Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Apps We Love: “Franklin Frog,” “Splash Math,” and “Fish Hooks”

I’ve just been hanging around the fishpond, trying to will summer from ending. But it’s no use. I’ll be back teaching by Friday and my little girl starts preschool on Monday. Ouch. I’m going to ease the jolt of the new school season by lingering pondside with a trio of apps that are leap-out-of-the-water clever.

Rounds: Franklin Frog by Nosy Crow is the first app in their planned series on the life-cycles of animals. I love the modern, clean illustration style here. I like the narrator’s British accent as well. Users participate in every stage of Franklin’s life, from birth to parenthood, and take part in all of the things that frogs do best, including hopping, swimming, eating, and best of all, changing from a tadpole into a frog. And then users start all over again with Franklin’s son. The app is filled with fun facts about frogs (did you know that they chew food inside their mouths by squashing it between their tongue and their eyeballs?), carefully designed to inspire enthusiasm and teach young children about biology.

Splash Math by StudyPad plays like a game but is really an interactive math workbook. It even has an easy to use scratchpad for quick calculations. It’s a solid educational tool that corresponds to grades 1 through 5 math curricula. It’s very easy to navigate and genuinely challenging. Users earn points that can be cashed in to buy add-ons for an included aquarium game. And the app sends a weekly email to parents that can track up to five different user’s progress. This app does a nice job of keeping the math activities entertaining and fast-paced. I would prefer a friendlier, non-computer-generated voice, but the voice does have a certain hi-tech appeal. The basic app is free and if this system “clicks” for you and your child, you have the option to purchase additional modules.

Fish Hooks is a free game based on the popular Disney show. This is a challenging (slightly addictive) underwater physics-based adventure puzzle. More than 50 levels of games in increasing difficulty ask users to use bubbles and split-second timing to avoid hazards. The levels require quick thinking and reflexes, so it’s a good thing the app allows you to restart a level immediately. Once you get into the rhythm of the game, you’ll find the obstacles satisfying and fun. It took me a good while to work my way though all the levels and I re-did the entire game for a better score and loved every minute of it; it’s diverting and sharp.

Review Summary
App Name: Rounds: Franklin Frog by Nosy Crow
Category: Education
Updated: August 8, 2012
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
Price: $4.99
Bottom Line: Beautifully folds science into a story.

App Name: 1st Grade Math: Splash Math Worksheets App for Numbers, Counting, Addition, Subtraction and others [HD Free] by StudyPad, Inc.
Category: Games
Updated: July 3, 2012
Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.2 or later.
Price: FREE
Bottom Line: A workbook for the 21st century.

App Name: Disney Fish Hooks
Category: Games
Released: August 16, 2012
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
Price: FREE
Bottom Line: Addictive.

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