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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

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!

See this app reviewed on the news

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

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think

Reviewed on 08/28/17
Freemium on | iTunes

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.  The app is free to download and use over 15 meditation options, but if you want to unlock and access ALL of the meditations in their library, there is a subscription fee.  There is also a web-based version of the app.

See this app reviewed on the news

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

Fiete Hide & Seek

Fiete Hide & Seek

Fiete Hide & Seek

Fiete Hide & Seek

Ahoiii

Reviewed on 06/29/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play

Play hide and seek with sailor Fiete!  In this game, Fiete will hide behind rocks, trees or plants.  Players can move the objects out of the way or tap on them to break them into pieces (with very satisfying sound effects).  Want a little help?  Tap on the puppy in the bottom corner of the screen. The dog will sniff Fiete out, bark at him and when Fiete responds, it’s easy to spot where he’s hiding.  There are lots of other animals hiding in each scene too, so even if you don’t uncover Fiete right away, there’s lots to discover.  Scenes are randomly generated and different each time you play, but all are beautiful and get increasingly more complex as you proceed through the game. Be sure to play your own game of hide and seek with friends or family after you’ve found Fiete.  Will you hide outdoors or indoors?  Find a good hiding spot!

 

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Animals, Characters, Games, Google Play, Nature

Little Kitten

Little Kitten

Little Kitten

Little Kitten

Fox & Sheep

Reviewed on 04/30/17
Paid on | iOS

Is your child a fan of small, adorable furry animals? (Who isn’t?) Then they will love the photo-realistic kitten in this app.  Enjoy some authentic cat-like reactions (kitty LOVES to be petted!) and some …. not-so-realisitc, but hilarious actions (hint: tap on the toy ambulance!). Some of the activities in the app are activated by simply tapping on an object and seeing the reaction, other objects trigger mini-games (like a mix-and-match animal toy or getting the kitty to catch falling objects) that earn fishy-shaped treats that you can feed to kitty. There’s also an art easel which you can tap to “paint” with paw-prints or swipe to paint in strokes.  My favorite feature of the art easel is that the palette of paints that you’re given is only primary plus black and white but you can actually mix colors by tapping on them in succession (i.e. tap on the yellow then the blue if you want to paint with green). The settings options include turning off the music and sound as well as a timer for when the kitty will automatically go to sleep, so if you want to limit the amount of time that your child spends with this app, it’s easy to do so.  An utterly charming and giggle-inducing app!

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Animals, Art, Games, Things that Go

Sago Mini Town

Sago Mini Town

Sago Mini Town

Sago Mini Town

Sago Mini

Reviewed on 04/30/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play

Build a world for your favorite Sago Mini characters to explore! There are five types of building blocks to choose from (desert, road, grass, cobblestones and garden dirt) and each block yields a different sort of environment (e.g. the dirt blocks sprout different kinds of produce while the desert blocks often yield cactus or sandboxes).  Players can place the blocks wherever they like over the expanse of water present as the default scenery in the game.  As they place the blocks, things pop up on them (like houses, shops, plants, Sago Mini characters, etc.) and those things have interactions both with tapping and by dragging a Sago Mini character on top of them.  If you drag one of the characters out over the water, they’ll suddenly find themselves in a boat (convenient!).  The app allows for more than one person to play at the same time and there’s tons of opportunity for dialogue and storytelling, so try this one out with a friend or sibling.  Truly open-ended play with super-cute results.

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Animals, Characters, Creativity, Google Play, Growing Up, NBC15, Things that Go

Shake the Tree

Shake the Tree

Shake the Tree

Shake the Tree

minibombo

Reviewed on 04/24/17
Paid on | iOS

Shake the tree and see what falls out! This simple app, based on their book with the same title (currently available only in the Italian language version) invites users to shake a tree (by dragging or tapping with a finger, not by shaking the device) to see what animal falls out of the tree next.  A few more taps on the animal will produce a funny little animation as the animal figures out a unique way to get back up into the tree. The gameplay changes subtly with repeat play, giving it even greater value! This app is perfect for the youngest users as there is only very simple hand-eye coordination required and the app also includes a logical “ending,” making it easier to say “all done!” and turn it off when it’s finished. If you liked their earlier app called The White Book (also based on a print book), you will enjoy Shake the Tree! 

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Animals, Book App, Early Literacy, Nature

Sago Mini Puppy Preschool

Sago Mini Puppy Preschool

Sago Mini Puppy Preschool

Sago Mini Puppy Preschool

Sago Mini

Reviewed on 04/18/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

I am a huge fan of Sago Mini’s play-based app collection, so when I heard that they were putting out this app with “light educational content” I was skeptical.  So skeptical that I actually refused to purchase it or look at it for months.  Silly me.  I should have trusted that if Sago Mini was going to do “educational” content, they wouldn’t get didactic.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this app is just as entertaining and pleasurable to play with as the rest of the apps they make.  The app store description says that it includes “numbers, shape recognition, matching and music fun” but… they don’t mention that the shapes are not just your average square/circle/triangle set, but are instead the shapes of different objects that puppies like to chew on (like socks, shoes, bones and remote controls!) and you toss the objects to the puppies who then chew them to bits or shake them back and forth in a playful manner.  They don’t mention that the “matching” is part of a game involving feeding the dogs different colored foods and that sometimes special guests show up alongside the puppies (I will admit to laughing aloud at a few of the guest antics!).  They neglect to mention that the “music fun” is in the guise of a dog piano where each key is paired up with a different dog who barks (or howls if you press and hold the key) each pitch.  The activity that is the most overtly “educational” is probably the numbers activity in which you pile up to ten dogs into a wading pool for a big bubble bath.  This section of the app includes the first linguistic voiceover I remember ever seeing in a Sago Mini app as a child’s voice speaks aloud the number of dogs as you place them into the pool. My favorite part about this is that you can remove multiple puppies at a time if you use multiple fingers, so if you want to count down by twos or threes instead of one at a time, you can do that!  As with all Sago Mini apps, there are some subtle little details that add to the quality of the app without distracting (try bouncing the objects in the matching & shape games and listen to the changing pitches!) and there’s plenty of kid-friendly humor throughout to keep kids engaged.  Plus, those puppies are all so CUTE!

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Amazon, Animals, Concepts, Google Play, Math, Music, STEM