My friend Stanley, a poet and inventor, calls it the App-endix of kids apps. Like any true curmudgeon, he says the app-endix, just like the real ones in our bodies will disappear through the process of evolution. There are lots of reasons for Stanley’s gloom. An overcrowded field with too many tepid entries and no real organizing principles make it hard to find quality kids apps. Free apps often bring in app advertising and who knows what other computer dangers to kids. Apps that cost are inexpensive enough (the average kid’s app is just over $2) but parents are reluctant to spend any money on something that they haven’t seen and have to search through the piles for.
Parents are also a bit reluctant to indulge their kid’s already over-voracious screen time habits. The result –app fatigue.
But, I’m more optimistic about an Appendix being the supplemental guide (usually at the end of the book). Apps can be a kid’s appendix — offering inspiring explorations that make being a kid even richer. I spent the last 2 days in a deep dive app-perience with a group of talented, dedicated folks at Dust or Magic App Camp. Some of the work that I looked at was like finding hidden gems in a video game. If you’ve been searching through the pile of rubble that we think of as kids apps – flash cards, connect the dots, and horrid voices telling you to try again, feast your eyes on these.
WindoSill by VectorPark
These folks didn’t attend the app camp but were selected by a panel of kids-in-residence as a favorite. Windosill is a whimsical adventure puzzle; your mission is to get through doors by solving them various bits of logic machines. The entire game has an Alice in Wonderland meets Pablo Picasso feel to it. Beautifully rendered art, puzzles, logic, physics and a very responsive multi-touch system all make this play super-fluid. I hate people who say that you have to play it to understand it, but in this case tha
Leonardo daVinci by TouchPress Appst’s the truth. Try the first levels for free at the site.
More like a PBC special than a kid’s app per se, TouchPress Apps is all about making beautiful books about beautiful subjects into exploration apps. The company has created books on the Solar System, Elements, Skulls and one of their latest is on the works of Leonardo DaVinci: Anatomy App. Of course you knew that Leonardo, in addition to being a great artist was a super-skilled anatomist, right? This app let’s you explore that piece of FDaVinci. The app renders these anatomical drawings glorious 3D r
otations. The text is engrossing; the artwork stunning and Leonardo’s famous backwards writing. ($13.99)
Created by some ex-Pixar talent, the Numberlys begins as a black and white “Metropolis” where numbers are in command with letters still unborn. It’s an epic story, with a look and feel that gives a nod to great film of the past from King Kong to Flash Gordon to The Wizard of Oz. Players will get to birth numbers by spinning and multi-touching away. To get a feel for the game visit the website. ($5.95)
They say that kids learn by watching and doing, by engaging with all their senses, and through their fingers. Noodlewords introduces words with raucous giggle producing, associated action. Unlike so many kids apps that use hum drum or overdoses or art, this one concentrates on having kids delight in a specific action/reaction. Too adorably engaging bugs dance, bump, and otherwise teach those action words through their carefully crafted antics.
This whimsical work by Daren Carstens is a dotted landscape of special touches. From his us love of “doodles” to his reasoning that simple math drills can be playful and fun – especially if you through in every number system from money to binary to Roman Numerals. Once you create stacks of sums, (there is no right answer) dice shake and dance and glorious words of encouragement appear on screen. Daren includes a bit of his own motivations for creating the app by telling of his own discovery that math is fun. The fun is evident in his work.
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