• Come the weekend, my daughters love to fight over who gets to use my husband’s iPad (you know, your average Saturday struggle). So like most families with different aged kids, we’re always on the lookout for apps that will suit everyone’s interests–easier said than done. Fortunately, my 8-year-old loves playing school and you can only guess who has been recruited as her one-and only student. When my girls got their hands on Educational Insights’ Hot Dots Jr. app, it was all they could do not to contain their excitement. The game play is relatively straightforward: four categories (ABCs, numbers, colors and shapes) with 12 questions in each. A friendly girl prompts young players to answer questions and with each correct answer, a talking dog rewards them with a job well done. My 8-year-old helped walk my 4-year-old through the first sets of questions, but once she got the hang of it, this preschooler was off and running, virtually speaking. Typical questions range from basic letter recognition, to more complex challenges like identifying the word “four” along with the numeric figure 4. Both my girls enjoyed the shapes category best, as they raced each other to see who could complete a pattern first: “diamond, square, triangle; diamond, square…what comes next?” For my younger daughter, this app kept her attention and taught her some new concepts that she’ll surely pick up on in the classroom this fall. And for my older kid, it was a way to reinforce what she has already mastered, while enabling her to demonstrate her own teaching skills. Who knows? We have just have a future educator on our hands…

    In a Nutshell: Keep the summer slump at bay with an educational app for the iPhone/iPad that puts budding teachers in the driver’s seat. Ideal backseat companion for road trip/vacation time.

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