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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

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

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

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

Windosill

Windosill

Windosill

Windosill

Vectorpark

Reviewed on 11/14/17
Paid on | iOS | Windows

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 this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Tags: Art, Concepts, Engineering, Family Play, Games, Puzzles, STEM, Things that Go

Novel Effect

Novel Effect

Novel Effect

Novel Effect

Novel Effect

Reviewed on 11/03/17
Free on | iOS

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!

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Book App, Early Literacy, Family Play, Folk/Fairytales, Music, Technology

Tell Time with Mulle Meck

Tell Time with Mulle Meck

Tell Time with Mulle Meck

Tell Time with Mulle Meck

Piu Piu

Reviewed on 11/03/17
Paid on | iOS

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!

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Tags: Characters, Concepts, Growing Up, Math, Puzzles, Science, STEM, Technology