Mali Loves Apps Too: Toca Hair Salon, Presidents vs Aliens, & BrainPop

Mali's portrait of our friend
Liz in Toca Hair Salon
Every so often, Mali likes to pipe up about the apps that she likes, too -- when she's not lecturing random tolerant pediatricians about microorganisms or declaring that she's played soccer for two years and so has learned everything there is to know about the sport. When she negotiates with her siblings (and her parents) for iPad time, it's usually so she can dive into BrainPop, TocaBoca Hair Salon, or President vs Aliens.

Toca Hair Salon ($.99) is from the same folks who brought us Leo's perennial go-to freeplay app Toca Boca Tea Party. I could tell you more about it, and why it has Mali currently declaring that she will be a hair stylist when she grows up, but Mali is determined to tell you about its merits herself (and no, I did not prompt her to turn the iPad around and give this demo from the viewer's perspective -- she did that spontaneously.)


She will also play the U.S. presidental history trivia game  Presidents vs Aliens ($.99) indefinitely, which surprised me, as she's never previously shown much interest in topics like politics or history. But she enjoys this app -- and, thanks to playing it, can now identify all the U.S. presidents by sight (or official portrait), the order in which they held office, and their political party. Plus she now refers to Nixon as "Tricky Dick!" This app is by the same developer who brough us Stack the States and Stack the Countries, which all three of my kids enjoy. PvA video demo, with Mali once again in Game Show Host mode:

The app that makes her fight for the iPad every day, though, is BrainPop's (Free) daily animated movie. I've never seen anything like these cartoon conversations between a young guy (Tim) and his robot companion (Moby) for helping young minds easily slice, dice, and digest complex topics, ranging from Airplanes to Hurricanes, from the Science of Boogers to Napoleon.

The best part for me is not Mali's learning, though that's great, too -- it's that we get to have great big rabbit hole conversations afterward, like why was Napoleon exiled twice, why they chose incredibly isolated St. Helena for his second bon voyage (Elba being right off mainland Italy, easily checked and compared in Google maps), how St. Helena is the second-oldest existing British Colony after Bermuda, did you know that our country used to be a British Colony too ... yeah. It's good stuff, and all the tangents can be followed instantly if your iPad is online.

Recommended for igniting/feeding hungry little minds. Kids don't have to be readers to watch the movie, due to the narration, but the reinforcing quizzes afterward require reading or a literate assistant.

Back to Leo apps next time! Though I suspect the latter two apps might appeal to Leo's trivia-minded spectrum-mates.


All reviews are my (and my daughter's) opinion only. All apps were purchased or downloaded independently.


  1. Love the reviews with the videos. India does a great job showing all the features. I'm off to buy Toca hair salon. Thanks for the suggestion

  2. I am in love with the way she says Abraham.

  3. janice7:14 PM

    Adorable. She is amazing. Iz x 2???


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