Archive for the ‘Our Recommendations’ category


Want to Teach Your Child the ABCs? There’s an App for That!

In the old days, we used flashcards to teach ABCs — now there are apps! With apps, the alphabet learning becomes interactive, animated, and personal to your child. In other words: exciting!

Here’s a list for the top ABC apps:

AMAZING ALPHABET APPS:

ELMO LOVES ABCs for iPAD

Adorable Elmo serves as your child’s cheerleader while he or she explores the letters of the alphabet. Kids will trace the letters, learn their beginning sounds, and play games with the letters. Elmo energizes the learning with his silly antics.

Elmo-Loves-ABCs

ALPHATOTS

When each letter of the alphabet is introduced, kids get to play a game that reinforces the letter sounds. They will build a robot with the letter “R” and kick the soccer ball with the letter “K.” This app turns learning the alphabet into hands-on learning.

AlphaTots Screen 2

AVOKIDDO ABC RIDE

This app takes kids on a bike ride to find the hiding letters of the alphabet. At 26 different locations, kids first find the hidden letter and then enjoy silly antics with it, such as jumping on jiggling jelly!

Avokiddo-ABCRide-Screen3

FACES iMAKE -ABC

Puzzle play is what sets this ABC app apart from the others. Each letter has a fun puzzle that kids put together.

Faces-iMake-ABCs

METAMORPHABET

This ABC app is the most visually exciting of the ones on this list. It mesmerizes children (and adults) with its dazzling transformations and intriguing animations. Each touch of a letter produces something new. Don’t miss this one.

Metamorphabet4

ENDLESS ALPHABET

Silly monsters act out the meaning of words that start with the letters of the alphabet. The animations are great and hilarious.

Endless-Alphabet-Screen5

MY BEASTLY ABCs

My Beastly ABCs uses mythical creatures and beasts to demonstrate each letter of the alphabet. Told in a book app format, this tale about a timid boy playing with monsters is told by the master narrator Jim Dale of Harry Potter fame!

My-Beastly-ABCs-Screen1

 

 

 


Best Book Apps Discussed on NPR’s All Sides with Ann Fisher

JinnyBio2TWK2014The NPR radio show All Sides with Ann Fisher invited our Editor, Jinny Gudmundsen, to be a guest last Tuesday, March 10, 2015 to talk about:

 The Best Book Apps for Kids

 

Given that March is National Book Reading Month, Jinny and Ann discussed the kinds of book apps that are available and if there were any advantages to reading a book on a device versus reading one on a page. Listen here to the podcast to hear Jinny’s responses. Jinny’s interview starts at minute 17:53 and runs until minute 35:11.

Book Apps for Kids Discussed During the Interview:

 

LEONARD

Peek inside the imagination of a little boy who is looking for friends in unusual places.

To read our full review, click here

Leonard2

CINDERELLA by NOSY CROW

Refreshing version of Cinderella where the prince falls for her because she is nice. This book app makes good use of tech, including having readers tap on the characters to move the story forward.

To read our full review, click here

Cinderella-Nosy-Crow-Screen5

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD by NOSY CROW

A modern version of the classic tale where Little Red is the heroine, and she saves her granny from the wolf. The app lets you choose your own path through the woods, so when you replay it, you can experience several different endings.

To read our full review, click here.

Little-Red-by-Nosy-Crow

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK by NOSY CROW

This classic fairy tale is presented in an innovative way that blends gaming and reading so that reluctant readers will be intrigued.

To read our full review, click here.

Jack-Beanstalk

THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK…starring GROVER

Grover tries to stop kids from turning the pages of this book app in this hilarious story about overcoming your fears. This classic tale is even better as a book app in showing Grover at his paranoid best. – See more at:

To read our full review, click here.

Monster-At-End-Book

MOO, BAA, LA LA LA – by SANDRA BOYNTON

Toddlers interact with animals in this Sandra Boynton classic that is darling, whimsical, and hilarious!

To read our full review, click here.

MooBaa-Boynton

MIDDLE SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL 2: REAL FRIENDS vs. THE OTHER KIND

Second in a series of graphic novels for kids, this book app explores friendships and some of the issues that can come up, including eating disorders, disputes, being used, and other important topics.

To read our full review, click here.

Middle-School-Confidential2-1

MIDDLE SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL 3: WHAT’S UP WITH MY FAMILY?

This graphic novel explores family issues in a manner that’s meaningful to tweens and teens.

To read our full review, click here.

Middle-School-Confidential3


Editor Jinny Gudmundsen Talks Best Kid Apps with NPR’s All Sides With Ann Fisher

JinnyBio2TWK2014On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, our Editor Jinny Gudmundsen spoke on the NPR radio show All Sides with Ann Fisher. Jinny and host Ann had a lively discussion about the pitfalls of freemium apps and how to find the best apps for kids.

Jinny then shared the details about four of the top apps for kids.

 

The apps discussed were:

Elmo-Loves-You-iconElmo Loves You

A preschool app where kids snuggle up with Elmo to learn the meaning of love.

To read our full review, click here

 

Peg-Cat-icon175x175Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem

Peg and her pet Cat provide hilarious situations for kids to use logical thinking and math in rescuing the tree-climbing feline. –

To read our full review, click here

 

Kalleys-Machine-icon175x175Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats

An outrageously inventive story app where kids get hands-on time with a fantastical food-making machine. 

To read our full review, click here

 

Hoopa-City-icon175x175

Hoopa City

An adorable and easy city-building sim that rewards exploration.

To read our full review, click here

 

 

To listen to Jinny talking on Ann Fisher’s NPR show, click here.

 


How to Load Your Kid’s Tablet with High Quality Apps

Have you recently added a tablet into your kid’s life? You and your child are about to embark on a wonderful learning adventure.

From "Kiddie" app

From “Kiddie” app

If you are like most folks, you have dipped your toe into the apps marketplaces by downloading free apps. While there are some great free apps (check out our rec list: FREE and Fabulous: Top Apps for Kids), most aren’t really free. Tons of apps are masquerading as “free,” when in truth, they are making money by advertising to your child or enticing them to spend your money with in-app purchases. To learn more about how the world of freemium apps works, read our blog article here.

How to Find the Best Apps for Your Child

Think of the content you are about to put on your tablet as your child’s media diet. The key is to not fill it with junk. You want to give your kids compelling apps that are rich in fun and make them think or learn something new.

Here at Tech With Kids, we play and test thousands of apps every year, looking for the best of the best. We screen out the apps that contain:

We write reviews of the apps we love (and pen a few reviews about the ones you should avoid); and then sort them for you into helpful lists.

When selecting apps for your child, keep in mind your child’s age, interests, and the operating system of your device.

Search by Age

One way to start, is to look at the best apps recommended by age. The key to hooking a child on digital play is to find apps that are right for their developmental age. The following lists are a good place to start:

 

Search by Interests

Many kids have strong interests or preferences. As parents, we all know that we can use our child’s interests to introduce them to new things. I have a son who went through the “car and all things that go vroom” stage. If I wanted to teach him math, all I needed to do was use a bucketful of cars in the lesson. The same concept holds true with apps. And thus, we go looking for apps based on typical interests of kids. Here are some lists to check out:

 

Search by Platform

Our site reviews more apps for iOS (the operating system running the Apple devices of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, which are found in the iTunes App Store) than for Android (the operating system running app found in Google and Amazon app stores). That is because most children’s app developers release in iTunes first. Only when they reach some economic success do most children’s app developers then reprogram their apps to play on the Android system. And interestingly, when they do release in the Android marketplaces, they don’t automatically show up in both the Google and Amazon marketplaces — so make sure to search both.  And sadly, Windows tablet owners, your choices are even slimmer. 

 All of our rec lists feature iOS apps. A great list to start with is our:

 20 Best Kids Apps of 2014

That list was created at the very end of 2014, and it identifies the best of the best apps that were released in 2014. So this list gives you a way to find the most current top-rated apps. It is displayed by age, with the apps for young children listed first and the ones for older children at the end.

We have just recently created three lists that pull together the Android apps which received our highest ratings. We divided the lists by ages into:

Top Android Apps for Kids Ages 5 & Under (2015)
Best Android Apps for Kids Ages 6 to 8 (2015)
Amazing Android Apps for Kids Ages 8-up (2015)

BEST OF 2014: KIDS’ APPS, TECH TOYS, & GAMES

As the year draws to the close, we here at Tech With Kids have been busy compiling our BEST of the BEST lists. We review children’s tech products all year long, and post reviews of the ones that represent the best the industry has to offer or those that are getting a lot of buzz.

This week we named our:


Why Updating Apps Is Important: How Hoopa City went from 4 Stars to 5 STARS!

I love it when app developers listen to reviewers and their audience to make their apps better. That is exactly what happened with Hoopa City, an app we originally rated at 4 stars. Today, we upped that rating to 5 stars and here’s why.

HoopaCity1

The original Hoopa City app was a unique city-building game where kids as young as age five could play. With seven building elements dangling at the top of the screen, kids could easily decide which element would fill a square in their city grid. The app encouraged kids to explore by having them select a second element and then re-tap a square to see it morph into something new. As a consequence, Hoopa City earned our Best Pick Award; but we held back on awarding it our top rating because there were a couple of things missing.

The missing items were:

In a recent update, TribePlay addressed both of these issues by:

HoopaCity6

Because of these updates,  we changed our rating and are now excited to award Hoopa City our top rating of 5 stars. You can read our updated Hoopa City app review here.

Congratulations to the development team at TribePlay!


NPR’s Ann Fisher Talks Learning Apps with Jinny Gudmundsen

Jinny Profile2 2014Our Editor, Jinny Gudmundsen, was a guest on the NPR show All Sides with Ann Fisher on November 4, 2014 to talk about the best Learning Apps for Kids. If you want to listen in, here is the link.

You can also read  reviews of the apps talked about on the radio show by checking out our Best Picks Apps List:

 

BacktoSchool-Image20 Terrific Back to School Apps

The apps discussed on the show were:


Back to School with Apps

Back-to-School-with-Apps-Border1-700x81With kids settled into the routine of going to school and their minds switched into “learning” mode, this is a good time of the year to download some high quality learning apps to keep kids on the path of acquiring knowledge. The key to kids playing educational apps — especially at home — is to find the ones that make learning fun.

Our rec list 20 Terrific Back to School Apps does just that! On our list you will find apps that secretly teach Algebra (DragonBox Algebra 5+) and Geometry (DragonBox Elements) by putting those math concepts into progressively more difficult puzzles. There are also apps that teach the ABCs (AlphaTots, Endless Alphabet) and ones that make learning the 123s fun (Little Digits, Bugs and Buttons 2). And one that covers Preschool Learning (Leo’s Pad).

Some of the apps make Vocabulary Learning a game, such as:

But that is not all; there are also apps to teach:

We set up the list to go from the youngest users to the oldest. If you have very young children, we also have specific rec lists by ages, including:

And for kids in older grades, please use our search boxes. You can sort apps by grade. We would recommend putting in the additional search parameter of a star rating of 4 stars or up, so that your search return gives you the best apps in our database.

Do you have a favorite back to school app that we didn’t include? We would love to hear about it. Just use the comments section to add your recommendations, and please tell us why you like it.

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NPR’s ‘All Sides’ Talks Roadtrip Apps with Jinny Gudmundsen

Jinny Profile2 2014Our Editor, Jinny Gudmundsen, was a guest on the NPR show All Sides with Ann Fisher on July 29, 2014 to talk about the best Apps for Traveling Kids. If you want to listen in, here is the link.

You can also read our reviews of the apps talked about on the radio show by checking out our Best Picks Apps List:

 

Apps-For-Traveling-Kids-ListLeadApps for Traveling Kids

The apps discussed on the show were:


Four Top Kid Video Games Coming This Fall

This time of year, video game companies reveal their lineups for the fall releases at a conference called E3 and at “early look” press meetings.  So far, four titles have grabbed my attention as must-have games for families with kids. Look to nab these when they hit store shelves later this year.

Skylanders Trap Team

Releasing Oct. 5, 2014 from Activision on Nintendo Wii, Wii U, 3DS, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

 

SkylandersTrapForce

The fourth game in the mega-popular Skylanders franchise, this one continues to pioneer the use of toy figurines to bring video characters to life. When kids place a toy on a portal, the toy comes to life in the game as a playable character.

What makes it cool: All the past Skylanders games had a great story and interesting strategy and combat elements; and Skylanders Trap Team has all that. New to this adventure game is the ability to trap the villains into real toy crystals, thus removing them from the game. But even better is the option to then bring the trapped villains back into the game to do your bidding as you fight to clear out the other bad guys roaming throughout Skylands. These trapped villains have useful powers and deliver plenty of hilarious snark as they talk to you from within the toy trap when it is placed in the new Traptanium Portal.

http://www.skylanders.com/trapteam
 

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Releasing late fall, 2014 from Nintendo on Wii U

 

SuperSmashBrosWiiUWhere can you find your favorite Nintendo characters all in one place and posturing to be the biggest hero of all time? In Super Smash Bros., a battle game coming to the Wii U this holiday season. Iconic characters vie for supremacy in a king-of-the-hill-type gameplay where each character has unique combat moves in an environment rife with exciting power-ups. Joining the Nintendo gang are other video game greats such as Pac-Man, Sonic, and Mega Man.

What makes it cool: It is a riot to see beloved characters pulled out of their game environments and placed into the frenetic competition of pushing other characters off of stages. Kids can choose to play as popular characters such as Mario, Peach or Pikachu, or they can create their own fighter using their Mii. This game will also allow kids to use toy collectible characters called amiibos as a way to bring a Nintendo character into the game.

http://www.smashbros.com/us/
 

LittleBigPlanet 3

Releasing November, 2014 from Sony on PlayStation 4

LBP3

 SackBoy is back in a brand new quirky platform puzzler. Players can jump, fly, and zip through zany worlds while collecting game development pieces to build their own game levels to share with the world.

What makes it cool: Adorable SackBoy attained rock star status in 2008 when he was first knitted into LittleBigPlanet. In this third iteration, SackBoy has made new hand-stitched friends:  OddSock, a four-legged creature who can scamper and wall jump; Swoop, a bird who can fly and carry his friends over treacherous terrains; and Toggle, a woven behemoth who can switch into a tiny version of himself to travel through small crevices. This four-player game offers delightful co-op puzzling.

http://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/littlebigplanet-3-ps4
 

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved

Releasing Oct. 21, 2014 from Disney Interactive on Xbox 360 and Xbox One using Kinect

 

DisneyFantasiaBased on the treasured animated film Fantasia, this musical motion game lets players become the conductor/composer as they wave their arms to follow visual cues that appear on the screen. With a story mode about working with Scout, a former Sorcerer’s apprentice, to push back noise that has been accidentally released into 10 different realms, players explore diverse musical genres depicted in environments ranging from urban to underwater.

What makes it cool: As the new sorcerer’s apprentice, players use their bodies to remix over 30 musical scores and transform 10 different environments. The combination of wielding magic and composing music creates a powerful play experience.

http://games.disney.com/fantasia-video-game