Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Developmental Appropriateness: The games here are based on the California Preschool Curriculum. So in that sense, the skills that these games target (number recognition, quantity discrimination (more or less), size, and early addition) are right on. The question is, do these games apply those skills well? I think only somewhat. At least for the beginning levels, one could finish the levels without really understanding or mastering the skill. Two of the skills present two options (e.g. which fish is bigger?; or which box has more fish?), so you have a 50/50 shot at getting it right. Even if you get it wrong, nothing really happens, you just pick the other choice. Or in number recognition, you have to tap say, all the 4's as all these bubbles fall. You can tap ALL the bubbles, eventually getting enough 4's to pass the level. More negative feedback and overall reinforcement of the skill is needed. For example, you can get points taken away for tapping the wrong bubbles in number recognition. It's not that I like having negative feedback, but getting the answer wrong should be made clear to the child. Further, at the end of the levels, it could reinforce the skills by showing/saying for example, in the more or less game, that yes, there were 3 fish in this box and 1 fish in this box, 3 is more than 1. Little cues like this go a long way. Rating: 3/5 (aim for around 4 years)
Balance: The games are very kid-friendly. There are a lot of "extra" elements put in for entertainment, but not really at the expense of the tasks at hand. For example, when choosing which is more or less, you must tap on the box a few times to break the ice cube (the box is actually an ice cube, and you are rescuing what's in it). Most of the extra elements actually go with the plot, so they are actually nice little touches. However, I did find that sometimes I would accidentally skip some of the parts with the plot, but could not go back to have it repeat (also hitting the back arrow often exited me out of the app). So I lost some of the story. So maybe adding some element where you could go over plot points/goals, etc. would be nice. Rating: 4/5
Sustainability: What I really like about this app is that there is this over aching storyline - however minor it might be. But it's nice to have that goal when going through many levels. They also kinda tie it in nicely with the actual tasks and "Stickery". Popping the bubbles, choosing the iceboxes all kinda "rescue" fish and passing the levels earns you fish stickers. It'd be nice if they took it even further and the stickers were the fish you "rescued" and you had to rescue x amount/specific fish along the way. That would really tie everything in together. And it would give the sticker rewards (which is something we often see in games) some meaning. Rating: 4/5
Parental Involvement: Parents can sign up to receive progress reports. While I've been seeing "progress reports" for parents more and more now, this is actually one of the better ones that I've seen. It includes explanations about the target skills and games and even tips on how to continue teaching these games with everyday activities. While this is great, I'd still like to see parents take a role WHILE their kids are playing, not just after. Rating: 4/5
Total: 15 out of 20: 4 stars