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Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think

Reviewed on 08/28/17
Free on | iOS

Introduce your child to mindfulness and meditation through this playful, contemplative app.  When you open your account, you can create profiles for multiple children.  Each time you use it, choose which profile you want to enter, then you can choose from a list of all the possible meditations (“missions”) or you can “find a mission” by selecting up to 3 emotions from a provided emoji-style list which the app then will use to choose a meditation for you. Mission categories include predictable topics like Quiet, Focus and Sleep, but there are also Energizing meditations and ones you can use in case of a Meltdown.  The meditations range from about 2-6 minutes long and a simple animation is shown during the meditation to give kids something to look at and focus on while they’re trying out this technique.  The animations feature different animal characters (plus a cloud, a raisin, and a yeti -- all appropriate images for the particular meditation).  When the meditation is done playing, kids are asked once again to choose three emojis to describe how they’re feeling now and then they are given a virtual “sticker” (which just goes onto a sticker page, more like a badge -- it can’t be moved around). This emoji exercise is a great way to get kids talking about different nuances of emotion beyond just “happy” and “sad.” The app is based on the mindfulness games developed by Susan Kaiser Greenland and if you like what you see in the app, she’s written a whole book of mindfulness “games” for children. 

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Animals, Family Play, Growing Up, Nature, Vocabulary

Sesame Street

Sesame Street

Sesame Street

Sesame Street

Sesame Street

Reviewed on 07/31/17

Tons of Sesame Street videos from the show plus mini-games that engage kids interactively in a way that videos just can’t achieve on their own combine to make this app almost as good as watching the show.  The only thing missing is the overarching storyline to tie everything together.  You can search by favorite character or browse through collections of 8 different “learning areas” such as literacy or emotional development. There are plenty of celebrity appearances and the signature Sesame Street humor.  Bottom line: if you’re okay with (or big fans of) Sesame Street, you’ll love this free app.

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Alphabet, Characters, Concepts, Early Literacy, Games, Google Play, Growing Up, Math, Music, Rhymes and Songs, Spanish, Vocabulary

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

Bla Bla Box

Bla Bla Box

Bla Bla Box

Bla Bla Box

Marbotic

Reviewed on 06/18/16
Paid on | iOS

Hear the words you spell! Does your child like to string letters together and then ask you what they spell? Or are they old enough to write sentences on their own?  Either way, they’ll probably enjoy this deceptively simple app. To play, drag letters up from the alphabet at the bottom of the screen onto the “desktop” and the app will read the words you’ve created.  The app reads every letter and letter combination that’s placed on the desktop, so if you’re spelling “ROBOT” you’ll also hear pronunciations of “RO,” “ROB,” etc. on the way to the finished word. This is an excellent way for kids to figure out how language works.  What letter changes the vowel sound from long to short? What happens when I spell something wrong? (the app will attempt to speak anything remotely pronounceable, and will just say the string of letters if it’s not possible, but if the word is misspelled but still works phonetically, the app will still pronounce it.  It’s not a spell-check app and should probably not be used to practice your weekly spelling list.) If users type in a “naughty” word there’s sort of a snide giggle that happens instead of the app reading the word aloud (although I did not test ALL the naughty words!). The app is available in 5 languages.  One language (of your choice) is included with the initial app download and if you’d like to access other languages, they’re available as in-app purchases. This app can also work with the wooden letters by Marbotic -- instead of dragging letters up from the bottom of the screen, you can turn those letters off and just tap the screen with the wooden letters instead.  Simple, elegant, and a fun way to explore language and spelling!

 

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Concepts, Early Literacy, Spanish, Vocabulary, Writing

HangArt

HangArt

HangArt

HangArt

Literary Safari

Reviewed on 05/09/16
Paid on | iOS | Google Play

A new (not macabre!) interpretation of the classic game of HangMan, plus a story studio and the opportunity to illustrate the words yourself -- this app packs in a lot of value! First of all, they’re reimagined the “hanging man” of the classic game as a person hanging from a monkey bar or chin-up bar instead of from a gallows.  If you don’t guess the word in time, the person loses their grip on the bar (rather than dying). Players are also given an illustrated hint that grows more elaborate with each guess to help guide them to the correct answer. Those illustrations have been carefully chosen to reflect our diverse world in the most wonderful way (e.g. “queen” = Cleopatra, “farmer” = Cesar Chavez), but if kids would rather create their own illustrations, once they’ve finished a word correctly, they’re allowed to go into the “word gallery” and create their own artwork to illustrate that word instead (you can also switch back and forth with the original illustration--it doesn’t get lost). And because kids learn words best in the context of a sentence or story, the app developer has also included a Story Studio where you can combine all of the words that you’ve successfully “won” and rearrange them to create a story which you can record yourself narrating.  The app also includes a dyslexic-friendly font and users can select either the uppercase or lowercase alphabet which they then trace to practice their handwriting skills. The app’s website also includes a fantastic parents guide full of information about the app as well as suggestions for ways to engage with your child as they use the app.

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Alphabet, Animals, Art, Concepts, Creativity, Games, Google Play, Growing Up, Nature, NBC15, Stories, Vocabulary, Writing

Crepes by Suzette

Crepes by Suzette

Crepes by Suzette

Crepes by Suzette

Monica Wellington

Reviewed on 06/29/15
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

How do you breathe new life into a picture book that’s over a decade old? Turn it into an app! In this excellent book-to-app translation, Monica Wellington’s collaged illustrations come to life with characters that speak the one French word or phrase that’s introduced on each page (I love that you can hear the word spoken by several different voices with slightly different pronunciations!) and you can hear that word or phrase translated into six other languages (including English). If you want to dig even deeper into the content, click on the map symbol in the upper left corner of each screen to discover more options -- a map of Paris showing where Suzette is selling her crepes, photos and/or videos from each location, and more information about the classical art pieces referenced in the text. A feast of information in a well-designed app in which these extra features do not distract from the storyline, but instead enhance the learning when the reader is ready to explore beyond the text.

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Amazon, Art, Book App, Google Play, Stories, Vocabulary

Endless Spanish

Endless Spanish

Endless Spanish

Endless Spanish

Originator, Inc.

Reviewed on 05/31/15
Freemium on | iTunes

Learn Spanish vocabulary words, hear both the (Spanish) name of each letter in each word and the sound it makes as you spell it, the hear the word used in a Spanish sentence. Originator has created a Spanish-language version of their popular app, Endless Reader. The new app offers the option to choose between two modes: Spanish Immersion or Spanish with an English translation. Fans of Endless Reader might recognize some of the humorous animations (e.g. they’ve used the same sentence for the word “casa” in this app as the word “house” in Endless Reader), but the opening credits and the little animations between segments are all new for this app and have fun cultural references (a pinata! a bull chasing the little monsters!). There’s even a new mascot monster! Whether you are a Spanish language learner or a native speaker, you will surely love and learn a lot from this fantastic app! (includes more words as an in-app purchase.)

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Alphabet, Favorites, Spanish, Vocabulary

The Big Reading Show

Hooked on Phonics--The Big Reading Show

The Big Reading Show

Hooked on Phonics--The Big Reading Show

Hooked on Phonics

Reviewed on 05/13/15
Freemium on | iTunes

This app is divided into thirteen “episodes” each featuring two letters of the alphabet (so all 26 are covered) and a lot of laughs. Episodes are organized around themes (Pirate Day! Castle Day!) and each episode has 9 segments which are unlocked as each segment is completed the first time. The animated segments include three check-ins with the perky bird and rhino co-hosts of the show, Lou and Ella, doing sketch comedy related to the theme of the episode, games with a comforting amount of repetition that will reinforce the lessons found in each, and hilarious animated musical videos that had us both giggling out loud. The songs are all very catchy and well-sung and the lyrics are clever enough to encourage close listening. The game also incorporates some “coins” and “stars” but they aren’t a large focus of the app and are used constructively (not just to “buy” stuff within the app). Overall, a really well-made app with a ton of quality content, this app reminded me of the PBS shows of my youth, but with interactive elements that actually require kids to respond, strengthening their potential to learn the content. Well worth the in-app purchase price!

2017 Update: this app is now part of a larger Hooked on Phonics app that is available through a subscription purchase.

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Alphabet, Animals, Concepts, Early Literacy, Rhymes and Songs, Vocabulary

ASL Kids

ASL Kids

ASL Kids

ASL Kids

ASL Kids

Reviewed on 05/08/15
Freemium on | iTunes | Google Play

Want to learn some words in American Sign Language? This easy-to-use, clean designed app does a nice job of teaching signs through very short video clips of kids doing the signs. The app also includes a “game” option where users are shown a video clip of a sign in action, given three images and asked to choose which image the sign represents. The app includes 21 free signs plus 50 more available as an in-app purchase and the developer promises “more to come!”

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Family Play, Growing Up, Vocabulary

Miximal

Miximal

Miximal

Miximal

Yatatoy

Reviewed on 03/25/15
Paid on | iOS

Miximal is a simple game app inspired by flip books where you can mix and match the top, middle and bottom third of a picture. The clean, modern, whimsical illustrations invite children (and their parents) to play. The app takes advantage of the digital format to reward players with a short, humorous animation when all three parts of the same animal are matched together. In addition to the illustrations, users can press the “play” button to see the name of the animal also split into three parts. This can be especially amusing when the animals are all mixed up (what is a croc-ga-phant?). The app also comes with five different language options, extending the learning opportunities (or just the humor of crazy mixed up words in other languages) even further. There are other flip-book style apps on the market, but this one is a clear winner!

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Animals, Concepts, Early Literacy, Games, NBC15, Puzzles, Spanish, Vocabulary