PHLIP is an open ended, creative play app designed for kids but good for the whole family. The design is simple, and that is exactly what makes the play amazing. Take a picture, break it into pieces then tilt your device, locking pieces into place to solve the puzzle.
See it for yourself in our video review with Time to Play.
PHLIP transforms traditional puzzle apps by creating an environment for flexible, personalized play. Take a picture, or choose one from your photo library. The picture is broken into square pieces organized in a grid of 4, 9, 16 or 25 pieces. Each square has been rotated in a odd way so you need to turn each piece so it is facing the right way by tilting your device to the right and left. The app is easy to get the hang of and a fun brain game for kids of all ages. Being able to take, use and share your own photos make the play even better.
The drastic burst in app downloads on Christmas and the weeks immediately following has become a tradition as reliable as the peak retail season leading up to it. In a year with a major Apple product announcement, such as the introduction of the iPad mini in 2012, these new downloads promise interesting and often stark changes in usage patterns practically overnight. With just a little tooling and analytical thinking, every app company’s data can tell a story about how many people have adopted a new product, how it’s being used, and by what types of users.
KinderTown, an educational app store that helps parents find the best educational apps for kids, is no different. Our user base of more than 200,000 users saw major growth during the holidays and additionally, current users returned in record numbers as the extra free time generated by holiday vacations was spent on mobile devices.
Normally, the percentage of KinderTown users using a specific device would rarely change week to week, but the period following Christmas was not a normal week.
The data below shows the devices used to access the KinderTown app for the first time during the weeks pre-Christmas which is defined as December 1st – 24th, and the weeks post-Christmas, defined as December 25th – 31st.
Figure 1: Percentage of new usage from different devices pre-Christmas versus post-Christmas.
While the traditional iPad and the iPhone continue to make up a large number of KinderTown’s users, the iPad mini showed a drastic increase. We’d expect this with any new device. The latest iPad and the iPod also posted big increases in popularity among KinderTown users. Let’s take a closer look and see just how drastic the changes were.
Figure 2: Change in percentage of new usage from different devices used pre-Christmas to post- Christmas
The iPad mini along with the latest iPod Touch and iPad were clearly the biggest gainers. KinderTown users are almost exclusively parents with young children or teachers in early childhood education. This group has always favored the iPad for educational gaming so it’s not surprising to see the latest devices increase in popularity; however, parents clearly chose the iPad Mini over the new iPad. There is also some evidence that the older iPads are being “passed down,” as usage of the original iPad increased. Not to be ignored, iPod also posted big gains.
It’s interesting to note that the base model of the latest iPod Touch, which is the 5th generation, sells for $299 on Apple’s website, but Apple still currently sells the 4th generation iPod Touch for $199. Our data combines usage for both iPod models, but it raises the question – did KinderTown users prefer gifting the 5th generation or 4th generation iPod Touch? How does the 5th generation being priced so closely to the iPad mini ($299 for the former, and $329 for the latter) effect it’s popularity? Do users have strong reasons for preferring the smaller form factor? These are all questions to be explored in a future post. ￼
Examining the iPad data more closely provides some insight into one the biggest questions of the 2012 Christmas season about whether parents of young children prefer iPads or iPad mini’s. Figure 3 below shows how many more new KinderTown users used each device post-Christmas compared to pre- Christmas.
Figure 3: Change in usage of iPad 4th gen versus iPad Mini of devices used pre-Christmas to post- Christmas
You’ll remember from Figure 1 that KinderTown users still slightly prefer the latest iPad over the iPad mini (post-Christmas breakdown being 5.8% and 4.9% of users respectively); however, since iPad mini usage increased 270% after Christmas compared to iPad 4th generations’ 190% increase, we can reasonably surmise that iPad minis are being bought at a faster rate. Again, since KinderTown users are almost exclusively made up of parents and teachers focused on the education of young children, we can begin to draw the conclusion that the iPad mini is preferred over the iPad for the purposes of early childhood play and learning.
Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride takes kids on a historical journey to the original 13 colonies of the United States. Kids learn about early american history by traveling along with Paul Revere. Like the other excellent Ansel and Clair apps, you utilize your camera, guidebooks and on screen hot spots to systematically learn about an important time and place. The activities are engaging and fully support historical learning. Parents, you’ll want to join in on this app. We promise you will enjoy learning about american history alongside your child.
Dr. Panda’s Veggie Garden playfully gives kids the tools to be gardeners. There are 12 fruits and vegetables to grow. Over 30 activities such as plowing, digging, picking off insects and planting seeds are sequenced appropriately for growing each produce. The app is more geared towards amusement and working through 1 and 2 step tasks than learning the sequence of growing fruits and vegetables. Each task is fun and easy for kids to work through, but there is not much free play in the games. There are links in the app so you might want to turn off the internet on your device when using this app.
ClickLights 123 simplifies your iPad to reinforce counting and quantities from 1 to 10. Turn on all the colored lights by tapping the shapes on the screen. A childs voice shares the number of the shapes you have tapped. The app is very simple, always starting at number one and working to number 10. There is no variety in the game play. A child safe app with options to turn on and off the background music and sound effects. A nice free app that provides a focused counting experience.
Ride a Pony with Kate and Harry is the perfect app for littles ones on the iPad. The app is extremely child friendly and safe. Create a custom pony for your character to ride. Just enough variety of choices keeps the app interesting. Then take your pony on a ride, laughing and telling stories along the way. Giddy-up! A fantastic early play app for kids.
Candy Train is a nice brain challenge for older kids. Play in two modes (normal or expert). The goal is to keep your train moving along by adjusting the track pieces to make sure they all line up. The challenge in the games comes from track pieces that automatically move and bonus objects you need to send your train to collect. A game for kids who like an app that gets them thinking about strategy in time pressured situations.
The KinderTown review team of early childhood education experts, parents, and kids spent the last month reviewing their favorite educational apps for 4 year olds. They’ve narrowed it down to their favorite five apps in various educational categories including math and language. The full list is below.
A to Zs learned with cute animated characters. This app thoughtfully embeds letter seek and finds, while helping kids make connections between letters, sounds and words. The artistry of this app makes it fun for the whole family.
Expand your child’s artistry and storytelling with Draw and Tell. Kids create drawings and coloring pages using many of the tools provided in the app. When they are done, kids record their story or share a message about the drawing with the simple tap of the in-app recording feature.
Price: $4.99 / FREE: There is free with IAP version available too
Splash Money is an American money learning app that integrates teaching moments, challenges and tests. It covers a tremendous amount of money learning content. Overall, Splash Money is a parents’ and teachers’ dream, largely because kids love to use the app and are learning plenty about money in the experience.
Why Kids Love It
Let’s start with the lessons. Each lesson breaks down vocabulary, quantities and provides real life experiences with using bills and coins. Not a passive experience, each lesson pauses with little “challenges” for kids to check in on their understanding. The lessons are graphically engaging. They are easy to move through. The app give kids the tools to pass through lesson areas they already know well or go back and rework through a lesson.
After the lesson (or before – there are no rules in the app) kids can earn coins by taking a test. The test gives kids multiple choice, sorting and number response questions to solve. The more correct answers you get in a row, the more coins you earn. The tests require kids to recognize printed coin names, so you’ll need to use the app alongside children who are not fluent coin name readers yet.
The tests also give kids time to think. Many of the questions have a “done” button so kids can move items around on the screen or enter numbers and change their minds before declaring it is their final answer. If an answer is given incorrectly, the app does take the time to show the child the correct answer which is a wonderful feature. Overall, the tests reinforce quite a lot of content and are adaptive based on your child’s answers. There is a nice “percentage complete” meter at the bottom so kids can see how far along they are (and learn a little bit about percentages at the same time).
Now what about those coins? In the app there is a delightful monkey throwing coins for all those correct answers (you get one coin for every three correct answers you get in a row). Use your coins to buy all kinds of costumes and clothes for this new monkey friend. Your monkey then wears your outfit choice when you are in the test portion of the app.
Parent and Teacher Features
Option to sign up for a weekly snapshot of your child’s progress on Splash Money
Detailed report card in the app that highlights progress, success and areas for improvement
Marketed as aligned to the Common Core – concepts covered include:
1. Identify Coins – Penny, Nickel, Dime
2. Value of Coins
3. Counting Coins
4. Quarter and Half Dollar
5. Money in Dollars
6. Making Amounts
7. Add/Subtract Money
8. Making Change
Show What You Know
Activity 1: Mini Money Activities to Introduce Kids to Coins
Toss a cup of pennies onto a table and count heads and tails. After using pennies for awhile switch to adding in other coins and having your child sort and count the coins that come out of the mug.
a lot of quarters
Children roll a die and stack that amount of quarters and continue until the stack falls. You can also add to the game by predicting when this will happen.
crayon with the paper removed
assortment of coins
Lay your paper on top of one coin. Use the flat side of a crayon to rub over the paper and make an impression of the coins. For younger kids you may want to hot glue the coins down on a piece of card board.
Activity 2: Playing Restaurant
assorted take out menus
real coins and bills
silverware tray as cash register
Kids and adults take turns being the customer or server. As the parent you should start as server to model the procedure. Write down your child’s order, writing the food chosen and the price. Have your child pay you for the order, making sure to model calculating and giving back change. Talk aloud the thinking that is going on in your head. Encourage your child to do the same
My brother and I use to do this for hours on cross country car trips (in the days before iPods, iPhones & iPads). We’d often make the menus ourselves. There are so many great language and number sense learning moments in playing restaurant.
For the more advanced child you can have them organize the take out order for the whole family. Let your child take down everyones selection, organize the order, then calculate the price and money needed. There are many ways to change these activities to meet your child’s needs!
Have you tried to explain those tricky abstract concepts like “the internet” or “patience” to your child with little success? Well, the app we have for you today is exactly what you needed!
GazziliWords takes those tricky abstract or difficult to define words (like time and healthy) and gives kids both a child-friendly description of the word and a play along activity to show the meaning. Watch for yourself:
GazziliWords takes your child on an exploration of Science. The free version has 3 games that teach fingerprints, rainbows and balance. A short description of each is read and then the user is guided through an activity to reinforce the vocabulary. One activity has your child listening to learn what balance means, then stacking ice cream scoops and tilting to keep the ice cream from falling. If you like the first 3 activities you can purchase 7 other packs of 3 activities for $.99 a pack. GazziliWords is a great app for your child to use independently or with the whole family.
Critter Corral has fallen into disrepair! Use your math skills to help clean up the town. Many early learning math concepts are presented as mini-activities in the app. There are 5 thematic areas, with multiple levels. Kids fix chairs, serve customers, deliver presents and many other activities. Parents can set the app up for multiple kids. A solid math learning app. There aren’t many bells or whistles in the app, but the math activities are meaningful and plenty of fun.
Learning to Write with Smart Balloons is a pre-letter formation app. The tracing is supportive, assisting kids with a thick white line through to creating the formation with just the beginning and ending points along the way. There is a very supportive error noise, so kids do know when the line was not formed correctly, but this noise is not aggressive or discouraging. The reward game is quite fun. Blow up a balloon so it pops on a pin, then balloon animals come pouring out. You’ll also find open links that take you out of the app in an unlocked parents page. We like the app for giving kids a place to work on pre-writing strokes.
The Kissing Hand is a heartwarming story that is a must read for all families. The tale is about Chester raccoon who has fears like all kids. His mother shares a family secret, The Kissing Hand, to help soothe the fears. The eBook has many features which add to the reading. Easily read it aloud, record your voice or have the book read to you. Set up the app with limited interaction or options for vocabulary to be reinforced when you tap each image. There are open links in the app, so you might want to turn off the internet from your devices settings when using this app.
Eggzoo combines animations to model active words with interactive ways for kids to take an active role in the app. 4 characters with unique personalities play the lead roles in this app. They each have 3 actions that they do like: play, eat, catch, spin and more. Kids hear the active word used in a sentence and then tap on interactive dots on the screen to see the character perform the action. After listening and watching the action, kids get to take a turn giving the command. The app listens for the child to say the word and has the character respond to the childs command. A fun app for young kids to pick up some new vocabulary and get involved in the wonders of the iPad.
Rounds: Parker Penguin is an interactive story experience that helps kids understand life cycles and learn about penguins. Parker is a penguin that loves to slide and share about his life. Parker presents the penguin life cycle from growing up, finding a mate and taking care of his own chick. The cycle then continues from the perspective of Percy, Parker’s chick. The vocabulary learning in the app, including: molting, regurgitating and waddling, is perfect for extending your child’s language. To note, some of the science concepts are not always precise, but the intention is solid and it doesn’t take away for the experience. Overall a great experience for young kids (and future zoologists).
The KinderTown review team of early childhood education experts, parents, and kids spent the last month reviewing their favorite educational apps for 3 year olds. They’ve narrowed it down to their favorite five apps in various educational categories including math and language. The full list is below.
Understanding our feelings is not easy as adults so imagine how hard it is for your little one. This books gives kids a start on understanding the feelings they have and suggestions for expressing themselves.
Felt Board on the iPad? Yes, please! The app gives you all the small felt board pieces you would usually play with but in a much easier to clean up location. Perfect for teachers to use for small group instruction or parents to hand over to their child and know that meaningful play is taking place.
Our little ones love the camera. With this app they learn colors too! Point the iPhone, find a color and tap the circle. The app shares what color your child has found. Collect all 6 colors in the app and see a quick animation. Super fun and meaningful way to learn colors.
On January 6th many families will be celebrating Three Kings Day (or Los Reyes Magos) which takes place every year at the beginning of Epiphany. A very important holiday for many Hispanic-American families, we thought our list of top 10 apps in Spanish would be a welcomed list. Want to learn more about the The Kings Day tradition with your kids? You’ll find two traditional kids book in this post too.
Young Carlitos makes his “wish list” for the Three Kings. He asks to receive many presents but later he changes his request. A loving family story about two brothers. It contains easy to understand pictures and compares two cultures. After the story there is a pictorial explanation of Three Kings’ Day and Christmas. Excellent for young children.
This is an photo-essay through the eyes of a 10 year old girl and her family living in the Puerto Rican barrio of New York City. It includes informative sidebars, and a glossary of Spanish terms. Veronica’s father tells the family the story of the Three Kings who follow the Christmas star. Many holiday traditions are shared. A wonderful book to add to your holiday collection for ages 7+.
*None of the KinderTown team is fluent in Spanish, so we are recommending these apps without reviewing for complete language accuracy. Please notify us at email@example.com if you have any concerns with the language in any of the app above.
Subject: Language, Art, Social Studies
Category: Vocabulary, Storytelling, Creativity, People and Places
Age: 3 to 5
Price: $1.99 / FREE (Lite – try before you buy)
Beck and Bo is designed to inspire your child to build beautiful animated pictures while they play, discover and get absorbed in the joy of creating. Just when your kids think they have explored every aspect of each of the twelve thematic areas, another surprise appears.
Start the app by choosing from one of twelve wiggling stickers. You might want to go on a jungle adventure, jump on your scooter and tour the city or go grocery shopping, filling your cart with healthy foods. Each area you enter is filled with engaging objects and vocabulary which lead kids to get absorbed in each creative adventure. After finishing each theme, kids will find that each object they placed in the scene is part of their very own lightly-interactive vocabulary scrapbook.
Beck and Bo provides a type of creative play that is ideal for problem solving with your child. Each scene offers an opportunity for parents to bring real-life scenarios into the story line. Together, with the help of Beck and Bo, talk through problems and brainstorm solutions.
Check out their LITE version. It has three areas unlocked which will give you a good idea what you get in the FULL. You will not be disappointed.
Show What You Know
Creative play is more than just playing house or having a tea party. When you encourage your children to engage in playtime, you’re helping your child build essential learning skills. Some of these learning skills include (social interaction, decision making, leadership, imagination, independence, confidence, resilience, creativity). Children are curious and will initiate play no matter what the situation, but quality playtime includes a healthy mixture of structured activities, independent play, creative play and age-appropriate interaction.
On each side of the cube or stones draw stick characters (don’t forget to make your family members), settings, objects and so on. If you are drawing challenged (like some of our KinderTown team) print out some images from the computer and tape them on the cube or rocks.
Take turns rolling and creating your story. If you are using the stones, drop a couple out of your hand and tell a story using all the drawings you see on the stones.
There is an app version of this activity too! It’s called Story Dice and you can find it on the app store.
Activity 2: Box Fort & Theater
Our family has a preference for transforming a box fort into a theater stage. These pictures are from our Christmas morning. Amazing how moving boxes and packing tape were the biggest hit.
I used a whiteboard to first write down characters, setting, plot, problem and solution generated by the “cast” of kids. Trying to keep small children, fathers and grandfathers focused on previous decisions proved difficult. Just warning you incase you have an extremely creative and energetic family.