We Discover Wildlife: Forest Quest – An inclusive family game from Kindermatica

19 Jun IMG_4354

Forest Quest app iconBrand new in the iTunes store this week is the second app in Kindermatica’s board game series.  My family love the Safari Quest game, the first in the series, so we were very excited to try We Discover Wildlife: Forest Quest.

Playing the Game

Like the Safari Quest game, Forest Quest is played just like a regular board games (although without the risk of losing dice, counters and cards.) You spin the dice then your counter moves the along the path.  You may land on a question, a surprise, a penalty, take short cut, or take a photo of some wildlife.  Successfully answering a question wins the player tools that may help them avoid penalties or take shortcuts elsewhere in the game.  The object of the game is to collect photos of seven different animals as you move around the board, then be the first to reach the end of the game. If you pass animals without taking a photo, don’t worry as there are opportunities to collect these photos later in the game.

Players need to select from 2, 3 or 4 players.  You can then set the icon for each player (male, female or computer), a colour, and the difficulty level for the quiz questions (easy, medium, hard). This means that your littlest family members can play on an equal setting with their older siblings or parents.  We have played with the computer and found that it misses the odd question just like a “real” player might.  We found the questions to be just the right challenge for each level.  There is no time limit for answering questions, and this allows players to think about and discuss their answers before committing.  There are some unfamiliar plants and animals (at least for we Aussies – but I’d imagine there are some surprises for everyone) and it might be handy to keep a pencil and paper close to hand to jot down things you might want to research later.  Trust me: your children will want to find out more.

The board has a wonderful 3D effect, so it feels like you are walking through the forest with your player. Each player sees the board from their own perspective, and so the little search icon in the lower right corner will give you a birds-eye view of the board any time you wish to see where everyone is on the board.  When taking photos, you can even move your photo shot around to find the best view.

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  • Customising – Adjusting levels to cater for different ability levels makes this game ideal for families with children of different ages, and an inclusive game to play in a classroom where some children may have disabilities or learning difficulties.
  • Artwork – The 3D graphics are wonderful and the game interface continues the theme with wooden textures on the questions and game controls.  Even the instruction page has that “aged map” look to it.  As mentioned above, the 3D graphics make it feel like you are walking through the forest with your player pieces.
  • Two to Four players – You can play against the computer or against up to 3 other players.
  • Educational Content – The game is a bit of “education by stealth.” By this I mean that you can learn a lot while playing the game, but it is so much fun that kids may not pick up that it is an educational app.
  • Instructions – Tap the information icon on the main page, or access via the settings button in the top right corner at any time for a comprehensive guide to playing the game.
  • Game continuance – If you close the app before you finish a game, you have the option of completing that game the next time you open the app, or you can start a new game.
  • Multiple language support – The game supports speakers of Russian, English, German and Swedish.
  • Safety – Kindermatica is a member of Moms with Apps, so you know what is inside your app, or rather, what is NOT inside your app. There is no collection of personal information, no 3rd party apps, no in-app purchases, and any links for more information are hidden behind parental locks.

Wish List

I’d love some fact sheets or information links about the different flora and fauna covered in the questions.  I also want more games in the series, but I know for a fact that there are others in the pipeline.


Families and schools will love these inclusive games that allow children to learn about Science and Nature in a fun way. Aimed at children aged 6-8, it is suitable for all ages and ability levels.   The huge number of questions (over 350) cover a range of plants and animals of the forest, and  children will be motivated to find out more away from the game.  I would imagine teachers who are looking at different ecosystems will find Forest Quest (and other games in the series) to be a great resource.  Those of you planning long holiday car trips might like to install this and Safari Quest on your iPads for children to play while they travel as it works brilliantly as a pass-and-play game.

Publisher: Kindermatica
Universal. Requires iOS 6.0 or above.
Price $3.79

Apps for Money Skills Part 3: Academy Coins

27 May IMG_4263

app iconThe third app in my Money App review series is Academy Coins by Wesley Dyson.  The app has currencies for Canada, Australia, United States, United Kingdom and the Euro.  Unfortunately the app is limited to coins so children don’t get to work with notes.


Academy Coins has activities that range from very basic coin recognition to the more advanced addition  with currency.  The levels are unlocked as children progress through the levels, although you can unlock all levels via an in-App purchase for $1.29

  • What are Coins? Cheat Sheet – Identifying coins. The “tails” side of each coin appears with the amount written in words, in different currency forms (e.g. as dollars and as cents) and there is a description of the images on the coin.  (I love that Canadians Have Loonies and Toonies.  We have plenty of Loonies in Australia, but unfortunately you’ll find them running the country rather than in your wallet.)
  • Dollars or Cents? – A coin is displayed along with a numerical value, and you need to select whether the amount is shown in dollars or in cents.  5c may be displayed as 0.05 or as 5, and children will need to select the appropriate symbol. Although the title of the activity doesn’t change, the currency symbols change for the Euro and the Pound.
  • Matching with Numbers – Match the coin to it’s numerical value by dragging it into the appropriate slot.
  • Matching with Words – This is identical to Matching with Numbers, except the values are shown as words.
  • How Much Money? There are three levels to this activity, each getting progressively more difficult.  Level one begins with coins with lower value coins (less than a dollar) and larger value coins and amounts are added in levels 2 and 3.
  • Making Change Subtraction  – Show a given amount as coins.  I can’t really see where the subtraction is in this activity.  I would have imagined an activity in this category to be more of a shopping style activity, e.g. buy an item for $1.75, pay with a $2 coin and select the correct change. Instead, this activity is really an addition activity, and I like that children can use any combination of coins to make the correct amount. There are two levels of difficulty.
  • Sum it Up – This is a addition with regrouping using currency symbols.  Level 1 uses the cents symbol (or pence) and Level 2 uses the dollar/Euro/Pound symbol.  Some children may need a paper and pencil handy to work things out.

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Other Features

  • You can drag coins around the screen, which can help when adding or by sorting into value.
  • Reporting is  very basic and gives you a percentage figure for each activity and level.  (I had to turn notifications off on my iPad; it tends to nag you if you haven’t used the app for a while.)
  • The one app has 5 different currencies.  While you’ll probably only use one, it is fascinating for children to see the similarities and differences between the different international coins. This is one of the few apps I own that has currency for the United Kingdom.  The images of the coins are excellent quality.
  • Parent controls are protected by a password and allow you to turn off In-App purchases and sharing features, and reset progress reports.

Wish List

  • Feedback needs to be more supportive.  It would be great for children to have a clue as to why they have made errors, e.g. “that is too much” or “that is not enough money.”
  • Faster progression through questions – The app is a little slow to progress through questions as each successful answer results in fanfare and fireworks (or other visual display) and then a prompt to go on to the next question. My boys found it a bit frustrating, even with the positive affirmations. They actually found it faster to answer the question correctly, leave the activity and reenter it.
  • All levels should be able to unlock without the in-App purchase.  If teachers are to use this app in a classroom, they really need to know what the activities are like in advance.  At $3.75 Aus, I believe you’ve already paid enough.
  • I know the name is Academy Coins, but it isn’t really comprehensive without the notes.
  • Individual Profiles – for use in schools or families with more than one child, individual profiles are an advantage.
  • The Tutorial should be more comprehensive with information about each of the activities in the app, particularly if these are locked.  Currently it lets you choose your currency and has a single image telly you that you can collect stars, and you can tap to play. There is nothing about the different activities or their aims, how many questions you need to answer to progress, and what the progress reports mean.


Academy Coins could be a useful app for basic money skills of coin recognition, recognising amounts in words or numbers, currency symbols, showing coins in different ways, and adding coins.  Unfortunately it lacks activities for giving change, and there are no notes in the app.  At $3.79 Aus, it isn’t as good value as iCan Count Money (cheaper) or the STAAPS Money apps (same price) that are  more comprehensive in both activities and in the use of both notes and coins.  If more features are added to future updates, I’ll happily look at this app again because it has great potential.

Publisher: Wesley Dyson
iPad only: requires iOS 8.0 or higher
Price: $3.79

Apps for Money Skills Part 2: iCan Count Money – international apps from Ahmed Tawakol

26 May ...but you can tap on the arrows to quickly sort it.

Today I’m reviewing iCAN Count Money by Ahmed Tawakol. Like yesterday’s app, this one has different iPad and iPhone versions for different countries, and currently you can get the app for Canada (iPhone only), New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Europe (Euro.  The one I have on my iPad is the Australian version, so the screen shots I am using come from that, but the activities are for each international version, the only difference being the currency used in the activities.


There are three activities in the iPhone version of the app:

  • I Know How To Pay! – Children select the exact change to pay for an item.
  • I Know How Much To Get Back! – Give the correct change for an item.
  • I Can Catch The Coins! – This is a coin recognition game.  Children are asked to find a number of a particular coin.  Coins fly across the screen, flipping from time to time so that children can see front and back of the coins.
  • Bonus activity – Both versions include a Money calculator which could be a useful aid for those learning to add their currency.

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An extra three activities are included with the iPad version. Continue reading

Apps for Money Skills Part 1: Counting Money from STAAPS Interactive

25 May You can pick from six activities

A friend on my Facebook group recently asked for some apps to help her son learn some money skills.  There are heaps of money apps out there, including general Mathematics apps that include some money activities, but many of them are specific to just one currency.  I have several apps on my iPad that use our Australian currency and others and I intend to write a review of each of them for you over the next week or so.

aussie kidsFirst cab off the rank is Aussie Kids Count Coins from from STAAPS Interactive. International readers, don’t let the name put you off, as there are three other versions available for the USA, New Zealand and Europe.  Each has a different name, but all use the same activities and all use both notes and coins.


There are six activities:

  • Pay for things – drag the exact amount of cash to a box to pay for an item.
  • Lemonade Stand – calculate the cost of a customer’s order by typing on the keyboard.  It is great for “mental Maths”calculations, but some children may need to have a pencil and paper handy to work things out.
  • Give Change – The customer pays for an item and you give them the correct change from the till. If you put too much change or don’t give enough, the customers will let you know and you can try again.
  • Piggy Bank – Smash the piggy bank and count the money inside.
  • Go Shopping – Spend an exact amount of money by dragging an exact number of items from a shelf. This is a pretty difficult task and requires a bit of logical thinking and problem solving.  The feedback for errors is supportive as it gives the child a clue as to why the answer is incorrect, e.g. “You haven’t spent enough money.”
  • Who Has More – Two creatures have different amounts of money. You need to tap the one with the most. Children can’t get off the hook by random choices, as they are then asked to add up the money for the creature they have chosen, and then both collections of money are totalled.

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  • The app uses images of real currency.
  • The parent section show how many times your child has played each of the game modes.
  • You can change the difficulty level to restrict activities to coins only (parents section).
  • There is an incentive system that awards stars as children reach target in the activities.
  • The app is compatible with iOS 4.0 and above so will work on the original iPad.

Wish List

  • Individual profiles would be an advantage for families and for classrooms.
  • More feedback – The reporting system is only useful in that you can see if your child has been playing the game.  I’d like a little more feedback so that I could see if there were areas where they made lots of errors and needed more support.


This is a great app for children who can already identify currency but need to practice the transactional skills involved with money, e.g. selecting change. The app is aimed at children aged 6 to 8 but some activities will be quite challenging even for children in upper primary.  Use of “real currency” images will help children translate these skills into real life.  The app is great value for the price.

As mentioned earlier, there are four international versions for this app. All of the apps are $2.49 Aus but prices will be different in other international stores. All apps are iPad only and require iOS 4.0 or higher.

Australia: Aussie Kids Count Coins


USA: Kids Count Money USA

New Zealand: Kids Count Money NZ

Kids Count Money: Europe

Mystery Word Town by Artgig Apps

21 May The townspeople have plenty to say.

mystery wt iconMystery Word Town is the latest app by Artgig Apps and is new in the iTunes Store today.  The app is a spelling adventure where children play the detective tracking down members of the Huevos Rancheros Gang and recovering lost gold in a ghost town somewhere in the USA.  Children enter and explore buildings, using their spelling skills as keys to enter areas.

Game Play

If you have either Mystery Math Town or Mystery Math Museum, you’ll be familiar with the game play.  You collect letters in each room or area of the building you are exploring and use them to complete words.  The goal is to find the required number of gold nuggets indicated by a little pouch in the top right corner, and to find the room with a wanted poster of one of the gang. Exits from each room could be doors, windows, trap doors, ladders or even just looking up or down.  If you are unsure of where you can go, a  little ghost floats in each room and you can drag it around to highlight exits.  You can tap on the floating letters in each scene to either complete the word or add them to your tool belt.  Letters you don’t use in one room might be handy in another.  As the levels increase in difficulty you may have to look in different rooms to collect the letters you need.  Once you have completed your goals you can move on to the next building.

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Game Settings

  • Three Difficulty Levels – There are three word lists available within the app.  The level 1spelling is about the level Mr 7 is bringing home with is weekly homework.  The other two lists look to be middle-primary in level.  Bearing in mind that Australia generally uses UK spelling, there was only one word in the app that we had issues with: favorite.  In Australia and the UK, we spell this word as favourite.  I find that when I highlight these things to my children, they have no problems.
  • Audio Hint Mode –  there are two modes to choose from:
    • Spell Your Own Words – Players can use any letters to complete a partial word. There may be more than one option, and there are no audio hints.  The correct word may not be in the word list but will be validated against an extensive dictionary.
    • Listen & Spell – The incomplete word is spoken aloud as it appears on the screen.  Children can hear the word repeated by tapping the sound icon in the word bubble.
  • Individual Profiles – I love apps where you can set things up for each child in your family or class.  Once you have created a profile, children can have a bit of fun creating an avatar by choosing hair, eyes/nose, mouth and skin tone (that can be a traditional tone, or any colour of the rainbow.)  You can set the difficulty level for each child within their profile.
  • Continue reading

Duckie Deck Homemade Orchestra

19 May IMG_4117

duckie deck homemade orchestra app iconMy children all loved banging on pots and pans and making noise with all sorts of common household things. Duckie Deck Homemade Orchestra brings this experience to mobile devices in a way that is fun for children and easy on the ears of those around them.  Helping me test the app was Mr 3, a proficient pots and pans player who has recently taken up playing the spoons.

Playing the Game

The two game modes let children play with a virtual orchestra, or with individual instruments.

Orchestra Mode

Eight “instruments” appear on the screen. As the child taps each one, the object animates and begins to play. The lovely thing is that all the objects will play with rhythms and melodies that complement each other, so any combination will be harmonious. A button in the corner will see a different combination of instruments selected. Mr 3 found it very easy to distinguish between instruments that were playing and those that were not, and he had a lot of fun experimenting with different combinations.

Individual instrument

In this mode you can choose an instrument then play with it, making your own rhythms and melodies. There are twenty different items to play with. These include toys, kitchen items, stationery and other items found around the house. It is great to see a few body parts included: lips whistle, fingers click, a foot taps, and hands clap.  Each instrument is played by either tapping on the instrument or screen, or dragging the instrument around to shake or vibrate.  You can see some of the instruments in action in Duckie Deck’s YouTube trailer below.

Things We Love:

  • The app is easy to use with intuitive controls. Mr 3 was able to play without needing any help from me and was quickly able to turn the instruments on and off as he wished.
  • The game spills over into real life and can encourage children to be creative away from the iPad.
  • There is a great variety of instruments, and we can find all of them in our house. Some of these you can grab and use straight away, such as pots and pans or keys.  Others require a bit of assembly, such as the glass xylophone with different water levels.  I’d never thought of making a xylophone from an egg carton and spanners, but we are going to give it a shot.  Some instruments are your own body parts.
  • The graphics are colourful and fun, with a clear layout that makes it easy to use for little fingers.  Mr 3 found the animations amusing too.
  • Unlike our real life homemade orchestras, this virtual one sounds great!  All the rhythms and melodies compliment each other. Also, unlike our real life homemade orchestra, you can control the volume on this one.


Duckie Deck Homemade Orchestra is a great creativity app that will amuse children for ages as they experiment with with endless combinations of instruments.  The instruments selected are easily found in real life and children will be inspired to create their own real life instruments that will possibly not be as melodic, but will be great fun.

Developer: Duckie Deck
Universal – Requires iOS 6.0 and above
Price: $3.79 (Aus)

We Discover Africa: Safari Quest – an iOS board game for the whole family

13 May IMG_4140

safari iconWe Discover Africa: Safari Quest from Kindermatica is brand new in the iTunes store today.  The game combines elements of the traditional board game with an educational quiz that is suitable for all ages from preschool to adult.

The opening screen has an information button where you can see the rules of the game and find out what all the different icons on the board mean.  (They are fairly self-explanatory, but it is great to have a handy reference.)  You can also select your language from English, Russian, German, Spanish and Serbian.  You can also access this information at any time via the settings icon that appears in the top right of the screen.

How to Play

The game is played in much the same way as most board games:  spin the the dice and move your counter.  Your token moves forward to land on all sorts of surprises.  Along the way you collect special tools, answer questions, and take photos. There are also some shortcuts, obstacles and a few other surprises.  The winner of the game is the first to collect seven different animal photos and then reach the finish line.

Players need to select from 2, 3 or 4 players.  You can then set the icon for each player (male, female or computer) and the difficulty level for the quiz questions (easy, medium, hard).  Sample questions for each level are included in the slideshow below.  We found the questions to be interesting and challenging (at our various levels) and we also learned some interesting facts about the animals in the game.

Each player sees the board from their own perspective, and so the little search icon in the lower right corner will give you a birds-eye view of the board any time you wish to see where everyone is on the board.

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What I Love

Customising – I love that you can customise this game so that your younger players can play against older players on a level playing field.

Artwork – The graphics are beautiful and have a real African feel.  Everything from the Lion and Rhinoceros that greet you on the main screen to the wooden “stepping stones” takes you straight to Africa.

Wish List

Reference Materials – we would love to be able to read some information about each of the animals either before playing the game or after.  Some of the questions were really tricky, which made them interesting, and my children wanted to find out more.  I believe this feature is being considered


This is a game that allows children (and adults) of different ages and ability levels to play on an equal playing field. It is a great way to learn about African animals and even more important, a wonderful game for some family “together time.” There are more than enough twists, turns and surprises to keep all the family interested and entertained. I’m also keeping this one handy as a pass and play game for long car trips, as I can guarantee my children won’t lose pieces as they pass it around our car.  The format of this game would be suitable for all kinds of subjects, so I hope to see more from the same developer.  Thanks to the developer for allowing me to  preview the game for this review.

Developer:  Kindermatica
Universal.  Requires iOS 6.0 and above
Price: $4.99 (Aus)

Understanding Math – Addition and Subtraction by appp media

2 Apr

understandingmath+-Understanding Math – Addition and Subtraction  is the latest Mathematics app from appp media and is the second in their Understanding Math series, based on  Jerome Bruner’s  Three Modes of Representation learning theory.  This app explores the concepts of addition and subtraction using different symbolic, visual and active representations.  As well as answering set problems, the app gives children tools to help solve their own addition and subtraction problems.

Each activity has been linked to the Common Core Standards for Mathematics.

Continue reading

Lasso Kid – Logical thinking games with a Christmas bonus

4 Dec The new Christmas set of puzzles is FREE.

lasso kidLasso Kid is a free logical thinking puzzle game from Kidcore Network that is aimed at young children but that  older children and even adults will find entertaining and challenging. Today I’m reviewing the iPad version of the app, but there is an iPhone version as well that has all the same features.

Poor Lasso Kid!  While he was sleeping, his animals escaped and he needs to catch them and rope them together.  You need to tether similar animals to a peg, trying not to run the rope through obstacles, and making sure ropes don’t cross each other.  The first few levels are fairly simple and are designed to introduce the main concepts of the puzzle, but later they get a little more complex with more animals, different types of animals (only similar animals can be joined together), more obstacles and more tether pegs.


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Continue reading

Duckie Deck Cleans Up – Apps to help kids learn about hygiene

26 Nov

Duckie Deck specialises in apps for the very young that combine education and fun.  This week I’m reviewing several of their apps over a series of posts.  The two apps I’m reviewing today deal with personal hygiene skills involved with brushing teeth and going to the toilet.

ddggDuckie Deck Gotta Go

Features: Gotta Go  takes children through the process of using the toilet. First they feed a friendly monster assorted foods. After a short time, the monster stops eating. Tap the nappy (diaper) to take it off. Our little friend jumps on to the toilet with a big grin. Tap his tummy and he will grunt as a rather colourful deposit drops into the transparent toilet below. Toilet paper appears and you tap and drag it through to help the monster wipe. Pull the chain to flush and then guide what must be the cutest poo ever through a simple pipe maze, then finish with a high 5 to your monster friend. (Honestly, it is difficult to describe this app without laughing, and Mr 3 is enjoying it very much.)

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Things We Love: The monster loves going to the toilet. He has a great attitude and is really proud of himself, so hopefully this attitude might rub off on some of our more reluctant toilet-trainees. Duckie Deck Gotta Go is a great way of reinforcing the steps being taught in toilet training and it provides good opportunities for discussion. It does not cover the hand washing aspect, which would have been great, but since the hand washing has always been the easiest part of the process, I don’t have a problem with its not being included (although maybe they should wash before the High 5?).  Lastly, you have to love the app icon:  blue happy poo anyone?
Verdict: If you have a little person who is learning to use the toilet or potty, this app might be a great one for introducing the concept in a fun, non-threatening way.

Duckie Deck Gotta Go - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $3.79
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Hygiene Essentials Bundle (3 apps for $4.99)

ddwtDuckie Deck With Teeth

Features:  Duckie Deck With Teeth is very simple to use: tap on a mouth to add teeth (that come in different shapes, then feed different foods to the mouth. As the food is eaten, the teeth become progressively dirtier. At any time you can grab the toothbrush and clean the teeth. The activity then starts again.

What we Love: Most of the food is very healthy, such as vegetables, fruit and a salad sandwich;  the one “sometimes food” is a biscuit (cookie). The toothbrush is available at any time, and children have to spend a bit of time cleaning the teeth.  The teeth get really dirty in a kind of gross way, which adds to the appeal.  Brushing those teeth and making them clean gives Mr 3 a sense of satisfaction.  If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can hold it up in front of your face and pretend it is your mouth (which is hilarious for small fry, I can assure you.)

Verdict: Duckie Deck With Teeth is a great app for exploring the healthy habit of teeth cleaning. Playing this activity with your child can help them learn vocabulary involved, and gives an opportunity to discuss why we need to clean up our teeth, and how long we need to brush our teeth for before we are finished.

Duckie Deck With Teeth - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $2.49
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Hygiene Essentials Bundle (3 apps for $4.99)

Duckie Deck Hungry Clipper (Not reviewed)

Duckie Deck has a third hygiene app, Duckie Deck Hungry Clipper, that deals with hand hygiene, encouraging children to keep nails trim and tidy with the hungry nail clipper.  I don’t have that app to review, but here is a link to the YouTube trailer.

Duckie Deck Hungry Clipper - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $3.79
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Hygiene Essentials Bundle (3 apps for $4.99)

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