Picky Kid Rating: 2.0
We try to purchase apps that we think will be good ones — that’s why you see generally positive (though, we admit, picky!) feedback in our reviews. Unfortunately, in the case of Preschool Fun, we failed. Preschool Fun has lots of learning activities that would be good for preschoolers, but it’s difficult to use, not great to look at, and has some majorly annoying audio bugs. Try the free version if you’re curious, but buyer beware…
Oh my, where to start? Let’s start with the positives.
Preschool Fun (when you purchase the full version) has lots of age-appropriate activities that can entertain and educate your preschool-age kid. To access them, you’ll first need to tap the arrow on the splash screen. Problem #1 of many: the arrow is fairly small and you must tap it precisely. You’ll come to a scene illustrating a classroom. Almost every element in the scene is interactive. Tapping some objects will lead you to activities, while others will animate around the scene. More differentiation between the objects which lead to activities and those that don’t, would make this screen more usable.
From the classroom scene (clockwise from upper left), you can:
- Tap the spider to play with a spider. All you can do in this activity is watch the spider wander around its web, and tap it. Prepare to be startled when you tap it. Yep, too scary.
- Tap the landscape picture on the wall to pop some balloons in a simple but pleasant outdoor scene. (Good for very young players, boring for everyone else.)
- Tap the window to do some farm-animal themed puzzles. Then tap a white blob to start a puzzle.
- Tap the chalkboard to learn the alphabet. Then tap on a letter to see how it’s written in upper and lower case, and for a letter-related interactive experience or animation. These are all different, and some are better than others. In C (for “crayon”) you can draw with colored pencils. We can’t make L (for “light”) do anything except show a black screen.
- Tap the picture of the kid to spell your name and practice writing it.
- Tap the piano, guitar or drum to play music on a piano. Your music will be notated as you play, or you can select from one of five songs (by tapping the stars — that’s rather obtuse!) to play. (Correction: there are actually only four songs because Au clair de la Lune sounds exactly the same as Ode to Joy.)
- Tap the paint palette to do coloring activities — you’re trying to match the model shown.
- Tap the number blocks to learn numbers. Then tap on an individual block to practice writing numbers and counting. The activities are different for each number and of varying quality.
From any activity, tap the orange “back” arrow in the lower left of the activity screen to return to the classroom. You may need to tap it twice if the activity has its own start screen.
That’s a lot of activities, and this would be a great app if they worked better, and had a consistent user experience! In addition to the problems noted above, here are some more:
- Numbers activity, #9. The last butterfly doesn’t disappear when counted so it’s not obvious that you’re “done”.
- Voicovers talk over themselves a lot — making it hard to hear. The worst culprit is the #3 activity, but many of the number games have similar problems.
- In several activities, particularly the coloring game, the tappable areas are too small, even for preschool fingers. This app would play better with a stylus. Perhaps that’s the intent.
- In the music activity, the Frere Jacques tune is played off-key and with the wrong rhythm. It sounds really horrible. We tried switching instruments to make it better. No luck.
The activity that works the best is the writing practice. You can get the name-writing practice in the free version of the app, but the rest of the activities will be limited. Before you purchase the full version of the app, take into account what we’ve said above, plus…
The visual style for this game is a total mish-mash. It’s not cohesive at all — it seems as if a bunch of folks (students, perhaps?) independently created various screens and animations, and they were all thrown together. Some illustrations are great, but others are really poorly done. The experiences and content are of varying quality too. Some are good, while others make you scratch your head.
The voiceovers, at least, are consistent. (Except for the one that narrates “zero” fingers on the #5 activity — where did that freaky voice come from?!) Occasionally the accent is difficult for American kids to understand, usually because the narrator is talking over herself. The other sound effects are fine, but mostly too loud compared to the voiceover.
Although we like the writing activities and the full version of the app has lots to do, we don’t recommend Preschool Fun. The bugs, user experience issues, and generally poor execution aren’t worth it. If you check out the free version, be prepared to say “no” to the in-app purchase when your kid starts hounding you for it.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Preschool Fun iPad App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS6
- Luzac Media
Price: Free for limited play; $2.99 for full game