Shapes & Puzzles by Pirate Trio

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Shapes & Puzzles by Pirate Trio App Poster Image
Fun app offers just enough challenge for young learners.

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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 shape, color, and size recognition with the block-style puzzles in Shapes & Puzzles by Pirate Trio. With its 150 words and useful expressions, the app may also be helpful for kids who are learning English as a second language. It could present a challenge to young kids -- but not so much that it overwhelms them. This is a colorful, fun way to learn about shapes and spot them in everyday objects.

Ease of Play

The app is very easy to use. Voice instructions are clear and simple, but aren't provided for every game. Sometimes, such as in the picture building game, kids need to figure out by sight what to do (which is not difficult), and are told at the end what they built ("You made a beetle"), just in case they don't recognize it. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A "More Games" option on the main screen links players to the Pirate Trio Academy website, and there are options in the settings to subscribe for product updates or visit the developer's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shapes and Puzzles by Pirate Trio provides kids with block-style puzzles (200 for iPad version and slightly less for the iPhone version) to help kids learn to identify shapes and how shapes fit into all sorts of things in the world. Kids choose from images made up of many shape blocks in a variety of categories, including animals, transportation, buildings, and people. Once an image is chosen, a hollowed-out version of it appears with a few adjacent blocks lining the side of the screen. As kids choose correctly, more blocks appear to choose from, or kids can scroll down if they want to see more right away. There's also one more basic game that just shows shapes and provides voice direction to help younger kids learn individual shapes by matching shapes with color cues ("Match the yellow triangle") that only correspond with one shape choice.

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What's it about?

Kids choose from images made up of many shape blocks in a variety of categories, including animals, transportation, buildings, and people. Once kids choose an image, a hollowed-out version of it appears with a few adjacent blocks lining the side of the screen. As kids choose correctly, more blocks appear, or kids can scroll down if they want to see more right away. The app has 200 puzzles in the iPad version and slightly fewer for the iPhone version; it also includes a toddler module for kids as young as 3.

Is it any good?

SHAPES & PUZZLES BY PIRATE TRIO is colorful, fun, and just enough of a challenge without too many choices to overwhelm young app users. If kids have played other apps by this developer, they'll recognize the cute pirates encouraging them on in their learning adventures. It may be frustrating for the youngest players here to see that a block shape matches the necessary spot on the puzzle only to find that it doesn't "fit" because that particular one isn't turned in the correct direction. In that instance, players have to go back to find the same shape that's positioned at a different angle to fit. But it's also a good opportunity to learn spatial relations and viewing shapes in a different way. Overall, this app is in the top tier of the many good shape-teaching apps for preschoolers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Point out all the shapes that you and your kid use and see in everyday life.

  • Use multicolored wooden blocks of various shapes and sizes, or similar manipulatives, and challenge your kid to find and compare them to the shapes when playing the app together -- or to find the shapes in the environment.

App details

For kids who love apps for very young kids

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