Viva Diamonds by Ronen Tsamir

Viva Diamonds by Ronen Tsamir is a hang man word game and a sort of Angry Bird clone (in a very loose sense). Partially completed words are displayed at the bottom of the screen. Launching a rock will break colored diamonds and expose letters in bubbles. You can then pop the bubbles with the correct letters to complete the words.

I have to admit that it is an interesting concept. I don’t particularly like the in-app store, but sadly that is the only way most small developers can make any money. The graphics and sound effects are average, although I wish the design and color scheme were less busy and more polished. It doesn’t help that it also has ads.

Sadly I don’t know exactly where this app fits as an educational app. The ads and the in-app gold make it too complicated for younger children. The single word hang-man puzzle make it too simple as an educational app for older children. Which leaves me with the idea that maybe it would be good for adults trying to learn english as a second language.

Even with all its flaws, I like the concept enough to give it 4 Stars. Maybe this will encourage the developer to create other puzzle/action word games.

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Available free in both Apple and Google store, I reviewed the Google Play version at the request of the publisher.

Math Slicer Free by Tumbstorm

Math Slicer Free by Tumbstorm is a fruit ninja clone with a math educational twist. In this version you use your fingers to cut the numbers that match the answers to equations displayed in the background. By playing the game you win eggs that you can use to unlock other levels, slices and even power ups. You can also buy more eggs if you don’t have enough for the items you want. The music, sound effects and graphics are ok. The animation when you slice a piece of fruit is very good.

Overall the concept is great. Taking a familiar and popular game and making it into an education game is a great idea. I really tried to love the game but I struggled with what star rating to give it. First on the Kindle Fire that I tested it on, the slicing of the numbers is awkward. After a few minutes of playing, I got the hang of it (smaller children might get frustrated). I didn’t have the same issue with the Google Play version. Also for some reason the Amazon Kindle version is not recognized by Amazon Free Time as a valid educational app.

Although the issue above is annoying, my biggest issue is with the egg in-app store. Small children might end up buying eggs for real money. There is no mechanism to stop small children from buying eggs. The paid version removes the ad banner but retains the in-app store.

Available in the Amazon App (Kindle Fire), the Apple App and Google Play store. I tested the Free version (the paid version does not have ads but still has an in-app store) on my Kindle Fire HD+ and a recent Android phone.

Dismonster by Dabadugames

Dismonster places your child behind the eyes of an investigator. The first person game has you walking around rooms and finding scary shadows. The shadows disappear (explode) when you cover the shadow with the item or items that produced the shadow (as in a jig-saw-puzzle). At first these shadows are made of one object, but quickly turn into scarier shadows that consist of more than one object.

The game play, graphics, music and sounds are great. It should be mentioned that part of the game play consist of rotating the objects to match part of the shadow outline. This might be to difficult for smaller kids.

Overall a great game. My only wish is that it had an easy mode where smaller children did not have to rotate the items.

Dadadugames is very kid friendly game. No ads, no in app store and follows the very strict MomsWithApps standard. The app will be available on November 18. I reviewed the pre-release version on my iPhone.

 

Labo Pebble Art by Labo Lado Inc.

So I lost my test device. I made the mistake of asking my youngest daughter to take a look at Labo Pebble Art and tell me what she thought about it. And that was it, the iPhone was gone. She would bring it back only to show me her lovely creations and to take screen captures.

The app is brilliant and kept my daughter entertained for hours. It allowed her to reproduce a bunch of her favorite stuffed animals and then play with them in a game. The initial activities consist of creating the selected animal or thing by using rocks (basically a puzzle where the outline is already visible). Once the puzzle has been completed the child can color it and/or use it in the activity designed for that item. Any design or pattern done while coloring will remain while playing the activity. Some of these activities include making music, helping with motor skills and matching games. There are a ton of little details that you only notice the more you play. Overall a great app.

As for as gripes I only have one and the rest of the game is so well executed that it doesn’t really matter. For a game this creative it seems that some of the music was an after thought. My daughter asked to turn it off after just a few minutes of play, and my wife said it sounded like awful elevator music.

The app is only available for in the Apple App Store for $2.99. I received a free version from the publisher.

Works Offline. No ads. No in-app store.

nester by Mindquake

nester by Mindquake is an Android kids’ launcher. I remember a few year ago, when I was looking for a kids’ launcher, it seemed that I had very few choices. I downloaded a few and most didn’t work. Oh how things have changed in a few year. The Play store is littered with kids’ launchers. I am actually surprised that this is the first kid’s launcher that has been reviewed on this site.

Although we have not reviewed any other kids’ launcher, I really liked this one. I am not sure what others have and do not have, but nester seems to do the basics very well. It also includes very useful extras. For example not only can you set a timer (for how long the child can use the device), but you can also have a period of cool down. Great for children that have a problem with transitions.

As far as what you would expect of a kids’ launcher, it is all here. You are able to select the apps that are available through the launcher and as mentioned above set a time limit on device play. The parent lock is also sufficiently enough to keep most children from accidentally disabaling the launcher.

My only gripe is that for whatever reason a few options and features are not available unless you are logged into google or Facebook. Other than that it is a beautiful launcher with all the features you would expect and some that are unique and very useful.

 

The app doesn’t have any in app store or ads. Available on Google Play for free.

MarcoPolo Weather by MarcoPolo Learning

MarcoPolo Weather is the second app by the wonderful developers at MarcoPolo Learning that we have reviewed at Smart Kids’ Apps. As with the first app MarcoPolo Ocean, it is extremely beautiful and filled with discoverable content.

I loved the illustrations, they are quirky and interesting. I also loved the ability to experience the app using a few different characters (although one in particular was my favorite). Like their earlier effort there is a lot more to the app. Almost everything is touchable and can be interacted with.

Unlike the first app, this app is free. The app does have an in-app store that sells expansion packs. The store is protected with a birth year challenge which should keep most children from getting things accidentally.

Overall a great app. Highly recommended. And since it is free, you have very little to lose. My only small gripe is the in-app store, but unfortunately it is currently the only way to generate meaningful revenue.

Available only in the Apple App store, I tested it on my iPhone. No ads.

Pet Doctor by Toca Boca

As the name implies Pet Doctor by Toca Boca is an app where you take care of animals. As usual a beautiful app by the people at Toca Boca. The illustrations, music, sound effects and animations are beautiful and extremely well executed.

As usual the game play is opened ended. Children can pick any of the many animals in the main screen that need help. Each animal needs Once the animals are helped they get ready for sleep.

Overall a great app. available in the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon Store for anywhere from .99 to $2.99. I tested the IOS version on my iPhone.

No in app store. No ads.

Jelly 8 by Yellephant

Jelly 8 by Yellephant is a game targeted to toddlers and young children. It consists of 8 activities of which 3 involve drawing something on the screen (I’ll come back to those 3 activities shortly).

The illustrations and animations are colorful and quirky (a plus around here). The activities I believe are unique and engaging enough to keep young children entertained for hours. I also found the mechanism to open up the parent section unique. The spoken words are human and perfectly enunciated. The app is one of the few toddlers apps that I have found that not only support multi-touch, but that activity depends on the child touching the screen with multiple fingers. The app is useful in helping younger children learn basic words, one to one relationship and counting.

Now for the dislikes. On two of the devices I used to test it (an android table and an android phone), the drawing activities were very slow. So slow to the point that I thought the device was frozen on a couple of occasions. Also on occasion I could still hear the music when the app was no longer being played.

Overall a great value for the price of $.99. I tested it on an android tablet and phone, but an iPad/iPhone version also exists in the Apple store. The app has no advertisements, works offline, no questionable permissions, and no in app store.

Duh! Brazil by duhbooks

I always find it amazing the quality of e-books available at very affordable prices. Duh! Brazil by duhbooks is no exception. Pages filled with great information about Brazil. About its geography, people, fauna, history, and so much more. I loved the illustrations, the photos, and the interactive elements.

As far as dislike. In our house we frown on the use of the word “crazy”. Unfortunately this book uses it in the first page to discuss the enthusiasm of soccer fans. So many other words could have been used to convey this, it is unfortunate that “crazy” was used (but does offer a teaching moment).

The book is only available in the Apple store. I challenge you to find a book in your local or chain bookstore with this much content and information for $3.99, much less at the current price of free.

Sago Mini Forest Flyer by Sago Sago

Sago Mini Forest Flyer by Sago Sago is a completely opened ended exploring game for the iOS devices.

My 6 year loves it. She takes controls the little bird and flies around discovering new places for the bird to play with. The places that have interaction are clearly marked as you fly by them.

The illustration, sound, music and animations are all engaging, beautiful and very well done. A beautiful app that everybody should consider downloading.

I played it on my iPhone. The app is only available in the Apple App store. I received a free copy from the publisher. The app does not have any advertisements or in-store store. It works offline.