As an adult yet without a child, I often forget about the myriad of apps available for youngsters. A vast array of children apps exist in the app store, but wading through the mess can take hours. Today, I take a look at The Monsters Family, a universal app that is geared toward preschoolers in the learning ages from two to five.
When purchasing an app for children that needs to provide cognitive development, the challenge or lesson in the app is most important. After all, your preschooler is not going to argue with you about the UI or button layout. The Monsters Family lets the user choose between Mom, Dad, Oliver, or Ella, who represent the nuclear family. Each family member will guide the player through six different games, designed to teach children at the respective ages. When the game loads, selecting one of the characters means all challenges will be presented by that choice. However, selecting the family icon will cycle through challenges with multiple family members, keeping things fresh.
Color games teach children to identify specific colors amongst a small selection of items. The character vocally prompts the user with the color name and the text prompt displays the word. Therefore the child is exposed not only to the physical color, but also hears the word “blue” and sees it spelled.
Matching challenges display the age-old flip card memory tiles. Six tiles are displayed and tapping each one shows the image hidden below. Flip two cards with the same image to clear the tiles.
The word challenge may be a little more difficult for a youngster, but the verbal cues help identify each word. The user is presented with an image of an item and three words. The user must choose the word that matches the item. For example, a doll will be depicted and the word “doll” will be one of the choices. Drag the word to the image to complete the challenge. If the user cannot read, the character says each word when it is touched.
Silhouettes challenge displays several objects to the user with outlines of the objects mixed above. Users must drag the object to the corresponding outline to achieve victory. Each subsequent silhouette challenge scrambles the options further.
Counting and spot-the-difference are the remaining easier challenges. Counting simply has the user tap objects while the character counts out loud, teaching the child to count sequentially. Spot-the-difference provides several objects to the user and all but one is different. Tap the different item to complete the challenge.
Each of the characters has their own personality and interacts with the user differently. All characters provide positive reinforcement to the child, even when challenges are not successfully completed. The child is given a token item to decorate a trophy shelf, further reinforcing completed challenges.
Conclusion [rating: 4.5/5]
The Monsters Family [$.99, iTunes Link] is an excellent and cost effective purchase for your child. The included games vary during gameplay and provide clear, concise objectives. The music in the background is catchy, but a little aggravating in large quantities, and the characters are lively and unique.
The vibrant colors and changing characters should keep a youngster busy for a while with this one. Unfortunately, it does not grow with your child as there is no difficulty setting and older children would discover the challenge repetition. Also, I noticed a bug when using the app system tray for multitasking which caused the game to freeze and reboot. I could not replicated this every time, but there was a small glitch, preventing a full 5/5 star review.
Overall, it is completely worth the $1 to give it a whirl. At the least, it will keep them quite in the car for a trip to the store and that is certainly worth less than a cup of coffee.
- Easy to use and simple for children
- Multiple challenges
- Learn colors, shapes, words, objects, and test memory
- Fun and appealing for children
- Not iPhone 5 compatible, but children do not really care
- Multi tasking glitch
- The Mom has a really annoying voice