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I absolutely LOVE going to the movies and I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to sit through a movie.  We’ve been to 2 or 3 movies before but I usually need another adult to help me out, and I can’t recall when we’ve stayed until the end credits.  One Saturday a few weeks ago I had the bright (insane?) idea to take both kids – ages 3 and 6 – to see The Nut Job. Alone. Right after lunch.  What started out as a scary parenting decision turned into a really fun afternoon; they sat through the entire movie and only a minimal amount of popcorn was spilled on the floor and then eaten off of the floor.  I considered it a mom triumph.

The next natural step for the kids was to obsess over the official The Nut Job companion app and I fostered this obsession.  Developed and produced by Cupcake Digital, I knew the app was going to be educational and just plain fun, and I was right.  There are early-learning skills being taught in a way that relates it to characters from the movie, helping kids conceptualize literacy, numeracy, and hand-eye coordination.  Cupcake Digital has produced another in a long line of apps that use popular kids’ TV and movie characters as vehicles for learning.

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Part storybook, part mini-game collection, but all fun, The Nut Job app follows the popular and successful format of several of the other Cupcake edu-apps.  The storybook section fully voice narrates a shortened synopsis of the movie, and the sound can be turned on or off depending on the player’s reading skill level.  Each page is an actual screenshot or clip from the movie, and the pages can go forward or backward at a kiddo’s own pace, making it easy to learn word sounds, new vocabulary, and letter recognition.

Four mini-games include Whack-a-Rat, Acorn Scramble, Squirrel Bounce, and Gone Nuts.  All of these work on finger dexterity, problem solving, shape recognition, and basic physics.  Coloring pages promote open-ended creative play, and if all of that isn’t enough, young players can watch the genuinely funny trailer as much as their little heart desires.  For parents there’s a special section where you can follow Cupcake Digital on social media (which I strongly suggest), sign up for newsletters, print out more activities from your computer, and explore more award-winning CD apps.

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Seeing as how the kids really enjoyed the actual movie, the app was a home run.  My son is 6 and he loves following along to the story, which makes him laugh harder than I’ve seen in a while.  He moves forward and backward through the pages easily and sounds out a lot of words.  At 3, my daughter isn’t quite ready to read but she does love to color.  The funny coloring pages are scenes right out of the movie and she could sit and create for hours if I let her.

At $1.99 this app is considerably less expensive than other movie companion apps that have been released lately.  What’s even better is that Cupcake Digital adheres to its stringent privacy policy, which means there’s no unethical data mining, obnoxious ads, or expensive IAPs.  Social media connections are in the “gated” parents’ section, protecting kiddos from unnecessary exposure to content that may not be age-appropriate.  Downloading this app is just one more mom triumph (could I be on a roll?).

Pros:

– Follows the storyline of the popular kids’ animated film The Nut Job
– Voice-narrated storybook mode caters to kids of all reading levels
– Mini-games teach important early learning skills

Cons:

– None, kiddos will GO NUTS for this app!!

five-star

Price: $1.99

Age: 3+

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