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Mobile Advent Calendars

1 Dec Advent Calendar 2012 by JustKidsApps - main screen.

Most of us are familiar with Advent calendars. The most common form has scenes with windows numbered 1 through 24, with a window opened each day from December first until Christmas Eve. In these modern times, there are lots of Advent calendars available for iPhone and iPad, and it is fairly easy to find them. Advent officially starts tomorrow, on Sunday 2nd December, but most Advent calendars will start today.

Advent 2012 app iconAdvent Calendar 2012 - JustKidsApps - Katrin Draemann BarothyAdvent Calendar 2012

I was lucky enough to win this one in a code drop on the JustKidsApps Facebook page, but it is one I’d be happy to pay for as it is simply beautiful.  I love the enchanting illustrations, the music, the stories, and the activities, which my children and I can enjoy together. Continue reading

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25 Jun

Some thoughts about using interactive books with children. Although I have some good eBooks on my iPad, I think this post really sums up why they will never replace story time with “real” books with my children. At the very least, there is something so much warmer about sitting down with an old-fashioned book than with an eBook reader.

Acorns to Oaks Centre

Deadline News
Claire McKim
June 24, 2012

 

READING interactive e-books to under-threes could hinder their development and break vital bonds between parent and child, experts have warned.

Digital books, which allow children to physically interact with storylines, are becoming increasingly popular in Scotland, with new versions of classics such as ‘Peter Rabbit’ and ‘Alice In Wonderland’ including interactive elements for children to participate in.

But child development specialists warn that the interactive storybooks could have a damaging effect on the growth of under threes – and could even harm their eyesight.

JK Rowling offers an interactive experience of her Harry Potter books.

 

Some authors have embraced the digital books trend, with Scot JK Rowling offering an interactive experience of the Harry Potter novels on her Pottermore website.

But others, such as The Gruffalo author Julia Donalson, have refused to move to digital and spoken out about the importance…

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Word games Part 1: Word Search

12 Jun
Wordsearch

Wordsearch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Playing games with words is not only fun but can help your children (and you) to practice spelling and to develop your vocabulary. Personally, I love word games and always have some on my iPad.  This post is focussing on just one type:  Word Search, a.k.a Find-a-word, Word Seek, Word Find and others. I think we are all familiar with these puzzles: highlight words hidden in a letter grid.  Since all the puzzles work the same way, I’m going to focus on features such as word lists and various options you might find handy.    Forgive me if I don’t mention the game that has Weapons as one of its word lists, along with others that had some dodgy spelling and grammar before you even got to the puzzles.  The ones here are some of the better ones. Continue reading

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

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

Moo Media goes Mobile – Four Picture eBooks your children will love

29 Feb

Moo Media book opening screenToday I’m sharing not one but FOUR children’s picture ebooks that have been beautifully translated into the eBook format by Loud Crow Interactive. Four of Sandra Boynton’s beautifully illustrated stories are now available as eBooks for iPod, iPhone and Android. The series is perfect for young children.

Features

Sometimes you come across an App that does everything you want it to do.   The features of each book read like a list of everything I could wish for in a quality children’s eBook. Continue reading

Evaluating Apps: Maths Drill and Practice

21 Jan

Also known as drill and skill, drill and practice games don’t usually help children learn their basic facts, but they can help speed up recall and so can serve a purpose in reinforcing what the child already knows.  The main aim is to help children recall basic facts quickly and accurately.  They are good Homework Apps and can act as a reward.

There are hundreds (at least!) of this type of App, in the next few posts I’ll highlight some good and not-so-good ones.  Seeing as I can’t possibly cover all of them, here are the kinds of things I look at when evaluating drill and practice apps. Continue reading

How Do You Pick A Good Educational App

20 Jan

I have my own criteria for evaluating educational apps and I intend to write some posts over the next few weeks that focus on what to look out for Apps in particular subject areas.  In the meantime, here are a few general hints to help you pick the good from the bad. Continue reading

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