Real Friends vs. the Other Kind


Real Friends vs. the Other Kind

by Electric Eggplant

As children become of school age, they will struggle and succeed at many things.  Throughout your child’s academic years, they will travel along a variety of roads, both bumpy and smooth.  Such roads will provide them a number of experiences both academically and socially.  With their many years of professional experiences, David and Annie Fox of Electric Eggplant have developed a series of books, Middle School Confidential for a variety of platforms – iTunes App Store, NOOK Color and Tablet, Kindle Fire, and other Android tablets.  Their latest addition, Book 2 of the series is called Real Friends vs. the Other Kind, and will be available first on the iTunes store as an iPad app soon. If you are already familiar with the work/writing that the Middle School Confidential book series can and has done for your student or child, then you will be pleased to read our  review of this latest series.

If you have a child(ren) or student(s) that struggles to see the enjoyment in reading books or making “real” friends, then Book 2 – Real Friends vs. the Other Kind is the way to go.  With its untraditional way of reading a chapter book, as it is presented in a comic book format, youngsters from late elementary to middle school will be able to make personal connections. These connections will be made as they follow the trials and tribulations of characters: Chris, Michelle, Mateo, Jen, Jack, Abby and the newest addition to the clan, Monique.  Whether you are a boy or a girl between the ages of 10-14,  you can be certain that you will be faced with such issues as: bullying, put downs, friendships of all kinds and many doubts of how you fit into their social group.   As a parent or educator attempts to talk to their child or students about such social issues they may push back.  Not to worry, visit the app’s information button and click on the About this App tab.  Here educators and parents will have access to a hidden gem.  Through our exploration, Applicable2U found that when we tapped the images on this screen that it linked to two very helpful resources:  an Expert Author Podcast for Parents and a Free Leader’s Guide that can be downloaded for educators.

As a student, I wish such a product was at my disposal as I struggled through my “tween” years.  Regardless, as the technology specialist to children just entering into those precious years and as a parent that will one day have a son questioning his confidence and his friendships, this series will certainly come in handy.  In a very user friendly manner, users will have access to 8 non threatening chapters that will spark connections, communication and a sense of ease.  It is time to empower, according to one of the books characters, Chris, “You can count on your real friends.  And they’ve gotta be able to count on you too!”  Topics will range from Real Friends, Should I or Shouldn’t I, Worried About a Friend?, So-Called Friends, and Making New Friendsto name a few.  As a parent, counselor or educator, navigate at your own pace and integrate chapters that work for those students you work with. The social piece of growing up and fitting in is hard enough, luckily Annie Fox has been working with children for over 30 years and her experiences for supporting you certainly shine through in her hardcover and book apps across all devices.

Making “real” friends is so challenging in the late elementary to middle school years.  With this educational book, Applicable2U can truly see how it can be integrated into any guidance counselor’s lesson plan.  At our school we have a program called lunch bunch groups.  During these group lunch sessions, our guidance counselor works on a variety of social, organizational and behavioral issues.  Knowing that problem solving of some kind is our counselors main objective,  Electric Eggplant wanted to extend the lines of communication one step further.  Real Friends vs. the Other Kind has recently added a new component, interactive quizzes within three of the eight chapters.  These interactive quizzes will provide your child or student two modes of questioning: true/false and multiple choice.   Within Chapter 2: Friendship Dilemma’s the “teacher” will only share one question at a time.  As you review all choices and select how you might deal with a certain situation, both adults and young adults will be amazed at the dialogue that it will spark.  Immediately your selection will be graded with a right or wrong answer and a clear explanation will be provided for both.  However in Chapter 5: So-Called Friends and Chapter 8: Making New Friends, here problem solvers will be asked 5-10 “what if” scenario questions of either multiple choice or true/false format.  Simply tap your answer(s) and it will be highlighted. Applicable2U is looking forward to seeing these  “end of chapter” quizzes in action with multiple devices as they play a role in what we like to call “lunch bunch” groups.  Honesty at its best!

Applicable2U gives Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs. the Other Kind two thumbs up!  This is a series not to be missed.  If you would like to learn more about Electric Eggplant, please visit the following websites to learn more – development homepage, Free Spirit Publishing or the Middle School Confidential homepage.  To get your hands on a wonderful social and communication building app, then click here to access Real Friends vs. the Other Kind in your iTunes library today!



by Jean-Eudes Lepelletier

It’s story time on this fabulous Friday.  From the creators of iVocAudio, they recently launched last week, Tapikeo for your Apple device running iOS4.1 or later. This multi-purpose application allows your child’s voice and pictures to come to life in a number of ways.  It’s scrapbooking, creative writing and an adaptive communication application that can be used by parents, teachers or children.  When using Tapikeo, users will notice that stories are organized or managed into grids.  Before getting started, a new user might find it helpful to view the 4 preloaded examples to see how all the pieces/grids come together.  Socially and academically, this application has a great deal of potential.

When ready to begin communicating or telling a story, simply click the plus button in the upper right hand corner.  It is here that new grids are created and named.  Through our exploration, we noticed that when building a new grid that there was an e-book feature which you can turn on or off.  Unsure as to the possibilities that this feature may have for my own experience or my students, Applicable2U began searching the settings tab and their FAQ section.  Unfortunately, this was not explained, but would love this to be added in a future update.  Regardless, Applicable2U was determined to find the answer.  Through trial and error, my answer was found.  When the e-book feature is set to off, grids may have multiple images and recordings, however, they will not play like a book.  Each individual page must be selected in the play mode in order to see and hear.  If the e-book mode is set to on, when grids are played, users will now notice a green forward and backward button, allowing users to read this compilation of pictures and sounds like a real world book.  Having this option will make the creations vary depending on ones needs – flashcards, soundboards, digital photo album, verbal prompts and so much more!

Once a grid has been made the fun can now begin. At the bottom of your Tapikeo screen, users will notice four buttons: Play, Edit, Grids and Settings. Select which grid you would like to build within and click the edit button. Here storytellers can add text, picture(s) from your Apple device photo gallery or use the devices camera to take a picture.  In addition, sounds and voices can be recorded, played back for clarity and deleted if necessary.  After editing is complete, grids can then be played.  Upon entering a grids play mode, users will see a 4X4 array representing the pages within.  A flashing image will indicate where in the story you left off or may want to begin.  Regardless of what is flashing, other images may be selected and viewed.

The initial cost of this application is free!  However, additional features can be added for an in-app purchase of only .99¢.  Additional features may include the ability to download additional template grids with an internet connection.  Tapikeo also offers the option to email friends and family members grids that you have created.  If Tapikeo is loaded on their device stories, flashcards, and things like albums can then be shared.  To gain these options right away, you can download Tapikeo HD for 2.99 and receive the Premium options for free.  To access the HD version and its premium capabilities, please click here.  Recently, Applicable2u also reviewed iVocAudio which is also designed by Jean-Eudes Lepelletier.  While writing this review, we wondered what the possibilities may be for the two applications to interconnect.  Within a classroom setting, we can envision a story being created by the teacher.  As this story has now been differentiated through visuals and recordings, the student can then go into iVocAudio and complete pre-made flashcards that correlate to the story in Tapikeo and test their knowledge and understanding.  This is just one of the amazing options that these two applications can have within a classroom in school or at home.

If you would like to learn more about Jean-Eudes Lepelletier and the educational apps that he and team of developers have created, please visit their website here.  You will be amazed at the creativity and independence that Tapikeo will provide your child at any age.  To begin downloading Tapikeo to your iTunes library, simply click here.

Family Matters

Family Matters
by Weiner Family Studios

How many times have you been to a restaurant and witnessed each family member on some form of technology and not talking with one another?  Probably too many times!!!  What happened to good old family conversation?  Or while driving in the car, you ask your child how their day was and it is always a one word response.  How have families become so disconnected?  Oh yeah, our children are growing up in a world of many forms of technology.  Weiner Family Studios has designed a solution that still incorporates what everyone loves – technology, but doesn’t loose the communication that every family needs to maintain.

Applicable2U loves the name of this family tested app because families should matter no matter what!  At times, Applicable2u’s own family has been caught being “that family” where  one of the adults, if not both, are on our hand held devices.  What is this doing for my family – NOTHING!!  It is just modeling to my son that technology is more important than spending quality time with each other regardless of where we happen to be.  So why do we think Family Matters is applicable to you?   Are we being hypocritical to offer a solution with what is initially causing the problem? Depending on the age of your children, parents sometimes need that “creative push” to stimulate conversation.  Family Matters is just stimulating, it’s not babysitting in any way.  This family designed application is not one to be used for long periods of time.  In just 5-15 minutes one question from Family Matters can spark several moments of conversation which then turns into wonderful memories.

What sets this application apart from all others is that it provides open ended questions to spark serious or funny conversations. Questions or activities are broken into six different categories: General, Restaurant, Road Trip, Dr. Office, Airport and In a Line. If you happen to have younger children, parents can select and read questions or actions.  Once the question is read, each family member then responds in a round robin format. This is the time to listen and encourage each other.  It gives the user(s) the ability to journal family responses and to highlight those moments when your kids “say the darndest thing.”  In addition, with an Apple device that has a camera, a picture can be taken of that moment in time as well.  Questions or activities can be saved to a “Favorites” folder, emailed to a friend, shared via Twitter and/or Facebook. Wish you could supply your own question or action?  Open your bookmarks tab and a family can then manage and add their own activities. Favorites can be quickly accessed and if necessary items can be deleted.

One might call this the family version of “Truth or Dare” that we as adults all played when we were kids. Applicable2U is excited to see what direction this application takes us during those silent moments in life.  We encourage you to visit the Weiner Family Studios website to watch a demo or to learn more about this family development group.  If your family needs a little flame to regain the communication, then visit Family Matters in your iTunes Library today!