There is a new series of educational apps for iPad that parents and educators should be aware of – namely, Leo’s Pad.
These apps – three that are currently available – are unique as they star interesting historical characters as children, specifically a young Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei and Marie Curie allowing this trio to be apart of unique science-themed interactions such as color mixing to create fuel with the help of Marie as children help assist Galileo build a rocket or help Leo work on interesting contraptions such as a catapult or unique vehicle, the gyro racer that has both elements of science fiction as well as a fun representation of the inventive ideas da Vinci is known for – much to the amusement of adults as well as children.
These appisodes are full of interactions that always further the storyline and are never distracting and include activities also found in other apps such as drawing, tracing or sorting, yet these tasks here are used to keep children fully immersed in the world that has been created within Leo’s Pad.
The look of these apps is marvelous, with computer generated images that rival CGI games geared towards adults, including the look of these characters, their hair and facial expressions – elements not always well realized in 3D computer-generated images such as this, with a resolution quite fine as well as bright and colorful, also including many moments of wonderfully lush landscapes further creating a world within Leo’s Pad apps.
I must admit that I was a little hesitant regarding the idea of Leo’s Pad including child versions of these great scientists, to me reminiscent of the Muppet Babies, to me a lesser show staring animated Muppets that toss away the history of the Muppets characters meeting for all of them to conveniently be babies together, applicable here as it is obvious that in terms of time periods and location, that it is impossible for these three scientists to have been childhood friends – an adult concern that I let go of when I saw the overall quality of this app. Parents, however may want to explain who these characters are based on as well as the historically accurate time periods in which the characters lived.
The first of these apps is free, with the rest of these apps available for in-app purchases – add-ons that I am not typically keen about, but this is a rare time when this format works well. It also includes free glimpses of paid appisodes allowing parents to get a feel for what they are purchasing.
Parents and educators also may be interested in the free Parents’ Pad section of this app which analyzes the progress made in these apps for each child’s account, as multiple children can have their personal data saved within.
A lot of information is offered within the Parents’ Pad and can be overwhelming at first glance. Do take the time to fully explore what this section has to offer, being an area that teachers will also find helpful for keeping tabs on the progress of their students within Leo’s Pad.
It is nice that children’s social intelligence is also touched upon here as seen in an area where the child, Leo, and Leo’s pet dragon all paint together, each with his own easel but sharing the paint brush, asking children to wait their turn. Although this section means well, I don’t think it translates as children are left staring at their blank canvas as others paint at the corners of the page – simply not engaging and also setting them up for frustration.
I would prefer watching others paint pictures directly as this is more interesting and gives children a chance to empathize with their painter working hard on his project so as not to steal the brush back. I simply could not help thinking during waiting my turn that Leonardo da Vinci has multiple easels to share but only owns a single paintbrush? I also am not a fan of making children share in general, preferring to set time limits and then pass along the toy or item in question to other children when ready.
Even with this note, there is an undeniable level of top quality within these apps and an obviously high level of work that has gone into Parents’ Pad as well. The ability for difficulty of the tasks within this app to adapt to the ability of the user is quite interesting and makes these apps worthy choices for children of varied ages.
It is worth noting that the developers at Kidaptive have plans for 25 of these appisodes in the future, with appisode number four to be released soon. I am interested to see what new adventures these apps will bring, and look forward to more of these apps in the future.
Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe is a unique and highly engaging problem solving puzzle app for children as well as adults.
Meet Pettson and his cat Findus, and help them build fantastical contraptions while keeping in mind the laws of physics as players add different parts to the machine-like cogs and belts as well as unique items such as a ramp made out of cheese or a flower pot.
It is tempting to compare Pettson’s Intentions to a Rube Goldberg machine, and although I think this comparison has some merit, I do not believe it is spot-on as Rube Goldberg device solve simple daily problems such as turning on a light switch with the use of a convoluted and over-built invention. Here, however, there is more of a sense of nonsense as one may devise a way to open and close monster cages as the creatures when loose may scare an animal making it run, pulling a lever behind them, watering flowers to make them instantly grow which may lure a cow to graze, as well as tasks that could include washing a pig or making it snow around the house with the use of an ice cream cone and a windmill.
This deluxe app consists of the content of Pettson’s inventions 1 and 2 and includes six new puzzles as well as the ability to race the clock to play against someone as the screen of the iPad is then split and users play head-to-head on the same device.
It is worth noting that this app has a few really important options, as one can get a visual hint of how to solve the problem at hand by not just being told the object, but by also seeing a visual clue allowing users to see what it looks like to make a dragon happy instead of just hearing the description. Another option is to having only the parts needed for the specific invention or including other items that will not be needed for the puzzle, thus increasing the difficulty of these sections.
When ready to work on these puzzles, one will note that certain clues are given throughout, as pins to attach gears may be included, or there may already be gears within the invention that one needs to attach a belt to as well as pipes in need of being fitted or pulleys which take shape when dragged onto the invention area of the page, center screen, as all the items to be used in these contraptions can be seen lining the perimeter of the page.
As one becomes more familiar with these puzzles, the tools one can add to the inventions will become more familiar as they work consistently the same way from puzzle to puzzle, also noting that there is some color coding that is also included – a nice touch.
I also appreciate how the power to these inventions can be turned on while building to see how the plans are working so far, allowing players to see what more needs to be done.
For the most part, I find the level of difficulty in this app good, and I have been able to solve the majority of these puzzles on my own without too much frustration.
It is nice to know that one can find walk-throughs of much of this app on line if needed, as I did for a scene where one needs to suspend a weight in mid air, and I could not find the sweet spot from which to hang the anvil. It would be nice if the app had help like this within the app as well for children who may feel stuck.
Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe is a wonderful app for logic and problem solving. The inventions one creates are highly creative, and I am quite fond of all the quirky details found within.
Colours! is an interesting, interactive color theory app that children and their adults will enjoy.
I honestly did not expect much from Colours! as teaching children how to mix primary colors to create secondary shades is not an uncommon topic, so I was pleasantly surprised how complex this app can become.
Colours! allows one to mix red, yellow, blue, white and black to form any color possible. A sponge is also included to use as an eraser – a nice touch.
In Learn, tap a color and drag to paint within a circle seen at the top of the page. Slowly the circle will take on the desired color. Note how when painting, the test tube left of the circle is seen being filled with color drops. Tap the test tube to see 36 drops of color as they represent the proportions of different colors when new colors are added to the circle as seen when a new color is chosen and painted into the circle.
I must say I have spent more time with this app than I expected. I enjoy watching the colors change and checking to see what color parts make up a new specific shade that can be saved to investigate later.
In Play mode, a new, sometimes sophisticated color is offered at the top of the circle, allowing players to match this shade by mixing colors together. This may be easy, such as mixing yellow and blue to make green, but it can also be quite hard, such as mixing different shades of navy blues with red hiding within – a color I would be stuck at if I had not played around in the earlier section and discovered this shade for myself.
In Yours, the colors created in the first section are kept secure in the palette-like area. Tap on a color to see the different parts needed to create this shade.
The look of this app is pleasing, with a paint-splattered background and realistic looking paint cans to choose from. The primary blue color looks a little light with its white base showing through to seem very “true” in terms of being a primary color, and I noted how the blue shade seemed to turn darker – closer to almost navy the more one painted this single shade, compared to the red and yellow shades which were bright and primary-looking from the start.
Another observation I have made is how the color may disappear against the white background although other color parts are still in play in the test tube. I do wonder if being able to choose one’s own background color would mediate this problem as well as add to the visual interest of these colors, as they may seem to change color next to another shade. Relatedly, do point out to children how the top color within the Play mode seems to change in comparison to the bottom color as it too changes with every new color added.
I would also love to work from the test tube side of the Learn area, seeing how the color changes when adding very exact measurements of colors would transform colors when flipped back to the painting mode.
Colours! allows adults and children to dive deeper into color theory more than I thought. Children can have fun just mixing away, but this app can be used in school and at home together with a color wheel to teach about blending colors in a way most infinite.
I remember when my son was young and was given paints for the first time. I really wanted to show him how to achieve green, orange and purple, but my paints were quite less than true, and even with equal proportions mixed, the perfect secondary colors were never achieved. Others may have less of this issue, but from my experience, I can see how this type of app can be quite valuable, as the paint used to create the never-ending shades one can blend here would be mostly wasted in real life – as well as quite a mess.
Colours! is an app worth checking out. Adults, including those with an art background, will enjoy this world of color without any cleanup, but I think it would be a nice inclusion if one had a blank page to paint on with the colors they had created and saved – just a thought for a future update.
Itsy Cars is a unique interactive app that allows children to build the race track of their dreams using a combination of thirteen pieces of track which are connected to create a track that one can drive a race car through.
Four differently styled cars can be chosen, and then children will build their tracks with the tap of a finger, connecting pieces of track together. When complete, start the car down the track, tapping the “Turbo Button” when players want their car to go faster.
The look of this app is highly computer-generated, with the use of many angles and bright yet not terribly unrefined colors – a style I am not always a fan of but which makes a lot of sense in this app.
By far, my favorite element of this app is the ability not only to view the cars that are moving along the track, but enjoy the view of the car in motion from the driver’s seat, giving players a wonderful POV shot where one can gaze at the very realistic clouds and distant horizon, making me nauseous – in a good way – as well as winning me over as a fan.
I was surprised how much thinking this game necessitated as the inclusion of a physics engine made my track not work the way I expected, as my car was unable to make all the elaborate turns I first added to my course. This made me appreciate how this app takes effort and forethought to create a track that a car can actually drive down without getting stuck.
I enjoy much of this gameplay, as the adding of track, including both driving on the grass pieces, as well as ice track pieces for a much slicker ride is quite intuitive, as is the ability to move the screen around with a finger to keep the track in view and also the ability to pinch the screen to minimize it, allowing users to see a smaller, more complete view of their work.
I did not fully understand how the presumably saving of these tracks works, as “save” disks can be seen – an area I was not able to muddle through. I would love to see a tutorial on how this function works in the future.
I would also like to be able to “snip” problem spots out of the track where my car always gets stuck with new pieces of track instead of using the “go back” button, removing each piece of track from the end, which can be tedious and unnecessary.
Even with these notes, I can recognize an app that will entertain my son, and this is one of them. I also expect some tears and frustration when the natural physics of a moving car will not keep my son’s car on track, but the overall effect of being able to view one’s race track as if driving is enough to recommend it to children who love playing with and building Hot Wheels or classic train tracks.
I do wish saving instructions were included as well as being able to change out track pieces from the center of the track, but even with these notes, Itsy Cars is an app worth checking out.
Brains My Body is a very nice interactive app for children which teaches about basic anatomy and diversity and includes fun facts about the body.
The look of this app is crisp and clean, with colorful, textured woven fabric used as the background for these activities.
Also of note are the layered ambient sounds heard throughout, consisting of a beating heart, blowing wind and wind chimes – interesting choices I have enjoyed listening to.
Eight sections are included, four of which are puzzles that ask children to re-build the body. I do appreciate how this puzzle includes multiple levels of difficulty, seen in each of these sections as these puzzles become more in-depth.
The basic body structure is covered as one adds the head, chest arms and legs into an outline of a body, while a second level breaks down these parts into smaller ones while chunky parts like head, chest, thigh or foot still remain.
There is also a puzzle focusing on facial features, as at first the face is divided into strips such as hair, eyebrow, eyes, nose and mouth – pieces that must be placed back into a face template. In the second level, these features such as both eyes and ears need to be placed back where they belong independently as well as other areas of the face.
It is especially nice how in this face puzzle section, one can choose between a variety of faces, including diverse choices such as an Asian character and darker skin-toned non-Caucasian to re-build, adding to the re-play of this section as well as the diverse nature of this application.
The skeletal system has its own dedicated section, optionally narrating these bones as one places them back where they belong inside a body outline.
At first these skeletal pieces are large, consisting of a single piece for the trunk, arms, and legs, while later, in the second and third levels, breaking the spine, pelvis and ribcage into individual pieces, ultimately including each side of the rib cage as a separate piece, as are the hands and feet, upper and forearms, shin, and shin bone.
The internal organs are also touched upon here, as one needs to place the organs back into the body where they belong.
Again, during the first level of this game, these body parts are grouped together, such as brain and spinal column, lung and trachea, large and small intestines, bladder and kidneys, each of these pieces then separated into individual parts ultimately adding the nose and mouth cavity, as well as also including the pancreas, spleen and gallbladder.
Three other activities are included, such as an activity to tap various parts of the body to peel back a level, such as from the chest to the internal organs to then see an x-ray view of the bones. A variety of skin tones and different heads are included. One can also scroll through with a tap, creating an anatomical model of the player’s choosing.
There is also a chance to interact with a beating heart, as tapping in time to the beats will fill the body with blood, allowing children to see the coronary arteries fill, delivering blood throughout the body. A mistimed tap will remove blood. There are three levels to this exercise, increasing the speed of the heart being pumped, thus increasing the difficulty of this interaction.
One also has a chance to see a cross section of a body in order to view digestion at work. Do tap the hose included within the stomach as this adds necessary digestive juices needed to move the food through the body and out the other end, complete with flatulence noises – appropriate for this app.
A memory game is also included where one needs to turn over tiles in order to make pairs, with three levels ranging from twelve to sixteen tiles in play.
Each of these sections includes a magnifying glass that one can tap to read an interesting fact. A camera icon is also included to take and save a screen shot to the camera roll of one’s device.
The main note I have is that the organization of these sections could be arranged together – including the most basic sections as well as the more in depth anatomy puzzles.
This is a very nice, very stylized app introducing the human body to young children. I do see this app as a good choice for toddlers and early preschoolers and beyond as well as their adults who will enjoy this app a great deal, as these puzzles are reminiscent of multiple-layered wood puzzles I have always been interested in.
Scholastic First Discovery: Ladybug, with versions available for both iPad as well as iPhone, is a delightful interactive app based on the published book of the same name, exploring all about ladybugs to the delight of children as well as their adults.
This is a clear and concise app that delivers an abundance of information about these colorful creatures which transforms the original book that includes transparent pages nicely into interactions where one slides different layers of illustrations away, remaining true to these special pages while adapting the text of the book to suit this story as an application mainly narrated with little text.
This non-fiction app is broken down into four chapters that one can explore on one’s own, or as an entire book from start to finish, including close-up ladybug images that will be of interest to bug fans of all ages.
It is quite enjoyable how the details of these ladybugs’ bodies are explored, being able to look closely with a 360 degree view as the ladybug spins slowly, also allowing children to manually rotate the ladybug as well as opening or closing the wings to view the hidden transparent wings used for flying.
I really enjoy how these ladybugs are also seen wandering around the screen, allowing one to drag a finger across the screen to have it followed as well as these insects around the page, bouncing them into each other, or tapping them for an open-wings effect as well.
Children have the chance to count ladybug spots, interactively explore ladybugs of different colors and patterns, and even feed a ladybug aphids – their preferred source of nutrition.
The birth of new ladybugs is also discussed, allowing one to watch the transformation from laying eggs from larvae to pupa and ultimately ladybugs, allowing readers to experience a variety of lovely interactions, such as morphing these bugs into different stages of metamorphosis with the drag of a finger or pulling back leaves to see these interesting changes take place.
Children and adults will appreciate the close-up views they gain as they watch these ladybugs fly and walk around the pages as well as the various thoughtful interactions included within.
The published book does have some nice details about defense and reproduction not touched upon in this app as well as leaving out information about other related beetles – moments I did miss, but I do enjoy the tight focus and flow of this narrative.
This app is the third in a series of Scholastic First Discovery apps. I do hope the others from this series are also brought to iPad and iPhone as these apps are educational but also great for listening comprehension as one listens to very nice included narration predominantly instead of reading and also listening to mild yet effective musical elements.
Sid the Science Kid – Sid’s Slide to the Side is a fun and educational application which delivers an episode of the terrific PBS kids’ show of the same name, developing into an interactive, animated storybook appisode that reads much like a traditional storybook which includes optional narration as well as illustrations often animated, allowing readers to propel the story with the tap of a finger, bridging the gap between an illustrated storybook and an interactive application, also including two mini-games as well.
Parents who do not know of Sid the Science Kid are missing out on a great educational science-based show, bright and colorful, about Sid and his friends from school who learn about science in ways children will find most engaging.
Here, friction is the topic at hand, as Sid, the main character in this story, joins with his friends to figure out why one can slide across the floor in socks, but not rubber-soled sneakers, making observations and writing in their journals.
I also appreciate how Sid the Science kid teaches not only about science in ways children can understand and relate to, but also lovingly shows healthy family dynamics and socialization at school between friends and teachers alike.
There is a lot that I enjoy about this app. I enjoy tapping on the included illustrated images, making them come alive with animation that pantomimes the story at hand, sometimes using music and other interactions that pertain nicely to the science being taught, such as sliding Sid or another character across carpet as well as including two mini-games that go further into exploring friction.
Push-a-Puck is an interesting game allowing children to slide a puck made from a variety of materials like ice or wood to test their varied frictions. I appreciate how the object is not simply to find the fastest puck, but to choose a puck that will slide into the chalk outline Sid or his friends make on many creative floor choices such as ice from a rink or even a floor made of cheese.
There is also an arcade-styled game allowing the gang to race cars on a variety of surfaces such as grass or concrete, also avoiding obstacles like glue that will slow them down as well as give them more slip – such as an oil slick.
This app would be a nice choice for fans of the show or not who enjoy their children exploring science – especially about topics that they can experiment with at home.
My only issue with this storybook is that I miss the first-person narration and commentary by Sid himself instead of the included narration which speaks in third person about Sid and his friends, including the narrator voicing the dialogue of these characters as they speak instead of the actors that fans of the show have come to know and love.
Likewise, the look of this app is also different from the show. It is a more illustrated style, missing the dynamic computer-generated images that give Sid the Science Kid its sense of style.
I do, however, like the included friction-themed video sung by teacher Suzie – a fun and upbeat section that children will really enjoy, as will their parents.
Although I was honestly disappointed that my favorite elements from TV were not included, this is a well-produced storybook with an effective use of animation and interactions that are thoughtful and engaging.
I would like to introduce readers to a trilogy of dinosaur apps from the Ansel and Clair series of educational applications.
I am a huge fan of these apps, as Africa and Paul Revere’s Ride, and now the dinosaur time periods have each been visited by Ansel, a travel photographer from the planet Virtoos and Clair, a Virtoosian robot companion in order to gather photos to teach about these moments in history back on their home planet.
There are three sections broken up into different times, specifically the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous, that each goes back to explore the world, learning about the unique dinosaurs what differenceates each of these periods seen in the landscapes of each of these apps, such as the Triassic period which was less green and more barren than the other periods of time
Narration, extensive facts, interactive animations, photos and more are also used to create wonderful multimedia experiences that take advantage of all the iPad has to offer.
Each of these apps includes a dinosaur dig site where one can meet a paleontologist who explains about the site and gives information about each time period using a time line as well as explaining all about fossils and giving children a chance to dig up dinosaur remains themselves with the use of tapping and swiping.
These bones can then be used to help the time machine that Ansel and Clair fly in to identify the correct time period to explore, bringing the duo back to a time long, long ago, wonderfully demonstrated with bright and colorful landscapes.
I do appreciate a great deal how these apps follow the same blueprints, allowing one to tap around the page to search for hidden hotspots that add slight movement to the dinosaurs around the page, but also how each creature includes a triangle to tap, bringing readers to a more detailed section about each dinosaur, as Clair explains all about the history of each creature, again using videos, photos and interactive animations, often helping Ansel interact in some way with these subjects.
These apps could have easily been overwhelming with information, but the format of Ansel asking questions that Clair answers keeps this information light and conversational as users help this team take photos of each dinosaur as Ansel needs to complete his photo album before flying home. Stickers are also collected after tapping to learn in even greater detail about some of these dinosaurs – a nice touch.
Everything these apps have to offer is perfectly realized in terms of delivering education material dealing with paleontology. This app will be adored by children of all ages as well as adults and pre-readers alike.
The illustrations are bright and colorful and also include the phonetically written dinosaur names and well-spoken narration to aid users in correct pronunciation of these names. I have noticed that the dinosaurs and other objects found in this app can be a little buzzy around the edges – a minor note in an overall wonderful set of applications.
Also included in the Triassic and Jurassic apps is the chance to build one’s own custom dinosaur with included elements such as head, body, or tail – a section to be added into the first Cretaceous app at a later date.
Four different user accounts can be created, great for school and families to allow small groups of children to work on this app at their own pace – a nice inclusion in this high-content group of apps that may need multiple sittings to explore all that has been included.
I cannot be more enthusiastic about recommending this app for children and adults of any age who are interested in dinosaurs. This app is comprehensive as well as charming and fun. I hope to see more adventures of Ansel and Clair in the future as this format is highly educational as well as engaging. Do check out each of these three apps for more details in iTunes.
Zachy the Robot: Quest for the Museum Treasures is a terrific interactive app that delves into different topics of natural history in a way that is sure to captivate children and their adults.
This is the second Zachy the Robot app. This one takes place again in Robocity, focusing on a group of robot friends, the Robocity Repairbots, who help their town with their problems, as their wheelhouse is fixing structural issues in buildings, as seen in the first app which focused on engineering.
Here, the gang is brought back to add exhibits to the newly built and empty Robocity Natural History Museum, explained in the bright, colorful and fun animated intro. I love how excited these characters are by the topic of natural history – an enthusiasm that parents will hope rubs off on their children.
Three sections are included, as the gang collect fossils, minerals and dinosaur bones to be later displayed in this museum.
The Fossils section begins with a map showing ten dig sites to choose from to search for relics. After choosing a site to work in, one will then use a chisel to dig under the ground to find buried fossils.
Once the treasures are dug up, a matching section is to be completed as index fossils are explored and the newly dug treasures are matched to boxes of previously dated fossils – though not yet unpacked.
Next is a maze area through which one needs to help a robot move in the museum with the exhibit – a space crowded with clutter and other objects not yet unpacked which creates the maze and the obstacles that one needs to navigate with the tilting of the iPad.
Once users are past the maze, the fossil is placed in the exhibit, and more is learned about what has been found. As other fossils are collected, do look back at this area of the app of Invertebrate Fossils ranging from both the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Eras.
In the mineral area, a list of minerals one can choose from is offered to the user, and once a choice is made, a map will show the different areas of the world where this mineral is sourced, sometimes including more than one location that one needs to explore in this content-rich educational app.
To source these materials, one must complete a simple logic puzzle that uses different minerals to complete the correct pattern. After the minerals are sourced, the mayor of Robocity appears to tell the workers that he needs various supplies for the city that are manufactured with the mineral in question, teaching children the practical uses for what was found, such as drill bits from diamonds, or zinc for sunblock.
Because of this, children will then need to sort mineral pieces for the museum worthy for showing as well as the more industrial samples and waste rocks that need to be discarded.
A nice animated section explains how the raw material is sent to a factory to ultimately be transformed into a useful product.
It is worth noting that both minerals and elements are included, sectioned accordingly in an area that saves the found materials to be read about later – a great resource to read to oneself.
The dinosaur exhibit section is just as interesting, allowing children to choose a dig site from a world map, dig for fossils as well as put these bones back together in a puzzle activity. Also included is a dinosaur-viewing screen allowing children to see with animation what the dino in question may have looked like when alive many years ago.
I really appreciate how the background seen at all the various dig sites from each of these three sections includes a specific scenic backdrop as well as related music that teaches a little about each area of the world visited – a nice touch, to be sure.
There is a vast amount of information for children to explore in this app developed in association with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, giving children many hours of science fun that parents will feel great about.
This is the second Zachy the Robot developed, and I can say we have enjoyed both apps very much. I can count the first app, Episode 1: the learning tower of robocity, on the short list of applications that my son often re-visits long after having been released. For a while now, he has been asking me when a second app would be available, and I can say that it has definitely been worth the wait.
I hope more apps from this series will be developed in the future as well because they are uniformly bright and colorful, both quite fun as well as highly educational, worthy for use in both home and in educational settings.
Birds & Bees Connection: Girls Part 1 is a cute and educational app designed for moms to share with their pre-teen daughters about the upcoming changes girls will face during puberty.
Intuitive to use, this application opens up to a main menu page that lists such topics as getting taller, developing breasts, sweat and body odor, hair, acne, puberty and emotional changes.
This app is nicely narrated by a girl reading the questions, answered by an adult female narrator. I do love the voice of the woman answering the questions, warm and motherly, while offering straightforward advice for young people, reminiscent to me of how I imagine Judy Blume to sound like and I was impressed by her delivery.
This app includes very basic information for young children new to this kind of information, also including pop-up windows with other fun facts as well as questions for mom such as “Does mom remember her first bra?” By and large, I enjoy the content and agree with the information provided, including a mildly animated moment of a baby actively nursing – a moment I especially appreciate.
There are a few mild points that I wish were elaborated on such as how a popup window offers the advice of keeping a deodorant in one’s backpack, but making sure one’s underarms are clean before applying. This may be difficult in public, and I don’t see the harm in a girl ducking into a bathroom stall to apply deodorant if she is feeling sweaty, even without first washing.
I do, however, really appreciate how this app re-enforces never sharing a razor with anyone, including friends or siblings. I also think it is good advice for girls to try to just shave their lower legs as many don’t need to shave above the knees, but this also varies from person to person. I do have my personal doubts that shaving upper legs will actually make the hair grow darker and more course as this app states, although the use of warm water and shaving slowly are good tips for girls to follow.
Likewise, I am not in full agreement with the section discussing acne, as this app focuses on dirt and grease trapped in the pores of your skin as a reason for acne, which may be true for some, but the issues of clogged pores and inflammation have other causes as well and are only briefly touched upon here.
I worry that this section will lead to over washing, especially a concern with the recommendation to use a washcloth and to vigorously scrub as shown in the animated illustrations of this section, complete with squeaking sound effects. I also doubt that a washcloth can rid the face of “germs and bacteria” as this app states any better than using one’s hands or cotton pads, and can also make things worse as washcloths can be a place for bacteria to breed.
It is worth noting that although hormones, puberty and the different emotions one may experience at this time are touched upon here, this app is mainly a good starting point about the changes girls will be going through. Likewise, this app does not offer specific information on periods, feminine hygiene products, any information on “where babies come from,” sexuality, pregnancy or diseases – topics that parents will still need to have with their children at a later date.
Although I do not know the content for the later installments of this app – part 2 and part 3, I will be curious to see which of these more advanced topics may also be covered.
Even if my advice to a daughter may be different from exactly what is offered within this app, I think this is an engaging way for mothers to start these kinds of conversations with their children, and I am happy to say that the illustrative style is fun and colorful, great for young tween girls whom this app is aimed at.
Oddly, this app mentions interactive illustrations which I am at a loss to discover, as this app plays pretty straightforwardly with arrows one can tap to turn pages, yet without any elements I could find that are truly interactive.
This is not a flaw as I do not think that this app needs any distractions to search for as girls and their moms share this time together. I do wish, however, that the iTunes description had less of a focus on interactivity as this promise may lead to disappointment.
Having made these notes, Birds & Bees Girls Part 1 is still an app that I recommend. I do hope parents will share this app with their children so they can add their own personal bits of wisdom as well, possibly opening the door for the more personal conversations to come.