A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
Kids start out in TRAINS PROJECT HOME EDITION with some creatures and objects, which the instructions indicate they can customize (this was not working at time of review), and then they assign actions to them by using a train model. Each creature gets at least one locomotive. Each locomotive can have a chain of cars, each of which is one instruction for the train. For example, a car might say to turn left, make a noise, or draw a line. There are a variety of car options, including logic ("and," "or," "etc.") cars. When kids flip a switch, the trains run behind the scenes, causing the creatures and objects to interact. Using all these programming options, kids can make animations or even their own games with an on-screen joystick. The app itself has a sandbox option, challenges (such as tutorials, but without a lot of help), and sample games. There are options to upload your own creations and download those from others, but these were not working at the time of review.
Is it any good?
The idea of learning programming logic from trains is fun, but the result is confusing and frustrating. Trains Project Home Edition seems like an unfinished, untested product. From the moment you open the app, there's trouble. The introductory tutorial information is drowned out by loud background music. It's hard to figure out where to get started or even how to open a sandbox or challenge. Once you're there, it's tricky to figure out how to get to the train parts. There's no way to know what half of the cars do without randomly attaching them to trains, the icons are consistently confusing (none of them are industry standards), and it seems that the only way to get anywhere is to tap and swipe randomly until something interesting happens. When you get into the showcase area and load an example, you can see the promise there. One sample game is a pool simulation, and another mimics the Angry Birds franchise. If the interface and instructions were more clear and worked as intended, you can imagine how kids might be inspired to create something fun. As it stands, all they're likely to get is irritated.
Talk to your kids about ...
Talk about how to give clear step-by-step instructions. Ask kids to explain how to get from point A to point B or how to do something they think is basic, like making a sandwich. Follow their directions precisely, just like a computer would.
How do you like this app as compared with other apps you could use? If you had to choose the best use of your time on a screen, would you pick this app over other apps on your device for communication? Why, or why not?
Families can talk about trying to use Trains Project Home Edition. Is it easy to play? Why, or why not? What might make it easier?
- Device: iPad
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: logic
Creativity: making new creations
Tech Skills: coding, digital creation
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: May 3, 2017
- Category: Educational Games
- Topics: Trains
- Size: 623.00 MB
- Publisher: Fundacja Rozwoju Informatyki WMiI UMK
- Version: 1.6
- Minimum software requirements: 9.0
Themes & Topics
For kids who love coding and STEM apps
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.