Tag Archives: Education

Clicker Docs

28 Jul

Clicker Docs app iconI used to use Clicker by Crick Software many years ago when I worked with special needs students, so I was delighted to have to opportunity to look at two of their iPad apps, Clicker Docs and Clicker Sentences. Initially I was going to review them together, but each is a stand-out on its own,  so I’m going to write about each  separately.

When you first open Clicker Docs, it looks much like a standard word processor, but look a little closer and you’ll see that it s packed with features that support learners with a range of needs.

Features

Clicker Docs is a word processor that has been designed to support learners with a range of needs. It has many supportive feature including:

  • Word banks
  • Word prediction
  • Text to speech
  • Spell check
  • Accessibility features

Each of these features can be adapted to suit the needs of individual learners with a variety of needs, making it a very versatile tool for the classroom or home.

Word banks

Continue reading

Miracles of Jesus – NEST

22 May

NEST MoJMiracles of Jesus is a Christian storybook app by NEST Family Apps. It puts several stories from the Gospel together in an accessible way for children of different ages and abilities.  While I’m happy to have a Christian story app to share with my children, there are a lot of extra features in the app that I was pleased to see. It supportive of early readers, a great resource for educators, and entertaining for all ages.  The developers have put a lot of thought into the design of this app and I really enjoyed reviewing it with my family.

Features

Reading Modes – There are three reading modes available:

  • Read to Me – hear the narration and see the words highlighted
  • Read and Learn – hear each page read and interact with different elements on the screen.
  • Just a book – narration, pop-ups and interactive elements are turned off for a quiet reading experience.  This mode is great for “lap time.”

Levels of difficulty – Each of the three reading modes is available in two levels of difficulty:

  • Early Readers – suitable for early primary
  •  Advanced Readers – suitable for middle primary and above.  This mode also features pop-up information panels that give children more background information.
    Miracles of Jesus - Early Readers level

    Miracles of Jesus – Early Readers level

    Miracles of Jesus - Advanced Reader

    Miracles of Jesus – Advanced Reader

Story – I’m sure I won’t be giving any spoilers away if I mention that the book covers several of the Miracles of Jesus from the four Gospels.  These include:

  • The calming of the storm
  • Jesus heals the boy with palsy
  • Jairus’ daughter raised from the dead
  • Jesus walks on the water

If you use the Advanced mode in either the Read to Me or Read and Learn modes, you’ll find the Gospel Chapter and verse references in the pop up information panels.

Supportive Text Features – Text is highlighted as read (except in Just a Book mode) and you can tap on individual words to hear them spoken.  These features are very supportive of early readers.

 Good Narration – The narration by Dean Cooper is well paced, clear and expressive.  His US accent was easy for my children to listen to, even if some of the words are pronounced slightly differently to the way they are pronounced in Australia.

Discussion Starters – At the end of the story is the NEST family chat, which gives you a couple of questions to use as discussion starters as you reflect upon the story.

Colourful Illustrations – The illustrations are clear and colourful, and they seem to come from stills from the NEST animated cartoon of the same name.

Activities – The app comes with a number of extension activities.

  • Word Jumble – two levels of difficulty
  • Word Search – two levels of difficulty
  • Maze – two levels of difficulty
  • Trivia – multiple choice questions about the story that are great for comprehension.  There are no penalties for wrong answers, and children get to try again until they arrive at the correct answer.  Children with reading difficulties might need an adult or older sibling to help them read the questions and possible answers.
  • Trace alphabet
  • Trace words

While I love the way the tracing activities are done, I prefer my children to do writing activities that use the same font they are using in their handwriting at school.  That being said, I think the word tracing activity will be very useful for vocabulary skills.

Painting – There are more features to the painting activity than you might expect.  I was impressed with the variety of paint tools (spray, brush, crayon, chalk or paint bucket,) the number of colour choices, and how easy it was to change the size of the painting tools.  There are 6 line drawings from the story, plus a blank canvas for free-style art.  The black lines in the drawing always stay on top, and painting “outside the lines” is impossible, making it easy for the most un-coordinated artist to create a masterpiece.

We found it a little difficult to paint the lower parts of each screen as the colour options kept popping up over where we were painting.

The YouTube video below will give you an overview of the App and its features.

Other Features

There are external links to social media, the NEST website, and the iTunes Store in the Help section,  however this is not easily accessible to very young children.  You need to enter your birth year in order to access these links and other information.  While I don’t believe young children will bypass this, if you have concerns about  your children accidentally accessing the external links and social media, I suggest putting the app in Airplane mode or turning off WiFi before giving the device to your child.

Wish List

I would like to see an extra information section that lists the different miracles and their Gospel references.  Although these are accessible in the pop up information panels, it would be very handy for parents and teachers to have a summary in the Parent information section.

The trivia activity is excellent, but I’d like to see an option for reading the question and the possible answers so that it is more accessible for children with reading difficulties.

As we found the tools obscuring the screen on occasion in the painting activity, it would be handy to have a little hide/reveal button.

Verdict

This app is a great resource for Christian families and schools.  Apart from some wonderful stories from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, the app has features that are supportive of early readers, plus some great activities to assist with comprehension.  There is a lot of attention to detail, making this app useful for children of different ages and abilities and engaging enough for them to return to it frequently.  I look forward to adding more NEST apps to our family collection.

Miracles of Jesus - NEST Family Apps
Publisher: NEST Family Apps
Price: $2.99
Universal

You can also purchase Miracles of Jesus for Android from the Amazon Online Store  for $2.99.  For links to the Google Play and Nook versions, plus other NEST Family App titles, please visit the Nest Family Apps App Page.

Write to Read – WriteReader

6 May

writereaderThere are more than 750 000 apps in the iTunes AppStore, with many doing similar things, so it is very exciting to find an app that does something really different.  WriteReader is one of those apps.  The app is based on research that strongly links success in learning to read with learning to write.   The app is aimed at children aged from 3 to 10 years, although I believe it would be suitable for older children who have special needs.  I’d like to thank Sarah Muzzammil, a member of the WriteReader marketing team, for giving me the opportunity to look at this app.

Main Features

writereaderpageApart from the title page for each book you create, each page consists of a picture that you add from your camera roll, and two text entry points: one for children and one for adults.  You can add an audio recording to each page, and you can easily add speech frames, thought bubbles and text boxes to the pictures.  Children select a picture, then write a caption, concentrating on the sounds in the words they wish to use.This might be just a couple of letters for one-word caption, or it might be several words.  Adults then type the correct “adult writing”  in the second box.  This is the way my children do their first writing at school.  I’m sure many readers are familiar with being presented with lovely artwork captioned with (what appears to be) a mishmash of letters, and a teachers’ writing underneath translating it for us.  What is actually happening is that children are trying out their letters and sounds, exploring the process of writing at its very first stages.  By seeing their writing alongside the adult’s writing, children can see their successes. [UPDATE 14/7/2014: The adult writing can be disabled by tapping the large owl.]

WriteReader is more than just a writing app, as it has been designed to be used as part of a whole language approach to help children learn to write while they are also learning to read.  There is a good deal of research behind it from its Danish development team and the Danish School of Education. The publishers write: Continue reading

The Adventures of Onesock – My Pal Roger

20 Apr

Onesock app iconPublished by JustKidsApps, The Adventures of Onesock – My Pal Roger is delightful story about Onesock and his misadventures with the newest family member, Roger the dog, who bounces into his world and develops a liking for Onesock’s favourite toy.  Although it isn’t mentioned in the story, Onesock has Autism and displays behaviours associated with this.  Like many children with autism, Onesock has sensory issues with his clothing, in this case with his sock.  He has difficulty with social situations and changes to his environment, such as the introduction of the new pet or visiting his Grandparents.   Onesock has a particular attachment to his toy alligator, which he uses for comfort and to transition through difficult situations.  When faced with a trip away from home, and a new dog that keeps trying to play with his toy alligator, Onesock becomes distressed and anxious. Things are resolved when Roger saves the day. It is no surprise to learn that the author, Roy Ruiz, is the father of the real life Onesock.  Onesock is portrayed with love, respect and acceptance.

Features

This is a story with a lot text, so having two reading modes is a handy thing.  I prefer to read the stories to my children and tend to turn narration off, but my children have listened to the narration and enjoyed this too.

The illustrations are  attractive and colourful.  We loved finding the missing sock in each page, although we still haven’t found it on one page!

There are subtle interactive elements on each page indicated by sparkles. Touching some of these might activate an environmental sound, such as a dog bark, a giggle etc, but other interactive spots play more dialogue in the voice of the character, so you can learn more about how the character is feeling. As with many other JustKidsApps books, this kind of feature can help with comprehension.

Other features

  • Lovely illustrations by Natalie Silva
  • Clear, soothing  English narration by Priya Rana Kapoor.  (I don’t speak German, but the child  narrator sounds clear and expressive, as do the voices of the characters)
  • Text is highlighted as narrated
  • Bilingual in English or German

This YouTube video gives away the plot by showing you the last page of the story, but you’ll also get to hear the soothing narration.  

Wish List

  • An option for clicking individual words to hear them spoken when in “Read Myself” mode.  This would help those children who are mostly independent readers, but who struggle with the odd word.
  • More Onesock adventures – I’ll buy these as soon as they are published.

Verdict

It is a joy to see a story with an autistic child as the main character in a story.  Given the prevalence of ASD in our communities,  children with ASD have been under-represented in all forms of media and particularly in children’s literature.  Any child will enjoy reading about the adventures of Onesock, but the story will resonate with families affected by autism.  I was happy to part with a measly 99c for a story of this quality, and I’d happily pay more.  This is the second of Ruiz’s  Onesock books, but the first available as an app.  JustKidsApps timed the release perfectly to coincide with World Autism Month in April, 2013.

Adventures of One Sock - My Pal Rodger - JustKidsApps - Katrin Draemann Barothy
Publisher:  JustKidsApps
Cost: 99c
iPad only

Alphabet Animals – a slide-and-peek adventure

9 Apr

ABC Animals app iconI was excited to be able to review this app from Auryn Apps with my children.  I own quite a few story apps published by Auryn, and the quality of illustrations and stories is always high, so I was hoping Alphabet Animals would be of the same quality.  I’m delighted to say that it is.

abc animals - H for HorseAlphabet Animals is exactly what it sounds like:  an alphabet book with illustrations of animals. Each page has an animal in the shape of the initial letter of its name. D is a dragon, L is a lion, O is an orang-utan and so on.  I love the gorgeous illustrations by Suse MacDonald.  As you slide the tab across to see the letter, the animal moves a little.  The crocodile opens its mouth, the vulture’s wings flap, and so on.  If a few seconds pass without the screen being touched, prompts appear highlighting the interactive parts of the page.

You could go through the book page by page, in alphabetical order, or you can tap on specific letters to go straight to that letter.  My children were impatient to see “their letters” (i.e. the letters in their names) so this is how we first explored the book.  It was also fun to guess which animal would illustrate each letter.  Zebra for Z was a no-brainer, but we shouldn’t have been so surprised to see the dragon for D (it is the app’s icon!)

abc animals game 1It was nice to see an Australian animal used to illustrate the letter K, but we have a quibble.  Koalas are marsupials, not bears, and it is incorrect to refer to them as koala bears.  Koala on its own is the correct name.  Unfortunately it is a mistake we’ve seen in a lot of apps and books. My little Aussies are very picky and would like the developers to fix this in the next update.

 Game Time

abcanimals - name game The book on its own is wonderful, but there is a game in the app that adds to the fun.  Children select the letters of their name, then drag the “animal letters” over the top to spell their name with animals.  They can then select a frame and save the image or send it to an email address.  My children love this activity.  The images of their names are works of art, and I’m going to print them as photos to go in my children’s scrapbooks.  The names would also look great on the front of greeting cards.  I know the activity asks you to enter a name, but we took it further and entered spelling list words.

Music

One other feature is a musical theme that plays in the background.  While the tune is cute and happy, you can turn it off.  I chose to have it off after a bit, but not before my children had fun making the animals ” dance” by sliding the tab back and forth in time with the music.

 Verdict

I’ve seen a lot of ABC apps, and while there are some I quite like, I can honestly say there are not too many illustrated as beautifully as this one.   Alphabet Animals will hold your child’s attention and is a great one to share snuggled up on someone’s lap.  Highly recommended.

Alphabet Animals: a slide-and-peek adventure is an enchanting picture app, kids will love to learn from. This app teaches animal names, alphabets and their shapes to kids; by Suse MacDonald (iPad version, by Auryn Apps) - Auryn Inc.Publisher: Auryn Apps
Price:  $1.99
iPad only.

Felt Board by Software Smoothie

4 Apr

feltboardMy children love playing with their felt boards and shapes, so I was delighted to try Felt Board by Software Smoothie, which brings this activity to the iPad.  My children and I had a great deal of fun trying this out, and we have shown it to lots of friends, young and old,  who are equally enchanted with it.

Features

  • Backgrounds – We have several felt boards in our home collection, but this app has 27, including outdoor scenes, space, interiors, a ship, plain backgrounds and more.
  • People – 6 bodies are available in a choice of pale pink, brown, black, blue, purple and red.  There are many faces available, including a variety of eye colours, and choices of happy or sad.  Likewise, there are lots of different hair styles, each with several colour choices, and some beards and moustaches.
  • Clothing – You’ll find lots of choices for dresses, skirts, tops, swimwear and pants.  Several complete outfits are also included for various professions, including firefighter, doctor, knight and more.
  • Accessories – In this section you will find hats, scarves, footwear and other accessories.  In addition to “everyday” items, you’ll find times for fairies, knights, royalty and more.  Also included in this section is a wheelchair.
  • Animals – All sorts of animals can be found here, including pets, farm animals, and fairy tale characters. The unicorn has been very popular in our house.
  • Alphabet in upper and lower case
  • Numbers and shapes

The YouTube video below shows how to use the app.

Activity Ideas

Like painting and drawing apps, apps that allow you to create pictures are great for illustrating stories.  Pictures made with Felt Board could be used with writing and book-making apps such as PagesKeynote, Book Creator or Picturebook, to name but a few.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some of the boards consist of several backgrounds, making them ideal for sorting and classifying activities.  I used one with rectangles to create a colour sorting activity, where I placed a number of felt items in the centre white rectangle for children to drag into the rectangle with the corresponding colour.  In another activity, I created a counting activity.  One board in the set lends itself well to looking at seasonal changes, as it has an array of four backgrounds, each a different season

Things we love about this app

  • You can’t lose the pieces ( they will not be sucked up the vacuum cleaner if you leave them on the floor!)
  • You can use as many of the same piece as you want.
  • There are so many backgrounds you can create nearly any scene you want.
  • My daughters discovered that, when you resize a person, any facial features, hair, clothing, or accessories you place on that person automatically resize to fit.  They also resize with the person after you have applied them.  This feature is really clever.
  • Boys love this app just as much as the girls.  It might initially look “girly” but believe me that there are lots of pirates, knights and other “boy” themes to keep everyone happy.  I’ve shown this to my boys and their friends, aged from 5 to 10 years old, and they all happily spend ages making adventure scenes.

Wish List

  • Vehicles – More vehicles would be wonderful.  There is a ship and a couple of rockets, but my children were looking for some farm vehicles and trains.  It would be great to have a variety of air, sea and land vehicles.  We did manage to make some vehicles from the shapes with a little success, but it was hard to make diggers, trucks and trains the way we wanted them to look.
  • More Animals – My children would also like to see some jungle and bush animals added to the animals section. A few lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) would be fun for jungle or zoo scenes, and some kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus and snakes would be a start for some of our Australian bush scenes.  Perhaps we are a bit greedy, as there are already lots of animals to choose from.
  • Fairy wings have been suggested by one young lady as a much-needed addition to the accessories section.  We did have a success shrinking a person down to their smallest size and placing them over an enlarged butterfly, but you can’t “stick” the wings on.
  • Individual Facial Features – While there are lots of faces to choose from you can’t select individual facial features and combine them. One of my children has suggested having separate eyes, noses and mouths so that she can have more control over how the faces look.  While I believe this would make adding faces a lot harder for some, I can see her point.  (I prefer the face options that are already in the app.)
  • Saving Files – I’d like to be able to save activities such as those I created above.  You can save photographs of the scenes you create, but you can’t save them in a way that you can manipulate the items on the board, such as with the sorting activity. While it doesn’t take long to make them, it would be handy for teachers to be able to prepare activities in advance and then load them as necessary, as time is at a premium in classrooms.

Verdict

This app is simply so much fun, it is hard to believe it is educational.  My children still love playing with their “real” felts, but this app is now a favourite and has been particularly handy when travelling.  We are not alone, as everyone we have shown this app to has fallen in love with it.  Even if you don’t have children, this is a very appealing app.   I have  been revisiting my childhood, having so much fun creating scenes with the felt shapes.  This app is suitable for all ages and is an app that will “grow” with your children.    I challenge anyone not to fall in love with it.

Felt Board - Software SmoothiePublisher:  Software Smoothie
Price:  $2.99
iPad only

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

 

Baby Learns Simple Shapes

21 Mar

baby learns shapes app iconThe latest offering from Bebebe Co.  is a fun app for learning shapes, and I’d like to thank Tanya Kolosova from Baby Learns for allowing me to be part of the Beta Testing process. Like the other apps in the series (Baby Learns Colors and Baby Learns Simple Objects and ) there are three different activities, both with two modes: Play and Learn. Each activity also has a child character, or avatar, that guides the child through the activity. A reward system for correct answers is motivating and fun.

Activities

Find the Shape

iPadShapesChooseGame

Ten shape characters are on the screen: square, circle, triangle, rectangle, moon, star, oval, rhombus, pentagon, trapezoid. As you tap each shape, the avatar says its name. Shapes animate at random: they might dance, grow flowers, clean up, play or do other surprising things. In Play Mode, the avatar says the name of each shape as the shape is tapped. In Learn mode, the avatar asks the user to find a specific shape. Correct answers receive praise, while the avatar prompts the child to try again after an incorrect answer. Sometimes my children were distracted by the animations and went to tap the animating shape rather than the correct shape. I’d like to see animations used as a prompt. My 5 y.o. Was not familiar with some of the shape names, such as trapezoid and rhombus, but he quickly picked them up. My youngest child is not yet two, but when he is a bit older I’ll be trying the activities with him and I’d love to be able to reduce the number of shapes on the screen so that we can just start with two or three and build up to the full ten.

Load the Shapes

In this second activity, children drag the shapes into the back of a truck. My children loved dragging the shapes with their legs and arms kicking (happily) and dropping them into the truck. In Learn mode, users can load the shapes at random and hear their names spoken. In Play mode, users are asked to load a specific shape. Incorrect answers are identified, and correct answers receive praise. Again, I’d like to be able to adjust the number of shapes, at least in Play mode, so that it would be suitable for a variety of needs.

Make a Picture

This is the favourite activity in my house. Shapes are matched to the shapes outlined on a picture. Once the picture is complete, the scene animates. In Learn mode, simply drag the shapes to their place and hear their name spoken. Incorrect shapes will just snap back to place. The Play mode is same, except that correct answers are counted towards rewards. The only thing I’d like to see here is more pictures, as my children just love it. They have put in requests for space ships and tractors.

Other Features

Rewards

iPadTreesLiftBaby Learns Shapes uses the same reward system as the other Baby Learns apps, and it never gets tired. Bebekas are the cute characters that your child can earn for every 5 correct answers in Play mode. Bebekas are added to an interactive environment where your child can play with them. Scroll left and right to see the full environment, which fills several screens. You can move the creatures around the scene, interact with objects in the environment (you must try the trampoline) and feed them from a selection of foods. We found some extra surprises in some of the buildings, but I’m not giving any spoilers, so you’ll have to look for yourself.

Avatars and Voices

iPadVoiceoversEnglishThe avatars are little boys and girls with assigned voices. The app comes with Morgan (Female, US English), Jules (male, French) and Ivan (male, Russian). You can download others (several other languages are already available) or you can record your own voice. Recording is very easy to do, and I’d encourage you to try this with your children so they can hear their own voices. When you record a voice, you are also able to choose a different avatar. There are three boys and three girls to choose from, each with different racial characteristics. Baby Learns encourages people to submit their voice overs so that others can download them.

Parent Section

The Parent Section is accessed by double-tapping a subtle link at the top of the main screen. Children will be unlikely to get access to it by random tapping. It has links to a YouTube video of how to record voiceovers, more information on playing the game, information about other Baby Learns apps and competitions and links to the AppStore and social media.

Verdict

While there are a couple of features I’d love to add, I think this is a great app for helping children learn and recall the names of common shapes.  I’d recommend that children just starting to learn the shapes spend some  in the Learn modes before they tackle the Play modes. Different language options make it suitable for children of any nationality, and useful for those learning a second language.  The Bebekas are motivating and fun rewards, which guarantee children will not tire of the game.  My five y.o. loves it, and I’m looking forward to introducing this to my youngest child when he is a little older.

Giveaway

If you would like to win a copy of this great app, please leave a comment below.  The first three comments will receive a code for the app, courtesy of Bebebe Co.

Baby Learns Colors - Bebebe Co.Publisher:  Bebebe Co.
Universal
Price:  $2.99

Katie Loves Everyone Together

6 Mar

Katie Loves Everyone Together - Page 1

Developer: PicPocket Books

Reviewed by Sarah DeBellis and originally published by The Appy Ladies

katieLETSome stories can be a great help for preparing children for life’s ups and downs, for example new babies, visits to the hospital, even a topic as sensitive as death.   This kind of life story can help to provide vocabulary for children to express their feelings, and are a great starting point for discussion.  They can also let children know that they are not alone.  Katie Loves Everybody Together by Annie Monique Chalifoux is one of those stories.  It is the story of how a family copes with separation as seen through the eyes of Katie, their little girl.

The story starts with the family together, but as the story progresses, Katie sees her parents are unhappy.  Katie is worried and blames herself, but her parents realise and talk things through.  Finally Katie’s father moves into a new home and the story looks at how Katie adjusts to living in two homes.  The message throughout the story is one of love and respect, as both parents guide their children through this major change in their lives.  The child’s fears and concerns are dealt with, and we see her happily living her life in two homes.

KatieLETpage2

Features

  • Easy navigation – swipe pages to move through the story.
  • Audio can be turned off for those who wish to read aloud themselves or to read silently.
  • Text is highlighted as spoken.  This feature is supportive of emergent readers who are reading along with the narration.
  •  Beautiful illustrations  – The story is beautifully illustrated by Jennifer Kalis.
  • “Hidden Sounds” – Sounds from the environment, such as birds chirping or a child giggling,  are “hidden” in each illustration.
  • The expressive narration by Allison Cohen is well-paced.
  • No external links to websites, social media or advertising.  This is a safe app for children.

Verdict

Normally when I review eBooks, I look at features that are supportive of emergent readers, for example I’d love to see an option to replay narration on each page, and I’d like to be able to click on individual words to hear them spoken aloud.  While I’d still like to see these features, in this case these supportive features are not as important as the message of story.

Katie Loves Everybody Together is a story that is aimed at a wide range of ages, including toddlers, and it might be a great help for young children in Katie’s position.

Katie Loves Everybody Together HD - PicPocket BooksiPad Version
Requirements:  iPad Requires iOS 6.0 or later.
Price $1.99

Katie Loves Everybody Together - PicPocket BooksiPhone Version
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Price:  $0.99

Links:

Website: http://www.picpocketbooks.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/PicPocketBooks
Twitter:  @PicPocketBooks
You Tube:  http://www.youtube.com/user/picpocketbooks
Author’s website:  katieandmatty.com

My First App – Vol. 1 Vehicles

4 Mar

My First App Vol 1 VehiclesPuzzles 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.
  • Three activities:  Puzzle, Matching Halves and Tilt Game.
  • Background music (Here we go ’round the mulberry bush) can be turned off.
  • Settings for children of different ability levels.

Activities

My First App Vol 1 Vehicles - puzzle activity

Puzzle

There are 8 different vehicle images to choose from, and you can use the settings to set the difficulty level from 2, 4, 6 or 9 puzzle pieces. For extra difficulty, you can select the rotation option that flicks some pieces around.  Use two fingers to rotate.  Children see the complete picture before it is broken into squares.  Drag and drop the pieces to the correct spot to complete the puzzle.

mfahalves

Match halves

This activity uses the same 8 images as the puzzle activity.  Two mis-matched vehicle halves appear on the screen.  scroll either half up or down until you find two halves that match.  Each vehicle has a different colour as a background, and this can help with the matches.

MFAtilt

Tilt ball game

This is a favourite activity in my home at the moment.  The 8 images used in this game are different to those used in the other two activities, and each has three “holes.”  Tilt your device to guide the ball into one of three holes in the picture.  When the ball enters the hole, it triggers an animation and the hole disappears.  The activity is complete once the ball has been guided to the three holes.

The latest update added the option to drag the ball to the hole, which will be helpful for those who find the tilting activity too difficult, for example very young children, or children with fine motor difficulties.

This YouTube video by appp media gives a great overview of the app.  You can see each of the games, plus the puzzle settings in action.

Things I love about this app

  • Simple operation – The layout of the app is clear, with simple controls that are easy to master.
  • No language barriers – there are no written or verbal instructions, making it suitable for children of any nationality and for children with a hearing impairment.
  • No external links, in-app purchases or advertising.  There is a web address for appp media that you can read via a subtle information button, but it is not a live link.
  • Supportive features – the different difficulty levels, the coloured backgrounds, and the drag option in the tilt game all allow this game to be used by children with a variety of physical and intellectual abilities.  It will be well suited to special ed environments as well as being great for families with children of different ages and abilities.
  • Graphics – I love the collage-style graphics. Perhaps I’m biased as I’m a keen scrapbooker, stamper and card-maker myself, but there is something entirely gorgeous about these illustrations.

Wish List

I really can’t think of anything I’d add to this app, except perhaps some more vehicles.  There are enough to keep any child happy, but you can never have too much of a good thing 🙂  The name of the app gives you a clue that there is at least one more volume in the planning.  I’d love to see the same activities done with animals. My children would have a lot of fun making up funny animal names in the matching halves games (e.g. Pig + Cow = POW).  I’d also like to see volumes with themes such as household items or rooms, healthy food, and toys.

Verdict

appp media has once again produced a great early concepts app that offers more features than most apps. My First App – vol. 1 Vehicles is bright, fun and great value.  I look forward to Volume 2.

Publisher:  Appp Media
Price:  $1.99
Universal

My First App - Vol. 1 Vehicles - appp media

%d bloggers like this: