Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Kids learn best through play and explaining what they are seeing and doing. Recently, every time I turn on the television news or tune in to the local radio, I am prompted things that I know I do not want my child to see or things that I might consider to be scary for them.  Research has shown that children learn best through play — and playing out situations via role play can help them to better process and understand them.  With the recent Hurricane Harvey here in the United States – there has been a lot of news on the television and radio that is overwhelming.  As such, I started thinking about some of my favorite apps that would help kids in these situations. Helping children process traumatic events they seen in the news such as the recent Hurricane Harvey and other frightening news, can be overwhelming.  Many children learn better with play therapy.  Below are a few apps that involve role play, social stories and more to help them process difficult situations as well as explore new situations.   Below is a list of some of my favorites.

Kids learn differently than adults.  Introducing a new situation can be hard.  One of the biggest things I struggle with as a parent is helping my kids understand a new situation.  Helping my kids prepare for new experiences can be overwhelming as.    One of my favorite thing about the MyPlayhome apps is that there are no rules – kids can play and role play while narrating what they are doing.  I love to see all the different games that my toddler comes up with or see my son talking about an upcoming doctors appointment using MyPlayhome Hospital.  Using Social Stories like Kid in the Storybook maker can help kids better understand a new situation.  Dr. Panda has a series of role play apps including firefighters, daycare, school bus and more.  .

My PlayHomeShimon Young is a genius. Shimon is the developer of the universal My PlayHome app and has managed to find a way to keep my iToddler (2.5) entertained for more than just a few minutes. Not an easy task. My PlayHome brings the dollhouse into the digital age by offering an entire virtual home, complete with an adorable family of five that kids can explore and interact with. Also available on the iPhone (Pocket PlayHome!), this app features beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and realistic sounds associated with each interaction. My PlayHome also has a simple user interface very easy for little fingers to control.  This app caters for 2-8 year olds which is appropriate as it’s simple enough for the younger users to play with yet detailed enough to keep the older kids entertained too.” Quite a comprehensive app but still very easy to use by its intended audience. One of the best kids apps I have come across on the App Store!”  This continues to be a top pick of The iMums for kids of all ages.  Read the full review.

 

My PlayHome StoresWhen iMum Amanda reviewed the original My PlayHome back in 2011 she described it’s creator Shimon Young as a genius, and I have to agree. After being  installed on our iPads for 2 1/2 years my kids still play with My PlayHome regularly, and there are very few apps that retain their appeal long term like that. So when I told my children there was a new My PlayHome app out, to say they were excited is a definite understatement.  My PlayHome brings the dolls house into the digital age with an entire interactive house and garden to play in, and My PlayHome Stores expands the play by adding four shops to explore and shop in. The app stars the same characters as the original app – there are 3 moms, 3 dads, 3 girls, 3 boys and 3 babies from a variety of ethnicities and you can mix and match them any way you like to create the family in the app. The twist that my children really love (and that I have not seen in any other app) is when the family go shopping in the stores they can walk home with their purchases, and if you own My PlayHome they can take their purchases from the stores back to their home.  Read the full review.

My PlayHome HospitalIn the fantastic tradition of the Playhome Software Company, comes the latest My Playhome app, My Playhome Hospital. Fully integrated with the other My Playhome apps (HomeSchool and Store), this new app allows the player to explore all aspects of the hospital experience. When the app is opened, the child is faced with the view of the hospital and an ambulance. No settings tab, no external options, and no parental tab. The only extra button to press is the Tidy the Hospital wheel, which is a great option. It allows the player to actually erase the previous designs created and start fresh. The home page ambulance can be driven to the school, home or store; linking the other apps (one of my favorite features).  An interactive app that familiarizes children with the workings and people in the hospital setting. Multiple different scenes with many opportunities to interact with the objects and characters on each page.

 

My PlayHome SchoolOne of the best loved toys of all time are doll houses. It brings hours upon hours of enjoyment to boys and girls alike, and it’s only limitation is a child’s imagination. My PlayHome Software Ltd has brought this enjoyment in the most portable form possible in My PlayHome, My PlayHome Stores, and very recently, My PlayHome School.  While my children and I enjoyed My PlayHome and My PlayHome Stores, My PlayHome School far exceeded our expectations. It has almost everything you could find in an elementary school: a receptionist desk, the principal’s office, a cafeteria, boys and girls restrooms, a science lab, an auditorium, a janitor’s closet, lockers, and of course, classrooms.  Read the full review.

 

 

Explaining difficult situations to kids or helping them understand something new is the premise of  Kid in the Storybook maker.  This app allows you to take photos of an upcoming event — be it a doctors appointment, new school or even a vacation and use your own words, photos and voice to describe it to the reader.  I loved using Bluebee Pals with my son when we recently did a social story about his new school.

Kid in Story Book Maker:... iconEnuma, designs assistance and play-based learning apps to empower kids to be independent learners. they have a special interest in producing apps for children with special needs.  LocoMotive Labs is located in Berkeley, California and was founded in 2012, its design team includes many of the team who produced the Injini child development suite. Kid in Story was designed to help parents and therapists easily produce their own stories for children. As children with Autism often respond well to social stories that include them, they wanted to include a way to easily add the child into the story.  Read our full review.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
Yaya Learns English by Kiddies City – Review

Yaya Learns English by Kiddies City – Review


What we love…

bright interactive app that encourages children to learn a variety of words in English ranging from numbers, colors, shapes, and everyday words.

What we’d love to see…

use of matching numbers to roman numerals for the counting, no timer for some of the games, shorter “test” at the end of the app

Summary

Fun interactive kids app that teaches children numbers and a variety of words in a interactive birthday adventure for Yaya.  There is no IAP or advertising.

Our Rating

Yaya Learns English by Kiddies City is a iPad only app in which a young girl named Yaya explores the city in a variety of interactive scenes.  Each scene has a variety of activities from finding coins and matching them up by numbers in the train scene, to earning tickets at a theme park and attending a birthday party!   The app uses U.K. English, but many words are similar to American English and it is great for kids of all ages.  The app features English, German, Spanish, Korean, or Chinese as languages.  There are four apps in the series including Yaya learns German, Yaya learns Spanish, Yaya learns Chinese all of which have a similar story just with different languages tied to them.  The app features multi step directions, completing a task, finding coins and matching them up, getting the birthday ready and more.

My son loves anything to do with trains – so he really enjoyed putting together the tracks and matching the first letter of the objects (“r” for rainbow and “t” for tree).  He really enjoyed trying to make the tracks correct so he could continue within the app.  At the birthday party, it was fun for my son to help Yaya decorate by making juice – he chose orange and loved watching the blender make it.  He also enjoyed matching the letters to the words and getting stars for finishing each task.  The app has beautiful artwork with animations throughout including floating balloons.  As a mom, I also liked my kids could touch the speaker icon to hear the word spoken again.  The app features numbers from one to ten and thirty seven other words like apple, roller coaster, bridge, house and other words you use everyday in the English language.  The narration in the app is well done by a native English speaker.  I would suggest this app for kids aged four through about second grade because of the complexity for some of the mini games.  I liked that the app had a comprehension test at the end – although 30 questions seemed a bit high – I would prefer if there were ten or so questions that rotated through.  My older son especially enjoyed the birthday room and making the cake, blowing up the balloons and sorting the candy items for the favor jars.  The app features a gated parental area which includes a glossary of the words including pronunciation, links to social media.  This parental area is accessed by touching a number and holding it for three seconds.

iPad Screenshot 1

In terms of improvements, seeing a number on a coin versus the roman numeral can be confusing for kids who may not have learned that concept yet.  I have a 3 year old who loved finding the coins, but had a hard time matching them to the roman numeral because they were not the same. When you successfully complete the numbers, you are presented with a screen which shows the coins – again with numbers and the spelling of the number which is different than how it is presented within the app. Older kids may understand the concept more clearly and be able to execute   There are also a number of items within the various screens it would be nice to see an interaction with when you touch them.  In the park, my son got frustrated because when you put the kids on the rides you are timed as you answer questions – it would be nice for younger kids if you didn’t have a timer because when time ends you have to start the level again.    I would also like to be able to mute the background music – as it can be a bit distracting but when you turn down the sound you lose the narration.

Overall, this is a cute app designed to help kids learn English in a fun and interactive way.  It is designed for children who already speak English  as well as non native English speakers.  The mini games are fun and have good replay opportunities – but younger kids especially can get frustrated when you try the app because of the inconsistencies in the levels of the games.  There are no in-app purchases and no advertising contained within the app. This is a fun educational app that will have kids playing over and over again.


Yaya Learns English
Yaya Learns English
by Chin Yee Karwehl

Category: Education, Games, Family, Educational
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 229.25 MB

$1.99USD

Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

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.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 Zap Zap Math – K6 Math Games by Visual Math Interactive Sdn. Bhd. – Review

Zap Zap Math – K6 Math Games by Visual Math Interactive Sdn. Bhd. – Review



iPad Screenshot 2

What we love…

Fun easy to use leveled math app that encouraged my son to practice his math skills

What we’d love to see…

ability to test out of content your child may already be familiar with, ability to turn off the sound affects within the app

Summary

I am looking forward to continuing to use the app with my son for his remaining homework assignments before school lets out and during the summer for part of his screen time to ensure that he stays on track with his math skills.

Our Rating

Zap Zap Math - K6 Math GamesZap Zap Math – K6 Math Games by Visual Math Interactive Sdn. Bhd. is a universal app for iOS that focuses on #commoncore math skills.  The free app with gated in-app purchases (IAP) includes content for children from kindergarten through sixth grade to learn, master and be quizzed on math materials using games.  The app itself contains over 150 games and over 180 math subtopics and is common core aligned to the Ontario Curriculum for Mathematics.  For purposes of the review, I was given a full user ID and tested using second grade material since that is the grade my older son is in.   The premium subscription is $9.99 USD and is charged on an annual basis.  For those that purchase the full subscription there is also a web-based dashboard so you can check on your child’s progress.

Skills practiced within the app include:  Addition, Subtraction, Fractions, Ratios, Multiplication, Geometry, Coordinates, Measurements, Angles, Time.  Each “year” within the app is a full school year’s worth of content which is fantastic for home practice during homework time, for homeschooling families or simply to prevent the “summer slide”.

Within the app, there are four different skill areas to use: training, accuracy, speed, mission.  There is no spoken language contained within the app, but there are written directions as well as video tutorials to show you what to do for each of the mini games.  After completing problems correctly, the words “good job” or stars are flashed on the screen.  After taking the quiz, you are shown the results of your work as well as given a time bonus (if completed faster than allowed) to give you a total score.

  • Training – this is the area where your child learns the skill and gets a tutorial about how to do it.
  • Accuracy – your child uses the skill to answer questions faster and more accurately
  • Speed Building – the skill itself is learned and now the focus is on completing the task in a faster manner
  • Mission – this brings all the pieces together when you rocket into outer space with a fun mini game

One of the things we liked was that there was a tutorial for each type of game.  This made sure we understood how to play it because it included step by step directions and a sample problem for you to complete.  My son in particular enjoyed the hive game as he had to connect different equations together to complete the problem.  At the end of each mission, you see your accuracy and score as well as a number of “Z” coins which are in app currency to purchase items.  We also liked the wide variety of games and frankly the huge amount of free content available to users without purchasing a subscription.  This app really allowed you to “try before you buy”.

In terms of enhancements, it would be nice if there were a way to “test” out of content.  My son was familiar in some cases with the content and kept telling me how “boring” it was to have to relearn a skill that he already knew.   I also would like to be able to turn off the background sound within the app, my son found the ticking and various noises distracting so we ended up muting our device, but it would be nice if there was an easier way to do it.  I’d also like a collaboration space, my son’s math curriculum is very visually based and several times he actually wanted to use the number line or draw out the math problem.  You can see the number line in the training mode, but you can’t manipulate it which was something he requested.  I would also like to see a parent gated area that contains the rating as well as a way to see the dashboard from my device in a future release.

Zap Zap Math

Above is a screenshot of a sample dashboard that shows what skills each student is practicing along with accuracy, amount of time played, number of attempts.  You can also click through to get a more detailed report.

I am looking forward to continuing to use the app with my son for his remaining homework assignments before school lets out and during the summer for part of his screen time to ensure that he stays on track with his math skills.  This is a great app to try and see if it works for your family, the $9.99 in app purchase/annually seems affordable for the amount of content contained within the app.  There are external links, however, they are parental gated.

Zap Zap Math/a>

Zapzapmath : K-6 Math Games
Zapzapmath : K-6 Math Games
by Visual Math Interactive Sdn. Bhd.

Category: Education, Games, Educational, Family
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 618 MB

$FREE

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

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.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 Running Noah from Useappility -A Fun App for Practicing Multiplication

Running Noah from Useappility -A Fun App for Practicing Multiplication



iPad Screenshot 2

What we love…

Makes practicing multiplication fun by incorporating it into an endless runner game

What we’d love to see…

Ability to limit to x10, individual player profiles, different speed levels

Summary

Overall, a fun way for kids to practice their multiplication skills whilst playing an Endless Runner game, Running Noah has 48 levels to work on times tables from 1-4 all the way up to 12x.

Our Rating

Running Noah Learning the times tables takes a lot of repetition, which children often find boring. They’d rather be playing their favorite video game instead of practicing math facts. Running Noah from Useability is a new app that uses children’s love of video games to give them lots of repetition of their multiplication facts whilst playing a fun game.

Running Noah is an Endless Runner, it has four episodes each with 12 levels. You need to unlock a level to move on to the next level. The four episodes have different themes and work on 1-4 times tables, 5-8 times tables, 9-12 times tables and 1-12 times tables respectively. The first episode (1-4 times tables) is free, there is an IAP (currently $1.99) to unlock the rest.

iPad Screenshot 4

Gameplay

The flood has just begun and Noah is on a mission to save all the animals and get them into the Ark. As the storm waters rise the land is divided into a series of islands by raging streams. To rescue the animals Noah must build bridges across the streams and also collect food for the animals on the way.

Beside every stream is a stone tablet with a number on it, and on the right of the screen are three numbers from the current series of times tables the student is working from. Tapping on the right of the screen brings up three  more numbers and the player has to tap one number from reach column to create a multiplication problem whose answer is the number on the tablet. The player has to think quickly as Noah keeps running, if he gets to the stream before they have completed the problem he falls in the water. If they create the correct problem a bridge forms and he runs safely to the next island. If they create an incorrect problem the bridge still forms but it collapses when Noah runs across, and he falls in the water. After solving three  problems correctly Noah reaches the stranded animal and gets him onto the Ark which completes the level.

iPad Screenshot 5

 

As Noah is always running the player has to think quickly to keep him from falling in the water, but collecting food adds another layer of complexity. All the animals on the Ark need feeding and food (corn, fish, pineapples or acorns) is above Noah’s head as he runs. To collect it the player has to double tap to make Noah jump at the right time. If they collect very little food the food meter turns red and Noah runs out of energy. Players can replay levels to collect food they have missed, and improve their score, and they need to complete the multiplication problems correctly each time to complete that level.

Analysis

Although the gameplay is in essence very simple, completing the levels does take quick thinking, fast recall and good reflexes. Even as an adult with good mental arithmetic skills I found I often had to replay levels to get perfect scores as it is tricky to answer the problems fast enough and time the jumps right to collect the food.

For each times table the problems include multipliers up to 12 e.g. the lowest level could include 4 x 12. Although this was how I learned my times tables, I have noticed some schools now only teach up to x 10. I would like to see an option to limit it to x10, if your child is learning that way. I would also like an option to add multiple player profiles, so that families with more than one child working on their multiplication skills can track their individual progress and let them compete against each other.

The app has an online leaderboard in it- but kids can not sign up from within the app (a good thing) a link is provided so that parents can enter it in a browser and sign up for the leaderboard if they wish to do so. Once they have completed all levels if the enter a parents email address they will be sent a certificate of completion.

I think the game is designed to be fast paced so that children will have to repeat levels multiple times to get high scores, so that they get a lot of repetition which is a good thing. However, some children with slower reflexes or slower processing speeds may find it frustrating that although they know the answers to the problem they can’t complete the problems in time to stop Noah falling in the water, or they can’t  co-ordinate their tapping quickly enough to answer the questions and jump for the food. With this in mind I’d like to see an option to have different speeds – maybe an Easy, Regular and Fast speed so that slower children can still use the app and to give different levels of challenge which would encourage even more repetition as skills improve.

Summary

Overall, a fun way for kids to practice their multiplication skills whilst playing an Endless Runner game, Running Noah has 48 levels to work on times tables from 1-4 all the way up to 12x. The app is free to download an include the first episode (12 levels) for free – this is a good way to test the app and see if it catches your child’s interest. If it does the $1.99 to unlock the rest of the app is good value. It is child friendly with no adverts, social media or external links.

iTunes Link:Running Noah – Useappility

Running Noah Running Noah by Useappility

Price: $FREE

“…an app that helps kids improve their multiplication skills” BestAppsforKids.com
“…makes practicing multiplication fun by incorporating it into an endless runner game” theimum.com
“… .

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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