Educational apps for kids are a dime-a-dozen in the App Store and Google Play Store. And the latest marine animal themed one from SeaWorld Kids aims to combine learning basic letter shapes with learning about underwater creatures. It's a game designed for toddlers, to introduce them to letter shapes and does so in a very child friendly, colorful and playful manner.
With me being the only parent among our video editors, I was asked to do the honors in reviewing Underwater ABCs. And although it's not perfect, it does exactly what the name suggests it will do.
Open the app and it's clear it's been designed for use by children with no explanation necessary. Press the big green play button and you're greeted by all the letters in the alphabet. You can switch between upper and lower case by choosing the desired set. Choose a letter, and you're away.
A clear outline of a letter is placed in an underwater scene, with an overly friendly-looking turtle smiling at you the entire time. A star and some arrows make it clear what's expected next. You "draw" the shape of the letter by dragging the star around the letter shape, and once you've done it, you're rewarded. An animal beginning with that letter shows up on screen, normally - like the turtle - with a huge, beaming smile. Everything underwater is delighted to be there, apparently. Even the great white shark looks cheerful.
Music and graphics are attractive, making it a truly child-friendly environment. And a friendly voice kindly tells you the name of the letters and the animals pictured.
Of course, I tested it on my kids. They're 4 and 5, both have already been learning reading, writing or recognizing letters already, and so it was a little basic for them. Still, they enjoyed learning the different creature names.
Apart from choosing between upper and lower case letters, there's not much else to do with the App. It's the same set of 26 creatures each time you go through the alphabet. You can change a couple of settings to switch the music and/or voice off. You can also reset the data to start from scratch if you want to. As with many apps, there's also an area where it shows off the other apps available from the same developer. And I was impressed that the developers added a "security feature" asking you to calculate a simple addition sum to ensure that you're an adult, and not a toddler, trying to access the App Store.
And that's the app in a nutshell. In all honesty, I think it's a little pricey at $2.99 for an app that doesn't do very much. Personally, I'd love to see more creatures being cycled through to make it less monotonous for the kids, and a change of scenery every once in a while would keep things a little more interesting.
Apart from than, it's a great app for kids looking to get their first taste of the alphabet, and teaches them about nature in the process.