The best app for tinkerers of all ages- The Everything Machine

As parents of reasonably connected kids, we’ve come to depend on certain developers to create innovative products that require little to no vetting on our part. Tinybop certainly fits that bill.

Their latest offering, The Everything Machine, is an open ended building app that harnesses the capabilities of your device’s camera, microphone, speakers, gyroscope, and screen to create almost any machine your mini-maker can dream up.

Using basic concepts of circuitry and programming, components can be dragged, dropped and connected in endless combinations. The results, everything from a face detecting fart machines to kaleidoscopes, can be saved to use over and over, or transmitted to a friend’s device to share.

Why we love it 

There is absolutely nothing passive about the screen time that goes into tinkering with The Everything Machine. Applying “if this, then that” logic takes focus, even if the end result is Siri incessantly declaring “You. Pooped. You. Pooped. You Pooped.” over a looping fart beat. And because the possibilities are essentially endless, there’s really something for everyone. More sophisticated inventors can make things like a synesthesia-sizer, or even a monster catcher. But no matter what they create, it’s undeniably time well spent.

Let us know what your kids come up with!

Tinybop’s The Everything Machine is available for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple watch for 2.99 here


Kids mix beats, rhythms, and loops with Loopimal

Introduce your kids to the world of computer sequencing and music composition with Loopimal by Yatatoy. This iPhone and iPad app is a building tool full of delightful well-designed animations by Lucas Zanotto and sound effects by Ulrich Troyer.

Kids can experiment with rhythms, build loops, mix beats, create sequences and compose music by dragging and dropping animals and sounds programmed by Niels Hoffman. There is no wrong or right way to use the app. It’s intuitive.

Loopimal 2

Loopimal uses only the white keys of a keyboard for music composition, so all sequences are in the key of C-major. Kids can add their own rhythms and sounds with their voices, hands, objects and other instruments to change it up.

We recommend Loopimal for kids ages 2 and up. Unlike some music-making apps that make you want to bash your head against the wall, it’s loads of addictive fun for grown-ups too! We often hook up our iPhone to our home sound system and let our seven-year-old DJ while we cook dinner to keep everyone entertained.

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Kids may also like Drawnimal for drawing animals and learning the alphabet and Miximal for mixing up animals and syllables. You can find all three apps at Yatatoy.

Ultimate List of Education Apps for Kids

Check out  Katie Williams, M.Ed. super useful list of Education Apps for Kids:

“This ultimate resource lists the best apps for kids, the best apps for parents, and the best apps for teachers. Please suggest links to help me build the most comprehensive top education app directory! Apps for kids, math apps, reading apps, science apps, classroom management apps, drawing apps for kids, and more!”

Education Apps for Kids by Katie Williams, M.Ed. | ZEEF.

YouTube to launch kid-friendly Android app on Feb. 23

Finally! Also, this is the first time I’ve ever wanted an Android device.

Google is planning to launch a version of YouTube for children on Android devices Monday, according to USA Today.

The app, called YouTube Kids, will be free and will offer an easy-to-use interface as well as a selection of YouTube content appropriate for children.

“Parents were constantly asking us, can you make YouTube a better place for our kids,” the project’s group product manager Shimrit Ben-Yair told USA Today.

via YouTube to launch kid-friendly Android app on Feb. 23.

Endless Learning with Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet is a fun, clever and well-designed literacy app suitable for kids ages 0-5. Kids learn alphabet letters, phonics and vocabulary alongside colorful critters. It’s highly interactive. Kids touch letters to hear the phonics sound, drag letters to form words and watch mini skits by characters who act out each vocabulary word.

I first introduced my daughter to the iPad when she was four after discovering the educational value that many iPad apps had to offer. One of the first apps we discovered was Endless Alphabet. It provided endless entertainment for her and soon she was using vocabulary words in the correct context, such as “cooperate” and “famished.”

I highly recommend this literacy app by Originator Kids for learning the alphabet, phonics sounds and vocabulary!

Apps for Kid Explorers

In the hands of a child, a smartphone with a few choice apps is a powerful tool for exploration, understanding and discovery.

Our 6-year old uses the following five apps dedicated to real-world exploration. Older kids should like them too. I have them installed on my iPhone; they’re also installed on an old iPhone we let our kid use around the house.

Beyond helping kids explore the world, apps like these can teach kids how to use technology appropriately for learning.

Star Walk Kids – The easiest way for anyone (child or adult) to learn the stars, planets and constellations. It’s fun to stand in the backyard in the early evening, exploring the night sky as a family.

The app matches the map on the iPhone’s screen with the actual stars in the sky in your location. It features an easy-to-understand interface and friendly narration. This app is a total winner.

Leaf Snap – Last summer we used a couple of field guides to identify trees in our region by  their leaves. We supplemented our field guides with this promising app that literally makes identifying leaves a snap. All you do is take a photo of the leaf and the app shows you what kind of tree it came from, along with information about the species. It’s not always accurate, but it generally works and it’s fun to use.

CuriousRuler – A fun app that uses the iPhone camera to teach kids how to measure objects around them while learning about sizes, units of measure, and proportions.

Merlin Bird ID  – One of the simplest yet most effective bird identification apps. It asks a few simple questions that include graphical guidance.  It then reveals a list of birds that best match the description.  Once you or your kid has found your bird, learn more with additional photos, sounds, and ID tips. It’s a little advanced for very young users, but older kids will quickly get the hang of it.

Kidcam – Taking photos is a key part of exploration. And all kids love snapping photos. In fact, they often get carried away with it, taking hundreds of photos that fill up their library (or your library) KidCam solves this by optionally putting a one to five second delay on the camera shutter, sorting your kids photos in their own library, and even setting a limit the number of photos and videos your kids can take. (When the limit is reached, the oldest photo or video gets deleted.) It also has kid-friendly controls and silly monster overlays.

Runner up: NatureTap. Swipe, flip and tap your way through hundreds of birds, bugs, frogs, flowers and now mammals. And challenge yourself with fun and exciting games.

There are also a couple of great apps for reporting your nature observations in the name of citizen science,  including Project Noah and iNaturalist. However, these require logging a location along with an observation. That’s something you likely want to do with your child.

If you’re looking for more recommendations for movies, books, apps and more, check out

Toca Nature App Review

Toca Boca released a new app called Toca Nature, and it’s delightful. Design your own world starting with a plot of land floating in space. Day turns to night as you construct hills, mountains, forests, and lakes.

Different animals inhabit your landscape. Learn what foods they like, and you may befriend them. Sneak up on them quietly, and you may get a snapshot of a sleeping doe or a swimming beaver.

Toca Nature

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