Hidden gems are those apps that don't show up in your Twitter or Facebook feed eleven times in a single day. They may come from indie or first time developers. What they have in common is the ability to make you say, "Wow, I'm so glad I found this app!" Some of our nominees are so hidden they've never been on our page before so get in on the secret now.
An Animal alphabet by Jason Walters ($.99 iPad/iPhone). I take full credit for this find and making it a Good Free App of the Day. It raced up Ron's charts but then went to paid. It rises far above similar A is for alligator, B is for bear books due to its spectacular Eric Carle like artwork and poetic alliteration. It also has very realistic sounds for each featured animal. This is well-worth the modest price and can be enjoyed by users of all ages.
Draw a House by Urban Sedlar (Free, iPad only). This is one of the few free apps to have completely flown under the radar. It's similar to fan favorite Felt Board. Kids get a choice of backgrounds and all the building blocks necessary to design a dream house. Of course, that may mean a Hershey Kiss shaped roof, or eyeballs for windows. The colors used are vivid and allow creations to really take on a Wonderland quality. If the dreary winter is getting you down, this app will put a smile on your face and that of your children.
Joue avec Paul Cezanne by JOUE AVEC ($4.99 iPad only). Any app that has Chinese or Korean lettering in its description generally gets an automatic pass from me. This gem is only in French, but the interface is easy enough to understand that language isn't that much of a barrier. Play with Cezanne allows aspiring artists to break down famous Impressionist works from Cezanne and recreate them using their own original compositions. So take a still-life and remove all the fruit, bowls and pitchers from the draped table. Then pick and choose the elements you want, resize them, and arrange however you like to create an entirely new canvas. I love art so this one fascinates me and it's a great lesson in perspective, color and balance that would interest older students.
Miracle Modus by Seebs, LLC. (Free iPad/iPhone) Deanne unearthed this magical little app and I'm so happy to have it on my device. Some days you just need a breather and some tension erasing lights and colors to make the bad mojo go away for a while. For those with autism or sensory processing disorder, it's even more critical to have a self-regulating tool at hand. Leave it to someone with autism to create something so special and one of a kind.
Little Digits by Cowly Owl Ltd. ($1.99 iPad only). It seems a bit odd to call an app featured in the Apple Store and on Time Magazine's Top 25 Apps for Kids list as a hidden gem, but I had never seen the app or heard any buzz about it in Appland until Lisa R. mentioned it a few days ago. Needless to say, that's going to change. Little Digits uses the iPad's multi-touch technology to allow kids to literally count with their fingers. Put four fingers on the iPad surface and the number 4 (with arms and legs and eyes mind you) appears. As more fingers are added the number changes. You must be smart enough to follow directions and disable muli-touch gestures for it to work but it works fine so ignore those silly iTunes ratings. It's even possible to do simple addition and subtraction with the app. This brings a new meaning to Touch Math.