Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2015
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Bugs and Buttons

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Realistic-looking bug world reinforces early learning skills

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Brilliant graphics entice kids to play.

Cons: Some students may be reluctant to play with bugs.

Bottom Line: Games help kids with understanding patterns, sorting, counting, memory and fine motor difficulties.

Teachers can use Bugs and Buttons to supplement kids' learning. Students who need to improve their fine motor control, working memory, and visual processing skills will appreciate the diversity of the mini-games and probably won't even realize they're developing skills as they play. Teachers can also use this app to supplement activities on counting and alphabet identification. Note that spiders and roaches are avaiilable for play but are turned off by default. They can enable them in the settings.

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In Bugs and Buttons, a collection of 18 games, kids will tap and drag bugs and buttons around the screen to achieve various goals. Several puzzles focus on recognizing numbers, letters, colors, and patterns, while others rely on more subtle learning components like prediction. An animated tutorial demonstrates the steps to take, and kids try until they succeed, gradually proceeding to more difficult levels and eventually winning insect stamps for a digital stamp collection.

Games enable kids to work on beginning math and reading skills, plus are great for helping a wide variety of kids with fine motor, visual processing, and working memory issues. The game Pinch & Grab can help kids improve the pincer grasp. Butterfly Valley helps students with motor control as they hold the device to catch flowers. Catch'Em introduces kids who need help with their visual perceptual ability. Find it! and Matching help kids with working memory skills.

Teachers can create multiple user accounts and customize the language (from 14 options) in the settings.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The wide assortment of games and the increasing difficulty level within each game gives the app a lot of entertainment value -- so long as kids aren't too squeamish about pinching a tarantula or two!

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Most games have multiple rounds, with visual and audio feedback guiding kids toward the correct steps. Many puzzles adapt to how well kids do. Kids are empowered to choose the games they want to play.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Visual instructions demonstrate how to play the games. High scores translate into stamps that are collected in a stamp book. Better progress tracking for parents would give the app a boost.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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