Archive | March, 2012

iBigtoy Picture eBooks – a Cautionary Tale?

31 Mar

As promised, I’m starting a series of eBook App reviews.  I’ve already reviewed Susan Boynton’s Moo Media books published by Loud Crow, which are some of the best picture eBooks you’ll find, but today I’m going a little further back down the quality spectrum.   I’m actually starting with some that I just want to remove from my iPad because I really don’t like them.  They act as an example of why you can’t believe everything you read in an App’s description.  Doesn’t bode well, does it? I promise we’ll get back to the good things next post with good ones for the Easter break.

Are we sitting comfortably?  Let us begin……

iBig Toy has a LOT of eBooks available on the iTunes store.  It is difficult to rate this collection of Apps, except to say that there are a few adequate ones, and there are several that are so bad it is nearly funny. Continue reading

Advertisements

Using Painting and Drawing Apps for more than pictures.

28 Mar

In a recent post I highlighted just a few of the many  Painting and Drawing Apps available on the App Store and presented my readers with some criteria for evaluating them.  This post looks at some of the ways these apps can be used across curriculum areas.

Mathematics

You may remember I noted that stamps/stickers can make an App more versatile, and that certainly is the case when it comes to Mathematics.  In a classroom, students commonly used counters, paddle pop sticks, blocks and other manipulatives to experiment with number.  Think of stamps as onscreen or virtual manipulatives.   If you don’t have stamps, you can use different colour and painting tools to create marks or shapes. Continue reading

Art Apps for Every Age

25 Mar

On Sarah's iPadThere are many painting and drawing Apps available for iPads and iPhones, and it is a must to have at least one of these on your device as they can be used in so many ways.  The trick is working out which to get.  Some are free, some are paid, some have very basic features and some have lots of bells and whistles.  In addition to some great apps for children, there are a couple of great Art Apps for the more serious artist.

Features I like to see in a painting and drawing App

  • Easy colour selection.  It is much easier for children to tap on a coloured square than it is to choose from a spectrum.
  • A variety of simple painting tools, such as pencil, spray, or wedge.
  • Variable brush size for thick and thin painting.
  • Erasing tools for small sections or the whole page.
  • Shape tools to draw both filled and unfilled shapes.  A circle/oval and square/rectangle tools are usually the minimum, however some Apps offer stars, triangles and other  shapes.
  • Stickers or stamps are not a must have, but they make the App more versatile.
  • Moving tool – to move elements on the picture from one space to another.
  • Background options including different colours, scenes, textures, patterns and even the ability to add photos.
  • Photos can be added as backgrounds or items.
  • Text tools.  Even the most basic text tools can turn a painting program into a story publishing program.
  • Save and share tools.
  • Sound tools including sound effects on stamps, background sound effects and voice recording.

The more of these tools the App has, the more versatile it will be.  At the same time, more features can also make an App more complex to use, so it can be a fine line. In a future post I’m going to talk a bit more about why these features are useful and how they can be used in activities across subject areas. Continue reading

Evaluating Apps: How to pick a good story app

16 Mar

When I look at reading apps for my children, I have a number of criteria in mind.  It is difficult to get an app that meets every requirement, but having these points in mind can help you separate the good from the mediocre. Continue reading

Can Apps help your child with Show-and-Tell?

5 Mar
Public speaking

Public speaking (Photo credit: brainpop_uk)

Recently I went along to the parent information evenings at our primary school.  Along with all the other information we received, the teachers in each class discussed the importance of the weekly oral presentation our children are expected to do each week.  The children are working on developing good oral presentation skills, including looking at the audience and speaking clearly.  Each week they are rostered to do a talk on a particular topic.

Teachers suggest we get our children to practice their talks at home, particularly the talk that is assessed (one per term).  My children tend to do well, but they are reluctant to practice before hand, and one of them has a bit of a problem with mumbling.  What to do, what to do.  One of the teachers suggested that we record the children.  In “the olden days” everyone had a tape recorder, but these days it is not as common.  Luckily there are things we can do with mobile devices that can help. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: