Developer: SID Sp. z o.o.
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
The other day I was having lunch with friends who also happened to be parents of small children. While waiting for what seemed like an extraodinarily long time, I found myself whipping out my iPhone in an attempt to entertain the four-year-old munchkin beside me. Google Earth, Facebook, and Sporcle wasn't exactly going to do the trick, but since my own kids are far beyond preschool games, my library was a bit understocked at the time. It is times such as this that apps like Dots for Tots come in very handy indeed.
From the makers of Color Me!!, which incidentally I enjoyed and tested out on the same four-year-old munchkin, Dots for Tots is a collection of simple dot-to-dot pages that include numbers, letters, shapes, and animals. Using the numbers 1 - 10 and the touchscreen interface of the iPhone, little fingers can trace and connect the dots to form the image. Granted, they have to be able to recognize numbers and know numerical order, but if they've mastered that skill, then you're golden.
Dots fot Tots doesn't cover just basic shapes like circle, square, triangle and rectangle, but also oval, rhombus, heart, and star. Animals include many of the same images included in the Color Me!! app, like a whale, seal, and octopus. The numbers and letters collection feature the numbers one through nine and all 26 letters of the alphabet. Each page is colorful and appropriately animated for young children.
While all in all, Dots for Tots is a fairly well-done connect the dots translation for the iPhone platform, the one primary flaw is the absence of an undo or clear screen button. Kids don't neccessarily make fluid movements when tracing things with their fingers. While it's an excellent motor skill exercise, they simply lack control and if they stop on dot 4 or 5 or connect dots in the wrong order, the app doesn't easily recognize starting over or starting at the last correct dot. Instead, it emits brief, but repeated buzzes at the failed attempt to get the line started again. A simple button to clear the screen would solve this frustration.
Aside from this sketchy and not-so-kid-friendly interface, most everthing else about Dots for Tots is appropriately geared for its audience. Even the more advanced pictures aren't difficult to reveal with only nine or ten dots and by including numbers, letters, and shapes it maintains some educational value while it entertains. I don't necessarily agree with the formation of some of the numbers from an academic standpoint, but at least the recognition practice is there.
Dots for Tots is also available in free version to try before you buy. It contains in-app purchases for downloading additional collections for another $0.99. For an app that entertains young kids, presents them with a goal and rewards them for achieving it, Dots for Tots is a good investment should you have a restaurant, young children, and a slow waitress in your foreseeable future.