Archive | October, 2012

Literacy by Demografix

29 Oct

Literacy by Demografix app iconYou may have read my reviews of School Writing, School Fonts, and Ghost Type, three apps which I consider must-haves for teachers and parents alike. Today I’m reviewing a fourth app from Demografix, Literacy, that promises to be just as useful.  There are two main sections to the app:  Lessons – Words and Sentences, and Whiteboard activities.

Lessons – Words and Sentences

This section is similar to the lessons in the other Demografix apps. The big difference with Literacy is that you are not limited to a set number of characters (12 in School Writing and 10 in School Fonts). This makes it possible to enter a child’s full name along with sentences. You are also not limited to the length of the screen either, as text can be scrolled, either screen-by-screen or by free scroll. The first time we tried scrolling the text, it was a little awkward, but my children caught on quickly and now have no problems.   There are more than 40 activities and lessons included with the app, and these also serve as an example of what you might do with your own content.

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Baby Learns Simple Objects

19 Oct

Baby Learns Simple Objects app iconBaby Learns Simple Objects is the latest app from  Bebebe, who also published Baby Learns Colors. The two apps have a lot in common, including the fact that there is more to them than meets the eye.  It will be useful for students in early childhood settings and special education, and might also help children learning second languages.  [NOTE:  This app is free for Friday, October 19th, 2012.]

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Support Students with Disabilities in Queensland Non-Government Schools

14 Oct

This is off topic, but it affects a lot of my readers, who have children with disabilities attending non-Government schools in Queensland.  James has cerebral palsy.  He and his twin brother, and their sister, attend our local Catholic Primary School.  James is in my son’s class and is a good friend, and is loved by all.  Last week, his parents received a letter from our State Government informing them that their son was to no-longer have access to support from the Disability Support Services Unit and Advisory Visiting Teachers who have supported him and his teachers to date.

To give you some more background, here is the news report from ABC Television last night:

ABC News report 13/10/2012


Premier Newman says that NG schools already receive funding, which is true, but this funding has been for areas such as Intellectual Impairment and Learning Difficulties.  It does not cover things such as assistive technology, therapy equipment, mobility equipment and other essential equipment.  Parents of children in Non-Government schools are already subsidising the education of their children through school fees, and are also having to pay a lot of money for expensive therapies  and equipment not funded by the Government through something such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme, that our state government is not supporting. They also pay taxes and they also vote.

James’ Parents have begun an online petition through to raise awareness of the problem and to lobby for proper support for all students with disabilities.  I have a personal interest in this as a friend of the family, but I’ll also make the disclaimer that I was part of the support system, as an AVT for the DSSU, when I worked for the government all those years ago, and I know the impact this decision will have.  Please sign the petition and share with your friends.


Sarah DeBellis

Related articles

School Fonts – Learn to Write

10 Oct

School Fonts app iconA few months ago I reviewed School Writing by Demografix, an excellent handwriting App with beginner and cursive handwriting styles for all Australian States and Territories, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.  The main downside of this App is that it is only available for iPad.  In the post, I mentioned that Demografix had a similar App for iPhone, School Fonts- Learn to Write.  Demografix have kindly given me a copy of the App to review, so now I can give you a run-down of the App, and the similarities and differences between it and the School Writing App.


Many of the School Writing Features also appear in School Fonts:

  • 3 Handwriting Activities for Upper Case, Lower Case  and Numbers
  • Words – Lessons include Dolche sight words, phonic elements, pre-writing patterns and more.  You can your own custom activities, such as spelling lists or personal information (names, phone numbers etc). Words are limited to 10 characters.
  • Handwriting Styles for Australian States and Territiories, New Zealand, the USA and the UK
  • Beginner and Cursive options for each handwriting style
  • Guide lines – options of standard thirds, and a midline.
  • Student Profiles – You can create profiles for individual students.
  • Audio visual reports for each student can be emailed to a nominated email address.  The video allows teachers or parents to review the child’s progress far more accurately than a simple mark that an exercise has been completed.
  • Internet links can be blocked: – Internet links for social networking, feedback on the iTunes store, and the Demografix website are all available by default, but can be turned off to prevent children accessing the Internet.
  • Positive Feedback – The original version featured no feedback, relying on parents and teachers to do this.  Positive feedback has since been added so that children receive encouraging messages as they complete exercises, but this can be turned off. I’ve noticed that in some iTunes reviews, people complain that children are rewarded even when they do poor work, but this is the reason why Demografix encourages parents and teachers to provide the feedback:  you can provide the best supportive feedback, and encouragement from you is far more effective than a disembodied voice saying “Good Job.”  Cheers for Demografix for adding the feedback in response to user requests, but I’m with them when it comes to adult interactions and supervision.
  • Lockable – parents and teachers can lock the app so that children cannot turn on the Internet links or edit exercises.
  • Import/Export custom activities.

The YouTube video below shows the App in action:

Other comments

You find that the main differences to School Writing, apart from it being available for iPhone,  are the absence of the White board activity, words and words being limited to 10 characters.

Tracing over letters with fingers will help children to learn the different patterns, letters and numbers, but I would suggest trying a stylus to practice pencil-grip too.

Demografix have a section on their website where you  can download the default lessons plus lessons submitted by other teachers and parents.  I strongly encourage sharing activities you create with this App, as it saves “reinventing the wheel”.   I hope to upload some activities there soon.


This is the must-have iPhone App for every teacher and parent.  Instead of being tut-tutted for letting your children play arcade games while you are out and about, you’ll be sue to earn a “good parent” sticker if your child is using this one.

Disclaimer – thank you to Paul Collins from Demografix for providing me with the App to review.  All comments are my  my own honest opinions.


Paul Collins from Demografix has given me some codes for both the USA and Australian iTunes stores to give away to my readers. Check that you are entering the raffle for your country only.  THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED.

School Fonts USA Giveaway – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Australian Giveaway – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Publisher:  Demografix
Price: $2.99
Made for iPhone

School Fonts - Learn to write (AU/NZ) - demografix pty ltd

Baby Learns Colors

10 Oct

Baby Learns Colors app iconBaby Learns Colors is designed to do as the name suggests, but with more features than you might expect. These special features make it stand out from other similar apps and make it a useful, fun and motivating for kids in preschool, and for some older children too.  Read on to find out more.

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Patterns and Sorting with Caboose

2 Oct

Basic concepts of pattern, order,  colour, shape, size, counting and number are essential for the development of literacy and numeracy. These concepts receive a lot of attention in the early curriculum, particularly in Prep and Year 1, but they are also skills we should be practising with even younger children, such as those in Kindergarten. Caboose is an app with two activities to help develop and consolidate these concepts.  The activities are  fun and easy to play, and can be customised to suit individual needs.


A little dinosaur (or dragon – there is some debate in my household) tows a train  across a bridge. Once on the bridge, the train stops and a pattern is highlighted.  As each item in the pattern is highlighted, the name of the shape, colour or number is played. Letters can be sounded phonetically or named.

Complete a number pattern

Drag the correct number to the caboose to complete the pattern

Children complete the pattern on the train by dragging or tapping (depending on settings) the next item in the pattern to the caboose.  If successful, the train is dragged one step closer to the other side of the bridge.  An incorrect answer will see the train go backwards, however it will never go back further than a total of 5 steps.  Children don’t get a second attempt at the same pattern, but they do get to see the correct answer.

  • Patterns include:   ABAB, ABCABC, AABAAB, and more.  Use the App settings to select particular patterns or practice them all by default.
  • Pattern elements include:  shapes, colours, numbers and letters (upper and lower case).
  • Use the App settings to select either Tap or Drag and Drop as the way to complete the pattern.
  • Letters can be named or sounded phonetically.  Use the App settings to select your preference.


Arrange five items in ascending or descending order.

Items include: Numbers 0-9, Uppercase or lowercase alphabet and size. As with the Patterns activity, you can select which items you wish the child to sort. Hints (in the form of green lights under each item) indicate when positions are correct.  If you want to increase the challenge, you can turn off the hints using the app settings.

Sort different-sized triangles in descending order

Rearrange the triangles to sort them from smallest to biggest. One is already in the right spot.

Instructions are only given once, which may be problematic for children who need instructions repeated, although a series of bars at the top of the screen can help cue to ascending or descending order, and the optional green light hints are helpful.

Wish list

It would be handy to have an option to repeat instructions.  This would be useful for children with auditory processing problems, and handy in noisy environments such as classrooms (or my house on any given afternoon!)


Caboose fits in well with our Prep and Year 1 curriculum and will also be useful for preschool and for older children with special needs.  When I first downloaded the App, it only had the patterns activity, so I’m impressed that it has improved with added features in the time since I originally bought it.  I like the way I can customise it to focus on a single element, such as numbers or alphabet (particularly in the sorting activity where children can practise ordering them in ascending or descending order.) At $1.99, it is good value and will suit children from Kindergarten to Yr 1.

Publisher:  @Reks
Price: $1.99

Caboose - Learn Patterns and Sorting with Letters, Numbers, Shapes and Colors, - @Reks

Related Links

Literacy and Numeracy Fact Sheet –

Early Literacy and Numeracy: Building Good Practice –

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