TinyTap – Enormous Potential.

Creativity and simplicity are core elements of this very successful app… that also happens to be free! For all the thousands of simple educational apps focusing on one or two core skills, this app has the potential to blow them all away, with apps created by your own child! I see huge potential for TinyTap, applications for it are unlimited. Kids can create their own games with ease and access hundreds more in the marketplace if they choose to play only.

Essentially the app works by uploading a picture or series of pictures from either your own photo library, the internet or a selection of pictures available within the app. Drawing, text and full creative control of the game pages are allowed. Once each page is complete, a series of audio questions can be recorded and areas of the page corresponding to the correct answer, traced. This afternoon my children created a collage of their school holiday outings and recorded questions for their little brother to use in his search for familiar items. Great sound effects and the personalised nature of the game ensured it was a hit, squeals of delight were heard not only while game playing but also in the creation phase

I am very excited about the future of this app, for classrooms and in homes, across a wide variety of users. I can’t wait to see where our tiny tappers will take us next.

TinyTap
Free

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Early Primary (ages 5-8) App Recommendations

A round up of some top educational Apps for this age group. Prices do fluctuate so check the App Store price before you buy.

Maths

Bugs and Numbers – $4.19 Eighteen multi-level games covering early maths concepts including patterns, addition & subtraction, time, currency and fractions. Adaptive progression avoids frustration.
Squeebles Addition and Subtraction – $1.59. For a full review of Squeebles apps, tap here
Squeebles Fractions – $2.59
Squeebles Maths Bingo – $1.59
Times Tables: Squeebles for iPad– $1.59
Division: Squeebles Times Tables Reversed – $1.59
123 Sheep! – Free
iCAN count money New Zealand – $2.59 An introduction to NZ currency.
Marble Math Junior – $4.19 Use the marble maze to solve Maths questions.
Quick Maths – $2.59 Handwrite answers.
Targeting Maths 1 – $12.99 by Blake Publishing, the same people responsible for Reading Eggs. Aligned to the Australian curriculum for year 1.
Targeting Maths 2 – $12.99
Targeting Maths 3 – $12.99
Maths Monkey Quest – $2.59
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox – $1.29
Playful Minds – Math (5-8 years old) – Free (for 12 months). The best free maths app available in my opinion!
Monkey Math School Sunshine – $2.59
Splash Math Apps – $13.99 full version. Graded levels.
Maths with Springbird HD Free. (plus in-app purchases)
Park Math (by Duck Duck Moose) – $5.29
Magic Matrix – $2.59 Introduces matrices and tables.
DragonBox – $8.29 Algebra by stealth. One of the best examples of learning embedded in game play. Also available in a 12yrs+ version.
Math Heroes 1 – $4.19
Math Vs Zombies – $1.29
Math Ahoy! – $1.29
Mystery Math Town – $4.19
Mystery Math Museum – $4.19

Reading / Writing / Spelling

Monkey Word School Adventure – $2.59
Squeebles Spelling Test, – $2.59 Customise your own spelling lists for multiple users, record your own voice. Fun reward game.
Eggy apps – various prices. By the Reading Eggs people.
Little Reader – Free. (plus in-app purchases)
Little Speller – Free. Learn to spell sight words.
Little Writer – Free. Customisable – e.g. you can enter in child’s name or favourite toy with a picture and learn to write it)
Simplex Spelling – lite version free. Phonics.
Rocket Speller – 5 Levels, 140 words.
School Writing – Learn to write and more – $6.49 Developed for Aust & NZ schools.
Writing Wizard – $1.25 Fully customisable, add your own words. Fun colours and animations. We use this one to practise spelling words.
Sky Fish Phonics – $4.19
Monster’s Socks – $4.19 An adorable eBook. For a full review, tap here.
Kids Crossword – $2.59

Combined Reading / Writing / Spelling / Maths

Teach Me: 1st Grade – $2.59 also available in Toddler, Kindergarten, Grade 2 & Grade 3. Answers can be written, these apps have quite good handwriting recognition.

Science and Social Sciences

iLearn Solar system HD – $4.19 Learn about the Solar system and interact with the Planets. Explore and quiz modes.
NZ Fauna – Free
Museum Victoria’s Field Guide to Fauna – Free
Barefoot World Atlas – Free. An interactive globe.
The Human Body – Currently free. An interactive guide to the skeletal, muscular, circulatory, nervous and digestive systems.

Early Programming

Daisy the Dinosaur – Free. The most basic of intro to programming apps.
Kodable – Free. Similar to Daisy.
Move the Turtle – $4.19. ,uuProgressive challenges introduce programming concepts.
Hopscotch – Free. Enables free creation of animations, games whatever you can imagine. Drag and drop, easy to get started.
TinyTap – Free. Amazingly easy to use and a clever idea. Kids can create games by uploading pictures or drawings, record audio questions and tracing areas of the pictures that correspond to the correct response.

Creative

Snowflake Station – $1.29
Princess Fairy Tale Maker – $5.29 (by Duck Duck Moose)
Toontastic โ€“ Free
ArtRage – $6.49
Hello Crayons and Hello Color Pencil – Free
Scribble Press – $5.29
Toca Builders – $4.19
LiquidSketch – $2.59 Puzzles and free drawing.
ColAR Mix โ€“ Free (one page only) $4.19 (full version). Print off colouring in pages then use your iPad / iPhone to make them 3d and animated.
TypeDrawing – $2.59 Draw pictures with lines of text.
Pic Collage – Free! Very easy to use photo collage creator. Clip, trace, resize, colour, borders, stickers and more.

Music

Jellybean Tunes – $4.19. Learn to read music
Piano Infinity – Free
Piano Free with Songs
Guitar Free with Songs

A bit more fun (but still found in the education section)

Toca Boca – $4.19 each. Currently about 18 apps. Some free versions available. Probably more pre-school but some like “Paint my Wings” and Toca Tailor” are still popular.
Dr. Panda apps – $2.59 each. Currently around 11 apps, some free versions available. Learn about various occupations and workplaces with fun games, including a mechanic’s workshop, a handyman, a restaurant, beautician and and an airport.
Little Fox Music Box – $4.49 Beautifully illustrated
Leo’s Pad – Free. 4 ‘Appisodes’ in one.
Dinorama – Currently Free. Create your own dinosaur theme park. Buy, name and feed your dinosaurs. Maintain and develop your park to attract visitors and maximise your income. Great for learning about finances and time management.

Toca Builders

It’s here! The brilliant people at Toca Boca have released their most complex creative app yet, and it is a winner.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about my creative abilities when I started out on this app, it is after all recommended for age 5+ ๐Ÿ˜‰ I should have had more faith in the crew at Toca Boca though, the simple controls are easy to get a handle of, whilst it still allows for your most creative geniuses to take flight.

Essentially the Toca Builders is a blank 3d canvas of blocks, similar in vein to Minecraft. The aim here however is building and creativity, no survival or gameplay. Creating your own Toca Builders world is facilitated by the use of six characters or builders, each with their own special talents. Meet them here (developers description):

Cooper the Ball โ€“ Cooper has the ability to paint the ground simply by rolling over it. You can switch this ability on and off by using a switch.

Blox the Hammer โ€“ Blox both has a backpack which automatically lays out blocks AND hammer hands that can be used to crush these blocks simply by walking in to them. You can switch off the block laying ability by using a switch.

Connie the Crane โ€“ Connie is a crane that can pick up blocks and place them with high precision.

Vex the Jumper โ€“ Vex is a great jumper and can also put down some blocks while hopping along. Perfect for building high walls or staircases.

Jum-Jum the Painter โ€“ Jum-Jum can paint any surface by shooting paint at it. By continuously shooting paint at the top of a pile you can paint the all the underlying blocks as well.

Stretch the Tall โ€“ Stretch can grow tall and place blocks in mid-air. If you want to build roofs, look no further.

Although I called it a “blank canvas”, opening a new world may reveal some surprise fixtures. Things we have discovered so far include a forest, some ships, and the loveable character Stikk Figga from the Toca Band app.

With the ever increasing use of 3d software in industries such as design, architecture and engineering; Toca Builders may ignite a passion your little tapper that could lead to bigger things!

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Special introduction price $1.29 NZD on the App Store, not yet available on other platforms.

Dr. Panda

As promised, here is the review of apps by the newly crowned king of all app developers (according to my household), TribePlay. Dr. Panda apps are targeted at the 2-6 yr old age bracket, a time when finding out about the world outside your front door is most exciting. I’m not aware of other developers using the term “educational values” but it is a fancy way the people at TribePlay have of saying that these very engaging apps won’t just teach your child to count or recognise the alphabet as you would typically expect of educational apps for this age, they will educate your child in a broader sense of the word. An example of this is the occupations explored by the various apps. Your child can discover; in a considerable amount of detail, what a doctor, shopkeeper, farmer, chef, beautician and handyman do.

To give an example of the level of detail you can expect, here are a couple of our favourite activities:

In the Handyman app you get to assemble a bunk bed. From sawing the timber, lowering in slats and mattresses to nailing the timber together.

In the supermarket app, fruit and vegetables need to be weighed, price labels printed and placed in shopping basket. After this you can go outside and collect up the trolleys in the car park.

The restaurant app was the earliest we discovered and still remains a firm favourite. Learn what it takes to make scrambled eggs, stir fry and who could resist the gingerbread men.

Each app contains several pages of activities like the ones above, including activities for sorting, shapes, creativity and puzzles. The true test of how good an app is for me is the number of times it is requested. Requests for Dr. Panda in my house are implicit, my children would notice immediately if any of the Dr. Panda apps were deleted from our iPad!

Lookout for the new Dr. Panda Garage coming soon! If wheels are your little one’s thing (we have a huge fan of anything with wheels in our house) this will be a guaranteed hit.

$2.37 – $2.50 on Google Play (except a couple of free lite versions)

$2.59 on the App Store (except a couple of free lite versions)

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Toca Boca

Toca Bocaย apps are in my opinion worthy of the highest praise. They are undoubtedly the most played apps in our household of all timeย (although there is a new contender rising the ranks – Dr. Panda, my next post I promise) . Whilst I wouldn’t consider these the most educational, they are very engaging, promote creativity and many can be used by multiple players simultaneously – a big plus if you are a one tablet, multiple kid household.

This incredible range of 18 high quality apps includes a couple of lite or free apps. The developers refer to them as virtual or digital toys. If you think of your tablet as a seriously condensed form of your bookcase, Toca Boca is a toy box more portable than your kids!

Here are some of our family favourite Toca activities:

Feeding the monsters, painting beautiful symmetrical wings, creating crazy hair dos, designing clothes, hosting a tea party, running a grocery store and mixing up some groovy tunes with the Toca band.

$4.19 NZD each, except Toca Doctor Lite, Toca Kitchen Monsters, Toca Tailor Fairy Tales and Toca Hair Salon Christmas Gift all free on iOS.

Toca Hair Salon 2 is now also available on Google Play.

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