Just Grandma and Me by Mercer Mayer

12 Jan

Sighhhhhhhhh – I love this App. It is one of the best story apps for children that you will find and has everything you want: lovely story, great illustrations, some interactive elements that enhance the reading experience, and great narration. There are three modes for reading: Read to Me, Read It Myself, and Autoplay.

Modes

  • Read to Me (RTM) – Reads each page aloud. The user can then explore interactive elements on the page, or hear the text spoken again.
  • Read it Myself (RIM) – very similar to the first option, except there is no narration so the child can read on their own.
  • Auto Play – plays the story and narration as a continuous video, automatically advancing each page with no interactive elements available. I can’t think of why you’d pick this option except if you had your iPad hooked up as an in-car entertainment system. There are such rigs available, but they are not my thing.

Supportive Features

  • Narration – the text on each page is read as you open each page in the Read to Me mode, and you can also hold your finger down to hear the whole paragraph again in both the RTM and the RIM modes. The voice is clear, pleasant and well-paced.
  • Individual words spoken aloud – This is a great feature for those nearly independent readers who occasionally get stuck. The tricky word can be tapped to hear it spoken aloud. When you read this book with your child, you could also use this feature to play an I-spy game with their sight words. This is a really supportive feature and I wish it was available in more story Apps.
  • Interactive Elements – As you tap around the illustration, words describing the picture will pop up and be read aloud. This is a great little feature for supporting the reader, particularly if they don’t have much personal experience with the environment. I know, I know. Most of you have lots of beach experiences to draw on with your children, but there are some children, for example those living in the Outback, for whom the beach is an exotic experience. Being able to explore some of the objects and learn the vocabulary involved can help the child understand the story, to predict what might happen, and even retell the story in their own words.

Just a note on interactive elements: I’ve noticed that with a lot of similar Apps, kids tend to bypass the text and then spend their time playing the little games or activating little animations that may or may not add anything to Apps. The real aim of reading the Story is comprehension. The Just Grandma and Me App has interactive elements that will only support comprehension, not detract from it.

Some History

Some of you might remember the same book was available as the very first Living Book published by Broderbund. I remember it being available as one of the first multimedia CDs when Apple first started putting CD players in its computers, and it was very expensive – about $100 in the mid-1990’s – but we thought it was well worth it, and we were not wrong. It was very similar to this App, except that instead of vocabulary, tapping different elements in the illustrations would activate amusing animations, such as beach umbrellas behaving like rockets and blasting off, or crabs that might scuttle across the sand. There were also more interactive elements per page. You can get both old and new versions, along with the old fashioned picture books from the Amazon Online website, and I’ve placed a link below.

And below is the link to the Android version of the App:

Universal: Will work on both iPad and iPhone
Publisher: Oceanhouse Media, Inc.
Price: $2.99

Just Grandma and Me - Little Critter - Oceanhouse Media

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