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The Creature Garden

The Creature Garden

The Creature Garden

The Creature Garden

Tinybop

Reviewed on 07/10/17
Paid on | iOS

Mix and match body parts from all different kinds of animals (including humans!) to create a new creature, then take it for a test run to see how well it works!  This app is set up similar to TInybop’s Robot Factory app, but instead of building something with mechanical parts, players build a creature using a variety of biological bits.  First, a creature body is hatched from a colorful egg, then you choose what sorts of legs, arms, wings, fins, tail, head, eyes, ears, mouth, tusks or horns your creature should have.  A zebra body with 4 sets of kangaroo legs?  A caterpillar body with a flamingo head and a gecko tail?  Why not?  Once you’ve designed your creature, try it out on the treadmill.  Does it move most easily on land, sea or water?  If your creature is really struggling to move quickly, what changes can you make to improve it? Once you’re satisfied with your creature’s design, give it a name, then set it loose in the wild where you can feed it, play a game with it, create a habitat for it or race it against other creatures you’ve designed.  There are so many different levels of creation in this game -- will you spend your time trying to make the fastest animal possible?  The most elaborately fancy animal?  Or will you throw together a few quick hodge-podge creatures and then spend your time playing in their “real world” environment with them? Whatever you choose, this app is rich with potential and inspiration.

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Animals, Concepts, Creativity, Engineering, Nature, Science, STEM

Toca Lab: Plants

Toca Lab: Plants

Toca Lab: Plants

Toca Lab: Plants

Toca Boca

Reviewed on 07/05/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

We’re back in the lab again, but this time we’re experimenting with plants instead of chemicals!  If you’re a fan of the original Toca Lab, you’ll probably like this one too. There’s the signature mix of authenticity (plants are identified with correct genus/species names as well as the common names) and whimsy (the plants have faces and say silly nonsense syllables) so don’t expect too much realism (no, when you shine light on a larch it doesn’t usually poop out a dandelion seed), but players will have lots of fun figuring out which of the 5 main actions to use on each plant to get a good reaction. The actions include the classic water, plant food and light, but they’ve also added a centrifuge (which appears to grown tiny baby versions of the plant being experimented on) and a hybridizer that produces comical results. A lighthearted introduction to botany and the concepts of the scientific process.

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Amazon, Concepts, Engineering, Google Play, Nature, Science, STEM

Space

Space

Space

Space

Tinybop

Reviewed on 01/31/17
Paid on | iOS

Explore our solar system with this app by Tinybop.  Visit each planet and drop objects (like a snowman or a tin can or a rock) onto the planet’s surface and check the results.  Does the object melt? Sink? Burn up in the atmosphere? Crash and create a crater? Each of those results teaches users something about the individual characteristics of each planet, but without giant paragraphs of text (a welcome change from most space education apps). Check out a cross-section of each planet to see what’s below the surface. Is it molten rock or a diamond sea? Fly over the surface of each planet or past all of the moons in your space craft and look at them up close. You can also compare the size of any two planets (or the sun) side by side or weigh two on a balance scale to see which is heavier. There is also a measuring page where you can gauge how many “Astronomical Units” each planet is away from the sun. If your child enjoys reading the discrete facts about each planet don’t miss the Dashboard where they have created an excellent handbook full of facts and discussion questions to delve deeper into an exploration of this topic. Once again, an incredible app by the Tinybop team! This one encourages exploration and learning through actions.  Highly recommended.

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Nature, Science, STEM, Technology, Things that Go

Toontastic 3D

Toontastic 3D

Toontastic 3D

Toontastic 3D

Google

Reviewed on 01/23/17
Free on | iOS | Google Play

Create simple animated movies, now with three-dimensional characters and settings! The original Toontastic app has been a gold standard in the land of content creation apps for years.  Now, the creators have put together this new app that takes all of the wonderful features you’ve loved in Toontastic, made them 3D and added a few new fantastic options.  You can still learn a lot about the arc of a storyline by building your movie in several scenes, but now they’ve given you three options for the type of story you want to tell-- short story, classic story and science report!  Each of these options starts by breaking down your movie into scenes (beginning-middle-end or more nuanced divisions like “conflict” or “hypothosis”) and you choose which part of the story you want to tell. Need more than 5 scenes to tell your story?  Add more or take a few away--it’s completely customizable!  Each of the scenes is now larger than just one static screen and your character can walk around inside the scene, zooming in or out. I also appreciate that ALL of the characters can be customized with variations in skin tone and clothing colors as well as adding a photo for character faces.  If you don’t like their pre-made scenery, you can always draw your own original artwork for backgrounds, characters, props, etc.  Get inspired in the “Idea Lab” by watching movies that others have created! A fantastic sequel to a wonderful app, Toontastic 3D is perfect for home, classroom or road trips.  The whole family can work together to create their own original film masterpiece!

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Tags: Animals, Art, Creativity, Family Play, Favorites, Google Play, Music, Science, Stories, Technology, Things that Go

Busy Water

Busy Water

Busy Water

Busy Water

Edoki Academy

Reviewed on 08/20/16
Paid on | iOS

Play with the physics of water in a series of increasingly challenging puzzles while saving the life of a cute little goldfish. Starting with simple pipes that are straight or at right angles, then working your way through freefall mazes (gravity plays a role and players must turn their devices accordingly to make the water fall where they want it to go), gates that need to be opened, water cannons, freezers and heaters and sensors that turn on using either water, ice or steam, some of the puzzles can be truly challenging even for an adult, making this an excellent app for a child and parent to work through together, collaboratively. Most puzzles have multiple solutions making this app fun to play over and over again.  The best part is that once you’ve completed levels 1-4, you unlock Build Mode when you can create your own maze puzzles for Archie the fish to swim through (and share your levels with your friends)! Fantastic value with tons of play value and learning opportunities!

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Animals, Concepts, Creativity, Engineering, Family Play, Favorites, Games, Nature, Puzzles, Science, STEM

Monkey Spot Scavenger Hunts

Monkey Spot Scavenger Hunts

Monkey Spot Scavenger Hunts

Monkey Spot Scavenger Hunts

Monkey Bar Collective

Reviewed on 08/01/16
Freemium on | iTunes | Google Play

Photo scavenger hunts ready to play on your mobile device! From hunts to keep your family engaged and entertained in the car or at a restaurant waiting for your food to hunts that lead players through the alphabet or inspire them to act out a detective mystery, this app is packed with open-ended inspiration to keep players working together to capture pictures inspired by the list of clues. Once they find something to photograph in response to a clue, they snap a photo then type answers to one or two short questions (yay, literacy!).  The app then incorporates their answers in a caption for the photo.  Each of the captioned photos can be downloaded to your device then used however you’d like to use them!  If you love this app, more hunts are available for purchase, including a grocery store hunt, look in a book, snow day, number and color hunts and many more!

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Alphabet, Animals, Art, Concepts, Creativity, Early Literacy, Family Play, Games, Google Play, Growing Up, Nature, NBC15, Science, Technology, Things that Go, Vocabulary

Crazy Gears

Crazy Gears

Crazy Gears

Crazy Gears

Seven Academy

Reviewed on 12/11/15
Paid on | iOS

Learn how gears work together to pull weights and share the load in this game that is engaging for kids and adults! With 99 levels that gradually introduce new elements and challenges, this game has a lot of potential for cross-generational fun. With each new level, players are presented with a number of elements (gears, chains, joints, etc.) and they must figure out a way to combine them that will pull the “screen” on the edge across (like pulling a window shade down). Most of the time, players must use all of the elements provided, but sometimes a puzzle can be solved without using every piece. Are the moving gears moving in the direction you need them to go? What can you do to change their direction if not? Physics, logic and the mechanics of simple machines are concepts all woven into this deceptively simple app.

Age group: Grades K-2
Tags: Concepts, Engineering, Family Play, Science, STEM

Little Fox Animal Doctor

Little Fox Animal Doctor

Little Fox Animal Doctor

Little Fox Animal Doctor

Fox & Sheep

Reviewed on 12/11/15
Paid on | iOS

Little Fox and his friends are not feeling well and need your help to feel better.  Play the role of animal doctor as they tell you (through short, wordless animations) what’s wrong. Then, follow the suggestions in the top left corner of the screen to heal them or try other remedies from your turntable of medical supplies.  Once you’ve healed them, send them on their way and call the next patient in.  When everyone is feeling better, you’re done!  The next time you open the app though, all the animals are back with different complaints and you get to fix them up all over again. A sweet and simple introduction to doctor visits!

Age group: Preschool
Tags: Animals, Nature, Science

Fox & Sheep

Paid on | iOS

Age: Preschool

Topics: Animals, Nature, Science

 

DNA Play

DNA Play

DNA Play

DNA Play

Avokiddo

Reviewed on 10/16/15
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

Play with DNA and watch your monster change before your eyes! Each game session starts with a sort of blank-slate monster and some “DNA” pieces (four shapes, that represent the four basic building elements of DNA -- A, T, C, & G) that need to be pieced back into their puzzle spots.  As the user puts the puzzle pieces where the belong, this monster’s unique characteristics emerge -- body shape, head shape, eyes, legs, arms, etc. Once all of the puzzle pieces have been put into place, players can move the DNA pieces around to create entirely new characteristics, or just tap on the body part they want to change for a random selection. Throughout gameplay, random elements are offered to the monster (a boombox with dance music, a skateboard to skate around town, etc.) and when players tap on those elements, the monsters interact.  Some features (very short legs) may not lend themselves to certain activities (dancing) and users may decide to alter their monster to improve their performance, or just watch to see what your monster’s special skills are! When you’re done, take a photo of your monster or save it to play again in the future. A playful and amusing introduction to a big STEM concept!

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Concepts, Creativity, Engineering, Puzzles, Science, STEM, Things that Go

The Earth by Tinybop

The Earth

The Earth by Tinybop

The Earth

Tinybop, Inc.

Reviewed on 09/25/15
Paid on | iOS

Volcanoes and earthquakes and avalanches, oh my! If you have a kid who is curious about explosions, this is a great app for you.  Learn how these huge geologic events (plus other things like erosion) change this planet we all live on. See how our planet looked 4 billion years ago, peel back the Earth’s crust to take a peek at its core, or build an island with an underwater volcano! This app in Tinybop’s Explorer series takes on the topic of geology and teaches kids the underlying concepts while they play with these powerful earth forces.  Don’t miss the fantastic “dashboard” packed with information for parents including a free downloadable PDF handbook that goes into further explanation of the concepts built into this app and suggests discussion questions for you to talk about with your child.

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Nature, Science