David Wiesner’s Spot by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Review

David Wiesner’s Spot by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Review



What we love…

fantastic graphics, variety of different worlds you can explore using a simple “spot”; taking the ordinary everyday objects and making exploration extraordinary

What we’d love to see…

ability to interact with some of the elements more, currently they are stationary and unless you can pinch/zoom you can’t “play” with them; ability to storybook what you see within the app spots

Summary

This app takes an ordinary spot and turns it into the extraordinary using the power of your iPad, impressive graphics and provides an experience that will have you and your children exploring for hours.

Our Rating

David Wiesner's SpotDavid Wiesner’s Spot by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is an iOS app that provides an immersive experience using the pinch and zoom concept to explore.  The app starts with a ladybug which you pinch and zoom and you are transported into a world with a variety of different objects to explore.  Pick the ladbug and you are brought down in to the mysterious world of the ladybugs house and a ladybug metal shop.  Pick a pencil with a spot on it and you are brought into a winter wonderland where you can examine snow on a crystal by crystal basis.   This is an app that truly takes the iPad from a tablet to the extraordinary through the use of an app.  Spot is based upon a series of books by David Weisner.  It stimulates creative thinking (what happens if I go here instead of there), storytelling (what am I seeing here), exploration (what happens if I touch here versus there) all wrapped up inside one app.

I loved this app as did my seven year old.  We spent hours exploring the different areas within the app and exploring the different worlds.  There are five different worlds and a variety of entry points that allow you to go in.  The graphics in the app are superior and really tap into the power of the iPad as a tablet.    My son enjoyed finding a variety of objects including the “dust bunny’s” underneath the green chair, or the rain scene from the ladybugs from a simple newspaper photo that you could zoom into.  I loved the critical thinking skills that it employed as well as some of the zany scenes, our favorite was the cat parade route which was certainly something you would never see in real life but the details and scene were amazing.  The graphics and detail of taking ordinary objects like a pencil or sandwich and allowing you to pinch and zoom within the app set this apart from any other app that I have ever used on my iPad.  I sat with my son many times as he explored the app and asked him to describe to me what he was seeing.  Then we talked about if what he was seeing was “real” or not – do dust bunny’s actually look like  real bunnies or what does snow really look like inside.

I did find myself at times wishing I could interact with some of the elements more.  For example, my son wanted to zoom in and play with the dust bunny’s under the chair or the cat’s in the alley during the parade but there was no way to do so.  I also loved the quirky features like the mouse propelled cat car during the parade scene.  I’d also love a camera feature within the app that allowed you to take photo’s within the app and create a storyboard that could be used after using the app to tell the story of where you went.  We used the regular camera roll for the purposes of our storytelling, but it would be nice to have a layout so you could explain in a thoughtful process of what you explored.

This app takes an ordinary spot and turns it into the extraordinary using the power of your iPad, impressive graphics and provides an experience that will have you and your children exploring for hours.  In the parental gate, which requires a specific motion to enter you can access a free parent and educator guide to help you work with your child to get the most out of the app.

David Wiesner's Spot
David Wiesner's Spot
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Category: Books, Education
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 601.48 MB

$4.99USD

Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

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.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 Up to 100 by Marbotic – Review

Up to 100 by Marbotic – Review



upto100

What we love…

fun game that engages children to learn about numbers using a traditional app as well as the added wooden numbers portion

What we’d love to see…

hints for the rooster level problems if they are answered wrong repeated times;  introduction to wooden numbers for the parent

Summary

This app helped my son be able to demonstrate the one and ten position of numbers in the span of less than a week.   It is best suited to preschool to early elementary school age.

Our Rating

 

Up to 100Up to 100 by Marbotic is an iPad only app that takes tablet based learning to a different level by allowing you to use wooden numbers to press on the screen for learning.  The app is aimed at preschool age and slightly older and helps your number learn number sequencing (find the missing number), understanding two digit numbers (the ten and the one place); recognizing a number written out in either cursive or print, understand the pronunciation of numbers and the ability to manipulate quantities of numbers.  The app has narration available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish.

We tested the app using both the traditional style with moving the numbers and touching them as well as with the tactile wooden numbers and hands down we enjoyed using the wooden numbers more.    In the understanding the ten and one places – there are three levels (chick, hen and rooster) each has progressively more difficult.  The chick allows you to experiment by dragging or touching numbers to the screen and visually displaying them.  The hen displays a number and then you have to either use the number strip or the wooden numbers to tap on it as well as saying the number.  The rooster shows the number of dots to represent each of the numbers in the ten and one spots and then you have to fill in the information correctly.  It was similar in the numbers section with the chick section allowing you to manipulate the numbers, rooster showing a series of numbers with one missing that you had to fill in and the rooster showing a spelled out word.

I liked that the app used simple concepts such as a ten box and a one box with dots to show the progression of numbers as well as having three different levels of difficulty.  This meant we could experiment with concepts prior to having to demonstrate them.  The app was easy to play and provided instructions as you played,   The parent area allowed you to change the settings for your children including the showing of the number bar, beads in color versus black and white, numbers in letters and the toggling of the numbers slide.  For the most part we left the numbers slide on even when using the wooden toy because it helped my son to sequence his numbers.  I also really liked that I could choose the range of numbers allowing us to focus in on specific ranges of numbers.

In terms of improvements, I did find that if I didn’t position the “6” or the “9” properly with the wooden toy they would be misread by the iPad – I’m sure this was due to the positioning of the rubber dots on the back of the wooden numbers.  Also in the rooster level of the ten and one places if you got the number wrong multiple times, it would just fly away the number rather than giving a hint or eliminating the number of items available.  I’d also like to see a few instructions included in the box with the wooden numbers as when I opened it – it was simply a box of numbers.  Even an overview of – how hard to press as well as the suggestion of how to use them with your child would have been very helpful.

The app has a parents corner which requires the solving of a math problem in order to enter.  There are no in-app purchases or advertisements in the full version of the app.

We really enjoyed practicing our math skills with this app especially when using the wooden toy.  Although it’s not required to use the app, it helped my son make the connection between physical numbers and numbers on the iPad and helped him become more engaged.  I think it also improved his understanding of the one and ten spot of numbers as we were able to replicate the experience off our iPad – something we couldn’t really do without using our fingers to count before.  This app is best suited to preschool through early elementary school age and the three levels means it will grow with your child.

RRP of the wooden toy is 34,99 € plus shipping which varies by country.  The wooden toy can also be used in 10 fingers + and More or Less : Learn addition and subtraction.


by

Category:
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

$


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.  In addition the wooden toy was provided for review purposes and further testing of the app.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 Off the Rails by Freecloud Design -Review

Off the Rails by Freecloud Design -Review




iPhone Screenshot 1

What we love…

Unique, brilliant, challenging, educational, and extremely fun

What we’d love to see…

I like it the way it is.

Summary

An innovative roller coaster physics app that is sure to entertain and educate kids of all ages.

Our Rating

Off The Rails is a brilliant roller coaster app that allows you to build and ride your very own roller coaster inside a colorful and vibrant theme park. It is created by Dan Russell-Pinson, developer of outstanding and award winning apps such as Stack The Countries, Stack The States, Monster Physics, Collider, Tower Math and Tipping Point.

Off The Rails has players building roller coasters, but in a rather unconventional way. Instead of having players choose tracks and put them together, the tracks are automatically laid out according to the direction the player maneuvers the roller coaster vehicle. It is as if tracks magically appear as you ride on it. This unique way of building a roller coaster makes the process both incredibly fun and challenging. It also requires some knowledge of roller coaster physics, and Dan Russell-Pinson has included a short lesson to help players out with that.

iPhone Screenshot 5

To build a roller coaster, players first select the control type (twist or turn) and control settings (low, medium, or high) for the coaster. Then, they select a vehicle. At first, there are only two vehicles to choose from: a roller coaster car and a hot rod. There are twelve more vehicles that players can unlock when they earn enough virtual money to purchase them. They cost anywhere from $4 to $50 and include a golf cart, an ice cream truck, a tractor, an airplane, and a robot horse! As you can see, they are not your typical roller coaster vehicles, which makes this game even more fun. Players earn money by having their coasters go through the green colored balls that can be found all around the theme park. Each ball they go through earns them $1. There are not too many of these balls laying around though, so they need to make several roller coasters to make enough money to buy all the vehicles available.

iPhone Screenshot 2

Along with earning money, players can also complete 75 different objectives as they build. These objectives require having coasters go through other specially colored balls, reach or exceed speeds, and go through other park structures. As a bonus, players who are familiar with Dan Russell-Pinson’s apps will be delighted to find that the park structures and rides are based on his other games.

Players can make and save as many coasters as they wish. They can also ride them again and again. When riding, players can adjust the speed, pause it, change perspectives, and change camera angles.

iPhone Screenshot 3

As of this writing, my children have already unlocked several vehicles and completed a few objectives. My 8, 10, 13, and 17 year old all love this game immensely and I hear laughter every time they play together. Some of the coasters they create are very short and some are extremely long with lots of loops, tunnels, and dips. The only limit to creating coasters is their imagination.

I am once again impressed and very pleased with a Dan Russell-Pinson app and I highly recommend it to roller coaster fans of all ages.

Off the Rails™ – Freecloud Design, Inc.

Off the Rails® Off the Rails® by Freecloud Design, Inc.

Price: $1.99 USD

Imagine designing a roller coaster while you’re riding it!

Off the Rails@ is a unique game that allows you to build roller coasters in real time by simply tilting your screen. Create loops, .

 

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Fides and her husband have been married for 16 years. They homeschool their 4 children: two amazing sons and two beautiful daughters. Fides likes to walk and jog outdoors everyday and has as very difficult time resisting a slice of paradise cake.
 Tracks ‘n’ Trains Zoo Train by Busy Bee Studios – Review

Tracks ‘n’ Trains Zoo Train by Busy Bee Studios – Review



iPad Screenshot 5

What we love…

simple, fun, great graphics and animation, develops learning skills

What we’d love to see…

more accessories, note not to use special characters when saving.

Summary

A well-made virtual train set that is sure to delight children.

Our Rating

Tracks 'n' Trains: Zoo TrainI have four children and all of them love trains.  Our oldest, a boy, began his collection when he was just 3 years old.  It turned out to be a worthy investment because 14 years later; his younger siblings are still enjoying it.  If your children are train lovers like mine, and I believe most of them are, they will enjoy Busy Bee Studio’s newest app Tracks ‘n’ Trains:  Zoo Train.

Tracks ‘n’ Trains: Zoo Train is a virtual train set.   It comes with 15 track pieces, 3 scenes with 14 accessories each (animals, trees, lakes, roads, etc.), and 3 trains.  There are 9 pre-built train tracks that are ready for children to play with.  Otherwise, they can build as many custom tracks as they wish.

Buildings tracks is very simple.  First, choose “Build & Play” from the home screen.  This will take you to the “Spring Scene” as my children like to call it.  To choose a different scenery, click on the purple button on the bottom right of the screen.  A menu will pop up that will allow you to start over, return to the home screen, save a scene, load a scene, and choose a scene.  There are 3 scenes to choose from: Spring, Desert, and Winter.

After choosing your scene, you can begin laying out your tracks.  First, click on the track piece you want to use.  Then, click on the area of the screen where you want to place it.  If you want to remove a track, press on it until it disappears.  Next, add your accessories. Click on the picture of the tree on the bottom left of the screen.  This takes you to all the accessories available for the scene you chose.  You place accessories the same way you place the tracks.  Finally, pick a train to place on the tracks by clicking on the picture of the train just below the tree on the bottom left of the screen.  There are 3 trains available, but you can only place one at a time on your track.  After you have placed the train on the track, turn the switch to the on position (bottom right of screen) and watch your train go and your scene come to life.  Just below the off and on switch is the speed settings.  You can speed up and slow down the train as you wish.  That’s it!

This app is so simple and so entertaining, that my youngest child created ten different layouts within the first hour that she played it.  She did ask for more accessories such as more animals, some buildings, tunnels, and perhaps a zoo destination.   It would also be good to note that you can only use alphanumeric characters when saving a scene.  Otherwise, the app will crash and you will lose the scene you just created.  My daughter was crushed when this happened to her, but quickly went back to re-creating the scene she just made.

Tracks ‘n’ Trains: Zoo Train is a fun app that will appeal to children of all ages.   It also helps develop logical thinking and problem solving skills.  It includes a parental gate to prevent children from accessing external links.  I highly recommend this app and hope to see more accessories added in the future.

Tracks ‘n’ Trains: Zoo Train

Zoo Train: Tracks 'n' Trains
Zoo Train: Tracks 'n' Trains
by Busy Bee Studios

Category: Games, Education, Family, Educational
Requirements: Compatible with iPadWifi-iPadWifi, iPad3G-iPad3G, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 20.32 MB

$0.99USD

Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)



Zoo Train: Tracks 'n' Trains Zoo Train: Tracks 'n' Trains by Busy Bee Studios

Price: $0.99 USD

Imagine it, then build it - for little kids! Kids design their own track, decorate the environment, then choose a train and drive their train in the world they just built!

Easy controls are intuitive.


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Fides and her husband have been married for 16 years. They homeschool their 4 children: two amazing sons and two beautiful daughters. Fides likes to walk and jog outdoors everyday and has as very difficult time resisting a slice of paradise cake.

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