kids

Thursday 17 July 2014: Ready for Sports DayThis year the geekson was old enough for the first time to be aware of the existence of Sports Day. We took him to watch his sister for her first school sports day last year, but I think he was mostly unaware of what was going on. This year his pre-school held a sports day so he was involved in practising for that for a number of weeks before. Despite all the practice he didn’t get to take part as the actual event was held on a day he doesn’t attend pre-school. I considered taking him in specially for it, until we had this conversation:

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Mr CrabApp Name: Mr Crab

Developer: Illusion Labs

Platform and Price: iOS (Universal – requires iOS 7 and above, however I believe earlier versions will run on original iPad) – Free (with in-app purchases)

App overview: This is a really fun platform-style arcade game. You control a crab who has to make his way to the top of a spinning tower by jumping on platforms on the outside of the tower. The game has a very simple control mechanism – simply tap the screen to make the crab jump. It’s all about timing. On his journey up the tower the crab must collect little baby crabs, and defeat enemies by jumping on their heads

What I like about it: I love the relatively simple mechanic of this game – my son has been playing this for a while now, so an iPad-savvy three year old can play it, but his six and a half year old sister also likes playing, and it’s a game I enjoy too. So it’s a game that appeals to a wide range of ages. I also like the way the in-app purchases are implemented – they are there to help you unlock content quickly, and are not related to consumable items in game, so they’re not something that will encourage your kids to run up huge bills.

What could be better: The only downside I can think of with this app is that if you suffer with motion sickness you might not be able to play due to the constant rotation of the platforms. It doesn’t feel right calling this something that could be better, as it’s a fundamental design principle of the app and not going to change. Something to be aware of though

What parents need to know: This app contains in-app purchases, but they are not pushed at you, or essential for gameplay. The whole game is playable without paying any money. The in app purchases allow you to unlock additional levels of the game without having played all the previous levels, or to unlock additional characters to play. All in-app purchases are in the range of 69p to £1.49.

There are links to other apps by the same developer within the game.

The app is rated suitable for ages 4 and up in the App Store, and contains very minor cartoon violence. To get the bad guys out of the way you must jump onto their heads which makes them fall off the tower. If the crab runs in to a bad guy he doesn’t die, he just falls back down a couple of levels. This makes is easy to work your way back to where you were, and means younger children shouldn’t get too frustrated.

Our Verdict: A really fun game for all ages. Be warned – it’s addictive!

Download link: Mr. Crab on the iTunes App Store (affiliate link)

Disclosure: All information and prices are correct at time of publication, but please check before buying as things can change on the App Store. The download link within this post contains my affiliate code – any purchase made after clicking will be the same price to you but will also result in a small commission payment to me. All money made in this way goes towards the upkeep costs of this site. 


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DipdapApp Name: Dipdap

Developer: Cube Interactive

Platform and Price: iOS (Universal) / Kindle Fire / Android – £1.99

App overview: Dipdap is a fun little drawing app aimed at kids aged between about 2 and 6 years old. It’s based on the CBeebies programme of the same name, although you don’t have to have seen the programme to enjoy the app – we’ve never watched it but that hasn’t stopped the geekson really enjoying this app. Dipdap is a little animated character who makes his way through a number of different scenarios. Each of these opens with a short animation to set the scene, and then it becomes clear that an object is missing, and the child is prompted to draw it (you can elect to have lines for them to trace over or leave it completely freehand). Once drawing is complete, the animation continues to show the end of the little scenario, and your child can see their drawing as part of that. There is the ability to playback the animation and to share with family and friends.

What I like about it: This is cute and humorous app – it makes the geekson giggle when he plays it! The kids love watching their pictures come to life as Dipdap interacts with them.

What could be better: I’d like the option to switch off the sharing button. The ability to share your childs work with family and friends is one of the options at the end of each scenario. Sharing is done through an online Dipdap gallery. To share your work you need to enter an email address in a text box – that email will then receive notification and a link when the work is uploaded. I haven’t managed to get this to work yet.

What parents need to know: Aside from the sharing this app has some parental controls that are accessed by completing a sum which should be difficult enough to keep kids out. In the settings you can enable or disable music, sounds and guide-lines for drawing. Parents should also be aware there is an instructional video on how to use the app accessible on the home page.

Our Verdict: It’s fun, and makes my son giggle. It is also an app that my kids come back to time and time again – another firm favourite!

Download link: Dipdap on the iTunes App Store (affiliate link) - Dipdap on the Google Play StoreDipdap on the Amazon App Store (affiliate link)

Disclosure: All information and prices are correct at time of publication, but please check before buying as things can change on the App Store. The download link within this post contains my affiliate code – any purchase made after clicking will be the same price to you but will also result in a small commission payment to me. All money made in this way goes towards the upkeep costs of this site. I was provided with a free copy of Dipdap for review purposes.


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Next Summer 14 kids event logoOver the Easter holidays we were invited by Next to their Head Office to view the new Spring/Summer collection for kids in their “Mock Shop”. The geekdaughter and I have been to a couple of events hosted by Next previously, but this is the first one I felt brave enough to take both kids along to. The geekson deserves some fun too, after all. We had a good time, and although it was definitely more challenging with attempting to wrangle two kids and check out the new lines, I managed to get a good feel for the Spring/Summer collection, and wanted to share the things we liked best with you.

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App Review: Sago Mini Forest Flyer (iOS)

December 13, 2013

Have you heard of Sago Sago toys yet? If not, you’re about to! They are a Canadian app developer who specialise in making apps for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Oh, and they were recently bought by Toca Boca (who I may have mentioned here once or twice before…!). My first experience with Sago Sago was when […]

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Book Review: The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name from Lostmy.Name

December 10, 2013

I was contacted via Twitter a couple of months ago and asked if I’d like to review a personalised story book. I’m always keen to show that geeks love books as well as gadgets, and so I agreed. I was given a code which allowed me to order two personalised books from the LostMy.Name web […]

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Two New Toca Boca Apps – Toca Mini and Toca Hair Salon Me #review

November 29, 2013

It’s a bold claim when a company emails you describing themselves as “The World’s Leading Digital Toy Developer”, but when that company is Swedish app developer Toca Boca, it’s completely justified. After all, this is a company that has recently celebrated 50 million worldwide downloads of its apps, all of which appear to be universally […]

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A weird day of solo parenting

November 12, 2013

On Saturday the geekdaddy was out all day at the Doki Doki Japenese festival in Manchester. He set out about 8am and didn’t get back until just before bedtime. So I had a day wrangling the kids on my own. I’ve done that enough now that it doesn’t faze me at all, but for some […]

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App Review: Toca Cars

September 18, 2013

I may have mentioned once or twice before that the geek family are huge fans of Toca Boca apps on iOS (and now slowly coming to Android as well). They are one of a small handful of kids app developers who I will happily buy anything they produce. Imagine our excitement when we heard that […]

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Dear kids app developers – remember the other 7%

August 31, 2013

In June Apple held a World Wide Developers Conference, or WWDC. A number of new products were announced at this conference, accompanied by loads of information about Apple’s current line up. One slide that particularly caught my attention was the one showing what percentage of Apple users were using the latest version of iOS – […]

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Family fun at the Manchester Mini Maker Faire

August 12, 2013

Yesterday we headed up to the wonderful Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester to attend our first Maker Faire. What is a Maker Faire I hear you ask? Well, I think the official website makes a pretty good job of summing it up: Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, […]

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Toca Boca comes to Android at last!

June 5, 2013

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you might have noticed me talking about Toca Boca before. I’ve reviewed their apps, and they’ve also made it into my top apps for preschoolers list. They are one of the few app developers where I will buy everything they produce as soon as it’s […]

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What’s happened to Valentines day?

February 15, 2013

OK, when did Valentines day change?! When I was growing up, it was all about romantic love. the love between couples, or the unrequited love of a secret admirer. I never considered sending a card to my parents. I watched my school friends waving their coloured envelopes around at school, and I desperately wanted a […]

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Not such a successful fireworks night…

November 9, 2012

Every year our town has a large, professional fireworks display for Bonfire Night. It happens in our town park, and whilst you can see the fireworks for miles around, the best views are from inside the park. Last year we took both kids to the park, armed with ear defenders, and they both loved it. […]

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