148 Apps on Facebook 148 Apps on Twitter

Tag: Primary School »

Fluke HD Review

Posted by Nick Papageorge on July 5th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad only

Fluke HD is, in my opinion, one of the best Sorry/Ludo clones on the app store today. It is one that has held my daughters' attention for months now, and one that we absolutely love coming back to quite regularly to play as a family.

The game, as you can imagine, is quite simple. You have 4 tokens that you need to get from the star to the finish. You can play by yourself with computer controlled players (easy, medium or hard difficulties) or with up to 6(!) people... that would be one heck of a full iPad to huddle around! Multiplayer through Game Center is also an option, not a bad idea if you've got 2 devices and want to play separately.

There are currently 4 different boards to choose from: Alien World (which was newly added), Carnival, Mediaeval and Race Track. There's also a promise of more boards to come, which I'd love to see. Included is a link to Fluke's Facebook page where you can chime in on what you'd like to see included for the new boards. The developer is very active here, a fact that is quite promising. For parents who are concerned with their children clicking out to external sites, I need to advise that this is an easy link to click on, even mistakenly so.

Anyway, back to the game. If you've played Sorry, you know the basics. Once into the game, you need to roll a 6 to add another token onto the board. This then gives you another chance to roll the dice. As for the play on the board, if you roll and land on another player's token, it captures it and sends it back to the start. There are also 2 different unqieu actions spaces on the board. The first is a "Special" tile that requires the person who lands on it to follow its instructions. The second is the "Teleport" device, which will send your token off to another teleport space of the same color, possibly sending you back some spaces.

Fluke honestly surprised me. I knew from what I'd seen that I would like it, but I thought it would get boring rather quickly. Well, it hasn't, and for an app at this price, that's an impressive feat.

I am a firm believer that the iPad is the answer for board gaming on the go, and Fluke is further proof to that. It provides a simple and easy way to access a very high quality "Sorry" clone no matter where you are. No longer do I have to worry that I've lost a piece to the game (I STILL can't find where a red Trouble token is and haven't touched the game since that happened!), and I never have to worry about cleaning it up afterwards. Also, unlike the board game, you get the variety of having multiple board selections here that don't just change how the game looks, but the strategy in how the game plays. A short board is a short, simple game versus a longer board that allows for more strategy. It's simple, but it's something that seriously adds to the longevity of the game.

My say is that if you want to enjoy a really great and fun family board game, Fluke is without a doubt the way to go. The developer cares about the title, and has succeeded in creating something that's easy for a wide age range (it require no reading skill) but also succeeds for adults. It's neither unattractive nor boring, an unfortunate fate of many clones on the app marketplace. You really can't go wrong, and as of my writing it's $0.99 - I cannot think of a better way to spend a buck.

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz Review

Posted by Nick Papageorge on June 22nd, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Yes, the name of the app I'm reviewing today is the entire alphabet. From this point on, I'll refer to it as abcdefg for the sake of my fingers.

I stumbled across this app thanks to the title, it initially seemed like a unique way to learn the alphabet and practice word sounds, but I soon found it was that plus a lot more and it turned into a favorite of mine and my daughters very quickly.

Upon opening abcdefg and hitting play, you're presented with a simple and easy to access play field. The alphabet is split into 2 halves, one on each side, running lengthwise on your device. At the top 4 different words: "Gravity", "Crickets", "Vehicles" and "Birds". At the bottom are 5 buttons, "Recycle", "Arrow", "Bomb", "Camera" and "Info". Honestly, this is all that you need to know to get started.

Simply take a letter from either side and drag it into the middle of the screen. When you let go, the letter will go off on its merry way. When my daughters first grabbed it, they dragged a few letters and nothing happened. Once the letters hit the edge of the screen, everything changed.

With gravity (the option selected by default), the letters simply move with your device. Each time the letters hit an edge, the "sound" of the letter is played.

Vehicles zip around the screen, making sounds as they move. Crickets skitter and make sounds when they group up together. Birds is the most diverse, with varied sound, tempo and pitch depending on where/how it's placed.

As each letter moves, it leaves a unique trail behind it, making a visual representation of the soundscape you, I mean your kids, are creating and it's easy to stop a single letter, group of letters, erase the whole picture or take a snapshot of the insanity using the buttons below.

People might dismiss abcdefg, but if you look closer at what the app actually provides, I think you'll find that it's an invaluable tool for kids. In the app, you're a conductor of sound, and you learn concepts like pitch and tempo. You also get a quick into to physics, seeing how the different letters move and interact with each other, things you don't often see in "kid" apps these days.

While abcdefg is no replacement for music lessons, it allows children to draw outside the lines of music and just perform these strange experimental mini-concerts with letters. Some of the things I've heard my daughters create simply blow my mind. They have to experiment in combining sounds together, finding ones that match in tone, pitch, whatever to create an appealing and melodic sound. They also end up with these crazy pictures of letters strewn everywhere. They get to interact with art in a way that I've never really seen, at least not in this medium.

I can honestly say that I think any kid would benefit from putting their hands on abcdefg, even if it's just to increase familiarity with the alphabet and word sounds. Beyond that, it's an introduction to physics and a way for kids to create experimental soundscapes, by simply placing letters on a screen, turning that into honest to goodness music.

For the price and for the features offered, abcdefg is much more than a simple novelty. It's an app that I recommend for kids and adults of any age. It's never too early (or too late!) to make crazy music and pictures. I look back in regret, wishing that I'd have had something even close to this as a kid, it might have gotten me that much more interested in creating and experimenting with music and sound.

Moo, Baa, La, La, La Book Review

Posted by Nick Papageorge on June 9th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

I'm going to come right out and say this. I love Sandra Boynton. To me, she is the most prolific children's story writers to come out in this generation, specifically for younger children. I put her alongside Dr. Seuss and Robert Munsch, and that's high praise.

"Moo, Baa, La, La, La" is produced by Loud Crow, the makers of the PopOut! book series (Peter Rabbit, Night Before Christmas, etc). Their books have been showcased by Apple for a reason, they are top notch in quality and production values. Designed to simulate a real "pop-up" type book, they include characters that spring when you touch them, tabs that move various parts of the book, and windows, doors and such that open and close. It really does give the books a tactile feel, and I honestly believe these books have more interactive elements than most on the app store.

It's clear that "Moo, Baa" is a silly book. It starts out normal, with a cow saying "Moo", a sheep saying "Baa", but the next page you lift up a curtain and it's 3 singing pigs saying "La, La, La!".

Like with most books in the app store, you can choose to read it yourself or have "The Big Guy Read it" for you. This book has an especially special narrator, Sandra Boynton's son, Keith (trivia fact, Sandra's middle name is Keith).

Inside, interaction ranges from touching Rinos to hear them Snort and Snuff, pulling back dogs like a slingshot to send them running at 2 cats saying "Meow". As the dogs leap after them, they leave their collars behind to hang in mid-air, a very cute touch.

Like most "board books", it's short, coming it at about 12 pages, but it's no slouch. Each page offers so much to the touch, almost everything you see does something, even if it's as little as a sound. My daughters spent probably twice as long enjoying the pages, the interaction, the art and the humorous sounds as they did of just the story. Hearing them laugh while touching each of the singing pigs at the start never gets old.

Now, the story itself is probably targeted to younger children around the age of 1 - 4, because of its simple language. The sentences are simple and they mostly consist of animal sounds except for the last of the book. It's a magical ending and one that will yield different results for everyone who reads it.

I would like to make it clear that even though the book is designed for younger children, you don't have to be young to enjoy it. My daughters are 6 and it is still one of their favorites. Because they're now fairly advanced readers, they're able to read the entire story easily and without having to struggle. In the path to learn how to read, I find this is far more important than pushing kids to read longer words before they're ready. I figure they'll probably be done with the book in a year, but between the physical book and this, I've gotten an easy 5 years out of it, not a lot of books that have that kind of staying power.

So, is "Moo, Baa, La, La, La" worth your $3? Yes, yes and yes. It's a simple story that's an amazing read for children, especially ones who are very young. It scales to older children who are learning how to read, and allows for easy comprehension. The app design is great, and the interaction is one of the best on the app store. You owe it to yourself, and your kids, to check it out.

The Going to Bed Book Review

Posted by Nick Papageorge on June 7th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

"The Going to Bed Book" is one of two Sandra Boynton books available on the app store (the other is "Moo, Baa, La, La, La") and like "Moo, Baa" it is a fantastic book with top notch production value that takes a great story and adds some unique and wonderful interactive elements, making it a joy to read both as a parent and for our children.

"The Going to Bed Book" is produced by Loud Crow Interactive, the makers of the PopOut! series (Peter Rabbit, Night Before Christmas, etc). Loud Crow has been featured in the app of the week as well as New And Noteworthy because they're fantastic. They are designed to simulate a real "pop-up" type book, with characters that spring from the page, tabs to move back and forth, windows/doors to open. It really does give the books a tactile feel, and I honestly believe there is more interactivity in their books than almost any on the app store to date.

As with most of Sandra Boynton's books, they are very silly, and "Going to Bed" is no different. It's a story about a boat full of about 10 animals getting ready to go to bed. You get to follow them through quite a few different activities to get them there, starting with scrubbing them clean in the bath to scrubbing their teeth in the sink.

This interaction in the book is similar, in a very good way, to the PopOut! book series. There's not a single page that's left out from interaction. You can tilt your iPad and it'll swing a chain that's hanging, you can touch on an animal and they'll bounce like they're on a spring. Another you touch will squeak, moo or make some other sound. I hate to spoil this, but it's too good not to talk about... At one point in the bathroom, you get to turn on the hot water tap and very slowly and subtly, it starts to fog up the entire iPad screen. It's terrifically realistic and once it's done, you... I mean, your kids, get to use their fingers as a squeegee to clean off the screen. Yes, it's silly, but it's a really nice touch.

The story is about 13 pages long and allows you to either read it yourself or "Have the Big Guy Read It". The narrator is perfect as his voice is deep, warm and inviting, like the perfect grandpa. With the narration off, you can touch on each of the words to hear them spoken aloud, something I find important in the path to learning how to read.

On that note, the language in the book is very simple. There is more of a complete story here than you'll find in "Moo, Baa", but the language is still very easy to understand and comprehend. I'd still say the age range for the direct target would be 1 - 4, but I can confidently say that this would be a hit for children as young as 6 months to as old as 6 or 7 years old. My daughters still absolutely love it and I believe they will at 7, a testament to the quality of the story and humor.

It is clear by now that I'm smitten with these books. But it's not that I'm blinded by the author, if the books weren't good I'd be the first to say it. But they are good. No, they're great. They're experiences that shaped my daughter's early years of reading, and I hope that you'll find they do the same for yours, too.

Halli Galli Review

Posted by Nick Papageorge on June 3rd, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

I know, Halli Galli is probably one of the silliest names for a game on the app store, but I urge you to look past that and spend some time with a simple and incredibly fun set-collection card game for the entire family.

I have to say that this is one of the most frequently played and one of our most requested. Its execution, while simple, provides flexibility that will work as a great challenge for adults, but is easily played with children as young as 3 years old.

Halli Galli is broken into 3 modes, and although the goal in each version is to collect all the cards, how you go about it varies. In each game, you have a split set of cards, and each turn one card from every player's deck is placed on the board. When playing against other players, it's a race to ring the bell, and I'll explain further how each mode works below:

Junior mode - Our MOST played mode and the most accessible mode in the game. In this mode, you watch the cards until you see 2 smiling clowns that are of the same color. If you're wrong, you give one card to each other player. If you run out of cards, you're out of the game and the first player to collect all the cards, wins.

For more complex playing and for older kids and adults, the other 2 modes are great.

Classic - In this mode, each card is of a type of fruit and has a specific number of fruits on each card. Once you see a a set of cards that totals exactly 5 fruits of one kind you ring the bell. The same rules for Junior apply for winning.

Extreme - This is where it gets really complex and challenging. The cards deal faster than other modes, and you ring the bell when you see 2 identical cards or when a monkey appears and there are no lemons, an elephant appears and there are no strawberries and when only a pig appears. Another difference is if you're wrong, you "Go to Jail" and your cards get placed under the bell. The next round you win, you only get your jail cards back. Lose a round while in jail you're out. Everything else is the same.

Each version has 3 different modes. Arcade, Single Player and Multiplayer. With Arcade, you're the only player and if you're wrong, you lose 3 cards (there's no Jail in Extreme). Single Player pits you against 4 computer players with 3 difficulty levels and Multiplayer allows you to play with 2 - 4 people.

I have had so much fun playing this with my 6 year old twins. Huddling around the iPad makes you realize just how perfect a platform it is for these types of games. And it's great, you don't have to set up any cards, you don't have to worry about the bell not working, or someone missing hitting it. You just get to really bond as a family and play a unique and fun game.

I also think it's an excellent educational tool that will get your kids (and you!) to really learn to focus your mind to watch for matches, and is a great way to improve your reflexes and hand-eye coordination.

I cannot recommend Halli Galli highly enough, it's a game that will grow with your family no matter how old they are. And most importantly at the time of this writing both the iPhone and iPad version are on sale for $0.99. You can't even buy a plain deck of cards for that price!

Food Fight! – An Interactive Book Review

Posted by GiggleApps Staff on February 16th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Food Fight! – An Interactive Book is an iPad storybook that my son and I find really enjoyable. It is a unique and original story about two boys from different worlds who at first seem to have a lot of differences but really have much in common.

First you meet Tim, who is a really picky eater and will eat nothing but sausages for every meal and snack. Next, on another planet inhabited by sausage people, we meet Sammy. Sammy eats nothing but little boys the same way Tom delights in eating sausages. Sammy finds out that there is a place where sausages are eaten and goes to earth to confront Tom. At first they cannot get past their differences but are able to work things out, with a witty surprise ending that children will love.

Read the full review at GiggleApps.

Cozmo’s Day Off Review

Posted by GiggleApps Staff on February 10th, 2011

Cozmo’s Day Off is a really fun and creative space-themed universal application which includes both a story as well as numerous highly engaging interactions and mini-games.

I love the look of this app; the illustrations are great as are the various interactions one can find by tapping around the pages. I like that some of the interactions are different each time they are tapped and are sometimes rather involved as well with multiple things happening from just one touch. The look of this app has a nice 1950’s space theme and I like looking at all the retro elements, including a few that remind me of an earlier steampunk style as well. The music as well as the narration is excellent and it is fun that one can change the pitch of the narrator’s voice as well as your own if you choose to make your own recording. Mini-games are also included throughout the app as well as some highly creative and unique elements. One will just have to tap to explore for himself; just be sure to touch and explore everything on the screen. Check out the “help” section if you want direction in finding the interactions that these pages contain. I greatly appreciate this information being included and wish a section like this would be part of app interactive apps.

Read the full review right here on GiggleApps.

The Bronto Family Adventure Review

Posted by GiggleApps Staff on October 22nd, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

The Bronto Family Adventure is a nice book app about Jax Bronto and his dinosaur family as they go on an adventure. Children can choose to be read to or read this story to themselves, and there is a short peek-a-boo themed game your child can play as well.

This app includes nicely drawn, simple illustrations, and the narration is pleasant. My son enjoys listening to the story, and I appreciate the mild suspense created as Jax gets lost after roaming away from his parents. The ending is a happy one, but is does gently remind children not to wander too far away from mom and dad. I like the idea of being able to either listen to or read this story to my child, and when my son gets older, he can read this now familiar story to himself.

Read the Full Review on GiggleApps

Highlights My First Hidden Pictures Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on September 29th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

“Highlights My First Hidden Pictures” brings the hidden picture puzzles from Highlights Magazine onto your device, now in color to make them a little easier than before. There are eight puzzles to start with. Register with Highlights and get two more. Additional puzzles are also available.

In case you don’t know, the idea is to look for objects hidden within the page. Each puzzle has a silly theme, and there is always a lot going on. There is varied music as well as sound effects, all of which which can be turned off, making this a nice quiet game. Make these puzzles harder if you wish by hiding the scrollable row of objects to be found.

I really like that you can zoom in to see details of these pictures, and I think it's great that there are hints that use the zoom feature as well, letting you get closer and closer until the hidden object is right under your nose. Tap on the found object and it will turn black and white as does the corresponding clue from the row showing which objects to look for, which is also then highlighted pink, all of which makes it easier to see what you are still looking for and what you have already found, a nice touch.

I have had a lot of fun with these puzzles, and I do find myself using the hints towards the end. I am glad they are available.

If you enjoy this app, the more challenging "Highlights Hidden Puzzles" is also available.

Melvin Says There’s Monsters Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on September 7th, 2010
iPad App - Designed for iPad only

"Melvin Says There’s Monsters" is a wonderful story book app! The production value is top notch, with vivid, well-drawn illustrations, effective music and just enough moving animations to add to the story without being distracting. The story has quickly become one of my all-time favorites in any form, application or not.

This story is about a boy named Melvin who convincingly tells stories about monsters to the kids at school, and is told from the point-of-view of one of the other students. The narration and the story are both excellent, reminding me a great deal in both the style and humor of my favorite family movie, Jean Shepherd’s “The Christmas Story.” I also really like that there is a moral to this book about how to treat each other, but it is organic to the story and not at all preachy.

My 2 1/2 year old son enjoys this app, but I think I may enjoy it more than he does. There are many places in this story where I laugh out loud because it is wonderfully written. I really hope the developers come up with more stories; the quality here is as high as it gets.

Magnetic Alphabet for iPad Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on September 5th, 2010
iPad App - Designed for iPad only

“Magnetic Alphabet for iPad” is an Ipad app designed like the toy every kid enjoyed playing with - the magnetic board with letters and numbers magnets. This toy has been updated for the iPad to include both lower and upper case letters, numbers, various shapes and even grammar magnetics so now you can write full sentences out correctly. There are also six different colors to choose from. You can also save your work to your iPad or share it on Facebook.

I am pleased that you can use all the characters over and over again because to spell out my son’s full name, we need multiples of some letters, and this is difficult with the original toy. My son, 2.5 years, really enjoys spreading out the different pieces on the board as we work on phonics and has taken my lead, now choosing “m’s” for mom and “d’s”  for dad, telling me he is spelling these words.

It is nice that there are apps like this for parents who prefer their kids to play with traditional, battery-free toys while still embracing the new technology of the iPad. Plus, there are no pieces to lose or pick up off the floor!

MathGirl Number Garden Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 26th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

"MathGirl Number Garden" is an application designed to help girls gain confidence in math, specifically counting and beginner multiplication. This app is pleasant to look at and has girls in mind with the garden aesthetic. There are twelve levels that increase in difficulty, and the faster you answer the questions, the more points you get. Redeem your points to buy objects such as flowers or butterflies to add to your garden.

I like the fact that although you get more points for speed, there is no time limit to win the base number of points for a right answer, and if you answer wrong at first, you can keep trying. I think adding objects to the garden page is a nice motivation for girls to go back and practice their math skills.

I showed my garden to my 2.5 year old son, and he was really interested in this until he asked me to add a second pink bunny, but I could not. I wish you could just buy whatever you want with the points that you have earned. I do think that this is a fun app and a nice teaching tool that girls will enjoy using.

Animals' World Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 16th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

“Animals' World" is an interactive book app which introduces you to the sights, sounds, and other facts about animals.  Learn where these animals live by looking at a 3D globe,  or see how large they are in comparison to an average male adult. Tap on the animals to hear the noises they make.  You have the option of enlarging in order to see more detail as well. There are over 60 animals in Animals' World, and I find the sheer number to choose from  impressive. 

My son enjoyed scrolling through the animals, tapping them to hear their noises.  I showed him the other choices too, and he enjoyed making them bigger, but the other features did not grab his attention.  My husband, however, did enjoy the globe and scale.

I think kids of all ages will like this app, but they need to be older than my son (2 1/2) to fully enjoy it. I wish there was narration to explain more about what’s going on in the globe and scale areas to engage younger children. It’s probably best for grade school and up. 

Let's Bead Friends

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 9th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

"Let's Bead Friends" is an application that lets you design your own friendship bracelets and email them to friends, post to Facebook, or add them to your jewelry box.  This app is intuitive and easy to use. There are five basic shapes as well as a multitude of colors and designs to choose from.  When you are done beading, you can add a message charm such as “miss you” or customize your own and then send the bracelet on its way. 

I did not know if my 2.5 year old son's attention would hold, but he really enjoys this app.  After taking a moment to show him how everything works, he took over designing his own beads and the stringing of his bracelet. "Mom, I'm good as this," my son said, smiling.  It's really fun to see what shapes, colors, and designs he likes to choose, and he enjoys the sound effects and sparkles that play when your bracelet is done. There is also a button to tap to add more "fairy dust," and he taps this button often, saying "it's pretty." I would recommend this app to any child who is into crafts but also to crafty adults.