Carissa's App Picks for Kids

Carissa's App Picks for Kids

Toca Life: School
Reviewed on 08/25/16
Paid

A digital "doll house" that invites open-ended play within the environments typical in a school day. Whether your child is starting kindergarten this year and is a little nervous about what to expect in school or your child is in their last year of elementary school, everyone can find fun things to explore in Toca Life: School.  The app includes six different play areas (home, school, playground, cafeteria, after-school youth club and a storage building), tons of objects for kids to interact with and a whole crew of characters to choose from.  From food fights in the cafeteria to sitting on the toilet at home or school, there's plenty of giggle-inducing activities and others that can spark conversations.  One extra special feature of the app is the ability to record a 2-minute original "movie" using the people and objects on your screen. When you're done, the movie is saved to your device's camera roll and you can share it with whomever you'd like!

See all apps for age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
For platform: Android, iOS, Windows
Busy Water
Reviewed on 08/20/16
Paid

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!

See all apps for age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
For platform: iOS
Artie's Magic Pencil
Reviewed on 08/20/16
Paid

Help Artie use his Magic Pencil to repair all of the destruction caused by a wayward dinosaur! Artie discovers a magic pencil wedged into a rock (like the Sword in the Stone) on a walk through the woods.  He is delighted to discover that the objects he draws with the pencil come to life! The drawings in this app are pre-determined and made by combining simple shapes.  Players use their finger (or a stylus if you have one) to trace along the lines, connecting the dots to create the images that come to life.  Players can also change the color or the patterns decorating the objects.  Although the pre-determined drawings don’t allow for open-ended or creative play, tracing the lines and discussing the different shapes used to create the drawings are both excellent pre-writing practice.

See all apps for age group: Preschool
For platform: iOS
Skyscrapers
Reviewed on 08/19/16
Paid

Build your own skyline full of towering buildings and explore how the insides work. Players begin with one building.  They can add floors to make it as tall as they want (topping out at 50 stories), choose the design for the top of the building and a color scheme and facade for the outside. Once they’re happy with the design of their building, it’s time to explore the inner workings.  How do the elevators divide up all the work?  What happens if too many people are using high-energy electrical appliances at once? What happens if a toilet gets clogged on one of the floors below yours?  There’s also an opportunity to experiment with different kinds of bedrock support systems and earthquakes and extreme weather.  How will your tower manage the stress? The people characters inhabiting and working in these skyscrapers are refreshingly diverse in race, gender and body shape. Filled with open-ended content to discover and experiment with and yet, I’m guessing that many kids will get the most enjoyment out of clogging the toilets--hilarious!

See all apps for age group: Grades K-2
For platform: iOS
Tagged with: Engineering, STEM, Technology
Fiete Sports
Reviewed on 08/01/16
Free

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?

See all apps for age group: Preschool
For platform: Android, iOS