ShapeKit from KidKit is a creative app designed for 6-12 year olds that lets them use geometric shapes to create pictures and short animations.
When you first open the app you are invited to watch a series of short tutorials on using the tools in the app. I would highly recommend watching these as they are very useful introductions and only take a few minutes to do. They can be viewed again at any time by tapping on the “learn” tab from the home screen.
The heart of the app is “create” where the student can experiment with shapes and create their own pictures. Once they have created a picture it is saved within the app and they can go back later and re-edit it. Created pictures can also be used to make short animated videos and both pictures and videos can be saved to the camera roll.
Adding a Shape
Clicking on the + button brings up the select a shape option. The player choose from 6 different shape options: circle, square, quadrant, semi-circle, right-angle triangle and equilateral triangle. Once they select a shape, the name and properties of that shape are listed on the screen. Although rectangle is not originally listed you can also create rectangles by dragging on the corners of a square- it will change shape and “rectangle” will appear on the screen.
This can be done within the shape selection tool or by tapping the re-size tool when on the picture creation page. Shapes are re-sized by touching a corner and dragging to increase or decrease its size.
The color can be changed within the shape selection tool or by tapping the color wheel when on the picture creation page, there are 18 color options.
With 2 fingers on a shape if you hold 1 still and move the other you can rotate it (moving 2 at once will zoom in or out on the whole picture).
There are 2 ways to join shapes together: with and without a joint.
Without a joint: to join to shapes together use a finger on each to make them close together, once they are close they will start to sparkle, if you let go they will stick together solidly to make one new shape. The new shape can then be rotated, moved and resized as one piece, you can separate the pieces again by pulling them apart. This only works when you have 2 straight edges to join together i.e. you can not join a circle to a rectangle using this method.
With a joint: here you use a hole punch tool to punch holes in the 2 pieces you want to join. Move the pieces together using 1 finger on each, when the holes are aligned they will form a join. When you move the shape it will act like you have a simple joint at this spot. You can only have 2 holes in each shape, so when joining multiple shapes e.g. to form an animal it is important to think about where you want a joint vs a solid join.
You can easily duplicate shape by selecting the shape and tapping the duplicate tool. This even works with custom shapes where you have joined shapes together with a solid join. The duplication will keep your original colors unless you use the color change tool.
You can also add eyes and particles to your creations. Particles are a star shape that emits a sparkling trail when tapped and held. There are also 4 different background colors to choose from – grey, white, black and light blue.
Play and Animate Modes
In play mode you can move your creations around without risking accidentally changing them.
In animate you can bring your scenes to life by creating simple stop motion animation videos. You can easily create the videos using up to 5 frames. You just tap the clapperboard to make the first frame, then advance to the next frame. When you are creating the next frame lines show you where you are moving the shape from. Once you are happy with the animation you can save it to your photo library.
I am really enjoying all the creative possibilities in this app, it is an app that seems very simple when you first open it, but with some imagination you can create really elaborate pictures and fun simple animations. I found it took a little while to get used to the tools. At first I was re-sizing when I wanted to rotate, and my joints fell apart as I forgot to move the shapes together with both fingers when creating the joint. However, once I had played with it for a while and got used to how the tools work I began to really like creating with it. I love the extra dimension adding the joints gives, especially when creating animations. It reminds me of paper puppets we used to make as kids with brass fasteners attaching the limbs.
The one area I did find frustrating is that there is no real way to attach overlapping shapes, so if you want to add a pattern to an animal or attach a round treetop to a tree truck these remain unattached. This is fine for a simple picture but if you want to re-size an object or move it then it can be frustrating to have the parts separate. This is especially noticeable when animating. I’d love to see a glue tool added for this purpose.
There is a parent section that includes social media and email links, these are protected by a parent lock with directions such as “swipe up with 2 fingers”. The target age range for this app can easily get past this gate so I’d like these removed or an option to disable the social media and email links via the app settings. Players are invited to email their creations to ShapeKit for inclusion in the ShapeKit gallery.
Overall, ShapeKit is a very fun creative app for exploring and creating with geometric shapes. I think is app will appeal to creative children from elementary through middle school ages. I can see my 5th grader spending hours with it creating pictures and animations.
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).