Carissa's App Picks for Kids

Carissa's App Picks for Kids

Windosill
Reviewed on 11/14/17
Paid

Beautifully bizarre, surrealist puzzles that are great for adults and children to work on together. With no time limits, very little sound and a quiet atmosphere, this app is perfect for quiet afternoons or evenings at home, snuggled together on the couch. Explore this app together and my guess is that you’ll find that your child can solve the puzzles at least as often as you yourself can. If you get stuck on one, put away until another day and perhaps when you come back to it again you’ll have a new idea to try out.

See all apps for age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
For platform: iOS, Windows
Sago Mini Farm
Reviewed on 11/14/17
Paid

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.

See all apps for age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
For platform: Android, iOS
Novel Effect
Reviewed on 11/03/17
Free

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!

See all apps for age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool, Grades K-2
For platform: iOS
Tell Time with Mulle Meck
Reviewed on 11/03/17
Paid

Telling time on analog clocks was a skill that was difficult for me to learn as a child, so I am always on the lookout for new great ways to teach it to my own kids.  This app does a nice job of first explaining the concept of measuring time, then building a clock face (numbers and hands), then explaining how to read the clock with lots of different clock designs.  If a child guesses the wrong time, a gentle (but clear) hint is given.  There are no time limits, no scores, only a gentle music soundtrack and a congratulatory word or short animation when correct answers are given. A child can practice telling time for as long as they’d like. The clock faces change in degree of difficulty from faces that include both the hour and minute numbers to clocks with no numbers, only the tick marks to designate hours and minutes.  If you’re looking for a simple way for your child to learn how to read a clock face, this is a great option!

See all apps for age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
For platform: iOS
Toca Life: Office
Reviewed on 09/24/17
Paid

Have your kids ever wondered what happens all day while you’re at the office? Here’s an app that gives then an opportunity to let their imaginations run wild! Similar to the other (many!) Toca Life apps, the app makers have created a very rich environment in which kids can do whatever actions they want and make up their own storylines.  There are several buildings to explore (including, of course, an office, but also an apartment, a daycare, a restaurant, a courthouse/jail, a bank and a superhero’s secret lair) and players can choose to use the characters that are already present in the scene or choose from a panel of other characters available at the bottom of the screen.  Outfits can be changed so that a chef can become a judge can become a ketchup-themed superhero and all of the characters can be moved anywhere in the scene.  The props are all interactive and include thoughtful details like a wall clock that shows the real-world time, lights that actually affect the brightness of a room, and a copier that makes copies (yes, even if your character sits on the copier…..). Each scene also includes the option to record a video so that kids can share their storylines with a friend or relative. If they need a little jumpstart for their inspiration, there are some short scenarios to watch and an invitation to continue those stories. If you love this app, be sure to check out the rest of the Toca Life series!

See all apps for age group: Grades K-2
For platform: Android, iOS