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  Lvl 6 - Master

Valerie M.

Status: Beta reviewer - Video Reviewer

Categories of apps she/he wants to review: Books - Education - Entertainment - Games - Lifestyle - Photography - Productivity - Utilities - Other

iDevices she/he owns: iPad1- iPad3- iPhone5

Description: I am a SAHM who demonstrates and instructs teachers, OT's and SLP's on technology. My husband is a quadriplegic with a background in computer programming & our daughter has CP but is very bright. We are always looking for innovative apps that are engaging & fun to use. We have eager kids of all ages to work with as we expand iOS use in rural MS.

Profile categories: Can test apps with kids ages 0-2 - Can test apps with kids ages 3-5 - Can test apps with kids ages 6-10 - Can test apps with kids ages over 10 - Teaching kids ages 3-5 - Teaching kids ages 6-10 - Teaching kids ages over 10 - Special education teacher or AT (Assistive Tech.) specialist - Homeschooler - SLP - OT - Educational Technology specialist

Date when her/his profile was validated: 2012-10-01

User who invited him/her: Jean-Eudes L.

Total review Karma: + 23     ?

Each time a developer thinks a review from a reviewer is useful, he give to this reviewer +1 in review Karma. The more Karma a reviewer has, the better her/his reviews are assessed!


Her/His app reviews

Cinderella : 3D Pop-up Fairy Tale v1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Cinderella: 3D Pop-up Fairy Tale has engaging animated pop ups to allow young readers to be engaged and actually interact with the book characters. It gave a great opportunity to work on fine motor skills as well as some critical thinking by problems solving and manipulating objects.
Improvements Definitely hope future updates include text highlighting for emergent readers, ability to touch and hear a single word, as well as access to definitions of words no preschoolers I know understand, like pretentious, arrogant, profound or earnest. While I like that the vocabulary is not dumbed down, several parents I knew could not help their child understand those concepts as they struggled themselves.
General review We enjoyed Cinderella: 3D Pop-up Fairy Tale with engaging animated pop ups. It was a great opportunity to work on fine motor skills as well as problem solving and manipulating objects. While I like that the vocabulary is not dumbed down, some parents could not help their child with a couple words well beyond a preschooler's vocabulary. Used independently, after not understanding 2 words early, a 6 yr old simply flipped to the activity pages.

Treasure Kai and the Seven Cities of Gold [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked We all loved the professional narration of this app! The graphics were stunning and the interactions intuitive. Being actively engaged in the travel that the story took was especially fun.The option to scramble the chests gives the story infinite opportunity for customization. There are an amazing number of opportunities to explore beyond the book, including lesson plans, through the additional activities and links.
Improvements I love that the bubble narrations are all highlighted in chunks, however I was disappointed that the larger text on text only pages is not highlighted. It would be nice for struggling readers to have all text highlight available throughout, whether by word or phrase. It would be nice to add an option to read continuously for children with significant physical disabilities.
General review This book will delight and engage readers of all ages. My husband and I enjoyed listening to the excellent narration as much as our daughter did. I would like to see improvements in being able to highlight text throughout. Additionally it would be nice if the book had the option to read continuously for children with motor disabilities.

Math Summoner [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Math Summoner uses vivid color and arcade style game play to work players through various levels of math challenges. As the player progresses, there are more challenges to navigate and quicker response times needed to progress to higher levels. By interweaving geometry basics and rudimentary math skills, the player is challenged without being bored. Another big plus is data collection and ability to email data for tracking progress.
Improvements Directions in the initial tutorial are clear, but unless the player is a true gamer/explorer, higher level tools and tasks are far less clear. There are unclear expectations for clearing a level or what skills are covered on a given level. Some futuristic fonts are tougher for kids with reading problems. Tips for each level would be helpful, pointing out new tools, rewards and penalties. We occasionally experienced touch recognition lags.
General review I rate this app high for user engagement &ability to improve & expand math skills by offering new tasks & challenges. There are no In-App-Purchases, only mild violence, & no social networking. Vivid graphics were a plus, but some fonts were harder to read. The game could benefit from more tips as it is not intuitive for non-gamers. We had some touch recognition lags. A wide range of users can benefit from ages 7 & up, even adults!

SirMania - Play & Learn v1.1 [text] [video]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This app really kept the attention of the first child I worked with, a six-year-old boy who usually has a short attention span. He enjoyed the tasks, the challenge, and having to look around. It helps spark his curiosity, but kept him on task nicely. He enjoyed the pictures/drawings and sound effects.
Improvements The two children I used this with struggle to understand the reverberating speech at times. Neither of them discovered the feature that the Owl would repeat task. Both of them had challenges at times wanting to exit a task and not having any way to do that. There was no way to access the menu after the start until you completed all tasks. My video review contains extensive comments on areas I would like to see enhanced, but especially things that would make it more user or task specific like being able to select the numbers or animals to work on. The app crashed several times on my iPad 1.
General review Most children were very engaged by the pictures, sounds & tasks & the way they moved along. There was some frustration comprehending speech, & one child did not know what a weasel was, so he had a difficult time finding it at first. A child with ADHD struggled with the slow appearance of searched animals in one scene and got so distracted that they never returned to task. No exit was found & they never found the task repeater via the owl.
First 5 minutes video review
Video review once the app was mastered

Splash Money [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked All I can say is Wow! We love the depth and scope of this app. It was amazing to test it on adults and kids and find unknown weak areas on adults who struggle with basic money-handling and budgeting. It is a great go-to app to engaged kids learning to manage money at all levels beginning with basic coin ID, clear graphics, and appreciated audio feedback. We love being able to get results emailed and on the spot percentages for observing current progress. I like that it focuses on struggling areas and will get people back to reinforce weak areas. I am glad music and audio can be turned on or off in case they are needed or a distraction. I tested it with a deaf 12 year old who has struggled and school has "written off" on money skills, but over a three day, hour a day play session, we saw her skills and interest improves daily and she actually did not want to quit.
Improvements I would like to be able to save user info and select a user from a list of previous players. If its there, I missed it.
Selecting task sometimes is tough as box moves without being selected making access tough for kids with fine motor problems.
Incorporate the word subtract to say "Subtract to find the difference." (to reinforce concept presented)
Would be nice to have request be able to cover coins or in a screen preceding (as an option?) for kids distracted and with attention issues.
Timing to complete tasks in reports.
More clear expectation of what "completes" a round/task/game. (progress bar in addition to %)
Arranging coins would be nice in a row below instead of problems springing back if not dropped right.
Workspace would be nice for who has more money for kids with memory problems and ADHD.
Add more problems on change making with multiple options to solve to promote cashiering skills.
Add an option to have coins or values on touch announced to help when asking "how much money is there to help struggling learners.
Ability to count out loud as learner touches coins &/or errorless learning by only highlighting numbers as specific coins are counted to build confidence.
Offer of hints in word problem toy purchases (to add)
Maybe needing a practice area for more extended practice with different coin combinations in addition to teaching and testing sections or within teaching?
Ability to design own problems to comply with worksheets.
Settings should have an option to be simple password protected.
Would be a nice build up to an app where you can select tasks to earn money to learn how to budget for things you want, both short term and long term.
General review There is a tremendous need for this app, not just for kids, but adults without solid money handling skills. Most of the people I tried this with had some problems understanding overall operations, but were very invested in improving and in practicing skills. The audio and visual feedback are engaging and yet re-teaching in the test (Maybe needing more and varied practice in addition to or within teaching section?) would be beneficial.

Wubbzy's The Night Before Christmas [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked We really like this app, for the wide scope of activities and reinforcers. We especially loved the errorless painting and puzzle components that allowed of kids with physical disabilities to work on their motor skills. Kids liked being able to explore or just have the book read to them. Having three levels of reading was great and being able to select specific words to hear them repeated was a nice benefit. The graphics were entertaining and the interactivity was fun. The options and ability to control the environment were well-managed as well.
Improvements I am always looking to see how books can become more universally accessible to kids with disabilities, especially more significant disabilities. It would be nice if the read to feature would have the option of continuous reading so that a child who cannot control the motor patterns can still have access to the full story read continuously. There were some pages touching any star produced a response, but not on the green background Santa page, and that upset some kids. Consistency of response seemed expected.
General review Wubbzy is a hit with kids of all abilities! We especially loved errorless painting & puzzle activities that allowed even kids with physical disabilities to play & explore. Having 3 levels of reading was great & being able to select specific words to hear them repeated. It would be nice if the read to feature included continuous reading. Consistency of response would help. Overall, engaging graphics & interactivity made kids want to play more.

Simplex Spelling Phonics - Advanced Phonograms [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is an amazing app for in-depth work on phonics with multiple spell modes and keyboards with excellent visual cues for help and correction. This app has an extensive list of phonemes and using lesser known homophones in sentences not only teaches spelling, but increases vocabulary.
Improvements Noted sluggish start on iPad1.
Enrollment should capitalize the user name.
It would be nice if keyboard choice was offered after naming user.
Voice options would be helpful. This has been least appreciated teaching voice. FWIW, ironically, my kids like British voices.
Kids were easily lost in homophones of lesser known words, however, and presence or option of presence of reminder of goal would help after a miss.
Ability to create or reorder own lists for groups fitting classroom materials.
Ability to exit or skip a group from lesson intro page
Ability to email or print res
General review This is an amazing app for in-depth work on phonics with multiple spell modes and keyboards with excellent visual cues for help and correction. This app has an extensive list of phonemes and using lesser known homophones in sentences not only teaches spelling, but increases vocabulary. While there is room for enhancement primarily in customization, this is a very useful educational tool.

Kirin Wars [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Kirin Wars had great graphics that loaded smoothly even on an original iPad. There was great documentation to help understand the way the game plays. Lots of choices and opportunity for advancement. When given to gamer teens, they easily hung on to the concept and moved through with eagerness.
Improvements Ability to rotate screen. Current fixed rotation places volume buttons on stands, messing with volume.
There was great documentation to help understand the way the game plays, but it was almost overwhelming to the novice gamer A talk through demo mode might be more useful.
Think it is more a 12+ game in my experience, if not by elements, by comprehension. I had no success with this game in the under 12 set, mostly boys, all with some RPG experience. Teen and young adult gamers we far less frustrated and less likely to get lost.
General review Kirin Wars has great graphics that load smoothly and play well on all devices There is great documentation, but a walk through demo might start newbies and younger players better than extensive reading. We had volume issues with screen orientation when on side with volume control. People most interested were teen and young adult players with moderate to high previous experience in RPG's.

RexNFoodbot [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked App has engaging graphics and challenging games. The mini lessons on nutrition can be conversation starters or launch pads to research on how our food helps us grow and stay healthy. I love games and apps trying to teach healthier eating and better choices.
Improvements Ability to play in untimed mode. I thought it was just me, but all the kids that played with it struggled in some games; most eventually gave up.
Text to speech to read lessons before games and more legible font to enhance literacy and clarify lesson goal.
I'd recommend only throwing junk food against the desired items; throwing out healthy food sends the wrong message.
Game #6 was seriously too hard for most kids; took over an hour for the two who finally got 6 in 90 seconds. I won't tell you how long it took me. ☹
General review Nice app to get you thinking about food and nutrition, but more a game, not always sending the best message. This could be a five star app by reading game instructions, only deflecting junk food, and either adding an untimed feature or revising game #6. I want badly to rate it higher, but the frustration level keeps me from doing so.

Christmas Karaoke: Christmas Carols & Christmas Songs vers 1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Easy to read print, clear background. Music is clear and full. Nice range of songs. History of songs before playing musical video was informative and educational; unique compared to similar apps. Singing with the choir will get you in the Christmas spirit!
Improvements Ability to rotate screen. , landscape seems more appropriate with excess black above and below video scroll
Several songs are acapella, no background music present for traditional karaoke experience.
Words sliding instead of highlighting whole word is annoying.
Credits text lost in upper snowflake border.
Credits link takes you to a mixed language page.
Not many songs for price.
Really a sing along, not karaoke; some songs have lead present others only the harmony.
General review Nice app to get you in the Christmas spirit, but a bit overpriced for only 16 songs. This is really a sing along app more than karaoke. Some songs were acapella with no background music (choir only), some had lead absent, but most were fully sung. Would be nice to rotate screen to landscape instead of dead space above and below lyrics. I personally prefer whole word highlighting over sliding highlight. App was nice, but not what I expected.

Present A Choice [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This app has great potential to open the door at a reasonable cost to present children with picture choices and basic texts. Programming is straightforward and self-explanatory. The ability to take a picture, grab from the camera roll or photo library, or choose a stock photo is another perk.
Improvements -- It would be nice to see all choices in a single screen and being able to resize those images.
-- It would be nice to choose font and size for low vision kids.
-- Being able to record methods would be a definite enhancement.
-- Being able to choose background color and text and text background color would help visual learners.
-- Not having to scroll would help kids with more severe motor impairments.
-- An option for press and hold to edit would expedite editing on-the-fly.
General review Giving children choices is very empowering. Being able to personalize those choices with your own text and pictures increases a child's ability to identify and adapt. The app give a great start, for future considerations should include a fixed screen without scrolling, customization with colors and fonts, as well as recordable voice.

SociaLink 1.0.1 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Socialink is a simple way to connect two app users for up to four social networks with a single connection after both devices are set up. The guided set up is simple and straightforward on an easy to read screen.Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn all allow sign up as well as login for existing users while Instagram only allows log in and password reminder.
Improvements --Since the first three social media offer sign up, it would be nice if Instagram did too.
--Would be helpful to remind that both devices need to be on same WiFi.
--The email button was non-functional, there needs to be either more info in error or for usage.
--Twice I could not correct input text and although the magnification bubble appeared.
--An x to clear data in the field would be nice.
--Pairing was not as seamless as expected, first time connection wheel spun endlessly.
--if you offer to link a media the other does not have, it spins endlessly with no message about stall.
General review Great concept, buggy development. The biggest thing to remember is both people have to have the app installed, so it has to be a massive adoption to be useful. Email option and better transfer reminders will help. Helpful links to Facebook and Twitter from within.

The Friendly Ogre [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked I liked this story because it could be enjoyed on so many levels. It was well told with graphics that could appeal to everything except the very youngest of readers. It is a story that can be shared as a teaching tool as a child grows and understands concepts from imaginary thinking to stereotyping and keeping an open mind. It was well received by people of both sexes and all ages.
Improvements The only enhancements I can truly recommend would be an option to have standardized print for people with visual disabilities or dyslexia as well as an option to highlight as read out loud. Some people may want another music option, but we were pleased with this one.
General review After 3 years with an iPad, I rarely feel that an app is truly worth five-stars. Most people will recommend this for children 8-12, but I liked this so much that I presented it to both sexes, ages 6-55 and everyone got something positive out of it. My daughter's 30-year-old aide even read it as a literacy tool for both her and her eight-year-old daughter with ADHD; all thoroughly enjoyed it! It's a well told tale with lessons on every level.

Baby Phone [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked I thought the colors were bright and vibrant and the tones for the phone were clear and pleasing. The app was engaging and highly interactive. It was nice being able to personalize the experience with the picture of your choosing, and motivating for a child to see themselves, although I am uncertain what a Bub is.
Improvements I must say that I was very disappointed that there was no seeming cause-and-effect between touching the shaking numbers and or "speed dial graphic images" at the top. I was also disappointed the ads covered song names (which weren't really nursery rhymes in many cases. I must also say that I am puzzled as to why fruit make animal sounds. I think that is very confusing, especially to the target audience, preschoolers.
General review It was nice this app allowed a personalized picture, either taken or from library. it is slightly appealing with pretty screens & piano tones, and yet I was disappointed. There is poor cause-and-effect between fruit pictures and the corresponding animal sounds. Advertising blocked song names and was too accessible to exploring fingers. Songs were not nursery rhymes, but general kids songs. Potential for growth and improvement is there.

Meet the Insects: Village Edition (1.0.0) [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked I like the detailed pictures, videos, and quiz sections to this app. It is well narrated and rich in interactivity. You learn about the insects (flies, cicada, butterflies, moths, beetles, ladybugs, grasshoppers and crickets) in their natural environment and sounds and sights can be experienced as night or day.
Improvements I could not find the plus for the more detail view in the bug search screen. It would be nice to have volume control over the music or ability to turn it off. It would be nice to directly access other orders directly from their icons in the lower right of home page instead of having to go through in order. It would be nice to turn off the time function in the quiz section for kids who are slow readers or processors.
General review This is a very educational, engaging, and well-developed app for teaching and testing children about a wide range of insects and their characteristics and lives. It can be used as a teaching/reading app for younger students, and fully explored and used by older elementary kids. I found it interesting and informative and learned more than a few things myself.

PUZZINGO Puzzles (Pro Edition) – Animated Kid’s Puzzles [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Puzzingo Pro offers multiple engaging, boldly colored puzzles in a wide range of entertaining and educational themes. Strong auditory feedback and optional music are augmented with scene interactivity and animations. With the advantage of being able to be contained in a single download eligible for the educational discount and promises of future educational and entertainment themes, there is strong potential for continued growth and development.
Improvements Since special needs kids are one of the target groups, it would be very helpful to have additional settings to improve use & interaction for them. A proximity setting to make it easier for kids working on developing fine motor control & drag & drop skills. An ability to alter sound effects; explosion sound often exacerbates a startle reflex in kids with CP; a soft musical jingle or recordable sound option would be great. A setting to limit how many objects are placed before moving to game portions would be nice for kids with short attention spans, motor planning problems, and visual issues.
General review This app is directly aimed at the early education/mild special needs market with benefits in volume purchasing and promise of future development. A wide range of engaging puzzles with strong vocabulary/auditory feedback allow children to work on some core concepts and motor skills while being entertained.

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp 1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp is a delightful tale told with beautiful, colorful language and gorgeous illustrations. When the music plays it is soft and exotic, and sound effects from moving props are realistic. The text is highly readable and navigation with the doves in either lower corner is simple.
Improvements I was disappointed that the text could not be read out loud, and subsequently, could not be highlighted. Struggling readers would definitely benefit from those features. I was also disappointed that many of the graphics did not animate, such as the dancing scene. It would be wonderful if there were settings to turn the music on or off, and that the music could play throughout if desired. If there were settings, being able to turn the speech and highlighting on and off would also be very helpful.
General review I liked the high quality graphics and text. I was disappointed by the inability to have the book read or highlighted for struggling readers, and found the inconsistencies in music disconcerting. It would be nice to have settings with that as well as to turn the music on or off totally. Additional animations appropriate to the page would add depth. For example, seeing the couple waltz on the dancing page. Lots of room for growth!

The Lonely Beast ABC [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Kids loved the graphics in this app as well as interacting with it. The drums and lights were very popular (almost too much) as well as the zoo animals. Being able to tap on a letter or word to repeat it was nice, too. Sounds were authentic and animations engaging. Every page was interactive, making kids excited to explore.
Improvements The kids who played with this loved it the first time and liked it the second and third, but rarely played a fourth time. Considering that, $2.99 is a little high. A few technical notes, I think the xylophone is reversed; I I think the largest is the lowest in reality. Also, kids asked what zed was; I think that is a British or Aussie pronunciation. Finally, there might be a higher return rate if you could directly navigate to a specific letter.
General review Although slightly overpriced, engaging graphics and creative interactivity on every screen make this an appealing app. Being able to repeat letters and sounds help new learners and play is highly motivating. The xylophone needs to be reversed and z changed from zed to z in American version. A letter navigation screen would be very helpful, too. Still, kids liked it a lot at least 2 or 3 times.

flippi memo v1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Kids loved the bright and vibrant graphics in this app. Not having to remember where cards were made it easier for them, but kind of defeated the purpose of memory improvement. It was a great app for kids with disabilities to work on finger isolation and dragging without penalty.
Improvements The kids who played with this liked it the first time and some played it a second and third time, but rarely played a fourth time. Considering that, $1.99 is a little high. This would be more popular if there was a setting to automatically turn cards back over after a pair was not made. Another future enhancement would be additional matrices, from 2x2 to 6x6.
General review Kids loved the bright and vibrant graphics in this app. Not having to remember where cards were made it easier for them, but kind of defeated the purpose of memory improvement. Good app for kids with disabilities to work on motor skills. Slightly overpriced without additional features, like perhaps adding a setting to automatically turn cards back over after a pair was not made and perhaps additional matrices, ranging from 2x2 to 6x6.

Matryoshka! deluxe [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is a fun and extensive app; colorful and engaging! For $0.99 you will have hours of play; working on sequencing, motor planning, number order and so much more. This is a child and family friendly app with no in-app distractions or purchases and a child can explore various themes independently or with a parent.
Improvements Both myself and all the kids who played with it had no real complaints. I would guess it could be more educational if after correctly stacking a doll, the completed character was named/identified. Or, you could add an art component for older kids to design their own nesting set.
General review Kids, young and old will enjoy the brilliant graphics, fun themes, and just good old fashioned play. Kids with disabilities can work on motor skills and kids will learn concentration and critical thinking, sorting and ordering while having fun. Well worth the $0.99, it could grow to identify completed dolls or adding a design component. In short, we loved it!

Cutie Monsters-Jigsaw Puzzles [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is a colorful and educational app that is sure to catch the eye of the little ones it is designed for. Being able to read silently or touching for text allows different formats for presentation while the opportunity to do jigsaw puzzles encourages motor play and problem solving for toddlers. As a parent I am always grateful to see no social media links, advertisements, or other unwanted distractions.
Improvements I have struggled rating this since it is cute, but I feel the base price of $2.99 is high. It is worth the $.99 sale price. Since we cannot give half stars, I only give it 3 because it is limited and has some goals that are above its target audience. For example, a toddler will not be able to read independently. I think it would be good to have an option to read the whole page and demonstrate the numbers as the number is touched (i.e. flashing the number's target trait, or counting them as a child touched each object relevant to the number). Also, guidance in puzzles, such as dotted line
General review I like this app for its educational content and engaging graphics and lack of social media links. There is a lot to explore and learn, but it is overpriced at the regular price of $2.99, and the good value at $.99. Adding options to have the whole page read, doing a counting presentation for the numeracy, and dotted lines for puzzle piece placement would make it worth the full price and better suited to its young audience.

Simply Missy:Shopping Adventure [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is a colorful and educational game that is sure to catch the eye of the little ones it is designed for. Arcade style games are simple and realistic; encouraging play and problem solving for young children. There are great opportunities for kids with and without disabilities to work on motor skills and learn about rudimentary physics. As a parent I am always grateful to see no social media links, advertisements, or other unwanted distractions. This game is easily worth the $.99 price since it can provide hours of entertainment and skill building.
Improvements I would like to be able to return to a game. Right now, if you go to another app, you must start over. I would also like to add a setting to be able to be given a verbal cue as to what to do for what result instead of only exploring since the iTunes store descriptions mentions games easy enough for a toddler. It would be nice if the doll's hair and ethnicity could be tailored to the child's choosing. It would also be neat to have a companion app or character with a boy or tomboy since the arcade games would be equally appealing to a boy with the right character.
General review I like this game for its emphasis on motor skills, teaching basic physics, and engaging graphics. There is a lot to explore and learn, and it is a good value at $.99. Adding options to have oral directions for young players or those with cognitive deficits, ability to customize character hair and ethnicity and even additional characters would only enhance the value of this app. Kids of many ages will enjoy this.

Finding the Way Home [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is a delightful educational story and games that is sure to catch the eye of young learners and pre-readers. Spelling games are simple and realistic; encouraging play and problem solving for young children. There are great opportunities for kids with and without disabilities to work on motor skills and learn about rudimentary physics. As a parent I am always grateful to see no social media links, advertisements, or other unwanted distractions. This game is easily worth the $.99 price since it can provide hours of entertainment and skill building.
Improvements I would like to be able to adjust the pace of the bubbles for kids with motor problems. On the fruits and vegetable page, displaying items as spoken would help kids who are not familiar with specific items. On the tree with words page, it would help to speak words as they were touched to reinforce or teach unfamiliar words. Leaving question up longer or until word is found would help struggling learners. On alphabet bridge, singing letter in addition to playing tone would be reinforcing as would touching letter you are to drag.
General review I like this game for its emphasis on motor skills, reading skills, and engaging story and graphics. There is a lot to explore and learn, especially with new content if you choose to repeat pages, making it is a very good value at $.99 There is room for enhancements and reinforcements in game areas, but the game is solid in academic presentation. Beginning and pre-readers will enjoy this. If I could give half stars, it would be 4.5. :-)

The Miracles of Jesus [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked We love this app! There are so many things, it's tough to know where to begin. :-) It is great to be able to adjust the volumes of three separate components. The graphics are exceptional and it is great to be able to see the text highlighted even with the professional reading. Being able to touch a word and have it highlighted and spoken is an additional benefit. The errorless coloring is amazing for kids with physical disabilities. The additional activities are engaging and provide hours of productive learning. At $2.99 it is an exceptional value!
Improvements We found no bugs or problems in reviewing this app. Future enhancements would include highlighting the text in the trivia, being able to say the word or letter after you trace it in the activities to reinforce spelling and reading would be nice. Additional accessibility accommodations would include the ability to scale fonts and to visually flash page turn arrow as a cue when recorded voice has completed reading.
General review This is a great app, and we really enjoyed it! It is an exceptional value providing strong literacy and learning opportunities. With clear text and graphics as well as study materials and activities, it is well-rounded. I look forward to additional apps by this company and the opportunity to share them with friends.

Live Puzzle! Forest Animals [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is free? Wow! Great critical thinking/fine motor skill puzzle app that teaches about animals, too! Multiple levels, multiple languages, , engaging graphics with lively animation, and lots of puzzles will keep kids busy for a long time. There's even a hidden surprise if you complete all the puzzles in the highest level.
Improvements Seriously? I love it! Maybe music choices or little story blurbs about animals and where they come from or an option to see the name in other languages to give kids a start in additional languages. You could offer an option to add sounds for correct placement or visual prompts after inactivity.prompts
General review Live Puzzle! Forest Animals is an excellent free app! It is engaging with rich, engaging animations and graphics. The multiple skill levels and multiple language choices have broad appeal and opportunity for skill building. Complete with a bonus puzzle for highest level completion, this app is sure to provide hours of entertainment! I don't give 5 stars easily, but this is a must for young children's iPads! (Parents might enjoy it, too!)

Spellyfish - Short A Words (v1.0.0) [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Children will truly enjoy working with Spellyfish to learn their short a & CVC sounds toward spelling. By offering data trackable word pairings with illustrations in context, parents can follow their child's progress. It would work well for special needs children as well since there are so many prompts as well as a larger keyboard for children with motor impairments. It is great that the statistics are easy to view, save or email for further evaluation. Having no social media links was another big plus.
Improvements Obviously being confined to only the short letter a sound is a pretty small fraction of short words. It would be nice if there was an expansion to work on additional pairings or move onto the long a sound. Being able to create your own keyboard layout would be good for children with disabilities as well as being able to work on different sizes of text.
General review Spellyfish is a delightful application that engages young learners in improving their phonics and spelling abilities through an interactive short a combination CVC pattern spelling. High-quality audio and visual prompts as well as data tracking make this program very useful to parents and teachers alike. The only shortcoming is it's limitation to the short letter a sound in CVC pairs. Not having social media present or in app purchases is a plus.

Wubbzy's Puzzles [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The folks at Cupcake Digital have created an engaging multi-level puzzle app for Wubbzy fans. This is a fun app; colorful and engaging for kids of varying motor abilities! Making problem solving fun, it provided hours of play; working on motor skills and problem solving, or just plain fun. Twelve unique puzzles with three levels of difficulties, enough to keep interest to come back for more! Additionally, on the iPad, the screen is large enough that kids with disabilities have good access to accomplish drags successfully.
Improvements This is a free app, so I am generally very pleased with the fun and engaging offerings. I wish all the passcode protected areas (more apps, for parents, and options buttons were hidden under a singular button to reduce areas to distract kids. Another option could be removing the background visual cues to add another layer of difficulty. All in all, though, the app is solid as it is.
General review This is a fun app; colorful and engaging for kids of varying abilities! Twelve puzzles with 3 levels of difficulty. Best, on the iPad, the screen is large enough that kids with disabilities have good access to drag successfully. I do wish all the passcode protected areas (more apps, for parents, and options buttons) were hidden under a singular button to reduce areas to distract kids. All in all, the app is solid value free app.

Math Mathews : Mental Math 1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Math Mathews: Mental Math is an engaging math and arcade action game app for learners of many abilities. This is a nice educational app; multilevel math interspersed with arcade action to motivate reluctant learners to advance through math skills. Making problem solving fun, it provided hours of play; working on motor skills and problem solving. Nine levels of play with four levels of difficulties allows kids (and adults!) to work on math skills on a broad scale. It is great that there are no IAPs, ads, or social media links.
Improvements Images in starting are very slow to load on my iPad3. It would be nice if there was an untimed mode for questions and a way to slow games for kids with disabilities. Also, it would be nice to have an option to toggle off the reading passages or have them be able to be read out loud and highlight text for younger players. There is an online logbook to track progress, but it would be helpful if there was a way to generate parent/teacher reports online or via email like so many other apps.
General review This is an educational and fun app; strong math lessons and arcade fun mixed together. Nine levels of play with 4 levels of difficulty. It is great that there are no IAPs, ads, or social media links. There is an online logbook to track progress, but it would be helpful if there was a way to generate parent/teacher reports online or via email like so many other apps. Kids will enjoy working on addition and subtraction skills while playing.

Plume's school - Animals [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is an educational and fun multi-lingual app (English, French, Korean & Filipino). Six or seven levels of play in each of the 3 levels of mastery for kids from 18 months to 7 years old. It is great that there are no IAPs, ads, or social media links. Kids will enjoy working on matching, reading, and motor skills while playing. The graphics are clear and each game is self explanatory and hold children's attention for an extended period.
Improvements It would be nice to have an option to toggle off the reading prompts. There is no reporting and it would be helpful if there was a way to generate parent/teacher reports online or via email like so many other apps to show how children play and progress. I like it so much that criticism is tough, although some may waver on cost, but I feel it is high acceptable.
General review This is an educational and fun app with matching and early literacy activities. Up to 7 levels of play with 3 levels for kids from 18 months to 7 years old. It is great that there are no IAPs, ads, or social media links. There is no progress tracking, so it would be helpful if there was a way to generate reports online or via email like so many other apps. Kids will enjoy working on early learning skills in a fun way while playing.

Jack and the Beanstalk a Mathematical Adventure - HD V1.1 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This is an inexpensive educational app combining reading and math. Combining a familiar fairy tale read in a pleasant voice with math manipulatives, it teaches younger children how math applies to daily life. If a task is too hard, it can be skipped. It is great that there are no IAPs, ads, or social media links. Kids will enjoy reading the story and engaging in math in simple ways. The graphics are clear and each problem is straight-forward. You can choose to start at the beginning, where you left off, or select a favorite page.
Improvements Aimed at 5-8 year olds, there should be an option to highlight as it is read. Although it is inexpensive, I feel it does not quite do justice to either the math or the story. The story has much text for only ten graphics. It is also a very broad math range from counting to multiplication and division. The clock tasks were a bit fussy and said incorrect once when they were not. Also, the amulet shapes were not as clearly defined and younger kids were confused, thinking they should drag from the basket instead of the lone one out of the basket. So much potential, but maybe a bit too ambitious.
General review This is a nice app with math tasks sprinkled throughout the story. Ten pictures, each with multiple sets of text for kids from 5 to 8 years old, although I think the multiplication and division is probably too advanced for the story level. There are no IAPs, ads, or social media links. There is no text highlighting, and some graphics for activities could be improved. Kids will enjoy hearing a classic fairy tale told new with simple math tasks.

A Day in the Zoo - 1.0.1 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked --kids loved the clear, pleasant voice and realistic animal sounds.
--kids liked graphics, although several were confused when zebras kept changing after it declared they had all been changed to black and white.
--Activities were engaging and encouraged exploration
--read along promotes early literacy.
--multiple option settings for text, voice, sound effects, music, & choice of 6 languages.
Improvements --Would love to see option to highlight as it reads as a setting as story is read to further support emergent literacy.
--expected at least some automated text on each page since it is labeled as a book; would categorize as educational instead for now.
-- several kids were confused when zebras kept changing after it declared they had all been changed to black and white.
General review Kids loved the voice and realistic animal sounds. Kids liked graphics, but some were confused when zebras kept changing. Activities were engaging and encouraged exploration. Would love to see option to highlight as it reads to further support literacy. Expected at least some starter text on each page since it is labeled as a book. Has multiple option settings for text, voice, sound effects, music, & choice of 6 languages.

Talking ABC... Version: 1.4 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked This app is colorful, engaging, and has a variety of games as well as an auto play mode. The settings allow you to adjust whether you are focusing on the letters or the sounds they make, you can turn the talking on or off, and you can have a choice of easy or normal puzzles. This app will allow children to make letter sound associations for emergent literacy. The claymation animation is not baby–ish, so it will even work with kids into first and second grade.
Improvements It was frustrating in the letters and animals games that there were no repeat clues or a way to trigger repeating the clue if you got the answer wrong or mis-heard the clue. It might be nice as well when you select the wrong choice if it told you what that choice was to reinforce learning. There is an option to turn the voice on her off, but it would also be nice to be able to turn the music on or off.
General review This is a colorful, engaging app with clear music, sounds, & interesting voices. Done in a claymation style it allows you to play games on letters, animals, funny words, and puzzles. It is nice being able to adjust settings, but it would help if you could also toggle the music on or off. It would be nice in future releases if they offer the option to repeat the request in the letter and animal games. Great emergent literacy app!

Monsieur Bear's ABC [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Monsieur Bear ABC's is a cute, colorful introduction to the ABC's. It offers multiple languages (English, French, Spanish, & British English), currently with a Christmas twist. You can choose which letter you want to focus on, with the free version offering the first three letters of the alphabet. Once you have chosen your letter you can touch and item and it will be highlighted, animating as it announces the word. Additionally you can touch on the letter here are pronounced, and then used in an alliterative sentence.
Improvements The children I tried this with were somewhat confused by inconsistent case and font since few had been exposed to cursive. I feel that this should be marked as a lite app since you only have access to three letters. Because a child will not return for three letters, it is strictly a motivator to purchase and I feel that $3.99 is too pricey for the content. Also, at one point the child was instructed to touch the arrow and more than one child thought the home icon was an arrow.
General review Monsieur Bear ABC's is a cute multilingual ABC app that allows children to explore words, sounds, & simple alliterative sentences. This is a lite app requiring an IAP of $3.99 to unlock the full alphabet. Although it is a cute and appealing app, the free version is so limited that children will not play it more than once or twice and I feel the full price is too high. Nice, but with so many apps out there, not for us…

PassPro: Anatomy & Physiology Level 3 (v2.0) [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked PassPro: Anatomy & Physiology Level 3 has a comprehensive app testing any or all of twelve areas. I really like that the user can select whether it is a timed test or not, mimic test conditions, and allow you to pre-test by the ability to check your answers as you go along if you choose. As a former pre-med student, I found the test questions to be high-quality and reflective of comprehensive subject matter.
Improvements I found no bugs or major shortcomings in this app. It would be nice to have different test question quantities and different timing modes in a future edition. Flashcards of information as opposed to a pre-test study might be another future enhancement.
General review I really enjoyed this comprehensive app for testing any or all of 12 anatomy and physiology areas. Being able to choose whether or not it is a timed test, being able to mimic test conditions, and allowing pretest by being able to check answers was highly useful. I found no major bugs are shortcomings, but being able to change the quantity of questions and the amount of time for timed testing might be a nice future enhancement. Highly recommend!

Bombify v1.0.2 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Bombify is a fun, one minute diversion when you have time to kill and want to play a simple timed bonus oriented matching game. It is simple and straightforward with the opportunity to adjust sound effects volume, background music, and turning vibration on or off. You can earn points for boosts, which is nice. Bombify is perfect for those times when you want a little something that doesn't make you think too hard. ;-)
Improvements As with most free apps, Bombify has unprotected social media links and advertising. Because this is an app that children could enjoy, I would like to see a secure option with an IAP to remove ads as well as accessing the social media links. A further explanation of the bonuses and how to trigger them would be nice. The iTunes description lists add free options as an IAP, but all I saw were boosts for purchase. All in all, no complaints for a fun free app, however.
General review As with most free apps, Bombify has unprotected social media links and advertising. Because this is an app that children could enjoy, I would like to see a secure option with an IAP to remove ads as well as accessing the social media links. A further explanation of the bonuses and how to trigger them would be nice. All in all, no complaints for a fun free app, however. It is one that I will keep on my iPad and iPhone for a little bit of fun.

Simplex Spelling Phonics - Rhyming With CVC Words (v 2.0.0) [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked Rhyming With CVC Words is a very thorough, affordable app that presents phonics lessons stressing the five short vowel sounds in a customizable format. There are excellent in-app tutorials on how to best use the app, tracking, and multiple settings to customize the learner experience.
Improvements Although this app is extremely thorough and highly configurable, I found it less than motivating for struggling learners. Kids who were already proficient breeze through it, but children who needed the reinforcement needed more reward. Perhaps something as simple as a choice of frames or fonts or star rewards would engage more reluctant learners.
General review Rhyming With CVC Words is another solid educational app that aligns with common core standards for kindergarten. It is an affordable, well developed customizable app with tracking and a high level of configurability. Reluctant learners may find it a little dry, but it is good for both teaching and assessment.

The Reading Train: A Common Core Early Literacy Tutor Version 1.0.3 [text]

Link to the App Store

Rating  
What I liked The Reading Train is an engaging common core emergent literacy app that will provide hours of reading fun for young children. With a series of three levels and multiple free books at each level, it is sure to encourage kids to read with pleasure. There is a reasonable subscription fee as an IAP. Children can choose to have the book read to them, read to themselves, or have voices recorded to read it personally. A wonderful concept is that you can touch on any word to have a pop up and have the word defined. This encourages expansion of vocabulary.
Improvements I would love to see a future modification so that the text could be highlighted since this is designed to improve emergent literacy. Another thing that would be very helpful is if there was an auto play mode for children with physical disabilities so that they didn't have to turn the pages. Finally, it would also the helpful if the touch time to access definitions could be adjusted for children with motor disabilities.
General review This is a great free, common core early literacy app for kids! There are a wide range of free books and additional content available as an IAP at reasonable subscription rates in a protected link. I hope that they add future literacy options to highlight text and at an auto play mode, but this is well-rounded and very enjoyable as well as educational. I recommend this for parents wanting to find quality beginning leveled readers.