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.

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.

MFF: Dorothy the Rainbow Fairy by Integrated

Dorothy the Rainbow Fairy by Integrated is a great science storybook.

Like most good digital storybooks, you can read the story yourself or let the book read it for you. It also has the typical interactive touch elements on all pages.

But it also has items I have not seen in other story books. Some of those interactive elements are modeled after pop-up or slider books. In most pages you can slide a virtual tab, or spin a virtual wheel.

The book is about fairies and rainbows. And if the book is correct, I might have learned a few things I didn’t know about the origins of rainbows. Overall a high quality and beautiful digital book.

Available in the Android App for Kindle, Google Play and the Apple App store. I received a free iOS version from the publisher. It works offline, and I didn’t see any in-app store.

Skeleton Dance by Busy Brain Media

Skeleton Dance by Busy Brain Media is a science app. The app has beautiful clay-animation, introduces children to anatomy, a puzzle game (placing the bones on the empty skeleton shape), and an activity where you can get more information about each bone.

So now lets go on a related tangent: at Smart Kids’ Apps the difference between an app 4.0, 4.5 or 5 is mostly subjective. Yes we have written rules where an app will get automatic deductions based on what use to be common annoyances, but most apps we review don’t have those problems. When we started Smart Kids’ Apps we hardly got any review requests, so we use to review most of what we got. Currently we have over 200+ apps waiting to be reviewed. We get dozens review request a day, and we only review the ones we consider the best. So if you get reviewed on these pages then you are a fairly good app, and in good company.

I didn’t find anything wrong with Skeleton Dance. It is a great app to supplement a learning unit on bones. The illustrations, animations and the activities are all great. The problem is that I compared it with one of most magical apps this reviewer has ever come across. When the e-mail to review this app came in from the same publisher, I expected magic (Lady Bug Number Count). What I got instead was a solid app.

I reviewed it on my iPad. No Android version exits. No ads, works offline and it is a great addition to an education unit about bones.

Parker Penguin by Nosy Crow

I’ll start by saying that I really like the Nosy Crow apps, and especially the round series. I have reviewed them here two other times, and both times I was not disappointed.

This time around the app is about the life cycle of a penguin. You are able to read the story yourself, or let the story read itself. Many of the scenes have activities or interactive elements. The story is circular: at the end of the story a new penguin (with a different name) starts the story over.

As in the other rounds apps, beautiful illustrations are made from whole circles or from part of circles. The music is beautiful: calm and not overwhelming. And the story is read by clear human voices.

What is unique of this one is that it has more interactive elements. Including scenes where you have to tilt the iPad to slide the penguin around the ice.

The app is filled with interesting facts about penguin, and would make a great addition to a lesson unit. Nosy Crow also provides supplemental educational materials for this app on its website.

I do want to mention that there is one scene where you have to avoid a seal. If not discussed ahead of time,  that particular scene might be upsetting to very small kids (the penguin can’t and  isn’t harmed).

Although the Franklin Frog Circles app is still my favorite app from Nosy Crow, this one is highly recommended. The app usually cost $4.99, but Nosy Crow is currently running a promotion (to celebrate penguin awareness day) where you can get it for $1.99. I reviewed the IOS version (provided for free by the publisher) on my full size iPad. No Android version exists.