Zoola Deluxe is a charming interactive animal app for babies and toddlers – a companion app to the popular Zoola, also reviewed at GiggleApps.
Zoola Deluxe contains a nice variety of animals one can interact with. To start, tap on one of nine animals from either Farm, Safari or Forest animals. Babies will enjoy how chunky the areas for each animal to tap are, making this app intuitive for the youngest app users.
Once a selection is made, listen to the animal’s name narrated as well as see the word on the screen. Also note the mild yet effective animated elements included as well as the sounds for each creature. This app also contains a nice variety of languages, always a nice touch.
On the bottom of the screen, one will see a row of other buttons to explore – specifically a food section, a baby soothing area and a dress-up button that will allow children to interact with each animal.
By tapping the food button, children are brought to a new screen where it’s now feeding time, giving children the chance to feed each animal their three favorite foods. Listen to these animals ask for food as well as offer up appreciative noises when they have been fed. Simple but sweet animation allows each animal to move its mouth to eat – all elements babies and toddlers will adore.
The next area allows users to sooth each animal – be it with a bottle, pacifier, blanket or their own stuffed animal. Gentle, classical music is played throughout this section that children as well as adults will find peaceful and relaxing.
The dress-up section is also cute and fun with costumes each animal can wear, ranging from period attire such as top hat and bow tie, construction hat, boots and tool belt, or a variety of mini skirt choices. More music can be heard ranging from classical to more upbeat selections that children will have fun listening to.
There is an overflowing of charm in this app that will appeal to babies, toddler, and I am sure, my son at the age of five, although this app may get a little young for most kids this age and older.
The inner “Lisa Simpson” in me feels a little weird dressing majestic creatures like a lemur in western garb, a hippo in a chief’s hat and bib or a monkey in a clown outfit, anthropomorphizing them for the amusement of children but does not see any real harm, and this is certainly a concern I would keep to myself while sharing this app with young children.
I know my son will greatly enjoy dressing zebras up in Batman masks, giving animals baby bottles and feeding them favorite snacks.
Zoola Deluxe is an app for children to love. It may make some adults a little uncomfortable, especially those who take themselves too seriously at times, but they will be won over by how much their children truly enjoy spending time with this application.
Magic Belles: Magic Music is a charming universal app for babies and toddler. This brightly colored app has a lovely fairy theme, consisting of seven mini-games designed to immerse children into the world of music with simple touches or drags of a finger.
From a menu page, children will easily select a fairy to play with, exploring each of seven activities such as a connect-the-dots section, the ability to grow flowers or adding color to mushrooms with paint from a rainbow.
Nicely stylized, this app is cute with pink and purple as well as other bright colors without overwhelming adults with frills – restraint I appreciate. I also enjoy the fact that these mini-games are spelled out with the tap of a question mark in the corner of each activity or as a whole linked from the main menu.
The look of this app and the very nice musical chimes used throughout which are very relaxing, making this peaceful app a wonderful choice before bed or anytime children would benefit from a relaxing application. Although this app is musical in its nature, it is also rather quiet and because of this, will not bother others even if this app can be overheard in public.
Children will also enjoy the other interactive details to be found within, as exposing them to music in a way adults will enjoy sharing with them.
I have enjoyed Magic Belles and recommend it to families with young children, as adults may enjoy this app as they may notice a subtle sophistication seen in some of these mini-games as one can select or de-select hearts to be heard, as well as organize musical picnic foods on a blanket to be played in the order of being laid out, much like a few of the music apps that I enjoy as an adult.
The Grumble Noise is a charming interactive storybook app for iPad about the vivid fantasies of a young boy as he hears grumbling noises coming from the room that he shares with his brother.
There is a lot to enjoy about this app, as the illustrations used are very nicely done, with a few bright colors that really pop on the darkened backdrop of these boys’ bedroom at night.
I especially enjoy the monsters this younger brother creates to put a face to the creepy noises he is hearing such as a fire breathing lion or two headed dinosaur, reminiscent to me of creatures found in Greek mythology, yet always successfully walking the fine line of what will bring excitement to this app without any issues of over stimulation or scary elements to this story itself.
I also admire the basic storytelling with a beginning, middle, and ending, as telling a simple story can be difficult. The ending, demystifying some of the concerning ambient sounds one may hear is also a cute and fun ending children will appreciate.
The narration is also quite good here as are the included sound effects. Readers are also given the option of reading this book themselves.
Interactions are included on every page which add a nice level of richness to this story. Only a few main hotspots are added per page, making these elements quite effective as well as never distracting or unnecessary.
Best of all, this app is free, yet worth a whole lot more. Not only does it showcase the talents of developer Erik X. Raj, but consider it a gift from this developer who was himself afraid of the dark as a child, making this a very easy application to recommend to all families with young children.
Abby Monkey: Animated Puzzle for Toddlers and Preschool Explorers is a lovely intuitive puzzle app for babies, toddlers and those in early preschool to practice working on simple and cute, chunky-styled puzzles.
Eight themes are included, such as farm and zoo animals, an ice cream motif, xylophone as well as many flowers and vehicles.
Each section consists of a series of empty puzzle areas that need to be filled in with correlated chunky puzzle pieces that children need to drag and drop into place. Babies will be helped complete these puzzles with a sense of “grab” that draws these pieces to their correct holes if needed while offering just enough help.
A few areas are unique to this puzzle app such as the ability to create multilayered ice cream pops, asking children to color-match these elements along with the puzzle piece shapes.
Flowers are also included that one grows as the flower elements such as pots are placed into their rightful places, watching as these pretty plants sprout after being watered, adding some nice sequencing elements as well.
Each of these puzzles includes simple yet sweet animations as a reward for the correct drag and drop that will engage the youngest app users.
Abby Monkey: Animated Puzzle for Toddlers and Preschool Explorers is a charming first puzzle app for children, but there are some issues with the sound that could use some smoothing out.
I do really enjoy the serene happy baby sounds that will really get the attention of other very young people, but there are issues with some of the vehicle sounds such as sirens not turning off after one backtracks out of the noisy animated page found after the puzzle has been completed. These sounds continue to become layered and quite loud even when back to the main menu – a glitch I hope can be worked out soon.
Having said this, Abby Monkey: Animated Puzzle for Toddlers and Preschool Explorers would make a delightful first application for babies and toddlers.
Although I do not think this app may be a perfect match for an older or more experienced puzzle user, my seasoned app tester, namely my four and a half year old son, was drawn to this app’s bright colors, pleasant music, cute baby sounds and fun animated moments – high praise to be sure.
Toca Band is the highly anticipated new app from Toca Boca that is both delightful as well as quirky and odd – a wonderful combination that Toca Boca does so very well.
As the name may suggest, Toca Band allowing users to combine different sounds together to create their own music.
This concept is nothing new within the iTunes store, and, honestly, with a few noted exceptions, I never really stuck with one of these apps because making music that one would want to listen to is commonly more difficult that expected, as these apps are often more of a soundboard for noises that lose their appeal quite quickly.
I was, however, not worried about Toca Boca making this format enjoyable and user-friendly, as I have been a fan of theirs from their first few releases, and I know the kind of app they can bring to the table.
I must say that from the moment one sees this app for the first time, one can tell that it is something special. The setting – an outdoor venue in an urban space during evening hours, complete with the sound of crickets – conjures up memories of seeing shows in the summer, and the anticipation is palpable. To my husband and me, this is Brooklyn, but possibly Stockholm for these are Swedish developers, and it is how subjective and ambiguous these elements are which is part of the magic.
One will notice the stage center screen and a row of 16 odd-ball characters below waiting for their turn to make music. Drag and drop these musicians to different areas of the stage, keeping in mind that the different sounds created by each individual vary in each of the three levels of the stage.
All of these characters appreciate their turn in the spotlight which is also included, and here one will see what special sounds each of these performers can create, ranging from more straightforward choices such as a man playing the guitar or an opera singer, as well as fantasy characters who make interesting and unique sound effects, including a wonderful chance to play a thurman that needs to be seen.
There are so many characters to choose and it is impressive how unique each one is styled, full of pop culture references which make my mind wander to Ali G, Tim Burton and Die Antwoord.
I appreciate how performers can be lifted high into the in the “Star” position as the focal point of the band. Do explore all that the solo performances have to offer, too numerous to mention really, as doing so will often raise or lower the pitch as well as generate wonderful sounds as well as charming visual experiences one will want to spend time exploring.
Toca Boca has been a favorite developer in my house so that news of a soon-to-be-released app of theirs is something to celebrate, and we have watched the teaser videos over and again until the app is made available.
My son, typically an easy-going child when it comes to our iPad and iPhone, has had less than gracious moments with Toca Boca apps, being so utterly engaged that his is unwilling to share our devices among family as he explores – a compliment, to be sure.
Well, Toca Band has now made a monster out of my husband, who in turn does not play nicely with others as he and my son try to work on this app together. He is simply having too much creative fun choosing characters to play side-by-side, with the focus he used to reserve for his work as an audio engineer he enjoys this kids app, that in reality has a single song that he personalizes to the best of his ability.
This may be an exaggeration, be it a slight one, as my son has also had a chance to play with this wonderful digital toy as well, enjoying it as much as his dad does.
My boy enjoys the unusual sound effects such as the “frog monster” as he calls a specific character, while my husband focuses his efforts on combining rhythms and vocals together, often enjoying the yodeler as well as other characters.
Do make note that this app allows players to be more of a DJ than a composer, but the experience is still delightful and very musical indeed.
There is not much that I would like to change within this app, but we do think it would be nice to be able to record the tracks created – a function I typically am not interested in with other apps like this.
It would also be nice to be able to momentarily silence a performer with a tap instead of dragging him off stage when a pause is all that one is looking for, and I would also love to be able to set different volume levels per performer so favorites can be heard above others, creating an experience closer to mixing tracks as a DJ might.
I again must applaud Toca Boca for making this as well as their other apps at a price range affordable to virtually anyone who owns a iPad or iPhone – important these days as the prices, especially for universal apps, have crept higher that what many families are willing or able to pay.
Toca Boca apps have consistently been some of the easiest apps to recommend to all ages, and I certainly believe that toddlers up to and including adults will find a way to manipulate the characters to create music or sounds that they will enjoy, as this app is truly what you make of it.
For my son and me, the release of a new Toca Boca app has the same excitement that others may experience with the release of a new iPad. We all look forward to what new apps Toca Boca develops in the future.
Make Me Music is a bright and colorful application for babies and toddlers to explore music and sounds.
This is a very easy application for young children to explore as the main page is filled with a bright, artful selection of instruments – some traditional, other common noise-makers found around one’s house, as well as a few inventive choices children will love exploring, including a drum or didgeridoo to sound, pots to clang, or a spider’s web to strum like a harp.
Each of these interments sound with a tap, making this a wonderful cause-and-effect app for the youngest app players who will certainly giggle at the fun sounds such as flowers who laugh like children, a singing bread box and a mooing cow, which is also lovingly included within this app.
Do note that this page scrolls to the right and back including more fun items that would simply not fit on a single screen.
Children can explore these sounds singularly or as they listen to three background choices: a rock music selection, jazz choice and an easy-to-listen-to mode with simple country elements. I like that one can choose to listen to the melody of these songs alone or alongside the rhythm elements, each included on different flower buttons, allowing one to isolate individual sounds separately, play each together, or any variation thereof, along with the tappable instruments included to create fun sounds that one can record and play back.
I do enjoy all that this app has to offer, but it would be nice, however, to give parents the option of turning off the fart noises that are sometimes triggered.
I am a fan of fart noises in some settings, but these cheeky sounds don’t fit in an application so cute and baby-friendly. I also am not fond of the randomness of these sounds, making it difficult to simply avoid their hotspots.
Having said this, Make Me Music is a delight both in the art that has been used as well as the splendid sounds included within. Babies and toddlers will especially enjoy all that there is to explore, as well as their older siblings and even their adults who will enjoy time spent with Make Me Music as well.
Who’s in the Loo? is a charming universal interactive app full of whimsical potty humor, focusing on the fantastical toileting of anthropomorphic animals.
I hope that his unusual description has perked the interest of some readers, and for those who enjoy this kind of humor, this is a wonderfully silly and engaging story of two young children who are waiting on line to use a public bathroom at a zoo, fantasizing about who could possibly be taking so long in the toilet.
Their imagination runs wild with illustrations that include animals large and small doing their business, complete with creative childlike words to describe their behavior.
Even the included interactive hotspots are potty focused, as a tap may start the urine stream of silly animals or help a large creature pass gas while sitting on the toilet.
By now, some parents are smiling at my reporting of these details, and others know that this is not an application they are likely to purchase.
Personally, my son and I have nothing but thoroughly enjoyed this comedic tale, including rhyming text that is just as quirky in terms of the toilet humor, while this app as a whole is wonderfully appropriate for all ages of children – assuming that this kind of humor is acceptable in one’s family as it is in ours.
The illustrations are lovely, bright and colorful; the interactions add mild animated elements and sound effects that do not overwhelm and hit all the right notes as does the excellent narration.
My son and I really had fun guessing who or what was behind the door. Without giving anything away, the conclusion is charming as well – a gentle reminder for my son and other children about how their trips to the toilet need to conclude.
Two added activities are included, specifically a missing word section that re-plays this book with the rhyming words left out, asking children to choose from a selection of three words that can fit into the sentence, thoughtfully including the correct word, a word that fits the context but does not rhyme, and another unrelated choice. This is a nice section that tests children’s ability to rhyme as well as their reading comprehension. I did have to explain what “loo” and “queue” mean to my son, which he caught on to instantly and just as quickly fell in love with this cheeky story.
Another area of this storybook is coloring book pages. My son does have a few favorite finger-painting apps that he enjoys, but often the coloring pages that may be included with storybook are an afterthought for him as these pages may not be as polished as the content of an app dedicated to artwork.
Because of this, it was funny to see his reaction as we checked these coloring pages which contain outlines of the animals found within these pages in performing their various potty antics that one needs to color in with a selection of colored markers. There is no selection of different sized pen points to choose from, and devoid of the paint bucket mode that my son and I love to use, but the chance to color in a large, gassy animal sitting on the toilet may just be the funniest thing my son has ever seen in a coloring app, making him laugh out loud and shouting out color choices left best to one’s imagination.
Who’s in the Loo is an application that is adapted from a previously published award-winning book of the same name – a book that in not readily available in our area.
Without this app, I am sure that this wonderful children’s book would have never been on our radar. Because of this, I am thrilled that more and more published books are being turned into applications, possibly reaching wider audiences that the published book may be able to.
I do want to reiterate that Who’s in the Loo is delightful and totally family-friendly for those who enjoy gas jokes and potty humor. I have enjoyed the included sound effects a great deal as these sounds are numerous as well as decidedly silly instead of being gross and over the top – an important distinction for which this app does a great job.
My Amazing Helpful Robots is a charming interactive storybook for toddlers and preschool-aged children which focuses on a young boy’s fantasy of building robots to help his family out with their daily chores so he can spend more fun time together.
An assortment of robots is covered, such as a machine to fix the family car, pick up after the home, or do the cooking, each with its own unique interaction which nicely imagines these tasks accomplished by a robot through the mind of a child.
This app is very bright, colorful and nicely stylized, as well as including some rather engaging, if not stimulating interactions on each page. I often recommend apps which I find relaxing and calming, and although these are not words that I would use to describe this simple story, this is an application that I have really enjoyed as the high action interactions, kinetic energy and loud effects really work within this tale to provide simulation some children may really enjoy – especially children reluctant to spend their app time with a storybook instead of a game.
Although I am not always a fan of the use of a sensitive physics engine allowing objects to bounce around the page, I enjoy how the robot parts crash together as the boy is trying to build, creating a dynamic effect that I really enjoy as I do this aspect within other pages of this application.
I also enjoy how varied the interactions are within each page, from the included puzzle found within the car building section to the fun cooking page where a robot mans the family’s grill to cook hotdogs and popcorn, or the musical elements uncovered as a robot helps out by cutting the family’s grass.
I especially love the tender motivation here as this boy would love to spend more time with his family playing in the park, fishing or painting together. This app also ends on a lovely that until robots can do all the household work, this boy must help help out around the house himself.
Although this app would not be my first choice for a story before bed, during quiet time or in public out and about, the zaniness and whimsy included among these pages will be great fun for children who enjoy stories with a lot of action and sound effects. Adults will appreciate the sentiment of the fun storybook as well as the highlighted text that children can follow as this book is read by included narration.
Dot Collector is a very nice universal app for the youngest children with simple game play, wonderfully bright colors and soothing sounds that babies will enjoy.
This app is utterly intuitive to use as players need to simply drag moving dots into a black dot, clearing the board. A new dot is added to each additional level, adding to the game play.
Adults will find the style of this application lovely to look at as well, as the use of color here is excellent with bright colors used throughout – both as background colors as well as the dots to be collected.
Dot Collector is part of a series of Ellie’s Games that focuses on simple game play for babies and toddlers, with a great use of color being a focal point of this series.
I appreciate that this app, while similar to their other app, Color Dots, increases the interactivity from tapping these dots to dragging – a more advanced skill for babies and toddlers to learn. These apps are also highly praised within the special needs community as apps that also appeal to children within this community for their ease of game play, engaging colors and lack of over-stimulation.
It would be nice if in the future, the personalization found within Color Dots could also be found within Dot Collector, such as the ability to change dot size and speed, giving adults the chance to increase the difficulty of this app.
Having said this, Dot Collector is an app worth looking at while app shopping for babies and toddlers as well as those with special needs. The especially bright colors and lovely musical tones heard when a dot is collected makes this app stand out among other apps developed for this age range.
Boats – Byron Barton is the second in a series of apps that is based on printed books by Byron Barton that my son and I really enjoy.
Boats is a simple and sweet book that does a very nice job of teaching children about different boats – here with included sound effects and interactive elements.
As is the case for many of the book apps developed by Oceanhouse Media, Boats – Byron Barton does a great job of adapting the printed version into an application with the use of original illustrations and text.
Narration is included with sounds great, friendly and enthusiastic. Auto play is included, turning the pages of this book automatically, which is perfect for toddlers and babies. One can also read this book out loud as well, making this a lovely book to read to a child or a great first reader as well. It is always nice that within Oceanhouse Media books, the text is highlighted when read and readers are able to tap words or sentences.
I really enjoy the look of Boats as well as the other app in this series, Airplanes. The bright, colorful, and stylized images create a vintage feel that I really appreciate.
It is especially nice that the boats found within can be dragged around the screen, changing the direction the boats are facing as well for a very nice effect. When a boat is tapped to move, its particular sound can be momentarily heard, but I think it would be nice for an option to hear the sounds of these vehicles as long as the boats are dragged around the screen.
Boats – Byron Barton has quickly become a favorite app of my son’s, even before bedtime. For him, the best part of this app may be the ambient sound effects found among these pages, from the ocean waves, sea gulls and ferryboat horns to the sounds heard as a fireboat tries to extinguish a burning structure.
The app has a lot going on in terms of the audio – much to my son’s delight – as a fire alarm can be heard as well as the firemen barking orders at each other as a fire boat puts out a fire. There is also a nice moment with workers loading up a cruise ship with supplies that add a few trucks to the image as well that are also fun to tap and drag, and we enjoy a moment with people boarding the cruise ship as well as celebrating their bon voyage with confetti and streamers. The selection of boats is quite nice and educational, especially the small tug boat that pushes and pulls the larger cruise ship to the dock, creating a nice conversation starter about how this all works.
I believe that the added sound effects and voices heard get my son’s imagination going as he fills in the blanks of what must be going in within these scene, especially as he drifts off to bed.
I hope more of Byron Barton books will be adapted into apps as well as Oceanhouse Media always does a great job translating printed books into interactive storybooks.