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Boo Numbers by Kindermatica

26 Oct Boo Numbers main screen

app iconRecently released (just in time for Halloween) is this new educational app from Kindermatica that helps children learn to write their numbers.

The app is a great way to help children practice writing numbers to 10 in  a fun way.  Children write each number three times with guides to help them  to find the starting point, and to stay inside the lines or on the path.    With each turn, the prompts and supports are decreased. You can move through the numbers in series, or you can select specific numbers to practice.

 

Features

  • Languages:  The app will run in English, Russian or Swedish.
  • Reporting: – Teachers and parents can view the results for each child. The app records two kinds of mistakes: when the child starts from the wrong point, and when they are out of line when writing the number.  This information will help teachers guide the student to correcting their errors and perfecting their technique.
  • Individual student profiles: – you can add up to 30 student profiles so that you can track progress individually.   Photos or avatars can be added from the device camera or from the camera roll.
  • Reward game: – Carve a jack-o-lantern by dragging shapes on to the pumpkin.  This is a fun exercise in symmetry as each item is placed as a pair with central symmetry.
  • Individual Settings:
    • Fonts: Select from 4 fonts, including Zaner-Bloser (commonly used in the US), Sassoon, and fonts for Sweden and Russia.
    • Modes:  you can select an easy or regular mode, and you can opt to repeat numbers.
    • Game Limit: You can turn the reward game off, or allow it to play for 30 sections, 1 minute, 3 minute or no limit.
    • Number of exercises before reward game:  Choose from 3, 6, 9 or 12 exercises to be completed before the child can play the reward game.
  • Music, Sound effects and speech are amusing, but can be turned off if you wish through the settings button at the top left of the screen.
  • Safety:  Kindermatica is a member of Know What’s Inside, a group of developers (formally known as Moms with Apps) who take child safety and security seriously, and who make sure parents have all the information they need to make good decisions about the apps they choose for their children.  In this app, for instance, there are some external links, but these are all hidden behind a parent lock.
  • Graphics: the graphics are beautiful and the little spider who guides us through the activities is very cute.

See the app at work in this YouTube trailer:

 

Verdict

Although this has a great Halloween theme, people like me who don’t do Halloween will still find it handy for children who are just starting to write their numbers.  ( I’m an Australian, and yes I know there are some Aussies who have started to do the whole trick or treating thing, but I’m not one). You can use it all year around. Teachers will love being able to tweak the app to suit individual needs, and also being able to see individual progress reports. I think Boo Numbers is a great activity that will compliment the handwriting activities done in early learning classrooms.    If you like this app, you might also like to try Yum-Yum Letters, also by Kindermatica, which uses similar activities to help children learn to write letters.

 

Publisher: Kindermatica
Universal: Requires iOS 6.0 or later
Price: $1.49
 

Duckie Deck Homemade Orchestra

19 May IMG_4117

duckie deck homemade orchestra app iconMy children all loved banging on pots and pans and making noise with all sorts of common household things. Duckie Deck Homemade Orchestra brings this experience to mobile devices in a way that is fun for children and easy on the ears of those around them.  Helping me test the app was Mr 3, a proficient pots and pans player who has recently taken up playing the spoons.

Playing the Game

The two game modes let children play with a virtual orchestra, or with individual instruments.

Orchestra Mode

Eight “instruments” appear on the screen. As the child taps each one, the object animates and begins to play. The lovely thing is that all the objects will play with rhythms and melodies that complement each other, so any combination will be harmonious. A button in the corner will see a different combination of instruments selected. Mr 3 found it very easy to distinguish between instruments that were playing and those that were not, and he had a lot of fun experimenting with different combinations.

Individual instrument

In this mode you can choose an instrument then play with it, making your own rhythms and melodies. There are twenty different items to play with. These include toys, kitchen items, stationery and other items found around the house. It is great to see a few body parts included: lips whistle, fingers click, a foot taps, and hands clap.  Each instrument is played by either tapping on the instrument or screen, or dragging the instrument around to shake or vibrate.  You can see some of the instruments in action in Duckie Deck’s YouTube trailer below.

Things We Love:

  • The app is easy to use with intuitive controls. Mr 3 was able to play without needing any help from me and was quickly able to turn the instruments on and off as he wished.
  • The game spills over into real life and can encourage children to be creative away from the iPad.
  • There is a great variety of instruments, and we can find all of them in our house. Some of these you can grab and use straight away, such as pots and pans or keys.  Others require a bit of assembly, such as the glass xylophone with different water levels.  I’d never thought of making a xylophone from an egg carton and spanners, but we are going to give it a shot.  Some instruments are your own body parts.
  • The graphics are colourful and fun, with a clear layout that makes it easy to use for little fingers.  Mr 3 found the animations amusing too.
  • Unlike our real life homemade orchestras, this virtual one sounds great!  All the rhythms and melodies compliment each other. Also, unlike our real life homemade orchestra, you can control the volume on this one.

Verdict

Duckie Deck Homemade Orchestra is a great creativity app that will amuse children for ages as they experiment with with endless combinations of instruments.  The instruments selected are easily found in real life and children will be inspired to create their own real life instruments that will possibly not be as melodic, but will be great fun.

Developer: Duckie Deck
Universal – Requires iOS 6.0 and above
Price: $3.79 (Aus)

Understanding Math – Addition and Subtraction by appp media

2 Apr

understandingmath+-Understanding Math – Addition and Subtraction  is the latest Mathematics app from appp media and is the second in their Understanding Math series, based on  Jerome Bruner’s  Three Modes of Representation learning theory.  This app explores the concepts of addition and subtraction using different symbolic, visual and active representations.  As well as answering set problems, the app gives children tools to help solve their own addition and subtraction problems.

Each activity has been linked to the Common Core Standards for Mathematics.

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Duckie Deck Cleans Up – Apps to help kids learn about hygiene

26 Nov

Duckie Deck specialises in apps for the very young that combine education and fun.  This week I’m reviewing several of their apps over a series of posts.  The two apps I’m reviewing today deal with personal hygiene skills involved with brushing teeth and going to the toilet.

ddggDuckie Deck Gotta Go

Features: Gotta Go  takes children through the process of using the toilet. First they feed a friendly monster assorted foods. After a short time, the monster stops eating. Tap the nappy (diaper) to take it off. Our little friend jumps on to the toilet with a big grin. Tap his tummy and he will grunt as a rather colourful deposit drops into the transparent toilet below. Toilet paper appears and you tap and drag it through to help the monster wipe. Pull the chain to flush and then guide what must be the cutest poo ever through a simple pipe maze, then finish with a high 5 to your monster friend. (Honestly, it is difficult to describe this app without laughing, and Mr 3 is enjoying it very much.)

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Things We Love: The monster loves going to the toilet. He has a great attitude and is really proud of himself, so hopefully this attitude might rub off on some of our more reluctant toilet-trainees. Duckie Deck Gotta Go is a great way of reinforcing the steps being taught in toilet training and it provides good opportunities for discussion. It does not cover the hand washing aspect, which would have been great, but since the hand washing has always been the easiest part of the process, I don’t have a problem with its not being included (although maybe they should wash before the High 5?).  Lastly, you have to love the app icon:  blue happy poo anyone?
Verdict: If you have a little person who is learning to use the toilet or potty, this app might be a great one for introducing the concept in a fun, non-threatening way.

Duckie Deck Gotta Go - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $3.79
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Hygiene Essentials Bundle (3 apps for $4.99)

ddwtDuckie Deck With Teeth

Features:  Duckie Deck With Teeth is very simple to use: tap on a mouth to add teeth (that come in different shapes, then feed different foods to the mouth. As the food is eaten, the teeth become progressively dirtier. At any time you can grab the toothbrush and clean the teeth. The activity then starts again.

What we Love: Most of the food is very healthy, such as vegetables, fruit and a salad sandwich;  the one “sometimes food” is a biscuit (cookie). The toothbrush is available at any time, and children have to spend a bit of time cleaning the teeth.  The teeth get really dirty in a kind of gross way, which adds to the appeal.  Brushing those teeth and making them clean gives Mr 3 a sense of satisfaction.  If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can hold it up in front of your face and pretend it is your mouth (which is hilarious for small fry, I can assure you.)

Verdict: Duckie Deck With Teeth is a great app for exploring the healthy habit of teeth cleaning. Playing this activity with your child can help them learn vocabulary involved, and gives an opportunity to discuss why we need to clean up our teeth, and how long we need to brush our teeth for before we are finished.

Duckie Deck With Teeth - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $2.49
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Hygiene Essentials Bundle (3 apps for $4.99)

Duckie Deck Hungry Clipper (Not reviewed)

Duckie Deck has a third hygiene app, Duckie Deck Hungry Clipper, that deals with hand hygiene, encouraging children to keep nails trim and tidy with the hungry nail clipper.  I don’t have that app to review, but here is a link to the YouTube trailer.

Duckie Deck Hungry Clipper - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $3.79
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Hygiene Essentials Bundle (3 apps for $4.99)

Duckie Deck Play Apps – Games to play with friends

25 Nov Choose one of the activities by tapping a hand.

Yesterday I reviewed three Duckie Deck creativity apps.  Today I’m having a look at two more of their apps, each with six different play activities.  Both games are aimed at the early childhood age group, but could be suitable for older children with special needs.  Look for more reviews in the coming days.

Duckie Deck collection app iconDuckie Deck Collection

Features: There are 6 activities in Duckie Deck Collection:

  • Food -Pick fruits or vegetables then tap on the items to eat them. There are many different fruits and vegetables, so children can play for some time without a repeat of the same food. This is a fun way to introduce some healthy food options. You could have fun counting aloud as the food is picked or eaten.
  • Feed the Animals – Feed animals with a choice of three food options, only one of which the animal wants. If you present the animal with the wrong food it will shake its head. Feed it the correct food and it chews nicely and smiles. Along with the animals there is also a flower and the Zoo Keeper to feed.
  • Lightbulb game – This is a peekaboo game where children see a silhouette then tap on the light to reveal a friendly animated monster. Tap on the light again to repeat the game with a different monster.
  • Magic Hat – Tap on the magic hat to reveal a funny animated character or item.
  • Mix Up – this is a version of those fun games where you change heads, bodies and legs to make an animal match (or mismatch.) Mr 3 enjoys making crazy animals and doesn’t always want to match up the correct body parts, but if you manage to align 3 matching body parts, the game quickly randomises them again.
  • Clean up – Children drag cleaning items around the screen to mop, sweep, or vacuum the floor to remove grime and mess. This activity doesn’t have as much variety as the others and Mr 3 kept accidentally tapping the Back button as he moved around the screen.

You can see the app in action in the YouTube trailer below:

What we Love – there is lots of variety and little repetition in the activities, so children can play for a long time before they get “bored.” The app is very easy and intuitive to navigate, and Mr 3 needed no help to get around.

Verdict – There is a lot of variety in most of the activities. I particularly like Food and Feed the Animals, and I think these could be a great way to introduce some concepts of health and natural science.  The games are great for a single child to play but are even better when you play with a friend or adult.  In fact, your child will get a lot more out of these activities if they play with you and get to explore the concepts and language associated with them more deeply.

Duckie Deck Collection - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $2.49
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Cuddly Creatures Bundle (5 apps for $9.99)

 

DDSDuckie Deck Sharing

Features: There are 6 different activities in this app.  These include:

  • Toy Joy (Rocket ship) – you and three friends each have a different toy to play with, including a rocket, xylophone, drawing tool and an animal noise toy. Play with your toy then tap another child’s toy to swap. As they swap with you, each child makes a sound that would translate to “yes, okay!”
  • Win Win – A simple memory game that can be played one or more children. There are 12 cards in each game, and there are several themes to keep things interesting. Great for turn taking.
  • Pie in the sky (Birthday cake) – Take turns to decorate a cake then share it between 3.
  • Gimme Gimmie (Doughnut) – Three friends are sitting on a couch and there are three items you can give to each. Each child has a thought bubble with two items they would like. Try to give each child one of their preferences. This activity has some logical thinking skills involved.
  • Food (apple) – Four children sit at a table with empty plates. A random piece of food appears and is quartered. You have to give each child a piece. You can put more than one piece on a single plate, but the child that misses out will be sad. Once everyone has an equal share, the children cheer, eat their food, and a new item appears.
  • Scribble Dribble (Pencils)- Guided picture drawing where children choose from a selection of items and are guided through the drawing process with dotted lines, then colour the picture. You don’t need to be too accurate when tracing the lines. Mr 3 discovered that a simple swipe just touching a line is enough to complete a section, so children with fine motor issues might find this easier to do than other similar activities/apps.

The slideshow below shows some of the activities.

 

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What we Love:  Although all the activities can be played by a single child, they are well set up for collaborative efforts between children. Some of the activities, for example Toy Joy or Gimmie Gimmie, could be used to explore social skill issues of sharing and preferences. The parent information section has valuable information about how these activities can be used to help children learn about sharing. There are some interactive environmental elements in some of the scenes that add a bit more fun to the activities.
Verdict: This is a beautiful app and the six activities have been well-planned with their objectives in mind. There is a lot of variety so children don’t get tired of the same old thing.  Again, these activities can be used by a child on their own, but they will gain much more from the experience by sharing with an adult or other child/ren.

Duckie Deck Sharing - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $3.79
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99)

 

 

 

Duckie Deck Creativity Apps – Bird Houses, Trash Toys and Sandwich Chef

24 Nov Duckie Deck Bird Houses

Duckie Deck has a range of entertaining educational  apps for children aged 2-5. I’ve owned most of them for a while and have put them through their paces with my children, and I’ve been meaning to write about them for at least a year.  Initially I was going to review the lot in one hit, but I’m going to break it into several posts over a few days. Today I’m starting with some of their creativity apps, including their latest app, Duckie Deck Bird Houses.  Look for reviews of other of their apps in coming days.

 

Duckie Deck Bird Houses App IconDuckie Deck Bird Houses

Features:  Create the bird house of your dreams.  Select a tree to build on, choose from a variety of house styles and materials, then decorate with paint and accessories before your little birdie moves in.

What we Love: The variety of design options means that children can create a different house every time. The graphics are delightful, with lots of different colours and textures and a real textured “collage” feel.  There are some quirky accessories to add to the house that add opportunities for discussion and story making.

Verdict: The app is really easy to use, with lots of variety and fun little quirks that will make Duckie Deck Bird Houses very popular with young children.

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Duckie Deck Bird Houses - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – Requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $2.49

 

Duckie Deck Trash Toys app iconDuckie Deck Trash Toys

Features: Children make toys out of virtual recyclables, such as containers, bags, CDs and more. Choose an item, paint it, then add more recyclables to create facial features and body parts.
What we Love: Unlike similar apps where two fingers are used to change orientation of an object or to resize, Duckie Deck Trash Toys uses one finger only. Tap and hold in the middle of an item to move it, then tap on an edge and drag to rotate. This is so much easier for Mr 3 to handle than similar apps. There are no resizing options, but this didn’t seem to worry Mr 3.Duckie Deck trash toys creation
Verdict: This is a great creativity app for young children who haven’t mastered the art of multi-touch commands. I can think of at least one similar app with a few more bells and whistles, but that one is a little more sophisticated and is better suited to slightly older children. Duckie Deck Trash Toys certainly nails the needs of the very young user and might also be fun for older children with special needs. Images of your creations can be saved and used in other apps (such as story making apps) or printed. Sometimes playing with this app might lead to some real-life creativity with the contents of your household recycle bin.

Duckie Deck Trash Toys - Duckie Deck Development

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Price: $3.79
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Inspirations for Real World Play Bundle (4 apps for $7.49)

 

Duckie Deck Sandwich ChefDuckie Deck Sandwich Chef

Features: Children pick a novelty sandwich (from ten options) then recreate the sandwich step by step. These are no ordinary sandwiches: children might create a clock, whale, boat, or clown sandwich, to name a few. They spread the butter on the bread then create the sandwich using healthy foods.

Sandwich chef choices

Lots of sandwich designs to choose from

What we Love: Each ingredient is presented as it is required, and targets appear on the sandwich to guide the child to correct placement. This is great for very young children as it helps to avoid confusion. Children don’t have to be super-accurate with placement either, as the items “snap” into place when they are near the target.
Verdict. The young children I’ve shown Duckie Deck Trash Toys to all love it. Mr 3 would be a little happier if there was a train option (although there is a clock and a car, so he is happy). We think it might be fun to have a free-play option where you get to design your own sandwich, but that might be better in a separate app, perhaps in a similar format to Duckie Deck Trash Toys. It is great that kids get to see all the different healthy food options, but we’d love to hear some of the names spoken aloud. Still, I see that as my job as I supervise Mr 3 as he plays. Not having any speech means that the app is suitable for all languages.

Universal – requires iOS 5.0 or higher
Duckie Deck Sandwich Chef  - Duckie Deck DevelopmentPrice: $2.49
This app is also available as part of the Ultimate Playtime Bundle (10 Duckie Deck apps for $16.99) and the Inspirations for Real World Play Bundle (4 apps for $7.49)

Recycling Workshop by Jump App

23 Jun

Recycling Workshop, the latest app from Jump App, is full of colour and creativity.   A great companion to its sibling apps, Puppet Workshop and Imagination Box, it is a simple to use, child-directed creativity app. Your children will be able to make endless characters using recycled containers as a base and a range of recycled items as facial features and limbs.

Using the app

My children and I found the app very easy to use.  The steps are simple:

  • Choose a base from a variety of generic containers of different colours.
  • Choose features from the different menus and drag them on to your character. Scroll up and down each menu to see the many different options for each category. Some items are drawn, but many are common items you may find around the home, e.g. Buttons for eyes, plastic cutlery or straws for arms, or a twisted chenille stick for a mouth. You are not limited to making “human” characters as there are props for animal features.
  • Choose a background from several colours or even from your photos.
  • Use the simple controls to resize, flip, and rotate each item to your preference. You can also undo actions.
  • Simple drawing tools let you draw on the character or background, although you can’t draw over the features.
  • Save a photo of your character

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Little Lamb in Amsterdam

16 Jun

littlelambiconLittle Lamb in Amsterdam, by Joshua and Donna Wilson, is two stories in one: a simple story of a little lamb on her cycling adventures, and a fact book full of historical, geographical and cultural information about the Netherlands. Little Lamb has an adventurous spirit and sets off on a cycling tour of the Netherlands, finishing in Amsterdam. Along the way she sees different things including windmills, tulips and wild flowers, canals, clogs and more.

Each page is filled with a colourful, interactive illustration and a line or two of text telling the story. Tap the bottom of the screen to show extra information. Find out about the different things windmills grind when little Lamb cycles past them. If you ever wondered why the Netherlands teams wear orange, you will find that fact on the page where Little Lamb celebrates their National day. Extra information is sometimes revealed In the animations; we are treated to some works of Dutch masters such as Vermeer, Van Gogh and Rembrandt when Little Lamb visits the Museums and Galleries, and see boats passing under bridges on the canals. Sometimes Little Lamb is hidden, and finding her becomes a fun hide and seek activity. Continue reading

My First App – Vol. 1 Vehicles – Updated and better than ever

13 Jun

My First App Vol 1 VehiclesThe My First App series from appp media is a great favourite with the younger children in our home.  I reviewed the first app in the series, My First app Vehicles, early last year.  As of yesterday, the app has been updated with a new Spot the Difference activity, a new animation, and new sounds and animations.  I’m reposting the original review today with the updates marked.

 

Puzzles are an important part of early learning.  They help children develop spacial awareness, problem-solving skills and more.  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of puzzle apps in the AppStore, so it can be difficult to choose one.  My First App – Vol. 1 Vehicles  is a great puzzle app from appp media, the people behind Professor Kim – What’s Missing Here.  MFA Vehicles offers some traditional puzzles but with some great twists that make it supportive and high interest for a range of ability levels.  Thanks to Kristin Heitmann of appp media for providing me with this app for the review.

Features

  • Attractive collage-style graphics – 16 different illustrations are used, although there are only 8 used per activity.
  • Four activities:  Puzzle, Matching Halves and Tilt Game and the new Spot the Difference game
  • Background music (Here we go ’round the mulberry bush) can be turned off.
  • Settings for children of different ability levels.

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Toca Town

3 Jun tocatownmain

tocatownYou may have seen virtual play house apps before where children can drag characters around different scenes and have them interact with different items. Toca Town does all of this with not just a room or a house, but a whole town. Along with different buildings, rooms and environments to explore, a bit of Toca Boca Magic has been added to create some wonderful surprises.

  • Settings include a grocery store, restaurant (with commercial kitchen), two different types of home with multiple rooms, a park and a police station.
  • Characters – When you enter most locations, you will find one or two characters, but you can add more characters to the scene. If you have other Toca Boca apps, you will have fun recognising some of the characters you have met in previous apps.
  • Explore – Open cupboards and fridges to see what is inside: you can take things out and put them away. Characters can eat and drink any of the food, and carry or wear any if the items you find.  Change the lighting by switching lights on or off, or opening curtains and blinds.

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