Bo's Bedtime Story
From Heppi, best for ages 3-5, $1.99 for iPad, $.99 for iPhone and iPod Touch (called "Bo's Bedtime"), $.99 for Android.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 4)
By helping a baby giraffe, known as Bo, get ready for bed, kids start to see that there are certain things to do before going to bed. Helping Bo takes the form of playing 10 different games in which preschoolers use sorting, color recognition, matching, counting, and listening skills. The first game involves cleaning up Bo's toys. Players drag and sort the toys, based on type. Next they help Bo put his dirty clothes in the hamper and his boots on the shelf. The other games relate to taking a bath, washing Bo's hair, drying him off, brushing his teeth, putting on pajamas, finding his favorite stuffed bear, reading a bedtime story and getting kisses so he can go to sleep.
The pajama game is a favorite because once kids find and match the tops and bottoms to six different pairs of PJs, they can select the color for Bo to wear. For goodnight kisses, kids swipe their fingers over strings holding the kisses to the ceiling, as in "Cut the Rope."
Presented with charming graphics, a pleasant sound track and read with narration that is inviting, this app is perfect to explore while cuddled up on your child's bed. Bo is a great going-to-bed buddy.
The Going to Bed Book
From Loud Crow Interactive Inc., best for ages 2-4, $1.99 for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad; $3.99-$5.04 for Android.
Rating: 4 stars
Way more silly than "Bo's Bedtime Story," this charming book app adapts Sandra Boynton's board book about 10 animals going to bed and turns it into an interactive romp. In between the laughs, kids will see that this boatload of animals also has a going-to-bed routine. They take a bath (all together), they hang their towels (and themselves) up to dry, they brush their teeth (with hot water and steam up the screen of your device) and exercise (in their pajamas, of course). And then it's down to bed, and time to turn off the lights.
Read by droll, master-storyteller Billy J. Kramer and accompanied by gentle piano music, this rhyming book app is special because the animals' characters are well drawn and the interactions add to the reading experience. Kids will enjoy hanging up the elephant to dry, popping bubbles in the bath and spinning the moon to make the animals exercise. This app makes going to bed fun.
Dr. Panda's Hospital - Doctor Game For Kids
From TribePlay, best for ages 3-6, $1.99 for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android (known as "Dr. Panda's Hospital - Fun Animal Game for Preschoolers" or "Dr. Panda's Hospital - Vet Game").
Rating: 4 stars
Kids join Dr. Panda in his veterinarian hospital to help him cure his eight sick patients. By following the sequence of selecting a patient in the waiting room, settling the sick animal into a hospital bed, investigating what is wrong and then nursing the animal back to health, preschoolers start to learn the routines involving going to the doctor.
In the app's 10 minigames, kids drop medicine into a bear's pink eye, realign a monkey's broken ribs, take a puppy's blood pressure and even give a shot. Some of the games aren't quite so serious, including one where you drop a magnet inside a stomach to pull out metal objects.
The sick animals, while sad, are adorable and so appreciative of your child's doctoring. The app is simple to navigate without any words shown or spoken. A peppy sound track contributes to the fun, as does the fall of confetti when you cure a patient.
By putting kids in control of these medical procedures, the app makes doctor visits less scary. This is a great app to play before heading off to your next doctor's appointment.
From Pepi Play, Ages 3-6, $1.99, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android.
Rating: 4 stars
Kids learn about hygiene in this app, which has four different areas to explore. After choosing to help "Pepi" as a boy or a girl, kids select one of the activity areas. At the sink, kids help Pepi wash her hands with soap, brush her teeth, trim her nails, comb her hair and blow her nose. In the bath, they fill the tub with bubble bath, scrub Pepi's toes as she giggles and shampoo her hair. The toilet area shows Pepi using the toilet, including hearing appropriate sounds. Kids hand her toilet paper, flush the toilet and spray the air with freshener. In the last area, kids learn how to wash Pepi's clothes in the washer and hang them up to dry. The routine is the same if kids choose to play with Pepi as a boy or girl.
Pepi is very expressive, which makes exploring this app fascinating. Ticklish and appropriately dirty and disheveled, Pepi appreciates your child's actions. She smiles at you and thanks you along the way.
Playing the "Pepi's Bath" app is a great way to talk about hygiene routines, and the ways in which your routines are different from Pepi's.
(Copyright © 2012 USA TODAY)