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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

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)

 

 

 

Junior Storytellers: School Edition

28 May

Junior Storytellers app iconJunior Storytellers  puts your child in the director’s seat to create simple animated stories with narration, using a variety of settings, characters and props.  It is a great way for children to learn about how to build a story while engaging in creative play.  There are two versions of the app available. I am reviewing the School Edition, which includes all content with the one price.  The free version has limited content, with more story theme packs available with in-app purchase.

The main screen of the app is separated into four main sections: Create Story, My Stories, Awards and Settings.

Create Story

There are two main story sections: Sandbox and Challenge.

Sandbox Mode  – This section has two options:  a learning mode and a create mode.

  • Learn to Play guides children through making a story. It explains how to choose scenes, and to add, pose and change characters and props, and uses items from the Jungle theme only.  It is a great place to start, and might also be helpful for children who might otherwise get a bit overwhelmed with choice.
  • Create A Story gives children full access to the range of settings, characters and props.  Children create a story one page at a time and can create stories of any length they choose.

Challenge Mode –   This mode challenges children to create stories using a specific number of scenes. The first level is a single scene story and is a good place to start. Subsequent levels challenge children to create stories with several scenes. The first Level 1 has a single scene story, Level 3 has stories of 5 scenes, and Level 5  has stories with 9 scenes. The challenge mode starts with a quick video modelling the creation and recording of a story. After you have seen it a few times, it gets a bit tired, but you can tap on the big red cross in the top corner to turn it off. You can also turn the tutorial off using the app settings. Continue reading

Sago Mini Space Explorer

15 May

Sago Mini Space Explorer App iconSago Sago is a developer that creates fun, child directed virtual toys for young children in the 2-4 age group. A favourite in our house is Sago Mini Forest Flyer, a fun virtual environment where children move a little bird around the screen and interact with the objects in the environment in fun ways. Sago Mini Space Explorer, which I was lucky enough to see before its release, has quickly become another favourite, particularly with Mr 2 who, upon seeing the app for the first time, yelled excitedly….

“Mummy! Puppy’s in Space!”

Sago Sago uses a few central characters in their apps: a bird, a cat, a fish and a dog. The hero of Sago Mini Space Explorer is the dog, (known in our home as Puppy) wearing his space suit, who gets to fly around exploring in space. As you move him around the screen, yellow spots indicate areas where the Puppy can interact with objects and characters, and there are other areas where just flying the puppy around will cause things to happen. Some examples of what you might find I this lovely little universe include:

  • A robot who loves to hug (and who occasionally needs a bit of maintenance)
  • A teleport machine
  • Cat, Fish and Bird popping up in surprising moments.
  • Assorted aliens to meet
  • A spaceship to ride in
  • Strange planets that do interesting things
  • Asteroids to bump about

There are no boundaries in this little universe, so children can take Puppy off in any direction without hitting any frustrating walls or borders. Continue reading

Sticker Play: Knights, Dragons and Castles by Jump App

3 Apr

Sticker Play:  Knights, Dragons and Castles is Jump App’s most recent addition to their collection of educational apps.  Like their other apps, Knights, Dragons and Castles is a creative play app where children take charge and direct the action in a simple and fun virtual environment.  If you would like to win a copy of this app, please see the link at the end of this post.

Features

  • 5 different scenes – Scenes include castle interiors and exteriors, and landscapes. Scroll left or right to move about each  scene.
  • Characters – There are knights and soldiers in all sorts of poses and equipped with all manner of medieval armor and weaponry, a king and queen and assorted other castle folk.  Each character has an identical twin in a different colourway so that you end up with two sides; The green knights and the red/yellow knights.  Most have associated sound effects and small animations.
  • Animals – Dragons in two poses (again in green or red colour ways), a griffin and a few dogs are available.  There are a few horses with mounted knights, and one pulling a wagon.
  • Props – A number of props help set the scene, including medieval war engines (battering ram and catapult), assorted tents, flags, and supplies for troops. There is even a sword ready to be pulled out of the stone by a future king.
  • Sound – most of the scenes are outdoors (or partially outdoors) and feature sounds from nature. The castle interior scene features background sounds that such as footsteps, clanking and creaking, low murmurs, and other sounds that add to the atmosphere. Sound effects can be toggled on or off using the simple controls on the screen.  For a quiet experience, adults can turn all sound effects and background sounds off using the parent controls (accessible from the main screen.
  • Parent controls – Parents can control sound, screenshots (handy if you have limited space on your device) and the Jump App more apps banner.  I love that the link to the AppStore (for ratings and reviews) is hidden from children.  Jump App has a presence on all major forms of social media, but they don’t have direct links that children can access.  Instead, all addresses are hidden in the parent section.  Personally, I believe this should be a standard practice in educational apps and I’m sorry more developers don’t follow their lead.

Continue reading

My First App – Vol. 3 Airport

18 Feb

my-first-app-vol-3Today I’m reviewing the third in appp media’s My first App series looks.  While Volume 1 looked at Vehicles and Volume 2 took us to the circus, with this latest volume we get to visit the airport.  If you hare familiar with the other apps in this series, you’ll already know you are in for a treat.  

Activities

There are four activities in the app and they are identical to the activities in the other 2 My First App apps.  (That sounds funny.)

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  • Puzzle– 8 pictures of airport vehicles. You can alter the difficulty level for the child so they may solve the puzzle with 2, 4, 6 or 9 puzzle pieces. An extra element of difficulty can be added with the rotation option where children may need to rotate a piece to the correct orientation. This is off by default. You can have children of different ages and abilities solving the same puzzles at their own level.

Continue reading

Shape the Village by Wisekids

5 Feb

Shape the Village by WiseKids CorporationShape the Village is a delightful world created by WiseKids where children can explore shapes in amusing and entertaining ways.  The village is a little “unpopulated” when you first enter the app, but as each activity is completed more items are added until the village is complete. The completed village with 16 activities fills two screens of your iPad, and children can swipe up or down to move between these areas. 

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Features

Activities – There are 16 activities, each with several different variations so that your child can return to the same activity multiple times with difference in shapes and/or characters each time. I don’t have the time (or patience) to mention all the activities, but here are just a few:

  • Rocket ship – the rocket’s window (a different shape each time) is dirty. Clean it to find an astronaut made of the same shape.
  • Caterpillar – tap and hold dots on a leaf to guide a caterpillar as he eats a shape path through a leaf.
  • Bakery – colour in each shape with a different spread, e.g. spread jam on the square toast, frosting on the triangle cake, or chocolate icing on the biscuits (or cookie for my friends in the USA and Canada.)
  • Orchard – pick the fruit on the trees and load it on to the truck.  There are outlines indicating the shape of the fruit required, for example a row of squares for the square apples.  A couple of red herrings (in the form of a square bird and a piece of fruit with a bite) out of it will bounce off the truck if you try to load them.
  • Farm – drag the tractor along the shaped path to till the soil, plant the seeds and then water. Once the shape has been traced three times, flowers grow.

You can see some of these activities, plus the introduction to the app, in this YouTube trailer from WiseKids.

Continue reading

Felt Board Christmas by Software Smoothie

10 Dec

fbchristmasI’m a big fan of the original Felt Board app from Software Smoothie. Since I reviewed it, it has had new features added and just keeps on getting better. Felt Board Christmas is now available and is every bit as delightful as the original. A virtual felt board on your iPad, this app features a variety of backgrounds, characters, scenery and props, and all with the Christmas theme.

Features

  • Backgrounds – includes home interiors, plates for Christmas food, outdoors, and plain colours. Our  family doesn’t see a lot of snow  in Australia (ok, any snow, EVER) so winter landscapes are a bit lost on us (unless we are making Santa’s home) so we were happy to see a summer landscape.
  • Characters – a range of Christmas characters include Santa, Mrs Clause, elves, reindeer and some other cute Christmas animals. It is wonderful to see all characters available in different skin tones.
  • Decorations – baubles, lights and other decorations for your tree. 
  • Misc Christmas – this section includes trees, stockings, gifts, and other Christmas phrases such as “Ho Ho Ho” and “Peace on Earth.”
  • Snowman parts – finally my children can build  snowmen, albeit virtual ones. There are different options for facial features, arms and accessories, so you can build some really wacky snowmen.
  • Nativity characters – All the characters needed to recreate scenes from the original Nativity story (Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Angels shepherds and Wise Men/Magi) are included in their own category, again in different skin tones. They are accompanied by animals including a camel, donkey, and sheep, some stars and the stable. 
  • Alphabet – two festive alphabets (a fun red or slightly more formal green, both outlined in white) with both upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation marks.

Continue reading

Nott Won’t Sleep

26 Nov


I’m sure I’m not the only parent in the world with a child who won’t sleep.  My children always seem to have something they need to do first: get a drink, read “just one more” story, or (my favourite) they’ve just remembered they have to go to school tomorrow dressed as an elephant/pirate/explorer/storybook character and need to pull the entire contents out of the dress up box and my wardrobe.  Nott has things she needs to do too, but they are a bit different to our nightly tasks.  She needs to light her nightlight, say goodnight to the moon, and rescue her teddy bear.  Gradually Nott gets sleepier and finally falls asleep with her favourite bear.

Everything about this app is beautiful, gentle, and perfect for settling over-tired crabby children.  Peaceful music plays throughout, the illustrations are beautiful but not over-stimulating, and Nott’s increasing sleepiness helps set the restful tone.

Nott has saved Nox, and is getting sleepier, but she has two more tasks before bed.

At the start of the adventure, Nott is full of beans, bouncing on her bed and not the least bit tired.  As her adventures unfold, Nott starts to tire and you can see this in her posture and face.  I found myself yawning each time Nott yawned!  It doesn’t matter which order you choose to complete the activities.

  • Forest friends – help Nott catch fireflies and play a gentle game of peekaboo with her animal friends, who fall asleep as they are “caught.”  The fireflies help to light Nott’s lamp.
  • Rescue Nox – Nox the bear is adrift on a lake.  Help find items to help rescue him and bring him to Nott.
  • Goodnight moon – Help Nott find the moon behind the clouds and then brighten it up.

After each activity is complete, you can turn off the lamp, put the moon to sleep and send Nox and Nott to bed, tucking them in. Continue reading

ABCDiversity

11 Oct

ABCDiversity is a simple alphabet app but with features that make it very appealing to children from different backgrounds and ethnicities.  In addition to an introduction to initial letter sounds, the illustrations provide opportunity to explore diversity in our communities.

Features

Navigation:  Children will find it easy to navigate through the app with simple swipes to the left or right.  If you wish to hear a screen repeated, simply swipe to the next page and then return.

iPhone Screenshot 1Illustrations:  the graphics are attractive and feature 26 child characters from different ethnicities and with different interests. The characters have been created by 5 different artists from around the world, each with their own artistic style.  Some of the characters have special needs, such as Wilson (pictured) who uses a wheelchair, and Gareth, who has a vision impairment and a Guide dog.  There is a lot of white space in each screen, making it easy for children to focus on the words and images.

Vocabulary: There is some simple interactivity in each illustration:  each picture has  4 hotspots that, when tapped, cause the word to appear and be spoken.  My only issue with the app is with the word Leafs.  While the developer says this is an accepted use, I haven’t found it in any dictionary, and I know it is not accepted in  schools.  Children using this app are probably not up to spelling anyway, but it would be good to have the more accepted Leaves or singular Leaf instead.

Narration:  The  American accented voice is clear and well paced.  My children thought it was “pretty good.” I am a stickler for good pronunciation.

External Links:  There are some external links to the ABCDiversity  website, social media, and email, but these are very subtle and not easy for children to get access to.  You’ll find them at the very last screen, and you need to swipe up with two fingers to get access to them.  I recommend trying out some of the ideas on the ABCDiversity ideas page (link indicated by 9 tiny squares) as it has some excellent extension ideas for helping your child learn about diversity. Continue reading

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