As it is, the App Store is a great place to find interesting apps to help children learn various topics. Today we have Alex the Handyman, a colorful role-playing app for kids in which they help the title character repair things around the Bear household.
Let's Fix Things
The app opens with the Bear house, which comprises several rooms. In each room there is a job to do, such as painting the wall, changing dead light bulbs, fixing a broken fence, putting out a kitchen fire, watering dead plants, mending a torn dress, completing an unfinished brick wall, and more.
In total, there are 15 activities spread over different parts of the house. Several rooms can have multiple activities, but only one is shown at a time.
To start repairing, you must choose the right tool from the toolbox. For example, to tighten a leaky faucet you need a wrench, to fix the broken fence you need a hammer, and so on.
There are always nine tools in the box, although the selection changes every time. The app gives out hints by making a subtle "uh-oh" sound when you select the wrong tool, and by wiggling the correct one after several incorrect taps.
Once you have the correct tool selected, it is time to get to work. Most of the activities are fairly simple, and only require one or two taps to complete. The app also provides hints here, displaying visual cues to let players know where to tap.
Finally, after successfully finishing a job, the app rewards you with a shower of confetti and a great round of applause. You can then move on to other parts of the house or repeat the activity.
Parents Need to Know
Alex the Handyman is a simple and fun app that preschoolers will enjoy playing. However, older juniors can also use the app to learn about different kinds of tools and what they are for.
I would suggest that parents accompany their juniors as they use the app. While it is nice that kids can safely role-play as a handyman in the app, parents should discuss with them how some activities, like putting out fire or fixing broken electrical cords, are dangerous and should only be done by adults in real life.
Besides being a great conversation starter about safe tool use, I think the app also provides an opportunity for parents about conservation and repair efforts. You can show them that you can try to fix broken objects first before deciding throw it away.
To assist parents, the app has a Parents section, which lists all the activities that can be found in the app as well as several topics to talk about with their juniors.
One other tidbit that parents also need to know is that the app contains links to the developer's other apps. While I (and many other parents) would prefer to have such links hidden away from tiny hands, I personally did not run into problems with them. I will let you decide for yourself what is best for your juniors.
Things I Like
Alex the Handyman is a unique role-playing app that introduce kids to real world tools. I like how most of the tasks included in the app can be observed around the house on an almost daily basis, such as watering the plants and changing the light bulb. This makes the app easily relatable and more engaging.
In terms of visual presentation, the app features colorful illustrations and animations to keep juniors engaged. I like the positive tone of the app, as well as the helpful hint system that kicks in just in time to get players back on the right track.
One thing that I would like to comment on is that the hotspots in some activities are too small. For example, to throw away a light bulb, you have to drag it all the way to the bottom of the bin, otherwise it will bounce back.
Granted, this is not a critical issue that will prevent you from playing, but I still think that the app would benefit from some fine tuning to be fully enjoyable.
All in all, Alex the Handyman is a nice app to introduce juniors to home repairs. There is a wide variety of activities to tackle here, and I imagine budding engineers and tinkerers would enjoy the app. There are some slight technical issues, but nothing critical to keep you from playing. For these reasons, I would recommend Alex the Handyman for juniors ages three to five.
Note: Thank you to Curious Fingers for providing us with a promo code for Alex the Handyman. We wish we could hire him to fix things around our houses!