Smart Apps For Android: REVIEW: Curious About Shapes & Colors (best Android kids apps)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

REVIEW: Curious About Shapes & Colors (best Android kids apps)

Bottom line: An early learning app for preschoolers with everbody's favorite ape, Curious George. The focus is on shapes and colors with some fun activities to complete. Excellent quality app, but maybe a little overpriced.

Price: $4.99                   Size: 77.6MB                        Number of activities: 10



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App explained: Curious About Shapes & Colors opens with a short (30 second) video of dialogue between the man with the yellow hat and Curious George, well, monologue actually. George has been playing and has toys strewn all over the floor. The man with the yellow hat suggests that Curious George would like some help sorting out all his toys, of so many different shapes, sizes and colors, which is the invitation for children to start playing. That is the point where the app changes from being a passive activity to an interactive one. Little children love to help!

Altogether there are five boxes of toys, consisting of various colored shapes that need to be put back together. The completed toys are a robot, a boat, a train, a castle and a rocket with rover. Each toy involves children placing shapes into corresponding holes to build the toy. The skills involved in putting the toys back together are shape matching, size ordering, shade ordering (darkest to lightest), tracing, size matching, patterns and color matching. As children are placing the shapes into the corresponding holes, the outline of the hole highlights with green or red, depending on if the child is correct or not. The tracing activity has a large margin for error with the man in the yellow hat giving verbal encouragement if the child is off the lines too much. The completed toys can be interacted with by tapping on moving parts or guiding it around the screen. There is also a game associated with each toy.

The games involve skills such as hand-eye coordination, memory, color discrimination, physics, and decision making. The robot game has it flying around collecting bananas before his jetpack fuel runs out. Fuel boosts are available to add extra time. The boat game involves sorting swimming fish according to their color. The train game is a musical memory game that requires the child to listen and copy the notes that are played, beginning with a two-note sequence in the tutorial and then increasing by a note until the child taps a wrong note. The game restarts then with a new two-note sequence. The castle game is a physics type of game that requires the child to aim arrows at balloons. Bonus quiver power-ups are available, which increase the game length. Finally, the rover game involves the child guiding the rover around to collect bananas before the battery power runs out. Battery power-ups are available to increase game time.

Pros/Cons: Curious George is a big favorite of a lot of young children, so this app will have instant appeal. The man in the yellow hat gives verbal instructions, encouragement and praise with every step along the way and there is no text making this very suitable for very young children such as toddlers and preschoolers. Curious About Shapes & Colors is an excellent quality app, with educational activities perfectly matched for the developmental stage the app is aimed at. Thought has obviously gone into the difficulty of the tasks and good use has been made of the technology by allowing the children to interact and play with the toy they build. Children could be quite absorbed in this app and it could be good for some alone time, but there is no real opportunity for sharing Curious About Shapes & Colors with others.

No ads, in-app purchases or external links make this app safe for children, however I am not sure the amount of activity justifies the price tag. It would seem that users are paying for the Curious George licence as much as they are paying for an educational app. The man in the yellow hat naming the shapes as children tap them is good, however he is completely silent when it comes to the blue tear drop. One activity specifies that the shapes will not necessarily be the same orientation as the hole, but then the final activity in that set requires children to place a number of triangles according to their orientation. There is some skill progression, but no progress tracking, however Curious About Shapes & Colors should be easily linked to the Common Core State Standards.

Suggestions for updates: After each toy is built, though it is possible to redo all of the activities, the toy stays completed. It would be good if there was a way for children to mess up the parts again so the box shows a pile of pieces instead of a completed toy. Some kind of progress chart would be good, even if it only recorded attempts for that session, to show parents how their child did with identifying the different shapes and colors. Scores for games could be recorded in a high scores table. Games could have difficulty levels, with easier levels having more bananas available to collect, or the fish swimming more slowly and harder levels having less bananas and a greater number of colors of the fish to sort.

Summary: An instant hit with preschoolers because of the identification of the character, Curious George, Curious About Shapes & Colors covers quite a few early learning skills. Fun, educational and innovative but possibly overpriced for what is included. A great app and one to add to your wish-list to download when on sale.

Device/s used:
Phone - Samsung Galaxy S4 (Android 4.3)
Tablet - Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1" (Android 4.2.2)

Smart Apps For Android was paid a fee for this priority review.

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