148 Apps on Facebook 148 Apps on Twitter

Tag: Spinlight Studio »

Winky Think Logic Puzzles Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on January 28th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: WINKY THINK MAKES YOU THINK
Winky Think Logic Puzzles include numerous tactile puzzles that will challenge all age groups.
Read The Full Review »

Gappy’s Mystery Letters Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on October 4th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CHARMING LETTER PRACTICE
Gappy’s Mystery Letters is a charming letter drawing app with a fun mystery theme and coloring pages.
Read The Full Review »

Pixel and Parker Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on August 29th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Pixel and Parker is the charming new interactive storybook from Spinlight Studio which also contains delightful board game elements that children and their adults will enjoy.

This is the very sweet story of best friends Pixel and Parker, a cat and boy team who love to spend time together. One day Pixel gets lost and Parker needs to find his friend. Spin the spinner to advance Parker through this story, which is fashioned much like the board game seen in Candy Land.

Each spin of the spinner will have Parker walk the given number of steps around the board. Each place where he lands contains a new page of this story as well as charming interactive elements that propel this story forward. I also really enjoy how gift boxes are found along the way containing a cool new tee shirt for Parker to wear - a fun detail that adds to the richness of this app.

There is a lot to praise within Pixel and Parker.The animated interactive illustrations are bright and colorful with a fun, stylized look to them. The included narration is spoken with great enthusiasm as well as being clear and easy to understand.

Reading Pixel and Parker will never be the same twice - an element I find refreshing and never gimmicky. This is not the first time I have read an application that tries to vary the storyline in some way - sometimes not doing readers a favor as the different elements linked together sometimes read like one non-sequitur after another.

This is not the case with Pixel and Parker as no mater how the spinner spins and the different page elements are read, the story always flows nicely, demonstrating a proper dramatic structure children may learn from as they develop their sense of storytelling.

I also think this is a terrific app for toddlers and those in preschool as the interactions are discovered based on the narration and basic cues that will have children thinking about what they are hearing and how to use this information to interact with their surroundings. From understanding the expectation of tossing coins into a fountain to making a wish or using a tool to smooth over paw prints in fresh cement, cognitive skills will be flexed in ways most delightful.

I also appreciate how bulls eye prompts are also added to other interactive moments so children get the most out of this application, as well as some fun sound effects and musical elements which add to the overall experience.

This is also a cute app for toddlers as the visual of Parker taking his steps around the board does a great job of visualizing both counting as well as the game play found in games such as Candy Land - a favorite among children that can be surprisingly challenging for toddlers the first time they play.

Like Candy Land, this app also includes a few areas within the game board that make kids go back a step, short cuts to move readers ahead, as well as a space that when landed on, sends children back to the beginning of this story. I like the idea of young children getting used to these types of pitfalls they will see in classic board games, especially as here the story simply continues without any issues of winning or losing the game.

My only note is that the spinner can at times be unresponsive - a minor issue really, but it can take a few tries to get the spinner to spin - an area that I hope can be smoothed out in a future update.

I have sincerely enjoyed all the different story elements that are included within this unique, highly interactive book. I have read through this app a few times now, and it never gets boring, with new pages to be found every time I play.

It would be nice, however, to flip back to a page to re-read the text or re-play the interaction - much like a traditional book, and a menu of pages, possibly styled like the board itself, could also be useful for children trying to find their favorite activity to replay.

I really enjoy how Spinlight Studio has branched out into storybooks. They are a developer who has created universally educational apps of the highest quality.

When an unfortunate situation made it necessary to re-download apps back onto my iPhone, I searched not just for specific titles but the developer Spinlight Studio in general, knowing that I was going to put back all of their preschool-aged apps without any hesitation.

I will continue to be excited about any new app attached to Spinlight Studio. I recommend readers become familiar with their apps if they have not yet done so.

Operation Math™ Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on January 20th, 2012
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Operation Math is an interesting and fun math app for iPad with a fun spy theme that will keep kids engaged.

Kids will enjoy foiling Dr. Odd as he tries to eliminate even numbers from the world as here, the player is a dapper spy much akin to 007 in this dynamic iPad app. Families will appreciate how the games of three players can be kept separate, a nice touch for households or small groups of students.

I really like these missions, as players are briefed by expert narration that explains the task at hand that needs to be completed, as various famous locations are included, photo and all, adding to the richness of this experience.

Over one hundred missions are included, with increasing degrees of difficulty, but the game play remains the same and is easy to learn as math problems are shown across security doors that open with a correct answer. One has 60 seconds to complete each mission, adding to the excitement created here, with the additional elements of collecting different uniforms and gear that keeps this math app interesting and nicely goal-oriented.

Do practice on the included training levels which are also included, and note that children's progress at this sometimes challenging app is also being recorded.

I really appreciated the 15 different locations based on real landmarks and geographical areas that are tracked on the included map. These images, details, wonderful narration and music really keep the game fun, engaging and suspenseful, making this a desirable app for grade school kids to come back to again and again.

The style of this app is simply wonderful, but I am embarrassed to admit that I was not able to get past the last addition level and have had problem passing other levels in the subtraction, multiplication and division that include double digit mathematics - not from a lack of mathematical ability - but from a lack of time.

This app is terrific to get kids to memorize their multiplication tables as this is something children are expected to learn in grade school, but I simply found 60 seconds not enough time to perform some of these series of more complex math problems.

I do not know if the intention here is to help kids memorize past the basics, as it seems there is no time for any other method of problem solving, but to quote Albert Einstein “Never memorize what you can look up in books” or more to my point, don’t spend brain power memorizing what one can figure out by simply doing the math, something I felt necessary to do as I did not have the time to stop and think, let alone do any sort of math in my head.

Honestly frustrated that I hit a wall that I could not pass, be it the last level of addition, I handed this app off to my husband, who is not only good at math but who has also finely developed gamer reflexes for some help, and he got just as stuck, even more frustrated than I.

Personally, I don’t understand the practical application of having do to math so quickly in one’s head, as there is no time to work these problems out on scrap paper, a prerequisite for me to feel comfortable in many mathematical situations or even count on one’s fingers - something looked at as was highly desirable by my favorite math teacher as something that should be encouraged and never looked down upon. Even tricks I use to add quickly in my head were not possible as there is simply no time to do so.

As I re-read this review, It concerns me that I may sound bitter, sulking over not being able to fully succeed at a children’s game, as there is some truth to this statement being that I never got to get as far as I wanted in this game for both review purposes as well as to be able to obtain the super-cool uniforms and gear I was looking forward to.

Out of frustration, it sometimes feels like this app does not reward attention and focus that will be needed in math when the problems get harder.

It is very possible that kids from this generation will have no problem with the speed of this app - that my husband and I are just getting old and not as sharp or fast as we were years ago, and that the use of technology that kids are now exposed to has pre-disposed them to do well under such timed activities in ways I still can't comprehend.

This may be true, but in the future, I would love to see this app contain a Parents section explaining all the aspects of this app, as although the look of this app is quite appealing, I found the navigation here to be a little cumbersome and less than intuitive, as I did not find the addition and multiplication quick reference tables that may have helped my speed within this game.

I would also be overwhelmingly happy if here, parents could choose to add seconds to the base time given for each level if their children feel stuck. I think these levels should be challenging and that it is ok to have to go back and repeat if one needs to, but there may be a time when kids need extra time to be able to succeed, making them able and willing to continue.

It would also be nice to choose to have the time be less of a factor, but still penalized for wrong answers in terms of losing seconds, thus encouraging the correct answer the first time around.

It would also be great if a female spy was also included, as math is unfortunately often though of as a "boy" subject, and the inclusion of a woman who also needs to gather uniforms and gear may really speak to girls who will also enjoy this challenging math app.

I do like very much the the concept of this spy needing to open these doors quickly before time runs out very much and I am not looking to alter this gameplay, but I think that adding the right additional amount of time here could make this math app still challenging for children, just right for various abilities in terms of speed, as my husband said that even five more seconds would have made a difference in being able to complete the final math level.

From the overwhelming positive reviews on iTunes, it is obvious that I am in the minority for having had such issues of trying to beat this 60 second clock. I do love the spy theme, the wonderfully stylized visuals, effective narration and wonderful use of music.

I do recommend this app for children who are speedy at things, as I would never want to get into a typing contest with a kid born in the age of heavy texting, and I think this would be a an especially great choice for gamer children uninterested in studying math in conventional ways.

Parents of younger children should also check out the other apps the developers at Spinlight Studios, as their Alphatots™ and Tallytots™ apps are still huge hits with my son who is now four, and have been for a long time now.

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.

Yodel-Oh!™ HD Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on October 5th, 2011

Yodel-Oh!™ HD is a super-cute game for iPad based on the classic shooting gallery-style games found in carnivals.

Taking place in the Swiss Alps, help the poor shepherd maintain his footing on top of a mountain on which he is trying to herd sheep. This is not his day, however, as these sheep and rams must be angry about something, and they here are trying take their revenge by knocking the shepherd off the top of this mountain.

Game play is easy to understand here yet hard to master as one must focus attention on a few places throughout this game. The bottom of the screen consists of bull’s-eyes that flip over randomly, and when the red side is shown, one must tap this target before it flips back over. Also, be aware of the sheep and rams knocking into the shepherd up the mountain and ultimately over the top, thus ending the game, so get ready to tap fast when you hear their bleating. Other areas to tap include both extra points targets and an important green bonus that brings you a step back down the mountain. Do avoid the black targets, the ram targets, and Ursula, the Milkmaid who pops up from time to time, as tapping these will send the poor shepherd one step closer to over the top of the mountain.

I really enjoy the look this app offers, really re-creating the look of a period carnival game, distressed with chipping paint found throughout, giving it age and wear. I also appreciate the tinny sound heard as one taps a correct target, reminiscent of the sound one would expect to hear as one hits tin targets in a shooting gallery, as well as the other metallic sounds as the shepherd slowly ascends the mountain on what one would assume is a rickety metal conveyer and the winding sounds used when the dial at the top of the game counts down from "three" to start the game.

Another element that I enjoy is the styling of this app, which includes everything you would expect from an application taking place in the Swiss alps - from the felt hat complete with feather and lederhosen to Ursula’s traditional dress, as well as a cuckoo clock on the top left of the page.

I am not typically a fan of speed-based games, simply because I am not great at them, but this app falls into the very narrow category of speed-based games in which I can be a contender. Because there is no gun used here, the tapping of the targets reminds me more of a whack-a-mole game - my favorite carnival game of all time as I seem to have a hidden talent for speed and accuracy when it comes to whacking these moles in question, and luckily this talent translates to games such as this. This app, although repetitive, is a lot of fun and will be a hit for those who fancy simple arcade games such as this.

I showed this game to my son, 3.5 years, to see how he would fare at this type of game as we have not done a lot of arcade-style games with him. He did have trouble at first, and I am proud of him for not getting frustrated the way I imagine I would have at his age. After a short time, he got the hang of tapping the targets when red and created a slow but steady pace for himself, being able to tap the red bull's-eyes before they turned back around. At first, these targets were all he could focus on so I took care of the sheep tapping for him, something I appreciate being able to do, as some apps don’t respond well to multiple fingers touching the screen at once. Later, he pushed my hand away from the screen, trying to do everything for on his own.

I enjoy watching my son play this game. Although this app does not pretend to be highly educational, I see benefit here for hand-eye coordination and the cognitive skill of being able to anticipate what may happen next. I do wish, however, that a beginner mode were included here, possibly something that these developers could think of for a future update. I think that for young children, it would be nice if the targets did not flip back around until tapped. Kids playing slowly in this mode may not get very far, but this may be helpful for those playing an arcade-style game for the first time. It also may be nice to slow down the sheep attacks as the reaction time the player has at the beginning of the mountain is minimal until one gets mid-mountain and can see the sheep coming.

I really enjoy apps that merge period, low-tech objects with technology, such as Victorian spring-loaded pop-up books turned into highly interactive apps. I now include Yodel Oh!™ to this list as well, as it translates the classic feel of a vintage carnival game to an app with a lot of whimsy and lots of fun. As a family, we have enjoyed each app developed by Spinlight Studios, and I really look forward to see what they come up with next.

AlphaTots Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on June 8th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

AlphaTots is another fun, creative and educational iPad app from Spinlight Studio, with an iPhone version also available with the slightly different name of AlphaTots Pocket. This app, which teaches letter recognition as well as phonic sounds, is in many ways much like the earlier math app, TallyTots.

In fact, AlphaTots works the same way TallyTots does. When the app first opens, the screen is filled with a few rows of letter cards to choose from. Once a letter is tapped, the next screen is arranged with letters A to M on the top and N to Z on the bottom of the screen, leaving room in the middle for an interesting interaction illustrating the chosen letter. Like in TallyTots, an airplane pulls a large flag showing the letter in question, and the narrater says "lets learn about the letter ..." and pronounces this letter's phonic sound as well before the interaction begins. After the interaction is complete, the player can follow along with the next or previous letter in the alphabet or choose a new letter from the top or bottom row.

I have seen a few apps that use interactions and specific words - typically objects to illustrate the alphabet. I think that it is fun and interesting that in AlphaTots, the words used to highlight these letters are all action verbs, teaching various things kids can “do” as well as learning letters.

The selection used here are really cute such as building a robot, digging for treasure, or nibbling a cookie, and I like that many of them are puzzle-themed. Others change slightly each time they are played, such as “o” for “opening” which finds a bouquet of flowers behind one of three doors each time this letter is chosen. Some get a little physical, such as kicking a soccer ball into a goal or playing a mini-game of whack-a-mole. My favorites include the playing of music instruments, as the jazz music used sounds very good and a lot of detail can be seen, like the trumpet keys moving or the standup bass strings being highlighted as these instruments are played, or the mixing of blue and yellow colored water to make green. I do wish other color combinations were included as well, as the pouring is a lot of fun.

These interactions are each really fun and quite varied, but I did notice that these interactions are not designed to be done an infinite number of times, like many of the TallyTot interactions, something I am really fond of. It is easy enough to chose a letter over again if one chooses to do so, so this issue is a minor one. I really like the voice of the narrator used in this app, as I find her banter about these action words both before and after the letter’s interaction charming. I also appreciate how many of the vowel letters have two different phonics included, something that is overlooked in many phonics apps. Recently, Spinlight Studio updated some letter pronunciations based on educator feedback. It is really nice to see Spinlight Studio take feedback to heart.

My son has really enjoyed this app, and both my husband and I have fun using this app with him. I am looking forward to see what Spinlight Studio comes up with next.

TallyTots Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on April 11th, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

TallyTots is a really fun and creative interactive math app for iPad which teaches number recognition and counting for numbers 1 to 20.

I enjoy how intuitive this app is for kids, as this is an app that I simply opened to the title page for my son and he took over from there, figuring all that there is to learn from this app on his own, but parents will still want to interact with this lovely math app as much as their children will.

This app opens to a blue sky filled with a series of number cards ranging from 1 to 20, waiting to be tapped. After choosing a number, the next screen includes numbers 1 to 10 on the top and 11 to 20 on the bottom of the screen, leaving room in the middle for an interesting interaction illustrating a chosen number. It is nice that for every number selection, narration says ”Let's count to number - “ and pulls the number behind an airplane on a large flag, then counting the top and bottom numbers up to the chosen number. This app also counts to the said number in the middle of the screen with the use of large colorful numbers before the interaction begins, all of which enforces the lessons of numbers, names, and counting.

I really enjoy all the different activities. I am happy to say they are all very different, creative, and unique ways to introduce these numbers, like turning on one light bulb with the touch of a finger from number “1.” These interactions may have puzzle components, like putting four batteries in a small TV that shows an image on its screen when properly put together, or putting shapes in a puzzle box. Activities can also be open-ended, such as creating a seven layer sandwich, or be musical as one can make music tapping on eight differently shaped glass bottles. I appreciate that many of these interactions can be done an infinite number of times, but it would be nice if this were true for all the activities. This app does make it easy to go back and play a number again, but it would be fun to do such things as putting away and taking toys out of their toy box again to repeat the process without going through the intro sequence multiple times.

Sometimes this app counts as the player follows through, completing these activities, such as counting coins as they are added to a piggy bank or as balls travel through a maze. However, it would be nice if a counting option was included where the app activity counts through as each action is performed for all these interactions, if the player chooses. Even without this feature, it is nice to hear my son count to himself as he does things like making fireflies glow or feeding a chipmunk.

I am happy to say that these developers really know what interests kids. This app is bright and colorful, and many of these interactions include some of my son’s favorite interests. We love looking at ornately-decorated cupcakes under a magnifying glass and knocking over dominoes. Even older kids who may be past a counting app will be curious to see what interaction is hiding behind each number. I can see kids of all ages helping their toddler and preschooler siblings play with this app. I have had a lot of fun exploring here myself. I hope that in a future update, when playing with 11’s marble run, one can add the marbles anywhere on the course instead of just at the top. This is a minor note in a wonderfully creative counting app. These developers at Spinlight Studio also came up with the app Swapsies, which I enjoyed. I am curious to see what they come up with next!

Swapsies Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on March 10th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Swapsies is a fun matching game app for young kids where one can create different characters with the flick of a finger. Choose by scrolling between different choices of hat, shirt or jacket, and pants with shoes, either looking for matches or having fun creating many different combinations, like an astronaut-farmer-builder or a fireman-doctor-mailman. The possibilities are virtually endless as there are elements to form eight basic characters such as “astronaut” or “policeman" as all of these different parts can be swapped around to make, according to the developers, 1536 unique characters. Versions of this app are available for both iPhone as well as iPad.

My son has just begun to get into dress-up. He enjoys wearing a fireman's hat around the house a great deal, and I have started to look for more costumy things for my boy to play with. This app is a nice choice for those who are into dress-up or changing clothing as this app allows the player to dress and re-dress a boy character at will with many different choices by sliding a finder back and forth through various different clothing choices. When a match is made and all the pieces of a character line up, the player is rewarded with a simple sound as well as the chance to tap and hear corresponding sounds such as a doorbell ringing for a mailman or the beating of a heart for a doctor, nice touches that toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy. Matches made are also tracked by this app, something kids may enjoy looking at to see what they have created and what they are still looking to match.

It is cute that if the player does not touch the screen for a few moments, the boy closes his eyes and takes a nap. It is also nice that this app takes place in the boy's room, something very identifiable to children.

I appreciate that there are options included to change the skin tone of the boy character that the player dresses in this app, but I would really like to see a girl character as an option as well, which would also create some nice opportunities to choose different lengths and styles of hair. I think that app will be enjoyed by toddlers and preschoolers alike as this is a fun and easily navigated game application.