Archive | May, 2015

Apps for Money Skills Part 3: Academy Coins

27 May

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.

Activities

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.

Verdict

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

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

26 May

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.

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

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.

Activities

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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Features

  • 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.

Verdict

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

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

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.

Verdict

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

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

Verdict

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)

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