For several months now, I've been doing a special post at the start of each month, highlighting the best new apps released during the previous 30 days. Today's post will highlight three new apps that stand out from the crowd: Moose Math, PlayHaus, and The Story of Kalkalih.
Math is a very competitive category, with plenty of awesome apps competing for parents' attention. Yet, I believe Moose Math stands out from other math apps that are aimed at juniors between four to six years old.
Nowadays, developers are expected to align their games and activities with national curriculums. All five games in Moose Math are designed to align with both the Common Core State standards and the 21 Century Skills. As someone who loves math games and has seen plenty of them, the innovative game designs in Moose Math still manage to impress me. As a parent who is eager to learn about what my juniors need to learn curriculum-wise, Moose Math is the first app I've seen that lets juniors practice counting up and down by 2's, 5's and 10's.
Modern math apps are also expected to support multiple user profiles, track their progress, and produce report cards for the parents/teachers. If you have multiple juniors sharing a single iPad, this is a crucial feature. The report card in Moose Math is able to pinpoint areas where your juniors need to improve. For example, my eldest son Philip has mastered counting backward by 1's from 50, but he still needs to practice counting forward by 2's.
Many parents and teachers also expect math apps to be able to generate problems randomly to provide endless challenges for juniors. Because math topics tend to have a wide range from beginner to master, these challenges need to be divided into difficulty levels.
The learning curve of the games in Moose Math are well designed. Each game has its own levels, and juniors can move up the levels based on their performance in each game. When they have reached the highest level in a game, they can still play endlessly with randomly generated challenges.
On top of those, the developers also offer free printable worksheets on their website. It's an awesome addition to an already great app. Now, your juniors can continue practicing even when they're not using the iPad.
When it comes to toy-like apps, the good ones should be able to mimic the best traits of a good toy: easy to interact with, powerful enough to let juniors experiment, and flexible enough to let creativity flourish. PlayHaus is certainly a toy-like app that fits into these criteria.
I've never seen an app that allows you to build your own house from Lego-like building blocks. It's really easy, flexible, and a lot of fun. Similar to physical building blocks, you can easily swap them around and change the structure of your house. Being a digital toy, it is easy to change colors and start from scratch.
PlayHaus allows juniors to explore different rooms in a house and learn about their names and functionalities. Juniors can also interact with the things inside each room. They can even go underground to learn about the amazing things happening to support our house, or go to the attic to observe the sky both at daytime and nighttime.
PlayHaus is all about allowing juniors to express their creativity and design their own dream house. As a bonus, they can also learn about colors, shapes, and how to group similar items. The nice soundtrack rounds up the fun and soothing experience.
The Story of Kalkalih
There are two types of storybook apps: one with an original story and another with an adapted storyline. Many developers have almost exhausted fairy tales from English-speaking cultures, so it's always interesting to find an app adaptation of non-English fairy tales.
The Story of Kalkalih is the first of three books under Bramble Berry Tales series designed to keep the Squamish language alive. As the language nears its extinction, these books hopefully will help to introduce the culture to a wider audience.
The fairy tale itself tells a story of Kalkalih, a scary old woman who eats the toes of children as if they're grapes. With an antagonist character is similar to the witch in Hansel and Gretel, the story aims to prevent kids from sneaking out of their bed in the middle of the night.
The storybook app is beautifully designed and animated. One page acts as one scene. As you turn the current group of text to reveal the next one, the objects in the scene will animate accordingly. You can also interact with different characters and objects. Doing so will reveal a great cast of actor's voices, making for an immersive reading experience.
The Story of Kalkalih also provides Squamish narration. But even if you listen to the story in English, you can still learn several Squamish words by tapping on highlighted keywords found throughout the book.
Each app I highlight today raises the quality bar for three different categories: math apps, toy-like apps, and storybook apps. As a parent, I like it when new apps raise the quality of educational apps in general. If you have juniors ages two to six, I'd highly recommend checking these apps out.