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Michelle C.

Status: Beta reviewer - Video Reviewer

Categories of apps she/he wants to review: Books - Education - Games - Other

iDevices she/he owns: iPad1- iPad2

Description: I am an American who has lived in Europe for over 15 years and taught both English and Spanish. My interests are in storybooks, apps for language learning and literacy, as well as plain old fun ones :-) I have a 5 year old girl and 7 year old boy to help me out.

Profile categories: Can test apps with kids ages 3-5 - Can test apps with kids ages 6-10 - Teaching kids ages 3-5 - Teaching kids ages 6-10 - Educational Technology specialist

Date when her/his profile was validated: 2012-06-01

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

Total review Karma: + 12     ?

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

Puss in Boots : Interactive 3D Pop-up Fairy Tale v1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked The children enjoyed all of the 3D pop-up activity pages, although they didn't always understand the instructions the first time around. They did experiment with the functions and always finished the story even if they skipped the text pages most of the time. The pages like 31-34 which combine some illustration with the story would make it easier for kids to follow the plot.
Improvements With our iPad 1 we were not able to open this app. We had to use the iPad 2, although they have the same O.S. the "find friends" option did not work on iPad 2 either.
The text in English is too extensive- both too long, too wordy, and too complicated- for young audiences. Our testers are 5 and 7. Simplifying the text to meet the audience would improve the app a lot. I would like to see a bell when the audio for each page ends. I would like the background music to be at a lower level. Although it is easy to turn it off, it would be better for it to be lower all the time.
General review In line with other 3-D pop-up storybooks, although it doesn't stand out on its own. The amount of text is overwhelming to the youngest testers and they all skip over the pages of text to get to the 3D activity pages.There is quite a lot of archaic phrasing, typical perhaps of the time it was written, such as "I will get your living for you". The narrator stumbles on the phrase (pg 5) The 3D pages are fun although the instructions could be clearer

Meet the Insects: Forest Edition [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked This is the first app we had tried in the Meet the Insects series, and we were all impressed by the amount of content the app offers. The photographs are all high quality, there are 30 narrated videos you can also watch, and we liked the option of adding our own observation journal.
Improvements The kids and I all found the scrolling up the tree to be a bit counter intuitive. Every time we wanted to move up, we moved down and vice versa. It is a cool design, butmaybe it would be more practical to have a more standard, albeit boring, way to toggle up and down the tree.
We also found the quiz sections to have really varying levels in the questions. Some were dead easy, some were very difficult. In the photo quiz, explained answers would improve the feedback. I hope an update would include a review of the quiz section and maybe add levels.
General review Overall we found this to be a great learning app for somebody already interested in bugs. We loved the all the multimedia, the design is well thought out and attractive, and the journal was a plus for us. The quiz section could be improved, but for us the main attraction was the actual information which is plentiful, scientifically sound and beautifully presented (as long as you like looking at bugs!)
This app would localize well into Spanish

Lulu in the Amazon [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked We really liked this app, the drawings and music are wonderful as in all of their apps. The story is entertaining and the games add to the story- the kids both went back to try to fill in the suitcase. We liked being able to hear both languages easily, and the kids and I went back and forth from one to the other (we don't speak French well). We actually prefered the narration of the French person to the American woman who does the English.
Improvements As a wish list, I would prefer that the full text of the narration would show up, and not just the first few lines. We tried the app out on the iPad1 and it was frustrating not being able to follow the narration with the text, especially when we tried to follow in French. It's a bit confusing to come to the end of the text and have the narration carry on.
A few of the "collectibles" are a bit difficult to figure out, too! :-) It would be really nice to have the app in Spanish, and I also find it really odd that the text is in British English but the speaker is American.
General review In general Lula in the Amazon is a great app to introduce children to some of the geography, animal life and lifestyles of South America. The text is entertaining, the add-on games are fun for the kids, and everything works as it should. Both of my children, 5 and 7, went back to the app on multiple occasions to play by themselves and hear the story again. This would be a fantastic app to localize to Spanish and test the market.

iTooch Elementary School [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked This app is a massive data base of content from Math, Science, Language Arts for Grades 3, 4 and 5 which is correlated to the Common Core content. Each in-app purchase is the full 1 year of school content. I really liked how accurate and varied the content was. There were photographs when appropriate, the navigation was straight-forward, and the quantity of content is remarkable. You can either work in order, or choose the topics you are interested in from the Progress Chart. I tried content from all three focus areas as well as from the different age groups, and it is homogeneously good
Improvements The academic content the app offers is both abundant and academically solid. However, overall the graphic design and user interface could be improved.
In a future version, I'd like to see the gamification aspects better resolved. The app makes mention of getting your white/yellow belt etc, but I was not able to find a visual representation of the belts anywhere.
The screen design could be improved, since sometimes there are 3 or 4 multiple choice questions, and not all of them show up on the screen without scrolling down.
The instructions could also be revised, sometimes they're unclear.
General review I was quite overwhelmed with the quantity of materials provided in this app. There is ample content for a wide age range, unlike most apps, and the free portion. There is lots of good practice and I'm sure homeschoolers and expats will happily use the app. With an improved user interface and a bit better tracking system (option of multiple users?) and motivation and it would have my 5 stars.

Creativium - Paper Theater [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked The illustration and music of the app are beautiful, as is the idea of a theater screen in which the whole family can participate in creating a story. The surprise interactions, like appearing fruit, or musical clouds and rainbow are creative and kid pleasers.
Improvements We felt like we were missing content, if this is the full paid app, as just one scene felt incomplete. We would have enjoyed more guidance for the storytelling aspects, perhaps the chance to record our story or an example? As we are unfamilar with the board game it is based on, a note to parents is necessary or I am afraid the developer will get bad reviews. The pedagogical usage like in the app description could be incorporated into the app somehow.
There are some free apps with theater sections that offer something similar with audio and story. (See TalesApart, for instance)
General review This app offers the possibility of free play and storytelling to young children, and we loved the idea of sharing the results with the rest of the family, however in its simplicity, we got lost. We would have liked to see more backgrounds, a way to record our story, or a demo of how *they* think the app could be best used.
Without those elements, we don't feel customers will get the full experience or feel satisfied for their money.

Claustrophobic, v1.1 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked Both my husband and I enjoyed playing the game, and it was a bonus that the instructions showed up localized in Spanish, as this is the language of the iPad I tested it on. There are many different symbols to make it more difficult, and that kept us interested even if it proved more difficult than we thought to figure out which were good and which weren't.
Improvements I think the landing page could be tweaked to make it easier to understand, my 7 year-old couldn't figure out how to start, and even I had a hard time getting started. Maybe a demo? Or a transition screen to show people how the game works? I also think the symbols could be improved (using colors) to clearly see which to hit and which to avoid. The game in and of itself is fine just as is! We enjoyed seeing the scoreboard, etc.
General review In general I think the game is fun and enjoyable. As I said, we enjoyed seeing ourselves on the scoreboard and competing between the two of us. It was too hard for my eldest, but fun for the adults in my household. I'd take a look at the intro to make sure people get playing as soon as possible, and maybe simplify the good/bad symbols to increase playability, but besides a few tweaks we thought it was a good little game!

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp 1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked The story in this app was a much longer, more complete version than I expected and I enjoyed learning this version. The drawings that illustrate the pages are also beautiful, and my children enjoyed playing with the juggling interaction, and the balancing one. The app worked correctly on our iPad1.
Improvements I was surprised the app didn't have narration included, as it seems to have become quite standard in storybook apps. My youngest, 5 years old, really missed having the story read to her and just skipped over the pages that didn't have games and interaction.
The level of interaction overall was quite low, my children found the story too difficult for them to read and the pages with interaction didn't have a clear purpose to help move the story along.
We'd like to have the option of listening to the story, perhaps some coloring pages, and a few more content-based intractions.
General review Overall, this app displays a very complete version of Aladdin that I think many will be very interested in, rather than the Disney version more familiar to our children. I appreciated the difference. However, the interactions and the lack of audio make this app a hard sell in comparison to other fairy tale and fable apps in the Apple Store.

Math Mathews 1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked The concept of a math game including pirates, danger and videogame playability is an original use of technology, both for teachers and parents. We all liked the illustration, music and overall look of the game. The games were designed to practice different parts of multiplication and were quite fun, good prizes and gentle feedback if you err, we found the lava platform to be wuite a bit harder/faster than the other two.
Improvements We found the story to be a bit too long, especially without narration. My eldest user is just below the target age, but even so the text was too complex for him. Maybe a shorter version would be an option, or narration of course.
The options provided in the parental control were great for us, but it is a pity that the restrictions do not extend into the game mode.
The games felt a little long for us, but again we're a bit under the target age so I hope you get good feedback my others with older kids.
General review This app contains 3 mini games for practicing your multiplication tables, all within a general story about a pirate that has been put under a curse. There is an elaborate story written with humor as well as a multi-tiered prize room where you must collect pieces from the onus rounds inmeach mini game. We were entertained and enjoyed the games, although we found each round to feel too long. As a parent I liked the stats and statistics, too.

ROAR! v1.0 [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked Both of my children have seen many, many apps but the novelty of using sound to scare the characters had them rolling with laughter, and they are much older than what I would consider the target. They both loved it. I liked the illustrations, the music, and the simple and humerous responses each animal made.
Improvements If the developer wants to aintain the price at 1.99 I think 3 screens will not feel like enough content. I'd prefer to see this app at a Tier 1 price. It is very original and funny, and could be a hit in my opinion, but the price is too high in comparison with more elaborate apps.
I would also like to see the links out of the app behind a parental filter. The icons are not clear, and even I accidently exited the app. Not appropriate or toddlers, and review sites in the U.S. won't like that at all.
General review Overall, I think the devloper has had a very original idea and great use of the iPad's possibilities to advance the story. Kids will love scaring the animals, who have been wonderfully drawn and have humerous animations. We would have liked to find some surprise interaction by touching as well, but at the right price point parents will feel satisfied by its humor and simplicity. This will make more than one baby crack up laughing.

Phonics Fun Readers (version 1.2) [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked In general I liked the app's pedagogical Value, I like the graphics, the sound quality was also good. The extras like songs and games kept my kids' attention and the stories were ok for the price. We would have liked to try more levels, and if I see my 5yo replaying this app I will get a promotion pack.
We were familiar with Bob apps, and we liked the images here much more, although starting with consonants in alphabetical order seems odd.
Improvements The download speed was definitely what sticks out most for improvement, it is painfully slow, one story took over 7 minutes to download. We also had an error the first time we downloaded, I think the i.pad went into sleep mode and shut it down.
The graphics look too much like a web page in my opinion. I'd prefer sonething more touch friendly rather than a superior navigation bar like a web site and scroll to see the stories. The images on the right are pointless, you can't access the stories or their titles.
I think one story from each level should be free so parents can see the best option.
General review We liked this app and found it would be great in the ESL and English as a Foreign Language classroom. The illustration, sound and interactivity, while limited, ismore than acceptable for the price. We would like to see more app-like design and more description of the levels (pages, min of audio). I'm not giving it 5 stars due to the landing page- but really like the content and pricing strategy in general and will recommend it to teachers.

The Amazing Digestive Journey [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked The topic focused on in this app sounded really interesting to me and my children. I think it is an area without many apps, but a high curiosity area for children.
We liked that the app was bilingual although the potental to make it a learning app would be stronger with audio and a glossary.
Improvements I was not very impressed with the interface, which my kids found too open-ended as well. I'd like to see mre guidance ( on screen or via audio) in regards to what can be done. It wasn't clear how to vary the exchanges, and the kids didn't undertand how to progress. Hints would be a nice upgrade.
General review Overall we thought the description of the app felt more complete than the app itself. We imagined more of a trip through the digestive process and less of a game. It seems really relevant for school and kids learning about organs, and the content presented is correct , but the games were pretty simple and repetitive.

Tic Toc Time: Break down the day to learn how to tell time [text]

Link to the App Store

What I liked We loved the graphics, to start off, and the way the app has included a road map of tasks in order to master the final objective of telling time. My kids liked "passing levels" and I liked their engagement. I liked the novel way of explaining the concept of time and relating it to their everyday life.
Improvements We saw the "charging" screen come up in French a few times, although we just tested the English and Spanish language versions- just found that odd but never affected playability.
We liked the 24 hour clock, it would be nice to maybe add a screen or two explaining that 17h is just 5+12 etc. When the two circles come together even my 8yo was a little confused, that concept could use a little bit more explanation. The app is quite large to download and has a large lag when it gets started.
We were a bit uneasy about the Facebook connection, and when I tried it out, I couldn't get it to work.
General review We were very impressed with this app and could find little to comment on in terms of improvements. My son said "Give this one an A+" and I think this will be my first 5 star review. In my opinion, it does what an app is meant to do- take someone's creative way of explaining new knowledge and make it fun, cool, and easy to share with people all over the world. The sound quality is top notch, the localizations I listed to were well done, good work!

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

Link to the App Store

What I liked My 8year old son was the one most enchanted by this app. He was able to follow along with the text, understood most of the mathematical questions posed, and liked the novelty of having the math woven into a loved story. The illustrations are lovely, and the integration of time, measure and weights into the story is quite clever.
Improvements The audio sounds a bit tinny on our iPad 2, and could be improved in a studio with some sound effects as well. There are a few differences between the audio and the text which need addressed as well. (to earth, to the earth etc).
It is a bit confusing when the time it takes to go up the beanstalk on one page converts into another time frame on a later page (going down). Perhaps that should be reprogrammed to give the same figure. The pause before giving the numbers is quite noticeable. The measuring of the beanstalk could also be reviewed, as well as the first screen which is really long.
General review In general, I think this app is well done and integrates well both reading a story and working on different mathematical applications in a way which makes them relevant to daily life. I know my children enjoyed it, and they would have liked it to be longer, and to continue playing. I think Kindergarten in probably too young for the app, and think it's more likely to get the attention of 1st-4th graders. Overall, it was a fun value-added story app