Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mobile Learning and Play for Kids - Fingerprint

There seems to be some excellent apps for the little ones lately. Fingerprint are one lot of developers that seems to have hit the right combination of fun, instruction and cool graphics. I rarely promote individual app publishers on the blog but I have continued to find more and more interesting apps from these guys. Normally I try to give people a series of apps so they can choose one that suits the way they work or the way their students learn but today I have listed a number of apps from the same company. These guys have over 30 apps many of them free.

Scribble My Story:
Scribble My Story is a junior version of the popular Scribble Press App. Scribble My Story is a design collaboration between Fingerprint’s early learning experts and the Scribble Press team to deliver an age appropriate creativity experience. This is a book and art creation platform where kids can imagine, create, and share what they make with their parents.

The sky’s limit when you go camping with Caillou! This Step-by-Story app let’s your child set the scene for a playful camping adventure. Step-by-Story apps engage your child’s imagination while building reading readiness skills. Caillou’s is carefully designed for pre-readers and early readers to combine settings, characters and actions to create brand new stories to read, watch and share.

The Veggie Tales:
Every element of this app is designed to keep tyour child focused on the right things. The screens feature large buttons that require press-and-hold, so they can’t be pressed by accident. Stories are deliberately short and easy to create, so that the youngest of children can experience the fulfillment that comes from being able to complete a meaningful task without help from an adult.

Panda Panda:
Panda Panda is an original book character brought into the digital world with an exciting and fun new app that combines great game play and great storytelling for children who love Pandas or who love Vacuuming! This is a good thing, because Panda makes messes everywhere he goes! Help Panda clean up by dragging and dropping toys, blocks, clothes and even snacks into the right toy chests.!/id583175398?mt=8

Green Streets:
Join the fun in the magical town of Green$treets by rescuing endangered animals! Earn money by planting a beautiful garden, or by tossing items in the treehouse using a catapult and keeping ShmootzTM, the gooey monster who is always making a mess, from ruining all the fun! After the animals are rescued, take care of them by feeding and playing with them until they are ready to go home.$treets-unleash-loot!/id564402206?mt=8

Minuscule Private Lives of Insects:
Enter the tiny, but totally exciting world of Minuscule! This racing app follows the story of a mischievous Ladybug, an angry Fly, an army of Red Ants and many more interesting insects. At each level, you must race and dodge to collect coins – and unlock new environments to explore. What tiny wonders will you discover in your travels?

Whole Wide World:
Whole Wide World takes you on a journey of sight, sound and play. Learn about the monarch butterflies of Mexico and the giant rocks of Iceland. Ride a Kangaroo in Australia or find hidden objects in China! Fill your scrapbook with postcards from around the world and learning fun facts along the way.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Interactive eBooks on the iPad

There have been lots of ebooks published for the iPad. Many of them have really just been digital copies of traditional books with page turning and some music. The thing is, a lot of the ebooks have not really taken advantage of the touch and swipe environment. The interactivity available on the iPad is not often fully utilised for kids books. Here are a couple that combine fun stories and an element of interactivity.

Brave Interactive Comic: $1.99 AU
Brave adds to the lore of the Scottish Highlands by telling the tale of Merida, the daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. When Merida defies an age-old custom, to forge her own destiny the ensuing peril forces her to harness all of her skills to undo a beastly curse, and discover the meaning of true bravery.

Alizay Pirate Girl: $5.49 AU
Alizay, pirate girl is an artful blend of story, game and cartoon. With the reader's active participation, Alizay will solve the riddles of the fabulous treasure of Wind Rose Island. Cross a river full of crocodiles, listen to monkeys and then play their songs, clean the ghost ship's hold, crush an army of crabs or put together a puzzle.

Zoe's Green Planet: $2.99 AU
Discover a poetic, humorous, tender universe, wonderfully illustrated by Matt Roussel with a paper mache style. A totally green planet upset by a red rocket ship. A completely animated, interactive story for 2 to 6 year olds! The child is invited to actively participate in the adventure throughout the whole story.

Mademoiselle Daisy's New Friends: $2.99 AU
Mademoiselle Daisy is moving into a new apartment and, to enjoy her new life, she is going to need some new friends. A good book about learning to make new friends. Fitting in can be difficult, but sometimes it only takes a little thing to help us see that folks are mostly friendly and obliging.

Roxie's a-Maze-ing Vacation Adventure: $2.99 AU
Roxie's a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure is a maze, a look-and-search adventure. Find your way by driving a car, walking, flying, skiing and rafting. During the trip you can find letters, numbers, penguins and dozens of other items. Every time you play you'll have to find different items.

Scott's Polar Trip: $4.49 AU
Set sail for the North Pole! Join Scott and Jazz the cat in the Arctic Circle and share a one-of-a-kind experience with the people of the Far North. Scott's Polar Trip provides Arctic thrills for kids. A beautiful story to turn your kids into explorers. A thrilling new adventure and totally original games! 

Scott's Submarine: $4.49 AU
All aboard Scott's submarine for an extraordinary journey under the sea! Embark with Scott, his cat Jazz and their friend Aiko and learn about sea life wonders and the mysteries of the deep blue sea. Unusual interactive features and visual effects give this undersea jaunt a totally immersive experience for the little ones.

Who Stole the Moon: $5.49 AU
Join Bertie on his quest to find the moon, will gently nurture your child's imagination, and send them off into the magical world of dreams. Help solve the mystery! Meet some amazing animal friends. Play games with them and sing together. Follow Bertie through the whole book on his quest for the moon.

The Adventures of Captain Underpants: $4.49 US (not available in AU)
The Adventures of Captain Underpants" by Dav Pilkey presented for the first time in full color and high resolution. Experience the book as never before with full narration, and literally move through the story with parallax animation technology. Then animate the action yourself in the Flip-O-Rama.

It's a Small World $4.49 AU
This animated app takes readers on an adventure packed with whimsical interactivity, beautiful artwork, and unforgettable music. Featuring the original Sherman Brothers’ song lyrics, this simple, poetic story encourages kids to meet new people, explore new places, and discover that it’s a small world, after all.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Toddler Learning Apps Beautifully Designed

Every now and again you come across a couple of apps that not only have educational value but have great graphics as well. I love these toddler apps for the fun educational aspects but also the quirky funky animals that the developers have created to get the little ones engaged. These are examples of good quality apps coupled with a great design aesthetic.

Bebops Endless Alphabet: $6.49 AU
Set the stage for reading success with this interactive educational app. Kids will have a blast learning their ABC's and building vocabulary with the monsters in Endless Alphabet. Each word features an interactive puzzle game with talking letters and a short animation illustrating the definition.

Kids Square: $1.99 AU
Illustrated by Virginie Aracil, her main character, Virgo, will take you around the world and let you play with edutaining games. Fun for boys and girls of all ages!
Featuring 6 jigsaws puzzles, spot the difference games and memory game. This app features adorable pictures and poetic scenes to get kids excited about reading.

Lady Bug Number Count: $0.99 AU
Ladybug Number Count focuses on numeral recognition and number sequencing, the first steps when learning to count. There are two modes: Touch the ladybugs - when a ladybug is touched it gets counted! and Touch the number that matches. The goal is to touch the number that corresponds to how many ladybugs there are.

Doodle Learning Times Tables: $1.99 AU
A matching game for all ages to help children learn their times table. Kids will have fun creating beautiful pictures with amazing backgrounds and stickers with fun sound effects. The app includes drawing and colouring pencils to add to your picture and lets you save pictures to your photo library or share using email.

Cute Mini Monsters: $1.99 AU
This app introduces children to number recognition and counting. Join the monsters on a fun introduction to the numbers 1 though to 10. Specifically designed for the development needs of toddlers, the jigsaw puzzles along with a 20 page touch to count book will help your child with key numeracy skills.

Zoo Champs: $1.99 AU
Zoo Champs covers 34 summer and indoor sports, including basketball, football, track and field, swimming, gymnastics, tennis, judo, archery and many more! Each page provides an animated and narrated illustration of a sport with the goal of fueling curiosity in children and stimulating further learning. Cool graphics!

Intro to Reading by OZPhonics: $1.99 AU
The Oz Phonics app is used by a growing number of parents, teachers and speech pathologists across Australian and New Zealand. This app introduces 15 letter / sound relationships. Short vowel sounds /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/ and 10 consonant sounds for letters c, d, g, h, l, m, n, r, s, t. Online printable sheets also available.

The Flying Alphbetinis: FREE
The Flying Alphabetinis is a word game for kids to play. Alphabetinis are acrobats with letters on their bellies, they hop, flip and repel into a stunt formation, called a letter jumble. Start finding words quickly. Picture flash card appear. Players that guess, find and trace the flash card words fastest score huge points

MacroPhonics HD: FREE
MacroPhonics is a fun new alphabet game for children aged 3-5.  Cat and Dog are two broken toys, who have come to life and spend their day exploring the world around. They learn what letters are used to spell objects they find and by watching them play kids quickly learn the letters as well. Fantastic graphics!

Scribble my Veggie Tales Story: $2.99 AU
Scribble My VeggieTales Story is designed especially for kids ages 3-7. It features a read-aloud play button, special tap-to-change words and thematic stickers and backgrounds to inspire countless stories. Kids can share all their  mini masterpieces with their parents and friends.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Minecraft and Block Style Apps for your iPad

I would love to have Minecraft in all our schools. I have seen schools use it brilliantly for cross curricular inquiry learning where the students create Medieval castles with appropriate architectural features, decorated chapels and hallways lined with artwork. I have seen groups of students spend years recreating Hogworth's - the mathematic calculations alone were mind blowing. I have even had one of my own students use homeroom time to build the equivalent of a three storey Mario. What I love most about Minecraft is it's ability to tap into the creativity of our students.

Not sure if you want to dive straight in, why not just dip your toe to start with. Here are some block building apps that you could use to start your students off.

Minecraft - Pocket Edition: $7.49 AU
Minecraft — Pocket Edition is a Universal App! Minecraft is about placing blocks to build things and going on adventures! Pocket Edition includes randomly generated worlds, multiplayer over a local Wi-Fi network, and Survival and Creative modes. You can craft and create with your friends anywhere

Minebuilder: $1.99 AU
Minebuilder is a Block World game which lets you create your own adventure. Craft your tools during the day, fend off the monsters at night and when dawn comes again build your own world, alone or with your friends! Minebuilder contains a large number of blocks and tools with which you can craft your world.

Eden: $0.99 AU
Explore a world of limitless possibility. Build your own personal Eden. Unleash your creative and adventurous spirit. There's lots of places to explore. Lots of creative possibility, and you can download all kinds of things. Beautiful endless worlds to explore, build, and destroy. All kinds of blocks, ice, water, lava, glass!

Survivalcraft: $4.49
You are marooned on the shores of an infinite blocky world. Explore, mine resources, craft tools and weapons, hunt, make traps and grow plants. Build a shelter to survive nights and share your worlds online. Ride horses or camels and herd cattle. Build complex electric devices.

Lunacraft: FREE
Lunacraft welcomes you to a future where you can explore and colonize a new alien moon every time you play. Meet strange new aliens, some dangerous, some helpful! Establish a base of your own design with dozens of materials, harvest alien light trees, and decipher clues left by astronauts to create exotic technology!

MAI Crafted HD: $1.99 AU
Imagine, create and build amazing worlds. With dozens of building blocks at your disposal, let your creations take formatio and your imagination run wild. Introducing new elements for enhanced gameplay; interactive characters,  animals to special construction blocks. Free Play mode - Random or Flat world.

World of Cubes: $0.99 AU
Create your world, explore universes and random worlds created by others. Build whatever you can dream of with many users online. Play with your friends or random people online! Multiplayer and Single Player "Creative mode". Ability to create password-protected maps exclusively for friends

Adventure with Companions: $0.99
Adventure With Companions is a game that lets you place blocks with others to build cool buildings and mine caves in an online world. The changes you make and your location will all be saved. Meet new friends, build whatever you want out of blocks and work together using chat.

Toca Builders: $0.99
If you can imagine it you can build it with the six Toca Builders! Join your new builder friends on an island far away and create a whole new world with blocks. Jump, walk, roll and rotate the builders to use their unique skills, and they will help to build whatever you can imagine! Toca Builders makes it fun to build.

Blocks! $1.99 AU
Create, Move, Build and Dream in 3D Space! No limits to your building fun! Even Rotate Blocks in Space Hands Free. It's here! Block Building on your iDevice Screen! Build anything you can imagine and bring your Dreams to Life right on your  iDevices for one price!!/id390088835?mt=8

Monday, September 2, 2013

Word Clouds on the iPad

I love word clouds. It is the best way to deconstruct a piece of text with students. It lets you start that conversation about language, text types, literacy and the power of the written word. It is also a great way to do a text analysis. Marco Torres talks about using them to compare two political speeches to analyse the types of words each of the candidates use but this idea would work just as easily with characters in a book, types of poems or even a series of artists you are studying.

             TagCloud                                             CloudArt                                       WordSalad

There are not actually a lot of Cloud Word apps for the iPad but here are a couple worth investigating. The last two are technically not word cloud apps but are so good I thought I should include them. If you know of others please let me know in the comments and I will add them to the list.

TagCloud: $0.99 AU
Make tag clouds from your iPad! Create a word cloud from a web page, custom text. The app comes with more than 25 different styles of clouds, from plain black and white style to fun and colorful. Share your cloud with the world by exporting the cloud high-res image to your photo library, email or tweet.

CloudArt: $0.99 AU
Make word clouds on your iPad. Simply give Cloudart some text from a web page or paste some into the app and it will automatically create a word cloud for you in seconds. Next, get busy with the intuitive sliders to customise your cloud to your heart's content. When you're happy with your masterpiece, share it.

Word Salad: FREE
Make wordsalads out of documents that matter to you! With WordSalad you can make beautiful word clouds, super customized with different fonts, colors and words layouts. Import any text with a single tap, then customize your salads with 8 great fonts with 8 great palettes as well as 5 layouts to position your words.

Visual Poetry: $1.99 AU
Visual Poetry lets you make text collages. Type your text and watch it instantly arranged as a mosaic in a variety of shapes and styles. Draw your own or use one of the 24 symbols included. Concrete Poetry is poetry in which the meaning is portrayed in a visual manner, easily taught using the Visual Poetry application.

Word Collage: $0.99 AU
Create word collages on your iPad! Set up a collage with different layouts, fonts, and color themes. Simply start by clicking on the "Text" button. Add some text, select a colour theme and font and then select orientation. Word Collage even lets you pan / zoom. Save the collage to your photo library or send it by email

Phoetic: $0.99 AU
Create phoems with your own photos and text! A phoem is an image consisting of text only. Choose your own words, select your favorite photo, pick a font and color palette and turn them in a work of art. The result can be stored as a PNG, JPEG or even a PDF to allow for printing at extremely high resolutions.

Type Drawing: $2.99 AU
TypeDrawing is an easy way for creating typography art and even unique watermarks on your photos. Type a sentence, then just draw with your finger. Voila! You've now got a one of a kind, unique and amazing typographic work of art. You can easily create poetic visual art with this fun and easy-to-use app.

Wordfoto: $1.99 AU
You've probably heard the cliche about a picture being worth a thousand words. Wordfoto takes this phrase quite literally and created an app that turns photos and words into amazing typographic works of art. Eight unique Preset Styles with user definable custom styles with parameters for brightness, contrast, fonts, etc.

As another resource for the classroom here is a fantastic article - 108 ways to use word clouds in the Classroom. Michael Gorman at 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning put his article together, make sure you visit his great site.