Shape Lab

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
Shape Lab App Poster Image
Geometry comes to life with easy-to-use sandbox tool.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about shapes, their attributes, and related concepts such as transformations and partitioning. The touchscreen allows kids to draw accurate shapes with straight edges and, when applicable, right angles. A free-draw option also allows kids to create shapes and other drawings by hand. By using the available grid and dot-paper options, kids can explore measurement using inches and centimeters. They also can explore congruency using a scissors tool that slices shapes as well as transformations using a tool that flips and rotates shapes. Teacher-created lessons cover a variety of topics including measurement, properties of circles, attributes of triangles, angles, composite shapes, scaling, and composing hexagons. Overall, Shape Lab is a comprehensive tool that lets kids explore early geometry concepts from a variety of angles.

Ease of Play

Instructions are not provided, but most kids will figure out how to use the features through exploration.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

The Shapes in the Classroom page includes ads for other apps and access to the iTunes store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shape Lab is an open-ended sandbox tool that allows kids to freely explore geometric shapes. Kids can use the interactive screen to create shapes, manipulate them, and investigate their properties. They can save and share their creations with other devices and access teacher-created lesson plans for additional learning support. Access to these lessons and other features requires users to unlock a child lock. However, the instructions are very simple, and most kids who are old enough to use this app likely can unlock these areas and gain full access to the Internet.

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What's it about?

There are two main sections of SHAPE LAB: Drawing, and Shape Lab in the Classroom. In the Drawing section, kids start by tapping on a blank sheet of paper to access all the drawing options and tools. To create a shape, kids tap on areas of the screen to create points, which the tool automatically connects using straight lines. Kids also can tap on a menu of shapes to easily create a specific shape in a single step. All drawings can be manipulated at the touch of a finger. They can be stretched and moved horizontally or vertically on the screen, with background options that include centimeter and inch grids, as well as dot paper. Using the cutting tool, kids can slice shapes in separate pieces and, using the flip tool, flip shapes across an axis. Kids also can change the colors of their shapes, save them, and send them to various devices. A camera option allows kids to take photographs and use the app to help find shapes within the photographs. In the Shape Lab in the Classroom section, users can access lesson plans, read a user manual, and sign up for tips to use Shape Lab in the classroom.

Is it any good?

Shape Lab is a comprehensive tool that encourages kids to learn through exploration. Some features are not as intuitive as others, such as accessing the save feature and toolbar extensions, but the touch interface is very easy to use. The lesson plans are an excellent way for kids to use Shape Lab in a more formal setting or to extend their learning, so adding more lesson plans could improve the learning value. It also would be nice to see some instructional features kids could access, such as pop-up labels that explain geometry concepts such as edges and vertices or a built-in lesson that teaches the basics of two-dimensional figures.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about shapes found in everyday life. Use the camera to take pictures and work together to explore the shapes found within the pictures.

  • Have kids identify specific features of the shapes they create. How many edges does each have? How many vertices? Also, use the Internet to explore these terms and define them as needed.

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Subjects: Math: geometry, measurement, shapes
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: investigation, part-whole relationships
    Self-Direction: academic development
    Tech Skills: using and applying technology
  • Price: $2.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: November 18, 2014
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 7.70 MB
  • Publisher: Shiny Things
  • Version: 1.0.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love shapes

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