★★★ Open House ★★★
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Curious About Shapes and Colors
© 2013 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

CTR Review
Rating: 98%
Ease of Use
Design Features
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
For ages 2-up
For grades T, P, K, 1
$2.99, iPad, Android
Teaches: logic, colors, shapes, sorting, matching, fine motor development
Tagged for: All Time Best, Classic, Android
We've now reviewed 15 Curious George related software products (from disks, video games and apps). This is the best designed, in fact, it is a case study in good interactive design for young children. Before you sigh "oh no -- another app about shapes and colors!", know that this one's different.

Children can choose five puzzles that vary in difficulty; the last is saved for when the previous four have been put together. Each features a disassembled toy. Putting it back together involves solving as many as six blueprint-like puzzles, shown in 3D so children can see how the shapes relate to the whole toy. This involves drag and drop interaction; putting various shapes into place. Sometimes this requires tracing the shapes, in another puzzle you complete patterns. At any point, you can touch a shape to get help from The Man With The Yellow Hat. While he tends to offer lots of friendly advice, his banter never gets in the way of your puzzle building.

What's good about this app is that children apply their shape knowledge in a variety of ways. In each puzzle, the toy is functional, and can be used later in an arcade-style game. If you make a train, you can drive it around a track, so you can see the circular wheels in action. The rocket ship blasts off and is used to collect bananas. Concepts in the game include: basic shapes like circles, squares and triangles; more complex shapes including pentagons, hexagons, diamonds, rectangles, and ovals; primary and secondary colors, along with varying tones; pattern recognition and sequencing; and skills like sorting, constructing, tracing, and coloring. There are no in-app purchases, and additional games/levels open up as your child completes the earlier levels. There are hundreds of shape puzzles; this one raise the bar.
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