It’s time again to look at some of the apps that are leaving smudge marks on my iPod Touch. Here’s a broad look at some of the best kid-friendly applications worthy of some gigabytes on your device.
Anorak Magazine (Oksar Ltd) –$1.99
Based on the beautifully-designed international magazine for kids, this app offers a handful of goodies for just $1.99. Featuring the urban-art also present in the magazine, this ‘Happy App for Kids’ offers three categories of interaction: Read Stuff, Do Stuff and Play Stuff. Read Stuff features digital books taken right from the pages Anorak, including the delightfully unique “Three Eyed Dog” and the brightly colored and humorous “Gardens of Maryland.” Do Stuff features some standard drawing and coloring apps, but with added twists: the scribbling is on top of Anorak’s trademark character creations and kids are given a prompt on what to draw. Play Stuff features “Whack-Anorak” in a “Whac-A-Mole” style game that I found myself enjoying as much as Maia did. A Cycling game included in the app is cool looking too, but was less interesting to Maia as it seemed a little above her skill level. This app will definitely be the most colorful and artistic on your iPhone.
Sprout Player (PBS KIDS Sprout)– Free
This free app lets the the little ones stream short video clips from the PBS KIDS Sprout network. You won’t find regular Sprout shows like Caillou or Sesame Street on the player, but instead, original Sprout-owned content like segments from The Good Night Show, The Sunny Side Up Show, and The Sprout Sharing Show. The app is easy to navigate for toddlers, letting them slide through visual thumbnails of the shows until they find the one they want. Maia’s favorites are episode clips that are all under 2 minutes or so, featuring recipes or crafts being made by kids and their parents. And, you know you are getting quality content when it is served from PBS.
Disney Puzzle Slider (Disney Interactive) –$2.99
This app is currently getting the most usage in our house. Just like one of those scrambled tile puzzles you would find in a birthday goodie bag, this app serves up almost 100 puzzles with Disney characters on them. Users choose the number of tiles, a Disney theme and image, and then solve away. Maia especially loves collecting points to unlock “hidden” images. Some of the themes include Villains, Mickey and Friends, Classic Mickey, Fairies, and my personal favorite, the stylized work of Bloc28. A recent app update also added a slew of “Princess and the Frog” puzzles to the mix. Favorite images can also be saved and used as backgrounds on your device. My daughter’s only complaint was the missing Princess category.
Little Red Riding Hood StoryChimes (Siena Entertainment) – $.99
One of a series of digital books in the StoryChimes line from Siena, Little Red Riding Hood is a great addition to our growing digital book series. This book was notable for its ease of use, unique & retro artwork, professional narration and original music. Yes, “Little Red Riding Hood” can often be scary, but this version is softened with no dead grandma or slaughtered wolf.
Belindra–Vegetable Delivery (Morgan Marion) –$.99
This cute interactive storybook features “hand-drawn” style illustrations that really pop on this platform. ‘Belindra’ is certainly not flashy, but it is quirky and sweet in its appeal. The book tells the story of Belindra as she delivers veggies to her neighborhood. As an added bonus, this digital book features surprise interactions by clicking on cherries featured in each image.
Old MacDonald (Duck Duck Moose) – $1.99
The creators of one of my favorite apps, Wheels on the Bus, are back with a worthy follow-up, Old MacDonald. Similar to its predecessor, it is described as an “interactive musical book” where users sing along with each line of the song on a different page. Each page also includes a different activity as well, such as using your fingers to shear a sheep, paint a pig, operate a tractor and trigger a cow’s alien abduction. Duck Duck Moose have definitely found a way to tap into the interactive possibilities of the iPhone/iTouch touch screen.
Slide-a-ma-jig (Lucky Radish Amusements) –$.99
This app is definitely not going to be called educational, but Maia has a lot of fun with it. Players create wacky, and sometimes gross, character creations by either shaking the iPod or sliding the hat, head, torso, legs and feet. Backgrounds can be switched up as well, creating tons of new scenes with every play. The entertainment value is provided by the detailed work put into the design of each character, and the humor behind it. Definitely an inexpensive distraction for older children.