Frequent communication is key to strong parent-child relationship and here is an interesting way to get kids and their parents to interact while reading and playing together.
What we love…
Lots of decision making opportunities and open-ended questions to encourage parents and children’s full participation.
What we’d love to see…
A ‘read to me’ option and ability to save progress.
A great book app for parent-child interactions, providing readers with hours of imaginative play and valuable insights into the children’s minds.
An Adventure Of Our Own by Two Way Play is an interactive read and play book app for children and their parents (or other family members or even friends) to create their own adventure story together. While the sequence of events is fixed, readers build up the story by adding the details using the props (provided in-app) and their collective imagination.
The plot is jointly decided by the players and can change each time they play with the book. Right from the beginning of the story, the two players have to work together to flesh out their story. They begin by imagining and talk about what kind of emergency call they need to attend to. Different options are offered for each element in the story. While some aspects of the story (e.g. the setting and rescue plan) are agreed upon together, others are decided individually as each player select their own outfits, gadgets, vehicles and tools for their adventure.
There are lots of decision-making moments in this book and each comes with an open-ended question to encourage players to elaborate on their choices. This gave me valuable insights into my youngest son’s mind – his feelings, thoughts and the experiences that shaped his thinking. I was also careful not to impose my thoughts on his responses.
However, this story making session went on longer than what I had expected. I wish the app would allow me to save the progress of our story to be continued at the next session, instead of starting all over after we closed the app. Or perhaps give us a way to skip the earlier pages in the story as our choices before the rescue tools have no impact on the rest of the story. Also helpful if there are prompts on what actions are required on each page when there is no response from the players for a long time. For example, when players have to choose more than 1 item in order to move on to the next page. An added option for audio narration will also greatly benefit young readers playing with their friends.
While its simple illustrations (that look like children’s drawings), the minimal sound effects and animation allow players to focus on their collaboration itself, the app may come across as amateurish for those of us who are accustomed to more sophisticated book apps. Perhaps this is intentional.
Nonetheless, I like this new and meaningful way of sharing a read and play book app. My son likes the imaginative names of the various items in the story (e.g. seeing eye crystal and 3-wishes poof powder) as they give him all sorts of fun ideas on how to use them. Our story got more exciting because of them. The end of the story is unusual too as readers are asked about their feelings and thoughts on their adventure together. Helpful words like brave, clever, heroic, successful and tired are offered to facilitate the discussion. The app ends with yet another opportunity to talk – take another selfie, go to sleep or go on another adventure?
Overall, I recommend that you check it out. An Adventure of Our Own is a great book app for parent-child interactions, providing you with hours of imaginative play and valuable insights into your children’s minds.
beautiful graphics, multiplayer option, a “redo” button in case you get stuck with a challenge and multiple different types of science taught
What we’d love to see…
a demo on the first level of each “new” castle in the easy mode
I love that the app teaches #stem and #commoncore and encourages kids to play and learn at the same time. I never thought teaching a child physics could be so fun!
Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens by AVOKIDDO is a universal app for iOS that uses creative thinking, problem solving and logic skills to move to the next level. This action packed multiplayer app contains 228 levels of play and works well for both younger and older children (and adults!) The premise of the app is fairly straighforward, create a character and roll them through the obstacles to capture the magic key. Each level gets harder with slightly harder obstacles and more difficult challenges. There are six different castles to complete which I will describe below.
● Gear & Rack: combine gears with racks to create ladders & conveyor belts
● Chest & Bridge: fill gaps and collapse swaying bridges to clear the way
● Crocodile & Harp: use the harp to lull the crocodile to sleep
● Ghost & Mirror: shift the mirror to eliminate the ghost with reflected light
● Hatch & Lever: switch the lever to open and close hatches
● Flying Potion: unleash the magic potion to defy gravity and fly to the finish
Each of the castles has a “redo” button in case you get stuck within the level and can’t progress on. The castles have beautiful artwork with amazing detail down to the strings on the harp which is used to lull the crocodile to sleep. In each of the castles, as you complete each challenge you unlock the next level which also unlocks additional items that you can dress your character with. Within the app when you tap the “gear” at the top of the screen you can choose the player, type of levels which are “easy” for kids aged 5-8 and “hard” for kids aged 8+. For purposes of the review, we tested the app on “easy” mode with my 8 year old. You can also toggle on/off the in-game music and select the language.
I loved how the app encouraged my son to problem solve to master each level – there were a few times when he brought me the iPad because he couldn’t figure out the challenge the first time like using the harp to put the crocodile to sleep. As the levels got harder, he got better at problem solving and I loved how he realized that if he didn’t “solve” it the first time he could try different things until he was able to do so. I love the life skill here too because it showed him that even if we have regular challenges in life maybe the traditional way we approached the problem, might not always be the solution. The animations within the app ranging from the crocodile mouth to the use of reflection with the ghost & mirror were amazing and I could really tell that AVOKIDDO spent a lot of time testing and perfecting the app to ensure things worked well and as planned. I definitely also noticed that my son used a lot of great words to describe all the things he was learning to explain the science concepts – which we also discussed. I never imagined physics could be so fun for an 8 year old and that he would understand the concepts after just playing with the app to master each of the levels! Each of the levels targets a specific type of skill like gravity, force, joints or even simple machines and gets progressively harder as you progress within the app. As a mom, I loved that I could play with the app using my own player to play with castles that were more suited to my level compared to my son’s.
In terms of future enhancements, there were a few times my son got stuck and since I wasn’t “playing along” the entire time I had to play through the level a few times to figure it out. Perhaps a tutorial the first time you are presented with a new type of castle or object might be helpful for younger players on the “easy” mode.
Overall, this is a fantastic app that AVOKIDDO has made, every time I test one of their apps I think they can’t possibly top it, but each time I am surprised with the new ways them come up with to play. I love that the app teaches #stem and #commoncore and encourages kids to play and learn at the same time. The app has a parental protected area with a parental gate, no banner ads, no 3rd party ads and is COPPA compliant. There are no-in app purchases. This would be a great app to use over the upcoming holidays because it’s not a “play once and done” especially for those that have a long trip!
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beautiful interactive graphics, ability to have a variety of cities and building your own characters
What we’d love to see…
ability to play worlds across multiple devices, ability to “customize” and design the outside of buildings
Great app with hours of playtime, the ability to create multiple cities and have your kids experiment to bring their vision alive makes this a keeper!
Hoopa City 2 by Dr. Panda Games is the newest app in the collection, this app is universal and features a building theme which encourages speech, creative play and role playing depending on the activity in the city. The app appeals to kids from preschool through elementary school, and I found myself even enjoying playing with one of my son’s cities.
My son really liked all the content in the app. He enjoyed putting people in the buildings, role playing and switching from day to night. He liked building his own characters as he progressed within the app. As a mom, I liked the amount of content that was offered and the variety of options for building, playing or simply interacting with the city. The 3D graphics are beautiful and my son enjoyed experimenting to create the different buildings and testing out combinations to see what bigger and better buildings he could make. I loved hearing him narrate as he explained, first I do this, then I touch this and then I get this. He also enjoyed the activities like going shopping, seeing a wedding, and even created a few different cities depending on his mood at the time. I also loved how creative he was able to be and building the city which was in his mind to completion. He also loved finding all the combinations and has spent many hours with me testing out the app. A tip, Hoopa’s Building Book was great to remind us of all of the combinations that he made within the app so that we could easily recreate them. My son loved being so creative and showing me all of the different things that he could create and even played the app during his free iPad time frequently.
At times my son was sad because he wanted a city that was on my iPad or iPhone or vice versa we couldn’t figure out how to transfer the city from one device to another even though they were saved. My son’s least favorite thing to do was fixing the wind turbines which seemed to “break” frequently – at times he tapped it too many times and would get frustrated. My son loves art and wished that he could design the colors and shapes of his buildings – something he would have liked because he loves to do art work.
Overall, this was a fun game that both my 8 year old and I enjoyed playing with. It has hours of playability and it can be customized to be easier or harder depending on the child that is playing with it. It appeals to a wide variety of ages and can tap into your children’s creative side and allow you to see the different things that their imagination may bring to life.
A great app for children to learn responsibilities and independence as they keep coming back to the app for more Advenchores and collectible cards to play.
‘Chores’ need not be a dirty word if we teach our children that everyone in the family has a role in maintaining the household and that their contributions are very important to keep the family happy. This makes them feel valued and more willing to do their part. We will also need a fair system of assigning chores and a proper system of recording if we want to see success.
Here is where Chortopia Chore App (free now) by Aurasync Studios, Inc. can help both parents and children work together harmoniously to get the daily chores done. To begin using the app, parents need to set up an account and select age-appropriate chores for each child (up to 4 accounts permitted). Tasks are color-coded and grouped into 3 categories – behavior (say please and thank you, help sibling, finish homework), outdoor (help wash car, help with garbage cans) and indoor-based (dust furniture, put clothes away). There is also a compilation of favorite or frequently used tasks for your convenience. What is useful is that you can add your own tasks to the app! Just remember to be clear in your instructions or expectations. When you have selected a chore set of 3 tasks, an Advenchore is created in the land of Chortopia. You can prepare up to 4 chore sets at any one time.
When you first hand over the app to your children, they will be introduced to the world of Chortopia and their role in helping to free a group of very important Chortopians (the Speakers). They need to complete a series of Advenchores to journey deep into the lands of Chortopia in order to save Chortopia. There are 4 parts to the Chortopia story (Secret of the Mystical Boxes) and Book 1: Mysterious Harvest is included in the app. Each book comes with 10 Advenchores that kids can unlock by doing chores.
Each Advenchore presents a problem for kids to overcome and they will need sufficient Chore Power to fix the problems. This power can only be earned from doing tasks (chores) specified in the app (remember that these tasks were chosen by you). Your kids simply tap on the tasks that they have finished, and have the work verified and approved by you before they can use the Chore Power. Tasks that are not done are sent back.
Getting the job done not only earn the players Chore Power to finish their Advenchores, they can also use the power to unlock mystical boxes to free Chortopians. Each freed Chortopian comes with a collectible character card that describes the Chortopian’s special power and power level. There are also bonus Legendary Chortopians to collect. Kids will like to spend time admiring their card collection or use them to play games like Card Scuffle in the app.
With separate accounts and each child being responsible for keeping track of their own work, maintaining the system is so much easier as parents just have to validate completed work in the app. It is simple to assign duties and kids get their rewards automatically in the app. There are no chores charts to maintain and kids are motivated to complete their duties (less nagging). Our only investment is to purchase the subsequent parts of the story for more Advenchores.
I think kids will like Chortopia as it has the components that can hold the interest of kids of today’s generation – adventure stories, card collectibles and card games. As the story is illustrated and fully narrated, children at early elementary level or younger will have no difficulty in following the storyline. I used the app with my youngest and he was more cooperative than usual! This has definitely taken off some of my stress and I do hope that we can sustain this success…
Chortopia is a great app for teaching responsibilities and independence. Children can start with daily routine activities and then learn the more difficult tasks. They will learn many life skills that are more important than having a clean home. Download the app today while it is free and enjoy 10 sessions of fun Advenchores!
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