Zebrainy: A-Z kids games

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Zebrainy: A-Z kids games App Poster Image
Lovely letter worlds feature words, quirks, and high price.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn letter names and some words that begin with each letter of the alphabet.

Ease of Play

Kids tap and drag to form letters, or tap at random around the screen to discover items.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zebrainy: A-Z kids games is a subscription-based, open-ended game that introduces the letters of the alphabet and some words that begin with each letter. Kids travel through different letter-themed "worlds" and tap on items they find to hear the item's name and a brief definition. Be aware that prices and details about trying the app vary depending on where parents look. At the time of this review, the free download allowed access only to the letter A, and then parents have to subscribe. Parents should also know that the developers clearly are not native English speakers, and some words in the app are spelled incorrectly. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

ZEBRAINY: A-Z KIDS GAMES starts with a story about two rainbow striped zebra friends who get separated while on an adventure. Kids follow the zebras through 26 letter-themed worlds. In each world, kids start by dragging glowing orbs to form a capital letter. They are then free to explore as little or as much as they want. Tap around on various items to hear the item name, see it in text, and hear a brief description of what it is. All available items start with the relevant letter. For example, in the A world, kids can find an antelope, the Amazon river, an apple, an anchor, and so on. When kids are done, they move on to the next letter world. In some worlds, kids can also listen to stories.

Is it any good?

Beautiful graphics and great audio make it seem like this letter adventure has lots of promise, but the actual experience turns out to be pretty average. Zebrainy: A-Z kids games starts with an interesting, though sometimes odd, story of two zebra friends on an adventure through letter portals. The letter-themed worlds that kids enter look great and the background music makes it all even more inviting. In all the worlds, there are 250 words total to find, and many items are more than just your typical "A is for apple." The developers are clearly non-native English speakers, which isn't necessarily a problem except that it comes through in some odd choices in words' explanations and even some misspelled words. Also, the actual letter learning is limited, with the only letter task being a short drag-and-drop onto a letter outline. It's not entirely clear why Zebrainy: A-Z kids games is priced as subscription rather than a simple app purchase since it doesn't seem like content changes. And, finally, discrepancies around pricing and the amount of content available for a trial period raises questions. Yet, if parents can get past all that, and are interested in an open-ended, exploration-based game with pretty visuals and nice music that introduces words categorized by letter, Zebrainy: A-Z kids games could be a reasonable choice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the letter worlds in Zebrainy: A-Z kids games. What else can you add to the worlds? What other words start with each letter?

  • Play with your kids and talk about the items they discover. Where is the Amazon river? Have you ever been to a castle?

  • Read lots of books and play letter games with your kids to give them lots of exposure to words, letters and letter sounds. Emphasize the sound at the beginning of words to help them isolate sounds.

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