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Windosill

Windosill

Windosill

Windosill

Vectorpark

Reviewed on 11/14/17
Paid on | iOS | Windows

Beautifully bizarre, surrealist puzzles that are great for adults and children to work on together. With no time limits, very little sound and a quiet atmosphere, this app is perfect for quiet afternoons or evenings at home, snuggled together on the couch. Explore this app together and my guess is that you’ll find that your child can solve the puzzles at least as often as you yourself can. If you get stuck on one, put away until another day and perhaps when you come back to it again you’ll have a new idea to try out.

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Tags: Art, Concepts, Engineering, Family Play, Games, Puzzles, STEM, Things that Go

Sago Mini Farm

Sago Mini Farm

Sago Mini Farm

Sago Mini Farm

Sago Mini

Reviewed on 11/14/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

Spend a day at the farm with your favorite Sago Mini characters.  In addition to the things you might expect to find on a farm (horses, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, a garden, tractors, a barn, etc.) there are a few other additions that add to the fun -- a giant mud puddle, fruit trees, a llama, a unicorn, a seesaw, a farmer’s market stand, an outhouse and (my favorite) a large juicing machine and a BBQ grill with often hilarious outputs!  Even more than most Sago Mini explorer apps, this one encourages kids to play in this space however they want to.  See how many animals you can stack on top of one another!  What sort of wacky things can you grow in the garden? Can the llama play on the tire swing? If you love Sago Mini apps or if you love the farm, this app will not disappoint.

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Amazon, Animals, Characters, Concepts, Google Play, Nature, Science, Things that Go

Novel Effect

Novel Effect

Novel Effect

Novel Effect

Novel Effect

Reviewed on 11/03/17
Free on | iOS

Add a movie-like soundtrack to your favorite bedtime stories!  This unique app includes a library of over 70 titles (and they’re adding more all the time!) from classic picture books to new favorites.  Simply find a printed copy of one of the books on your home bookshelf or local library, open the app and choose that title, then as you begin to read the words, like magic, a soundtrack will begin to play.  Music that matches the mood of the book, appropriate sound effects that bring the story to life, all triggered by your own voice, reading the words.  No need to worry about reading at a certain pace -- you can even skip ahead in the book and the app will keep up!  Don’t have access to a printed copy of the book?  A few of the titles also include e-book pages that you can read for free or links to copies of the e-books that you can purchase to read aloud from your device. This app works best in a quiet space, but it still has minimal functionality even in noisy atmospheres like a library storytime.  At the time of this review, the app can be downloaded for free, so grab it soon!

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Book App, Early Literacy, Family Play, Folk/Fairytales, Music, Technology

Tell Time with Mulle Meck

Tell Time with Mulle Meck

Tell Time with Mulle Meck

Tell Time with Mulle Meck

Piu Piu

Reviewed on 11/03/17
Paid on | iOS

Telling time on analog clocks was a skill that was difficult for me to learn as a child, so I am always on the lookout for new great ways to teach it to my own kids.  This app does a nice job of first explaining the concept of measuring time, then building a clock face (numbers and hands), then explaining how to read the clock with lots of different clock designs.  If a child guesses the wrong time, a gentle (but clear) hint is given.  There are no time limits, no scores, only a gentle music soundtrack and a congratulatory word or short animation when correct answers are given. A child can practice telling time for as long as they’d like. The clock faces change in degree of difficulty from faces that include both the hour and minute numbers to clocks with no numbers, only the tick marks to designate hours and minutes.  If you’re looking for a simple way for your child to learn how to read a clock face, this is a great option!

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Characters, Concepts, Growing Up, Math, Puzzles, Science, STEM, Technology

Toca Life: Office

Toca Life: Office

Toca Life: Office

Toca Life: Office

Toca Boca

Reviewed on 09/24/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

Have your kids ever wondered what happens all day while you’re at the office? Here’s an app that gives then an opportunity to let their imaginations run wild! Similar to the other (many!) Toca Life apps, the app makers have created a very rich environment in which kids can do whatever actions they want and make up their own storylines.  There are several buildings to explore (including, of course, an office, but also an apartment, a daycare, a restaurant, a courthouse/jail, a bank and a superhero’s secret lair) and players can choose to use the characters that are already present in the scene or choose from a panel of other characters available at the bottom of the screen.  Outfits can be changed so that a chef can become a judge can become a ketchup-themed superhero and all of the characters can be moved anywhere in the scene.  The props are all interactive and include thoughtful details like a wall clock that shows the real-world time, lights that actually affect the brightness of a room, and a copier that makes copies (yes, even if your character sits on the copier…..). Each scene also includes the option to record a video so that kids can share their storylines with a friend or relative. If they need a little jumpstart for their inspiration, there are some short scenarios to watch and an invitation to continue those stories. If you love this app, be sure to check out the rest of the Toca Life series!

Age group: Grades K-2
Tags: Amazon, Characters, Creativity, Google Play, Growing Up, Technology, Things that Go

The Adventures of Captain Underpants

The Adventures of Captain Underpants

The Adventures of Captain Underpants

The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Scholastic

Reviewed on 09/17/17
Paid on | iOS

Fans of Captain Underpants will love this app!  The app contains a slightly animated version of the entire first book in the Captain Underpants series (you can choose to read it yourself or have the narrator read it to you) as well as an avatar generator (complete with ridiculous and somewhat crass silly names) and four fun mini-games.  The mini-games include one where players try to aim the hypno ring at Principal Krupp, one where they maneuver a skateboard through a maze to reach Captain Underpants, one where they slingshot pairs of underpants at robots (Space Invaders style), and a sound mixer full of all of the grossest sounds you can imagine set to some funky beats.  The longer you play, the more features will be unlocked. Perfect for kids who think fart noises are the funniest thing ever! *Side note: Scholastic also has a free app called Planet Pilkey which includes more content for fans, but also features a complicated coin-earning/spending system (boo!) and a comics generator (yay!) and overall is somewhat less user-friendly than the app reviewed here.

 

Age group: Grades 3-5
Tags: Book App, Characters, Games, Stories

Old Man's Journey

Old Man's Journey

Old Man's Journey

Old Man's Journey

Broken Rules

Reviewed on 09/11/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Windows

Invite kids to take a journey with an old man in this beautiful, calming app. Follow along with this wordless story and help the old man move through his journey by raising and lowering hills. As the old man reaches resting spots, he reflects back on his life in memory scenes. Parents should be aware that death via illness (not the old man) is an element of the game, but the ultimate ending is uplifting. The game was not created for children, but the self-determined pace, the simple game mechanics, the calming soundtrack and the gorgeous artwork add up to a great game for parents and children to play together. In fact, playing from the perspective of the old man might just give your kids a little more empathy or might spark some interesting conversations between the two of you!

Age group: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Tags: Engineering, Family Play, Games, Google Play, Growing Up, NBC15, Stories, Things that Go

Love you to Bits

Love you to Bits

Love you to Bits

Love you to Bits

Alike Studio

Reviewed on 09/11/17
Paid on | iOS

Although the game begins with Kosmo’s robot girlfriend, Nova, getting blasted into pieces that are scattered throughout the galaxy, this game is actually charmingly cute and relaxing to play. The goal of the game is to travel throughout the universe helping Kosmo to collect pieces of Nova as well as mementos of their relationship that will help to restore her memories of them together when she’s been rebuilt. Each planet that Kosmo travels to has a different scenario, but most of them are fairly familiar (like a children’s park or a library) with a few extraterrestrial elements (robot dogs, aliens of all sorts, etc.). Parents should be aware that one of the searches takes place in a bar, but it’s fairly tame (there is mellow banjo music on this level) and a few of the side characters shoot laser guns. Also, the front page of the app allows access to social media, so keep an eye on this unless you want your twitter feed to suddenly be all about this game. This is a fun one for kids and parents to play together!

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Tags: Engineering, Family Play, Games, Growing Up, Puzzles, STEM, Things that Go

Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley 2

Ustwo

Reviewed on 09/11/17
Paid on | iOS

One of the best games in app-land now has a sequel! This app was not specifically created for children, but it’s kid-safe and a wonderful app for kids and adults to use together.  Since the first Monument Valley game came out years ago, other companies have been trying to copy it, using similar design elements and color schemes and dreamy music, but nothing has ever been quite as good as the original until now.  This sequel has all of the beloved elements of Monument Valley (mind-twisting 3D labyrinths, sherbet colors, self-pacing and a thread of a storyline), and it builds on those in ways that brought gasps of delight from both me and my son when we played through it together. You’ll see new friends, old friends, and encounter new game twists that keep the whole concept fresh and new.  If you liked Monument Valley, you will not be disappointed in Monument Valley 2.

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Tags: Art, Concepts, Engineering, Family Play, Favorites, Games, Growing Up, Math, Puzzles, STEM, Things that Go

Sago Mini Hat Maker

Sago Mini Hat Maker

Sago Mini Hat Maker

Sago Mini Hat Maker

Sago Mini

Reviewed on 08/28/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

Design a fancy hat for your Sago Mini friends -- you can even try the hat on your own head!  In this app, kids become the hat maker.  Each customer arrives (a standard collection of Sago Mini characters plus a new introduction: Larry the Log!) and users are given a few standard hat shapes to choose from (bowler? Top hat? Fedora? A swirl of soft serve ice cream?). Next, the hat maker can cut stencil shapes or cut with a scissors to change the shape of the hat and then change the print (polka dots? Stars? Sprinkles?) of the hat material and paint whatever design onto the hat that they desire.  Last, there are some accessories to add and finally, your character and the new hat are ready for their photo!  Choose a backdrop or choose to try the hat on yourself and snap a picture!  Before they leave the shop, don’t forget to ring up their purchase on the cash register!  As always, great opportunities for creative play by Sago Mini!

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Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Amazon, Animals, Art, Characters, Concepts, Creativity, Google Play