Toontales - Caillou, Busytown Mysteries
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Toontales - Caillou, Busytown Mysteries is a freemium app, which means a bit of content is available for free but most of it is offered as in-app purchases. Kids will see all the available episodes and games -- both those that are free and those that require an in-app purchase. Each episode costs $2.99, and parents must set an analog clock to the given time to access the app store to purchase it. A few games are included for free in the Toy Box. The episodes combine an interactive book and show with the actual voices from the TV shows Caillou and Busytown Mysteries and include mini-games as part of each story.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
Thinking & Reasoning
- solving puzzles
- thinking critically
Engagement, Approach, Support
The quality of episodes from both of the programs is excellent; kids will recognize the characters' appearance and voices. The stories play like a TV show with interactive features for kids to explore.
Each episode teaches preschool life lessons, and the interactive activities within each are well done. The difficulty level of the memory games adjusts based on how well kids do.
Each episode includes a summary, a list of skills covered, and an age recommendation for parents. The parent's section also includes several learning activities for parents to do with kids off-screen.
What's it about?
TOONTALES - CAILLOU AND BUSYTOWN MYSTERIES includes for free one episode and a few games. All the content is shown on a carousel screen that kids can scroll through. Free content is labeled; the rest must be purchased. Each episode plays like a cross between a TV show and an interactive book. Kids can have the story read to them or read it themselves. Each episode includes several interactive games, and the Toy Box includes a few free games.
Is it any good?
Enough content is included for free to make this a worthy download, but parents will need to be prepared to set limits on the in-app purchases or spend a bit of money. Kids can color pages from the extensive coloring book, play a few puzzle games, and play an increasingly challenging memory game from the free Toy Box. In the episodes, the narration is spot on with the same voices kids will recognize from the show, and the activities within each episode are educational and fun.
Disappointingly, the free episodes and paid episodes appear together in a carousel display, so it's very likely that kids will tap on an episode expecting it to play but instead be told they'll need a parent to buy the episode. When you select an episode from the carousel, you'll see the price, a summary, and icons indicating the skills covered (such as reading and fine motor skills) and the age recommendation. Some features can take a while to load or fail to load at all, requiring users to try again.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about freemium apps and explain to kids their guidelines for what they will and will not purchase. Check out our article on managing freemium apps, 8 Ways to Save (and Spend) on "Free" Apps.
The interactive books are lengthy, so parents may want to read alongside little kids to help keep them engaged.
|Devices:||iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad|
|Price:||Free (with in-app purchases)|
|Pricing structure:||Free, Free to Try|
|Release date:||June 28, 2014|
|Topics:||Book characters, Brothers and sisters, Cats, dogs, and mice|
|Publisher:||Loud Crow Interactive Inc.|
|Minimum software requirements:||iOS 6.0 or later|