If you don’t mind creepy-crawlies, Bugs & Buttons offers lots of decent educational games for young children.
Bugs & Buttons has been getting rave reviews from parents and was recently named one of the top education apps of the year in the annual iTunes Rewind rankings. We decided to take a closer look at this app to find out what all the fuss was about. Here’s what we learned:
Bugs & Buttons took two things that don’t have much in common and made 18 games suitable for ages three and up. Children older than six might find a few of the games interesting, but they mostly seem aimed at the three-to-six year old set. Each game uses buttons, bugs or both, and the bugs are startlingly realistic (so are the buttons, but they didn’t scare us as much). The games run the gamut from simple (tapping and dragging apples into a basket) to more complex (drawing a line through a maze for an ant or bee to follow.
The background music changes for each game. Some is upbeat and cheery, some is classical and some is haunted house-style creepy. The last one, juxtaposed with a dark sky and flying insects in the Firefly Sky game, might make this game in particular more suitable for older kids. The sound effects vary in quality.
Educational games that are easy to play
Some of the best games were Patterns (choose the next button in the pattern and slide it into place):
Connect Dots (tap numbers in sequence to form a recognizable shape):
and Butterfly Valley (tilt the iPad or iPhone to the right and left to steer a butterfly through “goalposts” made of dandelion clocks):
Other games included an Angry Birds-esque catapult game, a couple of matching games, a tap-and-drag game that involves sorting buttons, a cockroach racing game and Letter Train, which involves picking the missing letter in a sequence (A – B – C – ___- D – E).
Games have different levels and a system of awarding stars and points that is not entirely clear the first time you play. Some have hidden features that can be discovered on a second or third encounter. When you complete a level with a high score, you are awarded a stamp (with a picture of an insect on it, of course); there are 44 of these to collect.
One especially nice feature is that 12 of the games are progressive, meaning that they increase in difficulty if you do well in the first few minutes.
What we think
So, should you buy it? At $2.99 it’s not the cheapest app out there, but it does include 18 different games. The action is smooth and the graphics are high quality (the cockroaches in particular were extremely natural). Most of the games, if not all, definitely develop basic skills and we think that children will really enjoy them. A couple of negative points: There’s no way to save stamp collections for individual children (just for one player), but the stamps aren’t at all integral to the games. We also had to reinstall the app as it froze at one point, but then it worked fine. We’re willing to chalk this up as a one-time glitch. All in all, the games had just the right amount of interactivity for young children and we’d recommend Bugs & Buttons as a great way to keep your kids learning as they’re entertained.
|Good Point||Lots of game variety means that kids can play and re-play without getting bored.|
|Bad Point||The educational benefits of some of the games are slightly dubious.|
|Comment & Tip||Very young children should avoid playing the Firefly Sky and Pinch & Grab games as they might be frightened, although it’s also possible that this app might teach children not to be frightened of insects.|
|App Name||Bugs & Buttons||Developer||Little Bit Studio|
|Price||$2.99||Latest Update||November 17, 2011|
|User Age||3 to 6 years||Category||Education|
|Size||80.7MB||OS||iOS 3.0 or later|