Activities 4 Kids 1 is a new app from Technolio with four learning games for preschoolers and young elementary-aged students: Connect the Dots, Find the One That's Different, What Does Not Belong, and What Time Is It? All games can be played in English or Portuguese.
As you might imagine, in Connect the Dots the child draws lines between consecutive numbers, starting and ending at one. A sand castle, hot air balloon, starfish, and other common nouns are depicted. When the picture is complete, it is named and sometimes an extra descriptive sentence is spoken such as “Balloons! Is there a party? Yay!”
The numbers are read as the dots are connected correctly, and if the line is drawn to the wrong number, it does not attach. When the puzzle is complete, a full-color picture of the object appears. There are no visual cues if the user is wrong or takes too long.
In Find the One That's Different, four picture cards are shown, with a verbal prompt to find the difference. In one trial, a bird’s nest is missing a bird, while a later attempt shows one nest with a greenish color. In another set of pictures, a bumblebee is missing wings in one try, and one antenna in another.
The pictures in my attempts were all nouns with easy-to-spot differences. This limits vocabulary building with other word classes (such three children jumping with one child swinging, or three soft pillows with one hard piece of wood). This game is most appropriate for younger preschoolers or older children with a language delay. Additional levels would help reach a wider age level.
The What Does Not Belong game shows four different picture cards. Three are in a named category (eel, crab, octopus), and one is not (violin). There is a verbal prompt given (“Which one is not a sea creature?”) Other categories include clothes, numbers, airplanes, zoo animals, and toys.
When the object that doesn’t belong is selected, verbal reinforcement is given (Hooray! Good job! Yay!) However, the object isn’t named, missing a good opportunity to further expand vocabulary. There were also a few grammatical errors, like “Which one are not clothes?”
The fourth game, What Time is it?, shows a cuckoo clock with a digital time next to it—set the cuckoo clock to match the digital (the time is also named). When correct, the cuckoo comes out of the clock and sounds three times, regardless of the hour.
This is the one game where the settings can be changed by turning the minute hand on or off. When off, the time is set to hours only, and appropriate for older preschoolers and kindergarteners. When on, the time can be anything, including 10:25 and 8:50—appropriate for first grade and up, but not at the same level as the rest of the app.
The hour hand is always exactly on the hour, making the game inaccurate. Kids in first and even second grade have difficulty reading and setting a clock when the hour hand is between numbers and using this app won't provide a solid foundation for that issue. The cuckoo clock should also chime the correct number of times on the hour.
There aren’t many settings in this app, and they are not conveniently located. In order to change settings once the game has started, the user has to navigate back to the opening title screen and leave the game play area. Besides the minute hand, the music and sound effects can also be turned off. However, this wasn’t always true—the cuckoo clock still chimes when sound effects are turned off.
The title screen includes external links. In the For Parents area, there are links to connect to email, Twitter, and Facebook. There are also eight connections to the App Store—one for each of Technolio’s apps.
The games in this app are solid enough for you to take a look, but several issues, a lack of difficulty levels and no variety in vocabulary makes it very uneven developmentally.
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Heather Hetler is a mom of three kids 5, 8, and 10, and a graduate speech-language pathology student. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.