Buy This, Not That: Word Games

KinderTown reviews lots of apps for kids that never make it to the KinderTown store. This week I thought that I would share an app I didn’t choose, and why, and recommend a better replacement that exists, but may not be on a banner ad in the iTunes store right now. This will be the first in a series of posts called “Buy This, Not That App.”

 

Futaba Classroom Games for Kids comes highly recommended as a multifaceted game to use with your family or in your classroom.

This week: Word Games

Buy This…Futaba: Word Games for Kids

Futaba Classroom Games for Kids comes highly recommended as a multifaceted game to use with your family or in your classroom. Read KinderTown's review.

Futaba Classroom Games for Kids comes highly recommended as a multifaceted game to use with your family or in your classroom. The app is completely customizable for what you want kids to learn and play. This is one of the few apps designed completely for social play. Either play with the provided content or create your own. Up to four players can sit around the iPad. Tap “start” and the game begins. One game might have the center showing a picture of a pig. The first player to tap the word “pig”  on their panel scores a point. After winning three rounds, the child is awarded a Futaba which is a small seedling. Futaba comes with several learning sets, but what makes this app exceptional is the fact that you have complete control of the content. Design your games by using the camera on your device or add your own text. The latest update provides an option to use Dropbox to upload images. The amount of customization allows both parents and teachers to get creative. The options seem limitless. Futaba is free, but KinderTown recommends the in-app purchase for $2.99 to unlock all the features.

 

Not That…Mad Libs

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At first glance, Mad Libs appears to be an educational app for kids. I remember playing Mad Libs as a kid, so I assumed that today’s digital version would be even better. I assumed the app would read aloud directions to children, give them feedback on the words inputted, make suggestions for nouns, and detect whether the words inputted fit the grammatical category. These are all the things my mother did for me as a child to create a learning experience. I was disappointed to learn that it did not include these features, and appeared as sadly lacking in interaction as it was when I was a kid. When the app opens, the words and graphics appeared fuzzy on the iPad.  To get started, children choose a theme for their story, for example, bowling. The app assumes children know what to do, and can easily begin adding nouns, adjectives, etc. in the appropriate blanks. The app also accepted non-words typed in by children (tlsdjgs), and the app does not evaluate if the word is actually a noun or not. The app does provide a sliding bar at the top to define what a plural noun is, and give examples. This was the best feature I encountered.

 

Once the story was finished, the children had to read the story themselves, and most of the time the story didn’t make any sense based on the words that children picked. The app congratulated the child for their work with the words, “Word, Playa!” regardless of the quality of words inputted. This is not how I think children should be given feedback. The bottom line is that Mad Libs does not aid in a child’s comprehension and understanding of language skills, so why not spend your money on an app that does? Don’t fall for the nostalgia you associate with the name Mad Libs.

 

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“Cards” Gets a Digital Spin!

Duckie Deck Card Wars is one you will certainly want to have in your bag of tricks!

Duckie Deck Card Wars is one you will certainly want to have in your bag of tricks! Card Wars is simply a deck of cards on your iPhone or iPad. As you start the game within the app, the screen is divided so that each player can sit on one side of the device. Tap to play your card and swipe to collect your cards. As in the game of “war,” the app prompts you to lay additional cards to see who is the winner of “war.” The app is simple, yet engaging enough to keep kids’ attention. KinderTown likes how the app can be played with another person. Have your child play it with a grandparent, cousin or friend! In the game children are comparing the values of the numbers that appear on the played cards.

 

Duckie Deck Card Wars

The app could improve by including an automatic or a “versus” the computer option for those moments when two people are not available. KinderTown would also suggest a home button to exit the game at any time, and fun options such as choosing the type of cards you use, different music options or changing the color of the background, the little things that kids love! There are no in-app advertisements or in-app purchases, which makes this a great choice for children. The app is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 4-8. Overall, this is a great addition to your iPhone or iPad.

 

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Developing Social Skills with Apps

Check out these apps to assist you in working with your child on social skill development.

All children develop their social skills at different times and at different rates. Some children need extra support or direct instruction in the area of social skills in order to aide in the development of age-appropriate behaviors. Check out these apps to assist you in working with your child on social skill development.

 

A Little Book About Feelings

A Little Book About Feelings is an eBook to help your child understand and learn to express the emotions they are feeling. Read KinderTown's review.

A Little Book About Feelings is an eBook to help your child understand and learn to express the emotions they are feeling. The book is a great introduction to the concept of feelings or a study on different types of feelings. This app was created with the popular “Ruby Studio” that has a line of children books and activities that encourage development of emotional literacy. The story is filled with cute, fuzzy characters that express and share their emotions. The story book pages are created with intriguing artwork and colorful pictures. Ruby narrates a story that helps children understand that emotions change often and how important it is to talk about the emotions we are feeling. There are some interactive elements in the app but mostly it is a story that children will benefit from hearing over and over again. The book is appropriate for children ages 3-5, and is $.99.

 

Avokiddo Emotions

Avokiddo Emotions opens with Avokiddo’s artistically created characters. Read KinderTown's review.

Avokiddo Emotions opens with Avokiddo’s artistically created characters. Tap on the zebra, sheep or giraffe to play with the character. Next, objects fall onto the screen, and your child gets to choose which ones to attach to the character. For example, a big straw hat turns the character into a beach loving animal. With each object and scene, the characters display emotions associated with the scene and objects. Decide which foods to feed the characters to see how they will react and if they will like pumpkin, watermelon, or a sandwich. You can save your picture to your camera roll while playing or pull the lever to have all new objects come into the scene. Through this type of play, young children are learning about emotions, cause and effect, and body language. Sit with your child and discuss the emotions portrayed. Enjoy the artistic characters and play with their emotions and fun props. Avokiddo Emotions is appropriate for ages 3-5, and is $2.99.

 

Feel Electric!

Feel Electric supports children by helping them to learn about emotions. Read KinderTown's review.

Feel Electric supports children by helping them to learn about emotions. Games encourage children to describe how they are feeling, read facial expressions and provides vocabulary to help express themselves. There are three main areas for students to choose from; My Life, My Games and My Stuff. In the My Life section, children can make their own Mood Dude, Mood Tale or Moodosphere based on their own experiences. The My Games area allows for game play based on emotions with three different games. The My Stuff area is a personalized center for pictures, videos and music within the app. The app is based on the PBS show The Electric Company and uses the characters from the show within the app. Spoken text supports this text rich environment. Real, energetic people narrate the app with lots of expression. This app is excellent for children who struggle with their emotions or need help understanding the emotions of others. The app is free and appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

First Words Feelings

First Words: Feelings supports readers to build feeling words by letter and sound. Read KinderTown's review.

First Words: Feelings supports readers to build feeling words by letter and sound. A lot of support is provided for children starting on the journey to becoming a reader and ultimately will help with writing through increasing vocabulary and providing spelling practice. Each feeling word is shown with a corresponding picture to describe the feeling. Parents can set up the appropriate environment for their child by adjusting the variety of settings. 38 feeling words paired with vibrant faces and options for parent customization is what makes this app a success. The app is $1.99 and is appropriate for children 4-7.

 

Moody Monster Manor

Moody Monster Manor addresses different feelings in a fun, less direct way. Read KinderTown's review.

Moody Monster Manor addresses different feelings in a fun, less direct way. This app would lead a discussion on feelings and includes fun games and characters around the theme of feelings. Some of the delightful characters include Wonda Worried, Confused Carl, Hungry Hand and Scared Sam. The app is filled with bright colors and different areas within the manor for kids to enter. For example, Wanda Worried is worried about finishing her homework. Children have to identify the monsters who are displaying a particular emotion during the game. There is also a “Meet the Monsters” area where you can see the emotion associated with each monster. Parents, this app would open a conversation about emotions with your youngest learner. The app is free and is appropriate for children ages 3-4.

 

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Multi-Player Educational Apps

Have fun with your children this summer by playing one of these multi-player educational games.

App developers are discovering the possibilities of group learning games on the iPad. There are not a lot of multi-player education apps out there, but there are a few worth noting. Have fun with your children by playing one of these multi-player educational games

 

MatchBlitz

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If you don’t have this free app for your kids, you must download it and play Match Blitz with them this summer! I was instantly drawn to the easy interface and competition that this app offers. The object of the game is to tap the same object in all of the sectioned areas of the game board. For example, in two-player mode, tap the object that appears on each half of the screen. Be the first to tap the object and earn points. Be careful, because an incorrectly tapped object will cause you to lose points. There are options for 3 and 4 players as well within the app. This app develops visual perception, memory, and concentration skills in children and helps them learn social skills while playing with others. Match Blitz offers a practice area where children can get a feel for how the game works before actually playing. Match Blitz was created by the developer, Shiny Things, and incorporates the characters and objects from their other apps into Match Blitz. Even though this app is free, it does not include any ads– a win-win for parents and children. This app is appropriate for kids ages 4-8 and lots of fun for adults, too!

 

Futaba – Classroom Games for Kids

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Futaba Classroom Games for Kids allows up to 4 kids to sit around the iPad, answering questions to win points. This app is useful for reviewing vocabulary and facts already in the app and includes settings to create and add your own content. There is even a single-player mode, which is perfect for independent play or homework time. With the number of customization options, it is really an exciting app for teachers and parents. This app would be great for your child to review content already learned during the school year. The app costs $6.99 and offers content in multiple subject areas. There is a free version you can try called Word Games for Kids–Futaba, but there are ads in the app. Futaba Classroom Games for Kids is appropriate for children ages 5-8.

 

Operation Math Code Squad

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Operation Math Code Squad gets up to 4 kids together to take math operation challenges. Using the same theme as the well-loved Operation Math app from Spinlight Studios, the teams of kids playing are challenged to answer math problems in order to complete missions. The app does rank players, but is thoughtfully designed to get kids supporting each other instead of pitting them against each other. If you want to keep playing, all players need to answer questions correctly. Game play includes all operations and is easy to customize for the unique level of multiple players. The app is easy to use and fun for group play. One struggle we had was telling the difference between the numbers 9 and 6, which you often have to read upside down; this it was hard to do quickly because the numbers were spinning in the middle of the screen. This would be a great multi-player app to use to practice math facts.  Operation Math Code Squad costs$2.99 and is available for iPad.

 

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