$2.99 Ages 3-up Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars Why we like it: ABC ZooBorns turns your iPad or iPhone screen into an alphabet-themed visual encyclopedia. The photos, drawn from the growing number of royalty-free sources such as Flickr and YouTube are breathtaking. The result is an authentic presentation of letter-themed animal photos. Need to know: There was a direct link to the App store in the child menu; a feature we’ve been told has been eliminated in recent updates. Other than that, this is an another outstanding early literacy app that can leverage a child’s interest in animals to playfully introduce early language concepts.
See Children’s Technology Review’s video review here.
Ease of use: 9/10 Educational: 10/10 Entertaining: 9/10
$2.99 Ages 3-up Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars Why we like it: Fun, fast and good for building emerging math skills, Bugs and Bubbles contains 18 leveled sorting, classification games set in Uncle Bob’s Bubble Factory. The goal is to collect stickers by harvesting bubbles, requiring kids to apply skills of counting, sorting and remembering patterns in an elegant fashion. Need to know: The better you do, the greater the challenge, and progress can be saved over time on different devices. Watch a video review of this app here.
Ease of use: 10/10 Educational: 10/10 Entertaining: 10/10
$3.99 Ages 3-up Overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars Why we like it: The setting is an Old West town that is plagued by a mystery bandit who steals cookies – guess who? “Create” lets you make your own wanted poster. Need to know: The transitions are slow between pages, and there is limited support for non-readers (e.g., there is no option to touch to hear specific words).
Ease of use: 8/10 Educational: 7/10 Entertaining: 9/10
Free Ages 4-7 Overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars Why we like it: Easy to learn and play. This app lets you assemble a truck or helicopter from LEGO parts, and then steer it (by dragging your finger) over a maze to see how many points you can score. The better you do, the more parts you unlock. Need to know: It’s a free app, but be warned. The next time you head to a toy store, your kids will definitely want to buy a LEGO set of their own.
Ease of use: 9/10 Educational: 6/10 Entertaining: 9/10
$13.99 Ages 10-up Overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars Why we like it: Ready to sample from a buffet of masterfully spoken English? The Sonnets by William Shakespeare is waiting, providing you don’t mind the steep price of admission. A cast of famous actors and experts read each of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets to get your kids acquainted with the classic works. And it’s great for you too if you’ve never dived into Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet yourself. Need to know: This is a pricey app, and the content isn’t for everyone. In other words, don’t spend $14 on an app expecting that it will turn your middle-schooler into a Shakespearian actor.