Talking Holidays Wheel: Christmas Halloween Summer is an interesting combination of a children's game and an educational app with a title that can't possibly get anymore self-explanatory. The app includes three wheels for Christmas, Halloween and the season of summer, each with their own symbols for that occasion. When a child lands on a symbol on the wheel, the app announces it out loud in an attempt to teach the child the connection between the word and image. It's a free, universal app available on iOS.
I downloaded both the iPhone version and iPad version and immediately gravitated toward the latter. The larger iPad was far more immersive and most likely more enticing to children. It's also easier to play with because the targets like the button to spin the wheel is larger.
The app starts up by greeting you with all three holiday wheels where you pick one to start spinning. Each wheel has eight colorful symbols. Christmas features a gift, wreath and Santa Claus among other things. Halloween has a pumpkin and ghost while summer has items like sunglasses and a beach ball.
When you decide on a wheel, it enlarges with a shiny red button next to it begging for the child to push it. This sends the wheel spinning until the arrow lands on one of the symbols. When it does, the wheel fades out and the winning symbol bounces in. The app pronounces it in conjunction with displaying a banner naming it at the bottom. Then confetti flies and options to share it via mail, Facebook and Twitter prominently appear. This doesn't seem like the best UI decision, given that if children are playing unsupervised they could easily send unwanted emails or post unwanted images. However, I couldn't get Facebook or Twitter sharing to work at all so I suppose here that's a positive.
That's really all there is to the Talking Holidays Wheel app. The educational factor is decent because pairing a visual component with an audible component could help children better identify objects related to these holidays. However, compared to apps that teach the toddler essentials like ABCs, this one doesn't quite feel like something a child (or parent) needs. Most children do just fine learning about holidays on their own because they're inherently fun and exciting already.
Speaking of fun, that too is just decent here. While I see young kids enjoying spinning the wheels and getting a small yet delightful treat each time, since there are only eight symbols per wheel, the entertainment factor is bound to run out pretty quickly.
Despite some drawbacks, you can't go wrong with free - and that just so happens to be Talking Holidays Wheel's price. An in-app purchase of US$1.99 will remove the ads, but they aren't too obtrusive and the free version is likely more than adequate. If you want to keep your child entertained for a little bit while simultaneously providing some education, give Talking Holidays Wheel a try. Just bear in mind its inability to impress for long hinders its value.