Full Disclosure: I was given a copy of the app for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own. You can learn more about my disclosure policy here.
Although I’m not yet a parent myself, I am committed to being the world’s best PANK. And as a huge proponent of the positive effects of playing games, that means encouraging my nephews, 3 and 5, to not only play video games for fun, but to also help my sister, Kat, find awesome educational games they can play and learn from at the same time.
This quest lead me to Seven Academy, a French application developer committed to making quality learning apps for children, based on the work of leading educational researchers like Maria Montessori and Jean Piaget. Piaget in particular was the inspiration behind their new toddler app, Busy Shapes, which I enlisted Kat, and her boys, O and J, to review for you.
Gameplay involves dragging shapes into the correct holes, and progresses in the same ways that young children do. It starts off with simple tasks like matching shapes and then moves onto things like avoiding obstacles, opening doors, multiple shapes, hidden objectives and tool use. For young children if it takes them too long the obstacles disappear so that can continue on. J and my sister both liked that the difficulty went up, but they would have liked more levels and variance beyond the 7 included.
There is also a “grown-ups corner,” accessible by tapping twice in the upper-right corner and then answering some simple arithmetic. Here you can monitor your child’s progress and see which skills they’ve been working on. You can also have multiple profiles for different children.
J has already finished the game, but Kat often resets it so that he can follow all the progressions over, while O enjoys just trying to get the shape in the hole. Today he demonstrated more problem solving skills by moving the pieces that acted as doors blocking the shape from the hole. He was very pleased with being able to figure that out my himself!
Busy Shapes is definitely more geared for the two-four age group. J is just a little bit too old, though he still enjoys it and loved his first play through, but requires more variability to keep his interest. The game is simple, well designed and definitely worth a look for parents who want to keep their toddlers occupied and challenged at the same time.