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Sassy Cassie – PicPocket Books

27 Mar

SassyCassieSassy Cassie, written and illustrated by Nancy PLA Schneider, is two stories for the price of one.  Cassie is an imaginative and creative little girl who loves to colour her world.  Despite having all the toys a child could wish, Cassie favourite toy is her mother’s makeup.  Cassie loves to use her and her friends’ faces as a canvas.  (I’m sure I’m not the only mother who can relate to this scenario!) Her increasingly exasperated mother manages to extract a series of promises from Cassie about not using her makeup, although it seems Cassie is an expert in finding loopholes in promises and rules, not unlike a child dear to my own heart. Katie eventually manages to find another interesting way to express herself creatively.

sassycassie1

At the end of the story, Sassy Cassie receives her very own art equipment in Color Mixing with Cassie.  She experiments with blending primary colours to make secondary colours, and plays with black and white to make shades and tints in her search for the perfect pink.  While I’ve seen apps that explore primary and secondary colours, I’ve never seen one that looks at shades and tints.  It would be useful to read this part of the story before art activities, and then have children see which colours they can make.
But wait:  there’s more!  In addition to a great story and an art lesson, the Color Fun Quiz section rounds off the app with a series of comprehension questions.  The question is written and narrated.  Tapping the Answer button will reveal the answer.

Features

  • Easy navigation – swipe pages to move through the story.  You can also swipe backwards to hear a page’s narration again.
  • Audio can be turned off
  • Text is highlighted as spoken.  This feature is supportive of emergent readers who are reading along with the narration.  This feature is only available in the main part of the story, but not available in the Color Mixing or Quiz sections.
  • Beautiful illustrations by PLA Schneider
  • Clear and expressive narration by Sylvie Ashford
  • Art lesson about mixing colours.  Cassie narrates as she experiments with colours, mixing primary colours, white and black to make secondary colours, tints and shades.
  • Quiz section

sassycassie2

Wish list

It would be useful for children to hear words spoken aloud as they are tapped.  I’d also love to see the highlighting of words as they are spoken extended to the second part of the story. Children with a hearing impairment, or those reading the story in noisy environments, may have difficulty hearing the answers in the Fun Color Quiz, so it would be great to see the answers also available in text and/or illustration.

Verdict

Sassy Cassie is a delightful app that gives you a funny story as well as a lesson in art.  Children will be amused by Cassie’s antics and inspired by her creativity.  Parents will be amazed by how Cassie’s mother manages to keep her composure when facing “trying” times with her precocious daughter.   An enjoyable and educational reading experience for all.

This review was originally published on The Appy Ladies blog.  The Appy Ladies are running  a giveaway of the iPad version of this app until April 04, 2013.  You can enter tbe Appy Ladies Rafflecopter Giveaway here.

Sassy Cassie HD - PicPocket Books

iPad version, requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price:  $2.99

Sassy Cassie - PicPocket Books
iPhone version.  Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price $1.99

 

Play Time with Toca Boca Apps

23 Jul

Kids all home sick? Rainy day? Need some kind of tidying-up incentive? Toca Boca to the rescue. I’ve been downloading Toca Boca games for my children as they earn them by good behaviour, extra jobs around the house, and as the odd treat for sick children. We don’t have all of them, but it is only a matter of time until we do get them. I’ve invited some guest reviewers, my children, to give their opinions. [Comments in square brackets – like these – are mine.] Before they do, let me just a few things that I find great about these Apps:

  • The Apps are intuitive and easy to use. You don’t need to be able to read or speak any particular language, so every the activities are accessible for everyone.
  • Even though they have no spoken or written language, the Toca Boca Apps give rise to a lot of oral language opportunities. To take advantage of these opportunities, play the Apps with your child, and encourage siblings and friends to play with them too.
  • The Apps focus on everyday experiences, such as housework, meals and haircuts. They are familiar to children, and yet still manage to offer little surprises.  They may be good for helping to prepare children for such things as trips to the hair dresser.
  • It is easy to make the links between the App and activities in the real world.
  • The graphics are just beautiful.
  • Although designed for young children, the characters still appeal to my older pre-teen children and may be helpful for older children with special needs developing language and turn-taking skills. Some, such as the kitchen, hair cut and housework apps, might relate to social situations that the child is learning to deal with.
  • The price for each app is more than reasonable. You’d be amazed at how motivated my children will be if I hold up one of these apps as a carrot.
  • No in-app purchases.  There is some discreet advertising (in the form of icons promoting other Toca Boca Apps) that appears on the home screen, but you can turn that off. Continue reading

App Review – Crayola ColorStudio

25 Jun

I’ve been wanting to have a look at Crayola ColorStudio for some time but after this review, I think I’ll pass. I think this post says it all.

There’s a Bear in there – Play School Art Maker

19 Jun

Play School Art Maker for iPad The flagship of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has released an iPad App for children that is so good, I can hardly believe it is free.  Free in Australia, that is.  The App is also available in international iTunes stores as a paid app.  The name is probably not a good description, as Play School Art Maker is much more than the virtual sticker book it seems to be.  In reality, it is more like a virtual puppet theatre where children can create the scenes, control the actors and direct their stories.

Open the App and you’ll see a large scrapbook.  When you open the book, you can either watch the television show (only in Australia) or you can create pictures, movies and stories.  You can also view pictures, movies and stories that have been stored in the scrapbook. Continue reading

Paint my Wings by Toca Boca

25 May

Paint My Wings by Toca Boca is a Painting and Creativity App where children paint the wings of butterflies in symmetrical patterns.  At first, there might not seem to be a lot to this app, but when you look closer you’ll see that, as well as being a fun painting activity, Paint My Wingscan also help children develop the early Mathematical and Scientific concepts of patterns and symmetry.

Continue reading

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

Making eBooks on your iPad: 10 ideas for Parents and Teachers

8 Feb

There are several Apps available that allow you to create your own books.  I’ve already posted about Keynote, Picturebook and Book Creator, but there are others.  Later on I’ll even cover a few ways of creating eBooks on your computer, but now we know these apps exist, the next question:  what to write?  Here are 10 ideas for parents and teachers to use to create eBooks with children. Continue reading

Publish yourself with Book Creator

6 Feb

So your child goes up to their teacher and says “I’ve done my homework, Sir.  You can download it from the iTunes Bookstore….for a small price!”  Okay, selling homework on the iBook store is a little far-fetched at this stage, although it is possible, but how cool would it be to email your creative writing project to your teacher to be read using the iBook App and stored in your class/school iBook library?

Book Creator does exactly as its name suggests:  it creates books (with a little help from the authors, of course.). With Book Creator, you can quickly create a standard or audio iBook that can be read using the iBook App.  The amazing thing is that you can pack so many features into a free App.  With Create Books, you can add your own illustrations, text, narration, or sound track to your iBook. Continue reading

Making illustrated eBooks the easy way with Picturebook

5 Feb

Picturebook is an App that allows children to create their own illustrated eBooks that can be shared with friends (who also have the Picturebook App).  It has a very simple interface so would be suitable for young children to use, but would also be useful for older students.  The app comes with a choice of two book covers and some basic clip art, but you can add extras with in-App purchases.  A school edition that includes all the extras is also available.  The App is universal, which means you can use it on both iPad and iPhone/iTouch devices.

Continue reading

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