We are big fans of Shiny Things and their work. Their terrific math drill app Sakura Quick Math has been influential in teaching my 3-year-old son basic addition skills. Their other releases, Sakura Time and Shiny Picnic, are favorites in our household as well.
The Sakura apps series was created to allow juniors to learn basic math operations and time telling skills using intuitive handwriting recognition technology. They are perfect for juniors ages four and up.
On the other hand, the Shiny Kids apps series was created for younger juniors, ages two and up, to learn basic math concepts through short stories and mini games. Shiny Picnic was the first app in the series. It used to be called Jungle Picnic, but the developer renamed it just before the release of the second app in the series: Shiny Party.
A Shiny Birthday Party
The first thing that Philip exclaimed when I showed him that I have just downloaded Shiny Things’ new app was, "Oh, this must have a zebra, a monkey and a giraffe in it!" I was surprised by this because I hadn’t told him anything about the app, and the only information he had was the picture of Ralph the Giraffe on the app icon. I think this proves that having a consistent set of characters can really help your brand. Kids easily remember the ones that they love.
If you’re not familiar with the characters, I suggest you read Camila's review of Shiny Picnic. Both apps involve Charlie the Monkey, Alice the Zebra and Ralph the Giraffe. Both also have a story mode in addition to the game mode.
The Story Mode in Shiny Party follows Charlie and Alice as they prepare a surprise birthday party for Ralph. As Alice prepares the gifts, he realizes that Charlie is not familiar with basic geometrical shapes. So, Alice decides to teach Charlie about shapes through several fun games.
The first game is coloring shapes. The app will start by showing a shape along with its name. Then, you are asked to identify objects of that shape and fill them with colors. Simply smudge your fingers across the 2D shapes to fill them with colors.
The second game shows how Alice tries to help Charlie make beautiful and tasty cupcakes for the party. At the start of the game, you have an empty plate to fill with your cupcake creation.
To design a cupcake, you start by selecting the cup, then the cake, before finishing it with the toppings. You get to freely design your first cupcake, but the subsequent ones would need to mimic the picture of the desired cupcakes.
The third game takes place at the party and immediately after Ralph opens Alice’s present, which contains plenty of colorful building blocks. Charlie tries to make many different shapes with the blocks, and you are asked to help him out.
In this game, you will be asked to choose and drag the appropriate shapes to empty slots to build more meaningful objects. As you tap on an object, the narrator will say the shape’s name, e.g. green semi-circle.
In the final game, Alice asks everyone to play a matching game. Here, you are required to find two objects of the same color and shape from an array of things on the screen. This is necessary to verify whether your juniors really recognize these basic shapes.
Parents Need to Know
Shiny Party fills the gap for apps that are specifically designed to teach younger juniors basic 2D geometry. It is suitable for juniors ages two and up, and the short reading materials are suitable for juniors ages five and up. If your juniors are learning sight words, the story mode allows you to tap each word to hear how they are pronounced.
In the Parent's Guide section, you can also find references to many standard curriculums, including the US Common Core Standards for Kindergarten, the UK Primary National Curriculum for Key Stage 1, and the NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum for Early Stage 1. If you are keen to understand more about the education standards in these countries, you might want to follow those links.
Things I Like
I really like the developer’s decision to rename Jungle Picnic to Shiny Picnic, and to create a dedicated Shiny Kids brand for the series. Judging from the quality of the two apps that have been released so far, I’m looking forward to the next app in the series.
I really appreciate the mini games that are included in the app. Clearly, the developers have taken into account the various standard curriculums mentioned above. I also like the interactions in the story mode. For example, you can blow the candles on Ralph’s birthday cake by blowing into the microphone of your iPad.
Another interaction that I believe is worth mentioning is the fact that you can also take a photo with the cast of characters, as though you’re a part of the birthday party. I’m sure your juniors would love this feature as much as Philip does.
Shiny Party is one of the very few quality apps that focus on teaching your juniors basic geometry, specifically 2D shapes. I find the app perfect for juniors ages two to five because the story is easily relatable and the mini games are very well designed. It’s a must-have if your juniors are still learning to recognize shapes.
Thanks to the wonderful folks at Shiny Things for sharing the app with us. Both my sons really enjoy playing with it!