Developer: Fisher Price
Price: $40.00
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Usability Rating: ★★★★½
Protection Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Recently, I have been given the chance to test a new iPad case, the Create & Learn Apptivity Case from Fisher Price. This case is compatible with 1st 2nd and 3rd generation as well as the new iPad, but a camera is needed to access a section of the related application of the same name.

I remember when we first got our iPad 3, my husband was intent on encasing our device in something that would be utterly protected from our sometimes irresponsible – if not occasionally downright reckless – five year old boy. Our old case has done the trick as our iPad has never seen any damage, but not without some cost, as my husband announced after some time struggling to get this piece of hardware onto the iPad that he was NEVER, EVER taking this case off, as it was too difficult to do so. Of course, as we had been given the chance by Fisher Price to review not only this iPad case, but two previously reviewed Apptivity play sets as well, it was understood that this case would have to come off, which it did, with a lot of cajoling.

In comparison, the Fisher Price Create & Learn Case is very simple to use. These cases are large hard plastic shells that will fully protect the iPad, including a screen protector that uses Otterbox technology to protect it from spills and scratches, as well as a handle which makes this case easy to carry. To open, simply slide together two buttons on the front of the case and pop the top. We as a family are also really enjoying the built-in stand, complete with rubber tipped feet to prevent this case from slipping when propped up in either portrait or landscape positions. Another nice feature is the included stylus that can be easily attached on either side for both left or right-handed users.

create-and-learn-apptivity-case-blue-d-2This case is primarily designed for children and goes a long way in suiting all of my boy’s needs – those of a five year old going into kindergarten. Although we have a few basic stands which we sometimes use, the majority of the time my son spent with the iPad was lying on a bed or sofa with the it placed flat and him positioned on his stomach looking down at the device. Since the installation of this case, my boy now also spends time using the iPad upright at a table; using the stand while interacting with unrelated educational apps of his choice as the rubber feet of the stand do a good job in keeping the device from slipping or tipping.

Another great development is that now my son uses the attached stylus for most of his app interactions instead of simply using a finger to tap or drag. Before the use of this case and the attached writing tool, my son’s ability to hold a pencil correctly was hit or miss, and the thought did cross my mind that the inclusion of apps in his life may have taken away from his time with crayons and markers. The stylus may have been a novelty for him at first, but now he holds it like a seasoned adult; absentmindedly using it instead of the fingers that he was born with for most applications as the stylus offers more detail than working with a finger. From what I can see, his new skill at holding a stylus has translated into holding a pencil as well, and I can see marked improvement in his printing abilities that I am sure would come with time and practice. I am glad he has mastered the ability to simply hold a pencil now before it became something that needed to be dwelt on or possibly addressed.

Be aware that the purchase of the Create & Learn Case gains users full access to the educational app of the same name – a universal application also in association with the related case for iPhone. This iPad case also includes 13 double-sided flash cards that each represent a letter that, while in Explore mode, will come alive using augmented reality if held behind an iPad with a camera, creating a 3D animated effect related to the letter card. Do touch and interact with these animations. The effect is quite intriguing although the resolution of these are rather computer-generated which I am in general not a huge fan of.

Y5229-create-and-learn-apptivity-case-blue-d-1Favorite moments of mine involving these cards include a ninja who shows off his athletic abilities, even tossing stars at the screen of the iPad and shattering it momentarily, a kite that one can fly around the page with a tap or drag of the finger or a fish that swims around the screen, creating an illusion of the iPad being under water.

I really appreciate the added narrated information about each flash card object as well with such information as how butterflies can’t fly when it is cold or why apples float in water. Another thoughtful feature of this case is a compartment in back which will house these flashcards nicely. This app also includes a Learn section where children can use the attached stylus to learn how to print upper and lower case letters with a choice of writing with a traditional black line or a variety of novelty markings such as animal footprints or bubbles. One is also able to erase areas of the page with the tap of a button or remove small areas by hand with a swiping motion of the stylus or a finger. A Create section also includes activities that build associations with the letters in question – be it by puzzles, paint by numbers, or a “magic color reveal” where one uses a finger or stylus to uncover a hidden animated image under a screen of color. A blank coloring page is available to draw or paint freehand with a variety of colors and includes pencil and paint brush tips as well as a spray paint choice, eraser and stamps of the letter-centric items featured in the other sections of this app.

I do wish the stylus worked a little smoother in the Learn section of this app, and that one was given more guidance in the printing of these letters instead of allowing random scribbling in this section instead of proper letter formations. I must admit that my son did not spend a lot of time with this app – more so because he is too much into the throes of his favorite open-ended building application to focus on another app right now, but he is really enjoying the attached stylus and the ability to prop up this iPad on a table to work with the iPad apps of his choosing.

I really admire how easy it is to open and close this protective case. I also like the ability to adjust the volume, reach the silent/orientation switch and the sleep/wake buttons through strategically placed openings as well as have use of the rear camera, but one will need to remove the case to charge and the head phone jack is covered – minor notes.

I am ambivalent about going back to our old case as the built-in stylus and stand are very nice features, as well as is the ease of transferring our device to other iPad play sets that my son also enjoys, but my husband is itching to go back to his sleek and stylish adult case as the look of this Create & Learn Case – ours is blue with graphic circle details – reminding us of the Fisher Price Doodle Pro toy that my son also has. It is definitely a children’s tool, but not too overly child-like looking for an many adults like myself to use, although my husband may feel differently.

create-and-learn-apptivity-case-blueBecause of this, I would love to see this case come in solid colors as well, making it appeal to older children and adults, as the functioning of this case is very good, especially if one has reason to remove the iPad from it from time to time making it a nice choice for a primarily children’s iPad.

It is also worth noting, however, that I can smell an odor coming from the body of the hard plastic stylus, both straight out of the packaging as well as now as I write this review – an issue for me as I am highly sensitive to the smells in my environment – a possible issue for others like me but not a concern that will be on most people’s radar.

Posted in: By Age Range, For Parents, Hardware Reviews, Parents and Kids, Preschool, Primary School, Toddlers

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