Age 5, Age 6, App Reviews, Book Apps, Preschoolers, Toddler Apps

Brilliant Book Apps to Enthrall All

We love books and book apps are a whole new fantastic way of enthusing young readers. The ones featured here are our pick of the bunch, those that have been heavily used and hugely popular in our house. Some have wow factor, some are sweet, all are brilliant! The list is in order of suitable age range: youngest to oldest.

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Interactive Alphabet (age 1+)

It’s chilled, it’s sweet and has just enough interactivity to keep their interest. Take a leisurely stroll through the alphabet and touch any of the pictures to interact. A for apple is one of Cool A’s favourites, touch it and the apple slowly gets eaten, cracks him up!

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Red in Bed (age 1+)

Very sweet introduction to colours for our youngest readers. Poor red is sick in bed and can’t go out to colour, so the other colours fill in for him, but get a few things wrong. Simple, bold drawings and basic interaction with quick responses make this a winner for little hands. Cool A totally adores this app, he thinks red’s ‘sick’ voice is hysterical. He also enjoys waking the little colour bubbles up when in bed and sending them to sleep at the end. Plus look out for the bonus secret colour bubble who likes to hang out with Indigo and Violet.

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The Monster at the End of this Book (age 2+)

This was one of our early favourites, based on a classic Sesame Street book of the same name. The story is funny, no annoying music and Grover is adorable. He’s scared there’s a monster at the end of the book and will do anything to stop you turning those pages! Which of course makes nothing more enticing… Wonderfully done and such a success that it spawned a second book app, Another Monster at the End of this Book, starring Elmo. Also worth getting. I just love Sesame Street apps.

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The Three Little Pigs (age 3+)

This app was made by Nosy Crow and if you love a good book app, get to know that name. Really I could have chosen any of their lovely fairytale books. There are loads of interactive surprises and some cunning use of the iPad format, such as blowing in the microphone to help the wolf blow the houses down, or tilting the screen to find hidden characters. The stories are read in children’s voices which kids always love to hear. Also available are Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk.
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Bartleby’s Book of Buttons Vol 2 (age 3/4+)

Bartleby has already rated a mention on this blog as one of L Star’s favourite all time apps. Both my boys are button fanatics and wo betide anyone who tries to operate the microwave or dial a phone number by themselves! Noooo! Button armageddon will be visited upon you. Well thankfully Bartleby saves the day, a whole story with various buttons to operate (although never enough for my two), puzzles to solve and a curious enough story to get them interested. Sadly it’s a To be Continued… which is very frustrating, but that hasn’t stopped this being super popular in our house. The mystery is, where did Bartleby Vol 1 go? No word from the developers.

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Millie’s Crazy Dinosaur Adventure: Book 3 (age 4+)

We have enjoyed Milly’s third adventure just as much as it’s two predecessors. It’s a fun tale with heaps of switches, levers and buttons (yay!) to activate to progress the story. Millie forgets a birthday present for her friend so invents a time machine to go back in time to get herself out of trouble. Except the dial is set a little too far back in time. The ‘Story Switch’ feature enables you to choose the path the story takes and there are secret stickers hidden on each page which encourage investigation and experimentation. L Star loves this book and when I asked him why (hoping for some useful insight to use in this review) he gleefully told me it’s because he likes it when Millie almost gets eaten by a dinosaur and he wishes she would. OK! Maybe the developers could take that on board and Millie could get eaten in her next adventure? Yeah, he is 4. Whether he roots for the heroine or not, he still has a great time with Millie and her adventures.

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Dinoboy (age 4+)

We love this one for it’s imaginative whimsy and the lovely hand illustrated pictures. It’s also one of the few multiple choice books we’ve come across, so the kids can decide what happens next and experience a different story on each reading. There’s something to do on each page before the story can progress and L Star returns to this one again and again.

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Rom and the Whale of Dreams (age 6+)

A truly beautiful book, more in the style of a traditional picture book with exquisite illustrations and simple animation. We love a story about imagination and curiosity and this one does not disappoint: “In a land where no one dreams, Rom – a gypsy prince – dreams of a strange creature: a whale with lion’s paws and butterfly wings. Convinced that the animal exists, Rom travels to strange lands in search of it…” Aimed at older kids 6-8, but this has been a lovely reading experience for L Star (4) and I.

In one of my next posts I’m going to review some truly spectacular books incorporating Augmented Reality. What is that? Well it brings a whole amazing 3D aspect to your story time. But don’t worry if you don’t have a clue how it works,  I’ll be going through a quick run down of exactly what it is and how to make it work on your iPad. Suffice to say it’s purty fricken cool…

What are the favourite books apps at your place?

App Reviews, Free Apps, Mindfulness, Preschoolers

Breathe, Think, Do: An app to help kids deal with challenges

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Patience, hmmm… clearly a learned skill wouldn’t you agree? Can’t say I know that many… any… kids (or adults!?) that are naturally full of calm and zen?  Let me cast my mind back to, er, oh yes! To the misty distant past of 1 hour ago at lunch when L Star was sitting upside down in his chair at the table with his feet smiling sweetly at the rest of the family as we ate our eggs. Mr Fidget could not sit still and was struggling with staying the right way up long enough to eat a few morsels. The volume from all was getting louder and louder and the whole family could have benefited from taking a few deep breaths. I try to model patience to my kids but have to admit that the 15,000th request/demand of the day, or an upside down boy at the dinner table waggling his feet at the food, well, on the wrong day that might just press a few buttons. So any tools that can help me pass on patience and de-stressing skills are most welcome. In this recent post I mentioned how both adults and kids can benefit from understanding how to slow down and be more mindful and this is one app that we’ve been practicing with that successfully introduces these concepts. Sesame Street have done a stellar job, the app is part of a series to help kids build emotional resilience, which is a monumentally important life skill we can help them with.

The cute Sesame Street blue monster engages kids by getting them to help him deal with problems. Kids have to choose how the monster deals with each situation, this helps them learn strategies for dealing with similar situations in the real world. Kids learn a good emotional vocabulary, a calm breathing technique and an approach to tackling problems: ‘Breathe, Think, Do‘.

Features as mentioned on the Breathe, Think, Do app store page:
• Explore five interactive activities with a unique, everyday challenge
• Tap, pop bubbles, and more to help the monster breathe, think, and do to solve problems and feel better
• Personalize encouraging phrases that your child will hear as they help the monster think of a plan
• ”Breathe with the Monster” activity to help children practice taking deep breaths to calm down
• Robust Parent Section with great resources for navigating everyday challenges with your young child

These days I’m often encouraging L Star to Breathe, Think, Do at many different points in the day. And quite frankly it’s good for us grown ups too. I also found these printables from Sesame Street to go with the app, some of which I’m going to put in key hotspots where trouble can strike. Hope these help you to a calmer happy household 🙂

App Reviews, Book Apps, Preschoolers

Button Heaven in this Wonderful Book App: Bartleby’s Book of Buttons Vol. 2

Button Heaven in this Wonderful Book App: Bartleby's Book of Buttons Vol. 2

Is your kid obsessed with buttons? Mine are. To the extent that my youngest thinks my moles are buttons and likes to press those too. Thank goodness for Bartleby, finally, my moles are safe. A wonderfully interactive book app with heaps of great puzzles to solve before the story can progress. Each page boasts a number of buttons and switches to press and a bit of thinking is required to work out what to do.
Sadly it’s ‘To Be Continued…’ at the end so we’re hanging for the next part of the story, but L Star LOVES this app and has played it multiple times, despite the lack of a conclusion.
It’s won a swag of awards, including: Apple 2011 Best App: #1 Book App iPhone, #3 Book App iPad, Children’s Technology Award.
For all fans of books, button and puzzles.

Age 5, Age 6, Age 7, App Reviews, Augmented Reality, Free Apps, Maths, Preschoolers

Fetch! Lunch Rush! A Maths App to get Kids Moving

Fetch! Lunch Rush! A Maths App to get Kids Moving

This app makes clever use of augmented reality to enhance game playing. Firstly you print off some PDF’s from the game website and cut up the numbered ‘sushi plates’ and place them around the house. When playing the app, Ruff Ruffman challenges the player to solve a maths problem. The player has to hold the phone over the ‘sushi plate’ which has the correct answer. The screen then magically displays the correct number of sushi (augmented reality bit). Has wow factor and we enjoyed playing this one with L Star and seeing him puzzle over the solutions and run around trying to find the right plate. The sums get harder quite quickly to we had to stick to the first level but looking forward to using this more as the boys maths skills improve.
Oh and did I mention it’s FREE? Yay!

Fetch! Lunch Rush!  is a free app from PBS Kids show Fetch with Ruff Ruffman. 

App Reviews, Preschoolers, Science Apps

The Human Body App

The Human Body App

What a fantastic app! Your child can easily explore the different body systems, zooming in on different aspects of each system, with a few special activities for each system, eg the eye uses the camera to show the image of your child looking at the screen being flipped upside down. A wonderful intro to learning about the body and a great way to help answer those first questions like, where does my food go?

App Reviews, Free Apps, Preschoolers

Cute App for getting kids moving

Cute App for getting kids moving

Alien Assignment is a very simple but effective app which encourages problem solving and involves getting off the couch as the player is asked find various real world things to help fix the alien’s spaceship. They have to take photos of the objects they find. Lovely to see L Star running around working hard on his assignment! This app is free too!

App Reviews, Toddler Apps

Paint My Wings – beautiful apps for Toddlers

Paint My Wings - beautiful apps for Toddlers

I love apps that encourage creativity and don’t necessarily have exact answers to input. This app is delightful, again no distracting music or flashy visuals, just the occasional hello! or giggle from a butterfly as you paint its wings with a simple variety of squishy fruit paints and brushes. One of Cool A’s favourites. The makers of this app, Toca Boca make top notch kids apps. Be sure to do a search for them on the App Store.

App Reviews, Preschoolers, Toddler Apps

Apps Montessori Style

Apps Montessori Style

In a rather special collision of old style meets new world we have the delightful range of Montessori apps, designed with minimal, well, everything. Muted colours, simple audio and best of all, made to look like they are constructed from wood. Are these not a bit dull compared to all the whizz bang other apps provide? Not at all. The are a perfect intro to apps for your little learner and both mine found these apps to be clear favourites. Simple, elegant and well priced. Covering many subject areas, this stable of apps will last you for a few years with apps for toddlers – primary.
Click on image to read about them and hunt them out in the iTunes store.

App Reviews, Toddler Apps

Great app for toddlers: First Words Deluxe

Great app for toddlers: First Words Deluxe

You will be amazed how quickly your little one picks up how to do this one. Cool A loves it. Not only is it working on letter familiarity but also vocabulary as the word is spoken before and after completion. With just basic animation and spoken word audio, there’s nothing here to overstimulate little eyes and brains.

App Reviews

Kids Media App – Apps rated and reviewed for all ages

Common Sense media have released an awesome free app to “See in an instant what’s OK for your kids to watch, play, read, do, and download” Highly recommended. I found some great apps here for L star, including Alien Assignment which involves lots of activity as he scoots around the house trying to find things to take photos of to fix the alien’s spaceship. Really simple but a nice take on involving movement whilst playing an app.

Check out the Kids Media App: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/mobile