Kids Corner Review: Toddler Time
Toddler Time, by Alexander Barker
• Some basic learning tools for children
• Includes a variety of subjects (numbers, colors, shapes, and animals)
• Does not include letters
• No change in game “mode” (such as a quiz mode)
[Comment: Before the start of this semester, I received a few promo codes to review apps. I am working my way through the backlog. This app may have given me a promo code, I am sure. Normally I have a disclaimer stating if a promo code has been received, but due to the reasons mentioned, I am not including this disclaimer]
Toddler Time is a learning app aimed at children ages 2 to 4. It is supposed to introduce them to basic ideas and concepts: numbers, colors, animals, and shapes. Each subject area has ten screen showing one of the subject (10 different animals, for example). Tapping on the picture will have a voice respond with what the object is (for colors and numbers, both the item and the adjective is repeated. “Green apple” or “Two butterflies”). The child can move through the different screens and learns the various concepts (ideally). At any point the child can tap the screen to get one of the four characters (butterfly, ladybird, snail, or butterfly) to fly on the screen. They don’t serve any purpose other than that.
Okay, quick side note here. There is a mistake with the animals. One of the pictures shows a chimpanzee, but the label (and the voice) call it a monkey. This is not correct. A chimpanzee is a primate, as are monkeys, but chimpanzees are in the family Hominidae, and monkeys are not (monkeys are either family Cercopithecidae or family parvorder Platyrrhini). If we are teaching, let’s get it correct!
Because of the young target audience, this app will probably have to be controlled by the parent, as the child will not know concepts like “next” to move to the next screen. The pictures the app uses a nice and clear, so it should be easy for a child to start to associate the images with the words. The fact the words are also written out is nice as well, as the child may start to associate the words with the letters. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t include letter recognition so it doesn’t help the child learn the letters for reading.
One minor pet peeve – the voice speaks British English. This isn’t a major problem, but there are some differences in pronunciation. The app has version for multiple languages (French, Spanish, Italian, German) so I suggest they also come out with different English versions.
I wish the app had multiple modes of play. For example, a mode where the child had to match the color or shape. Or one where the child has to identify the correct color. Simply repeating the colors and shapes is great for initial learning, but without taking it to the next step (testing the learning) the app is limited as a long term educational tool.
All in all, this is a nice app to begin the process of helping children learn things like colors, numbers, shapes, and animals. While lacking an obvious “letter” learning module, the app does a good job presenting the different concepts in age appropriate context. Unfortunately there is no other mode to play than simply repeating the phrases that are uttered by the iPhone. For $1.99, it is slightly more expensive than the normal children-oriented apps, but it does it’s job well. If you are looking for an app that you can use with your child to teach them these concepts, the app may be just right for you. Three and a half out of five stars. (almost four stars)
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.