Bubble Puppy Play and Learn

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Bubble Puppy Play and Learn App Poster Image
Poor design, too-fast mini-games sink learning app.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn capital and lowercase letters, numbers up to 30, shapes, and letter sounds. Bubble Puppy Play and Learn includes six levels, so parents can focus on a specific topic or let kids advance through the levels on their own. Kids will have fun and develop fine-motor skills and social skills as they groom and care for Bubble Puppy. They'll earn bones and use them to buy toys for Bubble Puppy, too, practicing working toward goals. When kids redeem the bones for a toy, they'll practice counting. The letter and number mini-games are not as impressive on Bubble Puppy Play and Learn, and the usability issues are likely to frustrate young kids.

Ease of Play

Math-game content is preschool-appropriate (number recognition), but the fine-motor skills needed are far too advanced, and the mini-game moves really fast. Also, rather than tapping letters or words, kids have to drag them into place, which requires more advanced motor skills than kids who are only recently recognizing letters may have.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A Nickelodeon logo on the start page links to other apps.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bubble Puppy Play and Learn features favorite characters from the Nickelodeon preschool show Bubble Guppies. Although the content is appropriate for preschoolers, the design is not. Some parts play in landscape mode and some in portrait mode, so kids have to actively shift the device's position back and forth. The fine-motor skills needed for the math mini-game don't match the target age, either. For such a pricey app, kids and parents deserve better.

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What's it about?

Kids play with Bubble Puppy, dressing him up, feeding him, taking care of him, and playing with him and toys they earn through the learning games. Starting in the house, kids can drag different hats, glasses, and accessories onto Bubble Puppy, a dog who lives underwater. They can give him a shower or brush him, and they can choose which foods and treats to feed him. Then they can go outside and choose their learning adventure: either letters or numbers. In the letters game, kids make Bubble Puppy bark by dragging the correct letter bubble (or word bubble in the higher levels) into place. In the numbers game, they use their fingers to move Bubble Puppy in a race to collect the number bubbles, jumping and dodging obstacles. Kids earn bones for completing the learning games and can use the bones to buy toys to play with Bubble Puppy. After successfully completing levels, kids level up to more challenges (or a parent can choose the level) -- from Level 1 to Level 6, all increasing slightly the level of preschool skills.

Is it any good?

Playing with Bubble Puppy is really fun, both in the house, grooming and caring for him, and outside, playing with him using the toys bought with game rewards. The design is awkward, though, which makes it hard for preschoolers to use. The app starts in landscape mode for kids to create or choose their usernames and select a game. The games are played in portrait mode, though, so preschoolers have to be savvy enough to shift the device. The learning games, content-wise, are appropriately challenging for a preschooler -- matching letter and numbers -- but the design of the games has kids moving objects in ways that are just too tricky for a preschooler's fine-motor skills and reflexes. BUBBLE PUPPY PLAY AND LEARN wins for the play but falls short on the learning part of the game, which just doesn't add up to much for such a pricey app.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Play word or number games with preschoolers while driving or walking around. Count objects or point out letters on signs.

  • Bubble Guppies fans looking for an educational app may appreciate Bubble Guppies: Animal School Day.

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