*Full disclosure: I was asked to do this review and the company provided me some dolla bills to purchase in-app features. All opinions and pictures are my own and not influenced by the cheddar I received. All screenshots were taken by me during actual gameplay.
I feel like a “big-timer.” I was approached by SumahoMAMA to review their Touch and Sing Along Picture Book, which is available as a free app. Woot! My son loves playing on my iPad and I like giving my opinion on stuff, so WIN.
The app is free to download (see links at end) and comes with a few songs. I purchased one of the Super Value Packs, which netted me 6 additional songs for $4.99 (a savings of $0.95, as the individual songs are $0.99 apiece). Each song plays in the background, while an accompanying game provides several ways for the child to engage by touch or sound. These are the songs I tested out with my one-week-shy-of-3 son:
Hokey Pokey (free)
I wish I had something nice to say about this one, but the avatars used to do the Hokey Pokey all creeped me out. It randomly tells you to shake it, but when you shake the iPad, nothing appears to happen with the avatar. Plus, it’s kind of confusing because the avatar faces you, so it’s left is the child’s right; so the avatar will put its right hand forward and say it’s the left hand. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but doesn’t seem helpful to me.
Alphabet Song (free)
Really cute game. A balloon is held up with a letter and the child is asked to find the same letter out of 6 other balloons. Once he picks the right letter, he gets to see an interactive picture of something that starts with that letter (for example, he could strum the guitar for G). It’s also split up into sections (A-F, G-L, etc.) and toggles between uppercase and lowercase letters. Once my son realized the purpose was NOT to pop every balloon, he really enjoyed finding the letters and getting the “special surprise.”
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (free)
This one teaches kids the names of the planets. The planets are all sort of swirling around the screen, and are named as they are touched. My son particularly loved the rocket that occasionally flies by. My beef with this one was the weird characters that popped up on the planets as they were named. Some of them looked like they died after being named! Venus’ worm lost its head, Jupiter’s frog spun in circles, Mercury’s fish died, the astronaut popped the moon and looked terrified as it sped off in space, and Uranus’ ice cream splattered all over the inside of its spaceman helmet. WEIRD.
Old MacDonald Had a Farm (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
While the song plays, your child can make sheep jump over a fence, touch various animals to hear their name and voice (Mooooo! Cow!) or mess with the farmer. It engaged my son for awhile, but the song is on a loop (and the activities don’t change) so became very repetitive. It also seemed a little disorganized, as the activities didn’t correlate at all to the song (it’d be singing about ducks while my son was counting a sheep, then making the donkey bray after hitting the cowbell).
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
The song plays on a loop while a train passes through a countryside. Lots of things to touch and hear the name, and quite possibly the world’s most annoying whistle. My son loved touching that whistle button so much, I had to take it away for fear my head would explode. The child gives it two thumbs up, the mother gives it two thumbs in the ear. So if screeching whistles give you a headache, my advice would be to encourage listening to other songs or pop headphones on the kiddo while he plays.
Parade of Wooden Soldiers (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
As the song plays, you get to touch the toys and make them move. If you touch the door that says, Do Not Open, a little boy peeks out and the toys freeze. Pretty cute. My son loved touching the airplane and making it fly away, with the fire-breathing dragon a close second. He even made up a little “story” – that the dragon was cleaning the airplane when it breathed the fire on it. The musical instruments that a child can “play” are a cymbal and a piano – much less annoying to me than the whistle!
Bingo (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
This one came with 5 rounds of a “Find Bingo” game – the child is presented with a picture of Bingo the dog and asked to pick him out among several different dogs. My not-quite-3yo son finished the 5 rounds in about 60 seconds. He enjoyed replaying it, but I don’t think it was worth $0.99.
The Farmer in the Dell (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
While the song plays, the child is presented with a pattern and asked to choose which one will come next (example: child, wife, child, wife, ?). This one was a bit of a challenge for my son, as we’re still learning patterns. However, it only came with 3 rounds. Not worth $0.99 to me.
London Bridge (part of $4.99 pack; $0.99 for individual song)
I’m not even sure what the point of this game was. A character starts to walk across a bridge, the bridge falls apart and the character falls to the water. Luckily, the character is saved before he hits the water – either by a ship, a mechanical fish, a friendly mermaid, a grumpy octopus or a dragon. There are different characters to drop into the water – a soldier, a punk rocker, and so on – but that seems to be the extent of the game. The bridge pieces change each time it resets, but there doesn’t seem to be much, if any, interactive play. As far as I know, the character never makes it to the other side. Definitely not worth $0.99.
There are other songs available as well, such as The Muffin Man, The Wheels on the Bus and a few others. In addition, there are several traditional Japanese children’s songs sung in English. All are $0.99, unless you buy them as part of a Super Value Pack. Then you save $0.95.
The app also allows you to record your own versions of the songs, which is kind of fun. Then you get to hear just how off-key you actually sing! But as a military parent, I see an added bonus to this feature. When Mom or Dad has to deploy, he/she can record the songs before leaving – allowing a child to hear Mom or Dad’s voice anytime.
It’s a great free app in that it is colorful and keeps a toddler entertained. I would have paid money for one of the free songs (The Alphabet Song), but didn’t think some of the others were worth their $0.99 price tag (Bingo, Farmer in the Dell). Others were fun, but kind of weird. And I’m pretty sure the creepy clown and hairy chest guy from the Hokey Pokey will be included in my next nightmare. If you asked me to say yea or nay, I’d have to say meh.
SumahoMAMA has some videos on YouTube, where you can preview the songs: http://www.youtube.com/user/sumahomama. Or if you’re ready to try it out, find your version here: