News and Kids – What you need to know

Dramatic, disturbing news events can leave parents speechless. These age-based tips on how to talk to kids about the news — and listen, too — can help.By Caroline Knorr 
If it bleeds, it leads. The old newsroom adage about milking stories for sensationalism seems truer than ever today. And with technology doing the heavy lifting — sending updates, tweets, posts, and breaking news alerts directly to our kids’ phones — we parents are often playing catch-up. Whether it’s wall-to-wall coverage of the latest natural disaster, a horrific mass shooting, a suicide broadcast on social media, or a violent political rally, it’s nearly impossible to keep the news at bay until you’re able to figure out what to say. The bottom line is that elementary school-aged kids and some middle schoolers have trouble fully understanding news events. And though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges when it comes to sifting fact from opinion — or misinformation.

No matter how old your kids are, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally. Many can feel worried, frightened, angry, or even guilty. And these anxious feelings can last long after the news event is over. So what can you do as a parent to help your kids deal with all this information?

Addressing News and Current Events: Tips for all kids

Consider your own reactions. Your kids will look to the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. If you stay calm and rational, they will, too.

Take action. Depending on the issue and kids’ ages, families can find ways to help those affected by the news. Kids can write postcards to politicians expressing their opinions; families can attend meetings or protests; kids can help assemble care packages or donate a portion of their allowance to a rescue/humanitarian effort. Check out websites that help kids do good.

Tips for kids under 7

Keep the news away. Turn off the TV and radio news at the top of the hour and half hour. Read the newspaper out of range of young eyes that can be frightened by the pictures (kids may respond strongly to pictures of other kids in jeopardy). Preschool kids don’t need to see or hear about something that will only scare them silly, especially because they can easily confuse facts with fantasies or fears.

Stress that your family is safe. At this age, kids are most concerned with your safety and separation from you. Try not to minimize or discount their concerns and fears, but reassure them by explaining all the protective measures that exist to keep them safe. If the news event happened far away, you can use the distance to reassure kids. For kids who live in areas where crime and violence is a very real threat, any news account of violence may trigger extra fear. If that happens, share a few age-appropriate tips for staying and feeling safe (being with an adult, keeping away from any police activity).

Be together. Though it’s important to listen and not belittle their fears, distraction and physical comfort can go a long way. Snuggling up and watching something cheery or doing something fun together may be more effective than logical explanations about probabilities.

Tips for kids 8–12

Carefully consider your child’s maturity and temperament. Many kids can handle a discussion of threatening events, but if your kids tend toward the sensitive side, be sure to keep them away from the TV news; repetitive images and stories can make dangers appear greater, more prevalent, and closer to home.

Be available for questions and conversation. At this age, many kids will see the morality of events in stark black-and-white terms and are in the process of developing their moral beliefs. You may have to explain the basics of prejudice, bias, and civil and religious strife. But be careful about making generalizations, since kids will take what you say to the bank. This is a good time to ask them what they know, since they’ll probably have gotten their information from friends, and you may have to correct facts.

Talk about — and filter — news coverage. You might explain that even news programs compete for viewers, which sometimes affects content decisions. If you let your kids use the Internet, go online with them. Some of the pictures posted are simply grisly. Monitor where your kids are going, and set your URLs to open to non-news-based portals.

Tips for teens

Check inSince, in many instances, teens will have absorbed the news independently of you, talking with them can offer great insights into their developing politics and their senses of justice and morality. It will also help you get a sense of what they already know or have learned about the situation from their own social networks. It will also give you the opportunity to throw your own insights into the mix (just don’t dismiss theirs, since that will shut down the conversation immediately).

Let teens express themselves. Many teens will feel passionately about events and may even personalize them if someone they know has been directly affected. They’ll also probably be aware that their own lives could be affected by violence. Try to address their concerns without dismissing or minimizing them. If you disagree with media portrayals, explain why so your teens can separate the mediums through which they absorb news from the messages conveyed.

Additional resources

For more information on how to talk to your kids about a recent tragedy, please visit the National Association of School Psychologists or the American Psychological Association. For more on how news can impact kids, check out News and America’s Kids: How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News,

Marie-Louise Mares, Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, contributed to this article.

This article was originally published at Common Sense Media.

About the Author: Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star WarsStarCraft,graphic novels, and the radio program This American Life.


Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at

Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Kids learn best through play and explaining what they are seeing and doing. Recently, every time I turn on the television news or tune in to the local radio, I am prompted things that I know I do not want my child to see or things that I might consider to be scary for them.  Research has shown that children learn best through play — and playing out situations via role play can help them to better process and understand them.  With the recent Hurricane Harvey here in the United States – there has been a lot of news on the television and radio that is overwhelming.  As such, I started thinking about some of my favorite apps that would help kids in these situations. Helping children process traumatic events they seen in the news such as the recent Hurricane Harvey and other frightening news, can be overwhelming.  Many children learn better with play therapy.  Below are a few apps that involve role play, social stories and more to help them process difficult situations as well as explore new situations.   Below is a list of some of my favorites.

Kids learn differently than adults.  Introducing a new situation can be hard.  One of the biggest things I struggle with as a parent is helping my kids understand a new situation.  Helping my kids prepare for new experiences can be overwhelming as.    One of my favorite thing about the MyPlayhome apps is that there are no rules – kids can play and role play while narrating what they are doing.  I love to see all the different games that my toddler comes up with or see my son talking about an upcoming doctors appointment using MyPlayhome Hospital.  Using Social Stories like Kid in the Storybook maker can help kids better understand a new situation.  Dr. Panda has a series of role play apps including firefighters, daycare, school bus and more.  .

My PlayHomeShimon Young is a genius. Shimon is the developer of the universal My PlayHome app and has managed to find a way to keep my iToddler (2.5) entertained for more than just a few minutes. Not an easy task. My PlayHome brings the dollhouse into the digital age by offering an entire virtual home, complete with an adorable family of five that kids can explore and interact with. Also available on the iPhone (Pocket PlayHome!), this app features beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and realistic sounds associated with each interaction. My PlayHome also has a simple user interface very easy for little fingers to control.  This app caters for 2-8 year olds which is appropriate as it’s simple enough for the younger users to play with yet detailed enough to keep the older kids entertained too.” Quite a comprehensive app but still very easy to use by its intended audience. One of the best kids apps I have come across on the App Store!”  This continues to be a top pick of The iMums for kids of all ages.  Read the full review.


My PlayHome StoresWhen iMum Amanda reviewed the original My PlayHome back in 2011 she described it’s creator Shimon Young as a genius, and I have to agree. After being  installed on our iPads for 2 1/2 years my kids still play with My PlayHome regularly, and there are very few apps that retain their appeal long term like that. So when I told my children there was a new My PlayHome app out, to say they were excited is a definite understatement.  My PlayHome brings the dolls house into the digital age with an entire interactive house and garden to play in, and My PlayHome Stores expands the play by adding four shops to explore and shop in. The app stars the same characters as the original app – there are 3 moms, 3 dads, 3 girls, 3 boys and 3 babies from a variety of ethnicities and you can mix and match them any way you like to create the family in the app. The twist that my children really love (and that I have not seen in any other app) is when the family go shopping in the stores they can walk home with their purchases, and if you own My PlayHome they can take their purchases from the stores back to their home.  Read the full review.

My PlayHome HospitalIn the fantastic tradition of the Playhome Software Company, comes the latest My Playhome app, My Playhome Hospital. Fully integrated with the other My Playhome apps (HomeSchool and Store), this new app allows the player to explore all aspects of the hospital experience. When the app is opened, the child is faced with the view of the hospital and an ambulance. No settings tab, no external options, and no parental tab. The only extra button to press is the Tidy the Hospital wheel, which is a great option. It allows the player to actually erase the previous designs created and start fresh. The home page ambulance can be driven to the school, home or store; linking the other apps (one of my favorite features).  An interactive app that familiarizes children with the workings and people in the hospital setting. Multiple different scenes with many opportunities to interact with the objects and characters on each page.


My PlayHome SchoolOne of the best loved toys of all time are doll houses. It brings hours upon hours of enjoyment to boys and girls alike, and it’s only limitation is a child’s imagination. My PlayHome Software Ltd has brought this enjoyment in the most portable form possible in My PlayHome, My PlayHome Stores, and very recently, My PlayHome School.  While my children and I enjoyed My PlayHome and My PlayHome Stores, My PlayHome School far exceeded our expectations. It has almost everything you could find in an elementary school: a receptionist desk, the principal’s office, a cafeteria, boys and girls restrooms, a science lab, an auditorium, a janitor’s closet, lockers, and of course, classrooms.  Read the full review.



Explaining difficult situations to kids or helping them understand something new is the premise of  Kid in the Storybook maker.  This app allows you to take photos of an upcoming event — be it a doctors appointment, new school or even a vacation and use your own words, photos and voice to describe it to the reader.  I loved using Bluebee Pals with my son when we recently did a social story about his new school.

Kid in Story Book Maker:... iconEnuma, designs assistance and play-based learning apps to empower kids to be independent learners. they have a special interest in producing apps for children with special needs.  LocoMotive Labs is located in Berkeley, California and was founded in 2012, its design team includes many of the team who produced the Injini child development suite. Kid in Story was designed to help parents and therapists easily produce their own stories for children. As children with Autism often respond well to social stories that include them, they wanted to include a way to easily add the child into the story.  Read our full review.

Article: 20 Great Podcasts for kids that encourage learning, relaxation, science and more!

Entertaining, informative, and kid-friendly podcasts for bedtime, road trips, and more. Best part? They’re screen-free. By Frannie Ucciferri

What if something out there had your kid begging you to turn off the TV or tablet, put away the video games, and listen to a story? It seems practically impossible in today’s media environment. Why would anyone (especially kids who’ve grown up with YouTube and Netflix) bother with screenless entertainment? But with podcasts, “no screens” becomes “no problem.” Podcasts made for — and even by — kids are popping up all over the place.  Check out these 20 great podcasts for kids!  Be sure to check out our previous article on 8 educational podcasts here. 

As always, we encourage you to check out these podcasts prior to listening to them with your child to ensure they are a good fit.

Many adults are already familiar with podcasts, thanks to popular but mature hits such as Serial and Radiolab. But thankfully, podcasters are starting to realize that kids love what they’re doing as much as grown-ups. Teachers are even using them in the classroom. With exciting stories, fascinating facts, and lively sound effects to grab kids’ interest, all you need for an entertaining family-listening experience are some headphones or a set of speakers. Check out these 20 awesome podcasts for kids — including perfect bedtime stories, science exploration, cool news, and more. Plus, find out the best way to get them and use them. (We took our best guess for the target ages but include them as a guide since some of the content can be mature.)

How to Listen

It can be daunting for a first-timer to enter the world of podcasts, but digital tools have made it easier than ever to start listening. Podcasts are available to stream online or with a “podcatcher,” an app you can download specifically for podcasts. Here are some popular options for listening:

  • Podcasts. The original podcast app (only available for Apple iOS).  FREE!
  • Stitcher Radio for Podcasts. “Stitch” together custom podcast playlists with this mobile app
  • Pocket Casts. A mobile app with a sleek, easy-to-use interface
  • SoundCloud. An online audio-streaming platform for podcasts as well as music (also an app)
  • Streaming platform specifically for podcasts (app available for Android, but iOS coming soon)
  • NPR One.  Download content and stream via Bluetooth in your car.  Many of the podcasts below are from NPR content

Once you have your favorite app or website, search its library by topic and start exploring everything from science to sports to movies and more. And don’t forget to subscribe! Subscribing lets the app push new episodes directly to your device as soon as they’re available, so you’ll always have the latest update at your fingertips.

Pros and Cons of Podcasts for Kids

On the plus side, podcasts:

  • Boost learning. With engaging hosts and compelling stories, podcasts can be great tools to teach kids about science, history, ethics, and more. Listening to stories helps kids build vocabulary, improve reading skills, and even become more empathetic.
  • Reduce screen time. With podcasts, families can enjoy the same level of engagement, entertainment, and education as screen-based activities without worrying about staring at a screen.
  • Go anywhere. Podcasts are completely portable. You can listen in the car, on the bus, or in a classroom or even while doing chores around the house.
  • Cost nothing. Podcasts don’t have subscription or download fees, so anyone with internet access can listen and download for free. Most podcatcher apps are free, too.
  • Get two thumbs up from kids! Podcasts are designed to hook kids with music, jokes, compelling stories, and more. Some are designed in a serial format with cliffhangers at the end to get kids to tune back in.

On the downside, podcasts:

  • Play lots of ads. Many podcasts run several minutes of ads at the beginning or end. Because they’re often read by the podcast host, the ads can feel like a hard sell.
  • Can be confusing. Many podcasts update regularly, so you can jump right in and start listening. Others are styled like radio or TV shows, so the most recent episode is actually the end of a season. Check whether something is serialized or long-form before listening to the most recent update.
  • Vary in age-appropriateness. The iTunes Store labels podcasts “Explicit” or “Clean,” but even a “Clean” label doesn’t guarantee kid-friendly content. When in doubt, listen first before sharing with your kids.

Luckily we’ve discovered some excellent kid-friendly podcasts that you and your family will love listening to. Here are 20 of our favorites:

For the Whole Family

Dream Big logoDream Big
Precocious 7-year-old Eva Karpman and her mom interview celebs, award winners, and experts in a range of fields each week, with a hope of encouraging young people to find their passion and follow their dreams. The relatable mother-daughter dynamic and the big-name guests make this a fun choice for kids and their parents to listen to together. Best for: Kids


Wow in the World logoWow in the World
One of the newest podcasts to hit the scene, NPR’s first show for kids is exactly the sort of engaging, well-produced content you would expect from the leaders in radio and audio series. Hosts Guy Roz and Mindy Thomas exude joy and curiosity while discussing the latest news in science and technology in a way that’s enjoyable for kids and informative for grown-ups. Best for: Kids


Book Club for KidsBook Club for Kids
This excellent biweekly podcast features middle schoolers talking about a popular middle-grade or YA book as well as sharing their favorite book recommendations. Public radio figure Kitty Felde runs the discussion, and each episode includes a passage of that week’s book read by a celebrity guest. Best for: Tweens and teens


This American Life logoThis American Life
This popular NPR radio show is now also the most downloaded podcast in the country. It combines personal stories, journalism, and even stand-up comedy for an enthralling hour of content. Host Ira Glass does a masterful job of drawing in listeners and weaving together several “acts” or segments on a big, relatable theme. Teens can get easily hooked along with their parents, but keep in mind that many episodes have mature concepts and frequent swearing. Best for: Teens

Best Bedtime Podcasts

Peace Out logoPeace Out
Produced by the same people who do Story Time, this is a gentle podcast that encourages relaxation as well as mindfulness. Great for bedtime, but also any time of day when kids could use a calming activity, this podcast combines breathing exercises with whimsical visualizations for a truly peaceful experience. Best for: Preschoolers and little kids


Story Time logoStory Time 
These 10- to 15-minute stories are a perfect way to lull your little one to sleep. The podcast is updated every other week, and each episode contains a kid-friendly story, read by a soothing narrator. Short and sweet, it’s as comforting as listening to your favorite picture book read aloud. Best for: Preschoolers and little kids.  PERFECT for getting bedtime stories in on the go!


What If World logoWhat If World
With wacky episode titles such as “What if Legos were alive?” and “What if sharks had legs?,” this series takes ridiculous “what if” questions submitted by young listeners and turns them into a new story every two weeks. Host Eric O’Keefe uses silly voices and crazy characters to capture the imaginations of young listeners with a Mad Libs-like randomness. Best for: Kids


Stories Podcast logoStories Podcast
One of the first kids’ podcasts to grasp podcasts’ storytelling capabilities, this podcast is still going strong with kid-friendly renditions of classic stories, fairy tales, and original works. These longer stories with a vivid vocabulary are great for bigger kids past the age for picture books but who still love a good bedtime story. Best for: Big kids

Best Podcasts for Road Trips

The Alien Adventures of Finn CaspianThe Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian
This serialized podcast tells the story of an 8-year-old boy living on an interplanetary space station who explores the galaxy and solves mysteries with his friends. With no violence or edgy content and with two seasons totaling over 13 hours of content, this sci-fi adventure is perfect for long car rides. Best for: Kids and tweens


Eleanor AmplifiedEleanor Amplified
Inspired by old-timey radio shows — complete with over-the-top sound effects — this exciting serial podcast follows a plucky journalist who goes on adventures looking for her big scoop. Tweens will love Eleanor’s wit and daring and might even pick up some great messages along the way. There’s even a “Road Trip Edition” episode with the entire first season in a single audio file. Best for: Tweens


The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel logoThe Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel
This Peabody Award-winning scripted mystery series has been called a Stranger Things for tweens. With a voice cast of actual middle schoolers, a gripping, suspenseful plot, and interactive tie-ins, this story about an 11-year-old searching for his missing friends will keep tweens hooked to the speakers for hours — more than five, to be exact. Best for: Tweens


Welcome to Night Vale logoWelcome to Night Vale
Structured like a community radio show for the fictional desert town of Night Vale, the mysterious is ordinary and vice versa in this delightfully eerie series. Both the clever concept and the smooth voice of narrator Cecil Baldwin have helped the show develop a cult-like following. It’s a bit creepy and dark for kids, but older listeners will find it perfect for a nighttime drive along a deserted highway. Best for: Teens

Best Podcasts for Science Lovers

But Why logoBut Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
Kids are always asking seemingly simple questions that have surprisingly complex answers, such as “Why is the sky blue?” and “Who invented words?” This cute biweekly radio show/podcast takes on answering them. Each episode features several kid-submitted questions, usually on a single theme, and with the help of experts, it gives clear, interesting answers. Best for: Kids


Brains On logoBrains On
Similar to But Why, this is another radio show/podcast that takes kid-submitted science questions and answers them with the help of experts. What makes this one different is it tends to skew a bit older, both in its questions and answers, and it has a different kid co-host each week. The result is a fun show that’s as silly as it is educational. Best for: Kids and tweens


Tumble logoTumble
Often compared to a kid-friendly Radiolab, this podcast not only addresses fascinating topics but also tries to foster a love of science itself by interviewing scientists about their process and discoveries. The hosts don’t assume that listeners have a science background — but even kids who think they don’t like science may change their minds after listening to this podcast. Best for: Kids and tweens


Stuff You Should Know logoStuff You Should Know
From the people behind the award-winning website HowStuffWorks, this frequently updated podcast explains the ins and outs of everyday things from the major (“How Free Speech Works”)  to the mundane (“How Itching Works”). Longer episodes and occasional adult topics such as alcohol, war, and politics make this a better choice for older listeners, but hosts Josh and Chuck keep things engaging and manage to make even complex topics relatable. And with nearly 1,000 episodes in its archive, you might never run out of new things to learn. Best for: Teens

Best Podcasts for Music Fans

Ear Snacks logoEar Snacks
The catchy soundtrack is the star in this delightful podcast from children’s music duo Andrew & Polly (not surprising since the hosts have created songs for Wallykazam! and Sesame Studios). But this funny program also covers a range of topics by talking to actual kids as well as experts, providing thoughtful fun for young ones and their grown-ups. Best for: Preschoolers and little kids


The Past & the Curious logoThe Past & the Curious
Reminiscent of the TV show Drunk History (minus the alcohol), this amusing podcast features people telling interesting, little-known stories from history with an emphasis on fun and humor. Although it’s not specifically a music podcast, each episode contains an often-silly song that’s sure to get stuck in your head. There’s even a quiz segment, so kids will learn something, too. Best for: Kids


Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child logoSpare the Rock, Spoil the Child
Families can enjoy rock and roll without the downsides with this fun radio show/podcast. Each week there’s a new playlist combining kids’ music from artists such as They Might Be Giants, with kid-appropriate songs from artists that grown-ups will recognize, such as Elvis CostelloThe Ramones, and John Legend. It’s a perfect compromise for parents tired of cheesy kids’ music. Best for: Kids


All Songs Considered logoAll Songs Considered
This weekly podcast from NPR covers the latest and greatest in new music with a particular focus on emerging artists and indie musicians. It covers a wide range of genres and even includes artist interviews and live performances. Some songs contain adult themes and explicit language, but teens will love discovering a new favorite that you’ve probably never heard of. Best for: Teens



About the author

As catalog data coordinator, Frannie Ucciferri assists Common Sense Media’s reviewers and editors in making sure each of more than 29,000 reviews is as complete and comprehensive as possible. Frannie is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she earned a degree in cognitive science and taught a class on her favorite TV show ever, Arrested Development. Her passion for reading and writing is paralleled only by her love of Bay Area sports, especially baseball. When she isn’t playing with her dogs or trying out San Francisco restaurants, you can probably find her watching Pixar moviesParks and Rec, or one of her favorite girl power movies and TV shows.
commonsense2Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at

Article: Cooking, Cleaning, Role Playing and more with Dr. Panda Apps

My kids love Dr. Panda Apps and we have reviewed so many of them here at The iMums.  I thought it would be great to put them all in one post so you can easily find the reviews and links to the apps!  Apps range from cooking, to chores/cleaning, role playing and more.  I love the amount of replay these apps get even years after I bought them and loaded them on our devices.  Dr. Panda started making apps in 2012, originally under the name Tribeplay.  They are based in China and California, and you can learn more about them here.  We recently updated our review of Dr. Panda Town and are currently running a giveaway.  Those that share this post in addition to commenting get 5 entries!

Dr. Panda TownDr. Panda Town by Dr. Panda Ltd is the first free app with in-app purchases or IAP offered by Dr. Panda games. Dr. Panda was founded in 2012 and has a number of apps available for iOS and Android with great open free play options. This app includes in-app purchases for a park and a supermarket as well as a home setting. For purposes of this review, I will review both the park and supermarket settings contained within the app. The app opens with Dr. Panda pulling up to the town in his yellow car. If you try to open up the park or supermarket and have not purchased them a parental lock pops up before taking you into the iTunes store which requires you to enter your year of birth. Of note, I got the app bundle on one device and had to “restore” my purchase on my second device to be able to access each of the three places. We used language to describe each of the actions which made it great for practicing language.  Read the full review and enter our giveaway!


Dr. Panda Cafe

Dr. Panda Cafe

Dr. Panda Cafe from Dr. Panda Games  is a new universal app for iOS which has your child making food and drinks in a cafe setting.  As you gain more customers, you have to balance time management, taking orders and making them as well as cleaning up.  As you serve more customers, you earn new recipes and foods to give to the customers. To play the app, first you seat the customer at a table – if the table is empty you can put the customer at it.  Once they are seated, you take their order and go back behind the counter as Dr. Panda to work on the order.  Items are broken into categories, and you tap on the correct category to make or brew the item.  Once you have made all of the items in the order, it’s time to serve it to the customers.  You can take orders from multiple customers at once, and make food the same way although it can bet a bit confusing!  Among the food choices, coffee/tea, cakes, pizza and as you get to know your customers better you can try to imagine what they might order in advance.  It was important to pay attention to the customers in order to keep them happy which in turn unlocked items after you earned stars and gave you more food and drinks to serve.  Read our full review


Dr. Panda's RestaurantDr. Panda’s Restaurant by Dr. Panda features interactive mini-games which include seating a variety of animals (patrons) and cooking a dish that they have in mind.  Activities’ practiced in the app include fine motor via chopping a variety of foods, peeling, sautéing in a frying pan, pinching and squeezing for making of juice, toasting and preparing bread along with cooking a variety of foods.  There are a variety of different dishes in rotation to be prepared and served to the various animals including soups, decorating cookies, making apple pie, a variety of fruit drinks and his personal favorite pizza.  This app could also be used in speech therapy to describe each of the items as they are prepared and sequencing of them.  This app was fun in that it was two restaurants’ in one, with one downstairs serving American theme and the upstairs decorated in more of a Chinese theme.  It would be great if the foods matched the décor on each of the floors.  The mini-recycling game was a nice way to remind my son what went into each bin and helped us practice our recycling skills at home.  We also enjoyed touching a variety of objects within the dining room to turn on and off the lights, touching the spider and interacting with the plates after the meals were finished.  My son enjoyed making cookies and making the soups best because they required precision in chopping and fine motor practice.  Read the full review.

Dr. Panda Restaurant 2

Dr. Panda Restaurant 2

Dr. Panda Restaurant 2 by Dr. Panda  is a universal app for iOS that puts your little chef in a tropical kitchen and allows them to make food to delight their patrons.  The app includes more than 20 ingredients including fish, eggs, peppers, tomatoes, three types of pasta, seasonings and more.  You can boil, bake, fry and cop ingredients to make the perfect dish for your patrons who arrive in parties of two via a water taxi and place their orders.  As you are making the item, the guest will stand at the window while you pick out the ingredients and make faces depending on what they want on their meal.  Each dish allows you to put different toppings to satisfy their taste.  The app includes a traditional diet as well as a switch for a vegetarian diet.  The app practices attention to detail, fine motor required for chopping, slicing and laying out the ingredients as well as making sure the customers are getting the food that they want.  In addition children follow recipes step by step which include making the pasta, pouring it into the colander, putting it on the plate and then making a sauce.  Other tasks include rolling out the pizza dough before adding additional ingredients.  Read our full review.


Dr. Panda Train

Dr. Panda Train

Dr. Panda Train,  all Aboard this app from Dr. Panda Games this time with a train theme!  In this fun themed train app your kids serve as conductor and they drive the train and tour one of three landscapes which includes jungle, desert and a beautiful countryside scene. Within the app, your child can drive the train either from a first person perspective inside the cab or from a distance.  They also can stop and visit the passengers to give them food, snacks, reading material and more.  My son even found some great tech to give the passengers.  Shovel on some coal to stoke the fire and make the train go faster to it’s next destination or simply blow the horn as the countryside goes by.  I liked that my kids could take turns playing with the app or putting passengers on and handing out items to them.  As you complete more of the game you earn extra items to give to the passengers – my kids favorites were of course the tech!    Read the full review



Dr. Panda Daycare

Dr. Panda Daycare

Dr. Panda’s Daycare by Dr. Panda  features Dr. Panda in a daycare setting where your child is in a virtual playhouse with five baby animals.  The animals have a playroom where they can rock on a rocking horse, bounce on a ball or play with a train.  In the kitchen they can pretend to have a birthday party, have breakfast or lunch and cook foods.  Upstairs there is a stage and instruments for them to play with and a naptime room.  There is also a backyard where kids can play with a slide, bouncy pit or pool.  The app encourages creative play and helps children understand that their choices can determine how the animals will play. It is best suited for late toddlers and preschoolers who will enjoy the setting while finding new toys to play with and switches to turn on and off. Read the full review.



Dr. Panda Airport

Dr. Panda Airport

Dr. Panda Airport by Dr. Panda is set at an airport adventure featuring ten activities including:  going through security, checking in at the desk, driving the luggage cart, getting your bags via baggage claim, controlling airspace via the control tower, counting money for a payphone and making a phone call, stamping tickets, cleaning the airplane. loading the flight with luggage and going to lost and found.  The app is designed for children in preschool and older through elementary school.  It practices skills such as fine motor, sorting, counting, finding a specific object, expressive language. shape recognition and matching,  and more.  The four main characters in the app are a monkey, elephant, raccoon and a hippopotamus who are all attired in different types of vacation clothing.  Read our full review



Dr. Panda Bus Driver

Dr. Panda Bus Driver

Dr. Panda Bus Driver by Dr. Panda has Dr. Panda is driving a bus around either a city, countryside, harbor or a variety of other locations picking up and dropping off his passengers, painting the bus, refilling the gas tank and more!  Much like a traditional bus, you have to stop to let passengers and other vehicles go by, stop for trains that will pass as well as clean up the bus after your “route” has been completed.  This app is designed for preschoolers through early elementary school similar to other Dr. Panda apps and will provide hours of open ended play for them that uses fine motor skills both from seating passengers and driving the bus either with your finger or by gently moving your device to steer it from side to side to ensure it stays in the road.  The scenery within the app changes each time you launch it – and can range a harbor complete with a  drawbridge, railroad crossings, tunnels, birds in the road to a countryside.  Dr. Panda must deliver his animal friends safely to their destination while ensuring they are sitting down on the bus and watching out for obstructions.  When an obstruction comes up – a warning “light” comes up inside the bus so you can touch it to stop for it and allow the drawbridge to go up and down, passengers to cross the road as well as watching out for birds and other wildlife that might be on the road.  Read our full review


Dr. Panda Handyman

Dr. Panda Handyman

Dr. Panda Handyman by Dr. Panda  Games is the latest universal app for iOS featuring Dr. Panda as he fixes of household objects that seem to have mysteriously broken through 14 mini games. The app is designed for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school children.  The app is a great one for children to practice fine motor skills as well as naming and finding objects and tools. One of our favorite features of the app was fixing all the different objects around the house and the realistic sounds of the tools as they worked. We loved that the tasks varied so you were not always doing the same task over and over again.  My son also loved giving high fives to Dr Panda for a job well done!  The three dimensional graphics  in the app were animated and we saw familiar characters from the other Dr Panda apps and were very engaging for our testers.  Read our full review.



Dr. Panda Home

Dr. Panda Home

Dr. Panda’s Home by Dr. Panda is a universal app for iOS and allows your children to do chores in Dr. Panda’s House while earning an allowance for completing them.  The app is done in 3D and has over 20 mini games and activities to complete.  Your child is assigned a list of three chores which are checked off on a list as they are completed and then after they are completed, are awarded five coins for their piggy bank.  Your child can either spend the coins on small toys or save them to get bigger toys for the toy shelf.  The app is kid friendly and brings all of Dr. Panda’s animal friends to life while they help you do daily chores like emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the toilet and bathroom sink, sorting and doing a load of laundry, mowing the lawn, washing the windows and more. The app also helps with step by step directions, sequencing, following a task to completion as well as fine motor skills.  Read the full review



Dr. Panda Hospital icon

Dr. Panda Hospital

Dr. Panda’s Hospital by Dr. Panda Games is a universal app which features eight different animals that your child will take to their hospital beds, discover and treat their health problems.  The app features ten mini-games which include: treating an upset stomach,  treating chicken pox, giving an injection, treating eyes, ears, mouth/teeth as well as retrieving mistakenly swallowed items.  TribePlay was founded in 2008 and creates educational games for the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android and is based in Chengdu, Western China.   Dr. Panda and TribePlay are certified by the kidSAFE® Seal Program which certifies child-friendly websites and applications including kid-targeted game sites, web-connected devices and other products.  This app helps practice fine motor, sequencing, speech and discussion skills as well as creative/dramatic play.  This app provides a great rendition of an animal hospital for children to interact with and treat all of the various animals.  Read the full review.



Dr. Panda Racers

Dr. Panda Racers

Dr. Panda Racers by Dr. Panda LTD  features a racing theme that lets you build your own cars and track including jumps and tricks, washing your vehicle, competing against other Dr. Panda characters and more!  As you successfully complete the races – in first place you earn prizes which include race car parts, spray paints, and trophies.  The tracks can either be concrete, dirt or sand and you choose them prior to racing at the event.  To play the app you either choose or build your car, choose or build your track and then head to the pits for a wash before going out to the track for the race.  At the starting line you are prompted to buckle your seat belt and then it’s on to the race and fun stunts!  The track is controlled using a toggle which allows you to go 5 or 10 – and then the stunts require stopping to complete a tracing task.  Read our full review



Dr. Panda Firefighters

Dr. Panda Firefighters

Dr. Panda Firefighters is a universal app for iOS that lets your child fight fires, drive a fire truck, clear obstacles, explore over 30 rooms and more. This app is designed for toddler age and up and features Dr. Panda and his friends as they drive the firetruck to the scene of the fire, turn on the water and look around for flames to extinguish. It reminded me very much of playing fire engines as a kid, except Dr Panda was able to physically make the rooms rather than me having to imagine them. The app is great for toddler and preschoolers especially. It can be used to practice following directions, expressive language to narrate what they are doing and following along with the animals to rescue them. There is also cause and effect of fighting the fire, handing over the tools and moving on to the next level. Read our full review



Dr. Panda Toy Cars Free

Dr. Panda Toy Cars Free

Dr. Panda’s Toy Cars by Dr. Panda  allows your children to role-play and use their imaginations in two cities with a variety of vehicles ranging from a fire truck, boat, police car, ambulance, cargo truck, regular cars and more.  The app allows you to “drive” with your finger, turn on and off sirens, put out fires, put up and down barriers for the railroad crossing and more.  The app is designed for children from toddler through preschool although my elementary aged student really enjoyed the activities contained within the app.  My son loved that two of us (or more) could play with the app at the same time as you can drive multiple vehicles simultaneously.



Dr. Panda Space

Dr. Panda Space

Dr. Panda in Space is a universal app for iOS, Amazon appstore  and Android which allows you to customize your own space ship and blast off and have open ended discovery in space of planets, asteroids, activities such as fixing your space ship, free play in zero gravity and more.  This app is aimed at preschool and early grade school aged children with lots of great free play opportunities for the younger children during the exploration phase.  The app begins with a customization of your spaceship where you then blast off into space and begin your exploration.  Read our full review.



Dr. Panda Mailman

Dr. Panda Mailman

 Dr. Panda’s Mailman is a universal app for iOS that features the post office!  This app features the ability to make and address your own postcards, pick a gift to package up for delivery including wrapping and delivery.  The app features a variety of animals, including a pig, the turtle (Toto)  we saw in Toto’s Treehouse, a monkey, elephant, sheep, hippo, cat, raccoon, elephant and more for a total of 12 animals!  After designing your package, Dr. Panda is off on an adventure to deliver your mail.  The stamp on the package or postcard helps him know where to deliver it and it’s placed into Dr. Panda’s scooter to deliver it.  The world includes rivers, forests, mountains and houses along with jumps, roads, road signs and more!  This app is best suited for preschoolers and early elementary aged children.  Skills practiced can include language, motor skills in coloring and driving the scooter, listening to directions.  Read our full review.


Dr. Panda Swimming Pool

Dr. Panda Swimming Pool

Dr. Panda’s Swimming Pool by Dr. Panda is a universal app designed for iOS that has the animals in a variety of aquatic settings at a pool. You can dress in a variety of bathing suits in the locker room while taking a shower and getting ready for the pool, diving off a pirate ship, playing in a sandbox, going down a water slide or playing in a small wading pool with a variety of lunch items available.  This app is aimed at toddlers and preschoolers.  Skills practiced include language both receptive and expressive, and some fine motor skills. I liked that the app had four different play areas similar to a traditional beach.  The graphics were crisp and they showcased especially well with the animations.   Read our full review.




Dr. Panda's Ice Cream Truck

Dr. Panda’s Ice Cream Truck

Dr. Panda Ice Cream Truck by Dr. Panda has you making your own ice cream using a variety of colors, mix-in’s such as fruit while whipping it up in a blender to make your favorite combinations.  Once your ice cream is created you then add your toppings like squeeze on caramel or rainbow, sprinkles which include chocolate curls, and traditional sprinkles as well as the ability to top it with candy.  After finishing the ice cream you tap on a bell and you help  the character eat it before paying for the ice cream sundae.  The payment for each sundae depends on the size, complexity and amount of toppings used.  I have seen cones range from four to 31 coins depending on how you put it together.  Read the full review




Dr. Panda Supermarket

Dr. Panda Supermarket

Dr. Panda Supermarket by Dr. Panda is a universal app for iOS which features Dr. Panda in the supermarket along with many of his friends we have seen in previous apps including the most recent Dr. Panda Daycare.    Dr. Panda is based in Chengdu, China where the national animal is a giant panda!  The app features the animals as they go grocery shopping and a variety of ten themed mini games which vary from shopping using a list, organizing differently shaped boxes, cleaning up spills and more with six different animals and their children.  The app practices fine motor, critical thinking and creative play skills.  It does not contain any language either written or spoken which means it will appeal to toddlers to early preschool age children.  Read the full review



Dr. Panda’s Veggie Garden Dr. Panda’s Veggie Garden by Dr. Panda allows your child to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables for their customers who are comprised of a variety of animals we have met in previous Dr. Panda games.  The app allows you to plow, plant, water, harvest and of course take care of any insect infestations or critters from harming your crops.  This universal app features sequencing, fine motor, visual skills as well as language to name objects within the app.  The app features a variety of different “steps” which include: digging, planting seeds, watering and harvesting for five animal customers using 12 different fruits and vegetables including corn, wheat, strawberries and apples to name a few.  In addition, there are two bonus mini games which help your child organize the tool shed.  Read our full review.



Dr. Panda Beauty Salon

Dr. Panda Beauty Salon

Dr Panda Beauty Salon by Dr Panda Games allows your child to immerse themselves into a spa experience where they pamper the pets and do a bunch of great mini games.  The app allows for open ended creative play and has some great hidden elements within to unlock.  This universal app had wide appeal with our testers, both boys and girls who enjoyed playing with the virtual spa.  The app features 13 mini games along with three floors of fun!   My son even enjoyed tapping on the pictures on the walls, finding the hidden nail polish which means your next client automatically gets nail polish and a pedicure as well as the smaller features like the vibrating chairs, magazines and variety of tasks needed to play the app.  The waiting room was fun as the customers entered – similar to other Dr. Panda apps and we loved listening to the music, reading magazines and sipping tea.   Read our full review.



Dr. Panda Cafe

Dr. Panda Cafe

Dr. Panda Cafe from Dr. Panda Games  is a new universal app for iOS which has your child making food and drinks in a cafe setting.  As you gain more customers, you have to balance time management, taking orders and making them as well as cleaning up.  As you serve more customers, you earn new recipes and foods to give to the customers. To play the app, first you seat the customer at a table – if the table is empty you can put the customer at it.  Once they are seated, you take their order and go back behind the counter as Dr. Panda to work on the order.  Items are broken into categories, and you tap on the correct category to make or brew the item.  Once you have made all of the items in the order, it’s time to serve it to the customers.  You can take orders from multiple customers at once, and make food the same way although it can bet a bit confusing!  Among the food choices, coffee/tea, cakes, pizza and as you get to know your customers better you can try to imagine what they might order in advance.  It was important to pay attention to the customers in order to keep them happy which in turn unlocked items after you earned stars and gave you more food and drinks to serve.  Read our full review


Dr. Panda Art Class

Dr. Panda Art Class

Art Class with Dr. Panda  takes kid-art to a whole new level of enjoyment and allows your children to make one of six different art projects with their favorite animals from the Dr. Panda series.  The activities include: making a kite, cutting to make a design, making a pinwheel, making pottery, making a bead design and decorating an object with shapes.  Skills practiced in the app include: fine motor, creative thinking, sequential thinking, creative play and of course FUN! He loved shaping the pottery on the pottery wheel, watching it get fired in the kiln and the painting it with the rainbow colored paintbrush.    I also loved that the art book hanging on the wall allows your child to choose an activity (from the ones available in the app) as well as choosing an animal at the table.  We had fun with all of the activities in the app – and also really enjoyed the cutting one which required you to fold a piece of paper in a specific way and then make cuts with scissors prior to unfolding it to see your design.  Read our full review.



Dr. Panda Hoopa City 2

Dr. Panda Hoopa City 2

Hoopa City 2 by Dr. Panda Games is the newest app in the collection, this app is universal and features a building theme which encourages speech, creative play and role playing depending on the activity in the city.  The app appeals to kids from preschool through elementary school, and I found myself even enjoying playing with one of my son’s cities. My son really liked all the content in the app.  He enjoyed putting people in the buildings, role playing and switching from day to night.  He liked building his own characters as he progressed within the app.  As a mom, I liked the amount of content that was offered and the variety of options for building, playing or simply interacting with the city.   The 3D graphics are beautiful and my son enjoyed experimenting to create the different buildings and testing out combinations to see what bigger and better buildings he could make.   Read our full review