Stack the States® 2 by Freecloud Design, Inc. – Review

Stack the States 2 is a fun new app from FreeCloud Design’s Dan Russell Pinson. You learn state capitals, cities, shapes, landmarks, flags and then after you answer a question correctly you can drop the animate state on the screen – but watch out if you are not careful your hard work tumbles away! In our house – my son doesn’t always realize how lucky he is to test out brand new apps before they are released in the app store.

I’m happy to say that Stack the States 2 is our latest “must have”! My son woke up this morning and told me he had to show me how many new states he had earned and at the same time showed me that he had learned all of this great trivia and what states looked like what. I call that a huge win especially because educational apps are not always his first choice to play during free time.

After successfully completing each level, you earn a new state. The app allows you to set up multiple profiles so a parent can have a different profile than kids or multiple kids can play and the app can narrate and be based on what they have completed so far. The app includes an interactive map with major cities and a 3D visual of each state with 10 different 3D scenes with various locations – we loved New York, Hawaii and Chicago the most especially the dolphins jumping. As you become more proficient with the app, you earn new states and unlock new games. I also liked that if you answered a question wrong, the app told which state you answered incorrectly and gave you the chance to learn. The app contains new questions, two bonus games Connect 2 and Capital Tap as well as 3D models of 90 landmarks! You can read our review of the original Stack the States which we also rated five stars here. The questions are laid out in a simple format easy for early readers and in the Capital Game it also shows the state as well as a field of four choices to pick from.

I love the graphics, the narration, the ability to practice motor planning to set the states correctly so they don’t tumble but most of all I love all of the educational value in the app. The voice mode is very helpful for non-readers or early readers who are not yet able to read the trivia questions. When you are in the trivia game and answer correctly you “drop” or place the state to stack them – it’s fun for a variety of reasons but with Chicago it’s even more fun because you get the bean shape to stack on. I also loved that I could share tidbits about each state with my son – his class recently did a travel fair and learned a little about a number of states while focusing on a specific one. I liked that he was able to translate some of the things he learned in school from the shape of the state to the capital and use that knowledge within the app. When I was younger I had the opportunity to travel via motor home to many of the states in the United States – I’m glad I can share my love for states with my son via the iPad and he can experience it sooner than I did in a fun interactive way! Even as a mom, I found myself playing Stack the States more than a few times. It’s addictive, it’s fun and it’s a great way to practice critical thinking and recall skills. My son studied Alaska for the travel fair and was excited to show me “what it really looked like” in topography as well as cities and landmarks including Mt. Denali. It was great to see he took what he had learned through research and was able to translate that to the app. I also liked that it did not have a timer which reduced the anxiety of my son to “be right” he could answer quickly if he knew the answer or narrow it down if he did not.

In terms of enhancements, I’d love to see more backgrounds to stack the states on. I also found that at times I would earn the same state in the same game multiple times. I’m sure some of this was because I missed questions or my son did, but to get the same state right after previously getting it was a bit surprising. It might also be nice for younger users if you could toggle to have two chances to guess correctly – sometimes my 7 year old was able to narrow it down to one or the other and made a guess.

Stack the States 2 moves the bar higher from a traditional learn about this state app – to one that is more interactive and fun for kids to play. I love seeing my son’s “aha moments” as he grasps new facts he has learned and shows me his knowledge within the app. The bar has been set high here and I can’t wait to see what other apps come from FreeCloud design. There are no in-app purchases, external links or integration with social networks. It is pure geographic fun!