Planet Lettra by Gregory McDonald

We love indy developers at Smart Kid’s Apps. One of the reasons this site was created was to give indy developers a platform to showcase their good educational games. Planet Lettra is just that type of app.

The app takes place in a beautiful planet where letters float in the sky. As the player you can force letters to group into words of your own making or you can just grab and drag letters around until they form words. There are also little trees/animals in the surface of the planet. Using your bubble letters or words you can interact with the trees/animals in un-expecting ways.

As for complaints I have a few. I wish the voices were human (not an easy task for an indy developer). I love the video and the poem about the planet. I just wish that the words of the poem were written out somewhere where a child could follow along.

The app is available in the Apple app store for $1.99. I couldn’t find an Android version. Doesn’t require internet, doesn’t have ads and doesn’t have an in-app store.

eMotion Stories by GO UFO Ltd

eMotion Stories by GO UFO Ltd is a collection of interactive stories for deaf and hard of hearing children. The app and the first story are free. The app features an in-app store to buy other stories.

The stories are beautiful illustrated. As with most interactive books, the words are highlighted as they are read. Unlike all the story books that we have reviewed, in the lower left hand corner the words are signed by a real human ASL narrator. Some words in the story are under-lined. Clicking on these words makes the narrator show you how to sign those particular words. Like many brilliant concepts that look easy and obvious, I wonder why I didn’t come up with this idea first. You can even switch the words of the story to ASL gloss. The app also has a word dictionary where you can select words to be signed.

Overall a great concept and a great app. I believe 3 stories are currently available. And I hope that the app gets the recognition and sales it needs to continue to keep adding stories to the app shelves.

I reviewed the app and the free book on my iPad as prompted by the publisher. It is available in the Apple App Store. I couldn’t find an Android version.

Shiny Circus by Shiny Things

Shiny Circus by Shiny Things is an educational math app geared to children 2 to 5 years of age. It consists of a story about the circus and a set of math concept activities. The story part of the app is typical of a good interactive story book. The words of the story are highlighted as it is read and each page has interactive elements.

Although the story part of the app is extremely well executed, the math concept activities are extremely impressive. My daughter of 5 year old (apparently the top of the range) had a great time dressing the clowns, balancing the weights, and arranging the stairs. The only activity she didn’t like was the Angry Bird style game: she found the voice coaching too repetitive. What is really impressive is that she had no idea that she was learning new math concepts. Some of the concepts and activities are too advance for the lower age children, be ready to help them.

Overall the music, illustrations, the narrating voice (human) and the animations are all very well done. One of the best apps reviewed this year, and easily worth the price. If we had a sixth star, this app would get it.

I received the app for free from the publisher, and reviewed it on my iPad. The app is available in the Apple App Store, and I couldn’t find an Android version.

Gombby Channel by Magnistage

I played this app with my 5-year-old daughter. Here at Smart Kids’ App we are always behind with reviews: too many ask for reviews, and not a lot of time to do them in.

My plan was to do a few today, and schedule them to be published through the week. Unfortunately that will probably not occur. You see my 5-year-old saw me launch this app, and after asking me a few times how to play it, she has now seen all three fee episode. I am probably on the hook for some of the paid ones.

Gombby Channel is not a game, but rather an app where you can watch the Gombby an animated cartoon series. As stated before the first three episodes are free, after that you are forced to buy more episode if your child wants to continue to watch.

The episodes are beautifully animated and illustrated. The music is beautiful. The colors vibrant. Overall they are of very high quality. The stories (the 2 I have seen at this point) are gentile and appropriate to the age that they are targeted for. The stories usually have educational arcs that are explained through the episode.

Overall I really like the app and Gombby. And by the looks of it, so does my 5-year-old daughter. Available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. I reviewed the Apple version on my iPad.

I received a press release from the publisher suggesting I review this app.

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.

StorySmith: Medieval Kingdom HD by Brytag Creative

StorySmith: Medieval Kingdom is a story building app for the IOS devices. The setting for this education app is Medieval times (plus pirates). You select the scene, place characters where your want them and then enter the text for the scene. Repeat this process over and over until you end up with a story.

The illustrations are beautiful. They give a great framework for story telling. Entering story text is straight forward. In the last update a beach scene plus a few pirate items were added (who doesn’t like pirates). The app would also be a great addition to a story writing education unit.

Very few things to complain about. Younger kids will need help writing the story. I would love more scenes especially about pirates or completely new pirate app. It does not have any sound, but that is expected since it is a story book writing app.

I tested it on my full size iPad (app was provided for free by the publisher). It is available for IOS devices on the Apple Store. I couldn’t find an Android version. It doesn’t have an in-app store, doesn’t need internet access, and it has no advertisements.

Toontastic Jr. Pirates By Launchpad Toys

I few months back I reviewed the original Toontastic. I thought that the original app was great, even if I had to help the younger children set up the story. We have plenty of stories saved up on our devices, and even as a few days ago my children still played with the original app.

This time around Launchpad Toys tries to bring the same magic of the original app to smaller children. Some of the options have been removed, the guided story making process has been improved and simplified, and even the music selection options have been toned down. The graphics and music are beautiful, thoughtful and not annoying.

To start this time, you select the start, the middle and end of the story. Once selected each scene provides a couple of seconds of non-edible action. After that you are given the opportunity, to add your own action and record your own voice. The next step is to select the music for the scene you just recorded. Once all three scenes have been completed, you are able to save it and run the entire play from the start.

I love the orignal app. I loved it then, and it continues to be one of my favorite apps on the iPad. This one is just as impressive. And at $1.99 it provides many opportunities for learning about creative story telling.

The app was provided by the publisher for review, and is available starting today from the Apple App store for $1.99.

Toontastic By Launchpad Toys

Using a simplified story arc you set up a scene, the app guides your children through the creation of an animated story. You build the stories using scene, characters, music and your children recorded voices and sounds.

Some scene are pre-made, others you can buy, and you can even draw your own. So far the animated stories my children have created have used a combination of the provided scenes and their own creation.

Same as the scenes, you have many choices for the characters including creating your own.

The music you select by defining the mood of the scene.

After that: you drop the character on the scene, animate them with your fingers, and tell your story. You can save it locally or share it in multiple ways.

You can see great videos of kids creating movies at the publisher website.

My gripes are small: the time limit of one minute per scene (my daughter’s only complaint), no transitions between the scenes, not available on the Android platform (currently available on Apple App Store.

As an aid to teach/learn the story arc, I don’t know of any app that is this much fun.