As someone who has reviewed many apps designed for juniors, I can testify that finding a good app is not an easy task. Finding one that can provide multiple activities for your juniors while still keeping their quality in check is even harder. Fortunately, I have found one that does just that.
Playground HD1 is an activity app designed to provide a variety of activities and mini games for juniors aged 2-6. The app was designed and developed by a developer who is also father to two toddlers.
Playground HD1 has 12 different activities packed in one beautiful iPad app. Unlike many x-in-1 apps that are clumsily put together, Playground HD1 is a well-designed app that delivers great activities for juniors. These activities are so well-planned that I believe some of them are good enough to be made into separate apps.
The 12 games
Here are brief descriptions of each of the activities and mini games included within Playground HD1, displayed in the same order as presented in the app:
- Find It. This first game is a perfect example of an activity that can be sold as a standalone app. It is essentially a spot-the-difference mini game that features 20 beautiful illustrations and is designed for younger audience.
- Pairs/Match up. This is an excellent memory game where the difficulty level slowly increases from four to 30 cards. With up to 100 different pictures specifically drawn for this app, it is always refreshing to play with this mini game.
- Puzzle. The third game is a jigsaw puzzle mini game with two options, i.e. 10 x 4-piece puzzles, and 40 x 8-piece puzzles. Again, the illustrations are beautifully drawn and are suitable for younger players.
- Draw. This is similar to typical coloring activities that are included in most storybook apps. The activity features 15 different illustrations and an empty canvas. With up to 18 different colors and three different brush sizes, your juniors can use this app to practice their creativity.
- Erase. Similar to the previous coloring activity, your juniors can scratch the surface to find out what illustrations are lurking behind it.
- Sliding Puzzle. This is probably the most difficult activity for your juniors. Sliding puzzles typically take up a good amount of time to finish. Fortunately, the app has a button that would turn on the index number of each card, giving you a hint of where to put each piece. You still need to find a way to get every piece on their respective places, though.
- Catch. Similar to a Whac-a-Mole game that you typically find in your local arcade, this game asks you to catch or tap on the animal type that is required. The difficulty level increases gradually by showing different types of animals as a distraction.
- Remember. This is a game that requires your juniors to remember and repeat a sequence of musical tones. With four different animal symbols and associative colors, the game is designed to be easy enough to be played by younger juniors.
- Piano. In this activity, your juniors can play with a simple piano that has a single octave. You can play with four different sets of cute animals that would make different sounds as you press the piano keys.
- Collect. This is a unique tracing game, where you need to trace your finger along the paths to collect small stars. This is also a good activity for your juniors to practice their tracing skills.
- Roll. This is another form of puzzle games where you are required to form the correct illustration based on nine different rollable puzzle pieces. We have a similar physical game at home where each piece is represented with a cube that you can rotate to find the correct face that would fit in the puzzle. The only difference is this mini game has four options instead of six.
- Colors. It actually is an implementation of the popular arcade game entitled Puzzle Bobble. With a pointer, you are required to shoot bubbles to a stack of other pre-arranged bubbles. Each time you form a new chain of three-or-more adjacent bubbles with the same colors, the bubbles would pop and would detach any other bubbles that are dependent on it. It is a fun game and I was surprised to see this game being implemented in an app for juniors as young as 2 years old. I guess I underestimated the capabilities of my juniors.
What parents need to know
The game provides a unique way to lock the parental features away from juniors' hands. Instead of asking the parents to enter a password or perform complex gestures, Playground HD1 requires the parents to tap and hold a button for 3-5 seconds. I personally find it surprising that most juniors would not be able to wait for three seconds or longer. Nevertheless, that is the case.
One of the parental features that you can access is setting a customizable timer before handing the iPad to your juniors. This would allow them to play the games for a predefined amount of time and have the game lock itself once the time limit has been reached. If they want to play some more, they would need to come back to you to open the lock and extend the duration.
I really like the way the app is beautifully illustrated and specifically designed for younger audiences. The fact that most of the mini games have slowly increasing difficulty levels shows the amount of care that the developer put into developing the app. If you accompany your juniors as they play with the mini games, this feature would help you gain insight on their progress.
Playground HD1 is an excellent collection of 12 different activities and mini games designed for juniors aged 2-6. The activities are well designed and the gradually increasing difficulty level will keep your older juniors interested without frustrating the younger ones. If the developer could add a narrator to guide juniors while playing, it would make the app indispensable.
If you like the app, you might also want to consider getting Playground HD2 which features six logic games for juniors aged 4-7 and Playground HD3 which provides great activities for learning alphabets.