At the end of this month, Noah, my second son, will celebrate his first birthday. I am now reorganizing my iPad to fit in as many apps that are suitable for his age. It seems that whenever Noah sees his older brother, Philip, play with the iPad, he is always interested to join. So, I believe this is the right time to introduce him to the device.
I wrote a couple of times before that I scour the App Store on a daily basis. But, it is never easy to find quality apps that you consider as appropriate for your juniors. It is even harder if you're planning for someone who is as young as Noah. From my observations with both Philip and Noah, they seem to be very interested with musical apps or apps that can be used as toys.
Goodnight ABC is a playful app that provides 26 interactive screens, one for each letter in the alphabets. Each screen is made to look like a stage and decorated to fit the animal in spotlight. The stage is designed to be as playful as possible, with a lot of items that your juniors can interact with.
The app provides three different play modes that are available with each screen. By default, your juniors will be shown the play mode where they can interact with the items on screen. Some of them are visible and some require you to tap on something before they are shown. Your juniors can also learn new vocabularies by switching the app to vocabulary mode (by tapping the graduation cap icon on the bottom left corner). In this mode, all items, including the invisible ones, will be shown. Your juniors can tap each one and the app will tell you its name.
The third mode is coloring mode. Each screen in Goodnight ABC can be converted into a grayscale canvas that your juniors can play with. Swiping over an area will give it colors. I think this is a fun activity that the younger ones can perform and enjoy.
Finally, there is a recurring theme throughout the app that causes it to be named Goodnight ABC. Within each screen, you will find a cheerful looking Sun, which can be dragged to reveal the Moon. As the animal falls asleep, the app will say goodnight and you can no longer interact with the items on screen, save for the stars, the comet and the Moon.
What parents need to know
Goodnight ABC is beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully designed to be a playground for your juniors. In addition to standard items such as the Sun, the Moon, the comet and the stars, each screen is individually designed according to a particular theme selected for the animal in spotlight. For example, the stage for Cow shows items related to livestock and farming such as windmill, barn, farmhouse, fence, grasshopper, tractor, milk truck, bucket, cow bell, wheat, corn, ice cream, and ice cream machine. I think it is easier for your juniors to learn and for you to explain new concepts when these items are thoughtfully grouped together.
Each stage also has specific animation and interactivity. Many things will happen throughout the app that are unique to each stage. You will appreciate how it enriches your juniors learning experience. The Zebra screen is a good example for this. The Zebra has an attitude of her own. She speaks French and loves to dress herself, wear makeup and shop for various handbags. If you tap on the mannequin, it will show different combinations of blouse, skirt, scarf and hat as a dynamic illustration of how you would see in a typical apparel store. When you tap on the various handbags (including purses and satchel bags), they will either show different skin textures or pop up hair brush, comb, mirror and lipstick. All these things are unique to the Zebra and cannot be found in other stages.
What I appreciate about the app
Goodnight ABC is a truly well designed app. Each item included within each stage is well thought of. Its animal selection is very good. I'm guessing that it must be a difficult process to select which animal to be set in the spotlight as the developer would need to build the entire stage to support that animal. Two animals I rarely see in other animals-alphabets apps are Nightingale and Flamingo. I like the way they are represented in Goodnight ABC where Nightingale is a bird that loves to sing and Flamingo is a bird that loves to be on the sea. The items on each of those stagges are also designed thoughtfully to fit in with the overall experience.
I personally like finding hidden features in any app. I manage to find two of them in Goodnight ABC. You can find the first one when you switch to vocabulary mode. While you're in vocabulary mode, you can tap the uppercase letter to make it change in color and hear the voice over saying the color name. The second one can easily be found in the play mode. If you tap the uppercase letter, you will hear how you can pronounce the letter. If you tap the uppercase letter the second time, you will hear the phonics associated with that letter.
Despite the fact that you will need to have a good internet connection and a little bit of patience to download a 650 MB app, you will love every bits about Goodnight ABC. It is a wonderful app to give to your young ones, even one-year olds like my Noah. The younger juniors will enjoy the animation, interactivity and coloring activity, whereas the older ones can learn new vocabularies and concepts. It is a flash card app, an alphabet app, a coloring app, and a toy app beautifully integrated into a series of interactive stages that will help you tell contextual stories to your juniors.
I highly recommend Goodnight ABC. This short review of mine would not do justice to the rich contents that the app has. There are still new things I need to discover about the app, and the more I play along with my sons, the more I will appreciate Goodnight ABC.