Bottom Line: Nicely done FREE app to help teach Bible verses and a Christian song to toddlers through kindergarteners. Sunday school was never this much fun when I was a kid.
If you want to share your faith with your children, download Jesus Loves Me (Free, iPad/iPhone) using the following link which supports Smart Apps for Kids:
I hadn't realized, until I first used this app, the shortage of engaging apps with Christian teaching content for kids. Jesus Loves Me, from developer Listener Kids, combines a classic song, some hi-tech karaoke effects and a side of cute cuddly characters to present Bible verses in a kid-friendly way. They have a solid understanding of how kids learn and have set the bar high for future app development with Christian content for young kids.
The app has four different sections: a music video, karaoke, Bible verses, and a game. The video section is a sweet, gentle performance featuring "Jesus Loves Me" sung by children. The beautifully animated characters wake up slowly in a snowy forest and travel to see the sunrise. Along the way a rabbit plays a carrot flute and a spider plucks his web to the tune. This video is also available on YouTube.
In the karaoke section, the user can choose 4 mixes: Original, Dance Remix, Hip-Hop Remix, and Video Game Remix. The song can be recorded with or without background singers. I highly recommend without background for a better sound—Hip Hop with the cutesy character voices isn't all that authentic. However, for those who aren't ready to independently sing the melody or know when to start by following the highlighted words, the background singers are nice. The four styles are a nice touch, and keep parents from having too much of a good thing—if your kids are anything like my daughter, a parent could get awfully tired of "Jesus Loves Me" without this slight variety in style!
I love the addition of the highlighted words (nicely mixing in education!) and the use of the iPad's microphone. It would be even better if there was a video option—I'm not sure my daughter would ever stop! I'm hoping they add more songs to this app, too. One song just leaves me wanting more.
The Bible verse section is truly the best I have seen for presenting Christian education to kids. Scarlett (a rabbit) says a Bible verse in a kid-friendly version, like 1 John 4:19: We love because he first loved us." Jack, an energetic squirrel, provides a kid-friendly interpretation of the verse: "That's like saying God gave us a treasure box filled with lots and lots of love so that we could fill it up and share it with other people!"
While Jack talks, there are visual cues for the verse. A treasure chest represents 1 John 4:19, and hearts pour out of it to represent love. On another verse, God's comforting love is compared to a furry little puppy, shown jumping into a bed to calm nighttime fears. The developer has done a commendable job conveying abstract concepts like faith, which may be difficult for children to grasp and frankly have challenged for philosophers for centuries.
These verses are visually engaging, and the interpretations provide a great way to help them stick in kids' minds. This section would be even better if the verse was presented with text while Scarlett was reciting. This would help kids who are more visual learners to memorize the verse itself. But the combination of the verse with interpretation and visual cues is a great way to help kids memorize (and, let's be honest, will probably help parents learn the verses, too!)
Again, it leaves me wanting more—the six verses are nice, but why stop there? There are over 30,000 verses in the Bible (yeah, I Googled that). Sure, some of them aren't exactly useful for kids to memorize, but there are plenty that are. I hope they keep adding Jack and Scarlett verses to this app.
The app also has a simple memory game, using the same symbols that are used in the Bible verse section and video. It's not exactly an exciting game, but young kids will enjoy it. It is also useful for practicing the memorization, if played with adult support. After making a match, the child could be asked to recite the verse associated with the picture.
Jesus Loves Me is a safe app with no external links—children can send their recordings using the iPad's email. There is a parent section on the home screen of the app, but there was nothing available there to see. I hope that if the developer adds content, they continue to keep this app safe for independent play by leaving off social media links.
I hope to see Listener Kids developing even more apps, especially if they continue to use make such good use of the iPad's features. Their creative take on education (in this case, learning about Bible verses) and diving into the relatively uncharted waters of Christian content is great to see. Jesus Loves Me will definitely be used in my Sunday school teaching soon. It's a good reminder of what Christmas is really all about so check it out.
Heather Hetler is a mom to three kids (11, 8, 5) and wife to a pastor. When she's not working as a Speech-Language Pathologist, she can often be found teaching Sunday school. She now is working on memorizing six Bible verses. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.