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Apps let parents play learning games with kids

  • McClatchy-Tribune News Service
  • Published Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013, at 12 a.m.

As fun – and educational – as tablets can be, when it comes to parents playing learning games with their children (as opposed to kids playing by themselves and turning into zombies), there really isn’t an app for that. Until now. TigerFace Games has developed a number of learning apps that allow parents and children to either compete or collaborate. The TigerFace Games apps are just a few of the dozens of games that are part of the Fingerprint Network. We spoke with Nancy MacIntyre, Fingerprint’s CEO and co-founder. Having worked at Broderbund, LeapFrog, and Hasbro, Nancy knows a thing or two about games. “We’re trying to create experiences that parents and kids can do together,” she said.

We test-drove three Fingerprint apps, including two that were released last week. We also previewed two more that are due out by the end of September. All are fun, engaging, entertaining, and challenging, and the graphics and animation are excellent.

Cosmic Reactor

Two players compete head-to-head in seven math-based games. One is a memory-match game, where players turn over “plates” that have equations, trying to find matching pairs (for example, 5x2 and 20-10). In another, a randomly generated problem comes up (“pick the equation that gives 41”), and players have to find the right one from among a bunch of equation-sporting viruses that are floating around the screen. Customization is easy, so kindergarteners can do simple addition and subtraction, while older kids can multiply and divide larger numbers. (Ages 5-11; $2.99).

Quick Tap Spanish

In this two-person game, players race to match foreign-language words with their English equivalents. Quick Tap (which also comes in French, German, Portuguese, Mandarin, and others). Includes more than 100 word pairs in a variety of categories, such as animals, colors, food, and numbers. A fun way to brush up on the basics. (Ages: 5-11; $1.99)

The Flying Alphabetinis

If you like Scramble With Friends (by Zynga) or Boggle, you'll love this game, where tiny acrobats with letters on their bellies pile on top of each other and create a jumble. Players find words forwards, backwards, up, down, and even zig-zagy. Flashcards with hints (like a picture of a boat) help early readers. (Ages 5-11; Free – $2.99).

Sushi Scramble (coming soon)

A friendly sushi chef puts letters on floating boats while hungry customers grab them as fast as they can. In the 2-person collaborative mode, players work together to complete assignments such as, “Make two words that start with T”. In competitive mode, up to four players make words using letters from the boats or snatched from another player’s tray. (Ages 7-11; $2.99)

Equator (coming soon)

The earth is out of whack and the only way to set things right is to come up with two equations that produce equal results. Both players work together using game-generated numbers and floating arithmetic operators (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). As the game progresses, problems gradually become more challenging. (Ages 5-11; Free – $2.99)

When parents download any of the 40 plus Fingerprint apps, they become part of the Network, which offers some nice features. Of course, basic parental controls keep kids from downloading more apps without permission. But there’s also the ability to set up individual profiles for everyone in the family and track each child’s progress. That way dad and mom will know whether there are specific areas the child needs to work on.

Right now, Fingerprint apps are available only on Apple devices. But Android versions will be out soon. As Nancy MacIntyre said, “We'll do anything we can to keep kids and families playing together.”

For more info, visit http://www.fingerprintplay.com

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