Toca Hair Salon 2 by Toca Boca

After our summer hiatus, what would be better than to start with a review of a Toca Boca app. Toca Hair Salon is yet again a beautifully executed app that will delight children young and old.

In this app you are a head dresser. In a usual Toca Boca fashion the game play is completely open-ended. You pick your victim and then have an arrangement of tools to make him/her look beautiful. Don’t worry if you make a mistake cutting, there is even a tool to magically grow your subjects hair back.

The illustrations are quirky and the arrangement of tools are enough to keep your young ones entertained for hours. The sounds that the participants make at time are odd, but not at all distracting to the game play.

I tested the Play version which I received for free. Versions on the Amazon store and iOS also exist.

Fibble HD by Crytek

We have reviewed plenty in the past, but sometimes I question the educational value of some puzzle apps. I can understand the need to teach children reflexes and spacial problem solving, but how many of these apps do you need clogging up your phone or tablet. In Fibble HD by Crytek Gmbh you fling the main character (similar to the angry series) to complete stages that remind me of miniature golf.

The game has great illustrations and is beautifully animated. The music is interesting, unique and doesn’t get annoying as quickly as some others would. Unlike the 2D worlds of most puzzle games, this one has a beautifully rendered 3D world. Also the story is advanced by little movies in-between the levels.You can also tilt and roll your ipad to help the little one land in the hole.

Overall a very gentil and enjoyable game. A easy upgrade for some of the more popular puzzle games out there.

I played it on my full size iPad. It is available in the Apple App store and the Google Play store for .99 cents. It works fine offline and does have a in-app store. I received my copy for free.

The Magical Farm (Animal) by TempsRéel3D

The Magical Farm (Animal) educational app consists of four mini games. The first mini game consists of an introduction of each of the animals as you touch them. In the second mini-game, you hear the animal sound and have to pick the correct animal, the third mini-game you hear the animal name and you have to pick the correct animal, and finally the fourth mini-game consists of a fly through of the farm.

The illustrations are great, but some of the sound effects might get a little annoying after extended play. I love that I can switch the language to French. The human voice that narrates the game is clear and human in both English and French.

My only problem with the game is that the first mini-game provides many facts about the animals that I expected would be incorporated with the rest of the mini-games. They are not. The rest of the mini games are about recognizing the animals and their sound.

Overall a good game, that might even help you improve your child’s French. The app has no in-app store or advertising.

I tested the full version (provided for free by the publisher) on my full size iPad. The app is available on the Apple App Store for $1.99 and on the Google Play store for $2.60. There is a free version on both stores.

We are giving away a free copy of this app (provided by the publisher):

Math Bugaboo by Bugaboo Games

Math Bugaboo is very similar to the game Butterfly Math by the same publisher. Unlike the other game, the subject of this game is creepy crawlers. If you don’t like bugs, stop reading now. The educational part of the app again consists of touching on bugs with numbers (on their backs) to match the result of an equation presented above. The bugs selected leave the screen, and what is left is used for the next problem. Repeat until all or 1 (not enough to answer a question) is left on the screen.

The transition between the levels this time is squashing bugs. The bugs ooze out blue and purple guts. My two youngest kids loved this part of the game. The app is nicely illustrated. The animation of the bugs scattering around is dead on. The bugs are of different shape, sizes and color. My middle son actually enjoyed playing the levels so he can see what the new bugs would look like.

If your children like bugs, and you can either look away (my wife) or don’t mind it (me), this is a great app for those bug loving children to do some math fact drills.

Available both on the Amazon App (Kindle Fire) and the Google Play Store for $0.99. I played the free version (as prompted by the publisher) on an Android phone.

Butterfly Math by Bugaboo Games

Butterfly Math by Bugaboo Games is an educational math game. The educational part of the app consists of clicking on butterflies with numbers to match the result of an equation presented above. The butterflies selected leave the screen, and what is left is used for the next problem. Repeat until all or 1 (not enough to answer a question) is left on the screen.

The second part of the game although not educational does give a nice transition between the math questions. You are challenged to click on as many butterflies.

The game is nicely illustrated. The music and the sound effects are mild enough to not be grading over time (at least for me, my wife had other thoughts). The game play is varied enough to keep your children entertained.

There are a couple of details that I really like. The first one is that there might be more than one set of numbers to satisfy the result of the equation. The second detail I like is the timer. You are given a set amount of time to complete the particular problem. I think the timer makes the game more fun (there is an option to turn it off). Other options available include type of problems (addition, multiplication, addition or subtraction), and music on/off.

Overall not a bad app. I reviewed it on an Android Phone as prompted by the publisher. No iPhone/iPad version exists that I can find. Available for .99 in the Google Play Store. A free version exists. It works offline. No in-app advertising (the free version will ask if you want to upgrade) and no in-app store.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Rewind Game Studio

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Rewind Game Studio is an app targeted at younger children. It consists of a few scenes that fly by as the first verse is narrated.

The drawings are beautiful, and the animation to move from scene to scene (a fly by) is unique and engaging. It appears to be a human narrating and the background sound is soft and soothing. You should be able to easily use to this app as background noise for putting children to bed.

As for grips. I wish there were more verses, more scene and more narration. I wish you can adjust the volume of the narration or the background sound. Otherwise a decent and beautiful app.

I received a Demo Review copy, and as such it has those words across all the scenes (as seen in the photos). Rest assured the paid version does not have these words. It also has no ads or in-app purchases.

Available on the Google Play store for .99c.

Kids Coloring & Painting by DMT Source

I few months ago we reviewed another educational app from DMT Source. This time around we get to look at Kids Coloring & Painting.

For a free app with no in-app store, this app is filled with options. You can select the background, extras (background flourishes), and some typical coloring book illustrations. You can also choose to not select anything except the background color.

The app design is clean and intuitive. It is fairly easy to understand what each button does, and each button works without added complication. The save buttons saves a picture of your work into the photo gallery. The color choice tool is easy to figure out and requires no reading (great for smaller kids).

On my Android tablet the app will undo pencil marks if you press the back button (not sure if this is intentional). It is a great feature for children that make mistake and then get upset that they have to start over.

I have very few gripes: on my tablets there are some widgets on the bottom of the option screen that I am not clear what they are supposed to do, and the undo feature is not well documented and doesn’t seem to work consistently across the drawing tools.

Although I have not reviewed many free coloring apps Kids Coloring & Painting is one of the best so far. More than worth the download if your kids don’t have a drawing app that they like.

Reviewed on my full size Android tablet, it is available in the Google Play market for free. (Publisher requested the app be reviewed).

Kindergarten Kids Math by Infinut

Kindergarten Kids by Infinut is a math education app for Android.

This app consists of 6 mini games. Counting where you have to drag circles into a container until you reach the number of circles. Maze where you drag your finger across the particular number from one end of the grid to the other end. Sequence where you have to figure out the number that is missing in a Sequence. Tens & ones where you drag coins until you match the number requested. Add and Subtract where after looking at a simple equation you have to pull down the correct number of circles into a container.

The app has below average graphics and very little sounds and no music. As a no frills math app, it is a solid app (just don’t expect your kids to find it entertaining). On the plus side it has no in-app purchases or ads.

Except for the Add and Subtract modules, all the modules are straight forward. For the addition and subtraction module, although the answer to the math equation is shown as one option, you are forced to drag the circles into the box to answer it.

I tested the free version on a full size Android tablet. The app is available on the Google Play and Amazon App Market.

Wildlife Jigsaw Puzzle 123 by GiggleUp

Puzzles in general are great educationally. Although screen puzzles lose the tactile education elements, Wildlife Jigsaw Puzzle 123 is one of the best puzzle app that we have reviewed. When the app starts you select your board. For any board, particular animals are missing. Clicking on the animal bring up that animal’s puzzle. Complete the puzzle and that particular animal fills the space on the board.

The app is very well done. The illustrations are beautiful. The background music is average, but doesn’t get annoying quickly. You can select the number of pieces for the animal puzzles before or during trying to solve a puzzle. Being able to adjust the difficulty as the child is playing, is a great idea never seen by me in any other puzzle game. Once the puzzle of the animal is completed the animal name is displayed, and a clear human voice pronounces the animal’s name.

The app does not have any banner ads, but does have a place where you can browse their other offerings (acceptable by my standards). Although the illustration are beautiful and quirky, sometimes it is hard to figure out exactly what the animals are. This was not a problem for my me, and was one of the reasons to try to solve the puzzles.

Overall a great app. Wildlife Jigsaw was provided for free by the publisher. It is available on the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store. I tested it on my full size iPad.

Magical Music Box By Kidoteca

Magic Music Box by Kidoteca was one of our favorite apps when we started. Notified by the publisher of an update, we will take the opportunity to note any changes to the app as well as revise the review with our current thoughts.

Consisting of nothing more than musical boxes, the apps illustrations are beautiful. As the music box spins the animations are creative, unique and sometimes funny. I also enjoyed the music choices (with this update even more songs are available). It ranges from the expected to the Brazilian national anthem. The app allows you to mix and match any song to any of the boxes, and to either turn the box yourself by spinning a crank, using your fingers to move movie box (new with the update) or let the box turn itself. The app also provides a fact sheet for the music/composer, and the ability to change the language of the fact sheet.

For the younger children, they will be fascinated by the movements and the music. They will also like the ability to be able to turn it themselves. The fact sheets can be read by the adults to give some context to the music. The app can also be used as a sleeping aid, freeing the parent/s from having to hum lullabies for hours.

I couldn’t find anything that I didn’t like. And all the suggestion I came up with, might not even be for everyone. I am not a big fan of in-app purchases especially for children apps, but this app almost begs for it. It would be nice, if I could buy more musical boxes and music as they become available (added boxes have been free). I also wish there was a description of the illustrator/artist that came up with the music boxes or at the very least a small explanation of what inspired the particular box.

Highly recommended, and well worth the price. Available in Play Store (for Android), the Amazon App Store, and in Apple App Store, I reviewed the iPad version (provided by the publisher).