Find the perfect app for you and your child!
Mulle Meck's Boats
Reviewed on 01/29/17
Paid on | iOS
Build a boat with Swedish book character, Mulle Meck! Players may choose which style of boat they’d like to use, add a cabin (various designs available) and then decide how their boat will move. Will they choose large and colorful sails? An outboard motor? A steam engine? There are many options and all of them work differently within the app. Finally, paint your boat and you’re ready to head out on the open water. Load up a package to deliver across the lake, then start your engines (or set your sails!) and see how your boat fares on the water. Dragging your finger across the screen can create a strong wind and rough waters, but Mulle Meck never looks worried! Once your parcel is delivered safely, the game rewards you with a new boat component to add to your menu of options. Beautifully designed game, simple enough for even very young children to succeed, but the constant addition of new components makes it fresh each time even for older players. What’s the wackiest boat you can build? How fast can you get across the lake? How choppy can you make the water and still make progress? A well-made app with lots of details to experiment with and no right or wrong answers makes this a great option for open-ended play that will spark interesting conversations.
An app made by kids (with a little help from Fiete!) takes users on a trip through a very creative zoo! The developers invited 30 kids to their offices to help create this app collaboratively. Each kid designed an animal, named it and recorded the sound it would make. Users can now wander the zoo, accompanied by the sailor Fiete, meet all of the animals, hear them make noise and feed them random “food” illustrations that fall from the sky when you press the knife/fork symbol. I love that they’ve honored the children’s illustrations by leaving them unchanged and true to their originals with all “imperfections” carefully preserved. The names are also obviously unedited and range from the literal (there are several fish-shaped animals named “fischi” or some variation thereof) to the pop cultural (the one named King Kong that looks like a purple cat is a favorite of mine) to the human-like names that make me curious (the monkey named Klaus Peter…. Was that the name of a sibling? Or an enemy?). The only thing that would make this app more perfect would be the option to allow users to add their own zoo animal creations along with names and sounds, but even if that’s not an in-app option at the moment, you can always extend the app play by creating and naming cut paper animals on your own!
Celebrate the Olympics with this free app for kids! Our favorite little sailor, Fiete, is back with a new app just in time for the summer Olympics. Guide Fiete through multiple events (running, biking, swimming, hurdles, shotput and more!) as he competes against his two best friends. With only three competitors, everyone always gets onto the medal stand! Which event do you think Fiete is best at? For an extra challenge, can you identify which country each of the flags and landmark silhouettes are from?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Creative Play
Reviewed on 07/04/16
Paid on | iOS
Play around with the textures and colors of Eric Carle’s classic collage illustrations in this unique art-making app. Choose from a number of templates depicting favorite Eric Carle characters like Brown Bear, The Mixed-Up Chameleon, and (of course) the Very Hungry Caterpillar himself or choose a blank page and create an original piece of art. Art techniques include “cutting” shapes from Carle’s brilliantly textured “paper,” painting (with a brush or finger painting), or drawing with a pencil. Completed pictures are hung in the Caterpillar’s in-app gallery, but can also be saved to your device to share with friends and family. I’ve seen many variations of DIY art apps for kids, but the textures (especially in the collage options) make this art experience unique and very inviting for kids (and adults!). The templates help users who might feel intimidated by a blank page, but the option to also just use a blank page is very welcome. I’ve also seen a variety of apps inspired by the Very Hungry Caterpillar and this one is by far my favorite for its interactive and creative nature. The tracing and other fine motor skills required for this app are great for early literacy pre-writing practice!
Sago Mini Superhero
Reviewed on 11/30/15
Paid on | iOS
Jack the rabbit becomes a superhero in this Sago Mini exploration app. In the same discovery style as Forest Flyer and Ocean Swimmer, Superheroes takes place in a looped world (if you just keep going left, you’ll end up back where you started), but has 30 different animations to discover along the way. Superhero Jack rescues a stuck ice cream truck, comforts a distraught octopus on top of a tall tower (how did it get up there?) and might accidentally also be responsible for a city-wide power outage (don’t worry--he can fix that too!). There are no rules, no time limits and no right or wrong way to play this app, just free exploration and lots of opportunities for giggles!
Elmer's Photo Patchwork
Reviewed on 10/06/15
Paid on | iOS
Create a photo collage in the shape of a whimsical elephant. Choose an elephant from the parade of illustrated pachyderms, then choose a pattern (stars? Patchwork squares?), then the hunt for the best pictures begins! What photos will you take to fill in the shapes on your elephant? Perhaps a collection of flowers from your garden? Or vegetables from your refrigerator? Or clothes in your closet? Whatever you choose, this app will get you up and walking around, searching for just the right subjects for their photo collage. When you’re finished decorating your elephant, you can choose to save it to your device’s photos and then share it with friends and family to show off your beautiful creation!
The creators of Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader turn their talents to the realm of numbers. This app sneakily teaches so many different math concepts (counting by ones, twos, threes; addition; place value, etc.) and yet it's simple enough for a preschooler to navigate without problems. Each number features a short, humorous animation to illustrate the quantity, which kids will want to watch over and over. The free version gives users access to numbers 1-5 and then in-app purchases give you the opportunity to expand all the way to 100.
Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App!
Reviewed on 10/31/14
Paid on | iOS
Play with the pigeon that everyone loves! Write your own story about him, draw with him.... this app has lots of fun things to do! Big fans should also check out the Mo on the Go app.
Breathe, Think, Do
This simple little app aims to promote emotional intelligence–a lofty goal for an app–and does it well (no surprise, knowing it’s from Sesame Street). There are 5 scenarios in which a little monster is feeling strong, uncomfortable emotions [frustration, nervousness/separation anxiety, disappointment, impatience, apprehension (about bedtime)]. Players use the prescribed three-step process to help the monster come up with a plan to help him feel better. Note: If you’d like to develop this concept further, away from the screen, the Sesame Street site also has these free printables that illustrate the concept.
Reviewed on 10/30/14
(*note: as of 11/2015 this app is no longer available for download. I'm leaving the review here in case it re-appears (that happens sometimes. Cross your fingers!) Sesame Street’s Bert has a brown paper bag with a surprise inside—what could it be? Something to count! Players swipe their finger through the pile of objects to send them, one at a time, onto the tabletop, and when they hear Bert count the objects aloud, they’re really learning one-to-one correspondence. iPhone only.