Everyone’s favourite TV Channel CBeebies has a free app available from iTunes for Apple, and the Google Play store for Android.
I’m always dubious of free apps, especially on Android as they have a tendency to be full of adverts for other things, and my kids aren’t all old enough to understand that just because a screen is showing them something it doesn’t mean that they can have it. We had a few interesting moments before I realised I could change my settings to turn off single click payments!
But as we’re all such big fans of the TV channel I thought the app was worth a look.
The first thing you have to do is design a hot air balloon, to be honest my kids weren’t that bothered with this to start with, but the oldest one (currently 6) quite likes this feature now. She often uses it just to re-design her balloon. Once their balloon lands they have the option of a variety of short games they can play.
I really like the concept of this one. Essentially it shows you a picture, and a list of alphablocks. Your child has to move the alphablocks to the correct place to spell the item pictured. None of the words are particularly complicated, dog, pan, net are examples of the sort of thing you can expect to see. Because of this there is only going to be a short time this app is ideal for your child, but if they are just starting to learn to read it is great. More words would be nice, there are only 20, and it’s easy to get through them pretty quickly. But all in all a hit.
Octonauts – Cadet Training
If you’ve seen the show you’ll already know how this works. A sea creature is in trouble and you have to help them. Members of the crew give instructions and your child has to follow them. It’s a pretty simple concept, but seems to keep them involved for quite a while. If they’re too young you’ll end up getting involved to help them, but it’s simple enough that they’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. My youngest (2) loves this one and has just swiped my phone as I opened the app to write this review. I’ll get back to you in a momen, but I guess that means this one is a hit.
Right, I’ve got my phone back, on with the review. To be honest I’m not a big fan of Tree-Fu Tom. I like the idea, it’s just that I don’t really like the characters, and I’m also not a big fan of this game. It’s a pretty common concept, the Mushers have stolen berries and you have to chase them and get them back. You avoid the things they drop and collect berries by tilting the phone. For me this is a miss, but you might disagree
As you might expect this game is aimed at younger children. You select something of Mr Tumble’s, such as his bowtie and colour it in by popping bubbles of paint while Justin says encouraging things. That is all there is to it, but my kids all seem to like it regardless of the simplicity. A hit, but I’m not sure why!
Make a Picture
This is a basic art program. They can either start with a blank canvas and draw their own picture, or an existing line drawing to colour in. They can also take a picture and alter it. The main downside to this is that your phone is soon going to get full of pictures drawn by your delightful cherubs. Or maybe that’s just mine. Some surreptitious deleting is in order. A hit.
Andy’s Dinosaur Adventure
You select your dinosaur of choice and then you have a number of options. You can throw rocks for it, take it for a ride, record noises for it to copy, wash it, feed it, or even change the way it looks. It’s a pretty good game for a child who is into dinosaurs, but a little dull if they aren’t. I’d say it is likely to be a hit.
You roll a dice (is it a die? I’m never sure) and Jen moves along a path collecting things. You have to pay attention or you won’t know what is going on, and every now and again a different game loads in order to try and win back the jewels Captain Sinker has stolen. It’s clearly aimed at the older end of the age range, but I’m not sure it’s engaging enough to hold their attention without you having to get involved, and it’s certainly not as educational as Alphablocks for example. I’m not sure this one is a hit.
This is one of the most popular games in my house. All three of my kids enjoy this one. You essentially move from room to room in the hotel helping the guests out and solving problems for them. There are always multiple ways you could solve the problem, so they can work through it several times before getting too bored. Successfully completing a task earns them a star and if your kids are anything like mine then stickers, stars or points are fantastic ways to motivate them. This one is definitely a hit.
Nina and The Neurons
This is a game that has real cross age appeal. I’ve been known to have a play myself, and my four year old loves it. You have to help a robot pass along a course by selecting the correct action at each stage. It starts with some very simple courses and gradually gets more complex. More levels would be good, but even as it is this one is a hit.
This is a great selection of short games all themed in such a way that your kids will understand them if they’ve watched Cbeebies. Some are better than others, and it is a little annoying that the home screen takes a while to load every time you want to move to a different game, but lets look on the positive and say it teaches patience. It’s a free app, and it isn’t stuffed full of adverts. You could do a lot worse than this if your kids want to play on your phone and you’re happy to let them.