A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kiko's Thinking Time - Cognitive Training for Children's Brains is a collection of games designed to help kids 5 and under develop memory, focus, and reasoning skills. Kids will match shapes, colors, animals, and objects as they pay attention to key differences and details. Though it's intended for younger kids, older kids who need practice with working memory, spatial reasoning, metacognition, and sequencing visual information might benefit as well. The app is free to try, and free access lets kids play through one level per day; parents can purchase unlimited access in one-month ($7.99), three-month ($14.99), or year-long ($49.99) increments. Via email or within the app, parents can track kids' progress.
What's it about?
KIKO'S THINKING TIME - COGNITIVE TRAINING FOR CHILDREN'S BRAINS is a series of matching and sorting games intended to help kids build focus, memory, and reasoning skills. Each level of the app requires kids to complete a series of games, and kids progress through a level by completing games and moving Kiko forward along the steps of a path that leads to a glowing treasure chest. Simple and straightforward, games range from simple shape-sorting to picking an item that's different from the others. Games start out easy and get harder as kids progress; for example, in the ice cream factory game, kid initially only have to pick the matching ice cream flavor, whereas later levels require kids to infer which flavor, container, and toppings will yield the right answer. Once they've mastered a game by playing it three times, kids progress to the next step in that level. If kids pick the wrong answer, a voice gently guides them to choose again, and they're greeted with cheers when they complete a level. When all the steps are complete, Kiko wins a prize from the treasure chest: a tropical fish to live in the app's fish tank, which functions as a sort of living trophy case. Kids can visit the fish tank at any time to feed their fish or scoop them out to view them more closely.
Is it any good?
Because of its adaptive, encouraging, research-based model, Kiko's Thinking Time - Cognitive Training for Children's Brains has a lot to offer. The app's pace is deliberate and helpfully untimed, making for an age-appropriate and encouraging gameplay experience. Kids sort and compare pairs, shapes, numbers, colors, and details, making kids pay closer and closer attention to the differences among the objects on-screen. It's also helpful that there are on-screen cues: For example, in a game where kids pick objects that match in color, the word "Color" appears at the top of the screen along with the three possible color options. It's also nice that kids can either tap or drag items on-screen; although there's always one right answer, there are a couple of ways to indicate understanding. For kids who have processing and working memory delays -- even up to third-graders -- the activities might provide good practice with measurable outcomes.
Though gameplay is simple enough that kids could play solo, Kiko's Thinking Time - Cognitive Training for Children's Brains is a great game to play along with your kids. Helping kids talk through their reasoning can ensure that kids aren't mindlessly tapping and are able to express their thinking processes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what we look for when we compare and contrast objects. For example, what details do you notice about two similar objects?
Some activities require kids to pick colors that match or to pick shapes that match. Talk about colors and shapes around the house: What objects are the same color? What objects are the same shape?
Ask kids to talk through their reasoning so they're making careful choices instead of simply tapping. Why did they choose one animal over another? How will they decide what to feed the puppy? The more they talk through their thinking process, the more meaningful the game will be.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions, naming
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, deduction, prediction, thinking critically
Self-Direction: achieving goals, personal growth, work to achieve goals
- Price: Free to Try
- Pricing structure: Free to Try
- Subscription price: Free to $49.99
- Release date: April 21, 2015
- Category: Education
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Horses and Farm Animals, Ocean Creatures
- Size: 89.80 MB
- Publisher: Kiko Labs Inc.
- Version: 2.0.019
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 6.0 or later.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.