Universal (iPhone / iPod / iPad)

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 1

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Math Bakery 2 – Continue Counting is a fun app that does a fine job of introducing and providing practice with larger addition and subtraction problems that require regrouping.
4.9

App Info

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

Overview

Math Bakery 2-Continue Counting presents easy-to-understand lessons about addition and subtraction with regrouping. It’s designed for children from ages 7-12, but suitable for an even wider range. The app features formatting choices (regrouping numbers at the tops or bottoms of the columns), single player or a challenge mode that pits one live player against another, and manipulative items and hints that demonstrate grouping by 10s.

Features include:

  • 14 games for a varied experience
  • Built-in rewards system for successful responses
  • Step-by-step help system that prevents failure
  • Control of speed and difficulty level
  • Numbers up to 999

Quality

Math Bakery 2 is a high quality app that is remarkably intuitive to use. Developers included a good combination of hints and helps that will make even the most lost student successful. The app will build confidence with math and help kids develop the skills they need to understand place value and regrouping, which are critical to math success.

Education

Math Bakery 2 has all of the niceties and perks that an addition/subtraction teaching system should have. Users can control most aspects of the games, including difficulty level and time allotted. Help screens are offered at the first error, and correction suggestions do not give away answers, but rather guide students into correct process to find answers on their own.

This app is loaded with visual cues and reminders to regroup as well as other hints and tricks to make math easier. For example, problems are written on graph paper, making it easy for the eye to follow the columns downward. Manipulative cookies are placed in rows of ten for smaller problems, and a tap to the screen will allow users to drag the extra cookies around to add or subtract by forming groups of tens and ones.

Entertainment

While this app is highly educational, it’s also quite entertaining. It manages “fun with a purpose” quite nicely. Successful completion of the addition and subtraction tasks yields instant rewards, and completion of sets of tasks gives players the materials to build a gingerbread house.  It’s also fun to play in the two-player, competitive mode.

Value

Math Bakery 2 costs $2.99 in the App Store.  This is a really good value, but I do wish it packed a little more range for that kind of price.  Combining with Math Bakery 1 (which introduces addition and subtraction concepts), or perhaps adding beginning multiplication and division activities, which are often taught around this same time, would be really nice options.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
My4Faces Dreamland offers a few unique and entertaining twists on the popular match-three style game for your smart phone or tablet. It’s colorful, challenging, and fun to play.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

My4Faces-Dreamland is a match-three type game that features colored, crazy faces in the blocks. There’s a lot of variety in this version of the game, and each level adds a new twist.

Features include:

  • 50 levels
  • Tracks number of moves as well as time to complete levels
  • Additional bonuses available to help pass levels
  • Varied game board shape at each level
  • Varied obstacles at each level

Quality

My4Faces Dreamland is a high quality app that creates a match-three type game with several twists on competitors. The app is easy to use if you are already familiar with this type of game. Developers should strongly consider including more information about the various bonus and penalty squares, and how they are to be activated. This would really help parents/mentors who are teaching the game to children.  It would be helpful to see a summary of the various squares and their meanings, as well as how to activate the promised bonuses.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

My4Faces Dreamland is quite entertaining, especially if you like match-three type games. Developers have set it up so that the board is not in the traditional rectangular shape all of the time. With nooks and crannies along the sides, combined with obstacles that are placed in different spots in the different levels, each section is a unique challenge. The app also keeps track of the number of moves needed to complete the level and how many were made by the player. This means that in addition to trying to beat time records, players can work on their strategies as well.

Value

This game is free on the App Store, making it an exceptional value. And unlike many of its competitors, there are few if any outside advertisements or tempting and obvious in-app purchases. Nice job!

Child Friendliness

This app is child friendly.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads

Switch Sides

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Ole Lion

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Travel through the African landscape and take out alien spaceships in Ole Lion, a simple, but fun arcade game for kids.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Ole Lion takes you on the quest of an African warrior. In this app, you must fight aliens to protect your home. Wait, aliens? In Africa? Yep. The terrain of deserts and grasslands may look familiar, but the creatures in this app are anything but. Can you use some old-fashioned technology to take out futuristic foes?

Features include:

  • Multiple levels
  • Themed music and sound effects
  • High score tracking
  • Easy game play

Quality

It’s not very hard to figure out what to do in the game. There are two main buttons – the circle shoots and the triangle jumps. You must run and shoot the aliens while jumping over obstacles such as ditches and trash cans. The game includes a few directions, such as “jump over the trash cans” when new obstacles appear. One negative is that sometimes you may think you’ve hit jump quickly enough to jump over an obstacle, but it still ends up taking you out.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

While the game is fairly simple, it’s also fairly entertaining. You must try to take out the aliens while avoiding obstacles. As you play, your score is tracked and you’re encouraged to beat your high score. If you successfully complete a level, you’re rewarded with an African proverb from Oloiboni.

Value

The app is free to download and does not have any in-app purchases. It’s simply a fun game for kids.

Child Friendliness

The main screen of the app features a small icon that leads to the developer’s website. This access is not protected. At the end of each round, kids see an icon to share their score via e-mail, text, or social media.

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Retro Shooting

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Experience the feel of a classic arcade game as you try to take down missiles in Retro Shooting.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

Retro Shooting is exactly what it sounds like it is – a retro shooting game. This game has the same feel of classic arcade games, but you don’t have to put in a quarter or even go to an arcade to enjoy it.

Features include:

  • Shoot down missiles
  • Enhance your plane
  • Earn medals and stars
  • Level up

Quality

When players first open the app, they’re taken through a tutorial. The tutorial does a good job of laying out the game and its various features. Once players go through the tutorial, they can visit the enhancements screen. There they can customize their experience, changing the main weapon ATK, the missile ATK, the magnetic field power, and skill cooldown time. Users need coins for many of the enhancements which they can earn by playing the game.

The game itself is fairly easy to play. Through the tutorial, players will learn how to use boosts and other features by holding down two fingers during game play. It can take a few minutes to get the hang of these special features, but after some practice, they’ll come more naturally.

Education

This game is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Like many arcade games, Retro Shooting is somewhat addicting. Players will enjoy guiding the plane around the screen and trying to take out the missiles as they approach. The game rewards players with medals and coins for their achievements. There are multiple levels of play, so players are motivated to keep trying to advance.

Value

The app is free to download and offers a quality arcade-style shooting game. If kids enjoy retro arcade games, they’ll enjoy this app. However, parents should be sure to set up password protection so kids don’t try to purchase enhancements from the App Store.

Child Friendliness

Most of the app is child-friendly. In a few instances, such as on the enhancements screen, ads appear at the bottom of the screen. Users can also make in-app purchases to get specialized enhancements.

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

COOSHACalendar

Quality
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Keep track of all of your calendars in one place and share them with others with COOSHA Calendar.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

COOSHA is a social calendar app that’s designed to help people stay organized. With the app, users can create and share calendars, categorize events, and keep better track of everything going on in their busy lives.

Features include:

  • Create calendars
  • Categorize events
  • Create lists
  • Share calendars with others

Quality

Setting up COOSHA requires creating an account. Doing so requires an e-mail address. Once users set up an account, they can login using a username or e-mail address. Users are given the option to import existing calendars from iOS, Google, and Microsoft. They can also set up new calendars or add events to the default Home calendar.

One of the benefits of COOSHA is that it allows users to invite others to the app and share calendars with them. Users can create a network of family members, friends, team members, and others they may need to share important dates with. The calendar works well for youth sports teams and clubs, as well as classroom teachers. Events can be categorized and color-coded to help users keep track of them more easily.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

The app is free to download and use. Many of the features it offers are also offered through other free calendars, such as Google Calendar. However, users may appreciate being able to import multiple calendars into one app.

Child Friendliness

This app is designed for teens and adults, although upper elementary and middle school students with busy schedules may benefit from it as well. Users must create an account which requires inputting an e-mail address. The app also asks for permission to send notifications.

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

UnicornRunner

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Super Spelling

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Help kids learn to spell 400 new words with Super Spelling, a fun spelling game for kids.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Super Spelling helps kids learn how to spell over 400 new words. It does that by showing kids a series of pictures and having them drag the letters to create the word that each picture represents. Kids aren’t left alone to figure it out on their own. The app has plenty of features designed to help them.

Features include:

  • Available in English and Dutch
  • Multiple levels of play
  • Stars and ribbons as rewards
  • Hints and other helpful features

Quality

On the main screen of the app, kids can see the start button front and center. The main screen includes an icon with access to the settings screen. There parents and teachers can customize some of the features, such as determining whether to lock unplayed levels and whether to include the help option. A smaller button on the main screen allows kids to see their achievements.

When kids tap on the start button, they’re shown the different levels of the app. Depending on the settings, unplayed levels may be locked or unlocked. One kids choose a level, the game starts. This is where the quality of the app suffers a little. The images are clear and the letters stand out, but dragging and dropping the correct letters into their spaces is a bit frustrating. Kids may have to move the letters around a few times to get them to fit.

Education

Through a series of levels, kids have the chance to learn how to spell around 400 new words. Each word is represented by a picture with a set of blank boxes below it. Once kids figure out what word the picture represents, they can drag and drop the correct letters into the boxes. A letter turns red and moves from the spot if it is incorrect. A help button allows kids to see the correct word if they can’t figure it out.

Entertainment

Learning to spell new words is something that kids enjoy. In this game, they’re encouraged to spell more new words by the opportunity to earn stars. As kids play, they’ll see quality images and also get to listen to relaxing background music. These features help make the game more entertaining.

Value

Given the fact that Super Spelling is free to download and that it helps kids learn to spell hundreds of word, it offers a great value.

Child Friendliness

The app is free from advertisements, in-app purchases, and other content designed to take kids away from the app. Kids can access the settings section, but the icons are small and not likely to attract attention.

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

Archery Master Hero

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Can you take out the enemy before he takes out you in Archery Master Hero?
3.9

App Info

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

Overview

Archery Master Hero is a simple, addictive archery game for kids. The enemy is standing, ready to aim. Can you take him out before he takes out you?

Features include:

  • Fun archery game
  • Multiple levels
  • Ability to connect with friends
  • High score tracking

Quality

When players first open the app, they’ll see the main screen. A play button sits directly in the center of the screen, so it’s easy to get started. All of the sounds and graphics are of high quality. As kids play, they’ll find that the game moves quickly. In fact, it may move too quickly. That means they also have to act quickly.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

The premise of the game is fairly simple: take out the enemy before he takes you. To take out the enemy, players must shoot an arrow. There’s only one shot to take out the enemy, so players must act quickly. For the first few rounds, the speed of the game can be somewhat frustrating. It is difficult to figure out the angles and take out the enemy in the time allotted. However, after some time spent trying, players will start to get the hang of the game. For each successful round, they’ll earn coins that can be used to upgrade the archer.

Value

Given that the app only contains one basic game, it makes sense that it’s free to download. Unfortunately, the free price comes accompanied by a lot of ads.

Child Friendliness

On the main screen of the app, a Facebook icon invites players to login to the social media network. Players can also connect to Game Center or tap on the star to take them to the App Store. None of these icons are protected. During game play, players may see ads at the bottom of the screen. Ads also appear in between rounds of the game. Unfortunately, the amount of ads make the game more annoying than fun in the long run.

  • NO rate us
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES third party ads
  • YES social media

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
993 Mine Escape is a fun escape-the-room puzzle app that offers hours of gaming time complete with challenging puzzles that will put your mental capabilities to the test. Be observant, and you just might be able to solve the puzzles and escape from the mine.
4.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

993 Mine Escape is an escape-the-room puzzle game with numerous puzzles and brain teasers that puzzle addicts will adore. Pick up the clues, open the secret doors, and find your way out of each room by solving increasingly difficult puzzles.

Features include:

  • Over 100 puzzles to solve
  • Over 150 doors to open
  • 25 hours of game play
  • Nonviolent game play
  • Build observation, reasoning, and creativity skills

Quality

993 Mine Escape is a high quality app that will occupy puzzle fans for hours. Developers have created a wealth of innovative puzzles to stump players as they try to find their way out of each room. They also have linked to a helpful walk-through that is great for novice players, since it demonstrates how to solve the first puzzle (though things move very fast, and it will take you several views to understand everything).

Education

Puzzles that exercise observation and reasoning skills are always education, even if they don’t really “intend” to be. This app is no exception. Kids have no alternative but to be observant, to apply their reasoning skills, to be curious and to be persistent if they want to win at this activity, and these are precisely the same skills that they will need for success in educational pursuits.

Entertainment

993 Mine Escape is a lot of fun to play. Though the game is timed, there doesn’t seem to be any “time limit,” so it’s ok if a player takes a while to solve the given puzzles. The graphics are enticing, and many of the items in the room can be manipulated. The challenge is figuring out exactly what actions are needed and in what sequence.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it a great value. If you (or your older children) enjoy escape-the-room puzzles, this would be a fun addition to your collection. It features dozens of hours of game play, so it’s tough to beat the price.

Child Friendliness

This app contains outside 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.

  • NO social media
  • YES in-app purchase to remove ads 
  • YES unprotected outside links
  • YES outside advertisement on banners
  • YES outside advertising videos that pause the game to run

Buzkids

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Buzkids is a personalized app that helps little kids learn their letters, numbers, animal sounds, and fruit and vegetable names.
4.6

App Info

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

Overview

Buzkids is an early learning app for babies and toddlers. This flashcard based app helps little kids learn their letters, numbers, animal sounds, and fruit and vegetable names. Not only can kids tap through the flash cards to learn, but the app is also personalized, so they hear their name attached to each one. The end result is a unique and fun app for little kids.

Features include:

  • Personalize with your child’s name
  • Learn letters and numbers
  • Hear animal sounds
  • Discover new words

Quality

On the main screen of the app, you’ll see a list of all of the categories. If you click on the settings icon, you can enter a child’s name. This will help personalize the experience of the app. From there, kids can tap away, moving from category to category, and also bringing up fun features, such as fireworks and balloons. One negative is that the app does not limit how fast a child can swipe from card to card, so little kids may swipe very quickly and not get as much from the app. It would also be nice if the app had a human voice instead of a computerized one.

Education

Developers have created an app that utilizes simple flash cards and the repetition of the child’s name to promote learning. For example, the child will hear, “Hey (insert child’s name), Look. A for Apple” when the A card is shown. This gets the child’s attention. Then the child will hear what the object is and see a picture of it. There are five different categories, including Animals, which features pictures and sounds of each animal.

Entertainment

As kids swipe through the cards, they’ll find a lot of pictures to look at. They’ll also enjoy hearing their name. On the bottom of the main screen, kids will also see icons for stars, fireworks, and balloons. Tapping on these icons brings up fun surprises. A color wheel also allows kids to change the color of the menu buttons.

Value

The app is free to download. While there are many flash card style apps out there, the ability to personalize this app makes it nice.

Child Friendliness

Kids can freely play within the app. Parents do not have to worry about settings screens or unprotected links. Everything in the app is safe for kids.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
STEM Storiez-Wootzy Colors is a pleasant e-book designed to introduce the very young to the names of the basic colors. It features cute space creatures that visit their colorful home planets and offers surprise animated interactions on each page.
4.4

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

STEM Storiez – Wootzy Colors is an app designed to help very young children learn about colors in an interactive, colorful e-book. It includes animations and sound effects as well as optional narration and control of the appearance of the text. Wootzy Colors is designed to be used on its own or with a turtle-like plush smart toy called Zumo.

Features include:

  • Control of audio and text features
  • Colorful, interactive animations
  • Multi-sensory experience
  • Control amount and relative volume of audio

Quality

Wootzy Colors is a high-quality app that will engage young learners as they explore colors in the interactive story. The ebook features surprise animations on each page that children will discover as they tap on various parts of the screen. Developers did a great job of making the app customizable for children of all levels and abilities, particularly those who have sensory issues. It would be nice if they included a more comprehensive outline of the features for parents; the app has a lot to offer, but some parents may not understand well enough to appreciate the finer points. Also, the app optionally connects with a smart toy called Zumo, and the link for more information about the toy is incorrect. The correct link is http://zyrobotics.com/our-products/ for interested users.

Education

Stem Storiez-Wootzy Colors is an interactive ebook designed to help the very young learn to recognize and name colors. The story is appealing, and the colorful space creatures (the “Wootzies”) are adorable!  Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy following the story as they see each Wootzy’s home planet. The narrator encourages participation in the story as she invites children to say the names of each color again and again.

I do wish this app included a section for some free play with the colors after the story ends. This would extend its educational value and also make it fun for the youngsters.

Entertainment

Wootzy Colors is a cute e-book that will engage toddlers and preschoolers with bright, interactive animations. Developers did a fine job of creating engaging characters that are just naturally lovable. The book would be more entertaining, however, if there were a bit more of a storyline, and/or some interactive activities based on colors, such as sticker play, coloring, or some game-like activities like “pop the color” where kids could match and tap the target color.

 

Value

This app is $2.99 on the App Store. That seems a bit pricey, considering the simple nature of the interactions and the fact that the ebook does not include any breakout activities.  There is a lot more value to the special needs population, though, since users have such complete control over the presentation of the text and sound effects. This e-book could well be ideal for children with sensory issues or other special needs.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

SLWG - Study! a Language Word Game

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Skiplit is a highly-entertaining and possibly addictive “bounce the ball into the goal” app. The extra twists and challenges, such as moving barriers and multiple balls in play, will keep even experienced players intrigued.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Skiplit is a deceptively simple game: All you need to do is get the ball to hit the goal. However, each level becomes increasingly complicated as simple barriers, multiple color-coordinated balls and goals, and even barriers that move around are added. You need to quickly calculate angles and momentum to control the ball. Players have a limited number of bounces (or “skips”) allowed before the level ends, making play even more challenging.

Features include:

  • 72 levels
  • Increasing difficulty on each level
  • Varied types of balls, goals, and challenges
  • Moving barriers

Quality

Skiplit is a simple, yet high quality app. Everything works as expected, and the game’s physics engine is consistent. The developers were creative with their twists on this common form of game (bouncing a ball into a goal), including moving barriers, multiple balls and goals, and much more. Players can take a break from playing, and restart the level where they left off, which is a very positive feature with so many levels. Levels are grouped, and once a group is unlocked, all of the five to ten levels contained in the group are available to play.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

Skiplit is highly entertaining, and many will find it addictive. It’s completely nonverbal, relying solely on visual and timing skills to launch the ball at the correct angle to put it into the goal. With 72 levels combined with the developers’ creativity in coming up with unique challenges, the game has outstanding play value. It definitely will cause players to say, “Just one more level…”

Value

Skiplit is free on the App Store, making it a great value. The game is simple, yet fun, and has a wealth of content to explore. There is a paid option available for 99 cents to remove the ads if you wish.

Child Friendliness

This app contains outside advertisements in the free version, unprotected links to email and the internet, and access to Ipad’s “share” system.

  • YES unprotected in-app purchase
  • YES unprotected link to developers’ website
  • YES outside advertisements
  • YES unprotected email link

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Catch the Shapeshifter is a unique and challenging visual perception, attention, and focus puzzle that could quickly become addicting. Spot the Shapeshifter and other creatures that change their shapes as they drift across amazing and fantastic 3-D backdrops.
4.9

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Catch the Shapeshifter is a unique and challenging visual puzzle game that will mesmerize players with unique, 3-D modern art backgrounds and constantly shifting, changing and drifting shapes.  The object of the game is to spot the shapes that morph into other shapes and tap them to earn points, but it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

Features include:

  • 50 levels of difficulty
  • Creative, unique game play
  • Gorgeous 3-D modern art backgrounds
  • Hypnotic background music
  • Challenging visual-perceptual and attention task

Quality

Catch the Shapeshifter is a high quality app that will not disappoint.  The art and music alone make it hypnotic and relaxing (though I found a few of the 3-D background designs to be downright dizzying!).  There is not a clear and obvious tutorial, but I believe developers introduce the game with nonverbal hints (arrows about which shape to tap) to help novice players get the hang of the game play.  Some of us are just visually dense, however, and a separate tutorial that explains the objective of the game would be really nice.  It took me nearly 30 minutes to figure out what I was trying to do, and a lot longer to do it well enough to pass the first level of the app.  I found that aspect to be a bit frustrating.

Education

While I don’t think this app is intended to be specifically “educational,” it has a wealth of skill-building to offer players.  The task is to spot the shapes that morph into other shapes.  Many of the shapes (colorful, abstract animals) fade in and out of view, and some of them change to completely different shapes when they return to visibility. Tapping those shapes gives points to the player. Tapping the static characters deducts points and can end the round early. There are “boosters” that can help players increase their scores, as well.

The task is actually quite challenging. The 3-D, modern art background is moving, as are the creatures. The creatures spin and move at different speeds. It takes a great deal of concentration and attention, as well as a good visual memory and quick reflexes to find and tap the ones that are changing shapes. This game will certainly give attention, focus, and visual perception a healthy workout.

Entertainment

Catch the Shapeshifter is very entertaining and probably highly-addictive. With fifty levels and a few options for degree of difficulty, players can enjoy it to their hearts’ content for quite some time. The artist who created the backgrounds did an outstanding job of creating and animating a wide array of visions. The background music also is very high quality and enjoyable. Both are in such constant motion that if there is any repetition, it’s next to impossible to notice.

Value

This app is $2.99 on the App Store, and it’s a wonderful value for anyone who enjoys unique puzzles and games. It’s quite challenging, and offers 50 levels at two levels of difficulty, so there’s a ton of play value here.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly, but the game is difficult, so young children likely would not be successful. On the other hand, it’s so visually and auditorily hypnotic that they may not care!

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Journey of Haha is a fun puzzle/adventure app that challenges players to collect items, solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and unlock doors to move to the next level. Players need to use their wits and their common sense to meet the challenges as they help Haha find the ancient artifact that she seeks in the castle.
4.9

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Journey of Haha is a puzzle/adventure game that allows players to control movements of the title character as she searches the Tower of Cerebrus searching for an artifact. Along the way, Haha must collect keys, unlock treasure chests, and battle a wide array of enemies as she solves puzzles that threaten to block her path on each level.

Features include:

  • Over 50 challenging rooms to pass
  • Fun puzzles to solve
  • Puzzles that become gradually more difficult

     

  • Save game progress and replay the level if needed
  • Top-down view graphics

Quality

Journey of Haha is a retro-style puzzle/adventure game that challenges players to guide the title character past enemies and around obstacles to collect items and unlock the door to the next level. It’s a high-quality app with “retro-style” graphics: colorful but somewhat low-resolution and pixelated, reminiscent of computer games of yesteryear. Players have a choice of a virtual joystick or virtual arrow keys to control the character’s movement. Developers have provided a clear set of instructions and explanations in the “Help” section, and there are options to control background sounds.  One feature that might be nice (but I couldn’t find if it’s there) would be to have an option to completely reset the app back to the beginning, so that others in the family could play later.

Education

This app is not intended to be educational.

Entertainment

This app is a lot of fun to play if puzzle/adventure games are your thing. The levels add challenges very gradually, so players can learn as they go.  It’s also very nice to be able to restart a level instead of losing all of your progress if you get stuck.  The “enemies” are creative and varied, ranging from benign eyeballs that simply watch you and block your path from time to time, to creatures like the Fire Oclie that shoots fireballs. Players can also gain assorted powers as they travel through the game which will help them defeat or avoid enemies and make more progress.  The one addition I would suggest to developers is some sort of hint system to rescue players who become hopelessly stuck on a level-it could get quite frustrating if you were to get stuck on one level and never did figure out a way to move on.

Value

This app costs $1.99 on the App Store, and it’s a really good value. With 50 levels, there’s a lot of play value, and a wide array of puzzles and enemies. The app will certainly challenge most players and give them hours of playtime fun.

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
RingoWord is a literal “twist” on traditional word search puzzles, with the words being presented in a circular format. The rules are simple and the play is challenging.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

RingoWord –Word Search Game is a unique word puzzle that will tickle word search fans. Each word is presented with letters in a circle, and players must tap the first letter of the word. It’s much tougher than it sounds, especially when the puzzle presents words that have smaller words within them.  Of course, it is timed and the element of competition is added for good measure.

Features include:

  • Competitive or solo play
  • Words in clockwise or counter-clockwise directions
  • Two levels of difficulty
  • Unique word game
  • No internet connection required

Quality

RingoWord is a high quality word puzzle app that is simple to use and challenging to figure out. Developers include the ability to play in seven different languages as well as two levels of difficulty and competitive or noncompetitive options. There is a brief tutorial at the beginning of play when you first open up the app, but it’s hardly necessary since the rules are so simple. One feature that developers may want to consider adding is a button to abort a round and return to the main screen.  It would also be helpful to have a way to access explanation of the incentives and rewards available from the home screen in case users need a refresher course after the opening tutorial.

Education

This app is highly educational. Some of the words are fairly simple, such as “home” or “wide,” but others are quite challenging, such as “proposition” (and these are on the easy level). Most challenging of all are words that have smaller words embedded within them, such as “remarkable.” The game is based on the player’s ability to tap the first letter of the word quickly.  It’s quite easy to tap on the “M” in “remarkable” when you notice the word “mark,” but that is not correct.

The letters to each word are arranged in a circle. Users can control if these letters appear in clockwise or counter-clockwise sequence. This means that the letters are tilted from many perspectives and some are always upside down. This perceptual challenge adds to the difficulty of the task. RingoWorld will build students’ perceptual and closure skills.

The game allows users to play in any of seven different languages, as well. This is a great vocabulary and spelling skill builder for anyone who wants a challenge or who is working on learning a foreign language.

Entertainment

RingoWord is highly entertaining if you enjoy word puzzles. The unique configuration of the word is truly challenging and very different from any other puzzle game that I’ve seen. Developers have also added several incentives that players can earn with good scores and times, including achievements for perfect scores, fastest times, and more. Best of all, some of the awards given can be used in the app’s “store” to purchase things like the capability to ‘freeze’ the screen, to slow the clock, or even to remove the advertisements (things that otherwise require real cash).

 

Value

This app is free on the App Store, making it a great value if you enjoy word puzzles or want to try something unique and new. The ability to earn credits that can be used in place of cash is an added bonus.

Child Friendliness

This app includes unprotected links to the App Store as well as outside advertisements that link to the internet.

  • NO social media
  • YES in-app purchase (unprotected)
  • YES third-party ads (unprotected)

Neurotale

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Neurotale helps writers advance their stories by suggesting lines from public domain novels.
4.5
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App Info

Price: Product not found
Download on the App Store

Overview

If you have trouble writing a stories or frequently get writer’s block, you may want to try Neurotale. This smart story generator takes what you write and adds to it using sentences from public domain texts. Write a story entirely on your own and add a few lines here and there or compose a story entirely from lines generated by the app.

Features include:

  • Smart story generator
  • Content from public domain apps
  • Library of created stories
  • Simple interface

Quality

Neurotale offers a very simple interface. When you first open the app, you’re taken to the library. If you don’t have any stories in the library, you’re prompted to create one. The story creation screen looks like a very basic text screen. Type in your story using the keyboard. Click on the icons to generate new lines for the story. Use the settings button to determine how random the lines in your story should be.

Education

Perhaps you’ve participated in a writing activity where students pass a story around the classroom and each writer adds a line. This app works similar to that, except a computer adds the additional lines and it only adds lines when asked to do so. Neurotale helps get students writing. By adding in lines, it can help students get past writer’s block. Also, the app may improve students’ writing by providing them with examples of quality writing.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

Neurotale is free to download. To generate lines from stories, you must purchase the English Novels pack, also a free download. Developers may opt to add additional, paid packs in the future. Depending on the subjects of the packs, they may or may not be worth paying for. As it stands, the app cannot work without the free in-app purchase, so it adds a lot of value to the app.

Child Friendliness

No ads, rate us buttons, or other content designed to take writers out of the app appear in the app. However, you will find a free in-app purchase does not contain a parental block. Links to the developer’s website and an e-mail address also appear in the accompanying help document, but they cannot be accessed from within the app.

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

More 4 Monkey

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Space Smasher: Kill Invaders

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Save the space heroes by destroying asteroids and UFOs in Space Smasher, a fun, arcade-style game for all ages.
3.9

App Info

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

Overview

In Space Smasher, your goal is to help the Space Heroes get back to Earth safely. In order to do so, you must smash asteroids and destroy UFO invaders. All kids have to do is touch the enemies to take them down, making this game easy for kids at lower age levels too.

Features include:

  • Fun space theme
  • Multiple levels of play
  • Special powers to enhance play
  • Watch ads to unlock content

Quality

On the main screen, players will see the game’s categories clearly laid out. Plays can play, shop, adjust the settings, and see an overview of how to play the game. In play mode, players will see multiple levels of play. Successfully completing a level unlocks the next level. The menu and game play is a bit slow to react at times, but overall the app is well laid out and easy to play.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

Space Smasher offers a fairly standard arcade game. Kids will be motivated by the chance to advance in level. They will also enjoy the ability to earn power-ups and other special features. Unfortunately, to access these features they must watch ads.

Value

It is free to download the app. An in-app purchase provides access to an ad-free version of the game. However, the game is fairly simple and it may not be worth spending money to remove the ads.

Child Friendliness

Kids can activate power-ups and other special features in the game by watching ads. An in-app purchase allows parents to remove the ads from the app. This feature is not protected by a parental block. Unfortunately, the amount of ads make the app largely inappropriate for kids.

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

Algebra on Nudge

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
If you know kids and teens who are learning how to solve linear equations, they'll find tons of help with Nudge on Algebra.
4.9

App Info

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

Overview

Algebra on Nudge helps students learn about linear equations. Students can practice solving linear equations, and then take tests to see how much they learned. Whether they’re just learning about linear equations or want to practice more advanced skills, Algebra on Nudge offers plenty of opportunities for practice.

Features include:

  • Multiple levels
  • Simple interface
  • Test and practice modes
  • Flagged errors

Quality

Students who use the app will find that the interface is fairly straight forward. A quick tutorial helps get them started. There’s also a demo mode to show how gestures can be used to solve a problem. Using the gestures may take a bit of getting used to, but they’ll help kids understand the method for solving equations. After the demo is over, it can be accessed again by tapping on the question mark at the top of the screen. There’s also a mini textbook that can be accessed through the icon at the top of the screen.

Education

In Nudge on Algebra, the focus is on the math. Students are shown a problem and must solve it. In the beginning, the app provides tips to help students understand the process. They’ll also see each step they complete on the side of the screen. If they make an error, it will be highlighted. There’s also a teacher mode to help walk students through each step and a hint button to help kids when they get stuck.

Parents and teachers can use the report feature to see a student’s progress. The progress report is broken down by practice sessions and tests.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

Given the high quality of the app, it’s pretty amazing that it’s free. This app is a must-have for students learning to solve linear equations. It offers tons of practice opportunities and great step-by-step instructions.

Child Friendliness

On the bottom of the main screen, users will see icons to share the app and provide feedback. These options are not protected by a parental block.

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

Track Any Phone

Quality
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Free tracking app lets you track the location of your phone and others (with their consent) through cellular tower and wifi router data.
3.8

App Info

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

Overview

Whether you’re a parent who wants to know where your teen is at all times or a teen who frequently loses your phone, you may want to consider Track Any Phone from ilocateMobile. This free tracking app allows you to track any phone, as long as you have the user’s consent. Rather than relying on GPS, the app relies on cellular towers and wifi routers to help you gain access to a phone’s location.

Features include:

  • Track location for your phone
  • Track locations for others’ phones
  • Download app for free
  • Get location based on cell phone and wifi data

Quality

To use Track Any Phone, you must set up a free account. If you choose to track your own phone, you must also give the app permission to access location data. If you want to track someone else, you must send that person an invitation. Once the person accepts your invitation, you can begin tracking. Track Any Phone does not do any tracking without another person’s consent. The app must also be installed on the other person’s phone and location tracking enabled in order for the app to work.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

The app is free to download. In-app purchases allow you to receive location information in different ways. For example, you can retrieve the location through a text message or a missed call. Most of the app’s functions can be used without an in-app purchase. However, because the app does not rely on GPS, its information is not always reliable.

Child Friendliness

Users will find that the app is full of ads. Ads for other tracking services pop up before completing nearly any action. None of the ads are protected. Given that this app may be installed on a teen’s phone, parents may not want to install the app and give teens access to the ads.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Discolor Rebounder is a free game app that offers an appealing activity in the style of some of the older, simpler video games such as “Pong” and “Brick.” Developers have combined some of the most challenging aspects of those games into a new and interesting activity that is worth a look.
4.7

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Discolor Rebounder is a Pong-styled game of coordination and skill that takes a bit of practice to master. Players must simultaneously move a large ball to intercept a smaller, faster ball and keep it bouncing. The problem comes in when the small ball bounces off of colored balls at the top of the screen. It changes color, and the large ball must match the color when they collide to keep the game going.

Features include:

  • Simple, easy-to-learn game rules
  • Challenging coordination problems
  • Optional use of two hands
  • Promotes motor planning
  • Improves spatial reasoning

Quality

This high-quality app works without a hitch. The game is highly responsive, and has multiple levels of play that become progressively more difficult. The physics engine allows the ball to rebound very realistically, enabling players to plan complex bank shots. Developers included a simple set of directions accessible from the opening screen.

Education

This game is not really intended to be educational, but players will learn and practice important, fundamental skills. In the world of education, using two hands at the same time to do different things is a foundational skill that promotes and strengthens neurological development.  The game also invokes motor planning, which is critical for so many other physical skills, as well as helping players develop a clear understanding of cause/effect and prediction.

Entertainment

Discolor Rebounder is a simple game, but many players will find it to be addictive. There’s a strong inclination to play “just one more round” to improve the highest score.  The game also optionally connects to the Game Center to open up competitive play and achievement awards.  It’s fun, and just different enough from previous games to be familiar, yet interesting.

Value

The game is free on the App Store, making it an excellent value. It’s nice to have an engaging, simple game that does not glorify violence, so I recommend you check this one out.

Child Friendliness

Discolor Rebounder is not particularly child-friendly, so I do not recommend it for children under twelve or so.  There are lots of outside advertisements, both during and between games, and unprotected access to the internet. The game also connects to the Game Center, which is nice for more mature players, but could be objectionable to the parents of younger players.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES outside advertisements 
  • YES Game Center enabled

RelationShapes

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Interact with shapes and build logic and visual-spatial skills with RelationShapes, a creative shapes app for kids.
4.8

App Info

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

Overview

Help kids learn about shapes in a fun, new way with RelationShapes. This creative app has kids manipulate shapes during different levels of play. Each level works on a different skill, such as shape constancy and shape construction. As kids work through the app, they can take pictures of the shapes they’ve made and earn items to make silly faces with their shapes. All in all RelationShapes is a fun, high-quality app for young kids.

Features include:

  • Add up to four players
  • Enjoy free play with shapes
  • Make silly faces
  • Take pictures to save within the app

Quality

One of the first things players will notice about the app is the bright colors. All of the games feature vibrant colors and fun background music. The shapes are easily manipulated and kids will have no trouble moving them as they need to. Adults can also set up multiple accounts (up to four) so that kids can play at their own pace. In the protected parent area, parents and teachers will find additional information about how to use the app and the benefits it provides.

Education

In the protected parent area, adults can learn more about each stage of the app. Level 1 gives children a chance to explore the app. Each level after that focuses on a different skill. For example, Level 2 focuses on shape constancy, Level 5 focuses on triangles, and Level 7 focuses on multi-shape combinations and shape construction. Parents and teachers can track the progress of up to four players. As a child completes a level, two pictures are shown as an example of the progress that was made.

Entertainment

Kids may not realize they’re learning as they work through the different levels. For them, the app will simply seem like a place to play with shapes. Not only do kids get to manipulate the shapes to solve shape puzzles, they are also rewarded with fun items such as body parts and ice cream cones. They can use these items to make silly pictures with their shapes. Then they can take photos of their silly shapes and save them within the app.

Value

Given the quality and the fact that the app is free, it offers a great value. Adults can set up 1-4 different players and there are eight levels for each player to get through.

Child Friendliness

Parents can access the protected parent area by tapping on the “Grown-ups” button on the main page of the app. There they can review information about the app and add or delete players. The app does allow kids to take photos, but the photos are not saved outside of the app.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
eTABU Word Search is a fun way to build reading, word recognition, vocabulary and mental flexibility skills. You can even use it to sharpen your languages skills. The app is entertaining and highly-engaging.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

eTABU Word Search is a word search game with a twist: Instead of working to find words from a given list, players must find words associated with one main category word. There are four keywords to find in each puzzle, clued by single letters and blanks that show how many letters are in the word. Points are awarded for completing the puzzle, with extra points given for completion within the time limit.

Features include:

  • Hundreds of puzzles and thousands of keywords
  • Three levels of difficulty
  • Optional connection to Game Center for competitive play
  • Clear directions in the “settings” section
  • Play in any of ten languages

Quality

eTABU Word Search is a high quality app. Developers included clear rules and directions to help new players understand the game play.  The app works reliably and well.  One minor concern is that there are some blocks of text that overlay others, making some areas a bit difficult to read. One example of this is the time/score display after each round.

Education

eTABU Word Search is an excellent tool for building fluency and vocabulary for older students. The app includes three levels of puzzles. The lowest level gives clues to the keywords based on initial letters. The words seem to run horizontally and vertically. The second level incorporates words running diagonally, and the clues show the ending letter of each word. At the hardest level, the words run in every possible direction, including backwards diagonal. The keywords are clued with a letter from the middle, making it very challenging, even for most adults.

The game also includes rich vocabulary in both the primary puzzle words and the keywords.  Words such as “realm” and “anesthetized” pop up regularly. There are a few tenuous connections between primary and key words, such as “Batch” having “parking” as a keyword.  The game will definitely strengthen most people’s vocabulary, as well as their ability to scan letters quickly to find target words.  The ability to change the game play into any of ten languages is also a huge plus- this would be a great game to use when learning a new language or if you wanted to brush up on vocabulary in a different language.

Entertainment

This app is highly entertaining, and includes optional connection the Game Center.  That makes it perfect for more mature players who like a bit of competition.  The rounds are very quick (a minute or two, unless you get stuck), and you will receive points for finishing the puzzle even if it’s not within the time limit, which is highly encouraging.

Value

This app is free on the App Store, which makes it an incredible value, particularly for older players.  It’s a fun way to improve word recognition, vocabulary, scanning, and many other skills.  Since you can play in any of ten languages, that makes it all the more valuable.

Child Friendliness

However, parents should be aware that this app is not particularly child-friendly. There are no parental gates on sensitive areas, such as social media and Game Center connections, and there are numerous outside advertisements, including for slot machine apps and dating services. An ad is shown between each round, and there are constant running ads on a billboard at the top of the screen even during game play.

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

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

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

This app is very child-friendly.

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

Entertainment

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

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

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Teeny Sheep

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Build your own wool empire with Teeny Sheep, an addicting building game.
4.5

App Info

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

Overview

Since games like Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon were first introduced, building games have been extremely popular. Their popularity continued with games like Farmville on Facebook. Now it continues with Teeny Sheep. This addictive building game gives you the chance to build your own sheep-shearing empire. Forget being a millionaire. With Teeny Sheep, you can become a gazillionaire.

Features include:

  • Build a sheep farm
  • Reach goals
  • Earn rewards
  • Upgrade to new types of wool

Quality

Players will find that the app is fairly easy to navigate. Instructions are provided to help get beginners started. Warning notices pop up to help players stay on top of the game and players are told when they are eligible for upgrades. All of the features players need are displayed in brightly colored tabs at the bottom of the screen. It’s easy to see what you can do to build your farm at any given time.

Education

While not designed to be educational, Teeny Sheep does have a few educational components. Challenges help players increase their earnings and the number of sheep they have. There are also “research opportunities” where players can use their in-app currency to increase the size of their sheep, change the percentage at which sheep reproduce, and earn other bonuses. Players must think about how to use the money they earn wisely to ensure that their farms grow. They must also pay attention to numbers such as the capacity of their barns and fleet to ensure that they can hold enough sheep and transport all of the wool they produce.

Entertainment

It’s hard to imagine that a game about sheep farming would be addicting, but it is. The goal is to keep growing your sheep farm. Every sheep that you “clone” and add to your barns brings in more income. You can also invest in “research” to add to your profits. Once your sheep farm grows to a certain size, you can upgrade to a better quality wool and earn money even faster. As you grow, the game gives you challenges to reach as well. For example, you may be challenged to add 5,000 sheep to your flock or to earn 900 trillion dollars in a second. It may sound impossible, but it’s amazing how quickly a farm can grow.

Value

The game is free to download and play. While there are in-app purchases, they do little to enhance the game play. Without any money, kids can play a slightly addicting, but very entertaining game. However, because of the free status, developers have included a lot of ads.

Child Friendliness

Despite all the fun that is to be had, Teeny Sheep is not incredibly child friendly. When played on a wifi or cellular network, the game regularly invites players to watch videos in exchange for in-app currency. Players can tap “no thanks” to avoid watching the ads. There are also occasional “rate us” pop-ups asking players to rate the game in exchange for a biscuit for the dog in the game. Players can also make in-app purchases to help advance their status in the game through the purchase of golden wool. None of these purchases are required toe experience success in the game. When played offline or in airplane mode, the game is actually pretty fun for kids.

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

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