Since 2003, Common Sense Media has been steering parents through the overwhelming tide of digital products designed for children, looking for those with the best learning potential. And last night, they named AlphaTots among the best in that category, at a glittering award event in San Francisco. Hosted at the city's Cartoon Museum, the First Annual ON for Learning Awards ceremony placed the early learning app from Spinlight Studio on the short list of the best 50 games, apps and websites available for kids today.
Part of the Tots Education Series, AlphaTots uses 26 different action verbs to help children master their ABCs with fun and engaging mini-activities that encourage exploration. "It was one of our first titles," says the company's CEO and co-founder, Matt Hutton. "And to this day, it continues to be one of the best sellers in our growing catalog." Since it's release in 2011, AlphaTots has garnered a Parents' Choice Award, been featured in a best-selling book series and even received a plug on the Today Show from former Punky Brewster star and current Hollywood hipster, Soleil Moon Frye.
"New audiences are constantly discovering it," says Hutton. "And when they find it, they love it, because it's fun and educational." As a parent and an avid game-player, Hutton believes it's that mix of "edu-tainment" that defines Spinlight's growing collection of apps. "Some apps teach. Others entertain. We occupy the ground where those two worlds meet, which means parents and kids are both happy when they launch one of our games."
It was that dual focus that earned the attention of Common Sense Media, which uses highly trained reviewers to analyze digital media products for core academic content like reading, math and science, as well as deeper learning and social skills such as critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. AlphaTots excelled in the organization's learning ratings, which are based on a rigorous evaluation framework developed through interviews with academic experts, a literature review of key 21st-century learning skills, and parent and teacher research samples.
"Our learning ratings are the most comprehensive tool parents have to distinguish the digital media products that are truly educational from those that simply claim to be," said Seeta Pai, architect of the Common Sense Media learning ratings initiative. "The ON for Learning Award recipients have set themselves apart from the pack. We congratulate Spinlight for receiving this award and for creating a terrific app that helps kids learn and have fun, too."
AlphaTots 2.0 is $2.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category.