Category Archives: App Reviews

Where’s Your Nose – Take 2

I love this Baby Play Face app today just as much as I did 4 years ago. The first time I showed Jude the app, he kept kissing the baby on the screen. The next time we played it, he started exploring his own face:

In the latter part of the video, we played iPad in the kitchen away from all of his other toys. Even so, he ditched us after a few short minutes. I’ve noticed that Jude loses interest in the iPad so much faster than Stella did at his age. Hmmm…to be continued.

Finger Dexterity – Take 2

Jude turned one last month, and we’re ready to start Take 2! Stella and I spent a few minutes last Saturday introducing Jude to some of her favorite baby apps. We started with Color Dots by Ellie’s Games, which is an easy game to show cause and effect while practicing finger dexterity.

This post is not geared toward an app review; it’s a no-brainer for a baby’s first iPad app. I was more interested in whether or not Jude would approach the iPad differently than Stella did at his age. He didn’t paw as much with his hand, but he did use both hands more frequently. Jude may have taken a little more time to process each time the dots multiplied, but he picked it up pretty quickly. The dots were actually set to a bigger size this time, but ultimately the experiences were similar.

I did, however, notice a difference in their environments. Jude had more distracting elements mixed into his space (including a big sister). When I reviewed apps with Stella, I made a point to clear away toys–and food!–to help her focus on the new task. Our session ended with Jude playing with the case/stand, which he promptly abandoned when he spotted some unattended Cheerios (see video).

Take #2!

It’s been almost 3 years since I first introduced Stella to the iPad. She will be 4 years old this month! We continue to have successes with many other early learning apps since I’ve last posted to this blog. Her current favorites include LetterSchool, and PBS Kids.

I’ll soon have the wonderful opportunity to take my son down the same path. Hold on to your little brothers because he’s going digital, baby!
kiddos

Word Wagon

Duck Duck Moose did it again! Their apps continue to make our list of favorites. Today we played Word Wagon for the first time. This app is going to be so helpful for learning letters and recognizing words. It includes 4 levels to grow with your child: Letters, Phonics, Spelling I, and Spelling II. (In the video we did phonics.) Each word you spell gets added to your wagon and posted on your sticker board. After 3 words matched in a row, you get to play a star matching game to create the outline of a mystery animal. Super fun!

It will be really interesting to see how Word Wagon will help Stella with her ABCs in the next few weeks. Here is where she is currently at with her numbers and letters, as demonstrated with the Oscar’s Balloons apps. She can count to 10, but she almost always skips the number 8. She can recognize about 5-10 letters from the alphabet:

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Update: She *knows* her ABCs. See Epilogue.

Learn. Grow. Repeat.

I’ve had a lot of traffic lately from other moms looking for app reviews, which is really fun for me! I love getting in touch with other parents this way! The excitement made me consider devoting more of my posts exclusively to app reviews. However, I realized that there are already other sites that do a really great job of this; plus, it would derail me from my original purpose, which focuses specifically on one child’s digital journey between 12-24 months.

Anyway, that sums up the reason why I continue to post videos for apps that we’ve already reviewed. If an app has the ability to grow with a child, I think that process deserves a showcase, too! It’s a testament to both the child and the app. Here are two apps that we’ve revisited or re-purposed lately:

Virtuoso Piano 2 HD
Stella loves to sing; her favorite song is “Twinkle Little Star.” I figured out how to play the song, so I decided to see if I could teach her the notes—or at least see how long she would retain interest during the lesson. It was fun! I think she understands that each of those keys produces a different sound, so with a little repetition, I think she’ll become more aware that there is an order in which to play [touch] them. It’s fun to see what she thought of this app just 7 months ago.

Tappie Colorit:
We reviewed this app a month ago. At that time, I noted that she couldn’t do a lot of the games in this app (or maybe just didn’t have any interest). Either way, she is becoming a lot more independent with many of the app’s tasks now. She rarely needs my help when putting the right shapes into the right silhouettes. This app has been a perfect partner for her as she refines her visual-spatial awareness.

Learning Colors and Shapes

A few months ago, Kids iPhone App Review suggested that we might like the Tappie Colorit app by ADUK GmbH/Zanymation ($.99). At the time, Stella was 15 months, so she was still a little too young for the concepts. Now that she’s 18+ months, she has become much more successful with this app—although there are some parts that are still too advanced for her. We mostly stick to the “cars” game. Each time we play, she always picks the red car first, regardless of whether it starts on the top, middle, or bottom. Hmmm…

Overall, this is a very good, educational app for young kids. I like Zanymation’s philosophy: “All the games and books in the series are outlined by colorful, but calm palette that does not overload child’s nervous system. In general we aim to help your child develop the following skills: fine motor fingers coordination, attention, comparing objects, logic, grouping by shape and color.”

Little Letters / Little Numbers

I downloaded the Little Letters app from Mobile Merge several months ago, but Stella hated playing it so I forgot all about it. She accidentally launched it again the other day, and now it’s her favorite one! I think it’s a great one for all ages—little ones like to hear the different sounds and touch the squares, while older kids can practice their letters and numbers. My 4 year-old nephew is in town this week, and we had fun trying to guess which letter was showing with only a few of the squares revealed.

Because I downloaded the Little Letters app several months ago, it has since had a name change to ABC Preschool Alphabet and is now $.99, but I still think it is worth the money. Also, its counterpart, Little Numbers, functions in the same way and is still free.

Top Baby Apps on Our iPad 2

It’s been about six nine months since Stella has been using the iPad actively, so I compiled a list of our favorite apps so far. Also, check out Kids iPhone App Review for more ideas on iPad and iPhone apps for a broader age range.

Itsy Bitsy Spider – $1.99
This one is worth the money. She plays this for a very long time. The graphics are very good, and there’s always something new for her to discover. You can record yourself singing the song, too! (Many other apps are available by Duck Duck Moose. We also have Old MacDonald.)
See my video review…


Monkey Preschool Lunchbox – $.99
This is her all-time favorite app. She’s not very good at it because it is designed for older kids, but it doesn’t stop her from trying. (Monkey Math School Sunshine is now available, too!)
See my video review…


Oscar’s 1-10 Balloons – $.99
This is also a really good one. She gets very proud of herself when she finishes each set. Plus, I think this one helped her learn how to count to 10 by 18 months. (Also check out Oscar’s Alphabet Song.)
See my video review…


My First Words – FREE (limited categories)
We like this one a lot for vocabulary flash cards, but I’m not sure if it’s still available.
See my video review…




Animal Sounds – $.99
She likes to hear all of the animal sounds. She tries to repeat them in her own voice, which is very cute.
See my video review…


Color Dots – FREE
She gets bored with this now, but when she first discovered it, she was very into this game. When she’d pop all of the bubbles, she’d look at me for approval and then keep going with the next set. It has since been updated so you can change the speed and size of the dots as your child develops more dexterity. The developer also offers a Color Square game, which wasn’t as appealing to Stella entering toddler stage, but it could be good for infants.
See my video review…

PlayBabyFace – FREE
This is a cute one for learning the parts of the face in multiple languages.
See my video review…



Baby-Silencer – FREE
This is really fun for a baby 6-12 months. There isn’t a lot to it; colors and lights respond to touch. There is no audio in the free version, but Stella still liked this one a lot at that age.
See my video review…


Baby ASL HD – $1.99
This app is good if you are serious about signing with your baby. The flow isn’t that great when you use it, but the videos of the people signing are great.
See my video review…


SignShine – Free (limited songs)
Stella LOVES singing the songs included in this app because she gets so entranced by the woman signing. You get “Itsy Bitsy Spider” for free, and you can get 10 more songs for $2.99.
See my video review…


Tappie Colorit – $.99
As Stella has transitioned into toddler-hood, she has gravitated more toward this app for learning shapes and colors.
See my video review…


ABC Preschool Alphabet – $.99
This app was hit or miss—some days she LOVED it, and other days she wanted nothing to do with it. It’s probably a good one to have and keep trying as your child grows through different stages.
See my video review…

Others that we use a lot but haven’t specifically posted a review include:

Sing and Sign with SignShine

Someone suggested that I try this SignShine app with Stella to sign with music. The iPad app is free to download, and it includes one free song (Itsy Bitsy Spider). For $2.99, you can get a package of 10 additional children’s songs. The woman in the video is Etel Leit, whose gorgeous smile seems to extend right down to her hands. She is a great teacher.

Stella caught on very quickly, and I’m tempted to get the 10-pack. I’ve actually seen other moms/caregivers use similar actions while singing songs to Stella (even in Nursery last Sunday!), but Stella seemed to be more engaged in this video format. Then again, anything transmitting from her beloved iPad is gold.

(Dedicated to Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011)

Calling All App Developers

The secret to a good app is good MUSIC!