I've been looking at apps specifically for Dyslexic students today and have found loads - some good, some not so good. Magnispies is fun - you have to use your magnifying glass and get rid of all the spies on the page by matching the secret code (which is the word's vowel and is on your secret spy folder). It helps with vowel recognition , thus improving reading fluency with practice.
This is Dyslexia has been very well designed and is targeted at children with bags of information, a brilliant video that describes what life is like for dyslexics in comic form and suggestions for parents and teachers. Huge bonus is the fact that it is UK made so the voices have English accents (loved the Geordie character in particular!).
iOverlayPlus is a very simple app but effective , it utilises the device's camera and puts a coloured overlay over the words in your book, in exactly the same way that plastic overlay sheets do but I think using an iphone would look much cooler! The £1.99 price tag is a little steep but it is very easy to use.
ClaroSpeak UK isn't cheap at £3.99 either but it is worth the money in my opinion. You can type directly into the app, paste in text from elsewhere or open a file from your Dropbox and the app will then read it back to you. There is a choice of 4 voices , 2 English, 1 French and 1 Spanish and you can change many things in the settings including the speaking rate and text colour etc. The ability to save the texts as audio files and email them to yourself is very useful. Yes the text to speech is a little disjointed but it's pretty good.
Of course many of the built in idevice facilities are very useful too, in particular VoiceOver (Settings/General/Accessibility/Vision) but it's a shame this will work in iBooks but not the kindle app, worth experimenting with even so.
I've been enjoying the most wonderful animal app today, WWF Together , it has a beautiful origami design and includes, facts, photos and videos of several endangered animals with more to come soon. Personally my favourite animals are tigers and the video and images on this app are just fantastic. It's one that I know I will go back to again and again.
Being an animal lover I do have a weakness for creature based apps, both realistic and fantasy. Ultimate Sharks is great for anyone interested in these sleek killing machines of the deep and the graphics and interactive features are very engaging. If you have a copy of Guinness World of Records 2013 using the app that goes with it makes a shark almost leap out of your ipad at you - first time it happens I'm sure it will make you jump! There is also a far too realistic (for me) tarantula that will run over your screen.....if you really want it to.
When my children were small I bought them the book Animalia which is a finding book in the same vein as Where's Wally but with beautifully detailed illustrations of animals by Graeme Base. The app has been very carefully thought out and features readings by the artist, games and animal sounds.
Games are not my strong point and I don't have that many that I play regularly but I must admit when I was introduced to Kinectimals (app of the popular XBox game) by my daughter I was charmed and spent a fair bit of time teaching my big cat cubs tricks, feeding them and keeping them exercised. My favourite is naturally the tiger cub but they are all extremely cute.
A friend sent me a link to a blog post about apps for your ........cat today (thanks Fiona!) so I downloaded a free one, GameForCats . She didn't try to paw the screen, which I was quite happy about to be honest, but she did enjoy watching the pinpoint of light , swivelling her head around like a human at Wimbledon!
When it comes to story books for younger readers there are so many on the app store that it's hard to know when to stop downloading. These are my personal favourites:
1. Hairy Maclary - One of my children's favourite series many years ago so I was already prepared to fall in love with it and luckily it more than met my expectation. Read by David Tennant (a bonus!) the book features colouring pages, you can record your own narration and clicking on individual words will cause them to be repeated. All of the dogs have different barks too, which is a nice touch.
2. Elmer's Special Day - Another old favourite, the colourful patchwork elephant translates beautifully onto the ipad screen. Tapping on the pictures brings up additional vocabulary and you can opt to have the story read to you or read it yourself.
3. Winken, Blinken and Nod - A twist on a classic storybook this one won't advance until you read the words on the screen aloud. Wonderful for early reading practice and speaking and listening.
4. Wheels on the Bus - One for every parent that's ever been exhorted to 'read/sing it again!' Interactive element on every page, but I warn you the singing will become.....irritating and unfortunately with this one you can't just 'lose' the batteries!
5. The Monster at the End of This Book - How could you not love an app that stars Sesame Street's Grover? Very cleverly done, Grover's character comes across strongly, and if you don't turn the pages quickly enough he reminds you to do so.
6. The Lettermen go to the Seaside - This series of books have always been popular and the app is bright, colourful and fun to read. There's a spelling task on each page and you can choose to have the narration on or off as with most titles.
It was hard to choose just 6 but these are a good starting point for little ones I think.
Today is the bicentenary of Charles Dickens birth, and I've been celebrating by finding apps for my iPad that will increase my knowledge of the illustrious author. I already had some - Christmas Carol is after all my favourite book of all time - but I've found some other gems to add to my digital jewel box too!
Christmas Carol, Padworx - already had this and have loved it ever since I first downloaded it. I enjoy all of Padworx' apps (Dracula is also very good) , the sound effects and interactive elements make reading on the iPad a more immersive experience than reading one of my well thumbed paper copies.
A Christmas Carol, Starlight Storybook - This one tells the famous festive story in the form of a poem, written illustrated and animated by John Marr. It would be perfect to introduce younger children to Dickens and the animations are charming. Very happy to have discovered this today!
Dickens Dark London, Museum of London - This app was produced to celebrate the Dickens exhibition at the Museum which runs up until the 10th June. It's extremely dark and atmospheric and follows Dickens on his night walks around London whilst suffering with insomnia which is something I can certainly empathise with. Includes a map than transforms from Dickens' times to the present day and will eventually have 5 walks narrated wonderfully by actor Mark Strong. The first walk , Seven Dials is available to download for free and the following ones will be £1.49 each, or free to download when at the museum or at the location. Very clever, I feel some field trips coming on!
Dickens Papers, - a series of Dickens works that are going to be published in periodic installments echoing the way much of the author's work was published. Includes video and photos from the present day as the creators walked in the footsteps of Dickens. As a keen amateur photographer, very much enjoying this one.
Charles Dickens Works, PicoJoys Studio 2011 - I have always meant to read more Dickens but hadn't got round to it. This app is basic, just books in the usual swipe to turn the page format but it will stop any excuses I may have been making about not having the books with me. Now which shall I choose first?
Audio Book Shelf, Cross Forward Consulting - I enjoy listening to audio books when travelling and this one although not exclusively Dickens , is great value for £1.49 with 13 classic books to choose from and an in app purchase of 69p getting you a further 6 adventure stories. Nicely presented in the form of a virtual bookshelf , books download to the iPad when you click on them to start reading so would probably be a good idea to do this when using wifi not 3G.
Have a great Dickens day.......off to listen to a story now ;0).
I've had a purge of the apps on my iPad this week and deleted quite a few but still have about 400 so didn't go too mad! I am often asked which apps I think are best (searching on the app store isn't exactly a fun experience - they really need to introduce a decent Boolean search on there!) so I thought I'd write some posts with some suggestions. Starting with Early Years today,I will have to prepare several lists because there too many to fit on one.
1. The Numberlys - Following on from the immensely successful Morris Lessmore app Moonbot have now released this app which is designed to help kids learn their alphabet. It is of course utterly beautiful, in the style of an old black and white movie and no iPad used by children (or adults in touch with the child within!) should be without it
2. Sound Touch - hours of fun with 6 different categories of pictures , a simple tap brings up another picture with an associated noise, each main pic having 5 behind it. Keeps young children amused for ages.
3. First Words Deluxe - lets learn some new words! touching each picture triggers the word to be said aloud. Basic, but words said very clearly
4. Mr Thorne's Phonics - couldn't leave out the excellent Mr Thorne and his phonics videos, such an engaging teacher and very good value
5. Sammy Squirrel Battles the Alphabet Robots - like the graphics on this , slightly disconcerted by the American accent ('zee' instead of 'zed') but fun to play and works on upper/lower case recognition
6. Talking Hippo/Talking Tom etc - popular with kids of all ages and good for doing some basic speaking and listening work!
I will cover books for younger children in a later post. If you want more, there's a great blog focussed on on apps recommendations for kids, called Apps Playground, well worth a look:
My blog is a collection of thoughts and I hope you will learn something about me from the ramblings as well as finding some useful links. I'm Bev Humphrey and I'm a Literacy, School Libraries and Technology Consultant. I am self employed so views expressed are solely my own.