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.
Like the proper Apple fan girl that I am, last night I was glued to the Apple event that was streamed live. The announcement I was hoping for was the launch of a new smaller iPad and of course I wasn't disappointed but the launch of a new full size iPad was a bit of a surprise, coming only 6 months after the 'new iPad'. Personally I'm happy with my iPad 2 so the fact that the new one has a faster processor didn't really have the wow factor for me but I imagine it must have been galling for other iPad users that had bought themselves a bright shiny new iPad earlier this year. The Mini announcement did come as expected and I was sadly very excited to see it. At 7.9 inches the Mini's screen is slightly larger than it's rivals but I am happy with that - wouldn't want it to be too small - after all I have an iPhone! Shame that there's not a Retina Display (screen resolution is 1024 x 768 pixels, same as the iPad 2) but I don't have any problems with the sharpness of my current iPad's screen so this won't put me off. It's a great size to use as an ereader but I would have liked to see a lower price than starting at £269 , although this is of course lower than the full size iPad. I would think the Mini will be popular with schools, thanks to the lower price , but it would have been fantastic if Apple had announced a better integration package for education akin to Amazon's Whispercast. So some 'meh' moments to the launch but will I be queueing up at my local Apple Store on the 2nd November to purchase a wifi Ipad Mini.......yep without a doubt!!
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.
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.