Shiny Circus

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Shiny Circus App Poster Image
Early measurement concepts in a fun theme.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn terms related to measurement concepts like length, height, width, and quantity, using words like biggest, tallest, most, different, etc. They'll work with mass and balance, distance and trajectory, and ordering objects by size in the different mini-games. They'll practice following directions and learn more measurement vocabulary in the dress-the-clown game. The story is read aloud with words highlighted as they read, so kids will develop reading skills, too. They can click on certain words to hear them read again, as well. Shiny Circus is an adorable interactive story that will engage kids as they learn math measurement concepts.

Ease of Play

All of the tap and drag gestures are preschool friendly. In one mini-game, "Ready, Aim, Fire," it is a bit tricky for little hands to aim the slingshot correctly to knock down the clowns.

Violence & Scariness

Just a little silly cartoon-like, circus violence in one activity. Kids aim and shoot a monkey from a slingshot at a pyramid of clowns to knock them down.

Sexy Stuff

Links to other apps are behind a parent-password protected screen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shiny Circus uses a circus-themed story and interactive activities to teach kids measurement concepts. Kids can choose story mode, where they'll hear and read the story of Charlie, Alice, and Ralph's visit to the circus along with interactive activities throughout the story, or they can go directly to game mode and choose which of the activities to play. Every aspect of the app is designed with young learners in mind, and the parent section includes ideas and resources for parents.

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What's it about?

Charlie, Alice, and Ralph (the monkey, zebra, and giraffe featured in all the Shiny Things apps) go to the circus in the interactive story that teaches kids measurement concepts like different, biggest, longest, etc. Charlie gets pulled in to the rings, and kids get to play along as Charlie completes circus feats. They'll dress the clowns, choosing the clothing based on the directions given. They'll help Charlie jump along steps as they size and order steps from shortest to tallest or from tallest to shortest. They'll work on the concepts of near and far as well as trajectory when they shoot Charlie from a slingshot, and they'll work on estimation and balance by helping Charlie balance on the unicycle. Each page of the book has some interactive elements. Kids can choose story mode to hear the whole story read and work through the activities in order, or they can choose game mode to go directly to the games they want to play.

Is it any good?

Combining the story with the activities is a great concept. Kids are engaged by the story in SHINY CIRCUS, and then get to participate themselves. The interactive details on the story pages are impressive -- like the popcorn machine that pops more popcorn as it empties (and kids can empty it by flinging popcorn all over the screen). The learning fits in seamlessly, gently exposing kids to the vocabulary of measurement. It's all designed with young learners in mind, from the privacy policy and lack of ads to the sticker rewards page and the silly animals who are full of personality.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Check out the "ideas" tab in the parent section for suggestions on ways to talk to your kid about measurement and their play.

  • Use informal measurements and talk about what you're doing with your kid. For example, "I need a piece of tape that is three finger-widths long."

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love math

Themes & Topics

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