Meal Monsters – Review


What we love…

Kids learn how to cook in the real world using on-screen interactive and animated instructions

What we’d love to see…

A section on the nutrition vocabulary words

Summary

A fun and entertaining recipe app that gets kids excited about cooking

Our Rating

Your children are done with preparing and cooking virtual meals in their favorite apps and they are now ready to undertake the challenge of making real food. They want to enter a real kitchen, don the apron, handle real ingredients, use real utensils and kitchen equipment, follow a recipe, create a yummy meal and eat it. So, what is the next app, you ask.

Well, they can graduate to the Meal Monsters app which uses cute animations to teach kids how to make real food with the help of 3 funny meal monsters – Sal, Gor, and Pom from the Planet Yum. This free-to-download Meal Monsters app comes with 3 simple recipes and 4 bonus monster-themed activities. A passcode-protected in-app purchase unlocks 5 additional recipes and more are in the works.

The recipes are all easy to make and offer a variety of homemade goodies. Starting with a no-cook recipe for preparing a smoothie, subsequent recipes require more ingredients and involve more steps. An adult should be on hand to supervise.

The recipes begin with food facts and nutrition information, encouraging children to have the habit of seeking out these information and use only ingredients with high nutritional value. To make the recipes suitable for families with different dietary needs, alternative ingredients for a vegan diet and allergen information are also included in the recipes. Each recipe serves at least 3 persons (kids love to share their creation with the family) and includes serving suggestions.

After choosing a recipe, children can first go through the steps in the app before attempting to make it. Each step in the recipe is presented through an interactive animation that requires kids to be actively engaged in the cooking process. They learn about the various food preparation and cooking methods – weigh, measure, peel, chop, grate, whisk, mix, blend, boil, microwave, bake, fry, etc. They also learn about the utensils and kitchen equipment that are used in the recipes. Cooking and playing with the meal monsters at the same time makes the process less intimidating and helps build your child’s confidence. It’s just a lot more fun!

What I like about this app is that it is child-friendly with cute characters and their silly antics. The monsters in the app also add some amusement for the kids, making it possible to enjoy the app even when your child is not cooking. There are 4 monster-themed activities to keep kids entertained outside of the kitchen – the ‘Planet Yum’ Movie tells the story of the 3 Meal Monsters, the Family Album introduces the characters, the ‘Make a Monsie’ allows kids to take a monster selfie while the 3-levels Monster Match game features food/objects and characters from the app. And these are all included in the free app.

Cooking is a fun family activity and it has many educational benefits like learning about nutrition, following instructions, sensory exploration of different food textures, improved fine motor skills, hands-on learning of math and science concepts, and etc. Besides being an important life skill, the ability to cook builds your children’s self-esteem and encourages them to seek healthier food choices when they are eating out. They are also more receptive to trying out new foods that they have prepared and cooked themselves. (This really works!)

Healthy recipes for kids are easy to find but an app that offers both interactive animated instructions and fun activities is a godsend to any family. It will help make your children’s early cooking experience more enjoyable and rewarding. Meal Monsters is free to download and your children can play with it right away. But soon, they will be asking to make all the yummy food that they see in the app. Have fun!

 

 

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Meal Monsters

Meal Monsters Meal Monsters by Meal Monsters Ltd

Price: $FREE

Meal Monsters is an animated educational app that combines recipes, games and storytelling to encourage children to cook and eat healthy meals.
It is through engaging recipe stories and exciting characters.

 

 

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Grace was working in the fields of early childhood education and staff training before quitting to attend to her 4 children full time. She and her family live in Singapore, which is well known for her highly competitive education system.

PUZZINGO Kids Puzzles (Pro) by 77Sparx Studio, Inc. – Review


What we love…

Great variety of high interest puzzle themes introducing lots of basic and advanced vocabulary.

What we’d love to see…

A choice of lower or upper case for display of vocabulary words.

Summary

A unique puzzle and mini-game app that is engaging and meaningful with enormous amount of content for building a rich vocabulary.

Our Rating

PUZZINGO Kids Puzzles (Pro) is more than just a puzzle app. It is an extensive vocabulary app where the subjects are presented through different types of toddler and preschool puzzles. And these are not the average puzzles that you find in other puzzle apps. The puzzles in Puzzingo are both engaging and meaningful while the gameplay is ingenious. I’m totally impressed.

The vocabulary words are grouped according to themes or categories which helps children develop skills in sorting and classifying objects. Besides learning the name and sound of each object, they also learn what goes together. You can help your child to gain more knowledge and develop analytical skills by highlighting the similarities or relationship between the different objects.

Each themed pack of puzzles consists of 7 groups of puzzles focusing on 7 different topics within the theme e.g. the core concepts pack includes puzzles on shapes, colors, numbers, counting, emotions, alphabet and weather. Currently there is a total of 22 puzzle packs included in the app covering core concepts, food, professions, holidays, animals, space, life of toys, bugs, pets, dinosaurs, pirates, princesses & fairies, sports, music, fairy tales, super heroes, cars, trains, airplanes, trucks and candy kingdom. What is important to note is that there is a wide variety of high interest themes for younger children to choose from.

From an educator’s perspective, I like that the words introduced in each group help to build a rich vocabulary. Learners can see the print (in upper case) and hear the associated word read aloud when they touch each object puzzle, which in turn helps with labelling and word recognition. It is a great app for use in speech therapy. Besides learning the US English language, learners can also learn the vocabulary in Spanish, UK English, Chinese and Japanese. 

While I’m impressed with the enormous amount of content that kids can potentially learn from the app, what I find refreshing is the format of the app’s gameplay – how it extends the play from one puzzle game to another meaningfully.

Each pack of puzzles consist of 2 types of puzzles, 1-piece puzzles and layered puzzles. Each 1-piece puzzles are easy to complete but each of these puzzle piece brings players to a more challenging layered puzzle. The layered puzzles show the many parts and layers that make up the object shown on the 1-piece puzzle piece. Players learn the names of these parts as they build the object puzzle piece-by-piece. In some cases, the parts could be items that are associated with the theme. For example, the soccer puzzle game introduces terms like goalie, goal, photographer, camera, signs, cone, players, injured player, medics, forward, midfielder, defender, soccer ball, jersey, cleats and shin guards.

Regardless the total number of puzzle pieces that kids have to put in place in order to complete a puzzle game, the app presents only 2 pieces at any one time so that kids won’t get overwhelmed. Another toddler-friendly support comes in the form of prompts that show kids where to place the puzzle piece when they placed the piece incorrectly repeatedly.

Once a puzzle game is completed, players are rewarded with an interactive mini-game that helps them to explore further on the theme. Kids can fly an airplane, conduct a band, dress up a character, score a goal, feed a dinosaur, drive a vehicle, play with the toys and many more activities. The games are varied and deliver so much fun with their cute animations and sound effects that they may just overshadow the puzzles in terms of popularity with kids. Repeat play is guaranteed.

If you have a preschooler at home, you definitely need to get Puzzingo. The free version Puzzingo Puzzles offers 7 sets of puzzles and mini-games and a free daily puzzle from one of the themed puzzle packs that is available for purchase. You can purchase individual puzzle packs or an All-Access Pass. This Pass allows your child to play with more than 150 puzzles and enjoy new content and games through regular updates. The latest update for the 2017 Holidays offers the Trucks Puzzles pack and Toys Puzzles pack which are perfect gifts for the holiday season!

With Puzzingo, completing a puzzle becomes meaningful and purposeful. Preschoolers are exposed to lots of vocabulary words from a wide range of topics while reaping the benefits of completing puzzles like spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, matching and fine-motor skills. With so much content in a single app, I’m positive that your preschoolers will have many favorite puzzles to keep them busy learning and playing.

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PUZZINGO Kids Puzzles (Pro)
Puzzingo Toddler Kids Puzzles
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Puzzingo Toddler Kids Puzzles Puzzingo Toddler Kids Puzzles by 77Sparx Studio, Inc.

Price: $FREE

• Featured by Apple
Do your kid and toddler like puzzles? How about an educational puzzle game that is fun, packed with learning, and played by 8 million families around the world? Checkout Puzzingo.

 

 

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Grace was working in the fields of early childhood education and staff training before quitting to attend to her 4 children full time. She and her family live in Singapore, which is well known for her highly competitive education system.

Featured App: Furry Friends Run the Show in Toca Boca’s Newest App



On December 7, Toca Boca launched its newest app Toca Life: Pets, the first Toca Boca app all about pets! With more than 120 real-life and make-believe animals, kids can play with their pets IRL and virtually, creating their own worlds and embarking on silly adventures with furry friends.

In Toca Life: Pets, kids are in control of which pets they want to play with and how their pet’s story evolves. Are they bringing their pet along on a family picnic or take their pet to the vet? Maybe their pet is going to a birthday party to celebrate with friends! Kids will train, feed, bathe and entertain their pets while learning what it takes to own a real pet and letting discovery guide their play. Yes, they even have to clean up after their pets, which often takes form as a rainbow colored poop! Kids will explore the five bustling locations, including the pet park, pet hotel, veterinary and more. At the pet hotel, every pet, whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or sloth-bat, will find a nice spot to play or relax while their owners are away. There are secret features to be discovered in the pet park as kids create their own play scenario with their favorite creatures.

Additional features of Toca Life: Pets include:

  • Kids can role-play in five locations: pet park, pet hotel, veterinary, pet shop and breeder’s bungalow
  • 23 new characters for kids to meet
  • Kids can bathe muddy pets and get them clean again, or pretend to be a vet and care for sick or injured pets
  • The pets can be dressed up in fun hats — hats stack on pets stack on hats
  • By building an agility course kids can help train and exercise their pets
  • It even includes surprises for kids to discover — they can pull the branch in the pet park to see what’s hidden

For the first time, Toca Boca tapped fans to help co-create new characters in Toca Life: Pets. The brand received over 1,000 suggestions based on kids’ real and imaginary pets, and from those ideas Toca Boca produced 3 replicas in the new app. The pet rock and sloth bat featured in the app were inspired by drawing and photos from fans and transformed into real Toca Boca characters.

“Sometimes pets are cuddly, fun, weird or even scary. Regardless, they are often a big part of our lives,” said Petter Karlsson, Play Designer. “In Toca Life: Pets you pick which pets you want to play with in your life and decide their stories. As with all of the apps in the Toca Life series, Toca Life: Pets puts kids in the director’s seat to make up their own stories”

Toca Life: Pets features a kid-friendly interface without third-party advertising, free of rules, levels or high scores. Toca Life: Pets is $2.99 on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon . To download please use this link Toca Life: Pets – Toca Boca AB 


Toca Life: Pets Toca Life: Pets by Toca Boca AB

Price: $3.99 USD

Welcome to Toca Life: Pets, where you and your animal friends run the show! What’s your favorite pet like? Furry and fast? Wet and wiggly? A little bit creepy? With more than 120 animals, Toca Life: .

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Twingle Invites & RSVP- Easy Event Invites from your Phone -Review



 

What we love..

Quick and easy to create and manage invites from mobile devices. Fun animated themes, integrated with Apple & Google calendars and Maps. Ability to add potlucks, polls and event schedules.

What we’d love to see…

Even more fun invite choices, ability to add notes when signing up for potluck dish

Summary

Twingle is a great free app without ads that is well worth trying out as an alternative to Evite or Punchbowl next time you are organizing a gathering. It is very easy to use and has enough features you may find yourself not willing to go back to your old invite service.

Our Rating

Twingle Invites & RSVP is a free app and service that allows you to easily create and manage event invites from your smart phone.  If you wish to create or manage your invites on your computer you can do so by visiting Twingle.com from your internet browser, but you don’t need to, as you can access all features from your phone.

To start creating an event you first need to download the free Twingle app on your phone or tablet. Then in the app you can create a free Twingle account and you can start creating events. The service is free to use and is integrated with the contacts on your phone so that you can easily sent it via text or email to anyone on your contact list, you can also manually add anyone not in your contacts. Recipients of your invites can open them in a browser without a Twingle account of their own, or can view them in the Twingle app if they create their own free account. Whenever you open the app it takes you to the home page where you can toggle between future and past events or create a new event.

Creating an Event

 

From the home page press the big + sign and you will be prompted to pick a theme for your event. The theme page displays invitations according to 6 categories : “featured”, Birthdays, Occasions, Weddings, Seasonal Holidays, and Social Events. You can scroll through the invites in each category or enter a search term e.g. “Cinco de Mayo”, “Christmas” or “Engagement to pull up invites more specific to the theme you want. There is also an option to create your own theme- which allows you to upload your own photo for a personalized invite.

To select a theme simply tap on the invite and you will see a sample invitation. Some of them have accompanying music or are animated, others are straightforward invitations. If you like what you see them you can enter your event details. This is really simple to do and involves much fewer steps than entering your event details in the Evite app. Instead of having to tap on every part of the invite to edit it you simply tap “enter details” and a screen comes up where you can enter all the event details in one place. You add an event title, start date and time and can optionally add an end date and time (great for invitations for a weekend gathering or a trip.) For entering the date it shows you a calendar so you don’t have to remember for instance if the last friday of the month is the 29th or 30th.

The event location is integrated with Apple and Google maps, which has dual advantages- the guests can see the location easily on a map plus it makes it easy for you to check a venue’s address. If you don’t know the event venue’s address you can enter the venue name e.g. “Pump It Up” and it will give you a choice if places with that name, when you pick one it will show on the map so you can check it is the correct location.

Your name (as host) and email address are automatically entered, but you can edit them if you wish.

Optional Extras

 

There are several other options you can activate if you wish, these include:

  • Allowing attendees to bring guests (and you can limit how many)
  • Sending a message to guests
  • Adding an RSVP by date
  • Requesting no boxed gifts
  • Hiding Guest list

Once you have entered your details you can see what the finished invite will look like. If you don’t like it it is easy to change the theme without starting over. Simply tap “change theme”, select a new theme and all the details will be transferred to the new invite. You can do this as often as you like until you are happy with the invite. Once you have settled on a final theme tap “create” and your invite will be saved.

Inviting Guests

Twingle accesses your contacts making it easy to find contact information for your guests and you can send invitations via email or via text messages to people in your contact list. You can also manually enter names and email addresses if you wish to invite someone not in your contacts. It is also simple to add a co-host to the event you can invite them from the same page that you invite guests from.

 

iPhone Screenshot 3Additional Features

Twingle also has several extra features you can use if it suits your event

  • Potluck sign up
  • Event schedule
  • Polls
  • Chat

 

Potluck

If you enable the potluck feature you can add a potluck sign up to the event. To add dishes you simply type them in  and they appear in a list with a sign up box. When a guest (or host) has signed up for a dish it is marked as taken and the name of the person supplying the dish is noted. Guests can also add their own dishes. I would like to see an option for guests to add a note when they sign up for a dish, e.g. if the host has “dessert” as an option the guest could write in what dessert they plan to bring to avoid duplication.

 

Event Schedule

This is a feature that I haven’t seen in other invite apps and I really like. It is especially useful for multi-day events or events that involve many distinct parts, so your guests know what to expect and when.

Within your event tap on “activities” and it will pull up the scheduler. Here you can create as many events within your main event as you wish. For each part you are prompted to enter a start and end time, title, description and notes. If its a multi-day event you can also pick which date it will be on. For each segment you can also upload a photo to represent that event.

 

iPhone Screenshot 5Polls

If you need help from your guests in deciding event details the polls section is where you can get it. Maybe you are having a pizza party and want to know whether your guests prefer cheese, Hawaiian, pepperoni or meat lovers ? Or perhaps you are arranging a friends get together and are undecided on which restaurant to go to – let your guests vote between your top picks. You can easily create polls with multiple questions and give a choice of acceptable answers.

 

Chat

The chat feature allows the hosts and guests to talk about details of the event before and after the event and also lets them upload photos of the event to share with other guests. As well as sending typed messages the chat lets you send a wide variety of gifs too.

 

Shareable Event Link

If you have an event, such as a popup boutique, craft fair or open house, that you want to invite the public or a wide range of friends and to you can opt to make the event public and Twingle will create a custom event link you can then choose to share this via email or Social Media directly from the Twingle app.

 

iPhone Screenshot 2Managing Your Event

Twingle also makes it easy to manage your events. On the homepage of the app you can see past and future events. Tapping on any event brings you to its’ dashboard where you can keep track of RSVPs, see the event details and edit them if needed. You can also easily invite additional guests, add potlucks, polls, activity schedules and check the event chat from here.

Twingle will send your guests automatic event reminders and as host you can easily send out custom messages or reminders too. If you have an important message or update for your guests you can send it out to everyone using the Announcement feature.

If you want to plan a similar event to a past event you can simply duplicate it with the touch of a button, you just need to enter the new date and time. You can keep the same invitation theme or switch it out for a fresh look, it also gives the option to duplicate the guest list or invite new guests.

 

Summary

 

Twingle is an app that is designed to make it easy to create and manage invitations from your smartphone or tablet. It is totally free, with no subscriptions and has no annoying adverts. I love how easy it is to create invites, the fun animated themes and how easily you can duplicate an event or change a theme without having to re-enter details. The integration with Maps and Calendars on both the mobile device and desktop makes it easy for both hosts and guests.

I love that is is very flexible for different types of events- not only does it have standard themes such as birthdays, weddings and Christmas parties, but it also has more causal events such as a guys night out, hang out, date night and soccer game, you can even upload your own image for a personalized invite.

The potlucks, polls, ability to create an event schedule and chat are nice additional features.

Twingle is a great free app without ads that is well worth trying out as an alternative to Evite or Punchbowl next time you are organizing a gathering. It is very easy to use and has enough features you may find yourself not willing to go back to your old invite service.

iTunes Link: Twingle Invites & RSVP – BitCompute

Twingle Invitations & RSVP Twingle Invitations & RSVP by BitCompute

Price: $FREE

Life is complicated, planning an event shouldn’t be.  Whether planning a large wedding, a surprise birthday party or a simple date night, Twingle is a fun and easy app to help you organize your social.

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

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