Appcessories! 6 'App-plus' Toys for 2013 (page 2)

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Updated on Mar 19, 2013

AppCrayon. (DanoToys; ages 3–6; $9.99–29.99; iOS) Do you want your child to have all the educational benefits of a high-tech learning tool without his little fingers poking at your precious iPad? The solution is the AppCrayon, a firm but flexible crayon-shaped stylus that's perfect for little hands just learning to write. Designed to appeal to preschoolers, this tool works with multiple drawing and writing apps. The triangular design was created by educational professionals to help toddlers and preschoolers practice their pinch grip—an essential early writing skill. This colorful stylus is a great way to get the littlest learners working on fine motor skills, while still having the benefit of early exposure to the wonderful world of apps.

Apptivators Tablet Robots. (WMC William Mark Corp.; ages 6 and up; $24.99; iOS and Android) Look out, tiny robots have taken over your tablet! Kids can watch hungry monsters skim the surface of the screen looking for food—and you better start tossing bugs into their mouth or they'll be angry! The game "Chomp Monsters" involves both an app and a real 3-D monster that your child can manipulate and interact with off-screen. "Robot Rundown" uses small car robots that race across a virtual track on top of the tablet or iPad. The basic structure of these games is not different from many other apps that work on reflexes and fine motor skills—the difference is that a lot of the action takes place in three dimensions, so your child gets a great learning experience along with a dose of tech. Just download the app and place the right "shell" over the robot, and it’s time to play! Available this summer.

Ubooly. (Ubooly; ages 4–9; $29.95; iOS) Drop your phone into an Ubooly and you might never get it back—so warns the folks behind this futuristic yet fuzzy new plaything. Ubooly is an interactive app and plush toy all in one. Just download the free app, unzip the Ubooly head and place your phone inside. Activate Ubooly by touch and you'll immediately see Ubooly's friendly face looking out from all that bright orange fur. One of the more amazing things about this toy is the voice activation feature. Ubooly will ask your child questions, offer games, facts and music, and wait for a response. It's uncanny and compelling—a real virtual buddy in a perky, protective package. Ubooly offers up a lot of useful educational games like elementary counting and fun facts on a variety of standard subjects. The real selling point is the experience of interacting with this appealing character. The app can be used without the stuffed body, but why would you do that? Available now. (There are some in-app and add-on purchases that parents should be cautious about.)

Tiggly Shapes. (Tiggly; ages 2–5; 29.99; iOS) Tiggly Shapes are toddler-friendly tools that interact with the Tiggly iPad apps in the same way as traditional shape recognition or matching games. Kids can grasp the pieces and place them on the pad to make things happen. An advantage of this system over traditional puzzles or "fit the shape into the hole" games is the virtual reward system—success in matching shapes can create new things and encourage young ones to explore. In the Tiggly Safari app, for example, following the shape-matching prompts creates creatures that match the scene. The system is designed for the littlest learners, from toddler to preschool, and it targets basic visual and fine motor skills. The developers have designed the physical shapes to be both easy to grasp and manipulate, and also harmless to the surface of Mom and Dad's expensive iPad—a gentle and effective way to integrate virtual and physical play. Available this summer.

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