Disclosure: This app was given to me free of charge to be reviewed, and I have also received a fee for my time. However, this review is my unbiased honest opinion of the product.
Age Range: 2+ years
Manufacturer’s Description: Introduce your preschooler to a vibrant world of colors and shapes that builds math, critical thinking and language skills through play! Accompanied by a friendly fox – and other animal buddies along the way – young children will learn and practice matching, sorting and categorizing both shapes and colors through imaginative activity-filled worlds.
Review: Highlights for Children’s latest app, Highlights Shapes, is a fun game for preschool children, helping them to learn different shapes and colours. With fun animations and simple gameplay, I think it’s ideal for toddlers aged 2-3 years.
Lydia is 3 and a half at the moment, Georgie is 5, and both of them enjoyed playing this game. It’s simple but engaging and fun – they both finished all three levels in one sitting so it isn’t the longest game in the world, but they didn’t get bored while playing it and will happily go through it and play it again. The first level is free, and you can unlock the second and third levels with a single in app purchase – at the time of writing it cost me £2.29 to unlock them both which seems reasonable.
The three levels have different themes and deal with different shapes and colours. The three levels are Ancient Jungle, Magical Underwater, and Mysterious Space – Georgie and Lydia loved underwater and space the best. Each level goes seamlessly into the next without having to go back to the home screen in-between. There are 11 shapes in the game; circle, square, triangle, rectangle, pentagon. hexagon, octagon, diamond, star, crescent and heart. There are also 11 colours; the 6 primary & secondary colours, plus white, grey, black, pink and brown.
To play, you simply drag the shapes to the right locations on the screen, which are obvious by their white colour and dashed outline. You match the colour of the shape to the colour of the dashed line, and when you get it right, it sticks in place and the app says the colour & shape out loud. If you get it wrong, the shape bounces back to it’s starting position. The different puzzles include putting several smaller shapes together to make a larger one (Georgie informed me later that two squares make a rectangle), classifying by shape, and choosing one shape out of several to fit into the outline.
The animations are really cute without taking too long between puzzles, and the little fox that floats along in his spaceship is just adorable. The app is full of fun sound effects and some nice, but not too annoying, music. The game is free of ads (yay!) and is great for developing those fine motor skills in toddlers.
At any time, you can see a map showing your progress through the level, or press the little house button to get back to the home screen. When you go back into the level, you go back to the same puzzle that you got to previously, and you can reset level progress in the settings – accessed from the home screen. You can turn the music off in settings if you wish, and also the voice.
One thing I love about this app is that you can choose between American English and U.K. English. I find it really irritating when you find a great educational app but it is full of americanisms and your kids end up pronouncing words oddly. When you play the same puzzles with the two different English settings one after the other you can really notice the difference in the pronunciation of words like “orange” so it’s great that you can set it to British English. You can also put it in Spanish mode which would be useful for children learning Spanish at school.
I’ve done a video showing some of the different gameplay, as well as the parent info & settings screens:
We tested Highlights Shapes on the girls’ iPad Mini and it worked great. We didn’t experience any weird behaviour or crashes.