much content here for older children.

The games are quite repetitive, but some do allow a fair amount of free choice. For example, choosing a letter to see a word that begins with the letter, or choosing a number to see that number of items. Some games offer a choice of items/animals to see or count in the free version. The subscription versions do offer a few more options, but still seems pretty limited.

Entertainment

Aside from the robotic, expressionless voice, this app offers little in the way of entertainment in the free version. Successful responses receive a mechanical praise word or phrase that is repeated in print at the top of the page. Level completion is acknowledged verbally, but not congratulated. And many of the games stay on level one unless the subscriptions are activated.

Value

Though this app is free on the App Store, it does not have much to offer most children. Young children are likely to tire of it quickly, and older children won’t find any helpful activities at all in the free version. Subscriptions can be purchased for monthly fees of ninety-nine cents or $5.99. The Basic Subscription offers additional levels of most games and additional animal characters. The Elite Subscription offers multiplication and the capability to add or change hats, glasses and other accessories on the characters.

Child Friendliness

This app is not particularly child-friendly, especially considering the target age group. There are unprotected links to the App Store, social media, and other online services.

  • Parent area 
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected links 
  • YES unprotected in-app purchases 
  • YES unprotected social media
  • YES unprotected email links

App Info

Price: $5.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Document Writer for Microsoft Office is a utility that will allow Ipad users to seamlessly create and modify documents on their devices, then transfer them over to their PCs as rich text, PDF or HTML documents.

Features include:

  • Open and edit nearly any type of document
  • Fax from your device (requires outside subscription)
  • Transfer documents between devices via email attachment or outside service
  • Create and edit spreadsheets
  • Create rich text documents (RTF) that can be opened in Word

Quality

Document Writer for Microsoft Office: Word and PDF is a high quality app with lots of practical features that will please users who need to move documents between PC and Ipad. The app is complex, yet easy to learn. Developers included a tutorial to make starting up a breeze.

Education

While this app is not “educational” in and of itself, it’s very utilitarian for students. Writing projects could be completed and moved between devices. The app also offers the capability to open and manipulate PDF documents, including the capability to annotate and add comments. It can format its output in a variety of ways, including rich text, which can be transferred to MS Word with relative ease. It also can serve as an HTML editor, which is a nice plus for anyone who works on webpage design.

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

This app costs $5.99 on the App Store, which may seem pricy at first, but compared to its competitors, is a good value because it actually works as advertised.  One aspect to be aware of, however, is that its advertised faxing capability requires users to be subscribed to a separate service that does have additional fees.

Child Friendliness

This app is not intended for use by young children. It does offer connection to the internet, access to various file-sharing services, and other useful features that are not particularly child-friendly.  These features, however, are necessary to the app’s functionality.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES connection to various file sharing services 
  • YES connection to email 

Little Doggy Run

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Mimics

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Juana la Iguana Goes to the Beach is a fun app that plunges preschoolers into the Spanish language. The beach theme is fun and attractive to young children, and the immersive style of instruction is a proven method of teaching language to young children.
4.7

App Info

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

Overview

Juana la Iguana Goes to the Beach is a language-learning app for preschoolers. The title character guides young children through six different types of activities that teach naming ocean life, identifying beach-themed items, learning about tropical fruits, and more in Spanish.

Features include:

  • Intuitive navigation
  • Optional English or Spanish printed words for navigation
  • Additional activities available for parents
  • Six types of activities
  • Seamless transition between activities

Quality

Juana la Iguana Goes to the Beach is a high quality app that will help young children become familiar with various Spanish words in context. The app is easy to use and features automatic transitions between activities. Developers included a protected parents’ area that houses links to more apps, social media, and email. It also includes a selection of supplemental activities that can be used off-line.

Education

This app is highly educational. Young children’s minds are already open to learning languages in this immersive fashion, and Juana la Iguana does a good job of providing necessary visual context to learn and understand the focus vocabulary. Children will learn Spanish names for ocean animals, how to count and compare numbers, and more. The activities will also promote matching skills, memory, comparison, attention to detail, and several other important skills. Even if your child is not interested in language learning (or if you don’t feel it’s a priority), this app will also help your child improve many other important skills.

Entertainment

Juana la Iguana Goes to the Beach is an entertaining app that will please most preschoolers. There are six different games that build or provide practice for the focus skills, including several drag and drop exercises, sorting activities, and a memory game. After completing a few activities successfully, children are rewarded with a visually attractive “music video” featuring a common children’s tune sung in Spanish.

Value

This app costs $1.99 on the App Store, and that’s a great value. It’s full of educational value for preschool users, and kids will enjoy playing with it. The six games are so quick, however, that they may begin to seem a bit repetitious after a relatively short play period.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly. When the app is first opened, however, it brings up an unprotected email mailing list sign up screen.  There is a “skip” button on the upper right corner of the screen, but this screen should only be available to adults. I hope developers will move it to the protected parents’ area, because it detracts from the overall child-friendliness of the app.

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

Ladybug Band

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Play along with the Ladybug Band in this fun animated ebook that will have you tapping your feet in tune with the music.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

Have you ever heard of the Ladybug Band? Read through this cute animated ebook for kids and dance along as the band plays its signature tunes. Kids can learn all about the band through the story, enjoy the animated illustrations, and even play along with the band at the end.

Features include:

  • Animated illustrations
  • Read to Me and Read to Myself options
  • Ability to record sounds
  • Cute rhyming story

Quality

Overall, developers have created a quality app. A few minor issues appear in the story. For example, the size of the font changes and, on some pages, is fairly small. In a couple instances, such as when the campfire appears, the animations do not work. In general, however, the story features clear narration, good sounds, and simple, but quality animations.

Education

The story offers read along and read to myself options. The read along option features a quality narrator whose voice fits the story well. He reads at a steady pace that is good for readers of all ages. Animations are also included to enhance the story. One thing the story lacks is highlighted text to help make it more beneficial for younger readers. It does, however, offer some nice rhymes for kids.

Entertainment

As kids read through the story, they will be introduced to the Ladybug Band. There are four members of the band and each one has a special skill. Not only can kids read through the cute rhyming story, but they can become a part of the band. At the end of the story, they are given the option to play the role of each of the members of the band. As the song plays, they can sing or play the instrument and record themselves as they go. Kids have the option to save their recordings so they can listen to them again and again.

Value

Ladybug Band is priced comparably to other interactive ebooks. Kids will enjoy the ability to join the band and record their own sounds at the end of it.

Child Friendliness

Kids will find little to take them away from the content of the app. As they read through the story, they will not encounter any ads, social media, or additional distractions. There is a small link to the developer’s website on one of the final pages of the story and access is not protected. The app also requests access to the microphone so kids can join the band at the end of the story.

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
DEDOC Chat is a privacy and security app that allows users to send and receive coded messages with varying degrees of complexity and privacy. It’s perfect for users who wish to send any sort of private or sensitive information over chat and want to make sure the information does not go beyond the intended recipient.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

DEDOC Chat: Text Encryptor & Encoded Communication is a security app that allows users to send and receive encoded text messages to ensure privacy. Messages can only be read by fellow users who have the encryption key, and then they self-destruct after a single reading.

Features include:

  • 7 free encryptions
  • More complex encryptions available
  • Messages disappear after being read
  • Syncs with your contacts list
  • Touch screen security image validation

Quality

DEDOC Chat is a highly-secure text messaging encoder and decoder. The app works as expected and is very high quality. Developers may wish to consider a more detailed help/tutorial section, however.  It’s always nice to have a demonstration or see details about how to use the app.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

While DEDOC Chat is not really intended to be entertaining, it could be very useful in social settings if the users do not wish their messages to be available to just anyone. This feature is helpful for sharing personal information, private things such as passwords or banking information, and for keeping information within a small circle, such as when planning a surprise party or when choosing gifts for others.

Value

This app is free on the App Store and includes 7 types of encryption for users.  There are also many other encryptions available for in-app purchase at prices starting at ninety-nine cents, as well as a full “code book” with even more complex codes available for $5.98.  If privacy is important to you, then this app will certainly help.

Child Friendliness

This app is not really intended to be child-friendly, and in fact, could be used by children or teens to keep unsavory secrets from their parents, which may not be something a parent would wish to encourage.  However, if you and your child use it correctly, it could be a lot of fun and add an air of mystery and importance to your personal communications.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected in-app purchase 
  • YES unprotected connection to social media 
  • YES many possible ways for kids to abuse the system

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Tic Tac Rings is an extraordinarily entertaining, deceptively simple game that will keep most users busy for hours as they try to find patterns and develop strategies to improve their scores.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Tic Tac Rings is an engaging app that challenges visual skills and logic. Players place sets of colored rings on a tic tac toe board to make three in a row of various patterns. The rings are in sets of three concentric circles, and are presented in an array of colors, such that one set presented might be a large green ring, and another set might be a small red ring together with a medium sized blue ring (the colors are random). Players must choose where to place the groups of rings for maximum scoring potential, since rings score points when there are three that match in color and size in a given row. The matching rings disappear, and you can add rings to fill in whatever is missing on the remaining rings, creating a challenging game that apparently is much easier to play than to explain!

Features include:

  • High score indicator
  • Connection to Game Center
  • Optional ad removal
  • Control of sound effects

Quality

Tic Tac Rings is a very high quality app in most respects. The game is relatively intuitive to play, at least at its more basic levels, but developers should consider a listing of scoring combinations. After playing, I discovered that three consecutive rings of matching color and size scored points and disappeared, but there are various types of combinations that I still haven’t figured out what to look for or why I’m getting points. There also appears to be a glitch of some sort in the optional system to remove ads. I tried several times to activate this to see the cost of ad removal for this review, and each time got a message that the service was “unavailable, check internet connection.” Other connected options, such as rating and social media were working as expected.

Education

Though this game is not really intended to be educational, it has a great deal of educational value. Best of all, kids won’t realize that they are practicing vital skills.  To play the game, users must pay close attention to visual patterns, plan ahead and use considerable strategy to improve their scores. Impulsive placement of the ring sets without a plan will quickly lead to the Game Over screen.

Entertainment

Tic Tac Rings is a highly entertaining and possibly addictive game. The concept of play is relatively simple, but the strategies involved will take much longer to develop and master. The high score feature allows players to compete with themselves or others who use the same device, and for many people, that alone is highly motivating.  The game also has optional connections to the Game Center and social media, where players can brag about high scores and compete with others.

Value

Tic Tac Rings is free on the App Store, making it an exceptional value. It will provide hours of play value for anyone who enjoys Match-Three type games and also will give your brain a workout. The app does run advertisements, both between sessions and as a banner running at all times. There is an option to pay a fee to remove ads, but it was not working at the time of this review, so I can’t say what the cost is.

Child Friendliness

This app is not particularly child friendly. There are many third-party advertisements, and unprotected access to Game Center, social media, email, and in-app purchases.

  • YES unprotected access to social media
  • YES many 3rd party advertisements
  • YES unprotected in-app purchase

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

KidsCast

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 2

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

Child Friendly Review

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly.

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Sight Words - Learning Games

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly.

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

Fashstory

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Browse designs from up and coming designers from the comfort of your own home with Fashstory.
3.9

App Info

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

Overview

If you’re a fan of fashion design, you may enjoy Fashstory. This new app gives up and coming fashion designers a place to display their work. The app features designers from around the world. Want to see the latest from designers in Italy? Saudi Arabia? Just select the country to view the designers and images of their latest designs.

Features include:

  • Browse fashion designers by country
  • View images of hot new fashions
  • Contact designers directly
  • Discover new fashion

Quality

Users can select a country, and then select from a list of designers that represent that country. Most designers are from Middle Eastern countries. Some designers have prices on their fashions, while others simply have images. Many countries and designers are light on content. It is also difficult to imagine contacting a designer directly. However, the app is easy to navigate.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

If you like fashion, you’ll enjoy seeing what kinds of new fashion are out there. You can view pictures from a wide variety of designers around the world. Some of their designs are kind of blah, but you’ll find a few wow pieces as well. You can also save some of your favorite designers to get updates when they add new pieces.

Value

The app is free to download. It only offers a small collection of designers and they may not be everyone’s style.

Child Friendliness

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
MonSticky-Decorate Your Monsters is an entertaining app that will unleash creative streaks in small children. Users can create thousands of variations of these not-so-scary monsters.
5

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

MonSticky-Decorate Your Monsters allows young players to create an endless array of silly monsters by adding eyes, mouths, hats, wings, and colorful decorations to a selection of 7 different monster bodies. Once completed, users can make the monster dance and even sometimes change colors.

Features include:

  • Over 90 stickers to create monsters
  • Play without using data
  • Interactive monster animations
  • Very child friendly

Quality

MonSticky is a very high quality app. It is intuitive to use and play, and just perfect to unleash some silly creativity in young children (or the young at heart). Developers did a good job of providing a wide variety of stickers to make each monster unique. The patterns for the monsters’ bodies are particularly intricate and interesting.

Education

This app is not necessarily intended to be educational, but parents can squeeze quite a bit of educational value out of it if they wish. Primarily, it will encourage young children to talk about their creations and build expressive language skills. Just ask your child to describe their monsters in detail, which they will most likely be very happy to do.

Other ways to use this app to nurture essential academic skills include having older children write stories about their monstrous creations or getting kids to follow your directions to recreate monsters with specific features. However you choose to use it, remember that interacting with you is one of the best ways for kids to learn nearly anything!

Entertainment

Every child needs a healthy dose of creativity for the monsters in their lives. Kids will love creating these lovable creatures and then changing them again and again. They will be able to create a nearly endless stream of cuddly and silly monsters as they change eyes, mouths, accessories, and even skin/body patterns and colors. Use the device’s screen capture feature to save creations for posterity if you wish.

Value

This app costs $1.99 on the App Store, and is quite likely to provide hours of entertainment for toddlers and preschoolers. It’s simple to use and entertaining to watch once the monsters are done.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child friendly.

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

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