A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
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.
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.
For kids who love apps for very young kids
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