We are two mums, three kids, two dads and one elusive cat living in Ireland and every now and then we post about the nice things we find. 


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15 posts tagged apps for kids

Cat Doorman’s Little Red Wagon

Guest  post from dad to be, James Kelleher.
Cat Doorman is Julianna Bright, and vice versa. She’s an Oregonian artist/mom/musician who’s collaborated with a bunch of American northwest indie rock heroes (including members of The Decemberists, Golden Bears, Black Prairie and Built to Spill) to make Songbook, a very charming folksy, old-timey album for children. Little Red Wagon is the first companion app to launch alongside the album, it’s developed by top toddler-catnip producers Night & Day Studios, and it’s very lovely indeed.
On launching the app, you’re dropped straight into Bright’s instantly appealing hand-painted world, where you choose whether you’d like a guitar, piano, or full band backing track. Then it’s right into the song adventure, where a girl in an orange dress gathers supplies – all dropped into the red wagon of the title – for a picnic in the forest. The dairy is run by a goat (the chèvre is recommended), the bakery by a cat: my weekly grocery shop now seems sadly mundane by comparison. 
The song itself is great, a blessed relief from the brain-mulching music found in most apps aimed at children, and appears in full notation at the bottom of the screen in case you’d like to play along. All the interaction cues necessary to progress are well signposted, but there are plenty of mischievous hidden surprises for curious tappers too. Trust me when I tell you: those pooping cows are going to be tapped A LOT.
This is another great app from Night & Day, with lashings of their customary attention to detail, plenty of charm and a lot of heart. 
To find out more of James Kelleher’s views on apps and the rest of the world follow him on twitter here.

Night & Day Studios - Richard Scarry’s Peekaboo People iPhone & iPad app

Night & Day Studios have created many of our favourite apps and this time they have combined their classic Peekaboo format with one of our favourite illustrators, Richard Scarry, for Peekaboo People.

As with Peekaboo Barn and others it’s the usual simple but good format of a hidden character with a tap to peek and hear the new word. This time its the Busy Town people in the lift on their way to work. The benefit of Scarry’s wonderfully illustrated characters is familiarity from the books but also the extra detail allows for more conversation about the image; ok so he’s a doctor but he’s also a lion, and what’s he wearing? A lot more room for external interaction with parent and child as well as child and screen.

The options as always allows for a child or adult voice narration however our toddler reviewers Mina and Cal did seem to be a little wary of the rather gruff man’s voice so the child voice was definitely the preferred. A future update with the ability to record your own voice would definitely be welcomed.

In addition to Peekaboo People Night & Day have a new Christmas version out, Peekaboo Presents to help you prep toddlers’ enthusiasm for the Christmas season even more, if that was possible. See the full range of Night & Day Studios apps here and download Peekaboo People here.

Piccadilly’s Circus - New story book app from Ink Robin

We are big fans of storybook app creators Ink Robin and luckily they like us too and kindly allowed us to try out their newest iPad storybook, Piccadilly’s Circus.

Illustrated by the very talented Adam Larkum, who also illustrated their original app Will & Kate, and narrated by comedian Trevor Lock (you may know him from guilty pleasures show Star Stories), Piccadilly’s Circus tells the tale of a successful circus troupe who when confronted with a challenge to replace their ringmaster for a night end up swapping all the roles with, of course, hilarious consequences.

As always with Ink Robin apps, the essentials of picture book story telling are prioritised with the quality of the illustration and tale stading up for themselves. On top of this then is layered the iPad interractive elements, with simple but fun rolling bears on balls, fire breathing lions and candy apple throwing monkeys. Add to this the excellent sound effects (Cal’s favourite Mr Piccadilly’s sneezing, mine the old style radio tuner in his caravan) and you have another perfect picture book app. 

Based on the new library shelf fomat that opens with the app it looks like we will be treated to many more wonderful stories from the team at Ink Robin. Find out more and download the app for iPad here

Little Fox Music Box - Sing Along iPhone & iPad App

Seeing Little Fox Music Box app reviewed on a number of sites it has been in the back of my mind to download it for Cal and I am so glad I did as this is now definitely one for our top apps for kids list. The basics of the app are three sing along scenes, London Bridge, Old McDonald and Evening Song, and a sound studio to make your own tunes. Simple as this sounds it allows for plenty of play. The interactive scenes are beautifully illustrated and implemented with the songs and lyrics allowing for easy sing along. The sound studio with dancing little fox allows you to turn nearly every item on screen into music and yet some how has been created in a way that makes every random tapping tuneful and pleasant to listen to. It really is quite addictive music making. Both Cal and I love this app and heartily recommend it. Download Little Fox Music Box here.

Peekaboo Fridge & Friends - the iPad & iPhone app of choice for toddlers returns

Night & Day Studios, creators of the much loved by all toddlers Peekaboo Barn app, are back with their latest installment, Peekaboo Fridge.

If you’ve ever wondered what sound a strawberry makes or what the fruit and veg get up to in the fridge after dark, Peekaboo Fridge is here to show you. Following the classic peekaboo listen then see format, with simple and intuitive screen interactions, toddlers can learn the names of 13 wholesome foods. Our toddler was particularly fond of the mustachioed cheese and the cheery juice box (which also prompted many drink requests). And for existing Peekaboo fans, don’t worry, it still ends with the essential “Shhh, they’re sleeping”.

For those of you new to smart phones or just new to toddlers you can get a free taster of the Peekaboo series with their new and free Peekaboo Friends app. As future Peekaboos are released (an Ed Emberley Halloween and Richard Scarry character based Peekaboos soon to be released) a lite version will be available in Peekaboo Friends to try out before you buy.

Much loved by our toddler and highly recommended for little ones learning new words, Peekaboo Fridge will be released tomorrow, 30th August. Find out more about all the Night & Day Studios apps here.

Make Me Music musical app for kids

FeeFiFoFun, the company behind Flutterby Butterflies, which we reviewed last month, have just come out with their second app called Make Me Music. It is an interactive musical app where you can compose your own pieces, play one of a number of crazy looking instruments and record and send on your compositions to your friends. You have an option of three different background medleys, a guitar, a banjo and my favourite, a trumpet, choosing each one changes the background colour and beat. As with Flutterby Butterflies, it is fantastically illustrated by Alan Aldridge with conventional instruments like tambourines, maracas and didgeridoos playing alongside saucepans,
musical spiders, flowers, cowbell (and cow!), and much more. The instruments are both wildly creative and quite hilarious, the singing breadbox proving particularly popular with Edie. We had great fun with this, it’s aimed at three years old and over but Edie definitely enjoyed it and her Dad even more. We will be playing and recording our music for some time to come.

Make Me Music is available to buy here.

My top iPhone apps for toddler

Whether you think they are educational or that screen time is an absolute no-no for toddlers, the reality is that most toddlers will at some stage get a smart phone in their sticky mitts. If only to allow mommy or daddy five more minutes with their latte, or to keep the great escape imitations to a minimum during nappy changes.

To do a top ten of kids apps these days would be nearly impossible. The market has exploded; 
bringing with it some amazing, creative and educational apps. But also a slew of junk that any parent would be loathe to present to their future Steve Jobs.

So, (having received a request to do a top apps post) the best I can do is the top apps on my phone. This list is based on usage by toddler Cal combined with apps which I am happy to see him playing with as I feel he may learn something from them too. 

Peekaboo Barn - The Peekaboo series from Night and Day Studios are wonderfully easy to use, introducing new words and animal sounds and have been gleefully received by any toddler I have seen using them.

Alphabeast - Created by a local Irish team this alphabet app from illustrator Chris Judge, James Kelleher and Simon Judge brought some style and class to a world of lazy alphabet app creators who felt that stock photos and bad fonts were acceptable for toddlers who knew no better.

Pi’ikea Street Interactive Alphabet - You really can’t have too many alphabet apps, as long as they’re good ones. Toddler’s second favourite and another definite help in learning all about letters.

Dr Seuss - We have a number of Dr Seuss apps. Oceanhouse Media have taken the wonderful rhyming and illustration and converted them into simple but slick apps which toddler has frequently chosen to use, even over cartoons on YouTube.

Anorak Magazine - An app which really is beyond Cal’s range but yet he loves it anyway. In true magazine style this contains stories, things to draw, things to do, games…plenty to keep little ones busy through lengthy car trips.

Toca Boca - The creators of the Toca Boca series of apps have found the magic formula for pre school apps, no language. Lots of hand eye co ordination, lots of fun but all the characters say is erm, oooh and various noises that Cal thinks is hilarious as he cuts hair, feeds monsters or builds robots.

Montessorium Intro to Letters / Maths - I love the Montessorium apps and luckily toddler does too. Following Montessori methods these are designed to teach kids numbers and letters and are presented in a simple but stylish format. Our early use of these apps was very much mummy and toddler together but Cal has picked up enough that he will go in and out of the various sections and call for me when he has trouble completing a task.

Numberland - not an early favourite of mine but for Cal thinks some of the voices and sounds are hilarious and takes great joy in repeating back “one giant foot!” and various other phrases as he clicks through the numbers. He also doesn’t seem phased when he accidentally chooses one of the multi lingual options, playing away anyway. I have hopes for French learned by osmosis but so far nothing…

A Charlie Brown Christmas - A classic, now in app form which we are both happy to play with all year round and often is taken out purely for a dance to the excellent music from Vince Guaraldi.

Flutter-by Butterflies - iPhone & iPad app for kids

We were delighted when one of our favourite App producers Night & Day Studios referred on a new collaboration with Fee Fi Fo Fun. Flutter-by-Butterflies is a wonderfully simple and beautifully illustrated numbers, letters and rhyming game involving flowers, bees, a pop up squirrel and of course butterflies. Edie isn’t quite at the level it is aimed at yet so we worked on it together. It’s a match up format where you put colours, letters or rhyming words together by placing the right butterfly on the right flower. As you gain points little buzzing bees fly into a tree which was very exciting to a certain toddler. The graphics are very pretty and although Edie didn’t get the letters and rhyming just yet, she was really taken with the flowers and butterflies, and loved telling me the names of all the colours. She swiped the phone from me a number of times to play on her own which is a mark of quality in our house. I imagine this will really occupy her in a few months time and I would think it would be perfect for a child at preschool or Montessori stage. Buy Flutter-by-Butterflies here.

Leonard - Story book app for kids from Ink Robin

About a year ago we received a copy of Will & Kate A Love Story storybook app for kids from a small app production company called Ink Robin. We initially expected a gimmicky app trading off the excitement of the royal wedding. What we found was a simple yet perfectly executed app with just the right amount of user interaction not to distract from the story itself.

Having received their new story app, Leonard, quite some time ago (sorry so slow!) we have had plenty of time to road test it with Cal and discover yet another quality app. Leonard tells the story of a boy with a giant imagination who moves from the city to the country and goes in search of friends. As before, this app appears to be a simple story but there are plenty of interactive elements which fit in seamlessly with the tale; bugs to squash, robots to build, plenty of imaginative adventures to take as Leonard finds his new friends. At two and a half Cal is fast understanding the linear narrative of picture books but watching him work through Leonard he easily found and enjoyed all the interactive elements while still getting a thrill from the simpler things such as the bright illustrations (which reminded me of those busy cartoons from maybe the fifties that were repeated on tv in my youth) and enjoying shouting back at the narration, repeating the words again and again with joy. 

With another story app on the way Ink Robin are definitely becoming one of our favourite story book app creators as they have found that wonderful balance between the technology and the story and illustration themselves. Discover more Ink Robin apps and buy your copy of Leonard here.

The Numberlys - Alphabet story app from Moonbot Studios

Some time ago we purchased the highly rated app called The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by Moonbot studios, and sadly we never reviewed it here as it felt more like an animated movie being forced into an app format, and at the higher end of the app price range we really couldn’t recommend the purchase (although clearly the short film works better, Oscar nomination anyone!).

However with their newest creation, The Numberlys, the balance between animated movie, story book, game and introduction to the alphabet for the older child is reached. Created in a world where there are only numbers the Numberlys aim to create a new type of number, something different, an alphabet. As the cinematic story is told, in a style which is an homage to movies such as Metropolis, in story games and interactions help create the new alphabet, many a bit tough for our wee toddler but simple enough to be picked by slightly older kids (…and parents). It will take some more intensive toddler testing over the next few days but I think this is definitely an app that will be played again and again (…and not deleted to make space for more). Find out more about The Numberlys here.  

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