Monday, April 9, 2012


Happipets was created by Happi and is considered a spelling app. But this is no straightforward spelling app - it requires a lot of imagination as the task is to take the letters of an animal, say, lion, and use those letters to form a lion (see pic and video). Can you find the letters in the lion to the left? Price: $1.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: OK - first let me say, that as an adult, I think this app is kinda cool. It's amazing to see what people can think of and to see how someone thought to make these animals out of letters. Now that being said, I don't think this app is all that beneficial to learning letters or how to spell animal names. Keep in mind that I rate apps with more of an educational content perspective. Kids have trouble seeing two things at once. You know those pictures that can look like both a duck and a rabbit? Well, kids can't see both. So here, they are suppose to see the letters AND the animal - I'm pretty sure the letters will get lost, especially as they rotate and change the size, etc. I did a study using the Curious George book where the letters are shaped like animals and objects. Super cute. I personally really like the book. But the results were that 3 and 4 year-olds could not recognize these animals and objects as letters even when we pointed it out. Some 5 year-olds could, but it wasn't until 6 that they could consistently recognize them. So same thing here. I guess maybe this is meant for kids who may already know their letters, but are learning to spell. I definitely would not recommend this for teaching preschoolers letters. Still, for older kids, the task is about making the animal shapes, and that's probably what they will focus on. The letters could be anything. I think this app would work better if it wasn't about letters and spelling at all! There are nice little facts about each animal - it doesn't read aloud, so this app would definitely be for a reader. Maybe it should presented as just an app about animals and creativity. But it's not, so.... Rating: 2/5 (aim for around 7 years).

Balance: All the letter manipulation distracts from the letters themselves. The letters are initially presented in order, but once you start moving them around, that's it. So the spelling of the animal name is not very present. Ok - so let's say this isn't even about letters. Making the animal shapes requires a lot of imagination! I didn't even know where to begin. There is a help function that shows you the end result, but maybe some more step by step help would be better. I don't want to know just the end product - some hints to help get me started would be nice too. Rating: 2/5

Sustainability: I think a very small set of kids may like this app. But mostly, I think kids may just get frustrated at not knowing how to make these animals. There's a more free play mode, that some may enjoy more. Rating: 3/5

Parental Involvement: I think this may even be difficult for parents. Ok, I guess there's a little common sense, like a round letter would probably be the head or something like that, but it does take a specific kind of eye to figure out how these letters make the animals. So I'm not sure how much parents can help. But maybe they might enjoy figuring it out along with their child. Rating 3/5

Total: 10 out of 20 - 2 stars

Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.

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