Find the perfect app for you and your child!
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!
Attributes by Math Doodles
Reviewed on 07/22/16
Paid on | iOS
A hand-drawn app about math skills with surprisingly few numerals. Daren Carstens of Carstens Studios wanted to show kids how genuinely fun and engaging math could be and so he designed this app. Users choose one of seven different puzzles, whether to play in a timed mode or not, they can choose the types of images or let the selection be random AND (and this is surprisingly rare in kids’ logic-related puzzle apps) they get to choose the level of difficulty they’d like to start at. Almost every other puzzle-type app on the market slowly builds the user’s skills by introducing new elements as the user progresses through the levels. This is excellent in theory, but in practice it can mean that if you’re feeling confident about your abilities and you want to jump ahead to the more challenging levels, there’s no way to do that without putting in the hours to play through the easier levels to “unlock” the more difficult ones. This self-determination of leveling is a feature that really sets this app above the rest because even if users try a level that’s too challenging, that just motivates them to back a little bit and see what they’ll need to learn to be able to solve the “too difficult” puzzle! The seven different puzzles themselves range in difficulty from relatively simple (pattern circles) to tricky to get the hang of (Category Stack was a bit challenging for me!). Some of the drawings are easier to differentiate than others (buttons of different shapes, colors and patterns are easy, complicated robots are a little harder), but since you can always opt to choose which drawings are used, you can always opt out of any that are frustrating to you. All-in-all, this is a beautiful app with very thoughtful design features and if you’re looking for an attractive way to get kids some math skills practice, this is an excellent choice.
Help a tiny robot navigate three-dimensional mazes, then create some mazes yourself! If you love Monument Valley, there is a good chance you’ll enjoy Mekorama. This is one of those rare apps that can be equally engaging for both adults and kids and is therefore perfect to play together! In each of the 50 levels provided, a robot needs to find his way towards a red button to advance to the next level. He might need to go underwater, stand on moving mechanisms, avoid getting knocked off of the mechanisms, avoid getting shocked and try to steer clear of the roadblocking red robot. While I enjoyed working my way through the levels and discovering new challenges, I was most excited when I began exploring the options and discovered the DIY section. That’s right--you (or your kids) can create your own mazes, buildings and obstacles for a little yellow robot to explore (I’m pretty sure Minecraft fans will enjoy this part of the app!). You can save the mazes you create and share them with other Mekorama fans (be aware that the app does allow users to instantly share levels via social media, but they can also just be saved as an image of the QR code and then parents can monitor the sharing options). The app creator has also quite generously made this app free to download, but gives users the in-app opportunity to choose-your-own-price if you’d like to support the developer. I will certainly be supporting this developer as I’d like to see him make many more apps in the future!
Three dimensional mazes with optical illusion solutions reminiscent of the artwork of M.C. Escher elevate this app above other puzzle apps. The ethereal mood and gorgeous color scheme are just icing on the cake. This is one of those rare apps that are equally engaging for parents and children. As we played it together, my son (4 years old) would often discover the solution before I did (I am not surprised by the results of this scientific study). There are occasional encounters with mystic gurus along the path who say mysterious things that aren't crucial to gameplay, but other than that and a few instructions very early in the game, it is wordless. We were excited when an expansion pack was released recently, but users with very sensitive children should be aware that there is some "hot lava" and slightly more menacing music in the first game of the expansion pack and a few other somewhat more tense moments than exist in the original set of mazes, but as long as you're playing side-by-side, sensitive children should be fine.
Colorful, geometric animal-esque figures build with virtual building blocks to reach the goal and move to the next level of the game. The beautifully simple, clean graphics will catch your eye, but the gameplay will keep you and your child playing this one together for a long time. Each level introduces new challenges--a bouncing spot on the floor, blocks that float, a thunderstorm with gusting winds. If you are connected online while playing, you might see a new animal character arrive on your screen to help--another player who could be from anywhere in the world. You each have only a limited vocabulary (about 9 words) to speak to each other (Hello, Help, Yay…) as you collaborate together to solve the puzzles (if you want to play alone, simply turn off the wireless on your device. Be forewarned that a few of the puzzles cannot be solved by one player alone!). This game is equally challenging and engaging for adults and kids and is safe for all audiences. If you and your child enjoyed Monument Valley, this one may also be popular in your home (though it does sometimes require physical dexterity as you balance one block on top of another.) Truly a gem! Note: As of early 2016, this app is now available to play on PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Wii U, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.
Musical Paint Pro
Reviewed on 04/20/15
Paid on | iOS
Choose a color, then “draw” on the canvas and as you do, music follows your actions. Are you making smooth, sweeping motions? Your music will glide along. Are you poking the screen to create dots? Your music will come in single notes to match your rhythm. The pitch is determined by your location on the canvas (experienced musicians might even be able to pick out a scale). You can also paint with multiple fingers at the same time and create harmony! Created by the same app developer as Musical Paint for Kids, but aimed at an older audience. This version allows users to adjust the size of their brush and the opacity of their paint as well as the hue. After a piece of artwork has been created and saved, it offers a playback option that allows listeners to experience the same music that the original artist heard while they were creating the piece and watch the painting re-create itself in time to the music. This feature encourages users to pay attention to the music as much as the visual art they’re creating.
Have you ever looked up to the night sky and wondered whether that one really bright spot right over there was a planet or a star or …. maybe something else? Do you know how to identify any of the constellations other than the “Big Dipper?” Would you like to be able to point out exactly where the Hubble Telescope is currently in orbit? StarWalk for Kids answers all of these questions and many more. Using the built-in gyroscope, the app shows you a map of the stars, planets, constellations in relation to your current position. The app is also packed with tons of great scientific information about astronomy and mythology (in relation to the constellations), all shared in a variety of written and spoken word, kid-friendly cartoon illustrations, and a few animated video explanations.