Drawnimal - Lucas Zanotto

Title: Drawnimal

DeveloperLucas Zanotto

Compatibility: iPad / iPhone / iPod Touch // iOS 6.0

Size: 31.1 MB

Description:  A simple program which uses the iDevice as the jumping off-point for creative drawing.  Select one of the alphabet's 26 letters (if you're doing this in English -- there are five languages available), place the iPad, etc. down on a piece of paper, and have your kid trace around the iPad as indicated on the app.  (So, in the case of the picture here, a couple triangles on the top, a tail near the bottom.)  Most kids will be able to figure out the animal -- I think "C" is fairly obvious here -- but watching the animation (and listening to the narrator say "C is for... cat") once the user presses the "play" triangle will amuse the kids playing along.

The replay value isn't the best -- there's only a single animation and therefore a single drawing that can be done for each of the 26 letters -- but the multiple languages may extend that value somewhat.  The execution of the concept is very polished, and the concept itself -- that creativity need not be limited to the digital world -- is worthy.

Age Range: 3 through 7

Price: $1.99


Musical Paint - Building Blocks Media


TitleMusical Paint

Developer:  Building Blocks Media

Compatibility: iPad / iPhone / iPod touch // iOS 6.0

Size: 77.8 MB

Description:  Less a musical app with some painting components than a painting app with some musical components, this app allows your kids to "finger paint" and produce both a visual piece of art -- the "canvas" -- while generating sound that changes with where the finger goes on the canvas.  Different colors produce different sounds.  And you get to sign your name at the end.

The downside of the app is that it doesn't have a lot of painting or musical features.  Painting-wise, you can only pick one color at a time, then change its intensity.  Musically, you can't change the instruments -- you're stuck with the same 5 color/sound combinations and many of the vibrant instrument sounds the animated characters at the museum splash page play aren't found in the painting area.  But there are probably a number of families for whom the specific multi-sensory experience (visual plus music) this provides is the key feature, and providing too many features otherwise is over-complicating matters.  (Teachers may also find the included lesson plans useful.)

The interface is reasonably easy to use, with saving the picture to the app's "gallery" easy enough.  (So is e-mailing pictures, so you may need to supervise your kiddos unless you turn that feature off.)  While the app is available on all 3 types of iOS devices, I only used it on the iPad; it seems the iPhone screen might be a bit small, or at least difficult to do much more than the blockiest of drawings.

Families seeking a pure fingerpainting experience or a more musical experience probably won't find much here worth retaining.  But if the idea of audio-visual art intrigues you, you might want to try this (or even its older sibling, not specifically designed for kids, but cheaper).

Age Range: 3 through 8

Price: $4.99


Note: I was given a copy of the app for possible review.

Draw on the Table - Spark Studios / Frances England


Title: Santa's Merry Band

DeveloperSpark Studios / Frances England

Compatibility: iPad / iPhone / iPod touch // iOS 5.1

Size: 30.9 MB

DescriptionNote: This app may no longer be available for new downloads.  My apologies for any inconvenience.

There are many other drawing apps available, but the number that feature a song from San Francisco's Frances England numbers exactly one.  It's a pretty simple one -- the user chooses a food (blueberries, broccoli, coffee, strawberries, etc.) from the top of the screen, and then drags it across the "table" at the center.  In the case of liquids (coffee, orange juice) and some solids, the user "drops" them and then tilts the screen to direct where they roll.  (So it's a physics puzzler, too!)  You may not realize that there are more foods available than what's shown at top -- that menu scrolls left and right.  As with most art apps, you can share with the world via various methods.

This won't change the world, but as a fun (and free) experiment (with, I repeat, a song from Frances England), it may be worth the 31 MB on your iDevice to amuse your littlest ones.

Age Range: 3 through 7

Price: Free