Splash Math Grade 3 by Study Pad, Inc.

Splash Math Grade 3 is an impressive app (both in scope and execution). The app covers more concepts than I can possibly review here, but the Study Pad site includes the entire list of items covered.

The main portion of the app is a set of questions that you can answer by clicking at the correct answer. This same concept is used for both practicing the concepts and testing the concepts. The app also has other areas like the aquarium where the student can buy fishes and crabs with the points that he/she won by completing the lessons. The concepts are taught adequately and with visual aide where appropriate. The app tracks progress, and can send reports.

The rest of the app is also very well done. The graphics are a combination of illustrations and what appear to be pictures of Origami animals. And the sound effects are not jarring.

Although the app is designed for third grade, it could be used for student at the end of second grade. And it can be also used in 4th to learn and practice a student’s weaknesses.

Overall a great app and a great study partner for a student in 3rd grade. Highly recommended. Study Pad, Inc makes similar apps for other grades. All apps are available for the iPhone and iPad (unfortunately no Android version). I tested on the iPad (provided for free by the publisher).

Bird Launcher by RV AppStudios

Bird Launcher is a puzzle app where you launch a bird further and further upward until it reaches the nest. There are plenty of game upgrades and bird power-ups that you can get with coins. The coins can be either won through in-game play or purchased for real money.

The graphic are nicely done but nothing special, and the music is tolerable in small amounts (at least you can turn it off). The default bird is acceptable, and you are able to get free coins by posting on twitter, Facebook and other public forums.

What age group or grade would this be appropriate for? Not sure. If you forget about the in app purchases, very small kids could probably get entertained by launching the bird, and learn very little. But it also has in app advertising for their other apps, and some of those might be a little scary for younger kids (One has severed finger).

For older kids the puzzle appear to be fairly easy until they get extremely frustrating for no reason (probably to encourage in app purchases).

If you collect puzzle apps, like birds, and don’t mind spending real money for upgrades (for a different bird or a different background) this one might be one for you. Available for iPhone, Android, Nook, and Kindle Fire. I played the iPad version.

Learn Time by StudyPad, Inc.

Learn Time consists of a set of narrated lessons that help children learn how to tell time. It covers both analog and digital clocks.

Each lesson is a collection of screens with key information. The information is narrated and the child is free to move back and forth through the lesson. At the end of each lesson there is an interactive review. There is also a test that can be taken at any time for each of the lessons.

The app has great music. Not to loud and not very annoying. It also keeps track of your child progress: it provides information on what lessons have been completed, with what the score, and what concepts the child needs help on.

The only problem I had with the app is the mechanical voice used to read the lessons. I don’t know if it is caused by the compression used or maybe the voice is computer generated.

Overall a great tool to teach your child how to tell time on analog/digital clocks, and a great addition to a home school curriculum.

Available on the Apple App Store. There is a free version that appears to have a subset of the lessons, but it is still very useful. I reviewed the paid version (provided by the publisher) on my iPad.

Kid Mode by Zoodles

Most tablet (Barnes in Noble Nook HD/+ being the only exception I know) do not have user profiles. Although slightly annoying for adults, it is even more troublesome if you have children. There are so many apps, documents and settings you don’t want your child to change, mess-up or download. Kid Mode takes over your tablet with child friendly interface, age appropriate content and any other app or website you decide he should have access to.

The age appropriate content that it provides includes videos, games and story books. Some of the videos appear to be sourced from YouTube and other free sources. The free version of the app only has one story book available, but you can buy more or sign up for the premium services for all the books (as low as $40.00/year). The premium service also has some other good features like the ability to block websites, promote certain subjects, and block characters. Although the free version doesn’t allow you to block websites, you can set up allowed websites by creating a shortcut and then adding that shortcut as an App that your child can use.

I have two issues with the app. The first one is a matter of opinion. One of the great things about letting your child play with tablets is that your child is learning key multiple touch skills (pinching, rotating, and sliding to name a few). The UI of Kid Mode although not bad isn’t as rich as the modern Android operating system.

The second issue is how easy it is to overcome the kid lock. To unlock as a parent your options are to either draw the letter Z or to provide the birth year of an adult by typing it into the keypad. For very young kids these task are very difficult, but as early as second grade some kids would be able to figure it out.

My nephew for example has mastered drawing the Z even though he can’t read the instructions. As for the year, he has figured out that it should start with a 1 and then he guesses the other digits of the year. Not sure why Kid Mode has not implemented a pattern or pin scheme.

Although Kid Mode is not perfect, I don’t currently know of any other app that attempts to do what it does. I would recommend it for any parent that needs to restrict what his/her child has access to. I reviewed the Play version of Kid Mode but a iPad/iPhone version also exists. Although it appears it is even easier to remove the lock on iPhone/iPad.

Elmo Loves ABCs for iPad By Sesame Street

Many children I know from the age of 1 up love Elmo. This app by Sesame Street uses Elmo and other characters from Sesame Street to help children learn the ABCs.

The app is packed with activities and games including tracing the letters (both lower and upper case), videos where other Sesame Street characters or Elmo show objects that start with that letter, and coloring books where you drag your finger to color the objects (again that start with the letter).

It also has an activity where the objects are hidden behind either bubbles, leaves, or balloons. And you use your finger either to pop or rake them to find the hidden objects. Smaller children lose hours doing this.

My complaints are minor, but enough not to give it 5 stars. No android version exists. The application is very large and not only does it take a long time to download, but also takes up a lot of space on your iPad. Although kids love Elmo’s voice, it will get irritating to the parents quickly (especially since on some activities Elmo repeats the same phrases over and over). Some of the buttons are not clear and might confuse the younger children (the slider is hard to master, and the function of the star on the left bottom is not clear).

Overall a great app. I would highly recommend getting the free version (limited to the first three letters).

It is available only on the Apple App Store for $4.99 for the full version and there is also a free trial version.

Dictionary.com by Dictionary.com, LLC

Available from the Apple App Store (version reviewed), Play, and Amazon. This $2.99 version of this dictionary is all the dictionary you might need. Like any good dictionary, it provides  a detail definition of the word, idioms, origin and even sample sentences.

Although I have not reviewed any other dictionary app, two features really stand out. The first one is the ability to do searches when offline. When I place the iPhone in Airplane mode, I am still able to search for words. Although I was no able to test it, it should work great for devices that don’t have permanent internet connections or where it is not permitted.

The second feature that I really liked (and probably not the intended purpose) is the ability to make a list of favorite words. My daughter receives a list of words weekly for a test at the end of the week, and it would be useful to have those definitions handy and quickly accessible throughout the week.

 

It also has many other features of various value. It has a built-in thesaurus, able to hear the word spoken out loud, search by voice (worked great for me), share the word via e-mail, twitter or Facebook (limited value), and word of the day in Spanish and English (not bad to increase your vocabulary).

My only complaints are that on the iPhone 4S it is slow sometimes especially clicking between the button navigational buttons, and that although I like the extra features the interface seems cluttered.

The $2.99 version has no ads except a more page where it promotes other apps.