As many of my readers know, preschool and educational projects are my absolute favourite to work on, so my recent slew of kids app reviews are by-product of that passion and wanting to see what’s new on the market.
Here are some of my thoughts while checking out some recently released/updated apps for preschoolers.
Screenshot from The Icky Mr Fox
PlaySquare presents WordWorld’s Happy Birthday Dog – free for iPad
In the App Store description, PlaySquare boasts that it’s introducing Touchable Television, which is actually a good term for what it is.
At first, I was wondering why there were so many videos for an iPad app, which are usually much more interactive, but I think for what it is, the balance is nice, especially for having said up front that’s it’s more television than interactive app.
Users watch the videos and then play along with interactive segments. These involve grouping balloons, drawing squares, dragging letters to form words, then squeezing them together to “Build a Word” just as in the series. It’s a little bit like a precursor to playing a console video game, triggering the cinematics when finishing sequences.
The first app is free, but the PlaySquare website FAQs indicate that future episodes (“appisodes” might be a better word) will be $1.99 each. It’s a high-quality app with great production value, but there’s a nagging little part of me that thinks this price point might be a bit too high. When other apps retail for $0.99 or $1.99 and offer many more activities, something this linear (where the story just goes from start to finish) doesn’t offer any choice to explore or play freely. To compare, WorldWorld episodes sell in volume packs of 16 episodes for CDN $11.99 or $1.99 for two on iTunes.
PlaySquare still looks fairly new, so I’ll be eagerly awaiting their newest chapter. As is the nature of apps, there are many things that could change, including price.
The Icky Mr. Fox – free for iPad, Android and Blackberry Playbook
In terms of recognizing words, this is a wonderful app for kids learning to read, although they’ll pick up more British vocabulary like “lavatory” and “biscuits.” The grammar nut in me wishes that it actually used proper sentence structure with quotation marks and commas instead of hyphens for speech, but I like that when you press on objects within the scenes, the word pops up and says what the item is.
If the developers are reading this, there are just three things that I would fix: the weird foreground/background action of Mr. Rabbit’s mouth when he blows on his tea, the sort of creepy camera-like device next to the vent, and the weird placement of the “Like Us on Facebook” link in the story which should really only be designated for the Parents page.
I Can I Can – free for iPad
Created by Korean company Boxfish Entertainment, I Can I Can is a free app that allows users to read the beautifully illustrated story of flying bear Toongy.
It’s not as much a story as a picture book app, where Toongy is shown taking pride in his/her skills like “I can cook,” “I can make origami,” and “I can explore.” There’s just enough interactivity in each scene so the story really does come alive as a digital work of art – something I love about tablet book apps.
There’s actually a lot to do in this app, and especially being free, it’s a great one to check out. Users can play the story in either English or Korean; create their own awards of excellence with photos and text; and create their own storybooks inserting photos of themselves where Toongy is supposed to be. Users can also record their own new narration soundtrack. This last feature wasn’t tested extensively, but if it works as well it should, the app should make a wonderful digital keepsake for families.
More app reviews are coming soon! If you’re looking for a particular group of apps (e.g. great advanced English literacy apps for the classroom), please get in touch with me through firstname.lastname@example.org or you can tweet to me directly through @DebChantson.
Image Source: Freeinios