Step-by-step instructions, summaries, examples in lessons are presented through fun videos and songs.
What we’d love to see…
An option to remove or adjust the timer for the final challenge in each course.
A complete Math and English learning app that keeps students engaged and motivated to learn and upgrade.
Is your child having problems mastering a particular Math or English lesson no matter what you do to help? My youngest has been struggling to remember the basic rules of writing a simple sentence despite having done many written exercises. Then I let him have a go at the app, Learning Upgrade. To my surprise, he picked up the skills easily within the day!
What worked for my son (who is a visual learner) is the combination of teaching through catchy songs, lively animations and entertaining videos plus game-like exercises that are fun to do. Learning Upgrade is a very engaging learning app. It has lessons that he likes to watch again and again, pop-style songs (highlighting the key words) that he tries to sing along with and exercises that he is willing to redo because all the questions are attractively presented and it is easy for him to input his answers. He especially likes the app’s positive and enthusiastic response whenever he submits a correct answer.
What I like, on the other hand, is the use of visual representations, summaries and examples to teach, the helpful guided exercises that reinforce the learning points, the different ways of questioning to ensure a student’s full understanding of the topic, the comprehensive coverage and the gradual and progressive manner in which skills are being taught.
Students are allowed to progress to the next lesson only when they have earned 100 points (from correct answers) and attained at least 75% correct. A rewards system is in place to encourage students to repeat the exercises in order to improve on their scores. At the completion of a course, students have to pass the final challenge before moving to the next course. But you can also choose to unlock all the lessons in your account settings so that your child can jump to any lesson.
I appreciate how the app supports students who need a little extra help in answering the questions in the learning games that follow each video lesson. Lines in passages are underlined as they are read out. There is a speaker button to tap if students need to hear the questions or instructions again. For answers that require reading, students can hear the individual words before attempting to answer. They also have the opportunity to check their answers before submitting.
The app doesn’t miss any teaching moments either. A short animation repeating the answer follows the correct answer to give further reinforcement. When an incorrect answer is submitted, the correct answer is always demonstrated and the app does not move to the next screen until the student has enough time to review the answer.
Learning Upgrade is free to download and comes with a video on the course descriptions and 6 demo lessons (with exercises) – 3 each for Math and English. If you register with an email, you will have free access to 8 lessons for each subject. To begin, choose between English or Math and then decide between 3 starting points. You can choose to start from the beginning of the curriculum, take a placement test to determine a course that is appropriate for your child’s learning needs or just select a course level that you want to review.
Currently, the app offers 60 lessons for each of the English Upgrade level 1-5 and Math Upgrade level K-8 courses, that’s more than 900 lessons in total. A course on Algebra was also added recently. To continue beyond the free lessons, you have 3 subscription plans to choose from – $7.99 for 1 month access to all lessons, $19.99 for 3 months and $59.99 for 12 months. You can access your lessons from the web as well as your smart phones and tablets. An internet connection is required for loading the lessons and saving the student’s progress.
Learning Upgrade is a comprehensive Math and English learning app that complements the school curriculum. Lessons are professionally done and enjoyable. Review exercises are varied and effective. Whether your child is trying to catch up or stay ahead of the class, Learning Upgrade is an excellent learning companion to have.
My Pets: Cat & Dog for Kids by Knbmedia is a kids app that encourages the use of observation to find a variety of animals in the house, park, garden, and garage. The app first prompts you to find the animal, and then you scroll with your finger to locate it. The app tells you what to look for such as a goldfish, then shows a picture of the item. Once you tap on the item it pops up a card which shows a larger version of the item in a card format and allows you to hear the items name in a variety of ways: English, French, Spanish, to record your own voice. When you find the animal an image pops up on the card and the head or in some cases the body moves. In the version of the app I tested, I tested both My Pets and My Pets 2.
What we love…
fun animal themed game that encourages kids to use perception and finding skills to find the animal within the app
What we’d love to see…
animals that are a bit more of a match in the app to the item pictured
My Pets: Cat & Dog for Kids is a fantastic early learning game which encourages kids to find an animal using visual perception, then hear the name and follow up games are included like an animal album, jigsaw puzzle and additional modes.
My Pets: Cat & Dog for Kids keeps track of animals that you find, and after you find all of them, they are placed in a booklet which is called a card. After finding all of them, you can print a booklet to show all of the animals which can be sent via email, direct printing via Wi-Fi and file sharing. For the email option, it does pop up an email, but you can’t go beyond that. For the direct printing a printer icon shows up. The app allows for multiple modes perfect for younger and older kids, as well as letting you pick your specified language for spoken instructions and animal names. That is protected by a parental gate.
My Pets: Cat & Dog for Kids includes 48 animals total. Gameplay is multi-lingual and you can find the animals on your device, take their photo, create a jigsaw puzzle, take a quiz or watch a video. Animals range from cats and dogs to birds, hamsters and rabbits. In the My Pets 2 world, animals include a hedgehog, turtle, koi carp, horse, spider. After finding all the animals, you can take a photo of the animals in the house (using an integrated camera – nothing is saved in the camera roll) and once you take 12 photos a surprise awaits. There is also a game that tells you it’s almost nighttime and you have to find the animals using a night light – at first they are in a specific area then you have to scroll in the dark to find the animal.
As a parent, I liked that My Pets: Cat & Dog for Kids encouraged kids to find an item and then let them listen to what it was called. My younger son didn’t turn the wheel to hear the animal name pronounced in many ways, but my older son did. I also liked that kids were guided a bit if they went the wrong way and didn’t get frustrated at trying to find an item. I also liked that My Pets: Cat & Dog for Kids was an app kids could play multiple times without repetition and there were new activities they could earn like the printable album, the ability to take photos of the animals or a jigsaw puzzle. A visual reminder at the top showed a camera filling in as progress toward the next milestone activity. For example, when you take a photo it gives you a fact about the animal and then saves it to the game. The jigsaw puzzle has you “shake” your device after taking a photo which means that you can get a puzzle that’s either 4/6/12/20 pieces and the longer you shake it the more pieces. I also liked the multi-user setting as well as the ability to set the difficulty which ranged from easy, to difficult with varying levels of cues that were provided.
In terms of enhancements for My Pets: Cat & Dog for Kids, sometimes the animals didn’t always look like the item that was on the screen telling you to look for it. One example is the Maine Coon Cat which was pictured as an animated white cat, when you tapped on the cat a more accurate striped cat was shown. My younger son didn’t always like the head movement of the animals when they were found – I’m not sure why because he couldn’t tell me why he didn’t like it at first but once he used the app a bit he got more used to it.
My Pets: Cat & Dog for Kids is a fantastic early learning game which encourages kids to find an animal using visual perception, then hear the name and follow up games are included like an animal album, jigsaw puzzle and additional modes. The app is free with IAP for My Pets World 2. There are additional worlds listed as well with the note” “coming soon”. The app includes appropriate parental gates and no advertising.
Great variety of high interest puzzle themes introducing lots of basic and advanced vocabulary.
What we’d love to see…
A choice of lower or upper case for display of vocabulary words.
A unique puzzle and mini-game app that is engaging and meaningful with enormous amount of content for building a rich vocabulary.
PUZZINGO Kids Puzzles (Pro) is more than just a puzzle app. It is an extensive vocabulary app where the subjects are presented through different types of toddler and preschool puzzles. And these are not the average puzzles that you find in other puzzle apps. The puzzles in Puzzingo are both engaging and meaningful while the gameplay is ingenious. I’m totally impressed.
The vocabulary words are grouped according to themes or categories which helps children develop skills in sorting and classifying objects. Besides learning the name and sound of each object, they also learn what goes together. You can help your child to gain more knowledge and develop analytical skills by highlighting the similarities or relationship between the different objects.
Each themed pack of puzzles consists of 7 groups of puzzles focusing on 7 different topics within the theme e.g. the core concepts pack includes puzzles on shapes, colors, numbers, counting, emotions, alphabet and weather. Currently there is a total of 22 puzzle packs included in the app covering core concepts, food, professions, holidays, animals, space, life of toys, bugs, pets, dinosaurs, pirates, princesses & fairies, sports, music, fairy tales, super heroes, cars, trains, airplanes, trucks and candy kingdom. What is important to note is that there is a wide variety of high interest themes for younger children to choose from.
From an educator’s perspective, I like that the words introduced in each group help to build a rich vocabulary. Learners can see the print (in upper case) and hear the associated word read aloud when they touch each object puzzle, which in turn helps with labelling and word recognition. It is a great app for use in speech therapy. Besides learning the US English language, learners can also learn the vocabulary in Spanish, UK English, Chinese and Japanese.
While I’m impressed with the enormous amount of content that kids can potentially learn from the app, what I find refreshing is the format of the app’s gameplay – how it extends the play from one puzzle game to another meaningfully.
Each pack of puzzles consist of 2 types of puzzles, 1-piece puzzles and layered puzzles. Each 1-piece puzzles are easy to complete but each of these puzzle piece brings players to a more challenging layered puzzle. The layered puzzles show the many parts and layers that make up the object shown on the 1-piece puzzle piece. Players learn the names of these parts as they build the object puzzle piece-by-piece. In some cases, the parts could be items that are associated with the theme. For example, the soccer puzzle game introduces terms like goalie, goal, photographer, camera, signs, cone, players, injured player, medics, forward, midfielder, defender, soccer ball, jersey, cleats and shin guards.
Regardless the total number of puzzle pieces that kids have to put in place in order to complete a puzzle game, the app presents only 2 pieces at any one time so that kids won’t get overwhelmed. Another toddler-friendly support comes in the form of prompts that show kids where to place the puzzle piece when they placed the piece incorrectly repeatedly.
Once a puzzle game is completed, players are rewarded with an interactive mini-game that helps them to explore further on the theme. Kids can fly an airplane, conduct a band, dress up a character, score a goal, feed a dinosaur, drive a vehicle, play with the toys and many more activities. The games are varied and deliver so much fun with their cute animations and sound effects that they may just overshadow the puzzles in terms of popularity with kids. Repeat play is guaranteed.
If you have a preschooler at home, you definitely need to get Puzzingo. The free version Puzzingo Puzzles offers 7 sets of puzzles and mini-games and a free daily puzzle from one of the themed puzzle packs that is available for purchase. You can purchase individual puzzle packs or an All-Access Pass. This Pass allows your child to play with more than 150 puzzles and enjoy new content and games through regular updates. The latest update for the 2017 Holidays offers the Trucks Puzzles pack and Toys Puzzles pack which are perfect gifts for the holiday season!
With Puzzingo, completing a puzzle becomes meaningful and purposeful. Preschoolers are exposed to lots of vocabulary words from a wide range of topics while reaping the benefits of completing puzzles like spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, matching and fine-motor skills. With so much content in a single app, I’m positive that your preschoolers will have many favorite puzzles to keep them busy learning and playing.
Art for “Light of Mine” (c) 2012 by Christopher Lyles
What we love…
fantastic app that encourages parents and caregivers to read with children featuring a library of curated stories, conversation starters and bright colorful artwork. I loved that we were able to carry over and do activities after learning about them during our daily lives like stomping, slipping, sliding and being more observant
What we’d love to see…
parental lock of some sort on the cog wheel – there are no external links but my son liked to tap on it. I would also like to see a bigger parent’s resource section included – there are a number of resources on the web but not integrated within the app.
Beautifully illustrated app that encourages active reading via the story by asking questions, making observations and learning. Kids can also tie it to real life and role play the stories.
ReadAskChat is a curated library of stories designed for children from six months to age 4. The stories feature bright artwork, text and parental cues to help parents read with their children. I still remember the first time I sat in the rocker with my then infant son and held a black and white board book to read with him. I felt unprepared, because I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to read with him or help him learn. You can read our interview with co-founders Alice and Carolyn to learn more about the reasons on why ReadAskChat was created. You can also read a paper about the science behind ReadAskChat. This app takes it beyond your device or tablet and encourages interactive reading using conversation starters to help kids engage and learn. Key concepts in the app include rhyming, patterning, early academics like colors, shapes, early sight words along with math and science concepts.
As I have gotten to be a mom of two – reading with my kids has gotten easier. They both know when it’s bedtime – we have 15-30 minutes depending on the day that we sit, snuggle and look at books. We practice things like how to hold the book, turning pages from front to back as well as moving with the text via songs, pointing to objects and just handling a book. In this digital age, it’s also important to consider that books are available on tablets, smartphones and other devices meaning that downtime doesn’t just have to mean that your child “plays” on your phone — you can turn it into educational time.
Here’s a snippet from Carolyn about the idea behind ReadAskChat
The inspiration for ReadAskChat comes from personal experience. My husband and I are adoptive parents, and when our daughter Jiji came home at 9 months, she was clinically failure to thrive. She couldn’t hold her little head up or babble, or reach for shiny objects—things that 9-month-olds should be doing. But after only one month of reading picture books, singing songs, playing and snuggling, and “chatting” about anything and everything, Jiji was a fully caught up and happy 10-month-old.
When we read using my tablet or smartphone – one of the first things I do is to turn on the “night shift mode” which changes colors to be more easy on your eyes and less stimulating for children. I also love that the app can change depending on which child I am reading with – meaning I can choose prompts for my toddler or my older son while reading the same story. When you open the app, there are three free stories that are included in the library. Additional stories are available for purchase. Each story includes “conversation starters” – these are based on the developmental level of your child and can range from suggesting you bounce your baby in time with the rhythm of the story or music to questions you can ask your kids to prompt them to engage more with the story.
Using your device, you login to the app to access the library. For purposes of the review I was given access to the full library of stories. When you use the app for the first time on your device or a new device you are prompted to download the stories. The Starter Pack includes, “Light of Mine”, “Animal Tails” and “The Old Man in the Tree”. In the subscription based version other stories are categorized by Big Ideas, Special Friends, Indoor Mischief, On The Move, Action Rhymes, Math Stories, Science Stories. You also choose the developmental level for the conversation starters. They range from baby (six to 18 months); toddler (12-24 months); preschooler (2 -4 years). As we have gotten more familiar with the stories we have recently changed from toddler to preschooler level to help him continue to follow along and be engaged.
“Mario’s Trucks” illustrated by Hyewon Yum
My toddler aged son loves anything to do with cars and trucks and things that go. We typically let him pick a story and then I choose one. One of his favorites is Mario’s Trucks – which includes descriptive text like “Raise that Shovel! Dig that hole”. I typically read to him and then we talk about what we see in the photo – things like a yellow dump truck, a hard hat that Mario is wearing, a yellow digger and blocks and a crane. The conversation starters also encourage parents to add the sounds to the story and then the “ask” which encourages kids to think about what the truck does – my toddler answered carries and dumps. You are also prompted as you read to chat about what Mario might be building – my son said “tower”. We talked about it being a construction site on the first page. I also loved using the app to guide off-device play where we re-enacted specific stories that my son identified with. The illustrations in the app are beautiful and encourage kids to look and pay attention to details. The stories appeal to children and are not too overwhelming in terms of new information that is shared on a page. They also gently encourage sleep or relaxation at the end. At the end of the story you can either slide to the next story or close out of the app.
I loved the wide variety of content that was included in the app and that my son was engaged and learning from stories – which we could look at no matter where we were at a point in time. I actually found myself reading more with my son because I could pull out my iPhone or tablet while we were waiting for appointments or had short periods of downtime. He loved tapping on the screen to show me what he was seeing – and I liked hearing what he saw in the photos and engaged. Both of us became more engaged with stories – rather than him sitting in my lap passively to hear a story. In addition, I recently read to my son’s classroom and used ReadAskChat along with a software which was able to reflect my screen onto a whiteboard so that the group of kids could participate. Although the app is designed for more 1:1 or 1:2 use it was fun to use in a class because it encouraged open ended conversations and allowed kids to really engage with the story. As kids get bigger you can encourage them to help swipe and actively pick out sight words, look at the images within the stories and pick out specific details or even find an object or color within the image. With my son as we read the stories and he’s become more familiar – we now sometimes play “I spy” to see the details that we might have previously missed. One of the other things that I really enjoyed was the conversation starters to help me encourage my son to better engage with the story. Another feature I liked was the “swipe lock” which made it so my son couldn’t accidentally move forward beyond pages that I wanted him to be on. The app also lets you favorite stories using a heart at the bottom – my son quickly learned about this and we picked out his favorites and then we were able to scan for the hearts when picking a bedtime story. I also really liked the descriptive words used within the app to tell a story which tied to the picture. Words like “slip and glide” for my son were new – so we actually practiced them by sliding our feet on the rug.
In terms of enhancements – I would love to see a section for parents to understand more about reading with their children as well as the importance. I found a number of resources on the website for Readaskchat – but they were not referenced when we used the app. It would also be nice if the cog wheel at the top were parental gated – there are no external links but my son recognized this from other apps and wanted to touch it.
Overall, this is an app that is unique in that it actively encourages parents to teach their children while reading. My son loved sitting on my lap and engaging – rather than passively listening to a story. Since then I’ve noticed that when we read board books or bedtime stories he looks at the picture and we read and talk about them more – for example, find the green wall or white bunny rather than just reading the text as a more rote method of learning.
Pricing: Launch sale through December 25, 2017: Only $14.99 for the full library for one year.
LAUNCH SALE through December 25, 2017
$14.99/year (which comes to $1.25/month)
AFTER DECEMBER 25
$29.99/year (which comes to $2.50/month)
**Subscribers receive a new story pack (3 selections) bimonthly in 2018.
Note: Bulk rates are available for institutions.
NOTE: This app has in-app purchases
ReadAskChat for Children 0-4
by Read, Ask, Chat, Ltd.
This beautifully illustrated library includes on-demand guidance for parents in reading interactively—the tried-and-true way to foster school readiness and love of learning. Subscribers receive new .
NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
Want to win a copy? Simply enter using our Rafflecopter widget below. Must have an iTunes account and download a free copy of ReadAskChat. Open worldwide to everyone.
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