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Fiete Wintersports

Fiete Wintersports

Fiete Wintersports

Fiete Wintersports

Ahoiii

Reviewed on 02/20/18
Freemium on | iTunes

Help Fiete and his friends compete in the Winter Olympics!  Are you watching the Olympics but want a more interactive way to experience them?  Or maybe you just need some inspiration for different ways to play outside during the colder months?  Or perhaps it’s the middle of summer and you’d just really enjoy thinking about snow? Whatever your reason, you’re sure to enjoy these 14 quick easy games featuring Fiete the sailor and his two best sailor friends. Everyone is guaranteed a medal, but you might have to work pretty hard to work your way up to gold!

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Characters, Games, Nature, NBC15, Things that Go

Gesundheit!

Gesundheit!

Gesundheit!

Gesundheit!

Revolutionary Concepts

Reviewed on 02/19/18
Freemium on | iTunes

This oddball app straddles the line between adorable and gross while challenging logic skills and dexterity.  Help the little green piggy escape from the hungry red monster by luring the monster into a trap.  What does the monster like to eat besides the piggy himself?  Why, the giant green goobers that the pig sneezes out, of course! As you conquer the levels, the difficulties increase with more predators added, trickier maps to navigate, fields of sneezy flowers that make the pig sneeze even harder. Although there are no time limits, some of the levels involve tricky timing to make sure the monster can’t see the pig while he’s being lured into a trap. If you have a child that would be upset by seeing a giant mosquito suck the piggy dry (like a deflation balloon) or get too easily frustrated when the piggy gets eaten and the level starts again, this might not be the right app for you.  Otherwise, this is an excellent one for kids and adults to play together (as long as you’re not too grossed out by the goobers!).

Age group: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Tags: Animals, Engineering, Family Play, Games, Puzzles, STEM

Under Leaves

Under Leaves

Under Leaves

Under Leaves

Circus Atos

Reviewed on 01/19/18
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Windows

A serene seek-and-find pictures app.  Under Leaves features hand drawn, watercolor collage scenes and with each new level, an animal shows you what you’re looking for and how many of them you’ll find in that scene. The scenes themselves are not flat pictures, but have subtle movement like waving leaves or the underground ripples of water. Once you’ve found the hidden objects (and it’s surprisingly challenging!) you’re rewarded with the most beautifully subtle addition to the artwork -- maybe the ice crystals in the polar bear’s cave begin to twinkle softly pink instead of just blue.  Or perhaps a small school of bright orange fish swims through the deep blue underwater reef you just explored.  There are no time limits, no scores kept, and the only audio is nature sounds unique to each scene.  If you get stuck, tap the question mark, solve a classic slider puzzle and the app will give you a hint to help you find the next object. Gorgeous, relaxing and just so nicely designed, this app is great for quiet times together.

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Animals, Art, Concepts, Google Play, Math, Nature, NBC15, STEM

Gorogoa

Gorogoa

Gorogoa

Gorogoa

Annapurna Interactive

Reviewed on 01/12/18
Paid on | iOS | Windows

A unique puzzler game for older kids through adults. Enter the world of Gorogoa and explore.  You’ll find lots of recurring images, a slowly unfolding story full of mystery and intrigue, challenging puzzles that are just right for older kids or for doing together as a family.  There will be moments when you struggle, but when you figure out the solution, you’ll experience a delicious “a-ha!” moment of wonder. The content does include some images of buildings that have been damaged (though the cause of destruction is unclear) and injured people (one person falls from a height, someone is on crutches, someone is in a wheelchair) and some of the music lends a slightly spooky atmosphere, so it might be disturbing for very young children or kids who are sensitive to intense movie moments, but there is no explicitly adult-level content in the storyline.  The beauty of this app lies in the unique gameplay.  Move anywhere from 1-4 tiles around a four-square grid and watch as the image changes.  You can zoom in or zoom out to adjust your point of view and watch for moment when multiple tiles might match up and interact with each other.  A few of the solutions involve timing movements just right and younger children may need adult help with that. The gorgeous artwork, the groundbreaking gameplay and the clean, smooth game design and programming were all done by one single person (amazing!).  Definitely a favorite game of 2017!  *note: this game is also available for Nintendo

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Tags: Art, Family Play, Favorites, Games, Growing Up, Nature, NBC15, Puzzles

Color Clues

Color Clues

Color Clues

Color Clues

Jesse Foote

Reviewed on 12/15/17
Free on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

A treasure hunt using color clues that gets your family up and moving! In this free app, users can use pre-designed hunts like “a hunt towards bedtime” or they can create their own hunts.  To design your own hunt, simply record your voice giving as many clues as you want to give.  Then, once the clues are recorded, the app will assign each clue a sequence of four colors.  You can print out the color sequences on strips of paper with your printer (or simply use crayon and paper to make your own color sequence strips) and hide the color strips in the locations your clues direct the kids to.  When you hand the kids your phone and the first strip of colors to start the hunt, the app will be open to a page that shows only six different color blocks.  Players tap the colors on the screen in the same order they’re in on the slip of paper and that will unlock your recording of the clue.  When they follow the clue to the next spot, they’ll find another strip of colorful squares and the hunt continues.  This app is so open-ended and versatile and does a great job of encouraging family members to play together!  What creative ways can you think of to use it?  Note: the app maker plans to add a shape for each color in a future version of the app to assist colorblind players.

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Amazon, Concepts, Early Literacy, Family Play, Google Play, NBC15, Technology

Sago Mini Snow Day

Sago Mini Snow Day

Sago Mini Snow Day

Sago Mini Snow Day

Sago Mini

Reviewed on 12/14/17

Canadian developer, Sago Mini, really knows how to have fun in the snow!  This app, similar to their previous apps, Road Trip, Planes and Boats, begins by users choosing a vehicle -- in this case a sled, but of course there are lots of silly options in addition to the usual sled designs.  Perhaps you’d like to ride on a unicorn sled or a donut sled? Once you’ve selected your ride, choose which of your favorite Sago Mini characters to take on a ride down the snowy hill.  Once you’ve picked your drivers, it’s whoosh and down the hill you go!  You’ll encounter lots of snowy day fun along the way-- perhaps you’ll stop to decorate a snowman or a tree, or maybe you’ll run into the ice cave or run into some ice sculptures?  When your (surprisingly long) ride is done, you’ll see a photo snapshot of something fun that happened along the way, then it’s back to the starting line to go again (and you don’t even have to drag your sled all the way to the top)!  As always, Sago Mini delivers a delightful, exploratory app that will bring a smile to the face of kids of all ages.

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Amazon, Animals, Celebrations, Characters, Google Play, Growing Up, Nature, NBC15, Things that Go

Toca Life: Hospital

Toca Life: Hospital

Toca Life: Hospital

Toca Life: Hospital

Toca Boca

Reviewed on 12/14/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

The Toca Life series tackles the sometimes difficult topic of hospitals in this very well-made app.  As in all Toca Life apps, it’s all about open-ended play.  There’s a location (the hospital, with 5 levels), people (everyone from newborns to elderly in various medical states of health) and stuff to play with (bandages, extra body organs, radios, glasses of water, pretty much everything you’d expect to find in a hospital) and users decide what’s going to happen by moving the characters around within the space and handing them various objects or putting them on beds (or toilets or whatever) and creating their own stories. Unlike most “doctor” apps for kids, Toca Life is brave enough to even allow space for talking about death and dying by including two different quiet spaces with candles (one indoors, one outdoors) as sort of reflection/meditation rooms. If you are anticipating a hospital visit (new baby? Ailing grandparent? Sick kiddo?) or if you find yourself at the hospital or even if you just want to give your child the opportunity to play within that environment before life requires that you spend time in an actual hospital, this app is a really great way to do that. This would be an excellent app to play side-by-side with a grown-up who can talk to the child about the different (and sometimes mysterious) items they’ll encounter in the app (like the MRI machine).  Be sure to also discover the ability to make your own mini-movies within this app!

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Amazon, Creativity, Family Play, Google Play, Growing Up, Things that Go

Hupsi

Hupsi

Hupsi

Hupsi

5 PM Kids

Reviewed on 12/14/17
Paid on | iOS

A very simple, but extremely charming app for younger players. This app follows young Hupsi (a young woodland creature -- not sure exactly what kind of animal he is) as he takes a little jog through the woods around his home. The music (featuring singing in a made-up language) is excellent and will likely not annoy parents or get stuck in their heads, but is calming and pleasant to listen to. The entire progress of the game will run by itself with no interaction from kids if they choose not to touch the screen, but if they DO tap the screen, each item will add to either the development of the story (e.g. feeding snacks to Hupsi’s friend) or the music (e.g. Tapping woodpeckers adds a little staccato beat that fits in well with the rhythm of the song). The game ends when Hupsi returns to his home where he tells his parents about the things he saw on his run. There’s no stressful time limits, points or ads in this app. There’s not even really a particular goal and older players will lose interest after only one or two plays, but very young players will enjoy the music and the super cute illustrations and parents can feel safe playing this app even with babies. At the end of the app, when Hupsi is telling his parents about the things he saw (through drawings in speech bubbles), take the opportunity to talk with your child about each of Hupsi’s memories (“do you remember that dinosaur with the headphones on? What do you think was Hupsi’s friend’s favorite food that we fed him?”). Talking together about what’s happening in apps is a great way to build vocabulary and relationships! This app can also be played for free online, but not on mobile devices. See www.playhupsi.com for details!

 

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Tags: Animals, Growing Up, Music, Nature, Stories

PEEP Family Science: Ramps

PEEP Family Science: Ramps

PEEP Family Science: Ramps

PEEP Family Science: Ramps

WGBH ( with First 8 Studios)

Reviewed on 12/05/17
Free on | iOS | Google Play

Learn all about ramps with PEEP and the Big Wide World.  This app introduces 8 mini-lessons about ramps using video from the television show PEEP and the Big Wide World.  First, users watch a short video clip (less than 10 min) of either PEEP and his friends using ramps (slides, sleds on a snowy hill, etc.) or a video of children playing with ramps and slopes.  After the video is done, there are some discussion questions to talk about together and then a hands-on activity where kids can make their own slope / ramp and to play and experiment with.  This app would work well in a preschool or early elementary classroom as well as at home with an adult working together with a child. There is also a Spanish version of the app as a separate download called “PEEP Ciencias en familia: Rampas.”  The movies have been dubbed in Spanish and the questions and instructions have all been translated into Spanish, but oddly the letter to parents is still (unfortunately) only in English.

Age group: Preschool
Tags: Animals, Concepts, Engineering, Family Play, Google Play, Science, STEM

Pango Build Park

Pango Build Park

Pango Build Park

Pango Build Park

Studio Pango

Reviewed on 12/05/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play

Build a park, big or small, then play in it with the animal friends from the Pango world!  Users first choose either a blank canvas or a pre-built park.  There are simple parks with only swings, slides and a seesaw or really elaborate theme parks and everything in between!  Once you’ve chosen a park to start with, you can put the characters in right away and play with them, switching to each character’s point of view to watch the action through their eyes.  Feel the swooping of the roller coaster’s loops or the dizziness of the teacup ride!  Or if you’d rather design your own park (or alter one of the pre-designed parks) you can edit them however you’d like -- from the color of the ground to the different play elements to the decorations like trees, balloons or benches.  This app really puts kids in charge and allows them to dive right in to the scene for some serious imaginary play.

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Animals, Characters, Creativity, Engineering, Google Play, STEM, Things that Go