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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

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

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

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

Shadows Journal

Shadows Journal

Shadows Journal

Shadows Journal

WGBH ( with First 8 Studios)

Reviewed on 12/01/17
Free on | iOS

Go on a treasure hunt for shadows! This app is part of the Nico & Nor series of science explorations for early learners. Users choose one of three areas to work in -- “cool shadows” where they can record photos of whatever shadows they want to take pictures of, “shadow hunt” in which they are given open-ended prompts like “find a shadow of something small” or “find a shadow on the wall” and they photograph shadows following the prompts, and then a third area called “Mystery Shadows” where they are prompted to take a photo of an object casting a shadow and then a second photo of just the shadow.  These pairs of photos then become a guessing game that kids can challenge friends and family with! There is a thorough letter to educators and parents with other ideas for extending the learning and an additional app called “Shadow Play” that also elaborates on different concepts about shadows.

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Concepts, Family Play, Nature, NBC15, Science, STEM

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

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe & Think

Reviewed on 08/28/17
Freemium on | iTunes

Introduce your child to mindfulness and meditation through this playful, contemplative app.  When you open your account, you can create profiles for multiple children.  Each time you use it, choose which profile you want to enter, then you can choose from a list of all the possible meditations (“missions”) or you can “find a mission” by selecting up to 3 emotions from a provided emoji-style list which the app then will use to choose a meditation for you. Mission categories include predictable topics like Quiet, Focus and Sleep, but there are also Energizing meditations and ones you can use in case of a Meltdown.  The meditations range from about 2-6 minutes long and a simple animation is shown during the meditation to give kids something to look at and focus on while they’re trying out this technique.  The animations feature different animal characters (plus a cloud, a raisin, and a yeti -- all appropriate images for the particular meditation).  When the meditation is done playing, kids are asked once again to choose three emojis to describe how they’re feeling now and then they are given a virtual “sticker” (which just goes onto a sticker page, more like a badge -- it can’t be moved around). This emoji exercise is a great way to get kids talking about different nuances of emotion beyond just “happy” and “sad.” The app is based on the mindfulness games developed by Susan Kaiser Greenland and if you like what you see in the app, she’s written a whole book of mindfulness “games” for children.  The app is free to download and use over 15 meditation options, but if you want to unlock and access ALL of the meditations in their library, there is a subscription fee.  There is also a web-based version of the app.

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Animals, Family Play, Growing Up, Nature, Vocabulary

The Creature Garden

The Creature Garden

The Creature Garden

The Creature Garden

Tinybop

Reviewed on 07/10/17
Paid on | iOS

Mix and match body parts from all different kinds of animals (including humans!) to create a new creature, then take it for a test run to see how well it works!  This app is set up similar to TInybop’s Robot Factory app, but instead of building something with mechanical parts, players build a creature using a variety of biological bits.  First, a creature body is hatched from a colorful egg, then you choose what sorts of legs, arms, wings, fins, tail, head, eyes, ears, mouth, tusks or horns your creature should have.  A zebra body with 4 sets of kangaroo legs?  A caterpillar body with a flamingo head and a gecko tail?  Why not?  Once you’ve designed your creature, try it out on the treadmill.  Does it move most easily on land, sea or water?  If your creature is really struggling to move quickly, what changes can you make to improve it? Once you’re satisfied with your creature’s design, give it a name, then set it loose in the wild where you can feed it, play a game with it, create a habitat for it or race it against other creatures you’ve designed.  There are so many different levels of creation in this game -- will you spend your time trying to make the fastest animal possible?  The most elaborately fancy animal?  Or will you throw together a few quick hodge-podge creatures and then spend your time playing in their “real world” environment with them? Whatever you choose, this app is rich with potential and inspiration.

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Animals, Concepts, Creativity, Engineering, Nature, Science, STEM

Toca Lab: Plants

Toca Lab: Plants

Toca Lab: Plants

Toca Lab: Plants

Toca Boca

Reviewed on 07/05/17
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Amazon

We’re back in the lab again, but this time we’re experimenting with plants instead of chemicals!  If you’re a fan of the original Toca Lab, you’ll probably like this one too. There’s the signature mix of authenticity (plants are identified with correct genus/species names as well as the common names) and whimsy (the plants have faces and say silly nonsense syllables) so don’t expect too much realism (no, when you shine light on a larch it doesn’t usually poop out a dandelion seed), but players will have lots of fun figuring out which of the 5 main actions to use on each plant to get a good reaction. The actions include the classic water, plant food and light, but they’ve also added a centrifuge (which appears to grown tiny baby versions of the plant being experimented on) and a hybridizer that produces comical results. A lighthearted introduction to botany and the concepts of the scientific process.

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5
Tags: Amazon, Concepts, Engineering, Google Play, Nature, Science, STEM