Turn kids loose with Draw & Play HD

Spoiler alert! Draw & Play HD should provide even the least artistic kids with hours of coloring fun. It’s the best thing since finger painting without the mess. But don’t let your kid use it while watching Apple TV or you may find the sound overlay annoying.

Make that will find the sound annoying. Four stars.


Of all the kids’ art programs I’ve played with, Nickelodeon’s Draw & Play HD is one of the best, if not the best. If your kids have reached the scribble and play phase, this is about the best $4 you can spend. Except for one small problem that needs to be fixed before I’d call it a real best buy. Because until they fix that problem, parents who love their Apple TVs will go nuts as soon as their kids launch the app.

The two most fun art projects I remember from child hood were finger painting and scissors and paste. I loved finger painting because I could go wild and make messes and call it art. As long as it could be cleaned off my parents wall, all was forgiven. I loved scissors and paste because white paste was just about the most delicious snack around.

In fact, I remember my favorite snacks from sunday school were Hi-C, saltines and white paste. I feel like jumping in the car and heading out to the HEB and art supply stores.

The spinning paint tool allows your kids to splatter color anywhere without ever spilling it onto your kitchen table or walls. My mother wishes we had an app like this, especially when Beth and I painted a mural on her wall with real housepaint.

Nick Jr. Draw & Play HD has everything but the mess and paste. And more. The digital tool box contains more than your standard kit of chalk, colored pencils, paintbrushes and crayons. It contains pattern brushes that can paint everything from popcorn to seashells, paint spatter wheels, glitter brushes and even character fireworks.

The magic wand may be the most fun tool in the app. Painters can lay down colors with the wand and then touch them with their fingers. The color patches explode with leafs, hearts, clouds and even pink bubbles accompanied by a variety of sound effects. In fact, kids will discover delightful sounds whenever they paint. Unfortunately, each image has a limit to the amount of color added with the wand. Add too many colors and the older ones fade.

Another fun tool is the firework tool. Kids can select one of their favorite characters and drag her onto the canvas. When they touch the character it launches a fireworks display that overlays the character on the canvas. Alas, it isn’t permanent and their friends have to load each others pictures

Players can start with a plain canvas, textured canvas and even coloring book pages with popular Nickelodeon characters. When your kids are finished, they can do better than hanging on the refrigerator. They can keep a gallery of their images and even post them on Facebook.

The magic wand creates animated paint effects. Dab on the color and when you touch it later, it explodes into animated leaves or bubbles or even hearts.

What they can’t do, however, is share their originals between iPads. Friends can see the finished products, but they can’t explode the fireworks or watch the wand colors animate. They can’t move files with iTunes or upload them to iCloud.

Nickelodeon also provides kids with a convenient help system that select tools for them and shows kids how they work. This is where the trouble begins. As soon as your child launches Draw & Play HD, it hijacks any active Apple TV signal. Your show will shut off and the introductory animation will play instead.

Even worse, once your show starts running again, all of the cute app sounds play over the soundtrack. Can you imagine anything more irritating than watching Sookie shed her nightie to jump in bed with Vampire Bill only to then hear “Wand,” and a bunch of bubble sounds?

As far as I can tell, there is no way to turn the hijack signal off. But you can’t actually see the paintings on your Apple TV with airplay. So this seems to me to be the most irritating feature I have ever encountered. This, in addition to the inability to share files, knocks Draw & Play HD firmly out of the best buy and even five star category.

Jenny Manytoes rates Draw & Play HD

Jenny Manytoes would purr next to Draw & Play HD. If it weren’t for a couple of crippling features, the worst being hijacking the Airplay signal, it would be a best buy. Until Nickelodeon fixes things, however, it remains merely purr worthy.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.
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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 4 Stars - Purr, Child distractors, Childrens' art and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Turn kids loose with Draw & Play HD

  1. Pingback: App Advisor – Your #1 Source for iOS Apps from the App Store! » Nick Jr Draw & Play

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