Maker-Inspired Apps

KinderTown nods to the Maker Movement with three apps that encourage using tools, making plans, and creating a final product!

Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe

Ropes, pulleys, belts, and gears to combine and play with! Read KinderTown's review.

Ropes, pulleys, belts, and gears to combine and play with! My son really loves the challenge offered by this app, and it has quickly become one of his favorites. I like that it works on problem solving and engineering thinking skills.The app introduces the quirky characters, Pettson and Findus, and they serve as the student’s guide in creating crazy inventions. Each invention challenge involves the use of simple machines. Students must match the pieces up into the correct order to make the machine move and complete a task such as helping the bunny reach the carrots. Each challenge slowly becomes more complex as children understand how each machine part works. A star is earned for every invention that is completed correctly. There is also a “versus” section where two children can challenge each other to complete the task as a timer ticks away. In the settings section, you can increase or decrease the level of difficulty. Children will love this introduction to how simple machines work together. Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 6-8.

 

World of Goo

The World of Goo is sure to inspire the messiest builders. Read KinderTown's review.

The World of Goo is sure to inspire the messiest builders. The heart of this app is playing with the gooey, stretchy substance. Students must stretch the Goo to complete a task such as making a bridge or reaching a higher object. Each challenge has a goal of a certain number of moves (or times you stretch the Goo) to complete the task. This is truly a unique game, and the graphics are captivating. The overall game is organized into chapters and tells a story as you complete the tasks. You have to try the World of Goo to fully appreciate the experience it provides. Playing with the Goo feels like a surreal cinematic experience! The World of Goo is $4.99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8.

 

Goldie Blox and the Movie Machine

The Goldie Blox app is inspired by the Goldie Blox toys. Read KinderTown's review.

The Goldie Blox app is inspired by the Goldie Blox toys. If you haven’t heard of them, they are engineering toys for girls made in appealing pastel colors. The app works to teach beginning animation skills. Children are given step by step directions for drawing simple shapes in different spaces in order to make an animation when played consecutively. The app is focused on creativity and uses photos, colors, shapes, and stickers to make a movie. Students can browse other creations for ideas, or watch the tutorials to learn new techniques for animation. The app is focused on children ages 4-8, and is free. Check out the Goldie Blox toys as well! From this app, you can print your creations and use them with the Movie Machine Toy Set. This combination would make a great gift for the girl inventor you know!

 

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5 Must-Have Apps for 6- and 7-year-olds

Six- and seven-year-old children are a sponge for learning. Their academic growth is exciting to watch. Use these apps to encourage and challenge them!

Six- and seven-year-old children are a sponge for learning. Their academic growth is exciting to watch. Use these apps to encourage and challenge them!

 

Rocket Speller

Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. Read Kindertown's review.

Spelling skills are emerging as children are learning to read and write more complex words and sentences at this age. Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. In addition, each word is presented with a picture to reinforce vocabulary development. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints), so students are reconstructing the word in order to build visual memory of the letters. Children like how getting a few correct answers leads to different choices for designing their own rocket ship and eventually blasting it off into space. From an educational perspective, Rocket Speller combines naturally occurring letter sounds together such as ck, ee, ea, and or. Rocket Speller offers some nice options for parents. There are several different categories of words to choose from, or you can mix them all together. Parents can choose to have the narrator say the letter name or sound. KinderTown recommends choosing the “sound” option when working on spelling words. Parents can choose between capital or lowercase letters to form the words. KinderTown recommends choosing lowercase for activities involving common words that mostly appear in lowercase print. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual and audible hints, and smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty and provide assistance called Adaptive Assistance. Rocket Speller is $2.99 and available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Todo Math

Todo in Spanish means “all” and is designed to inspire play with all the early childhood math concepts. Read the KinderTown review.

Todo Math is a free app designed to practice early childhood math skills. Todo in Spanish means “all” and is designed to inspire play with all the early childhood math concepts. It includes 20+ multi-level games. It has two different types of play, free choice and mission. In mission mode, the app gives a brief overview of each game and guides your child through each game one at a time. In free choice mode, all games are presented and your child chooses which one they would like to play. It includes multiple levels of math games and adaptive play, where the games automatically adapt to your child’s skill level. Other options for children are the Mathematical Missions, designed to motivate children to engage longer with the mathematical concepts. Parents, you can sign up for a parent account which will provide you with a more detailed look at how your child is progressing through the app. Compared to most apps, Todo Math does contain a worthwhile amount of free content practicing many different areas of math for children ages 3-6. There are additional in-app purchases to access more content.

 

Endless Wordplay

As children begin to learn to read they begin to notice patterns in words and how words relate to one another. Read the KinderTown review!

As children learn to read, they begin to notice patterns in words and how words relate to one another. Endless Wordplay practices this skill in a fun way! The lovable monsters are back! This time, with a focus on reading rhyming words. The monsters travel around a map with stops along the way. Once the monster stops, his mouth opens with a rhyming word. The word is sneezed out and the letters are scattered. Your child must reconstruct the word. The letter sounds are made when the letters are touched, and the word is read when the word is reconstructed. The app does require the child to reconstruct the word in letter order. The words continue to be presented and all relate to a rhyming family: ran, can, pan, tan. Once a series is complete, a sentence is presented with the rhyming words in context and the monsters act it out. The app is free and does have in-app purchases ($4.99) to buy more rhyming families once you complete the 3 free rhyme families. A great app for the beginning reader in your family.

 

Scribble Press

Scribble Press is a must-have app for the family who loves to read, story-tell and create books together. Read the KinderTown review!

Scribble Press is a must-have app for the family who loves to read, story-tell, and create books together. Like other book creation apps, you can easily add your own photos, your child’s picture, a title and text to create a book. Scribble Press walks you through creating a story by providing lots of ideas from the start, and supports your child until you are ready to add your finished book to an eBook reader, or my favorite–printing your very own book! Choose from book templates, or create your own book from scratch. Your child is sure to love the rainbow pen, stamps and stickers included in Scribble Press. If your child needs inspiration, there are over 50 story templates. The app encourages younger learners by providing complete stories where they only need to fill in the important details. Endless possibilities – endless fun! For the parents of young children, you will need to work with your child while using this app, since reading and typing skills are needed. Scribble Press is $3.99, and if you would like to have your child’s book published and mailed to you, there is a fee for that service. Scribble Press is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

 

Thinkrolls

In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. Read the KinderTown review!

In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. There are two levels of game play, easy and hard. Easy is recommended for children 3-5, and hard for children ages 5-8. KinderTown recommends that all children begin at the easy level to understand the goals of the puzzles. Your child does not have to spend a long time at this level to be ready to move to the harder levels, but this will set them up for success. A blinking “redo” symbol flashes in the corner to assist your child when they are stuck and unable to complete the challenge. The challenge is then reset with the maze. The challenges in the mazes come in the form of obstacles. Some unique obstacles include fire blocks, ice blocks, balloons, and KinderTown’s favorite, the jelly block. The jelly block allows your character to jump up from one area to another. Another child tester favorite was the fire block. Watch out! If your character rolls into the fire block, it will turn black and burnt, which our child testers loved! However, the goal is to not become burnt. Children eventually solved the puzzles after experiencing the burnt characters. As the levels progress, children have to use visualization skills to predict the cause and effect of several “moves” in the puzzle. Concepts about physics and chemistry are sprinkled along the way when children must make decisions about the moving gear box, figure out how to make the balloon pop and move the ice to squelch the fire. The app offers an amazing amount of content in the 90 levels of easy game play and 90 levels of hard game play. Be sure to read the Chapter descriptions in the settings section for parents in order to have a complete understanding of all the challenges presented in each level or chapter. There are nine levels of game play included. Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7.

 

 

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Write, Swipe, and Tap Math Apps

Read KinderTown's reviews of top math apps.

QuickMath

QuickMath works to improve math fact fluency by offering the challenge of speed and accuracy. Read KinderTown's review.

Be Quick, Be accurate! QuickMath works to improve math fact fluency by offering the challenge of speed and accuracy. Math facts are presented to children and they write their answer on the screen with a finger or stylus. The app has handwriting identification mechanisms that allow the child to write their answer anywhere on the screen. The app offers practice of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. There is even a mixed operation mode. Quick Math allows for multiple users, so brothers and sisters, or classmates can use the app together. The app tracks progress and parents can see how much time children have spent using it. The app encourages children to beat their scores from past sessions in order to improve. The app does adjust to children’s levels, and increases the difficulty of the facts as they progress. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for students ages 6-12.

 

Winky Think Logic Puzzles

Slide and move shapes, and explore cause and effect in Winky Think. Read KinderTown's review.

Slide and move shapes, and explore cause and effect in Winky Think. Children are introduced to the concepts of each puzzle slowly, and they must drag and move shapes around the screen to solve the puzzles. Creative obstacles are introduced, such as pins, ice, bars, and lines. The game offers three different skill levels with 180 games in each level. Winky Think is designed so players can progress at their own pace. Children can use multiple fingers to slide the shapes on the screen, but parents will want to be sure to disable Multitasking Gestures in your settings to prevent the ability to use multiple fingers to accidentally send you out of the app. Parents, you will enjoy these puzzles, too, and can watch your child’s problem-solving skills as they play or make suggestions in order for them to advance to the next level. A user-friendly replay button is located in the bottom right hand corner to reset the puzzle if needed. As each level progresses, additional obstacles are presented and children earn different tools to solve the problems. Winky Think Logic Puzzles is $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad and appropriate for children ages 3-8.

 

Montessori 1st Operations

Montessori 1st Operations uses pictures to represent math problems. Read KinderTown's review.

Montessori 1st Operations uses pictures to represent math problems. For example, to solve the addition equations, children can use the blue and red number rods to assist them in solving the problem. For subtraction, children can use the number rods to show the answer. The app uses counters to demonstrate the concepts of halves, doubles, odd and even. There are two games offered inside the app, as well: Monsters Addition and Subtraction, and Bubble Games. The monsters help the game come to life as children practice the addition and subtraction facts. The app also introduces division by having children place counters on either side of a line. The app includes a toolbox section where children can explore addition and subtraction tables and take a quiz. This app is appropriate for children who can successfully count and recognize numbers up to ten and benefit from the use of a picture to solve math problems. Create multiple user profiles in order to customize the experience for each child. Parents or teachers can specify how high you would like the numbers to progress, for example 10, 20, 50 or 99. In addition, individual operations can be turned on and off. As children are successful in the app, they earn points in order to make their own customized monster. Montessori Operations is $3.99 and available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Pet Bingo

Pet Bingo is an excellent app to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication or division facts. Read KinderTown's review.

Pet Bingo is an excellent app to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication or division facts. If you have multiple children in your household learning their math facts, this app can be used by several different children by setting up multiple profiles. Children answer math problems correctly by identifying the correct answers on the bingo board. Children continue to play until they earn five in a row on their bingo board. Children are motivated by the prizes, which include pets, pet toys and accessories. Parents, you can check the report card section for each user to see how they are progressing in learning different types of facts such as adding 0 to a number, or adding doubles. Each math fact has the option to access a hint to solve the problem. Pet Bingo is $1.99 and appropriate for children who are working to learn their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts, usually in grades 1-4 or ages 6-10.

 

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Valentine’s Day E-Books

Snuggle up with your sweet child and enjoy these Valentine's Books.

Snuggle up with your sweet child and enjoy these Valentine’s Day books. All of these books would be appropriate for children ages 3-8. Enjoy with your valentine!

 

Wubbzy Loves You

This is a cute story about how Wubbzy finds his Valentines for Valentine's Day. Read KinderTown's review.

This is a cute story about how Wubbzy finds his valentines for Valentine’s Day. At the end of the story there is a nice Grown-Up’s Corner that provides suggestions for questions to ask your child about the story. In addition, your child can help Wubbzy count heart bubbles by popping them while learning beginning counting skills. The Love Words game helps children identify beginning consonants in words by matching the letter on the envelope to the correct mailbox. There is also a nice section where children can color a scene from the story. Parents, you can save your child’s creation to your camera roll to share with friends and family. The app costs $2.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, Little Critter!

This story by Mercer Mayer is about Little Critter and how he prepares for his school's Valentine's Day party. Read KinderTown's review.

This story by Mercer Mayer is about Little Critter and how he prepares for his school’s Valentine’s Day party. Your child is sure to have lots of connections to Little Critter’s Valentine’s preparations. Along the way your child can count the creatures hidden in the story. Beginning readers can also record their own voices reading aloud. The app costs $1.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

I Love You Too! by Ziggly Marley

I Love You too! is a story about a parent's love for their child. Read KinderTown's review.

This story app is based on Ziggy Marley’s Grammy-winning children’s album, Family Time. I Love You Too! is a story about a parent’s love for their child. Colorful artwork of everyday situations between parent and child brighten the pages. The book contains sweet lines such as, “Like a lizard loves to climb up into a tree; like a bird loves to fly way up in the sky; like a worm loves to go way down low, I love you too!” There is a great sing-along section where you can sing along with Marley’s song. The app costs $1.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

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Stuck Inside: There’s an App For That!

Snowy, Rainy, Cold… Stuck Inside? Try these apps for those kinds of days.

 

Stuck Inside? Try these apps for those kinds of days.

Stuck Inside Apps

Color Zen Kids

Color Zen Kids is a puzzle game based on a very bright and colorful animal theme. Read KinderTown's review.

Color Zen Kids is a puzzle game based on a very bright and colorful animal theme. This app will keep your child thinking and problem solving in order to arrange the colors to pass each level. The way it works: each screen presents colors and shapes. Your child’s job is to rearrange the colors and shapes so they combine and disappear to leave only the color on the outside. If you make a mistake, the game resets. There are no points earned and no score, which makes the app child-friendly. The motivation and challenge of the games is solving the puzzles in order to gain a new puzzle. There are 100 levels of gameplay, so there are plenty of puzzles for the $2.99 price. Color Zen Kids is appropriate for children ages 4-8. Adults, you may love it too! Color Zen Kids is made for iPhone and iPad.

 

Art Class with Dr. Panda

There are six different virtual art activities for your child to experiment with in Art Class with Dr. Panda. Read KinderTown's review.

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. There are six different virtual art activities for your child to experiment with in Art Class with Dr. Panda. The best part is that they can experience the process over and over again, and play with their finished creations.

 

Jelly Jumble!

Jelly Jumble! is a clever game that is based on a story about a young boy who is sent away to stay with his Aunt. Read KinderTown's review.

 

Jelly Jumble! is a clever game that is based on a story about a young boy who is sent away to stay with his Aunt. He makes friends with a blue monster named Soran, and they work their way through the forest having different kinds of adventures, which present the challenges for the puzzle game. The app is a multi-faceted matching game for kids. Each level has a new task or way children need to match the items presented on the grid. For example, collect as many strawberries as you can. Along the way, children can collect stickers for passing levels. While kids play this game they are strengthening their logical thinking skills. The app is appropriate for children ages 3-8, and is $1.99.

 



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Science Apps for Kids

A love for Science is a wonderful thing to cultivate at an early age, and naturally falls into a young child’s inner curiosity. Check out these Science apps to dive deeper into science topics. To find even more great Science Apps, download the free KinderTown App, and select the Science category.

 

Check out these Science apps to dive deeper into science topics.

Science Apps

Piiig Labs

This inquisitive app brings science-friendly activities to preschoolers. Read KinderTown's review.

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 does touch on themes such as electricity, chemical reactions and cause and effect, but the app is designed for children ages 3-6, so the activities are age-appropriate. Each experiment is accompanied by a short science fact for kids. The app is $2.99 and available for iPad only.

 

Star Walk Kids

Star Walk Kids is a fascinating learning tool for your kids that brings the solar system to life! Read KinderTown's review.

A fascinating learning tool for your kids, Star Walk Kids brings the solar system to life! Each planet has a fact card and a short video to explain key facts about the planet. There are extra movies as well that explain space-related ideas such as the Hubble Spacecraft. A wide variety of constellations and stars turn the sky into an imaginative area for kids. The most amazing feature of Star Walk Kids is that children can take an iPhone or iPad outside and point it to the sky to guide their exploration, and Star Walk will map the stars seen from your location. This is a great  activity for parents and children to do together. The app does not collect any personal information but is able to use the location features of your device. The app is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8 and is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

ABC Aquarium

ABC Aquarium brings learning through research and discovery to the youngest learners. Read KinderTown's review.

ABC Aquarium brings learning through research and discovery to the youngest learners. Traditional encyclopedia-style presentations combined with videos, interactive activities and quality images makes the ABC apps from Peapod Labs truly special. The pictures are captivating and appropriate for young learners. The app is organized with pictures with an ocean theme in ABC order. Your child will be learning letters and words along with interesting facts about ocean animals and plants. ABC Aquarium is appropriate for children ages 3-6, and is $2.99.

 

 

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Magnificent Musical Apps

Read KinderTown's blog post about their favorite educational musical apps.

Monster Music Pro

Monster Music has developed an app in which the youngest child can compose a song using movable monsters. Read KinderTown's review.

Monster Music has developed an app in which the youngest child can compose a song using movable monsters. Each monster represents a sound in a song and is placed in a composition area, where it can be moved around to create a song with other monsters. The app is simple enough for a 3-year-old to compose their own song. The playback shows the bar sliding across the screen and the monsters making their corresponding music as the song plays. Experimentation is at the heart of this app, and the app provides a place to save all the musical creations. Monster Music Pro costs $2.99, is available for iPhone and iPad, and is appropriate for children ages 3-8.

 

Jelly Band

Jelly Band uses monsters who appear in color and a black and white stage as the musical playground for kids. Read KinderTown's review.

Jelly Band is the rock band stage for kids. Jelly Band uses monsters who appear in color and a black-and-white stage as the musical playground for kids. There are two different stage areas in which kids can create their own rock band. The monsters play a wide variety of instruments from drums to electric guitar to flute. The main focus of the app is experimentation and creation of different combinations of sounds into a song. Songs can be replayed or mashed together to create a longer piece of music. The app costs $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

My First Orchestra

Download My First Orchestra

This app focuses on teaching children about the orchestra. After a short introduction, a picture of a full orchestra is shown with several touch spots for children to select an area that they would like to learn more about. After choosing an area or instrument, the app goes to an interactive learning page, which contains a diagram, picture, musical examples, related composers, and a short paragraph that can be read aloud. There are 40 different pieces of music integrated into the app. The app costs $4.99 and is available for iPad only. My First Orchestra App HD is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

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New iPad? Get Started With Free Apps!

If you are new to the iPad world, starting with a few free apps is a good way to get your feet wet.

 

Read KinderTown's reviews of free educational iPad apps.

By downloading free apps, you can take a look at the landscape of apps and features without spending a lot of money. Don’t be afraid to delete the free apps that are not a good match for your child. Check out these high-quality free apps. Finding free educational apps can be challenging. Check out these free apps and download the free KinderTown App to search for free apps to find even more recommendations!

MOMA Art Lab

MOMA Art Lab features 9 different activities that explore the use of shapes and lines in unique ways. Read KinderTown's review.

Many museums and educational organizations create apps to accompany their exhibits and collections. It’s a great way to take a virtual field trip to the Museum of Modern Art. MOMA Art Lab features 9 different activities that explore the use of shapes and lines in unique ways. For example, create a virtual mobile and watch it move, or create a collage and shake your iPad to reconstruct the collage. MOMA matches an artist’s work with the activity to educate children about modern art while creating their own masterpieces. KinderTown really likes how the activity directions can all be read aloud to children making the app accessible to children as young as four. In addition, there is a light-bulb icon which provides ideas for creating your own artwork. The app allows children to save their work within the app. MOMA Art Lab is free, and appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

Scribble My Story

Scribble My Story encourages children to develop their writing skills. Read KinderTown's review.

Scribble My Story encourages children to develop their writing skills. Open-ended templates of mini-books are provided for your child, and they can fill in the missing parts of the story. The “All About Me” template is especially popular with children. Children can illustrate their story and save it within the app. Fun stickers, different markers and stamps can also be used. The app is great for beginning writers, and offers additional motivation over pencil and paper. This app is great for children who are learning to compose stories, typically Preschoolers, Kindergartners and First Graders. The app reinforces the connection between reading and writing by creating mini-books that can be reread. Children can also create their own stories by using a blank mini-book. The app does have in-app purchases, so be sure to be aware of how your child is using the app. The app is free, and appropriate for children ages 4-7.

 

Sushi Monster

This completely free app made by Scholastic is a fantastic example of how apps can transform somewhat boring academic tasks, like memorizing facts, into learning activities. Read KinderTown's review.

This completely free app made by Scholastic is a fantastic example of how apps can transform somewhat boring academic tasks, like memorizing facts, into learning activities. In Sushi Monster, the monster in the middle of the screen displays a number. Outside of the monster are two rings. Your child must move numbers from the outer ring to the inner ring to “make” the number. For example, Sushi monster might display the number 14, and the plates on the outer ring display 11, 1, 7, and 7. Your child must choose which plates to “feed” to the Sushi Monster in order to make the number 14. The app progresses through 7 addition levels and 5 multiplication levels. There is a wonderful amount of content for free! Kids love to see the Sushi Monster gobble up the numbers and along the way they are developing important number concepts. The app is free, and appropriate for students learning their addition and multiplication math facts, typically ages 5-8.

 

WWF Together

WWF Together is beautifully created with stunning pictures of endangered animals. Read KinderTown's review.

WWF Together is beautifully created with stunning pictures of endangered animals. This app is one that would be valuable to sit with your child and discuss “endangered species” through pictures. Each endangered animal is displayed through origami and includes information on creating your own origami creatures.The app also provides a few interactive activities that coordinate with some of the animals featured in the app. The app includes facts about the animals, but these are not read aloud. There is a 3-D interactive globe which pinpoints exactly where endangered species exist, and children can calculate their distance from the species. Our child testers loved discovering the videos embedded within the app of endangered animals. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-8 and is a wonderful learning experience for the whole family.

 

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KinderTown’s Top 14 of 2014

KinderTown transforms mobile devices into powerful teaching tools by finding and organizing the best educational apps for kids ages 3-8 years old.

 

Read KinderTown's reviews of their favorite educational apps from 2014.

Our mission is to improve early childhood education by empowering parents with the tools to be better teachers. We work hard to find the best educational apps for children. Each app we select for KinderTown has been tested and reviewed by educators, parents, and most importantly, children. Not all (or even most) of the apps meet our high standards. We take many factors into account including educational value, ease of use, engagement value, design features, artwork, cost, and shelf life. It’s through this process that we believe we can help parents use their iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches to teach their children anything.

Read KinderTown's reviews of their favorite educational apps from 2014.

1. Reading – Learn with Homer

Learn with 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 presented. The app does a nice job of mixing reading instruction, a review of previously-taught concepts and the reading aloud of real books, which are all key components to learning to read. The developers of Learn with Homer conducted research using their app on children who were beginning to read, and showed that the use of the app 15 minutes a day led to an increase in their beginning reading skills. Learn with Homer is free to download but does include in-app purchases to buy additional lesson content.

2. Math – Marble Math Jr.

Marble Math Junior is an excellent example of how to merge quality game design with significant educational value. This app moves kids through the sequence of understanding the question, tapping into knowledge to form an answer, and creating a strategy for navigating the gameplay maze. Getting answers wrong is not an issue here, where it’s highly motivating to learn through trial and error, too. Take time to read the information pages to learn about all the features and customize the problems and levels. One of the most engaging, educational math apps we have played to date.

3. Spelling – Rocket Speller Plus

Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. To reinforce vocabulary development, each word is presented with a picture. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints) so students are reconstructing the word in order to continually practice spelling it, building visual memory of the letters. Children like how getting a few correct answers leads to different choices for designing their own rocket ship and eventually blasting it off into space. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual hints and audible hints, as well as smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty in order to provide what is called Adaptive Assistance.

4. Social Studies – Barefoot World Atlas

Barefoot World Atlas will completely mesmerize all members of your family. Open to a globe dotted with images that just beg to be tapped. Read and listen to fun facts by touching the images on the screen. Looking for more depth? Search by country and region to learn facts that give you a look into the lives of people and places around the world. This app is completely worth the price of $4.99 and will be appreciated by both the adults and children ages 4-8. Find a time to sit with your child and enjoy Barefoot World Atlas together.

5. Science – Human Body

The Human Body is an app made for exploring and asking questions. There is animation to accompany the six different body systems. Encourage and answer your child’s questions while exploring, and they will direct their own learning. Tap different parts of the brain, and an animation pops up depicting what that area of the brain controls. The app is not narrated, so parents need to provide the support for learning. In addition, the app offers a parent section and an option to set up multiple profiles for different children. Children can record questions while using the app, and parents can respond to them. Tinybop has even made a helpful parent guide to accompany the app. We highly recommend downloading it and using it with your child. It’s perfect for answering the tough questions your child may ask about their body. This app is brilliantly designed for scientific discovery.

6. Logic – ThinkRolls

In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. There are two levels of game play, easy and hard. Easy is recommended for children 3-5, and hard for children ages 5-8. KinderTown recommends that all children begin at the easy level to understand the goals of the puzzles. Your child does not have to spend a long time at this level to be ready to move to the harder levels, but this will set them up for success. A blinking “redo” symbol flashes in the corner to assist your child when they are stuck and unable to complete the challenge. The challenge is then reset with the maze. The challenges in the mazes come in the form of obstacles. Some unique obstacles include fire blocks, ice blocks, balloons, and KinderTown’s favorite, the jelly block. The jelly block allows your character to jump up from one area to another. Another child tester favorite was the fire block. Watch out! If your character rolls into the fire block, it will turn black and burnt, which our child testers loved! However, the goal is to not become burnt. Children eventually solved the puzzles after experiencing the burnt characters. As the levels progress, children have to use visualization skills to predict the cause and effect of several “moves” in the puzzle. Concepts about physics and chemistry are sprinkled along the way when children must make decisions about the moving gear box, figure out how to make the balloon pop and move the ice to quench the fire. The app offers an amazing amount of content in the 90 levels of easy game play and 90 levels of hard game play. Be sure to read the Chapter descriptions in the settings section for parents in order to have a complete understanding of all the challenges presented in each level or chapter. Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7

7. Story Creation – Draw and Tell

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 app’s backgrounds, and start creating. Tools like crayons, stickers, paint and erasers are used while this app records your child singing, talking, and moving stickers all over 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. The real gem is the final product where your child’s voice and artistic creation are made into a personal movie.

8. Coding – Kodable

Kodable is an introduction to coding for young children. When children use the app, they are coding fuzz balls to move around the screen. The app starts off with very simple mazes for the fuzz balls to complete, and progress as your child completes the puzzles. The children we tested this app on loved to earn color changes for the puff ball by successfully completing puzzles. Kodable is for kids ages 5-8 and is free, but does include in-app purchases to unlock additional levels. With the free version there are 45 levels with interactive tutorials. Kodable Pro offers all of the in-app purchases in one app for 6.99 and includes interactive tutorials and learning guides. Check out their website for more information on their line of apps. Kodable also offers another feature called Kodable Sync, which is designed for classrooms in order to accommodate multiple students.

9. Visual Memory – Dexteria Dots 2

KinderTown loves the creative approach to numbers that Dexteria Dots provides. Dexteria Dots designed a game in which players are developing visual tracking, visual memory and visual motor planning skills through manipulating different sized dots within the app. While playing with the dots, children are learning math concepts such as comparing numbers, counting, adding and subtracting. In addition, fine motor skills are used to slice and connect the dots on the screen. The unique design relates the size of the dots to the numeric value. For example, a 4-dot has twice the diameter of a 2-dot. There are two different games inside Dexteria Dots 2, Make Equal Dots and Compare Dots. In the Make Equal Dots Game, children are challenged to use all the dots to make two equal dots. In the Compare Dots game children combine dots to see which side of the screen is larger. As the games advance, the numeric representation on the dots disappears, developing visual memory and discrepancy. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children learning addition and subtraction concepts who are approximately 4-8.

10. Social Emotional – Daniel Tiger Grr-ific Feelings

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings provides an app in which kids can learn about different types of feelings while playing and singing with Daniel Tiger. Our kid testers loved the trolley game in which children navigate the trolley to 12 different games. Each game has a specific feeling to complete an activity, such as feeling frustrated and having to find a lost toy, or feeling happy and making Daniel Tiger dance. There is also a sing-along section where kids can sing about feelings with Daniel Tiger, as well as a drawing area that includes paint, crayons and stickers. This app provides an age-appropriate way to explore different types of feelings with children ages 3-5, and is a great way to start conversations with your children about feelings. The app is $2.99 and available for iPad.

11. Letter Sounds – Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet is a super silly, wacky, hilarious vocabulary learning app for kids. Scroll through words inside a friendly blue monster’s mouth. Tap on one that looks especially interesting, and learn what the word means. Kids need to build the word, letter by letter first, then watch, listen and learn about the meaning of each word. Wacky, weird letters and colorful, interesting (non-scary) monster characters play the starring role in the app. You won’t find any high scores or multiple levels in Endless Alphabet. This app is just about learning new words in a playful, discovery-focused way.


12. Multiple Skills – Grandma’s Kitchen

Grandma’s Kitchen is sure to delight your youngest chef while practicing a variety of skills including patterning, counting tens and ones, visual discrepancy, telling time, and ABC order. Grandma’s Kitchen has a nice balance of creative play, skill-based practice and informational videos to build vocabulary. Grandma will even give your child prompts if they are having difficulty answering the question. After your child answers the question, they are rewarded with an activity with grandma such as adding ingredients to the mixer to make a cake, watching an informational cooking video, dancing with Grandma, or our favorite, giving Grandma a kiss! Parents, be sure to check out the settings area where you can decide which skills your child is practicing. Check out the fun facts section for tidbits about food, nutrition and cooking. The app is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-7.

13. Best Non-fiction Reading – Kids Discover Apps

Kids Discover is a jam-packed, non-fiction learning experience for kids. Kids Discover has a variety of topics that they offer in magazine/book-styled apps. Each topic contains pages with information and interactive elements. The app does contain a large amount of text, which is not read aloud. Parents read aloud the text to your child, or help define the topic-specific vocabulary words your child may not be able to read themselves. The apps contain great real pictures, drawings, diagrams, and areas to learn more. At the end of each app there are activities that relate to the topic of the magazine, and multiple choice quizzes with an answer key. Check out their website for excellent parent guides. They also have a teacher area with free lesson plans to accompany each of the apps. Visit their webpage to see all of the app magazine topics like electricity, the Incas, geology, the Civil War, galaxies and much more. Each one is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 6-8.

 

14.  Handwriting – abc PocketPhonics

ABC PocketPhonics brings three important language skills together into one app. In abc PocketPhonics, children learn to recognize letters, hear letter sounds, form letters by tracing, and use the letter sounds to build words. Parents are able to create multiple users, have control over the font and letter types, what letters their child can work on, and how flawless the writing needs to be. ABC PocketPhonics tracks each user’s answer and will not advance a user unless they first demonstrate mastery of the basics. The app is $6.99 and is appropriate for children who are learning their letters and their sounds ages 4-6. Try the Lite version first to see if it is a good match for your child.

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Maker Inspired Apps

Another big theme of last week’s conference, SXSWEdu, was the current Maker Movement.

 

Another big theme of last week’s conference, SXSWEdu, was the current Maker Movement.

It seems funny to an early childhood educator that the idea of tinkering, experimenting and testing hypothesis with various tools, is a new idea. This is what children do naturally when they play. It really isn’t a new idea, but it’s rise in popularity and the vast array of products flooding the market is new. There are after school programs, kits, curriculums, and toys that speak to this rising movement. Computer labs and libraries are reinventing their spaces into a Maker Space complete with engineering tools to create towers, robots, and circuits. The exciting part for me, is that these types of educational products are now readily accessible to children as young as five. They can use them to experiment with and learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM), all at the same time.

 

Maker Inspired Apps

Download the KinderTown app, and find these selected apps under the Science category to accompany the “Maker” in your home:

 

Monster Physics

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 8.11.48 PMThis app cultivates the experimenter in your child. The app also provides guided tutorials in the beginning to get your child acquainted with the tools and how they function. I found this section really valuable with children, and a great way to discover the app together. The tools in the app include wheels, magnets, claws, wood and plastic. Children combine the parts to make their own unique creation and see if it will solve one of the 50 missions presented in the app. The app combines open-ended experimentation with problem-solving. Your child will not realize they are tinkering with physics concepts such as friction, force, mass, acceleration and more. Parents, after you guide your child through the tutorial section, stick around as the missions become more challenging. Help your child think through trying different solutions to the “Missions” or problems presented. This app is appropriate for students ages 5-8, and is available for .99 (at time of publication for a limited time).

 

Bobo Explores Light

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This app is structured like a book but invites exploration into the concept of light through the guidance of a friendly Robot named Bobo. The introduction provides a nice overview to the interactive book about light. The app has moments where children are invited to tilt the iPad while flying through space. As you fly through space, there are stops along the way that present facts, interesting tidbits, and questions to further investigate. The facts in the book are not read aloud to children, so parents, help your child read and understand the information presented. Bobo Explores Light is suitable for children ages 5-8, and available for $4.99.

 

I think that the most important concept to take away from the Maker Movement is that you can never cultivate your child’s interests with hands on learning enough. Whether it is math, engineering, reading, or art, getting in touch with our children’s interests is an integral part of parenting. Look for after-school programs, summer camps and clubs as part of the Maker Movement popping up in your area too. Now, I look forward to the ways in which “Maker” companies will more closely pair apps with their products to influence children’s experimentation and learning with the Maker Movement.

 

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