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Maria B.

Status: Beta reviewer

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

iDevices she/he owns: - iPad3- iPhone3GS

Description: I am a stay-at-home mom to a five year old boy. I love to cook and read on my spare time. I'm currently enrolled in a German course. Always on the lookout for great apps (games, homeschooling, animated books, activities, etc.) and books, for my son and I.

Profile categories: Can test apps with kids ages 3-5 - Can test apps with kids ages 6-10 - Can test apps with kids ages over 10 - Gamer

Date when her/his profile was validated: 2012-10-28

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

Total review Karma: + 3     ?

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

The Ant and the Grasshopper v1.1 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked The ant and the grasshopper 3D pop up story e-book is an engaging and interactive activity for children. I love the fact that my 5-year old son is able to connect with this classic fable in a new medium. Nice graphics and the story telling is clear (if a little slower than expected, but it could also be preference)
Improvements I think, one of the common observations that app users find with this particular app is that the music can be distracting. It will be great if the music's volume is lower and blends into the background rather than noticeable up front. Also, the pop-up portion can do with a little more speed so that it reacts better to children's touch. Would also be nice to add a cue after some time if the child is not doing anything so that it nudges them to the right direction.

Lastly, although this app's target audience is 3-9 years old, I feel that this is borderline 6 or 7 at the most.
General review The ant and the grasshopper 3D pop up story e-book is an engaging and interactive activity for children. I love the fact that my 5-year old son is able to connect with this classic fable in a new medium. Nice graphics and the story telling is clear (if a little slower than expected, but it could also be preference). Like what the others are saying, the sound can be a little lower, thankfully, you are able to turn it off.

Playground HD3 - ABC Edition v1.2.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked As a parent, I loved this app! the activities are well crafted, you can see that a lot of care and thought has gone into this app. Great tool for beginner writers and readers, as well as for tutors, parents and guardians to practice with their kids. Definitely worth recommending!
Improvements - Navigation needs to be reworked so it is more responsive and uncomplicated, both for parents and children
- verbal cues for each section to guide children who are doing activities on their own.
- a help or instruction section explaining each activity and how it should be played.
General review The learning component of the app is well thought. This is a great tool for beginner readers and writers. My son is 5 years old and he has a number of ABC apps but Playground HD3 - ABC Edition offers more activities for learning which enables him to practice writing, spelling and connecting letters and objects. I only wish there is a verbal cue for each section to guide children doing this on their own.

Wubbzy's The Night Before Christmas [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked My son likes watching Wubbzy and Walden on tv and he's very happy to have a Wubbzy Christmas App. The storytelling is interesting with language that is age-appropriate (for preschoolers) accompanied by bright images making children itch to touch and explore.There are also many activities to choose from and my son liked playing the games (go figure) more than coloring characters.

As a parent, I specially like the section in the end where there are suggested text to help fuel discussion of the story with my child. I also like that there is Help section and good navigation.
Improvements While I appreciate the many choices the App offers, I think it is both an asset and a distraction. There are too many things going on within the story (the games, the clicking, the endless Christmas decoration all over the place) and repetitive sections. I feel "Read and Play" should be scrapped because there is already a section on games and it only distracts from the story. If the main purpose of Read and Play is to let beginner readers to read each word, it should just be incorporated in "Just a Book" section.
General review The App offers vibrant interactive images and modern retelling of the Night Before Christmas through the use of Wubbzy comic character. there are different activities to choose from - Read the book, play a game, watch a video or paint a character. There is room for improvement in reorganizing to fine-tune this App but it could still stand on its own in its current form.

iTooch Elementary School [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked Oh my god! In all the educational Apps I downloaded in the past, hands down this is the most comprehensive and helpful I have come across. It covers numerous topics within Language, Math and Science. This is a great complement to classroom lessons and offer well-thought and simple to understand review of topics that children learn in School.

On the App execution side, it's polished, the progress charts, grading systems, progress charts and chalkboard for working problems make this App a self-contained tool that lets the learner and tutor stay within the application.
Improvements I don't know if I have any improvement to add to this App except that I wish (!) they will add sections for other age groups as well. Please! And maybe translated in more languages. I will forever be grateful.

In its current form, perhaps, the navigation can be improved. I was a little lost at first on what to click to go where. Specially with going back and forth between the subjects (Math, Language, Science, Health ...)

Also, is this only an iPad app? It will be great to launch it in Android or Windows 8 to reach a wider audience.
General review Oh my god! In all the educational Apps I downloaded in the past (as well as online tutorial sites), hands down this is the most comprehensive and helpful I have come across. It covers numerous topics within Language, Math and Science. This is a great complement to classroom lessons and offer well-thought and simple to understand review of topics that children learn in School.

Tomo Garage 1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked The graphics is very inviting. My son was very excited to try this App because of this. He likes matching letters to build a word. This educational game has good potential but I feel that there is a lot of work that needs to be done so this App realizes its full potential.
Improvements The structure is highly confusing. When you load the App one would think this game leads you directly to a garage to play with cars and the like. As soon as you hit enter one has to figure out what button to press. After which, it brings you to a game that matches letters, this can be frustrating to children who are expecting cars and to parents who don't have the proper in-App instruction to tell their kids what to expect when. The timer is very fast and highly frustrating to beginner readers. My son is 5 years old and he had a fit (he actually cried) hearing the stressful timer.
General review Tomo garage has good graphics and the potential to be something children will enjoy over and over. However, the developers need to make changes on how the App is built for its target market. Since it made it into the educational category, the App has to be mindful of the audience it wishes to reach. Consolidate sections, provide cues explaining what the game is about and what to expect when. The timer needs to slow down.

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

Link to the App Store

What I liked The graphics are amazing, the colors are vivid and inviting. Media content is very polished. Well-thought app that aims to engender interest in nature and its tiny inhabitants among the young, as my 5-year old son comments, "this is what science kids do". Presenting information through different media that is age-appropriate. The inclusion of quizzes to test children's insect knowledge is cool and serves as a stepping stool for parent-child (or teacher-class) interaction.
Improvements While the media, the facts and the way this App is created is polished, I'm not sure it is addressing the right market. The App says 4+ and while certain sections can be appreciated by younger children, the language and presentation (specially the quizzes) are geared more for elementary-age students. Narration can also be improved, it sounded more like a machine manipulated voice rather than a real person. I would also like to see more insects included, their habitat explored, the pros and cons of insects, what are they good for, what are they bad for. Why do we need them, etc. etc.
General review Well polished App. Beautiful imagery (both photo, illustration and video) that invites children to learn more about insects, often overlooked components of nature. It also young nature lovers get more excited in exploring their own backyard (or indoors). I just wish the developers will continue to add more insects, more media and change the narrator voice. 5-year olds can appreciate this but it is more geared towards the 7 and up group

Wubbzy's Fire Engine Adventure [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked I like the discussion tips at the end as well as the fire safety cautions which helps remind and educate children about fire safety. I also like the graphic execution and the story line which is executed in line with the Wubbzy character on TV (unlike the Christmas Wubbzy which was not as kooky). And it offers small letters and numbers exercises for kindergarten age kids, that's good.
Improvements I personally would like to see Wubzzy apps bundled together, it makes more sense to pay 5.99 which includes 4 apps (or 2,99/1 and .89 per new app) than keep on buying one standalone app that only has a few things to do; give the option to unlock all apps or addition apps for a fee as they become available and let the kids access them from one central Wubbzy interface. This is more inviting to parents and children. Also, this is the second Wubbzy app I purchased and I strongly believe that the "Play and Read" and "Read to Me" sections should be combined, Play and Read is an unnecessary section.
General review Overall, Wubbzy Fire Engine Adventure is a nice and perky interactive book-slash-activity app, my child was engaged but he complained that it's too short ('only 4 things to do mama', he says. not quite accurate but you get the drift); the meatball made him laugh and he comes back to play it so I would count that as a win. It is preferable to pay 2,99 an app and then ,89 to unlock additional apps which are all accessible from each app interface.

Matryoshka! deluxe [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked I like the sound and graphics on this game. The music is fun and encouraging for little minds to explore the dolls. We specially like the football doll where the dolls have numbers and my son lines up the dolls according to the numbers and restack it that way too.
Improvements I would like to have more instructions or cues to guide children and parents when you first open the app. I had to look for the help section and though it is great it will be more helpful if it is incorporated within the app rather than opening up to a new browser.

Also, in the challenge section, it is better when a cue is provided to say, "hey it's not done yet", perhaps a quick buzzing sound. The child is able to leave at any one time and this does not distinguish the section from the others.
General review Matryoshka dolls app is a cute little puzzle game for young children. I had Matryoshka dolls as a young girl and it was always a fun game because although you know that there are dolls inside, as a child you have a feeling like "surprise!" and this app attempts to project that feeling for a whole generation being raised in the digital age.

The Miracles of Jesus [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked This app reminded me so much of the hardbound bible story books I had as a child, it brings the story of Jesus closer to children. I like that in addition to the stories, there are different kinds of activities for beginner readers as well as a NEST Family Chat section which reminds parents to have a short conversation with children about their faith and Jesus.
Improvements I wish there will be more stories added, presented like individual chapters. Then the children will not only learn about reading but they learn about Bible stories along the way. But I would suggest adding stories in a series of updates instead of one big push, that way, children are kept interested and coming back for more.
General review The app is polished and well thought of. It's simple yet clear approach helps beginner readers learn about reading while being brought closer to their Christian faith through stories of Jesus and his miracles. There are other activities besides reading: painting, word search, letter/word tracing and puzzles. Highly recommened.

Live Puzzle! Forest Animals [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked My 5-year old son likes Live Puzzle! Forest Animals (and Live Puzzle 2: Wild West Bugs) A LOT! It helps that the puzzle pieces are animated and it is interactive, thereby keeping children interested to continue to the next level. The graphics are simple but hits the mark with its target audience, specially the use of baby monkey growing up to indicate difficulty. I thought that was a nice touch.
Improvements The concept is great and with minor adjustments this is a real winner. One of the things that need to be put in is a back arrow to allow children to change difficulty levels as well as when the child is already in a puzzle (example, level hard monkey puzzle), there is no way to get out of it unless you finish the task and this can be frustrating to younger children who were perhaps just exploring or someone who wants to change which animal puzzle they want to do instead. the same goes for when one wants to change difficulty levels, there is no clear navigation for that.
General review Live Puzzle! Forest Animals live up to its description of being a different kind of puzzle game for children. Puzzle pieces are animated with complementing animal/zoo sounds providing for an entertaining app. After downloading this app for free and working through the puzzle with my son, I realized, if the developer made a few adjustments on navigation and a better App store description, I wouldn't have minded paying something like .89 upfront.

Talking Duke 1 4.3 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked We have previously downloaded talking pets similar to Talking Duke and my son loved it. While this is not exactly in my taste and I believe that the slapstick kind of humor Duke has is not suitable for 4 year old kids (more for 7 or 8 perhaps), I like the playback of silly voices that my son makes. My son had fun with this app specially the dancing part but he thinks Duke laughing looked sinister and mean.
Improvements Perhaps the length of animation can be improved as well as the response time. It crashes on some instances. I experienced a white screen while sounds are still playing and no way to get out but to restart. This happened when I pressed the info button. The next time I was successful it lead me to Talking Gummibär HD instead of Talking Duke and it lists a different App developer name! FYI, I did download Talking GummiBär and it's a hit with my son; I think it's not as crass as Duke the Dog (sorry).
General review As a parent, I would like this kind of app to be marketed more to older kids. I know other parents love this app so it might be a matter of taste. I believe Talking Duke has potential but the time should be lengthened by at least 3 seconds to develop each sequence. For me, the best part of Talking Duke is the silly playback of my son's silly words.