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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

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

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

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

Love you to Bits

Love you to Bits

Love you to Bits

Love you to Bits

Alike Studio

Reviewed on 09/11/17
Paid on | iOS

Although the game begins with Kosmo’s robot girlfriend, Nova, getting blasted into pieces that are scattered throughout the galaxy, this game is actually charmingly cute and relaxing to play. The goal of the game is to travel throughout the universe helping Kosmo to collect pieces of Nova as well as mementos of their relationship that will help to restore her memories of them together when she’s been rebuilt. Each planet that Kosmo travels to has a different scenario, but most of them are fairly familiar (like a children’s park or a library) with a few extraterrestrial elements (robot dogs, aliens of all sorts, etc.). Parents should be aware that one of the searches takes place in a bar, but it’s fairly tame (there is mellow banjo music on this level) and a few of the side characters shoot laser guns. Also, the front page of the app allows access to social media, so keep an eye on this unless you want your twitter feed to suddenly be all about this game. This is a fun one for kids and parents to play together!

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Tags: Engineering, Family Play, Games, Growing Up, Puzzles, STEM, Things that Go

Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley 2

Ustwo

Reviewed on 09/11/17
Paid on | iOS

One of the best games in app-land now has a sequel! This app was not specifically created for children, but it’s kid-safe and a wonderful app for kids and adults to use together.  Since the first Monument Valley game came out years ago, other companies have been trying to copy it, using similar design elements and color schemes and dreamy music, but nothing has ever been quite as good as the original until now.  This sequel has all of the beloved elements of Monument Valley (mind-twisting 3D labyrinths, sherbet colors, self-pacing and a thread of a storyline), and it builds on those in ways that brought gasps of delight from both me and my son when we played through it together. You’ll see new friends, old friends, and encounter new game twists that keep the whole concept fresh and new.  If you liked Monument Valley, you will not be disappointed in Monument Valley 2.

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

Toontastic 3D

Toontastic 3D

Toontastic 3D

Toontastic 3D

Google

Reviewed on 01/23/17
Free on | iOS | Google Play

Create simple animated movies, now with three-dimensional characters and settings! The original Toontastic app has been a gold standard in the land of content creation apps for years.  Now, the creators have put together this new app that takes all of the wonderful features you’ve loved in Toontastic, made them 3D and added a few new fantastic options.  You can still learn a lot about the arc of a storyline by building your movie in several scenes, but now they’ve given you three options for the type of story you want to tell-- short story, classic story and science report!  Each of these options starts by breaking down your movie into scenes (beginning-middle-end or more nuanced divisions like “conflict” or “hypothosis”) and you choose which part of the story you want to tell. Need more than 5 scenes to tell your story?  Add more or take a few away--it’s completely customizable!  Each of the scenes is now larger than just one static screen and your character can walk around inside the scene, zooming in or out. I also appreciate that ALL of the characters can be customized with variations in skin tone and clothing colors as well as adding a photo for character faces.  If you don’t like their pre-made scenery, you can always draw your own original artwork for backgrounds, characters, props, etc.  Get inspired in the “Idea Lab” by watching movies that others have created! A fantastic sequel to a wonderful app, Toontastic 3D is perfect for home, classroom or road trips.  The whole family can work together to create their own original film masterpiece!

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Tags: Animals, Art, Creativity, Family Play, Favorites, Google Play, Music, Science, Stories, Technology, Things that Go

Attributes by Math Doodles

Attributes by Math Doodles

Attributes by Math Doodles

Attributes by Math Doodles

Carstens Studios

Reviewed on 07/22/16
Paid on | iOS

A hand-drawn app about math skills with surprisingly few numerals. Daren Carstens of Carstens Studios wanted to show kids how genuinely fun and engaging math could be and so he designed this app.  Users choose one of seven different puzzles, whether to play in a timed mode or not, they can choose the types of images or let the selection be random AND (and this is surprisingly rare in kids’ logic-related puzzle apps) they get to choose the level of difficulty they’d like to start at. Almost every other puzzle-type app on the market slowly builds the user’s skills by introducing new elements as the user progresses through the levels. This is excellent in theory, but in practice it can mean that if you’re feeling confident about your abilities and you want to jump ahead to the more challenging levels, there’s no way to do that without putting in the hours to play through the easier levels to “unlock” the more difficult ones. This self-determination of leveling is a feature that really sets this app above the rest because even if users try a level that’s too challenging, that just motivates them to back a little bit and see what they’ll need to learn to be able to solve the “too difficult” puzzle! The seven different puzzles themselves range in difficulty from relatively simple (pattern circles) to tricky to get the hang of (Category Stack was a bit challenging for me!). Some of the drawings are easier to differentiate than others (buttons of different shapes, colors and patterns are easy, complicated robots are a little harder), but since you can always opt to choose which drawings are used, you can always opt out of any that are frustrating to you. All-in-all, this is a beautiful app with very thoughtful design features and if you’re looking for an attractive way to get kids some math skills practice, this is an excellent choice.

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Tags: Art, Concepts, Games, Math, NBC15, Puzzles, STEM

Mekorama

Mekorama

Mekorama

Mekorama

Martin Magni

Reviewed on 05/16/16
Free on | iOS | Google Play

Help a tiny robot navigate three-dimensional mazes, then create some mazes yourself! If you love Monument Valley, there is a good chance you’ll enjoy Mekorama. This is one of those rare apps that can be equally engaging for both adults and kids and is therefore perfect to play together! In each of the 50 levels provided, a robot needs to find his way towards a red button to advance to the next level.  He might need to go underwater, stand on moving mechanisms, avoid getting knocked off of the mechanisms, avoid getting shocked and try to steer clear of the roadblocking red robot. While I enjoyed working my way through the levels and discovering new challenges, I was most excited when I began exploring the options and discovered the DIY section.  That’s right--you (or your kids) can create your own mazes, buildings and obstacles for a little yellow robot to explore (I’m pretty sure Minecraft fans will enjoy this part of the app!).  You can save the mazes you create and share them with other Mekorama fans (be aware that the app does allow users to instantly share levels via social media, but they can also just be saved as an image of the QR code and then parents can monitor the sharing options). The app creator has also quite generously made this app free to download, but gives users the in-app opportunity to choose-your-own-price if you’d like to support the developer. I will certainly be supporting this developer as I’d like to see him make many more apps in the future!

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Tags: Concepts, Creativity, Engineering, Family Play, Favorites, Games, Google Play, NBC15, Puzzles, STEM

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Ustwo

Reviewed on 09/24/15
Paid on | iOS | Google Play | Windows

Three dimensional mazes with optical illusion solutions reminiscent of the artwork of M.C. Escher elevate this app above other puzzle apps. The ethereal mood and gorgeous color scheme are just icing on the cake. This is one of those rare apps that are equally engaging for parents and children. As we played it together, my son (4 years old) would often discover the solution before I did (I am not surprised by the results of this scientific study). There are occasional encounters with mystic gurus along the path who say mysterious things that aren't crucial to gameplay, but other than that and a few instructions very early in the game, it is wordless. We were excited when an expansion pack was released recently, but users with very sensitive children should be aware that there is some "hot lava" and slightly more menacing music in the first game of the expansion pack and a few other somewhat more tense moments than exist in the original set of mazes, but as long as you're playing side-by-side, sensitive children should be fine.  Don't miss the sequel-- Monument Valley 2!

See this app reviewed on the news

Age group: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Tags: Art, Concepts, Engineering, Family Play, Games, NBC15, Puzzles