When you have kids and want an educational app, there are many apps to choose from. However, there are the bad, the good and the exceptional. In this review, I will look at the exceptional. These are not just apps, but whole educational platforms aimed at teaching kid’s skills from early ages and advancing them with step by step games and tools that provide another layer of education away from the formal education system.
Essentially, there are apps out there that will provide your kids with a comprehensive education from the convenient of your home and your PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
This is the world of ABCya, and this is what an amazing company can produce when love is a major component of their productions process.
ABCya: The company
ABCya.com, L.L.C. is an educational children’s game software development company that was founded in 2004 by Alan Tortolani in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S. The CEO of the company is Lisa Tortolani, and the official website is www.abcya.com
Alan was a public-school teacher that decided to create his own software since his school district ran out of funds. The name was his own creation and reflected a word that kids of all ages could pronounce.
In September 2016, ABCya reached around 13.2 million unique visits a month making this a constant top 25 apps found on many scoreboards including the iOS App Store’s Education Category.
ABCya: The platform
Since this platform was created by a public-school teacher, it conforms to certain conditions including its focus on K-5 grade levels. Games are categorized into age groups and subject matters. The site is a platform for holding many games, and new ones are added annually.
The age groups are organized from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, and the content categories are split into two main categories and then split into subgroups. The main categories are numbers, letters, holidays, strategy and skills, and the games and activities are designed to meet the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
The subgroup categories include arcade-style, word find, racing, typing, and more. In some instances, games might require parental or grow-up guidance to explain the instructions.
The site itself is easy to navigate and GUI friendly for both adults and kids.
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ABCya: The Components
After downloading the app, you have two options, a family login or class login page. The difference between the two is based on the original registration process, where an individual or family login requires an e-mail and password with basic info. The class login is school-based, and the process is between the school and the site, so all kids in the class can connect using the same login codes.
The site has a nice list of links under the Parents and Teachers tab, and you can connect to their FAQ, they’re about us and other settings and pages.
Now to the core of the matter, the games.
There are over 300 games and activities on the site, and they are accessible through category or grade. Each game has a grade relevance indicator, and each grade holds the games relevant to its age group.
The seven ages groups are:
As an example, in the age group category (Pre-K) Pre-School, are the following word games
ABC & 123 Magnets
In this game, the children can practice the alphabet, number, and punctuation recognition. They do this by clicking and dragging magnets to the refrigerator. The program reads out the letter or number when the child clicks it on a magnet. This game can be used to practice basic writing skills.
All About Me
This is the first day at school kind of simulator, where the player is asked to answer different questions about themselves. This is a step-by-step process, making the game structured, and the answers are displayed in a fun pattern. You can save the final layout and print it.
Alphabet BINGO is all about learning the alphabet in a fun way. In this game, children will hear an animated character say a letter and the player has to click on the correct letter. The display can be toggled between upper and lower case.
Other pre-K word games include:
- Alphabet Bubble
- Alphabet Slider Puzzle
- Alphabetical Order
- Alphabetical Order Bubble
- Connect the Dots ABC
- Letter & Number Tracing
- Molly’s Magic Adventure
- Monster Mansion – Alphabet Matching
- Monster Mansion – Letter Match
- Talk to Me Alphabet
Let’s jump over to the 2nd Grade and look at their holiday games. These games represent two popular religions and US national holidays, instilling the child with an understanding of the icons that represent holidays while providing some exciting interaction. The religions are Christianity and Judaism, I expect that sometime during the next year they will add Islamic games too, but Islam has yet to become a national identified religion
Second Grade Holiday Games:
- Christmas Lights Math
- Christmas Present Hunt
- Christmas Tree Fun
- Christmas Word Search
- Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel
- Easter Egg Hunt
- Easter Word Search
- Ghost Typing
- Halloween Candy Hunt
- Halloween Hop
- Halloween Word Search
- Hanukkah Gelt Hunt
- Hanukkah Word SearchHanukkah Word Search is a word puzzle game providing two grid sizes. The larger one is for longer words, and the shorter one, yes, for shorter words.
- Make a Christmas Tree
- Make a Gingerbread House
- Make a Pumpkin
- Make a Snowman
- Make an Easter Egg
- Pumpkin Carving
- Pumpkin Matching
- Shamrock Hunt
- Super Santa
- Super Santa Junior
- Thanksgiving Word Search
- Trick or Treat
- Turkey Touchdown
- Valentine Hunt
- Valentine’s Day Word Search
- Write a Letter to SantaThis is the ABCya writing activity game for helping children write letters to Santa. It helps teach them both rewriting and also understanding what Santa all about is. (If you explain it properly).
If we jump over to the 5th-grade list of strategy games, then the list is seriously overpopulated with choices, and this is a good thing. Here is the full list, with a few defined for reference to the level that is required to play them.
There are over 100 Fifth Grade Strategy Games, but we shortened the list for those games with different level rates such as Andy’s Golf 1 & 2, this is, in reality, two different games in the same series, I counted them as one. Here is the full list.
- 10 x 10 | Ice Cream Adventure
- 40x Escape
- Alan’s Pizzeria
- Alarmy 1 to 4
- Andy’s Golf 1 & 2
- Aqua Friends
- Aqua Thief
- Baby Chick MazeBaby Chick Maze is a family memory-based strategy. In this game, you learn to guide the baby chick through a maze from memory. This means you need to look carefully and then retrace your steps based on memory.
- Big-Time Butter Baron
- Blue Box
- Brain Trainer
- Build the Bridge
- Cake Topping
- Candy Pool
- Candy Timbermen
- Cat Around Africa
- Cat Around Asia
- Cat Around Europe
- Cat Around the World
- Civiballs 1 & 2
- Cute Puzzle Witch
- Daisy’s Plumber Puzzle
- Dogs in Space
- Duck Life 1 to 5
- Factory Balls 1 to 3
- Flappy Dragon
- Flip and Go
- Fluffy Cuddlies
- Full Moon
- Future Buddy
- Fuzz Bugs Factory
- Fuzz Bugs Treasure Hunt
- Giant Hamster Run
- Gravity Run
- Hero in the Ocean 1 and 2
- Hoverboard Halfpipe
- In Drmzzz
- Jelly Collapse
- Jelly Doods
- Jelly Slice
- Jellydad Hero
- Jetpack Escape
- Let Me Grow
- LineumLineum is a puzzle game that teaches your children how to think in 3-D with mental image planning by drawing a continuous line that flips non-green tiles.
- Little Jane
- Me and the Key 1 to 3
- Mila’s Magic Shop
- Mini Train
- Money Land
- Monsterland 1 to 4
- Monsterland Challenge
- Mountain Hop
- Mythical Jewels
- Need a Hero
- One Button Circus
- Pixo Cross
- Puzzle Drops
- Rainbow Stacker
- Rally Racer
- Red Warrior
- Road Rally
- Robo Trobo
- Rotate & Roll
- Salazar the Alchemist
- Scary Path
- School Bus Pickup
- Shift the BlockThis is a logic puzzle that requires the player to slide colorful blocks around and create groups of like-colored blocks. This then eliminates these blocks leading to a puzzle solution.
- Slice the Box
- Snail Bob 2
- Snoring Pirates
- Snoring Treasure Island
- Snoring Wild West
- Snoring Winter Edition
- Stack the Burger
- Submarine Dash
- Sugar, Sugar 1 and 2
- Sushi Slicer
- Temple Crossing
- Ten Basket
- Tingly Bubble Shooter
- Tiny King
- Tower Blocks
- Use Boxmen
- Well Whale
- Wheely 1 to 7
- Zippy Boxes
Safety and Guidance
I have trolled the internet for reviews to back up what I already know and have experience with. My children have all used these games, and even I have a go on occasion. These are fun games for all ages; however, even when there are fun games around, you still have been wary of the internet. In this section of my review, I bring third-party reviews, professionals that have used and still use ABCya on a daily basis, their input is important for all partners, since we cannot gauge the contribution of these games from a school environment point of view. So here are three separate professional opinions.
From Parents Choice:
A review was written by Karena Rush, Ph. D. in 2014. Rush opens up with “ABCya contains free, fun educational games and is a good place to find new and original educational activities as well as the tried and true. “ Rush concludes with these words “The variety of these games designed for children in grades K-5 will keep kids coming back for more fun and learning, while parents and teachers will want to recommend and share this site with one another.”
From Common Sense Education review website:
Posted by Kristin G., Classroom teacher from East Buchanan Elementary School, Gower, United States
Kristine opens with this statement “There are several reasons why I believe this is a great website to use in the classroom. One reason I like it so much is that many of the games have different levels. “ Kristine concludes with these remarks “Basically, if you are looking for a safe website that is easy to use where students can practice skills, then ABCya is the website for you and your students.”
Education World gave ABCya an A-A+ rating, here is their site’s reasons:
A for content: “ABCya provides Web-based educational games and activities that have been created by teachers for primary and elementary school students.”
A+ for site design: “The site is visually stimulating and easy to navigate. Some of the kindergarten and first-grade activities have audio instructions.”
The Childs Point of View
Any review that discusses apps for children should include a critique made by the player, and in this case, these are children. So, there is a cute 8-year-old child playing with this system for over 3 years now. He started off with the basics but fell in love with the strategy games such as duck race and blocks.
His main attraction to these games was competitive. He hates to lose. With strategy and arcade types of games, it’s pretty obvious when you win or lose. With numbers and words its fuzzier, since they don’t lose, they just get a right or wrong answer and try again.
Since there is a lot of dangerous games for children on the web, I try to provide him with enough online stimulation by offering a large and continuous flow of new games. In other words, children, on the whole, get bored quickly be repetitive games, they want something new that will constantly challenge their growing minds.
This is where ABCya comes in, their extensive library of games, and the many layers per game provide a lot of focused stimulation as well as attraction to change games. All the games were accepted happily by young hungry minds, and it is only the individual preference that decides which games are used more than others.
The conclusion of my son’s critique would have to be his love of full audio-visual stimulation, and the need to win at any cost, not just the computer, but other players. When it comes to exploration and mazes, then it’s a fight against himself, and this is the most frustrating. In the beginning, before he learned self-criticism, he created a new buffer. When he loses, it was the computer that was cheating. When playing some else, they were cheating. With word and number games this issue did not come up. What the bottom line of this story is, that children will learn to cope with failure in their way, but they have to be given enough stimulation so that they do fail, this is the only way they can learn from their mistakes and improve.
Playing the Games
Its time to delve into the games, I have delivered an overview of the site, but what does it really provide?
Let’s take a closer look:
The process is simple, you press the login button and then choose the “new subscription” option, as a parent I choose the family plan that costs $6.99 per month.
Pressing the family plan subscription button, I then agree to the terms and conditions of the site and am transferred to the payment screen. It is a very simple screen, just key in your card details and wait for the subscription screen to return.
Now go check your e-mail account, the one you used to register.
You then press the coniform account mail you received, and this will open an account confirmation page where you key in your details and password. You are all set up to now enjoy the site in full.
Checking your Account
Click on your name; it is on the top right-hand corner of the PC screen.
You can change your name, your e-mail, your password and also cancel your subscription.
Just click on a game, or on a Grade to get the game suitable for the grade of your child.
When you click on the game, icon it will open an Adobe Flash payer frame in your screen, so make sure you have the latest Adobe Flash player to enjoy the games on this site.
Take note that the speed and integrity of your internet connection will make or break the experience. Also, the server capacity at the time of play. Generally, all games load up nicely, and the playing experience is great.
There are so many games and variations that I will forgo writing about each one; I will present three screenshots of three different games.
Road Rally: This is a math game, and it teaches you math’s while enjoying a racing game that lets you upgrade your car to be faster and stronger than the competition. The game is a straightforward arcade style game where you move the car using the arrow keys. You avoid hitting other cars but must collect coins and also hit gas pumps to add gas. Your child learns mathematics, coordination and has fun doing both.
Make me a…backpack, a Cookie…
The make me games are construction games that give the child the ability to learn design. It also teaches them attention to detail b offering all kinds of additional accessories, toppings, colors, etc. Creativity is the key here, and there are a number of Make me games on Abcya to make them enjoyable, time and again.
Halloween Word Search is a classic game, it’s a seasonal take on a word search game, and focuses your child’s attention to words associated with Halloween. There are a number of such word search games to choose from.
There are so many games here, this platform is constantly adding new games, and if you have a strong internet connection, your children will enjoy uninterrupted hours of educational fun. What I do strongly suggest is that you meter the types of games your children play. The strategy games tend to overtake the number and word games, so always make sure your children play at least one word and one number game a day to improve these skills before going over to the logic and strategy games that end up leasing to basic online playing.
This site complements the education system and is a fun platform to have at home and also in the school classroom. This is a must app as well as a great desktop go-to game page. The additional bonus is the constantly expanding library of games, and the ever-increasing levels of popular titles, that give children a chance to continue playing with their favorite games on different levels.