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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Nora’s Crabby Day

Nora’s Crabby Day

by PicPocket Books

What is your mood like today?  Have you woken up feeling blue, unbeknownst to you? Did your day start off great, but an unfortunate situation turned that right around?  This is not uncommon for both adults and children.  At an early age, children will struggle with a number of new things like how to handle one’s feelings.  As parents, we like to think that we can explain and model such feelings, however, connections are not always made.  Children need things short, sweet and to the point and our words might not be the ones they want to hear.  Implementing personal connections through the use of books, both mobile or hard covered, might be just what you are looking for. Released back at the end of March by PicPocket Books is Nora’s Crabby Day.  It was written and illustrated by Jan and Todd Graveline and can be viewed on your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later. Come walk in Nora’s shoes for just one day and see how her day starts off gloomy but ends with a bowl full of joy!

We have reviewed a number of interactive books by PicPocket Books and are pleased to add Nora’s Crabby Day to our iPad library.  Like most interactive books, it promotes early learning as your child develops their reading skills through audio words and sounds as text is highlighted on each page.  In addition, it provides young readers the option to have it read to them or they can read it aloud on their own.  We loved how a dedication page was included to Nora Claire, the main character. “When she smiles, we smile.”  This is so true in any household full of one or multiple children.  Each page appears to be divided into two as if holding a real hard covered book.  In addition, pages magically come to life as those words narrated are visualized wonderfully from beginning to end.  Throughout the book, all participants reading will notice how the story incorporates colorful detail and the use of rhyming words. Characters and objects of all kinds; clouds, animals and food, need to turn their frowns upside down. Can Nora’s day get any worse?

Nora’s Crabby Day  is very appropriate for children as young as 2 and beyond.  Applicable2U can see it being incorporate in any home or school setting.  Pages are managed by the user, so it allows for adults and children to stop and talk about each page, to make connections to those things that Nora is going through.  Children and adults need to be made aware that having a bad day is very normal.  Whether your mood starts off bad or ends badly, tomorrow is a new day and as humans we need to find some light at the end of the tunnel.  Nora’s light was that of a warm bowl of macaroni and cheese.

To learn more about Nora’s Crabby Day or any other interactive books by PicPocket Books, please visit their website here.  For only $1.99, you too can have Nora’s Crabby Day for your iPad library by simply clicking here.

Elfishki and the Giant Cake

  Elfishki and the Giant Cake

By kidsiphoneapps.net

There are a number of states in the US that have been following the Common Core Standards for a number of years, while others are just coming on board.  For those new to the Common Core Standards many are questioning what it might mean for how material is presented or how it compares to previous standards.  Common Core Standards are designed “to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young audience needs in order to be successful.”  This level of success can come in any format and Kids iPhone Apps is making that possible via your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later.  Recently launched in February of this year is a wonderful interactive book called Elfishki and the Giant Cake.  Whether you are an educator in a school or home setting or you are a parent trying to teach your child(ren) conscious reading skills, then this needs to be your next educational app download!

What Applicable2U loves about this development company is that their goal is to create not only captivating stories, but to apply their stories and illustrations as teaching tools.  As an educator just delving into the Common Core and how technology fits in, this review could not have come at a more appropriate time.  In order for our children to fully participate in today’s global community, we need to keep in mind the 4 C’s of 21st century skills (Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Communication).  Elfishki and the Giant Cake is designed for children ages 6-9 and is supporting those 21st century skills just mentioned, exposes children to a familiar genre; fairy tales, myths and legends, and it integrates several Common Core Standards for English Language Arts along the way.

Come journey to Rainbow Island which is in the middle of Sparkling Sea and meet the adorable fairy tale creatures called Elfishkis.  Hear a wonderful story of how our main creatures or characters, Elfizz and Maggie are able to put their two worlds together and become friends, regardless of their differences.  As you enter this interactive, educational book app users will immediately notice the brilliant and crisp colors which makes the story images pop off the screen.  This original story can be experienced in English or in Russian as it is either read to you by a professional narrator or is read by the reader themselves.  Regardless of which is chosen, some young readers may even feel like they are apart of the board game Candy Land, with its magical feel, scrumptious candy and food all around.  With one or more simple taps, certain parts of each page will come to life as an animation.  Not only will objects and characters move, but each page has the reader stop and answer three questions before moving on with the story.  By implementing this feature, educators and parents will have opportunities to build a variety of academic skills such as:  comprehension check-ins, predictions, vocabulary building, discussion of story elements, points of view and to recall prior knowledge related to the information and events in the text.  A note to the developers – might it be possible to also offer new and more fluent readers the option to highlight words as it is read.

Elfishki and the Giant Cake can be implemented in a number of ways.  At times, reading for some is a challenge and not seen as fun.  When reading is differentiated for all learners, children’s academic attitudes will miraculously change.  If chosen to use in a classroom or home school environment, connect your iPad device to a large screen or projector and experience the wonderful world of the Elfishkis as a whole group.   As you navigate through your fairy tale genre unit, use Elfishki and the Giant Cake to support and reinforce what makes up a fairy tale.  Along the way stop and discuss connections, while implementing each pages guiding questions.  To enhance a readers creativity, have children create drawings or visions of what might happen next in the story or even an alternative choice that our main creatures could have taken.  In addition, Elfishki and the Giant Cake could also be used individually or in small groups.  If you walk into any classroom, children are usually in reading groups based on one’s reading level.  Some groups are larger than others and some are much smaller, this interactive book would be a wonderful addition to the school’s library.  Use Elfishki and the Giant Cake to spark communication, critical thinking and collaboration as they answer guided questions provided by the application. As the apps questions are shared, students might find that they have their own questions to share as well.

Applicable2U is pleased to have this interactive book apart of our iPad library.  There are so many books out their in hardcover, softcover and now as an app for your mobile device.  To know that while reading Elfishki and the Giant Cake your child(ren) or students will be building their love of reading, incorporating a number of academic needs and celebrating each others differences is well worth the $2.99 download.  To learn more about this and the other books that Kids iPhone Apps has to offer, please visit their website here.  Which character will you gravitate more towards, Elfizz or Maggie?  Download Elfishki and the Giant Cake to find out by simply clicking here.

A Little Book About Feelings

  A Little Book About Feelings

by PicPocket Books

As we near one of the most romantic days of the year, Valentine’s Day, children might be observing how stores, their homes and yes, even some schools are getting ready to shout out – I love or care about you in some way! Is Valentine’s Day the only day that our feelings should be shouted out above the roof top?  Absolutely not!  Feelings should be shared each and everyday.  Whether you are feeling frustrated, moody, happy or sad, everyone in the world has some kind of feelings and they don’t have to be the same every minute or everyday.  Our own feelings and especially our children’s feelings need to be validated and accepted.

How are you feeling today? Are you a parent or educator of young children, then you will want to learn more about Ruby, from the award-winning “Ruby’s Studio: The Feelings Show”, as she will guide you along an amazing story about feelings.  Recently launched in the Apple Store by familiar book app developers, PicPocket Books and author, The Mother Company, your child(ren) ages 0-6  will fall in love with A Little Book About Feelings. Designed for all Apple devices running iOS 4.3 or later, listeners will be amazed by the life like graphics as the felt material that makes up each character pops off the screen.  As parents, there are a number of lessons that we are to model and teach our children, yes academic concepts are critical, but just as important is the development of their self-worth and the ability to problem solve.  Children are born with certain instincts, but how to solve social and emotional skills needs to be discussed and validated in a variety of ways.

Applicable2U would describe interactive book app,  A Little Book About Feelings as creative, user friendly and precious.  Listeners and readers are immediately greeted with a smile.  As Applicable2U was exploring and reviewing this application, my 5 year old son stopped everything that he was doing when he heard the pleasant music and introduction from host, Ruby. It was as if his eyes lit up when Ruby began asking him questions.  Although it was a one way conversation, he was still telling her how he was doing today.  This is an interactive book that guides children on their journey to reading, but it also supports them to become genuinely good people.   As they follow along with adorable “felt like” friends, children will begin to develop their feelings vocabulary.  In addition, they will learn how they can be a good friend or sibling, to share, and to express their feelings appropriately.  Throughout this powerful story, users will be supported with audio play and highlighted words.  If your child(ren) are older, these two features can be set to off.  Pages can be easily swiped from left to right by those listening or reading and can provide opportunities to stop and discuss.  To further reinforce content, there are magical hot spots on each page that both verbalize and visualize concepts being taught.

Although we are aware that this interactive book comes under the Books category in your iTunes Library, we do have to say that it even had a movie like feel to it. Everything about this book application was so real and connects to children of all ages.  Feelings can come across in ones faces or bodies and in the words that we use.  When we share our feelings, others will feel so good because they are understood and heard by the ones they care or love.  Be sure to share your feelings, good or bad, each and everyday with those around you.  As the story began with interaction from Ruby, it also ended in that same format.  Step by step your little one will learn to wave good bye in a new way.  If I could have been pre-warned of this ending, Applicable2U would have videotaped and shared with those reading, my sons most heart-warming smile and movements at the end.

A Little Book About Feelings is applicable to any parent or educator and would be an excellent addition to any mobile device.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, The Mother Company will be hosting a celebration on their Facebook page.  Be sure to visit their page here to enter for a chance to win a printed copy of this amazing book or to even get your hands on some iTune gift cards to download it for free.  If you would like to learn more about this or any of the other book applications that PicPocket Books has to offer, please visit their website here.  If you can’t wait for Valentine’s Day to arrive, begin downloading A Little Book About Feelings for .99¢ to your iTunes library today!

Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection #1

Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection #1

By Oceanhouse Media

Dr. Seuss is one of the most beloved children’s author that I know of.  His books were written for the youngest of new readers, but are still being implemented and shared within the higher elementary schools.  When our school meets as a large community, book sharing and personal connections are usually the key to our conversations.  Many of Dr. Seuss’ books have been apart of our community meetings as they can spark connections to real life.  When you visit any popular book store, you might notice that a collection of Dr. Seuss’ books are being sold in hard cover.  Well, now those same collections that are found in hard cover can be accessible via your mobile device, thanks to the efforts of Oceanhouse Media.  With the recent launch to the Apple Store, Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection #1, you can now choose to read many books while on the go.  With no surprise, this book series was ranked #9 in the Paid iPad Book Apps store as of February, 2012.  This first series includes: The Cat in the Hat, The Foot Book, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Fox in Socks, and Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?

Applicable2U has reviewed a number of books converted to mobile device from Oceanhouse Media.  With each return visit or new download of a book by this development group, reading time with my son is enjoyable for all those participating.  As he nears the 1st grade, his reading abilities are certainly improving and the various reading opportunities that those hardcover turned mobile book apps are providing him are amazing.  According to their iTunes description, this book series offers some new features only OMBooks will include: “professional narration, background audio and enlarged artwork for each scene.  To promote reading in young children, individual words are highlighted as the story is read and words zoom up when pictures are touched.” Navigation between books is very user friendly and will provide a different experience each time a book is read.  Even before a book is opened, users have a character choice screen.  With brilliant resolution, the character chosen will fill with clear, crisp colors and its coordinating book cover will appear center stage. Like most book apps, young readers have three ways that stories can be read: Read It Myself, Read to Me, or Autoplay. Each experience has a valid reason for choosing as your little one develops their reading skills.

With each of these reading experiences come some amazing features. In all three modes of reading, young readers won’t have a problem trying to figure out where they are on the page.  Their eyes can navigate from left to right  as words are highlighted as they are being read.  In the “read it myself” and “read to me” modes, readers can tap objects on the page and the narrator will announce what it is and where it can be found within the text on that page.  On some rare occasions, you may even tap an object and a new vocabulary word that is not in the text will appear.  A wonderful way to encourage language, details and descriptions.  The autoplay mode has this feature as well, although it doesn’t seem to flow as nicely since the autoplay mode is like watching a movie and there didn’t appear to be a stop/pause option. Interactively, pages can be read, tapped, swiped and even heard as sound effects are added in here and there.   Another great feature that we like about this book series is the resume or start from beginning option.  If you have read any of Dr. Seuss’ hard cover books, then you know that some of them are rather long.  If your nightly routine begins late one evening or you only have time to read a little, then don’t panic.  OMBooks knows that you have left a book and puts a magical, almost virtual like bookmark in its place.

Spending time reading is critical!  Reading can now happen in so many different ways and our children need us to model those behaviors. Oceanhouse Media Books currently has this under control.  Someone might say, why should I pay $11.99 for the mobile version of Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection #1?  Why not, most families, classrooms or library book corners have them as hard cover books.  Oddly enough, you spend just as much money for those, if not more.  With schools transitioning to 1:1 experiences or that have mobile devices for the classroom, why not spend the money?  Books won’t get ruined or ripped. Children of all ages, learning styles and reading levels can be accommodated.  With this download, now all five of these amazing stories can be easily carried and won’t be left behind.  If you would like to learn more about this or any other book applications that Oceanhouse Media Books has to offer, please visit their website here.  Dr. Seuss books are applicable to you, so begin downloading this first collection series today by simply clicking here to access it in your iTunes library.