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Cuddly as a Bunny - Picture Me® Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on April 17th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Cuddly as a Bunny - Picture Me® is a lovely universal app which allows parents to include personal photos of their child within this application, creating images of their kids in wonderful animal-themed dress-up outfits.

This short yet sweet application is based on the series of Picture Me® books where parents can slip a photo of their child into the back of the book that includes a dye-cut section on each page where the child’s face peeks through, allowing children to see themselves in a wonderful selection of animal dress-up costumes or other themes.

This app jogs my memory as I was given one of these books a long time ago. I thought that this book - a dress-up costume story - was super-cute, but we had no specific photo of our son printed that would fit the cutout just right. I am embarrassed to admit that I never did find and then print the perfect photo for this book so the book remained unused, its whereabouts now unknown. These books have been around for 23 years and have sold over 30 million copies, so my experience is in the minority, but I was happy to have a second chance with this new application.

I discovered that finding appropriate images on my camera roll was not too difficult, and it is worth noting that one can take a photo from a device as well to use within this app if so desired. The framing of these images worked well for me as one can pinch or zoom in or out with fingertips, sizing and rotating the child's head or face with ina faint outline of the costume worn on each page.

Four images can be added to the pages of this book, and it is interesting how there is a randomness to the use of these pictures among the pages of this book - a nice touch for re-reading.

The story itself consists babies dressed in the most divine animal full-body costumes one can imagine, with rhyming animal-centric text that introduces each animal nicely. The next page includes the child’s photo with text and narration, asking one to “imagine me” as the animal in question as well.

The effect created with the inclusion of personal photos is quite good, and the child's image added to this app really looks like it belongs within this storybook.

Mild sound effects and interactions can also be found, such as children making animal sounds like the “meow” of a cat or the ability to drag small objects like butterflies or fish across the page.

Like other Oceanhouse Media books, the illustrations enlarge to show details - here with the tap of a finger. Although I really appreciate this feature within their Dr. Seuss apps as well as others, I have mixed feelings about this storybook. It is nice that young children have a chance to see the close-up of their photos as well as the other babies within this app, as babies are programmed to want to look at faces, but the quick zooming movements here may be distracting to children still new to tracking images with their eyes. The interactive elements of this app one drags with a finger are also relatively small for children to manipulate, especially for the babies this app is designed for.

In reality, this app may be best as a lovely keepsake for parents, as the images created are really quite nice, transforming children into adorably cuddly animals. One of the pages which includes my son’s face in a Dalmatian dress-up - a fancier version of a favorite Halloween costume of my son - makes me daydream a bit about him when he was younger and how much older he has gotten, and I really appreciate how these images can be saved on one’s camera roll or emailed to friends and family. Nice narration is included. Parents also have the chance to read this story to their children as well, further personalizing this app.

It would be nice, however, if multiple users could have their images saved simultaneously so families of multiple children don’t have to search their camera rolls to swap images, although one always has the chance to use up to four family members within the book as well. It would also be nice if one could save a few favorite photos to a gallery within the app, helping the image selection process for those who may want to rotate the photos used in this storybook.

To email, save or print from an air printer, tap a photo page at the center bottom of the screen to retrieve a pull-up menu - a section parents may overlook at first when exploring this book - yet intuitive to use once found.

All in all, this is a very nice application for babies and toddlers, and it is also nice to know that my preschool-age son did enjoy seeing his photo added to the story as well. I can see this storybook as an especially nice choice for those who enjoy playing dress-up or pretend to be animals. If interested, other apps from this series are also available through iTunes.

Cool to be Clever: Edson Hendricks Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on April 17th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Cool to be Clever: Edson Hendricks is a wonderful biography for iPad that tells the life story of Edson C. Hendricks, the brilliant mind behind the design of the Internet.

This is a very nicely written application, narrated effortlessly by Hendricks himself, who has a wonderful speaking voice which reminding me of a less flamboyant Spaulding Gray making him a great talent in re-telling his own story.

Although written by another author, Leanne Jones, the words presented on the page and spoken in the first person ring utterly true as they guide readers through Hendricks’s early life as a child, being bullied for his intellect as well as for his red hair color, through his groundbreaking work with computers at MIT and beyond as he worked to design a method of connecting the world's computers, sometimes misunderstood by those in authority at this workplace.

I do really enjoy this story of how the technology for the Internet was born, as I do Hendricks's personal story, growing up and feeling an outcast until he found his place in college - a relatable experience for many.

Hendricks's method of delivery is modest and humble, always remaining very much of an everyman including his lovely delivery of his life story to his interviews, which are also included within this application.

I find it interesting that Hendricks is widely regarded as a genius yet never uses this word himself, and I wonder if children will fully understand how unique an experience it is to be a self-taught reader or how difficult admissions to MIT is - topics that parents or teachers may feel the need to touch upon.

I also appreciate how this application also includes moments of drama and suspense during a chapter that goes into detail about Hendricks and a friend sailing through a hurricane on their way to Bermuda, Hendricks being depressed at the time over an invention that was not well-received and how having to fight for their life helped put things into perspective.

Another interesting section of this app includes an anecdote about a peculiar cat that I also was impressed by regarding how this story is tied to the rest of the app in a most thoughtful way.

Please do not expect many interactions as this app is primarily a recorded book and a terrific learning tool that not only teaches about the history of the Internet but may also whet the appetite of children for other biographies or interesting people.

I really enjoy how this app combines the written story narrated by Hendricks as well as other sections that include much other information about the Hendrickses' family life, the Internet and other scientific topics, also including moments of Hendricks giving wonderful advice to programmers as well as to children who feel different.

This app also includes a lengthy section about bullying in schools and what can be done about this very serious topic. The music used throughout this app is also touched upon in a separate section - a nice touch.

It is easy recommend this application for children who have the attention span to listen to this lengthy, interesting audio-book of an iPad app keeping in mind that Hendricks notes a particularly dark time for him that may be not appropriate for some younger children.

Illustrations are included which are equally well done, but at times when Hendricks is describing the computer room in college where he worked, it seems like a missed opportunity that the illustrations do not represent what is being described as this could have helped children visualize these most outdated computers and other hardware being discussed. Also, an image of Woodstock is incorporated into the text - an event that Hendricks experienced firsthand, yet it is only 1965 in the timeline of this story, with a jog into the future while discussing other scientific achievements to come. This may be a little confusing for readers, especially those who think of 1969 when thinking about Woodstock - possibly less of an issue for children not familiar with these dates.

The production value of the audio recording of Hendricks’s story is a little rough - something that I found mildly distracting yet not something most children will pick up on, I am sure.

This app is not only great for children, teens and interested adults, but for teachers as well, as this app has a very nice section about dealing with bullies in school and how this could have helped Hendricks possibly fit in better in school.

This application is thoughtfully written and includes a lot of information children can feel inspired by, from the design that led to the Internet to Hendricks's personal story of overcoming bullies as well as touching on the difficult yet very real topic of depression that Hendricks also includes as part of his life story.

Equally interesting are the interviews with the author of this app, Leanne Jones, who discusses her experiences as a teacher, how she discovered Hendricks’s story, and what she learned from writing this biography - all interesting notes that add to this app’s overall experience.

Cool to be Clever: Edson Hendricks reminds of me the It Gets Better Project for Gay and LGTB Youth, yet here this app articulates that life can get better for those bullied during their childhood years, making this a story worth telling in homes and schools, especially within gifted classrooms.

Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon Review

Posted by Sarah Reidy on April 10th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon, designed by Tim Fishlock and developed by Explore and Create Limited, is an extremely unique and visually impressive universal app that will most likely capture the attention of children ages 7 and older. Click on “Meet Sir Benfro,” and you will learn that, “Sir Benfro has made some of the most scientific discoveries of his generation…Naturalist, Scientist, and Explorer, Sir Benfro is more than happy to invent creatures to support his theories.” This strange background information is just an example of how quirky and original this app actually is, although younger children will surely find this narrative confusing (as did I, actually). Complete with a Spotter’s Guide to new creatures, and an option to send a postcard via Facebook or Twitter, what can I say other than you have to play it to believe it.

The game play is quite simple in that players must tap Sir Benfro (who I’m guessing got his name due to his large Afro hairstyle) to make him float, while releasing him to make him sink. Sir Benfro is powered by fireflies and it is possible to collect them as you go by steering over them, thereby adding them to your balloon. Bump into objects and you will lose fireflies. Once all of your fireflies are gone, the journey is over. The goal of the game, therefore, is to collect fireflies, avoid obstacles and make your way through a beautifully illustrated landscape until you have made it through the level. Sounds easy, right? Well, not exactly.

Although there are only four different levels (adventures), it is quite challenging to make it through each one. Each time you fail, Sir Benfro will show you what percentage of the total distance you were able to complete. It took myself, my 10-year old and 7-year-old multiple attempts to clear the first level, “Yellow Leaves.” To date, we have not been able to clear level two, “Forest.” Both levels are beautiful to look at and have a dream-like quality. True to his word, players will encounter unusual, imaginary animals as they travel through the landscapes. We are all very curious to see what level three, “Islands,” and level four, “Underground,” look like and the animals we will meet.

While I would hesitate to call Sir Benfro educational, I praise the developers for creating something truly different and interesting for both children and adults. The pace is relaxing and the artwork is really quite beautiful. The music is upbeat and folksy, and apparently, an official soundtrack is also available on iTunes! This app would not be a good fit for younger kids who enjoy a faster, action-style type of game, as they would probably be bored. However, kids who can appreciate a more artistic and creative style of game will in all likelihood become very engaged with this whimsical app.

MathLands Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on April 4th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

MathLands is an interesting app for iPad consisting of interactive math-related games that are focused on problem-solving and logic.

Six sections exist, including versions of well-known puzzles where players must use their critical reasoning skills to solve a problem, be it the famous Tower of Hanoi or others, such as The Frog Puzzle, Magic Shapes, The Water Jug Puzzle and the Ravine Crossing. A section of math comics is also included that aids children in understanding word problems, allowing them the chance to interact with objects to help visualize these problems.

Possibly the most well know puzzle of this app - the Tower of Hanoi - includes three pegs and a pyramid of rings. Players must re-stack this pyramid without larger rings being placed on the smaller rings in the process. This puzzle starts out with three rings to move under six moves and has five levels, ultimately including seven rings to stack in 48 moves.

The Frog Puzzle starts out simply enough as one must make the orange and green swap sides, keeping in mind that they can only leap over one frog at a time and can’t move backwards. This puzzle becomes more difficult as the number of frogs is increased in upper levels.

Magic Shapes asks players to add numbers to empty spaces found within the included shapes. Each side of these shapes contains three numbers that when added, the sums of each of these sides found within the shape should match. The first level of this section begins with a triangle, adding more areas to be filled with numbers as the game progresses and ending with a complicated square with no given numbers as all the areas of this square need to be filled in.

The Water Jug is a classic game where one must ultimately fill a jug with a set amount of water by using two differently sized water jugs to measure against as one may fill, empty or pour water between the two jugs to answer these problems.

Crossing the Ravine consists of children who need to be carried over a ravine by balloon. The number over each child’s head is the number of seconds it will take for them to cross. Get each child over in a given time, understanding that a child will have to travel back with two balloons to pick up the others. The difficulty of this game increases as does the number of kids in each round, keeping in mind that one must complete this task within the parameters of the time giver for each level.

My personal favorite section of this app is the word problem cartoons because being able to see these cartoons really helps visualize the problems at hand. There is some humor as well among these problems that are fun to read, lighting the mood for children who may not be huge fans of this style of math.

The questions themselves vary nicely and each includes movable objects that one can use to help think about the problem - a very nice way to help children truly understand these kinds of problems, very much like the kind of doodles I would create on my own when working on math such as this. Of course with the interactive feature, being able to move these pieces around is very helpful in terms of counting and organizing one’s thoughts.

Each of these puzzles is nice to look at and includes subtle, quiet sound effects and a nice level of interaction that one would expect to find within these activities. The rings from the Tower of Hanoi or the frogs from The Frog Puzzle move with a drag most intuitively, but it can be tricky to pour from one jug to another - something to look into for a possible update in the future.

I like how for the most part, these exercises start out simply enough, but I think it is unrealistic that the average seven year old could solve these problems. A bright ten year old may enjoy this app as well as older children and adults.

It greatly disappoints me, however, that no answers are given except for the Magic Shapes section, adding to the probable frustration one may feel when getting stuck on an upper level. At a minimum, the answers should be provided, but better yet, I would like to see an animated clip showing children how these puzzles have been solved.

For many of these sections, one can Google to learn more about the puzzle at hand as they are often variations on classic mathematical logic games, allowing parents or teachers to look up more information if children are interested. I believe, however, that it is the responsibility of the developer of apps such as this to provide the conclusion to the math activities that they have created that children and adults have invested their time in.

It is possible that families or classrooms that gravitate toward this app may have adults who can help solve these puzzles, but I still find the including of proper explanations for those who need them to be extremely worthwhile, especially as this would allow children to enjoy this app by themselves without needing any adult help to work with this application. A hint button would also be a great inclusion for those who just need a little help without having these puzzles solved for them.

The exception to this concern that I have in general is the Magic Puzzles section as the solution is included with the tap of a button - well-done as the correct numbers can be seen only as long as the button is pressed, making a quick peek for a hint a possibility. I hope the other sections of this app can at some point include answers and hints such as this as well.

Although the lack of answer and help among these games bothers me greatly, I do recommend this app for situations where there is an adult who can help children succeed at these math puzzles. I appreciate that one can either power through all 32 levels of these included games or choose the area of interest and level of ability freely in free-play mode. This app contains a lot of game play and will be greatly enjoyed by the right children who already have a good handle on reasoning and logic games, like feeling challenged and are not easily frustrated. For others, this app includes games that will become exercises in futility more than anything else, so do look into this app if it is a good match for the children in your life, or for logic game-loving adults as well.

Explore Vincent Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on March 30th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Explore Vincent is a wonderful app for iPad exploring the life and times of Vincent van Gogh, the brilliant yet troubled artist from childhood through adulthood, ending with his death in 1890.

This app is a true multi media delight as many mediums are explored within this app for iPad.

A video section is included that does a wonderful job of introducing Van Gogh as a child to viewers, expressing the emotions Van Gogh presumably felt from boyhood through adulthood. These videos are not straight narratives but a montage of styles including the use of split-screens and a graphic use of color, lines of text music and other elements working together as much as a graphic designer’s work of art and that of the video director.

I appreciate the casting of Van Gogh himself, a red haired young man in his twenties, wonderful as the casual Van Gogh fan may have only a recollection of him as an older man found among self-portraits of his own work.

These wonderful videos really tell a tale of this man’s life and interpersonal relationships with his family as well as ill-fated attempts at relationships with women.

These scenes are not without drama, which I find intriguing and enjoy, yet at times come across as heavy-handed. For example, at the beginning of the first clip, Van Gogh tries to defend birds' eggs from bullies, expressing his great love of nature and animals. It has a tone, however, that makes these clips seem like prequels to Norman Bates or Dexter Morgan’s life as a child, as the musical tone and voice-over elements make me fear for the animals Van Gogh is actually trying to protect or love - possibly foreshadowing his unstableness nicely, even if at times consisting of a misplaced intensity.

Historical details are found throughout these videos as well, with a favorite moment of mine being the time period of Van Gogh away at school during a cholera outbreak because here, the flair for the dramatic works to great effect.

Other areas of this app are equally abundant, as “Van Gogh’s TIME” gives more historical details of the time periods as one explores the included time line, especially about events in art history - both in general for this time period as well as pertaining directly to Van Gogh and his family.

A nice use of tabs that one can tap to open is incorporated in order to read the included text which, combined with photographs or places or objects as well as small representations of artwork found throughout, gives readers a real sense of visiting a Van Gogh museum themselves.

Along this time line as Van Gogh begins to produce his first pieces of art, a new section is available to explore, Van Gogh’s WORK, focusing on the art created during different time periods of Van Gogh’s Life. I especially appreciate how this app leads readers through important time periods for Van Gogh, especially the great change in use of color from a darker, more muted palette to the bright, bold colors Van Gogh may be best known for when exploring French Impressionism. This section nicely incorporates a map showing where art in question was produced as well as a chance to scroll though Van Gogh’s original letters, drawings and paintings.

The navigation of Exploring Vincent can be tricky when first experiencing this app. It is helpful that readers are brought to the video first within each time period explored, then have a chance to move to Van Gogh’s TIME by scrolling up or scrolling down to ponder Van Gogh’s WORK. One can also be brought to these sections with a tap of the finger found on a menu page after the video clip has been viewed. After spending time with this app, the navigating becomes easier, and I like the inclusion of a guide explaining how to play this app as well as the menu of all included application pages, which simplifies this app.

Games are also included, but maintaining the style of this app, these games are actually quite cerebral as one may fill in Van Gogh’s family tree, included text for hints on placement and choosing correct photographic images of city life found in 1866, with pitfalls including objects such as cars which came later than the time period in question. One can also match paintings with the scenery as seen today or the sketches found within Van Gogh’s letters to the letter itself, using the letter’s context as clues or an exercise in art history as one sorts images into the different styles of painting of the Brabant and French Period as well as sources of inspiration - my favorite game included.

These games, nicely interactive and also reminding me of an installation at a more hands-on museum can be found throughout this app but also contained together at the end of this app - a very nice touch.

I do wish, however, that it were easier to re-watch these videos - something I would love to see in a future update. I was also mildly disappointed that ill health, anxiety and mental illness of Van Gogh were not touched upon this app more, as I would have liked to see some of the possible causes of his darkness explored here as well - from possible lead poisoning, epilepsy or bipolar disorder which may have been aggravated by his fondness for absinthe, which was mentioned within this application.

Even with these notes, Exploring Vincent is a marvelous application that should be part of any library of applications for middle school and high schoolers.

I am very happy to announce that Friday, March 30th, Exploring Vincent Van Gogh Hd will be free for the day to celebrate Van Gogh’s birthday and will be half price that Saturday and Sunday as well - a wonderful gift to the public as this app is of the highest production value possible and is simply terrific!

Safari Party

Posted by Sarah Reidy on March 15th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Safari Party, developed by PIXOWL, Inc., is a universal puzzle/arcade app featuring cartoon animals and people drawn by a well-known French cartoonist and blogger, Laurel. To clear each level, players must move the animal icons around the screen to make groups of four. Once groups of four are formed, players may tap the groups to make them break up and disappear (think Bejewled Blitz). A certain number of animal groups must be cleared in the time allotted to pass each level, getting more difficult as players progress. There are several modes of gameplay: Arcade, Speed, Expert, Zen, and Multiplayer (recently added).

Despite the cute, cartoonish animals and their colorful habitats, the gameplay of Safari Party is actually quite challenging. My son (age seven) had no problem clearing the first five or so levels, but it took multiple attempts for him to go any higher. Because each level is timed, this app is fast-paced and exciting but may be a little stressful for some, too. Players can keep track of how many animal groups they have collected by looking at the tally at the top right of the screen and can also watch the timer scroll as it is visible along the bottom of the screen. Animals start to shake when the time is close to running out, however, as long as new groups of four are still being formed, extra time will be added to the clock. It is also possible to earn special achievements and “cheats,” which will help players to clear each level. Players can also shake their devices to scramble the order of the animals on the screen, so that more matches can be located in time.

Safari Party is one of the few apps that not only attracted the attention of my two kids and myself, but also caught the interest of my husband, who finds the app to be quite addictive. As both of us are former fans of Bejewled Blitz on Facebook, it is no surprise that we also like Safari Party. My husband and I take turns playing, competing with one another to progress to a higher level. I also play the app in a cooperative way with my son, as we help each other identify and group the animals. He particularly likes the look of the animals and their habitats.

The only criticism that I have of Safari Party is that when each level is cleared, a cartoon of a woman shows up on the screen to congratulate players, and I find them to be somewhat stereotypical in appearance. These women are wearing outfits meant to go along with each animal habitat, ie: Jungle-wear, Mermaid-wear, etc, and while each of them is pretty and appealing, one is drawn with cleavage showing, which I feel could have been avoided, as this is a children’s game. All in all, Safari Party is a charming and challenging app for ages 6 and up.

Cut the Buttons HD Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 27th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Cut the Buttons is a nice arcade-style game with a great look and fun sense of style. For readers somewhat familiar with apps, the title may seem reminiscent of the hit application, Cut the Rope - yet similarities end here. A better comparison would be to the app Fruit Ninja, as here, players must cut buttons from pieces of cloth as they drop across the screen. Do try to empty each swatch of buttons as a life is lost in Classic mode for buttons left behind, and also note the buttons attached by bolts as one can’t cut through these and will lose points for trying. Versions for both iPad as well as iPhone are available.

Arcade mode is also an option that tests players' cutting skills, removing as many buttons as possible at 1, 3 and 5 minute intervals. Single players can play as well as two players, and Normal as well as Crazy speed levels are included.

I enjoy how simple to learn yet difficult to master this game is. The look of this app is charming and will make parents who have taken their children to any sort of art class smile, as the buttons sewn onto scrap fabric, brightly colored and oddly shaped, is a universal one. The buttons themselves are colorful too and consist of a uniform style, but I do think it would be visually interesting to include different shape, style and pattern buttons as well. From looking at the iTunes screen shots, a variety of buttons may be available in upper levels that I never reached, but it would be nice for a mix of button styles to be included from the beginning.

The music included is enjoyable, and I appreciate the distressed wood-tone background used during game play, bringing a certain vintage quality to this game that I enjoy.

Although I really find the look of this app inviting, it would be a lie to say that I was any good at this game. For me, the material moving across the screen simply moved too quickly. I would love to see a “Novice” or “Relax” mode included in the future as well.

When I first heard about this app, I was really excited for my preschool-aged son to practice his cutting skills without the risk of injury to limb or property. His tapping and swiping abilities have been top-notch before turning two from working with many different applications, but he is still working on his ability to hold a pencil or cut with scissors with the intent to go beyond creating fringe on the edge of a paper. I am sure grade school-aged kids and up will enjoy this app, but I would also love to see a "Beginner" arcade section where players need to cut as many buttons as they can in a given time, but where the fabrics are not moving targets, as for my son's age and abilities this game is simply too fast.

The biggest thing I would love to see changed is to allow players to choose left or right-handled scissors. Lefty/righty teams of two can actually be accommodated as the player left of the screen cuts with scissors laid out for a lefty - same idea for the right side of the screen, as this configuration works best on the iPad or iPhone, but for solo left-handed players, the working of this very realistic scissors may prove to be difficult. I hope players can choose left or right-handed scissors in the future for single-player games as well.

The scissors themselves work the way one would expect, and I appreciate the subtle yet effective cutting sound included as well. Personally, I don’t know how long I can play this game in one sitting as my hand does get tired easily, but this is definitely a fun game to play that kids will enjoy.

I don’t pretend to be an occupational therapist, but this game may be of interest to those who work with older children and adults who may need help in strengthening fine motor skills. I do wonder, however, if the basic speed for more specialized groups would be a problem.

For this reason, I would love to see a simplified, non-moving version of this game included in the future. This is a very cute, likable game that many age groups will enjoy passing time with, but with the addition of left/tight hand choices and the ability to slow down or stop the action, this game could be an important teaching tool as well.

Not Just Another Puzzle Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 22nd, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Not Just Another Puzzle is an interesting and highly challenging puzzle app with multiple elements that create an experience unlike other puzzle apps seen in iTunes.

This app consists of 50 puzzles broken up into varied degrees of difficulty, but make no mistake about it, even the “toddler” puzzles may be difficult for some adults.

The backgrounds used here for the most part are wonderful photographs of mundane objects used to create fascinating puzzle surfaces, such as double chocolate-nut cookies, a carton of eggs, or colored pencils for a great effect. Other times graphic art is used to create an interesting backdrop.

Areas of these puzzles can be seen where these images are grayed out so that pieces can be added to the correct places within. Sometimes half the photograph may be empty; other times just a few spaces will be open.

The game-play itself consist of many puzzle elements that fans may be familiar with, yet not traditionally seen together in one application. Part slider game where pieces may need to be moved to gain access to or to fit other pieces into their correct slots, maze elements are often found as well, many times with moving details one must contend with, including hidden passageways that players must seek out, moving pieces accordingly.

A player also must rotate these pieces, yet by far the most challenging aspect of this app is the physics engine and gravity used - much more sensitive than the gravity found on earth, making it very difficult to simply pick up a single piece without it spinning around in circles, making placement difficult.

The pieces found here are block form, either as single squares or larger rectangles of two or three pieces that are picked up with the drag of a finger and placed in their correct location. I do wish a “click” sound effect could be heard when correct pieces have been placed - a satisfying detail found in other puzzle apps.

Even when simply sliding a piece into an area straight down between red markings that create the maze-like areas one is working on, the weightlessness of these pieces combined with the out-of-control gravity and rotation make lining up these pieces within the puzzle holes in question very difficult, as players may find for themselves

The level of difficulty is quite high and may not be the taste of casual puzzle users, but die-hard puzzle enthusiasts will be quite pleased with this application.

The music included within is uniformly relaxing, but I would like a chance to choose my own background piece as I work on these puzzles as some are more to my liking than other selections, especially one favorite piece reminiscent of Brian Eno’s ambient music.

I do take issue with the labeling of the first level of puzzles as “toddler” as the combined elements of rotation, gravity and other details make for puzzles that are at the comfort level of many adults. The idea of these puzzles being for toddlers shows a gross lack of awareness of the abilities of this age group, and adults looking at screen shots in iTunes for this app and seeing the section marked “toddler” may be disappointed that this app is in no way meant for their child. Older middle school-aged kids and teens who may really enjoy this app could also be put off by working on puzzles designed for toddlers. I would rather see this mode be marked as “beginner” instead.

In the future, I would love to see some options included such as the turning off of the rotation or gravity, making these puzzles more accessible to younger players. I have enjoyed the level of difficulty in the first few sections, but it would be nice not to feel shut out of enjoying this app completely due to my lack of ability and patience to work on these more difficult sections.

An option for a slight sense of “grab” found in other puzzle apps when the correct space draws the corresponding puzzle piece, as if by magnetism, would also be a nice inclusion, making these puzzles friendlier for young children.

It is also a disappointment to me that when a puzzle is completed, this app does not acknowledge the player's hard work in any way, disconcerting as one is left looking for any mistakes that may have made, even if no mistakes are present.

I hope in the future this app will include some sort of conclusion when a puzzle has been completed, and I wish it were easer to get back to the main menu to choose another puzzle to work on or new level of difficulty.

Even without changes made to this application, those who are puzzle enthusiasts - be they older children or adults - will really enjoy this app, and it is nice that this app gets updated regularly with more puzzles.

All-in-all, a very challenging experience that includes quality images and use of music.

Frankenstein Matchmaker - Monsters Need Love Too Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 13th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Frankenstein Matchmaker - Monsters Need Love Too is a fun and educational universal arcade-style game involving Frankenstein monsters and their brides as one is in charge of playing Cupid, shooting Frankenstein monsters with word-loaded arrows to create monster couples.

Game play is simple as the bottom of the screen includes a row of monster brides with specific word choices. Center screen are monsters walking around labeled with other words that need to be matched up with the words below. To do so, tap on a matching word at the bottom and then swivel the included crossbow, aiming these words at the corresponding monster. Work fast as these monsters will begin to fill up the page, and when they make their way down the screen to the bottom of the page, the game is over.

I have really enjoyed this application, praise to be sure as I usually shy away from both arcade and word games because I am not good at either, but I have enjoyed my time spent with the application.

I did, however, find the aim with the crossbow a little difficult at first as this weapon seems very sensitive, and the aim can easily be off as one moves a finger not only to line up the target but to fire the weapon, with player's finger movement accidentally changing the aim for the worse. After some practice, however, I got the hang of this game, and it is a lot of fun. Subtle sound effects are included when loading, firing, and hitting these monsters, creating a very satisfying experience.

Being very educational, four different modes are included that teach Anagrams, Rhymes, Synonyms and Antonyms. The Easy section focuses on Rhymes and Anagrams only, while the medium and difficult levels ultimately cover all four topics. An “Insane” level is included with an increase of speed with which these monsters move.

This would be a wonderful game for grade school children and above, including teens studying for their SAT’s as the Synonyms and Antonyms can be surprisingly complex, and I appreciate how, except for the “insane” level, just enough time is given to pause and contemplate one’s answer for a brief moment while still giving a player the chance to respond.

The look of this app is super-cute as well, and I really enjoy the concept of the Frankenstein monsters being always angry because they don’t have mates. The green ghouls are more cute than scary but still include some creepy monster-like details that made me smile, and there is a fun intro scene involving Cupid shooting a Frankenstein monster to match him with a lady monster that I enjoy, and it is nice that the background of this game changes scene to scene, oftentimes with a darkened field or farm-like area, as well as other landscapes.

Now that Valentine's Day is coming up, this may be a good app to download for children, even teens, who may benefit from this nicely conceived word game. The arcade aspect of this app will engage students who may otherwise find this subject matter tedious, making this a great teaching tool.

Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventures for iPhone Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 10th, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventures for iPhone is an intriguing maze app with significant hidden picture elements as well, creating an application that will appeal to many ages including adults. A version of this app is also available for iPad.

This app consists of a very large play surface expressed as a landscape that spreads for the equivalent of miles and miles in this epic iPhone app.

16 smaller sections are included that seamlessly merge together, which can be seen individually in the map function that shows players the areas they have been to as well as those areas yet to be explored, outlined nicely to simplify this grand hidden object maze game. One lovely clue of having ventured into another section is that the music changes, uniformly very nice to listen to, with a quality reminiscent of a score from a movie.

It is hard for me to describe the details that can be found within this app, as this game gives a bird's-eye view of an entire world created by hand drawn illustrations, lovingly stylized yet realistic at the same time, with bright, colorful details found within.

Imagine looking at Google Earth close enough to make out buildings, cars, streets, parks or even a zoo. From the other cars on the road, baseball diamond and school, and a plethora of other details are included that create a land within this app that one can explore with the drag of a finger. Other sections have themes as well, such as an area full of amusement park rides, a rather industrial section, an urban center and a rural area as well as the chance to sky or float in a raft.

Being partially a hidden object game, players will notice at the bottom of the screen a row of objects that one is to collect with the tap of a finger when discovered, as well as a star cut into pieces which players needs to make their way to collect, be it by driving, walking or other means of transportation. These objects to be found are different for each section and will change when one crosses over to another area of this app.

It is intriguing how the maze sections not visited are obscured in clouds as seen on the main map, leaving a lot of surprises to unearth as the game is played for extended periods of time, but I do wish that some sort of hints could be available for those who hit a brick wall, not knowing how to find their way within these mazes as they try to travel to other locations.

To navigate, drag the car or other mode of moving around where you would like to go with a finger; when walking, tap ahead to have the footprints follow.

Also note that one can pinch and zoom the screens to show details of the bigger picture, and players can, to a point, scroll around to see more of the section they are visiting.

The ability to drive where one wants to go takes some getting used to. I was able to get the hang of it after playing for a while, but it can often be difficult - even frustrating - to try to drive in a direction leading off the screen.

I would like to see this app smoothed out somehow because when one is simply driving, the screen self corrects, moving the landscape to correspond with the driving to maintain a good visual, much like the way a sophisticated map program may work to navigate in real life - an element I would love to also see when driving off the screen, as now the player is often just stuck not being able to move forward to continue the game.

It would also be nice to be able to manually move the background in the direction one is driving - not possible to do although one can scroll in other directions to take in the details and determine where they may be in the bigger picture.

The heavy use of road lanes, one-way streets, roundabouts and other means of organizing traffic found within these mazes would make an urban planner smile, and will make players want to travel to various points of interest just to explore all that this app has to offer. Finding how to get where they are going, however, while negotiating the lanes and road blocks such as construction can make things challenging.

It may be an interesting choice for a future update to create a beginner level by removing the one-way arrows in order to simplify game play for younger children, although this app is a great exercise for learning how to follow a map that will contain detailed information about one-way lanes and spatial reasoning in general.

The realism of the car in use needing to drive head first, not backing up to drive is interesting, as white headlights are used to differentiate the front of the car from the red lights in back, but turning the car around to face forward can also be tricky, and it would be nice if there were an easier way to turn and face the correct direction.

The tutorial offered at the beginning of gameplay is enjoyable, but a written section about this app, the larger map, and the smaller connecting sections within would have been helpful.

This app with all its included details is stunning to look at - impressive to adults and teens possibly more so than to younger children who will also enjoy this app. The amount of game play is immense, with many hours of mazes for players to emerge themselves in. This app is best for those who enjoy longer games that will span over days or weeks depending on how long a time is spent on a given application.

Excellent for long trips, this app will keep track of one's progress - a necessity for a game of such length, as well as the games of three other players.

I do recommend this app for those who have the attention span to fully enjoy these mazes as well as have the patience to deal with a bit of a learning curve. This app will be a huge hit with puzzle lovers, giving them many hours of enjoyment.

I very much enjoyed all the sights one can see as well as the sounds one can find, such as the zoo animals heard with a tap, as well as fun, recurring elements to search for, including ice cream trucks and penguins. Quirky details are included that make me smile, such as the name of the player being incorporated into this app in a charming way as well as subtle animated elements that one should be on the lookout for.

This is the second app based on the books of artist Roxie Munro. I am thrilled that her artwork, such as lift-the-flap books or maze activities, have been developed for devices, and I hope to see more of her work transformed as well. If interested, please check out my review of Roxie’s Doors here at GiggleApps - a wonderful, less complex application that can be enjoyed by all, especially the preschool set and grade school-aged children.

Hippo Adventure

Posted by Sarah Reidy on February 7th, 2012

Hippo Adventure, developed by okigames, is a physics-based puzzle game offering 84 progressively more difficult levels. The object is to roll the Hippo (boy or girl, player’s choice) to his or her home by avoiding and or strategically moving obstacles, such as boulders, squares of grass and ice, and wooden blocks. The graphics are beautifully done (currently set to a winter wonderland theme) and it is such a great feeling each time Hippo successfully rolls to his or her warm and cozy-looking mushroom cottage. There is no background music playing and the sound-effects are fairly subtle which is much appreciated, as I find loud and frantic background noise to be distracting and super-annoying!

What can I say…I love Hippo Adventure! It is rare that the kids and I find a game that challenges all three of us, keeps us entertained and delights us, but Hippo Adventure does all three! My son, age seven, was able to beat the first ten or so levels with no problems and my daughter, age ten, was able to breeze through the first twenty, but is stuck on Level 21. The game is challenging enough for older children, teens as well as adults, as it often takes multiple attempts to clear a level. Because the game requires logic, spatial- relations skills as well as the ability to strategize, Hippo Adventure is most appropriate for children ages 6 and up.

While this game gets great reviews from me as well as my kids, there are still a few issues that need to be ironed out to make the gameplay even better. Firstly, each time you clear a level or fail it, the text remains the same, reading, “Level Complete.” This makes it slightly confusing as to whether or not a level has been cleared. The second issue is that it is supposed to be easy to swipe your finger across the screen to cut a string holding a snowball, thereby releasing it. However, it is actually very difficult to perform the swiping action in such a way that the snowball is released. This is frustrating, because timing is essential to being able to clear each level.

If these issues as fixed, Hippo Adventure has the potential to be a really great game for all ages. I am hopeful that an update will address these small glitches and I can’t wait to see what the next season or theme will be, as the graphics are what sets this enchanting app apart from the others.

Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 2nd, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth is a wonderful educational resource and a terrific universal companion app to those who are studying Macbeth in school or are simply fans of Shakespeare.

I am very excited to be introducing this app to readers as this app features Michael Mills's Nine Minute animated adaptation of this tragic Shakespearean play.

Michael Mills is a British-born animator, director and producer - possibly best known for his Oscar-nominated animated shorts - ‘Evolution’ and ‘History of the World in Three Minutes flat.’

I do love his take on Macbeth. The animation style is sly and sophisticated, and with a tongue-in-cheek and will impress all ages.

Not only is this animated short included, but a terrific section, The Self Guide is also included with an impressive amount of information, both specifically about Macbeth as well as about life during this period of time in general.

There is so many great sections to explore, such as the main characters from this play and the complete text of Macbeth as well as the other works of Shakespeare. The Life and Times of Shakespeare and historical information about Scotland are included as well as information about theaters of this time period and a fascinating section on The Symbolic and the Supernatural.

Each of these topics is further broken down into sub-categories - some of my favorites being the discoveries and Inventions touching upon the scientific concepts of Copernicus and Galileo, the great Renaissance man - Leonardo da Vinci, and the importance of Gutenberg’s printing press, comparing it very wisely to today’s internet.

I think it is also great how the other works of Shakespeare are mentioned, such as the Sonnets, Poems, Folios and Quartos, as well as a section dedicated to famous Shakespearean quotes.

Other interesting information, like how the use of children instead of women as actors is touched upon, and I really enjoy how the superstition of the title Macbeth - never uttered while this play is under production - is also incorporated into this very rich encyclopedia of all things Shakespeare.

An impressive three hours of content is included that older grade school kids as well as adults will find very fun and informative. I appreciate how the included text can be narrated by Mills as his narration is wonderful, also allowing children who may be reluctant readers to gain a lot from this app by listening to it alone.

An interactive timeline and world map are also thoughtfully included that students of all ages will enjoy. Do tap on the animations as well, as some fun hidden hotspots are included, triggering some wildly witty animations.

It is great that an interactive mode also exists where one can watch the video and tap icons placed at the bottom of the page that will bring one to the corresponding informational section of this app, allowing one to gain further insight while watching the included animation.

This is very helpful in learning more about the various subjects within this app, but I did have some issues with getting back into the story after I perused the added info.

it would be nice if some sort of button was able to be tapped that would bring viewers back to the area of the video they were watching last. I also felt that the Self Guide of information took some getting used to in terms of its basic navigation -issues not too terrible but which could possibly be smoothed out in a future update.

I enjoy the additional clips of Michael Mills himself found within this app as well, exploring details further or giving instructions on how to best enjoy this app, but I found these clips to be of lower resolution, noticeable but not in a way that took away from the enjoyment of his presence, although the images of Mills himself are quite small, especially on the iPhone.

I also noticed that a few pages from the Self Guide did not have the included narration one would expect from this fully narrated app - an issue I hope can be worked out in the future.

Even with these minor notes, Thumbnail Theater: Macbeth is an app that I greatly enjoyed, both on its own merits and also because apps for older children are not as common as I would like in iTunes. I highly recommend this app to any student who is reading Shakespeare as well as to adults who would like to know more about this time period in general.

I am thrilled to learn that this app is first in a series like it, I will be on the lookout for more of these Thumbnail Theatre apps in the future as this one was terrific.

Santa’s Big Helper: 9 Christmas Apps in 1 Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on December 22nd, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Santa’s Big Helper: 9 Christmas Apps in 1 is a really fun app for Christmas that integrates technology nicely into this Christmas app that will be appealing to children, especially precocious ones who may begin to doubt the existence of Santa.

A fun Christmas sound board is included, allowing kids to hear festive sounds with the tap of a finger. A magical compass is also offered, pointing its way to the North Pole and includes some fun sound effects as well. A Naughty or Nice list is also included that kids can check to see their status, and a Christmas countdown is featured, letting kids know how many sleeps it is until the big day, down to the hour, minute and second of Santa’s impending arrival.

Writing a letter to Santa is made easy as well here, and thanks to email, one can be sure he receives a note in a timely fashion.

For me, by far the best functions of this app are the "Elf Updates" and F.A.Q.’s also answered by this informative elf, “Dozey Toes" in the "Ask an Elf" section of this app.

These updates are brilliant, as topics such as “No Chimney, No problem” or “Dasher the reindeer needs glasses” are taken very seriously, with some quite witty, laugh out-loud moments that I really appreciate. Questions for Santa include such topics as “Is Santa real," “How does Santa visit everyone in one night” or “Why is Rudolf's nose red". Each answer is quit funny and for children, thought-provoking, I am sure.

I really enjoy these elf videos, but it may be worth noting that the style chosen for this elf may be an acquired taste, as he is a rather large man in an, I assume, a purposefully ill-fitting and inexpensive or amateurishly made elf costume - details that I find quite endearing although it did take some getting use to.

These daily elf updates and the questions answered are well-written and delivered, and yield a lot of laughs and some valuable Santa information that can be found nowhere else, making this app a good choice and worth the $0.99 price.

Another very interesting feature here is the “World Famous Patent-Pending Elf Cam” which allows one to see Santa entering one’s home on surveillance camera to prove to children of his existence after the fact, a well-done element that will impress children.

A parent’s section is included, nicely-password protected, to let adults add their children to the naughty or nice list, as well as configure the video of Santa entering the house via chimney or simple magic - a thoughtful addition for those who do not have a chimney. The videos created here are really cute and fun, something kids will really enjoy and parents will have fun with as well.

Christmas is not a holiday that we as a family in a religious sense celebrate, but as my son is in preschool and exposed to the secular concept of Santa, my husband and I enjoy the idea of Santa coming for a visit to drop off a small, token gift for our son to honor the fact that he has had a good year in preschool so far.

I have really enjoyed the Elf updates and questions answered, as has my son, who has started asking similar questions about Santa, although the fantastical answers we have made up to answer these questions don’t match up always with the answers this app provides. These sections have been a source of humor that we all enjoy, and I appreciate the fact that my son can watch these short videos without the use of an internet connection.

Christmas is right around the corner and some families may not want to bother purchasing such a topical app that may not be enjoyed past the holiday, but this app is so much fun, it is worth a closer look in iTunes.

12 Days of Christmas - Polk Street Press Singalong Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on December 21st, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

12 Days of Christmas - Polk Street Press Singalong is a charming iPad application which truly brings the traditional song of the same name to life, as well as re-enforcing number sequencing along the way.

I do so very much love the look of this app, as each of the verses of this song is illustrated by wonderful illustrated scenes demonstrating each of these twelve days, such as Three French Hens or Five Golden Rings, complete with cute animated elements, lovely details and patterns adding to the richness and whimsy of lovingly crafted application.

I find the color palette used here quite pleasing, with warm muted colors alongside brighter color choices of many shades of green, turquoise and orange that I very fond of. The subtle shading and brush strokes used here add to this app's beauty and hand-painted quality that adults and children will enjoy, and I would feel privileged to be able to hang images from this app on the walls of my home.

The animals as well as the people incorporated within are simply adorable. I also greatly appreciate that the people found in such scenes such as the pipers piping, lords-a-leaping or drummers drumming include a variety of skin tones and hair textures which create a nice visual effect as well as a multi-cultural experience, something I would love to see more of in the U.S. iTunes store in general.

Two general sections are included, specifically Playalong and Singalong and I enjoy how this app opens up to 12 images, found in 6 squares - top and bottom - that represent each of the days included in this song - an important element in the Playalong section.

Here, children have an opportunity to learn about number sequencing as this app plays each verse and then pauses, allowing children to tap the number in descending sequence, starting with days 1 and 2, then asking the player to tap the number 1, as it is the start of the long trail of presents received on each day that build as the days go by, ultimately allowing young children to test their number recognition and sequencing skills counting back from day 12.

This app also allows children to record their own version of this song, including simply audio or video as well for iPad 2 users. Options include being accompanied by singing along words with the original recording or singing to an instrumental version by oneself.

The words in this section are not highlighted karaoke-style but are delivered line-by-line as one watches this song’s animation on the top half of the screen. I don’t think the lack of highlighting will make keeping in time with this song difficult since it is so well-known, and I like that one can sing along while being somewhat prompted by the singer to keep in time, or sing by oneself as the instrumental version is being played. Sharing one’s recordings via email or Facebook is made easy, and I also enjoy the fact that one can also watch this lovely illustrated song without making a recording.

12 Days of Christmas - Polk Street Press Singalong is a great app for iPad for any family who enjoys singing or listening to traditional festive Christmas songs. The illustrations used are perfectly realized for this application, and I hope to see more from artist Lesley Breen Withrow in the future.

TableTots™ Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on December 6th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

TableTots is a very interesting app for adults designed to create endless activities for children to work on that teach a wide array of basics.

Twelve table-top surfaces are offered, each creating a template which makes it easy to create activities around the included things, shapes, letters, colors and numbers provided. Some “quick sets” have already been created, simplifying the adding of elements to the table that one may be looking to include, and some scenes are also set up and ready to go - a nice inclusion for adults new to this application.

To use this application, it is recommended that the table tab first be opened in order to see the template selection and go from there, but I find it easier to explore the options provided, letting the selection items and concepts that one can teach spark my creativity. From there, after I have some idea of the game or exercise I would like to create, I look at the possible table choices in order to decide what template best represents the game activity I am trying to design.

It is nice that for each of these basic sections, quick sets and scenes of pre-fabricated templates and included items are included, aiding in the set up of activities, which also give adults ideas on how to use this interesting teaching tool. This app really becomes creative when the adult begins to mix and match these items together, such as numbers along with coins, base number blocks, or multiple objects.

I like how in this app’s settings, one can choose both letter names as well as phonic sounds, and it is nice that one can change the color of these table tops as well, and a curtain can be added to these tables that can be pulled back and forth - a nice inclusion to create fun memory-style games where children are given a few seconds to look over the screen before the curtain is pulled back, and they are then quizzed about what they can remember.

The look of this app is bright with bold color choices used throughout the letters and numbers, and it is nice that adults have some pleasant moments of color sections to personalize the look of this app. I especially enjoy the look of the coins, as the front and back of each is thoughtfully offered.

Objects is an interesting section that includes 26 familiar items that correspond to the letters of the alphabet, a number section that includes base counting with the use of counting red blocks grouped into 1, 10, 100, and 1000 counts to use within a money-counting exercise, as well as dominos to teach basic counting, using these dominos as visual cues.

Scenes included here are a money-counting exercise where the player drags a coin to the other side of the table as the type of each coin is narrated. Base 10 Counting allows kids to drag different sized blocks of different amounts of one hundred, ten, or one to help visualize these quantities as the amount of blocks is spoken. The Domino Math exercise allows children to fill in the blanks of an addition question with the use of the included dominos, and Things Matchup allows children to match each item with its corresponding letter as well as hearing each object’s name nicely narrated when tapped.

In Shapes, geometric shapes are taught, and I am happy to say that some less common shapes are included, such as quatrefoil, crescent and curvilinear triangle. These shapes can be offered as a series of single colors, or a variety of colors can also be used at once. A shape-sorting puzzle of sorts is included as well as an exercise involving the placement of colors correctly on the color wheel - my favorite mode in the shapes sections.

In the letters section, each letter is represented with both upper and lower choices, including a quick set of these letters, be it just vowels or every letter, with an adult choosing to focus on upper or lower cases. Other scenes also include practicing to spell three and four-letter words as well as matching upper and lower case letters together.

The math section allows adults to add numbers 1-100 to anywhere on the page, as well as other math and related symbols such as “+,” “$,” or “<." Quick sets offered here include counting by 1, then 2’s, 5’s, or 10’s and also include a basic math scene where one drags numbers and functions into a math problem as well as counting from one to twenty as one arranges these numbers in order with a checkerboard-styled template.

The possibilities are endless here, and I am sure this would be a go-to app for many parents, teachers, and therapists who work with kids and need to create personalized activities for children, all neatly found within this app.

My son loves Spinlight Studio’s other apps including AlphaTots and TallyTots and made a beeline for this app, recognizing their iconic airplane logo on our iPad but did not know what to make of this app. Neither did my husband at first glance. This is in no way a flaw with this wonderfully educational application, but it may be worth noting that to get full use from this application, adults will need to spend some time alone exploring what this app has to offer before sharing with the children in their lives.

If one it looking to simply download an app to share immediately with an impatient child by his side, AlphaTots or TallyTots may be better choices for this moment.

I am impressed by what a creative adult mind could come up with to entertain and teach children both with special needs as well as those typically developed. I like how narration is included saying the name, number, or letter of the item being tapped, and it is great how a “quick reward” button can be included because a tap here will send an airplane and flag image across the screen, reminiscent of their other educational apps.

I do, However, find it difficult to re-create the whimsy of the other apps in this series. I like how there is a satisfying click sound when a domino is moved, but I miss the “click" and "grab” sounds and reactions found among our favorite puzzle apps, something not included with the shape-sorting game as here, these pieces are not easy to line up into the included template as simple finger movements push the objects around just enough that accuracy within these puzzles becomes an issue.

This app will prove to be an invaluable teaching resource to both parents, teachers and other adults. I can see this app becoming popular among home-schooling families in particular and a huge hit with kids, especially those without tremendous experience with other applications. I do think that kids exposed to highly interactive and thematic apps may be less impressed by the game play found among the activities created here by their adults compared to other favorite apps, but what can be produced here will ultimately be more engaging that the worksheets this app could replace. This app did take some time to get into. Nevertheless, a tremendous educational potential is included here. Do take the time to explore this app and see what is being offered. Those who do so will not be disappointed.