Picky Kid Rating: 4.4
If you’ve been following the Picky Kids for a bit, you’ll know that we’ve been searching for the perfect counting app. Tally Tots is darned near there! It’s interactive and engaging, and really well done. Of course, we have a picky reputation to uphold, so we’ve found some minor things to quibble about below… But our quest for the best in this genre may be over.
Tally Tots teaches counting and numbers up to twenty with animated scenes where kids can interact with various objects. When you first start the app (and after tapping the splash screen to “start”), you’ll see the numbers 1 through 20 laid out like little cards. Beneath that, there are a few other tappable icons: Some music notes (to start a song), “1 2 3” (to practice counting up to 100), and the developer’s logo (to see other apps from Spinlight Studio). The obvious place to start is to tap a number.
When you tap on a number, the scene changes — it looks like a sky with number “cards” at the top an bottom. First, an airplane flies through the sky with a number banner. Then, you’ll count to the number with the narrator. As the numbers are spoken, numerals appear on screen, and red dotted line indicates the corresponding number card. This counting can take a while, especially if you’ve selected 20, but the repetition is good for toddlers. One thing that could be improved would be narration with the emphasis on the last number — it would sound a bit more natural.
When the counting is complete, you’ll get to interact with the scene. These are different for every number, and some of them are really fun! My personal favorite is 11, where you get to roll 11 marbles down a ramp into a hole. I also like 8, where we can play music on eight different bottles. Voiceover instructions prompt you what to do in each scene, and when you’ve completed the tasks, another voiceover “rewards” you. These are not the typical “YAY!” kind of rewards, they’re more like comments, and some of them are a little obtuse for toddlers, for example, “Happy harvest, see you next summer!” (after picking 16 apples and putting them into a wagon). Rule followers might be confused about what to do next — it’s not explicitly stated.
When you’ve completed a task, you’ll be given the opportunity to go to the previous number or the next one via two number cards that appear on the sides of the screen. You may also navigate to any number at any time; just tap and hold the number at the top or bottom of the screen until the the little ticker says “GO”. This hold action (rather than just a tap) is great for preventing inadvertent taps. You can navigate back to the home screen via an arrow in the upper left, or start the song by tap-and-holding the music notes icon in the lower right.
The song counts to 20 to the tune of Frère Jacques. It’s not too obnoxious, though trying to get “seventeen” to fit on a quarter-note is a little forced. One good thing about the song: While it’s playing, numbers are shown with objects related to their activities in the app. So watching and studying the song is a great way for parents to learn which activity is associated with which number, for those times when your child requests to “hatch the baby chicks please.” Otherwise, you’ll be randomly tapping numbers, waiting for counting, and likely guessing wrong.
A kid’s desire to do a certain activity is a great way for them to learn their numerals. So when B asks about the baby chicks now, I tell her that the baby chicks are number 13 — and she’s starting to recognize it. You can also give a color clue — “13 is light blue” — to help.
Speaking of the baby chicks… they’re too loud when they hatch. And we have other fairly minor content complaints… Please don’t prompt our kids to touch light bulbs (#1). And though I like the battery activity (#4) because you have to match the positive and negative charges, I don’t like my kid handling batteries either. Also, sometimes we’d like to make our sandwich (#7) our own way without putting all seven layers on… and it’s actually a hamburger, not a sandwich.
The graphics and (American English only) voiceovers are fairly well-done. There are no options, and this app doesn’t really need them, except that it might be nice to count in different languages.
This app’s biggest limitation is that the fun part only counts up to twenty. But the game would have to change if the numbers got much higher — it would be rather boring to listen to a narrator count to 35 before anything fun happened…
Kids that are so inclined can practice counting up to 100 by tapping the “1 2 3” icon from the home screen. In this activity, the screen is filled with numerals from 1 to 100, and you can tap them in order to count. You must start at number one, and higher numbers are not available for tapping (they appear “ghosted back”) until you’ve counted up to them. Once you’ve counted to a particular number, all the numbers below it are available for tapping, which will repeat the voiceover — nice for reinforcing number recognition. This activity would be better if you could select a starting point other than 1 (maybe with a tap and hold action), and also if the background color were adjusted slightly so that the blue numbers had more contrast.Review: Tally Tots iPad App,
Played on: iPad 2, iOS5
- Spinlight Studio