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When it comes to iPad apps made for kids, how many of them are any good, let alone great? Viacom’s new Nick Jr. Play & Draw HD happily falls at the latter end of the scale, inspiring creativity while entertaining kids at the same time.
Play & Draw HD allows children freedom to create in a colorful, intuitive, and educational environment. Although the landscape-only app is rated age four and up, my three-year-old son took to it immediately and rarely needed help or instruction while using it. Children are guided with voice prompts and easy to understand graphics, while a sliding row of tools features icons for stickers, backgrounds (including photos on camera-equipped iPads), coloring pages, and more. If you haven’t used the app in the last 20 seconds or so, it speaks up, even guiding little ones to excellent animated tutorials.
Beyond traditional paint and drawing tools, Draw & Play features unique effects like Fireworks, Splatter Tops, and Surprise Blocks, which entertain with animation and sound as much as they enhance a project. An eraser corrects mistakes, while a trash bin icon offers the option to delete and start over. Completed artwork can be saved (using a floppy disk icon!) to the iPad's Camera Roll or the app's Art Gallery, which is a scrolling grid where projects can be recalled later.
Given its Nick Jr. heritage, Draw & Play populates coloring pages and e-cards with familiar characters like Dora the Explorer and more, while projects can be shared with loved ones via email, Facebook, or AirPrint. Sharing can also be turned off via Settings, though. Ultimately, my own son repeatedly returned to this app despite plenty of other choices on his iPad – impressive considering his often-short attention span.
The bottom line. Nick Jr. Draw & Play HD is a fun, educational way to keep kids entertained at play time or during long car trips, with enough variety to please fledgling Picassos young or old.
iPad running iOS 4.0 or later
Kid-friendly voice prompts and animated tutorials. Picture Idea provides kids with easy templates to get started. Colorful animation and sound effects go beyond basic paint or drawing apps.
No option to disable audio guidance, which can become repetitive once children have learned how to use the app. Lengthy delays while loading or saving artwork. Airplay support doesn't offer anything beyond basic iOS mirroring.