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Find the perfect app for you and your child!

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

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

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

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

Toca Life: Office

Toca Life: Office

Toca Life: Office

Toca Life: Office

Toca Boca

Reviewed on 09/24/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

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!

Age group: Grades K-2
Tags: Amazon, Characters, Creativity, Google Play, Growing Up, Technology, Things that Go

Old Man's Journey

Old Man's Journey

Old Man's Journey

Old Man's Journey

Broken Rules

Reviewed on 09/11/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Windows

Invite kids to take a journey with an old man in this beautiful, calming app. Follow along with this wordless story and help the old man move through his journey by raising and lowering hills. As the old man reaches resting spots, he reflects back on his life in memory scenes. Parents should be aware that death via illness (not the old man) is an element of the game, but the ultimate ending is uplifting. The game was not created for children, but the self-determined pace, the simple game mechanics, the calming soundtrack and the gorgeous artwork add up to a great game for parents and children to play together. In fact, playing from the perspective of the old man might just give your kids a little more empathy or might spark some interesting conversations between the two of you!

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Tags: Engineering, Family Play, Games, Google Play, Growing Up, NBC15, Stories, Things that Go

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