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App review: ‘Picture Dots’: Stellar STEAM tool sparks learning, curiosity, and creativity in preschoolers

Parents need to know that "Picture Dots" is an education app that allows kids to create content by adding interactive dots, representing sounds, music, or words, to pictures. It's one of the "noticing tools" designed by the New York Hall of Science. The app's open-ended design is intended to empower little ones to be at the helm of how to use the app. Kids get to decide whether to use the app's functions to tell stories, look for patterns, practice naming objects, create personalized content, or any other innovative purpose they come up with. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

"Picture Dots" is an interactive platform that empowers little ones to create content by dragging dots onto images to layer in words, sounds, and music notes. Kids and families are in charge of deciding the purpose and goal of the game and how to use the app's features. "Picture Dots" includes some images for kids to explore and interact with. Granting the app access to the device's camera and photos allows little ones to explore and work with images from their personal experiences. To navigate, kids drag the colored dots onto the image and choose whether the dots will represent sounds, words, or music notes. The music notes are programed into the app, but kids have the option to type words or record sounds to layer in original content. Under settings, families can control sound, voice over, and choose whether the app appear in English or Spanish. The sharing via email feature and uploading pictures from the camera roll are passcode protected; to access users have to solve addition problems.

IS IT ANY GOOD?

Kids and families will enjoy letting their imagination soar and will feel empowered by this open-ended and interactive experience that taps into STEAM and language learning. "Picture Dots" is a platform that families can use for a variety of learning opportunities and to nurture a variety of science, math, language, and arts skills. Parents will find that this awesome tool helps frame conversations about experiences, to tell stories, build vocabulary, and practice finding patters. The onscreen experience fuels offscreen connections and family bonding.

Little ones will find the app to be colorful and visually appealing, and it's concise and simple to navigate. Another awesome feature is the parent gate required for adding images from the camera roll or for sharing via email. This feature adds a bit more control and oversight regarding how kids use or share material not already embedded in the app. Overall, "Picture Dots" is a fun platform that fosters creativity and can be used by families to explore and interact with the world around them.

RATING AND CONTENT

Recommended for ages 3 and older

Quality: 5 out of 5

Educational value: 4 out of 5

Ease of play: 4 out of 5

Violence and scariness: 0 out of 5

Sexy stuff: 0 out of 5

Language: 0 out of 5

Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5

Consumerism: 0 out of 5

APP DETAILS

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Price: Free

Release date: April 25, 2018

Category: Education

Topics: STEM

Size: 113.60 MB

Publisher: New York Hall of Science

Minimum software requirements: iOS 7.0 or later

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.

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