Developer: Crumpeta Consulting, LLC
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
In recent years the iPad and iPod respectively have grown from being mere social toys for enjoyment among adults and teenagers to become modernized tools of knowledge and power found in classrooms, preschools, and other institutions all over the world. From reading books to solving math problems, the iOS platform has become a foundation not only to entertain and bring us smiles, but to also make our children brighter and learn faster. Applications of all shapes and sizes have come along with the motive to help teach children, and Shape Pals! is the first from Crumpeta Consulting, a small technology and web firm based out of Stamford, CT.
Advertised as being "Toddler tested and approved", Shape Pals! a Toddler and Preschool Educational Shapes Quiz App and Game takes advantage of the iPad and iPhone's bright and colorful display, interactive touch screen, and a little personal know-how to bring out the best in a fun and easy way to teach young children their shapes.
The app focuses around three main environments: a training area, a sticker playroom, and a game room. The training room serves as a place to easily show your child the various shapes used in the games in Shape Pals and how for their child to respond and follow along. Once the parent feels the toddler is ready (or if the child is enough of a whiz to figure out on their own) they can begin a game where they try to pick the right shape spoken to them. The game is very simple and straightforward. While it doesn't offer the ability to manage difficulty (as some shapes are obviously easier for the child to guess than others) it's a bit of a guess and check process for the toddler that while a tad frustrating for first-time players can be easily caught onto.
The real fun comes with the sticker bonuses that come along for the child while they play. If the toddler or child gets three correct guesses in a row, they will win a sticker (as proclaimed by a cute voice in the app) that goes into their own collection. Stickers collected can then be used in the playpen area, where several pre-selected scenes allow the child to play with the stickers, much like those you'd do with a real playmat or other environment that we've all grown up and enjoyed. It's essentially taking the entire learning and reward environment and bringing it to the virtual world.
Shape Pals is really a fun, easy, and interactive way to teach your kid shapes, and Crumpeta is already at work making more similar apps to cover more shapes, colors, and other options. While not exactly the best app for the iPod, this toy is just begging to be at a young child's fingertips on the iPad with their parents by their side, and a great wide to bring together technology, learning the shapes, and getting them much needed play-time. Plus, they'll be on their way to be Harvard material in no time!
Shape Pals! is available on the Appstore for all iOS devices running 4.0 or later but is suggested for iPads due to the interactivity and screen real estate needed.