Bottom Line: Seek-and-find vocabulary app with a lot of potential (and a free trial) that more audio labeling to be able to support independent play.
Fido Goes Places is a seek-and-find app by Little Learning Tots designed for 2-5 year olds. Toddlers and preschoolers use visual discrimination to help a cute little monkey named Fido find all sorts of misplaced items. The basic app is free, allowing the child to find items like a bucket, starfish, and ship on a beach. An in-app purchase for $1.99 gives access to four more areas: a carnival, a park, a farm, and a mall. This review is for the full app, assuming the $1.99 in-app purchase.
Game play is simple and is presented in a one-page visual tutorial under an info button located in the bottom right corner. The child chooses a location and finds the items on the list by tapping each object twice—once to select it and once to confirm. Some of items are small (some a bit too small) and they are close together, so the multi-tap is a nice feature.
Each area has 25 items to find, and each time it is played eight items are listed. Once all eight listed items are found, a trophy is presented. The game can be played even after all 25 items are found and progress can also be manually reset on each level by clicking a small button on the bottom right.
The items are randomly chosen, and successive plays will repeat some items, but not all. In addition, the position of some items is changed in each game. This is a great feature for kids who tend to quickly memorize as each time they play it will be different, challenging their visual perception.
The treasure chest (accessed by the icon in the top right corner on the game play screen, or from the trophy screen after finding eight items) shows all the items to find, in color if they have been found, and in shadow if they haven’t. Tapping the items names them, but this is the only time the items are named in the game play. They are not named on the play screen when tapped, and the list of items to be found has no audio component, either.
In the bottom right corner, there are three icons always visible—tap the speaker symbol to mute the music and leave just the game play sounds. The background music is fun and, even when on, doesn’t play continually. Sometimes there were simply appropriate environmental sounds, such as soothing ocean sounds at the beach, and birds chirping in the park.
In the top right corner, there are buttons for hints (three per game, but they have the app show the child exactly where something is rather than giving them a hint), the aforementioned link to the treasure chest page, and a button to view the overall map.
This app has good potential for speech-language therapy. I used it to work on specific sounds as the items were found, to develop vocabulary with the 125 items, and to work on categorization—what belongs on a farm, or on the beach, for example. It was also good as a turn-taking activity, and for general play-time. Even though the app is targeted to 2-5 year olds, the K-1 students enjoyed it a lot.
Some of the vocabulary will seem off to an someone used to American English. The farm had the typical farm animals like a chicken, cow, and duck, but also included mango. (I only wish I could grow a mango on a farm in Indiana!) There were also spectacles (glasses), a "can drink” (soda or pop), trolley (shopping cart), and a pram (stroller), to name a few. Others were hyphenated in odd places, such as “ice-cream” and “water-melon”, and a soccer ball was labeled as a football. Since this app is designed to play with an adult, this wasn’t really an issue. I just changed the vocabulary to the more familiar term when helping my 4-½ year old daughter play.
This app is a fun vocabulary-building exercise, but it is not designed for independent play by the target age because there are no audio cues to find the items. My 4-½ year old loved it, and would probably play it alone, but I had to tell her one by one what item to find since she couldn’t read the list. When I got distracted, she randomly tapped and found three items, but here was little developmental growth for her when playing alone. An audio component, having each item on the list spoken when pressed would make this app much more flexible as a shared experience or for individual play.
Parents should also note that this is an in-app purchase, and clicking any of the very-visible locked lands will lead directly to the app store. However, there are no links to Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, making this a much safer app than many others.
All in all, this is an enjoyable solid app. If you have a child in the targeted age of 2-5, or an older child who would benefit from the vocabulary development, definitely download the demo and give it a try!
If you would like to purchase Fido Goes Places please use the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!
This review was written by Heather Hetler, a mom of three kids and a speech-language pathology graduate student. Heather’s list of items to find often includes books, paperwork, gym uniforms, and her mind. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.