Starting last month, we have a new format for our first post of the month. We decided to highlight several outstanding new apps that we have reviewed during the past 30 days. We hope that this list can help parents and teachers to stay updated on the best new apps for kids, and the developers to see the new standard of quality that these apps introduce to the market.
Lessons Learned for Other Developers
There are four brand new apps that we want to highlight for this month’s list. But, before we delve into what makes each of these apps outstanding, I’d like to point out five things that these apps have in common. This might be a good set of tips for other developers to consider when they’re creating new apps:
- Know your target audience. Once you have set a target age range, you need to understand what juniors of that age are like. This include their abilities, preferences, and educational needs.
- Choose a theme and focus on it. Sometimes it’s a good idea to aim for less-crowded themes. At least, try to offer something that other apps have not offered yet. This includes building new contents, not just new approaches to the same content.
- Build your own characters. And, try to reuse them whenever possible because juniors love to play with familiar characters. Even though everyone knows this already, many developers are not prioritizing this enough. Sometimes, you may want to consider building the activities around the characters instead of adding the characters as an afterthought.
- Design innovative game plays. I know this may be a bit difficult, but I think this is an essential one. If you’re aiming for knowledge-savvy parents who make the purchase decisions for their juniors, they probably have seen and purchased many apps. Without offering a new and innovative gameplay, it would be difficult to convince them to make that purchase.
- Be genuinely fun. Finally, if you want parents to recommend your apps to other parents, you have to impress the juniors as they’re playing it. Parents know when their juniors are having fun. Try to have as many play test sessions as possible, and record how first-timers would react to your app. Learn what impresses them, then try to amplify or multiply these while redesigning the ones that don‘t impress the juniors.
Grandma’s Kitchen is designed for juniors ages four to seven. Juniors in this age range can already learn how to read using phonics and to count up to 100. Grandma’s Kitchen offers new and innovative games to let juniors practice this set of skills.
It also has a unique unifying theme: the friendly Grandma and her kitchen. In fact, all of the activities are designed around this theme. The app even went further by turning dishwashing from a typical home chore into a game reward.
Two things I really like and would use to recommend this app to other parents are the Food Math and First Letters games. In the Food Math game, juniors can practice counting objects by tens using familiar objects such as candies and pickles. In the First Letters game, they can learn to recognize phonics by its pronunciation. Both are well implemented and a lot of fun to play with.
Sago Mini Forest Flyer
Sago Mini Forest Flyer is a fun forest exploration app designed for juniors ages one to three. Juniors this young are very interested in almost everything. But, getting them to explore the woods may seem impossible for most of us. On the other hand, the daily life of a bird always fascinates every young minds - not just three-year-olds.
The entire app is designed around Robin, a cute pink bird, who wants to explore the surrounding forest where she lives in. All of the activities are designed in this world of Robin’s. The app encourages juniors to fly Robin around to explore the forest, play with many activities, learn, experiment, and have a lot of fun.
There hasn’t been any app that provides as much fun as Sago Mini Forest Flyer in quite a long time. Everyone always giggles when they catch a new surprising activity. And I mean everyone - not just young juniors. I expect other developers would be inspired by Sago Mini Forest Flyer to create other types of exploration apps for our juniors that are just as fun.
Shiny Party is a mashup between a storybook and a set of mini games that revolve around Ralph the Giraffe’s surprise birthday party. The app is designed for juniors ages two to five, and focuses on a math topic that is as essential as numbers and counting but not as popular: geometry. It uses the fact that Charlie the Monkey is not familiar with many basic geometry concepts such as shapes and colours to teach juniors about these subjects.
The app reuses the same set of lovely characters from its sibling app, Shiny Picnic. The developers even went ahead and renamed their previous app to Shiny Picnic to reinforce the brand relationship. I believe it’s a great move that help parents make an informed decision before purchasing.
I really like how the developers made the appropriate researches before coming up with the activities in the app. They went as far as researching the national curriculums for US, UK and Australia, to understand what geometry-related topics that juniors ages five and under should master. I’m sure many parents would appreciate developers who take our juniors’ education seriously.
Montessori 1st Operations
Montessori 1st Operations is an awesome math app that focuses on the key math concepts such as addition, subtraction, odd/even numbers, and halves/doubles. The app is designed for juniors ages five to eight. It offers three learning levels: Key Concepts, Playbox, and Tables.
There are plenty of visual explanations that you can find in the Key Concepts learning stage that illustrates important concepts, such as how to differentiate between odd and even numbers, how to divide an even number to half, and many more.
Their Playbox area also contains plenty of games that can sharpen your mental calculation skills. It has an excellent support for multiple user profiles, allowing each of your juniors to practice according to their own pace. This is especially crucial since the app continually adjusts its difficulty as you progress through the game and each time you replay it.
Finally, you can also introduce your juniors to addition and subtraction tables. The app teaches you not just to read and use the table, but also to reconstruct the table from scratch. I believe it’s one of the best math apps I’ve ever seen.
While this is not an exhaustive list of all educational apps that were released in May, I hope it’s quite representative for parents to gauge what the latest gold standard in this industry is like. If you somehow missed the news on these apps, I hope you get a second chance to download the ones that fit your juniors’ learning growth. I personally am glad that these four apps represent a wide age range from one to eight years old. I wish this trend would continue in the coming months.