Happy Little Farmer | App Review

Happy Little Farmer is an adorable app where kids take on the role of the farmer and complete the tasks associated with growing food.

Happy Little Farmer

Welcome to your own personal fruit and vegetable farm! This app is adorable, and you will fall in love with it! Kids take on the role of the farmer and complete the tasks associated with growing food. The background music plays familiar nursery rhyme tunes. From the menu, children choose the garden, tractor, or monster area in which to play. Children are engaged in play but certainly learning about how food grows in an age-appropriate way. They can dig the holes for the seeds, plant the seeds, water the plants, harvest the vegetables, and even chase the unwanted bugs away. The app does not contain narration, so, parents, talk to your children about what is happening as they complete all the interactive areas. Children earn stickers along the way for extra motivation and are able to navigate the app independently. The app is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5.

 

Happy Little Farmer iPad

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Piiig Labs | App Review

Piiig Labs is an inquisitive app that brings science-friendly activities to preschoolers. It's science experimentation without the mess!

Piiig Labs: Science Experiments for Kids

Science experimentation without the mess! Thank you, Piiig Labs, for this inquisitive app that brings science-friendly activities to preschoolers. The budding scientist in your house will love making a volcano erupt, building a light bulb, and tinkering with a radio. The app touches on themes such as electricity, chemical reactions, and cause and effect relationships with age-appropriate activities that are designed for children ages 3-6. In addition, each experiment is accompanied by a short science fact for kids. The app is $2.99 and is available for iPad only.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Piiig Labs.

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Toca Lab: Elements | App Review

Toca Lab: Elements is an app that provides an ingeniously designed virtual chemistry lab where emerging young scientists can explore.

Toca Lab: Elements

This app is provides an ingeniously designed virtual chemistry lab where emerging young scientists can explore how different materials interact. The incredible part is that children do not have to be able to read or understand all there is to know about chemistry to engage in tinkering in the lab. As children dabble with the “elements,” they create new “elements” for their own periodic table. Please note that the “elements” and periodic table are not based on the actual scientific reactions occurring but rather give children the understanding that when elements are placed under certain conditions, a new element can be created. The app does not provide narration, so parents can support their child by providing lots of vocabulary and asking questions that prompt curiosity while using the app. For example: What do you think is happening? Encourage your child to ask questions too. This app will make your child feel like they have all the tools of a mad scientist! The app is appropriate for children ages 4-8 and is $2.99.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Toca Lab: Elements.

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Nico & Nor Coconut Star | App Review

Nico & Nor Coconut Star is an app that focuses on force and motion for early learners.

Nico & Nor Coconut Star

Nico & Nor Coconut Star is an app that focuses on force and motion for early learners. The app does an excellent job of making the scientific concept approachable for children and parents. The goal of the app is to develop and understanding of force by using the lever in different positions to complete a specific challenge such as using force to knock over a stack of blocks, aiming the coconut at a bridge, or using a series of ramps to hit a target. The challenges become progressively harder as the challenges are solved. There is a complimentary app called Nico & Nor Ramps Journal which acts as a repository for children to explore and experiment with ramps. This would be an awesome tool for hands on learning at home, in a school setting, or summer camp. Best of all both of the apps are free!

 

Read KinderTown's review of Nico & Nor Coconut Star.

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Celebrate Thanksgiving With These Fun Apps

While you prep the turkey, keep your little one busy learning about Thanksgiving with these playful apps.

This Thanksgiving, you can complete your grocery shopping, and spend your day preparing dinner while your child plays with these festive apps. These apps will help reinstate the importance of the holiday, while letting them experience in the festivities. Over dinner, ask your child what they’ve learned; maybe you’ll learn something new, too.

 

The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks (iOS only)

The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks is a delightful story that addresses many conversations that happen around Thanksgiving. The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks is about their days leading up to Thanksgiving day, and includes the bear children learning about the first Thanksgiving.The familiar characters struggle to eat a familiar turkey, show great teamwork in creating a first Thanksgiving reenactment, and finally spend time together being thankful. This is a wonderful tale to share with the whole family. The book does include a coordinating bible verse at the end. The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks is a part of the Living Light Series by Oceanhouse Media.

 

Read KinderTown's review of The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks.

 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (iOS only)

The app opens with the classic Peanuts music and each page has a hidden leaf for children to discover. The story has the options “Read to me” and “Read myself.” The words are highlighted as the narrator reads, and the characters on the page are animated like the classic Peanuts show. In the story, Charlie Brown is not feeling thankful. His friends invite themselves over for Thanksgiving and Charlie Brown is upset about preparing a meal. Woodstock and Snoopy save the day by helping Charlie Brown prepare a meal. The story includes nice interactive features on each page, but it is long and feels almost like you are watching a Peanuts movie while reading the story and turning the pages. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and is $5.99.

 

Read KinderTown's review of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

 

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Best Apps for Creativity for Ages 3-5

These apps focused on creativity will inspire the artist, scientist, teacher, and musician in your student.

Creativity is the ability to think in new, unique, or unusual ways. Creativity gives us the ability to problem solve and learn cognitive skills. This is why, especially for early learners, creativity is extremely important. Luckily for us, creativity comes in many forms. We’ll give you a start with these creativity apps that will inspire the artist, scientist, teacher, and musician in your student.

 

My PlayHome School (iOS, Android)

My PlayHome School is a digital playhouse that inspires conversation, role playing, and collaborative interaction. Manipulate a variety of character dolls throughout different rooms of the school. There are plenty of interactive elements in each room to make the play much more dynamic and extends a child’s interest with the app. For example, your child can play being a teacher, or experiment in the science room. This is an excellent app that lets kids take ownership of their play through exploration, storytelling, and role playing. They do an excellent job of adding rooms and characters with free updates. The app is $3.99 and does not include in-app purchases or advertisement, just lots of fresh ways for your child to create and explore. The app is for iPhone and iPad and is appropriate for children ages 3-5.

 

Read KinderTown's review of My PlayHome School.

 

Dr. Panda Art Class (iOS, Android)

There are six different virtual art activities for your child to experiment with in Dr. Panda Art Class. Create your own pottery with the virtual lathe. Then fire it and paint it. Fold origami paper to make a virtual pinwheel to play with in the wind. Design a virtual kite to sail through the sky. Put colored pegs on a board to create a design. The best part is that they can experience the process over and over again and play with their finished creations. The app is $2.99 and appropriate for children 3-5.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Dr. Panda Art Class.

 

Sago Mini Sound Box (iOS, Android, Amazon)

Sago Mini Sound Box, called a 21st century rattle by the developers, is a fantastic early sound exploration experience. Nine different thematic areas produce a variety of sounds with a tap, shake, or slide on the iPad. Sounds emerge from colorful spheres of various sizes that materialize as you touch the screen. Join your child to make a chorus of barking dogs, farm animals, or our personal favorite, the crystal clear chimes. The app is appropriate for children ages 3-5 and is $2.99.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Sago Mini Sound Box.

 

Draw and Tell (iOS only)

Draw and Tell brings the best features of drawing apps into one fabulous art experience. Choose from a blank page, your photos, or one of the backgrounds in in the app and start creating. Tools like crayons, stickers, paint, and erasers are used while this app records your child singing, talking, and moving objects as they create on the screen. Not feeling up to creating your own picture? Try out the variety of coloring pages where you get to drop paint into the lines to create a vibrant scene. This is another top free app from Duck Duck Moose. It is appropriate for children 3-5.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Draw and Tell.

 

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8 of the Best Educational Apps for Older Children

"My children are growing out of the age range for KinderTown. Do you have any recommendations for older children?" TL;DR - yes. 😀

My children are growing out of the age range for KinderTown. Do you have any recommendations for older children? TL;DR – yes. 😀

 

This is a great question from one of our KinderTowners. Included in KinderTown are many apps that would apply to older children; while we focus on apps for ages 3-8, we have many apps at the upper age limit that extend beyond the age range. Check out these apps that work best for children ages 9-12.

 

Best Math Apps for Older Children

At this age the multiplication and division facts are typically memorized and apps are a great way to practice them. They may interest your child more than worksheets or flashcards. Check out these apps for multiplication and division facts: Operation Math works against a timer to solve math facts, which can be motivating for some children but intimidating for others. The app is setup to evoke children on a secret spy mission to solve the equations. Try Operation Math Code Squad for use with multiple children which has a similar theme. Another great app for older children is Quick Math. This app offers choices from the four operations to practice. The app works to motivate students by beating their own best time. A less intimidating timing device and less of a threat when you are competing against yourself but motivating for children.

 

Full app reviews: Operation Math | Operation Math Code Squad | Quick Math

 

Best Language Arts Apps for Older Children

For 9-12 year olds, language arts is more complex. Here are few suggestions for great apps in this subject area. Word Runners – This app works to develop your child’s comprehension skills and vocabulary in a creative way. The app is built with many different worlds where children can advance through by choosing creative adjectives, defining words, or choosing the best vocabulary work to finish a sentence. There are lots of creative opportunities to work with words as you progress through the worlds. Duolingo – this app is great for anyone learning a new language. The app is free and aims to give access to anyone who wants to learn a new language. A great resource for everyone!

 

Best Science Apps for Older Children

Science becomes more approachable at this age and children are often interested in a wide variety of topics. Capitalize on their curiosity with these apps; Sound Uncovered – This app offers a large amount of content on every aspect of sound that you can imagine. The content is diverse with interesting pictures, facts, diagrams, and multimedia activities to play with sound. If you have a fan of space concepts, the NASA app is a must have. The information is updated directly from NASA and includes amazing pictures and updates on their current and past work. Lastly, experimenting and tinkering with objects is often a fascination for children in this age range. Try the app Monster Physics. This app presents tutorials about physics concepts in the atmosphere through a fun game as well as an open ended environment for play and discovery.

 

Full app reviews: Sound Uncovered | NASA | Monster Physics

 

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3 Fun Fall Apps for Kids

Fall is upon us and most kids are engaged in learning about pumpkins, apples, and the change of seasons. Try out these fall apps to extend their learning.

Fall is upon us and most kids are engaged in learning about pumpkins, apples, and the change of seasons. Try out these fall apps to extend their learning.

 

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin (iOS only)

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin is a triumphant story of a pumpkin who looked different from all the others in the pumpkin patch and how those differences made him valuable. This eBook from Ocean House media brings a meaningful story with lots of interactivity to your device. There are three play modes: read to me, read myself, and auto play. We appreciate the expressive language and wordplay in the story. The app does have a narrator with a slightly scary voice and a thunderstorm scene that may make it not suitable for some children. Enjoy recording the story together with your child after you have read it and listen to it in playback mode. You just might find yourself planning a trip to a pumpkin patch after this story! This app is appropriate for children ages 3-6, and the cost is $2.99.

 

Read KinderTown's review of The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin.

Sydney the Scarecrow (iOS only)

Scarecrows are always an enjoyable addition to fall play. The app tells the story of the scarecrow and his job in the farmer’s field. He manages to make friends with all the animals he originally had to scare away. This app will work on your child’s listening comprehension as it asks the child to complete tasks with the scarecrow before turning the page. This was the favorite part for our child testers!  The art in the app is cleverly done with felt and is reminiscent of the felt board used when I was a child. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Sydney the Scarecrow.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (iOS and Android)

The favorite Halloween special has turned into a fun story book for kids. The classic story is supplemented by engaging interactive elements such as dressing up the characters in Halloween costumes, choosing their own pumpkin, and bobbing for apples with Snoopy. Because the app tells the story in a similar manner to the movie, it will provide hours of enjoyment for you and your child. The app is $4.99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8.

 

Read KinderTown's review of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

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Back to School Language Arts Apps

School is back in session, but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop. Get your child engaged in language arts with these fun apps!

School is back in session, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Get your child engaged in language arts with these fun apps!

Amazon Rapids

Amazon Rapids is a new creative app that appeals to struggling readers or children who like to read digital content. The app does an excellent job of setting up an easy approachable system for children to listen to books as they are read aloud or to enjoy for independent reading. In the process of setting up the account the child and parent can choose interests together as well as a fun character and name to represent them in the app. There is a 7 day free trial that will allow you to try the experience with your child. The stories are comical and cartoon-like in nature. My daughter explained it well when she said, “It’s a text message story!” The appeal is well constructed for the next generation of digital readers! The app is free and there are different subscription options available. The content is appropriate for children who are just learning to read as well as independent readers ages 4-12.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Amazon Rapids.

Homer – Kids Learn to Read App 2-8

Homer is a full “Learn to Read” series of lessons for kids. The app features letter-sound instruction, sight word introduction, read-aloud stories, and a mixed review of concepts. The app introduces a letter and through game play children must identify the sound in the beginning, middle and end of words. This is an essential skill for developing phonemic awareness in preparation for learning to read. Also included through the lesson progression is the introduction of sight words. Sight words are words that cannot be “sounded out” but rely on more instant recognition to develop fluent reading skills.

 

The app does a nice job of mixing instruction with a review of previously-taught concepts and the reading aloud of real books, which are all key components of learning to read. This app would be appropriate for children who are learning their letter sounds and are just beginning to read, or who need a review of the letter sounds. In addition, the app encourages children to record their voice saying the letter sounds, and reading the books and words included in the app. Children are most often at this developmental level during kindergarten and first grade. In addition, the developers conducted research  with children who were beginning to read and used the app and showed that the use of the app 15 minutes a day led to an increase in their beginning reading skills. KinderTown agrees that routinely working 10-15 minutes with apps focused on reading skills will encourage your early reader’s development in this crucial area. Check out their website for a free 1 month trial. Homer is free to download but does include in-app purchases to buy additional lesson content.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Homer.

FarFaria Stories to Read Along

FarFaria is an app I can’t stop thinking about, and one I downloaded instantly. This digital library is one of the best I have seen. It’s creatively crafted and offers something for every interest and age level. When the app launches, an enchanting map of different islands appears which correlate with the different types of digital books offered in the app. For example: Adventure Island, Classics Grove, or Animal Kingdom. Choose a location and a selection of books appear.

 

Here are some of FarFaria’s great features:

 

• Houses over 600 stories
• Five new stories are added each week
• Offline access to your favorite books
• Highlights the words read to your child
• Has an option to read myself, autoplay, or read to me
• Costs $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year

 

I know I am keeping this handy for use with my kids this school year. It would be great for travel and could be used for your bedtime or nap time routine if you are away or on the go. I always lug a few favorite books when we go away, but I’d love to replace it with FarFaria. I especially love Sing Along City. These are books that correlate to your child’s favorite songs. My daughter loves The Wheels on the Bus, so that was her first choice. Explore all the different locations to find out which is your child’s favorite.

 

Read KinderTown's review of FarFaria Stories To Read Along.

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Back to School Apps for Preschoolers

Get a head start on this school year with these fun educational apps designed for your preschoolers.

Get a head start on this school year with these fun educational apps designed for your preschoolers.

Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap Ocean (iOS only)

This app is a creative execution of an e-book based on the book by Axel Scheffler. The illustrations in the book are structured with a split screen to show the combined features of different ocean animals to make a new animal. Each illustration has a poem that accompanies it that describes the new animal. Children can slide the animal halves to make new animals and the text changes as they create. It has delightful music and clear engaging kid voices to narrate the story. Preschoolers will especially enjoy the sing-song rhythmical nature of the text and benefit from hearing the rhyming words. There is a “read and play” option as well as “read to myself” option. The latter option would be great to use as you to sit beside your child and read the story together identifying the rhyming words as you discuss the different animals. The app is $.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Axel Scheffler's Flip Flap Ocean.

 

Grandma’s Preschool (iOS only)

The app begins with the bus dropping the kids off at Grandma’s school which resembles Grandma’s house. The house is organized like a typical preschool where children can move around and choose a learning activity by tapping on letters, numbers, science experiments, or an art center. Additional activity areas that can be explored include nap time, outdoor recess, centers with books and toys, and a white board for teaching and learning. Children are positively rewarded for their effort with Grandma’s dancing, clapping, and high fives. The app has a nice balance of digital play and learning exploration. You may need to monitor and encourage your child to visit the more academically-focused learning areas as the app does not regulate how much time is spent in the play arena. Grandma’s character engages players with her positive spirit and dancing energy; however, some present-day grandmas may not like the way grandma is represented with gray hair and glasses. The app does not require any in-app purchases and is available for iPhone and iPad for $2.99

 

Read KinderTown's review of Grandma's Preschool.

 

Tally Tots Counting (iOS, Android, Kindle)

Tally Tots makes counting fun! Numbers 1 through 20 are presented first by counting to the number, introduced with a short game and reinforced through tapping and counting while playing. Tally Tots even has a familiar number song that your child will enjoy singing as a familiar image from each game flies by. This is a great app to have for learning to identify and count up to 20! The app is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5.

 

Read KinderTown's review of TallyTots Counting.

 

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