Curious Playground

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Curious Playground App Poster Image
Empowering tool lets you create personalized activities.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn and practice a range of academic skills, from math to spelling to music to history. They can learn to recognize flags of different countries, learn the capitals and geographical locations, practice all operations of math, and work on spelling and memory. Kids can explore musical notes and develop an appreciation for famous paintings. Most important, they can learn how to challenge themselves and express themselves by creating their own activities using the create feature. Curious Playground's activities let kids practice a broad range of skills, and the creation tool lets them challenge themselves.

Ease of Play

Verbal directions explain each activity. Creating activities is easy and intuitive.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

In-app purchases, ranging from $0.99 to $2.99, unlock additional content. A link to purchase other apps is included, too.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Curious Playground is content-rich and easy to use for both young kids and parents. It comes preloaded with seven game categories and can support up to three user accounts. Kids or parents also can create their own games that they can play themselves or share with others who have the free app. The paid version of the app includes in-app purchase options to unlock everything at once or to get additional music. The free version of the app includes dozens of activities, but additional content can be purchased. The buy link isn't blatantly dangled in front of kids while they're playing, though, and the button has to be held for three seconds to open the link.

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What's it about?

CURIOUS PLAYGROUND starts by asking the question, "Are you a player or a creator?" It's not intended to be a deeply philosophical question, and, with this customizable app, kids can be both player and creator. It's preloaded with more than a dozen puzzles, including famous art such as the Mona Lisa; five memory games; words from categories such as math, music, and the human body; math including fractions, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; geography, including capitals and countries; music with songs such as "Are You Sleeping?" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"; and a word search game. Kids and parents can create custom activities using their own photos, words, or songs as well.

Is it any good?

Although the content covers a broad range of information (flags from different countries, geography, multiple levels of math, music, art, and words), the activities aren't as engaging as apps that focus on one skill. Each activity is basically a mini-quiz, and kids earn trophy cups for completing activities. There's nothing too exciting about the cups -- just a number on the screen.

What will engage kids is the creation tool with which they can design their own activities to complete themselves or share with others. They can create their own puzzles or memory games using the device's camera (it won't pull already-taken pictures from the camera roll, though), write their own songs, and enter their own words. The developer's target age range is 3 to 7, but the challenge on some activities spans higher -- math includes division up to four digits, for example. The activities automatically level up after kids successfully complete a level, but kids or parents can adjust the level manually, too, for kids who want to start at a more challenging level. The options for content are pretty limitless with the creation tool, making Curious Playground a good choice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what kinds of activities kids would like to create on the app. The ability to create your own challenges is empowering!

  • Create a custom word game using your child's name, street name, and city to help preschoolers learn to spell their names and addresses.

  • Make word games from spelling lists for elementary school-age kids.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, spelling, vocabulary
    Math: addition, division, fractions, multiplication, subtraction
    Social Studies: geography
    Arts: improvising and music analysis, music
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: memorization, solving puzzles
    Creativity: combining knowledge, producing new content
    Self-Direction: academic development
    Tech Skills: using and applying technology
  • Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
  • Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid, Free (Both the paid and the free versions of the app have in-app purchase options ranging from $1 to $3.)
  • Release date: January 8, 2014
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 62.80 MB
  • Publisher: Curious Hat
  • Version: 1.3
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later

For kids who love puzzles and creativity

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