Picky Kid Rating: 3.5
Ladybug Number Count is our new favorite counting game for kids ages 2 and under. We love the photography, and the playful way the the ladybugs “hide” (just barely) makes them irresistible for young toddlers. The downside is that this feels like a “baby game”, so older kids (ahem, three and a half year olds) may find it too simple.
When you first start the game, you’ll be greeted by three ladybugs who invite you to count in English (American), French or Spanish. Tap a ladybug to hear which language you’re selecting (it’s written too, but that doesn’t help kids who can’t yet read). When you’ve selected a language, tap the big green arrow to go to the next screen. Two more ladybugs march on screen, and you’ll decide which game mode you want to play. The choices are “Touch the ladybugs” or “Touch the number that matches.” Pick the one you want by tapping it, then tap the big green arrow to start playing.
You’ll see a photo with some ladybugs in it, and a narrated instruction, e.g. “How many ladybugs are climbing the mountain? Touch the number that matches.” But don’t start tapping right away! You’ll need to wait for the scene to “zoom in” to a closer crop where you can see the ladybugs more easily. Unfortunately, there’s some load time here, and the loading icon is tiny and in the bottom right of the screen, so it’s not obvious that anything is going on. But eventually, the next scene will load, and you’ll see several adorable ladybugs crawling around.
What you need to do depends on what game you selected earlier. In “Touch the Ladybugs” or Counting mode, tap each ladybug. When you do, a voice-over will count, and the numeral representing that number will appear. Numerals will stay on the screen until you’ve counted all the ladybugs. (Look out, some of them might be trying to hide!) You’ll know you have it right when the voiceover repeats the last number and states something to the effect of “There are four ladybugs building a robot.” Then you’ll get the green arrow to go on to the next scene.
If you’re playing “Touch the number that matches” or Number Recognition mode, things work a bit differently. You’ll see three numerals at the top each photo, and your goal is to tap the number that corresponds to the quantity of ladybugs in the scene. If you pick the wrong number, you’ll be gently told “There aren’t that many here” or “There are more ladybugs than that here”. When you pick the correct number, you’ll get a green arrow in the lower right to go on to the next scene.
Tapping the gold arrow in the upper left will take you all the way back to the home screen, where you can reset your language and game mode. There’s also a “grownups” area on the home page, which includes instructions on how to use the app and support info. You must tap the gold arrow to leave this screen, and it’s a bit annoying because the whole home screen animation restarts when you do. It better if you could simply tap off this screen and return to the home screen the way you’d left it.
For the most part, this app is nicely designed. We love the use of photography and stop-action style animation for ladybugs in the various scenes. We love the way the ladybugs move around — it’s not too fast, but gives some visual interest to toddlers and is even somewhat realistic — just like they’d be trying to catch an ant on the ground. We like the fact that it’s sometimes a bit hard to see all the ladybugs at first. They have a tendency to hide a little bit, especially behind the shovel in the sandcastle scene. Since we’re picky though, we’d like it if the number of ladybugs in the introductory photo matched the number of ladybugs in the scene. The introductory photo for the hopscotch scene quite obviously shows five ladybugs, but when the counting scene appears, there may be 2 or 10, or anything in between!
We think the voiceovers could be improved. The voices (adult females for all languages) are fine, though a bit dry and teacher-like. Nice enough, but not particularly warm or engaging… But what really bothers us is the choppiness. Sentences are spliced together from different samples, making things sound a bit robotic at times, for example “There are.” “nine.” “ladybugs.” “playing hopscotch.” There’s also no emphasis given to numbers while counting, so kids don’t get the benefit of an excited pause when they’re nearly finished. Other sounds are used sparingly in the game, and there’s no background music.
Currently, Ladybug Number Count is quite limited — it counts only up to ten, and there are only five different counting scenes. And you only get to count ladybugs. Because of this, preschoolers or more experienced toddlers may get bored. But this app could be a huge hit with the nearly-two crowd.
Since it appeals to the very youngest audiences, this game would be better with a simplified user experience. We’d suggest pulling the language and mode settings onto the “grownups” screen so that parents could set the game once, and then toddlers could simply play without going through the various steps to set the game up.
Overall, Ladybug Number Count is a very nice app for toddlers learning to count up to ten. Its appeal wanes for older kids expecting more complex activities and more depth. But this is a good value for $0.99, and it won’t annoy parents too much.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Ladybug Number Count iPad App,
Played on: ipad 2, iOS6
- Busy Brain Media