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Category: Middle School »

David Wiesner’s Spot Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Amy Solomon on March 17th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: SPOT ON ILLUSTRATIONS
David Wiesner’s Spot is a clever storybook for all ages containing no words, but it delivers fantastical illustrations.
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Robot School - Programming for Kids Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on March 13th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CODING MADE INTERESTING
Robot School is a great app for teaching coding to kids in a way that helps them visualize what is being taught.
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9 Months! Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Amy Solomon on February 12th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: HIGHLY EDUCATIONAL
9 Months! is a highly detailed application about how a baby develops within their mother's body, also including information about conception.
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Winky Think Logic Puzzles Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on January 28th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: WINKY THINK MAKES YOU THINK
Winky Think Logic Puzzles include numerous tactile puzzles that will challenge all age groups.
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Sago Mini Fairy Tales Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on January 15th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: OPEN-ENDED DELIGHT
Sago Mini Fairy Tales allows children move about a magical forest with the drag of a finger in this engaging children's app.
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Naailde the Witch Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on October 30th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: PITCH-PERFECT STORYTELLING
Marvelous storytelling, narration, and moving illustrations make this storybook worth a download.
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Salis Escapes - Salisedine Episode 1 Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Amy Solomon on June 17th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: PRE-TEEN STORYBOOK
Salis Escapes - Salisedine Episode 1 is a beautifully illustrated storybook for pre-teens with tough dystopian themes.
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Silly Family Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on June 2nd, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MEET THE FAMILY
Silly Family is a puzzle game with a unique family tree theme that will keep players focused and thinking logically.
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Sudoku Junior Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on May 27th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SUDOKU WITH PICTURES
Sudoku Junior includes different levels of difficulty as well as a choice of picture icons.
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Coolson’s Pocket Pack Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on May 9th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: WORDPLAY FUN
Coolson’s Pocket Pack is a polished word game, a great distraction for adults.
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Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on December 4th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: PERFECT PUZZLES FOR ALL
Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure is a perfect puzzle app for both young child as well as seasoned puzzle users.
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Symmetry School: Learning Geometry Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Amy Solomon on August 6th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: HANDS ON LEARNING
Enjoy this hands-on approach to learning about symmetry both simple as well as more complex.
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Path Puzzler Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on July 11th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Path Puzzler is a wonderful, creative and hugely entertaining educational game app from the developers at Busythings, a company that makes top-notch thinking games for children.

I love how the premise of these apps is always delightful, quirky and simple to understand, yet can sometimes get tricky on harder levels.

Path Puzzler consists of a grid of animal or monster characters that need to be led to their specific color islands within this grid, illustrated with their favorite foods, keeping in mind that their paths must not cross. To do so, drag a finger from a monster over the maze-like areas of this puzzle connecting the color-coded islands, avoiding intersecting other monster-island paths.

The animals or monsters that one must connect to their islands are cute and cartoony, bright and colorful. Children and adults alike will enjoy the light animation they are rewarded with as each animal travels through its completed path to eat its food, celebrating with dancing as well - an element that I enjoy, as I do the whimsical music that I have grown to expect from Busythings apps.

This is a simple premise which may seem easy at firs but can become quite difficult in the “Harder” section - that being the most difficult section of this app as these puzzles can seem almost impossible if players lose their way and forget the logic of these puzzles that they have been taught from earlier stages.

Because of this, it would be a great inclusion for the future if a hint of some sort could be included as well as the ability to see the completed puzzle for those who are simply stuck and can’t complete these most complex scenarios.

I also wish that one could see the progress through these levels the way one does in other Busythings apps. Here, one can work his way through the first, most simplistic puzzle to the hardest one possible by playing through, as well as choosing a specific difficulty to start from, but I do prefer a menu page of specific puzzles one has mastered and ones that the user has yet to complete seen in other apps from this series.

Having said this, I do appreciate the "Resume" Button included in the main menu, but I find it confusing that although the number of characters and islands to match up are maintained where players left off, the puzzles generated seem to be at random, great for replay, but not when one wants to try their hand as the last puzzle they were working on.

Even with this note, Path Puzzler is a wonderful puzzle app that will appeal to those who love mazes as well as others who enjoy logic games. The styling keeps this app light and charming for kids, but adults will find themselves equally addicted as I did while working my way through the most difficult “Harder” section long after my test for this app was complete.

I am a huge fan of the other Busythings apps as they tend to be highly thoughtful, many of them helping children and adults work on problem solving skills. There is also a heavy emphasis on quirky details, and they are a whole lot of fun.

Time with Busythings apps is not time wasted. These are apps that should be looked into by parents as well as educators. Do search for my reviews of many of these Busythings apps here at GiggleApps.

It never ceases to amaze me how little the public seems to be aware of these Busythings apps. They are of a remarkable quality, full of charm, with a cartoony atmosphere and are also immensely educational. I highly recommend Path Puzzler as well as Busythings other interactive applications.

Coolson's Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on July 3rd, 2013
iPad App - Designed for iPad

As some readers may have noticed, I do not personally review many word games. Very few word games gain my attention because I am terrible at these types of puzzles, finding them for the most part frustrating and demoralizing.

Therefore, it is quite a compliment from me to have enjoyed reviewing Coolson's Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet as it is a word game that has won me over with a charming narrative, wonderful sense of style and an abundance of whimsy that I have greatly enjoyed.

This app can be played as a straight word game with the Whimsy mode turned off or kept on to enjoy this game in a charming and fun context of a young adult looking for work when he is hired by Coolson’s chocolate factory where artisan chocolate squares are produced. Your job is to pack boxes with these chocolates, but you take it upon yourself to pack these boxes creating 2-5 letter words, many of which interconnect to create crossword-style shapes.

Simply drag the letters one wishes to play off the conveyer belt and place them in empty letter boxes, but do try not to let any chocolates fall off the conveyer belt and into the garbage as one loses accomplishment stars, although this game can be played long after these stars are lost.

For many levels, this game works for me, as the building of 2-5 letter words is less about spelling and the understanding of English language nuances such as where vowels and consonants are most commonly placed to think ahead, especially in terms of the interconnecting words one tries to plan ahead for.

I adore the charming illustrations that tell this story, the character of the boss, Mr. Coolson, a penguin with a gruff demeanor, and the scenes showing how the main character in this story spends the weekend - all delightful moments that kept me playing.

These illustrations, drawn by hand and presumably outlined in ink and colored with watercolors, are splendid, with lettering just as appealing, telling this very nice story that really drew me into this game.

I must confess that I have only finished the first month of this game, structured into three months as seen on a calendar of days that one works at Coolson’s. At first I really enjoyed the challenge and although I was not always quick at these tasks, I was able to happily muddle through these crossword-styled puzzles.

I do feel it is best to think about these word games fluidly as if one is married to a specific that one is trying to spell, as this way the game can seem dragged out and difficult, so it is far better to let the letters inspire words, finding the balance between planning ahead and the willingness to move things around when new letters become available.

Having said this, there are points later in this game where I have multiple intersecting words completed, and I am looking for a single letter which never comes - typical letters such as a “T,” “N,” or “S,” letters often chosen at the end of Wheel of Fortune for their commonness, including vowels such as “A’” or “E.”

Now I am all for changing the word I am trying to spell from “STOLE,” to “STORE,” or “SPOKE,” maintaining the other intersected word's wholeness, but there are times when none of these letters I need are offered, only the same letters unhelpful in the situation seen multiple times repeated, so I change the word I am trying to spell - if not the entire intersecting puzzle itself - and now new letters which are not useful are offered, including those I could have used before changes.

There are moments when this plays out where I ask for not easier game play, not fewer intersecting words, or fewer five-letter spellings, but for more, dare I say, “fairness” in these puzzles, as it can feel as if one is playing against a child who enjoys cheating, as I wait for minutes, as a test, for a letter remotely useable sent onto the conveyer belt, delayed as if by spite.

Harsh words, I know. Do understand that I find creating the word “cat” during Scrabble an accomplishment, so I am not truly the core audience for this or other apps like it, although I am pleased to say I had my moments while being on a roll where I collected achievement stars - moments I am proud of, making the delightful narrative scenes directly after all the more satisfying.

I am sure that seasoned word puzzlers would not have the level of difficulty any other way, and it is a compliment, even if a backwards one, to say that this app has upset me, as I typically would never get involved enough in a word puzzle app to care before deleting it from my iPad.

I would love to see a “relax” mode where the letters are found on the conveyer belt that represent how often the letter is used in the English language, with no letter being unseen within 26 random letters offered, instead of the withholding of important letters that I came across during these later puzzle levels.

On another note, I am very happy to report that the cut scenes starring the lead of this game and Coolson himself be seen in the Break Room found on the main menu of this app - good to know if you would prefer to play this game without interruption or would like to view the witty animation without completing each of these levels. I would also love to see how each weekend is spent as well - illustrations I greatly enjoy - as well as any other illustrated moments possible not already shown in the Break Room.

Also of note is the chance to battle both another player sharing the same iPad or with a stranger over the internet mode that I for obvious reasons have never tried. I will do so, however with my son when he gets old enough to play this game - in late grade school I assume. Soon after he will probably leave me in the dust unless he too inherits my lack of spelling ability.

Although I found frustration during parts of this game, I cannot talk highly enough about Coolson's Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet, especially for those good at word puzzles in general, as I am not.

I do, however, greatly and whole-heartedly appreciate the included narrative and cartoon-like, hand-drawn illustrations. This app is wonderfully realized for the app these developers envisioned. I would love to see a “Beginner” mode included in the future as well.

Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on June 3rd, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe is a unique and highly engaging problem solving puzzle app for children as well as adults.

Meet Pettson and his cat Findus, and help them build fantastical contraptions while keeping in mind the laws of physics as players add different parts to the machine-like cogs and belts as well as unique items such as a ramp made out of cheese or a flower pot.

It is tempting to compare Pettson’s Intentions to a Rube Goldberg machine, and although I think this comparison has some merit, I do not believe it is spot-on as Rube Goldberg device solve simple daily problems such as turning on a light switch with the use of a convoluted and over-built invention. Here, however, there is more of a sense of nonsense as one may devise a way to open and close monster cages as the creatures when loose may scare an animal making it run, pulling a lever behind them, watering flowers to make them instantly grow which may lure a cow to graze, as well as tasks that could include washing a pig or making it snow around the house with the use of an ice cream cone and a windmill.

This deluxe app consists of the content of Pettson’s inventions 1 and 2 and includes six new puzzles as well as the ability to race the clock to play against someone as the screen of the iPad is then split and users play head-to-head on the same device.

It is worth noting that this app has a few really important options, as one can get a visual hint of how to solve the problem at hand by not just being told the object, but by also seeing a visual clue allowing users to see what it looks like to make a dragon happy instead of just hearing the description. Another option is to having only the parts needed for the specific invention or including other items that will not be needed for the puzzle, thus increasing the difficulty of these sections.

When ready to work on these puzzles, one will note that certain clues are given throughout, as pins to attach gears may be included, or there may already be gears within the invention that one needs to attach a belt to as well as pipes in need of being fitted or pulleys which take shape when dragged onto the invention area of the page, center screen, as all the items to be used in these contraptions can be seen lining the perimeter of the page.

As one becomes more familiar with these puzzles, the tools one can add to the inventions will become more familiar as they work consistently the same way from puzzle to puzzle, also noting that there is some color coding that is also included - a nice touch.

I also appreciate how the power to these inventions can be turned on while building to see how the plans are working so far, allowing players to see what more needs to be done.

For the most part, I find the level of difficulty in this app good, and I have been able to solve the majority of these puzzles on my own without too much frustration.

It is nice to know that one can find walk-throughs of much of this app on line if needed, as I did for a scene where one needs to suspend a weight in mid air, and I could not find the sweet spot from which to hang the anvil. It would be nice if the app had help like this within the app as well for children who may feel stuck.

Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe is a wonderful app for logic and problem solving. The inventions one creates are highly creative, and I am quite fond of all the quirky details found within.