Picky Kid Rating: 4.2
Well, after a year of critiquing iPad apps for toddler and preschoolers, it’s time for a taste of our own medicine… That’s right, the Picky Kids have gotten involved with creating an app! Lots2Spot is an adorable “listen & find” game that helps build vocabulary, and teaches colors and counting up to five. Of course, we’d love to give this app a perfect five rating… but we can’t help be be a little biased… so we’re leaving the rating up to someone else and getting a guest reviewer to keep us in line.
Update April 2013 — Here’s what guest reviewer Josie Chaney has to say:
Lots2Spot is a really cute little app that we play to help our 3-year-old boy identify objects, textures, orientation and quantity. It’s an amazing introduction to pre-math skills and has even helped him understand a few of our other kids’ math games a bit better.
The icons are all fun and are a combination of everyday objects and images popular with kids, like animals, toys and food. The hints are great and work really well for my son. It’s nice to have an identification game that doesn’t just tell the child they lose if they miss a certain number of matches. They get to try for as long as they want and are helped along with by gently shaking icons. The goal of this app is clearly learning, and it fulfills that goal with a lot of fun and style.
The color scheme is great, and the graphics are clear and entertaining, even the “wet” an “dirty” mini-graphics. We really liked the qualifiers of dirty and wet, upside down, et al. It tests a toddler’s comprehension of real-world texture, context, orientation and quantity, combining a couple of qualifiers at a time, so it’s not frustratingly hard. The only thing that confused us a bit is that some of the colors don’t match how we think of them. For example, the orange giraffe looks more yellow; the “red beans” look brown; an the purple is more of an indigo. It really doesn’t detract from the game overall though.
The sound is good, and it’s nice to have a youth’s voice describe the objects. The sound level is a little lower than a lot of apps, but it’s not a problem unless there’s a lot of surrounding noise. We also like the variation in phrasing, e.g. Can you find the pig? The conversational tone is more engaging and seems more like we’re playing the game with a friend. The error message is a soft, intuitive “uh oh,” which everyone understands.
Our son really enjoys learning, and this little app lets us do that in a way that seems like we’re just spending time playing together.
Thanks Josie – for helping us objectively review Lots2Spot! OK, back to the Picky Kid’s description:
When you first start the app, you’ll come to a home screen where you can tap stacks of blocks to select one of three levels, or you can control settings by holding down two settings icons on the lower corners of the screen. This is an effective way to keep kids from accidentally pulling up the settings screen (aren’t we smart?).
Level one is essentially “baby mode” — it’s a simple flashcard slideshow, with illustrated objects and voiceovers. Kids can swipe forward or back to advance the slides, or simply watch and wait. Tapping an object will replay the voiceover. After 20 slides or so, the cycle will end with a “Yay!” and a prompt to play more. This offers a natural “breaking point” for kids to choose to stop playing (or parents to intervene).
Level 2 is more sophisticated. Here, you’ll see multiple objects, and be given instructions to find something (for example “Where’s the turtle?”) via narration and writing. At first, it seems easy, since there are just a few objects on the screen. But as time goes on, the screen fills with up to 28 objects, and finding things gets harder… Especially because you may be challenged not just to find the turtle, but to “find the orange turtle” or “find the wet turtle,” learning colors and adjectives as you play. If you can’t find an object right away, you’ll be given a clue, and when you tap the correct object, it disappears with a satisfying Ding! Eventually, you’ll “clean up” the screen by finding all objects and be rewarded with a cheer.
Level 3 is even more difficult (or should I say less easy?). You’ll see up to 40 objects, and now, in addition to finding colored, wet, and upside-down things, you may be asked to find more than one at a time! If you’re prompted to find five flip-flops, don’t forget that they may be pink, yellow, wet, dirty, etc… in other words, they may not all look the same! As you find objects, the voiceover counts them with the same emphasis you’d use if counting things yourself: one, two, three… (oh, the anticipation!), FOUR! This rhythm (plus the bubbles at the top of the screen that “check off” as items are found), helps kids understand where they are in the set.
During any game, you may return to the home screen by tapping the number “block”/level indicator in the upper left of the screen. This will allow you to change levels or adjust settings.
You can adjust the settings to make the game easier or harder. “Spotting Challenges” for colors or other adjectives may be toggled on or off, and you may also turn off voiceover instructions for kids who are learning to read. The voiceovers and text are currently available in (American) English only. (You’ll also find a link to the developers Web site and a shout-out to this one on the settings screen.)
What about design, you ask? Well, (what can we say?) we think it’s great! The goal with design was “cute AND sophisticated, something that will make you smile…” and we think we nailed it! There will be other opinions of course.Review: Lots2Spot iPad app,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS5