Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country

Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country

By Selma Mariudottir

Recently there has been some twitter chatter on what components educators and parents want to see in interactive books for their mobile devices.  Of the books that we have reviewed or previewed, there are a number of developers that have “hit the mark”.  In our opinion, an interactive mobile device book “hits the mark” when their story makes a personal connection to one’s life, sparks conversation, incorporates the development and love of reading, establishes some form of independence and is a book that keeps children, young and old, coming back for more. Recently a new series, Perky Pranksters  was brought to our attention from developer and writer, Selma Mariudottir.   This series of books was designed for children ages 4-9 years old, as it takes 3 of the most unusual friends to various geographical locations while dealing with life in general.  Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is the first within the series that is now available for your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later.   In reading the developers website we learned that our cartoon main characters; Genie, Dapper and Rex are not only stars in a book, but they are also real stars in Selma Mariudottir’s home. Her four legged friends have become the inspiration for this series with their daily adventures and pranks.  Come see what mischievous things they could get themselves into while visiting the country.

As most of us know, cats and dogs typically do not get along. If these two species set eyes on each other, a whole lot of running is going on, with the dog usually chasing after the cat.  Interestingly enough, the main characters of Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the County are two cats, Genie & Dapper  and Rex is their dog companion.  They are far from afraid of each other in this series, rather other animals should be afraid of what might happen when all three are in the same location.  Genie is considered the principal prankster, although fun loving, is always up to some kind of mischief and tends to learn things the hard way.  Dapper is the well-mannered feline, who at times does get involved with some tricks.  Then there is Rex, who looks just like Lassie.  Rex is a sweet addition to the family and book series who tends to be interested in everything.

Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is an interactive and creative book that is chock full of good things.  As we reviewed it, we would compare it to a chapter and activity book in one.  Your child’s experience can occur in a variety of ways.  Even before the story begins, come have some fun with Genie, Dapper and Rex, as users will be given opportunities to: Color, Play Dress Up, learn a little Musical Fun, play Rhyming Games and Record their Voices.

Coloring Book: gives users the option of five black and white pages which are scenes from the book that they can color.  Once a scene is chosen it will appear on their virtual easel with an available paint palette as well.  In addition, users have access to three thickness types of paint brushes.  Pictures created can be saved to your photo gallery by simply clicking the camera icon at the top of the page.  The green light bulb will indicate which items/objects are tapeable.  While painting if a mistake occurs simply shake your device to erase your entire page.  A note to the developers – might it be possible to include another option for erasing through an icon at the top.  At times only one things needs to be erased and some users may become frustrated that they have to start all over.

Dress Up Games: gives users the opportunity to put their silliness to the test.  Choose to dress up one or all of our fury friends.  After you have chosen which prankster to dress up, select those articles of clothing and accessories that you would to see on them.  It’s like playing real world paper dolls all over again!  A note to the developers – might it be possible to interchange articles of clothing and accessories between characters.  It might be interesting to allow users to scroll through the options and once simply drag and drop it place.  Once complete, save and print your animal paper doll to provide for an extended period of play time outside of the book.

Musical Fun: shares with users practical information on musical families, particularly the brass family.  Come hear what 5 musical voices sound like from the sounds of a tuba.  This is a very quick game as it only presents one family.  In a future update, it would be great if another family or two was added to spark the learning of those with a musical ear.

Rhyming Games – ABC: as users read Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country, they will notice how the writer incorporated many forms of rhyming.  This game reinforces such word findings as a matching game.  The only addition that I would implement would be the option to hear those directions in the large green box at the top of the window.  By adding this, it will support learners of all styles.  If the correct rhyme is chosen, users will be presented with a musical reward.  In order to continue rhyming, simply click the arrow at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

The last fun and games option is the ability to Record Your Voice.  This gaming feature seemed a bit out of context for this section.  However, could have a great deal of potential while reading the book.  If a reader has chosen to Read it Myself, it would be interesting to support their learning with a microphone on each page which would play back their voices to indicate a readers fluency or areas of difficulty.

The storyline behind the Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is very amusing and educational.  The story can be narrated by Debbie Irwin, a parent or even your child.  Pages are filled with two verses that incorporates text that rhymes on each picture along with running text at the bottom.  If choosing to read alongside the narrator, words will be highlighted so as to keep the reader focused.  As we reviewed this interactive book we equated it like being a chapter book. Follow along with our fury pranksters as they explore the country in seven entertaining comedy of errors.  It’s like watching Abbott & Costello the animal version.  A note to the developers –  because the device needs to be vertically positioned, the pages do appear rather busy.  Might it be possible to have the two verses at the top disappear once they are read.

Overall, we loved this first book in the series and are excited to see where our four legged pranksters will take us next.  If you would like to learn more about Selma Mariudottir, please visit her website here. For a simple $3.99 download to your iTunes account, you too can begin building your Perky Pranksters library of books by simply clicking here.

This review is featured on Fun Educational Apps site along with many other detailed reviews.

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Kandoobi: Animal Edition

Kandoobi: Animal Edition

by Kandoobi

Has your child “kandoobi” lately?  Are you wondering what that even means?  If so, then it’s time to meet the next educational app developers from Kandoobi.  They are a development group designing apps so “kids can do” on their own or with the support of a parent.  They recently released Kandoobi: Animals Edition for all Apple devices running iOS 4.3 or later.  It is a creative application designed for toddlers and preschoolers.  This target audience love to manipulate and explore.  Well, now it is time to accomplish those two things as they encounter 100+ adorable animals all dolled up.  For $2.99 and one simple download, users will get their hands on four interactive games.   Whether you are playing at home, school or on the go, your child will soon be saying they “kando.” Kandoobi: Animal Edition encourages letter recognition, builds one’s creativity and imagination and allows users to manipulate and match animals from all types of environments.  Come fly, swim, slither or walk in order to have some fun!

Knowing the population that this educational app was designed for, developers have certainly created a very kid friendly navigation menu, intuitive tasks and buttons as directions are very short and sweet.  In addition, we immediately noticed how both verbal and visual representations were incorporated on the main menu as a way to support all learning styles. Whether your child is a toddler, preschooler or grade level, they want to hear or see words of encouragement.  Throughout each game, reinforcements are presented as auditory sounds such as: a bounce, pop or magical stars. As they game for a reason, users will certainly not be surprised or confused when they play the pre-installed games – Letters, Coloring, Scratch & Fill or Matching.

Letters –  Upon entering the first academic game, users are presented with a 6 page catalogue of animals to choose from. Whether the animal is known as a creature to fear or “ooh and ahh” over, illustrators have done a nice job at designing colorful and eye pleasing graphics with their wonderful expressions and unusual accessories. It is up to the user where they would like to begin.  As an animal is chosen, game play within Letters continues in order from that particular animal.   Immediately, users will notice that the screen is divided into three parts: draggable Scrabble pieces on the left, animal graphic on the right and its corresponding word at the bottom, grayed out.  It is up to the user to match those grayed out letters at the bottom with those Scrabble like pieces by simply dragging and dropping them into their correct places. If a Scrabble like piece is tapped, the narrator will announce that letters name. As users begin to recognize and match letters, it is also important to note that they do not have to be dropped in any particular order.  If letters are dropped incorrectly, they will bounce back.  Once the animal’s name is spelled, both letters and animal will animate across the screen.  Game play continues as the train drops off and introduces the next animal friend.

The next gaming option is Coloring which allows users to be creative as they learn various art skills.  As they color with Kandoobi: Animal Edition, children will build their vocabulary of color names while manipulating three writing utensils: a pencil, paint brush and an eraser.  Coloring exploration can occur in two ways, with those animals previously seen in the “animal catalogue” or as free choice.  Regardless of which is chosen, users are given a paint palette of both primary and secondary colors. Depending on a users age and creative need will determine if a thin lined pencil or a thick stroke of a paint brush is required for their coloring page.  If mistakes are made, no need to panic, developers have also included an eraser.  As coloring pages are complete, share them with others by simply tapping the button in the upper left hand corner, as it is saved to your devices camera roll.

Does your child or student have difficulty with their fine motor skills, but love to be creative?  Then, the next gaming option of Scratch & Fill is just what you are looking for. Scratch & Fill does not require users to stay within the lines, simply swipe your finger from left to right, up and down and the colors will come alive within the picture. The last gaming feature called Matching is one that has children manipulating with puzzles.  At the top of the screen users will see an outline of an animal.  While at the bottom of the screen are three choices.  The goal is to simply drag, drop and match the correct animal puzzle piece.

Kandoobi: Animal Edition is very academically appropriate for this age level.  It provides just the right amount of repetition, supports ones creativity, and allows for independence.  It is an educational app that disguises learning as fun.  To learn more about the Kandoobi development group be sure to visit their website here.  If you are looking to stimulate your child’s need for creativity and imagination, then begin downloading Kandoobi: Animal Edition to your iTunes library by simply clicking here.

This review and many others are featured on Fun Educational Apps, AppStar Picks and iear.org

Happipets

Happipets

by Happi

Come play with letters in order to build and spell words that look like animals or imaginary creations.  Use your fine motor skills to rotate, enlarge, move and flip objects to manipulate your ABC’s as you explore in three modes: plAy, Beasts, and Create. Launched in early February, developers from Happi created Happipets, an usual approach to spelling words for your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later.  It is designed with a younger generation in mind, however, even the oldest of children and adults will enjoy exploring.  What pets will your child create?   With 12 real animals, 12 imaginary ones and over 140 letters to build just about anything, your child will feel like they are watching an episode of Word World on PBS Kids.  Drag, drop and recognize animal names or individual letters to your workable canvas as letters turn into a picture or scene.

As you initially explore Happipets, Applicable2U would suggest that you collaboratively work with your child(ren).  As developers state in their iTunes description, this educational app is not the usual spelling app.  Regardless, with a kid friendly appearance and support systems in place, children and parents will have fun building a happipet.  Get the hang of Happipets by starting in the “plAy” mode. At the top of your canvas will be a scrolling feature which alphabetically lists your 12 real world animals.  Come play and learn about such animals as a dog, flamingo, lion or rabbit.  Amazingly letters are artistically designed in their color and detail.  With a single tap of the animals name your scroll bar will disappear and exploration can begin. The objective is to manipulate each letter around the page by enlarging, shrinking, moving, or rotating it to transform from a word to an actual animal picture.  Whether you are an adult or a child, this concept visually may be challenging, but not to worry.  At the bottom of the screen, users might find it helpful to click the “help” button.  This help feature is the giveaway to your end result, however, you will find yourself using it multiple times.

While building your animal, learn a few interesting facts about it by clicking the “information” button in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Need to start fresh and put your letters back to default in the scroll bar, click the trash can and it will clear your canvas. To access your scroll bar, simply click the pull down tab at the top of your screen.  Users will know that a letter has been manipulated and dropped into its correct place when they hear a locking sound. After the animal has been correctly draw, an appropriate background or environment will suddenly appear.  A note to the developers – might it be possible to offer in the scroll feature a single and double tap.  The single tap could say that animals name and the double tap option could drop it on the users canvas.  Without adult supervision as it is set now, users will not know what animal they are learning to spell or create.  In addition, we would love to see an audio feature added in two areas.  First, as a user manipulates letters, it would great to hear that letter announced for letter recognition reinforcement.  In addition, we would love to see that interesting facts could be shared aloud by simply tapping a microphone icon.

As you move from playing with real animals, it is now time to play with mythological ones.  Ever heard of a delipolk or a dufou??  With those same features found in the plAy mode, come explore the Beast mode.  As we navigated our way through this round, we immediately made a connection to a science project that was done in a 5th grade class.   Students had to create an animal of their choice, but were required to explain what it was, what were its predators or prey, what adaptations were necessary for it to survive and where could it be found.  With the implementation of a drawing and word processing program, this project came to life.  As technology has changed over the years, this Beast mode would be a great update to our animal studies project. As the animal comes to life and is locked into place, take a screen shot on your iPad device by simply clicking at the same time the home and sleep button.  This screen shot can then be found in your camera roll and inserted into any document.

The last area for exploration is the Create mode.  Here users will be able to select random letters as a way to create their own pets.  Since this design is by users choice, the help button is no longer present.  However, a saving, scene and sharing feature has been added. Choose from a laundry list of letters and designs, 24 different scenes to add your animal too and the option to share your creation via Facebook and/or email.  A note to the developers – might it be possible to put a parental lock on the sharing option for the safety of those using the application.  In addition, it might be interesting to add a feature to your website that would allow Happipet application users to upload and share their creations with your followers.

Overall, Applicable2U enjoyed our exploration with Happipets.  It is an application that fits at home and at school.  It endorses creativity and the possibilities to collaborate with others in a fun way.  If you would like to contact the developers, Happi, please visit their website here.  We were encouraged to see that new letters and animals will be added for free in the next round of updates.  To add Happipets to your iPad device, please click here to begin your $1.99 download today!

Felt Board for iPad

Felt Board for iPad

by Software Smoothie

As I follow my Twitter feed, one of the latest technology trends being “tweeted” about is the educational benefits of storytelling. It has been researched by many that storytelling is an excellent teaching strategy. Amazingly it can spark student interest as it helps children create vivid mental images while activating their thinking process. Storytelling can provide many opportunities to make connections to events and concepts as a way to better understand and recall information. As of late, several educators are incorporating a more differentiated form of instruction with the help of online resources. But with so many schools going the mobile device route, storytelling is once again changing. At the beginning of March, developers from Software Smoothie released Felt Board for iPad. Currently designed for your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later, with an update coming for those with the iPad 3. Creatively tell a real or imaginary story with the help of felt like pieces.

Felt Board for iPad caused Applicable2U to recall a personal discussion that was had with a friend and parent at the beginning of the school year. This parent was told by her daughter’s kindergarten teacher that her daughter doesn’t associate the correct colors with items, objects or people. At such a young age, why does that matter? Can children not creatively envision things? Sad, but true in some educational settings. Happily we knew Felt Board for iPad had an alternative approach, just take a look at their application icon.

Upon entering this application, users will immediately get a craft like feeling as every aspect of this educational app is created with felt. Use your fine motor and hand-eye coordination skills to develop amazing stories as you tap, drag, drop, pinch and zoom pieces into a scene. Felt Board for iPad is a very user friendly application for children young and old. It is an application that encourages all learning styles as children can work collaboratively or independently. With an Apple like dock that can appear or disappear on the left hand side, storytellers will have access to eight categories of felt objects. Categories include a large selection of backgrounds, people, articles of clothing, animals, nature, letters and numbers. Also included on ones canvas is a recycle bin for unwanted items, a camera to screen shot stories and a bottle of glue to group objects as one.

Felt Board for iPad can be implemented at home and at school. Unlike other storytelling applications, this does not include a recording or a typing feature. Stories are told through objects only. It provides an alternative method of assessment for various learning styles. As you study and read a variety of genres like fairy tales, fiction or nursery rhymes, teachers or home schoolers could connect their device to a projector and share their creations. When projected on a large screen in small or large groups, children can verbalize their stories to classmates, parents or educators. Regardless of who creates the stories, this form of storytelling encourages further discussions on the elements of a story: characters, setting, plot and such. In addition, developers also encourage users to create stories that include letters and numbers. For example, users can spell and place their name on scenes created. If working on a “letter of the week” tell a story centered around that letter. An alternative option would be as children understand numbers, tell a number story. Your child or student(s) story becomes a visual story problem to reinforce appropriate grade level operations. A note to the developers – might it be possible to save scenes within the application in addition to storing in the photo gallery. Have you also thought about adding the option of multiple scenes? By offering a saving and multiple scene feature, users that may need an extension could then sequence their stories.

Overall, Applicable2U loves what Felt Board for iPad has to offer. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing it in action with our own child. For a simple download of $1.99, let the storytelling begin. Your child will begin to make connections, build their understanding of a book read or can just tell a story with their imagination and fun. If you would like to learn more about Software Smoothie please visit their website here.  As you drag and drop objects, magically feel the softness of your story as it develops and comes alive. To begin downloading Felt Board for iPad to your iTunes library click here. You won’t regret it!

Click ‘N’ Colour for iPad

 Click ‘N’ Colour for iPad

by Creative Intersection Pty Ltd

If there was one thing that my son could ask me to do with him that I wouldn’t think twice about, it would have to be coloring.  Coloring can mean so many things to individuals of all ages.  For many it is very calming and therapeutic. Whether you are 2 to 93, coloring is plain old good fun which allows ones artistic side to come out. Coloring provides opportunities to visualize patterns and to develop ones fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.  Knowing the power that coloring has for Applicable2U, we knew that Click ‘N’ Colour for your iPad device was an artistic app that we needed to explore and review for our readers.  Currently, it is only available on the iPad device running iOS 4.2 or later.  Click ‘N’ Colour is a free download and comes pre-installed with seven pieces of work created by Australian artist, Debbie Neale.  As you get your finger tip “virtually wet” from the color palette, her drawings will take you back in time, with a very hippie, retro feel.  Additional pieces of work, Hippie Alphabet and a premium upgrade version, can be downloaded to your device as an in-app purchase of $2.99 for each.

Click ‘N’ Colour has a very easy to navigate menu which allows you to flip through your “coloring book”.  As you would push down on the crease of a real coloring book to get yourself ready, tap the coloring page on your mobile device screen that you desire.  Once on that page, artists will have a number of usable features at their finger tips.  At the top of your coloring page, users will see a drop down arrow.  In this menu, images can be saved, emailed, and shared via two social networks: Twitter and Facebook.  At the bottom right hand corner is the painters palette with colors ranging from primary, secondary, warm and cool colors.  When reviewing Debbie Neale’s work, you will notice that she incorporates a great deal of detail, both small and large.  To ensure that colors are placed in the desired location, another very useful feature is the ability to incorporate the pinch and zoom gesturing that the iPad has to offer.  This magnifying feature will come in handy as artists are filling in the tiniest of places, what we call the “nooks and crannies” of the page.

The works of art that you will create while using Click ‘N’ Colour could take several hours or even days to complete.  Knowing the amount of time that you will put in to finishing, there is no need to panic if work isn’t finished in one sitting, your master piece is saved locally to your device.  While working or as you return to work, if you find a mistake, simply tap the correct color in your palette and replace the incorrect color, developers have chosen this method over an undo button or the option of wiping out the entire page.  A thumbs up in our book!  For those readers that decide to download Click ‘N’ Colour, it is important to note that developers, Creative Intersection, have noticed some issues with those running iOS 5.0 where a section of the picture can go blank when filling it in.  We did experience this issue, however, through our persistence and a little zooming in, the filling feature did in fact work.  Developers are aware of the problem and are working on fixing it soon.

As Applicable2U had their therapeutic time today with Click ‘N’ Colour, we were reminded of our own childhood drawing.  As a child, I would take a blank piece of paper, place my pencil somewhere on the page and just begin swirling the pencil tip in every direction, crossing over lines and making a variety of shapes in the process.  Once I was happy with my design, I would then begin using various coloring tools: markers, crayons, or colored pencils to bring my piece of art to life.  We were amazed to see this same idea in Debbie Neale’s work via the mobile device.  All good things make their way back, but now it is happening through the help of technology, not fashion.

Click ‘N’ Colour definitely gets the Applicable2U approval!!  As stated in their iTunes description, additional designs will be added soon, so stay tuned for future updates.  If you would like to learn more about Debbie Neale and her work, please visit her website here.  To get your artistic groove on today for free, then click here to access Click ‘N’ Colour from your iTunes library.