We received a lot of review requests during the month of November. Based on our experience, the list of new apps being released every month is getting bigger each time. We are determined to highlight the ones that impressed us so that other parents can also benefit from the reviews.
Today, I'd like to highlight three apps that stood out from the crowd of over 40 brand new apps we tested last month. Make sure you don't miss out on these quality apps for kids.
The Lonely Beast 123
The first app in our list is The Lonely Beast 123. It's the sequel from the award-winning The Lonely Beast ABC that was featured by Apple in one of their TV ads. Through flash cards, The Lonely Beast 123 teaches juniors ages 1-3 about numbers and some basic counting.
Instead of using a pre-conceived notion of what works for a counting app, the developers designed the app based on the Lonely Beast and his daily routine. Each page is designed carefully to show the Beast's personality, while keeping juniors engaged with interactions, and introducing the possibility for parental discussions on the topic shown.
While I was studying the Common Core standards for Preschoolers, I stumbled upon an excellent framework developed by the New York State Education Department. The framework helps teachers and parents to develop all five learning domains of a preschooler, from approaches to learning and physical development to emotional development and knowledge of the world. Here's an excerpt from the first domain, Approaches to Learning:
In prekindergarten, children are expected to engage in pretend and imaginative play - testing theories, acting out imagination.
I'm grateful that many developers have created roleplaying games for juniors to engage in pretend and imaginative play. Based on my experience, juniors are able to grasp new concepts and embrace new habits when they have experienced it firsthand. This is exactly what Pepi Doctor offers as it helps juniors take care of their hygiene and health.
Juniors get to play as doctors and help other juniors take care of their health. The health problems are designed to be easily relatable for juniors ages 2-4, from cold and toothache to bone fractures and scrapes. The remedial actions are also easily relatable, from putting thermometer under the patient's armpit and taking a cold syrup to drilling and pulling a junior's teeth. While some visuals may be a bit vulgar for juniors, the app really helps to motivate juniors to take care of their hygiene.
Toca Hair Salon Me
The final app in our list this month is another gem from Toca Boca. This time, the third app in the Toca Hair Salon series, Toca Hair Salon Me, hit the App Store with new features that make it more personalised and relatable.
The new app allows juniors to take a photograph of themselves or their "clients". Using a facial recognition algorithm, the app can create facial gestures such as blinking and smiling - artificially generated from the still shot. To help the facial recognition algorithm, you can also set up where the eyes and mouth are located.
Toca Hair Salon Me is a fun activity app for family and friends to play with. If you're a first timer, you should check out Camila's playing tips in order to get the best out of the app.
All these apps shared a few characteristics that make them junior-friendly: they are mostly text-free and rely on visual cues and sound effects to guide juniors. There are no win/lose condition, timer, ads, and in-app purchases. They also have unique characters and activities which juniors can relate to.
As parents, we can take these characteristics as cues when we select new apps for our juniors. I expect new apps that are coming in the pipeline would follow the trend, and even increase the quality standards.