4 stars – very good apps

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

Child Friendly Review

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 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

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)

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

ABC Puzzles Game for Kids

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

App Info

Download on the Google Play Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

63 - Find Sixty Three Numbers

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

App Info

Download on the Google Play Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

UnicornRunner

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

SLWG - Study! a Language Word Game

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

App Info

Price: $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

More 4 Monkey

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: $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

Random99 - Find the Number

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

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This game is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

An Adventure of Our Own

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Animalia - Kids Learning Games & Interactive Story

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

Entertainment

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

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Lingokids is a sampler app that allows parents and children to try out five lessons to teach English vocabulary to young children using engaging animated activities related to groups of eight vocabulary words.
4.3

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

This app provides a wealth of leveling options to guide young players into the right activities. When the app first begins, users have the opportunity to choose the child’s age and level of experience with English. The app utilizes technology that the developers term “Learning Gears” and will adapt if the selected content is too easy or too difficult.

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

This app is free on the App Store, and is intended as a sample for the complete program. A few samples of the five types of lessons available for free, including 4 games, 5 videos, 4 My Teacher lessons, 6 Writing lessons, 4 sets of Supplemental Materials are included in the free sample, which is a very nice array to see what the app can do. The app indicates that an additional five lessons are “coming soon.” However, in order to see the other materials, use the offline play feature, the record keeping, and so forth, users must sign up for the one month free trial. The app indicates that additional months will be billed at $4.99 per month, and that users will be billed $59.99 after the first free month for an annual subscription. It was very unclear to me if there was a monthly payment option available, and the information within the app did not seem to match that provided in the description in the App Store, which indicates that the monthly fee is $9.99 with a no-fee cancellation at any time. This is quite confusing, so be sure you understand the terms of the subscription and cancellation policy before you commit.

Child Friendliness

There are a number of links that are visible to children, including links to paid subscription content. Clicking these links leads to a page detailing the free one month trial subscription, with the actual “start” link on the page protected by a parent link. The links all seem to be protected with an effective parent gate, but it would be better if they were not visible to children at all.

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

MATHdoozy

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

3rd Grade Math Common Core

Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
3rd Grade Math Common Core uses a combination of visual images and math games to help students build key math skills.
4.4

App Info

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

Overview

At first glance, 3rd Grade Math Common Core from Math Galaxy doesn’t look very exciting. The app design isn’t very exciting and it appears a bit dated. However, if you can look beyond the exterior and get into the content, you’ll find an app that is full of math practice activities for students. All of the content in the app has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards and is well-organized, so students can easily get to the skills they need to practice. The questions are presented in a simple format, but they offer an easy way to get students to practice their math skills every day.

Features include:

  • Illustrated concepts
  • Organized by skill
  • Score tracking
  • Interactive math games

Quality

While this app is full of content, its design holds it back from being truly exceptional. The format of the app feels a bit clunky and dated. The app uses a general platform of tables and frames to organize the concept. It doesn’t contain any fancy graphics, text, or sound effects. It’s all focused on math. Students can easily navigate throughout the different topics and answer the questions, but may feel a bit confused if they want to go back (the app only offers a quit button to return to the previous menu). In the review portions, students may also find the app to be a bit cluttered. Text appears in a small box on the bottom lefthand screen, while the visual components are in the larger upper box with tons of white space around them. Teachers can also supposedly record scores for up to 5 students, but figuring out how to set up student names and actually record the scores is a very confusing process. It should also be noted that while the app is designed to work on all devices, the design makes it difficult to use on a smartphone. The bigger the screen, the better.

Education

In their descriptions, developers note that this app was not designed to be entertaining. The focus of the app is education, particularly helping build third grade math skills. Students will find practice questions and activities in the main areas of the Common Core standards: Numbers in Base 10, Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Fractions, Measurement and Data, and Geometry. Within each area, the practice opportunities are broken down into subareas. For example, students who select Operations & Algebraic Thinking can work on multiplication tables, 1-digit multiplication, missing numbers, part of a group, 1-digit divisor, word problems, and patterns. Each section also comes with a general review which is presented as either a video or a slideshow within the app.

Developers note that the concepts are presented in bite-size pieces and include visual elements to reinforce the concepts. While this is true, the design of the app keeps these elements from being truly effective. Students are likely to gloss over the visual images and may feel that even in the bite-size sections, the text can be somewhat heavy, especially in the review activities.

In addition to the ability to learn about different areas, students can also opt to play one of three math games: Bridge the Swamp, The Money Trail, and Labyrinth. The Money Trail and Bridge the Swamp offer 1-player and 2-player modes, while the Labyrinth can only be played after earning robots for answering questions in the individual lessons.

Entertainment

This app is not being rated for entertainment.

Value

Those who purchase the app will find that it’s full of content, with a large amount of information and practice questions for each topic. The app works well as a supplement for a standard math textbook and may be worth a download for teachers who want to work additional practice problems into the classroom, particularly if they can display the app on an interactive whiteboard or other enlarged surface during instruction.

Child Friendliness

The app has been designed to keep the focus solely on the math. Students have access to the scoring screen that is designed for teachers and could potentially update or delete scores within the app, but they’re not likely to figure out how to do it. Otherwise, the app is free from ads, external links, and other content designed to take students’ focus away from the content.

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

Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Small Lime is a fun app that invites players to enter a world with a story told by animé characters where progress is achieved through playing a “match-3” type game and solving puzzles. There are a number of enjoyable aspects to the game including caring for an electronic pet, purchasing food, clothing and equipment with points earned by playing, and more.
4.4

App Info

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

Overview

Small Lime is a game combines a match three-style game and an electronic pet with animé characters and a role-playing story. The game offers incentives for speed, points for achievements, and “upgrades” for the player’s pet.

Features include:

  • Feed, clothe and take care of a character
  • Test logic and spatial reasoning skills
  • Earn points to unlock levels and purchase upgrades
  • Unlock chapters of the story as levels are accessed
  • 10 levels to explore

Quality

Small Lime is a high quality app that kids will enjoy from the elementary years and beyond, especially if they enjoy the “match-3” type games. The app works as expected, and everything happens smoothly. It is quite obvious, however, that whoever wrote the story and narration is not a native speaker of English, so there are numerous grammar glitches and a few that make it a bit difficult to understand.

Education

This app is not really intended to be educational, though children who play will be exercising their imaginations, their ability to follow directions, and their spatial reasoning skills. There are also some puzzles to solve that involve thinking several moves ahead to avoid falling into deadends.

Entertainment

Small Lime will be entertaining for players who really like the “match-3” type games, since it puts a few twists into the typical play of this category. The addition of quests, points, upgrades, and taking care of the pet add new dimensions to the play.

That being said, if a young player does not get caught up in the story, the game play is somewhat repetitious, and the app may not have much staying power for these players. Some younger players may also have trouble solving the increasingly difficult puzzles and might become frustrated.

Value

The app is currently free on the App Store, so it’s a great value. It will provide children with an opportunity to explore both “match-3” style play and “caring for an electronic pet” play, which is great. Parents can see how their children respond to these styles before investing on more diverse and detailed games.

Child Friendliness

This app does not have a parents’ section, but it does have unprotected links to social media that are easily accessed. This is not likely problematic for players in middle school and above, but is a large concern for the elementary age group that the app is likely to appeal to.

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

Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Solar Family is a very gentle and somewhat fictional introduction to outer space and the solar system that includes some interactive pages and a few simple games.
4.2

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 1
Download on the App Store

Overview

Solar Family is an interactive ebook and video app that tells a pleasant story about the planets of the solar system, our sun, and Halley’s Comet. Users can choose to watch a video or to use the narrated ebook, which includes interactions on most pages.

Features include:

  • Learn facts about the planets and solar system
  • Play mini-games on many pages
  • Learn to spell the planet names
  • Move at an individualized pace
  • See and hear words of the story at the same time

Quality

Solar Family is a high-quality app, but could use clearer directions for adults guiding young children. The app is not as intuitive as one might expect for having no information about usage and features in its parents section. On one trial, the spelling game did not load correctly for the outer planets for some reason, which was a little frustrating. It’s also not really clear when there’s a challenge on a page that prevents moving on with the story. Users need to press the page turn arrow several times to get a clue that something else is needed, and it’s not always clear what the necessary action is.

Education

This app presents a nice story about how the planets came to be in their respective orbits and how Halley’s Comet visits the solar system. Developers did a nice job of embedding interesting facts about the planets and the sun in the interactions of the story.

That being said, some may have a concern that some of the information is not particularly accurate in a few ways. The planets are shown to be various sizes, but the relationship between them is not accurate. For example, Neptune is depicted as being smaller than Mercury, which is not truly the case.

Most pages of the story have interactive hot spots that cause the planets to share one of two to four little tidbits of information. There are a few pages that have activities, as well, such as a page where users need to draw a circular orbit for a planet around the sun.

There is a video version of the story and the ebook version. Both include narration, and there seems to be no way to turn that off for older children in the ebook. The main page of the app also includes a spelling game activated by tapping each planet. Letters in bubbles appear, and users are challenged to spell the name of each planet. Though the app’s description in the App Store indicates 8 levels of spelling games, each planet had the same activity as far as I could see.

Entertainment

Solar Family is engaging for younger users, especially if they are already interested in planets and space. The referencing to Halley’s Comet may be somewhat confusing to children in this age group, since it is not currently visible and won’t be seen again for decades yet. The games included are simple, and will be enjoyable for younger children, but likely will not provide any lasting challenge for anyone past preschool.

Value

This app is fun to use, but I’m not sure it will have much replay value for kids past preschool age. It seems like once a child has completed the story and spelled the planet names, they are likely to put it aside in favor of more interactive and challenging activities. It is also a concern that some of the information in the app does not seem to be as accurate as it might be.

Child Friendliness

This app is child friendly.

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

Weather Puzzles: Science for Kids

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

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

Education

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

DayCape - Daily visual planning

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

  • 4 Elemelons
  • Increasing difficulty
  • Easy to use

Quality

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

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Tiny Trees

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

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

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

  • NO external links

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

  • 5 Guided meditations
  • 4 Soothing nature tracks

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

Not rated for entertainment.

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Piig Forest Explorer

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

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

Entertainment

This app is not intended for entertainment.

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Toad Sues God

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

Leviatopia

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

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

Quality

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

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

Education

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

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

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

Entertainment

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

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

  • 8 Educational games
  • Music activity
  • Pirate theme

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

You Know Gravity? It Attracts You

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

App Info

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

Overview

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

Features include:

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

Quality

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

Education

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

Entertainment

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

Value

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

Child Friendliness

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

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

FREE APP ALERTS

Be first to find out about amazing new apps for kids and get all our amazing tech and parenting tips too