Credos About Children, p. 2 LittleClickers

Credos About Children, p. 2 LittleClickers
Helping Teachers, Parents, and Librarians Find Interactive Media Since 1993
May 2016
Volume 24, No. 5, Issue 194
Credos About Children, p. 2
LittleClickers: Action Cams, p. 3
16 “Nice Touches” When Applying
Technology to Language & Literacy, p. 4
The the cover: images from the well designed The Infinite Arcade by Tinybop, reviewed on page 9
Children’s Technology Review
May 2016
Volume 24, No. 5, Issue 194
A Montessori Approach to Math, p. 5
And So To Bed - Educational Bedtime
Routine App for Children, p. 5
Annie's Picking Apples 2: Learning
Games, p. 5
Brainventures, p. 6
Captain McFinn's Swim & Play*, p. 6
Dr. Panda School*, p. 6
DYI Gamer Kit, p. 7
ExplorArt Klee - The Art of Paul Klee,
for Kids*, p. 7
Find Adventure, Alfie Atkins, p. 7
Fisher-Price Soothing Motions Seat,
p. 8
FurReal Friends Torch My Blazin'
Dragon, p. 8
Iconia One 10, p. 8
Infinite Arcade, The by Tinybop*, p. 9
IQ Safari MATH, p. 9
Labo Paper Plate, p. 9
LightUp Edison Kit, p. 10
MarcoPolo Arctic, p. 10
Miaomiao’s Chinese New Year, p. 10
MLB The Show 16, p. 11
Monopoly Ultimate Banking, p. 11
Montessori Numbers: Learn to Count
from 1 to 1000*, p. 12
Multiply With Me, p. 12
Night of the Living Debt, p. 13
NumberShapes Whiteboard*, p. 13
Quasi's Quest, p. 13
Sago Mini Robot Party*, p. 14
This is My Spacecraft - Rocket Science
for Kids, p. 14
Time Drop - The Colorful Time Travel,
p. 14
Veggie Bottoms Kitchen,
p. 15
View-Master
Virtual Reality
Viewer 2.0,
p. 15
* Denotes
“Editor’s
Choice.”
Our 12,160th Review • $60/year • http://childrenstech.com • @childtech
May 16 News and Trends
in Children’s Techology
Honor and Respect Children. Three Points of View.
I recently stumbled upon three credos related to raising children that are worth noting, especially when thinking about how to best use technology in their day-to-day
care.
1. The Early Childhood Educator Point of View
“They need to be loved. They need to be spoken to, all the time. They need opportunities to explore. They need to be safe and to feel safe. They need stable figures in
their lives. They need new experiences they enjoy.” From childcare pioneer Bettye
Caldwell, who died at age 91 on April 17th, in St. Louis. Caldwell was a former
President of NAEYC. This quote was part of her New York Times obituary, online at
http://nyti.ms/qGCaLc
2. A Publisher’s Point of View
“To help children grow in basic skills and knowledge, in creativeness, in ability to
think and reason, in sensitivity to others, in high ideals and worthy ways of living -for children are the world’s most important people.” By Garry and Caroline Myers,
Founders of Highlights for Children, Inc. This quote is on display in the Myers’ rural
Pennsylvania farmhouse.
3. The Parent’s Point of View
"We expect and trust that our son will be in a safe, supportive, welcoming and positive learning environment. This is an environment that:
• Lifts his self-esteem by building on his strengths by providing many appropriate
successes.
• Gives him a community of peers, and a chance for collaboration.
• Is sensitive to our son's needs as a learner and a developing person.
• Is free of inappropriate expectations, misguided judgements and unnecessary
stumbling blocks.
• In no way causes harm to our son's amazing spirit.”
From a slide called "Honor and Respect Children" by Daren Carstens during the annual
Dust or Magic Summit on Language and Literacy last week. Daren was asked by his
son’s school to write an “expectations statement.”
LittleClickers: Action Cams
Want to jump out of an airplane or take a ride on an eagle’s back? Thanks to a new
generation of cheap, rugged digital cameras, plus video sharing services (like
YouTube), it’s easy to find some amazing views. See our links on page 3.
A Rubric that Mixes General App Quality with Ethics
In our April issue we introduced a new Quality Attribute (QA) to help you think
about how ethical a particular interactive experience is, when it comes to selling
or promoting commercial content. This is a big issue these days, as more and
more publishers struggle to make money. This month, we’re putting that attribute inside our generic evaluation instrument. This is handy for considering the
growing number of apps that have some sort of IAP (In-App Purchase). The
rubric is called “Contains IAP.” Here’s the link: http://reviews.childrenstech.com/ctr/flexrubric.php?id=&rubric=Contains+IAP
Your Subscription is Your Key to Over 12,000 Archived Reviews
Children’s Technology Review
May 2016
Volume 21, No. 5, Issue 194
Editor Warren Buckleitner, Ph.D.,
([email protected]) [WB]
Editorial Coordinator & Circulation Manager
Sarah McDougall [SOM]
([email protected])
LittleClickers Editor Megan Billitti
Director of Publishing Matthew DiMatteo [MD]
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Children’s Technology Review, May 2016
2
Action Cameras
5 (or so) sites & 10 videos
is made possible by
Read this column online, with links, at www.littleclickers.com/actioncameras
Want to see what it looks like when you jump out of an airplane? Thanks
to a new generation of cheap, rugged digital cameras it’s easy to find
some amazing views, including the view from the back of a bird. Let’s
learn these cameras, and watch some amazing videos.
LittleClickers is brought to you by
Computer Explorers, who offer camps on
programming.
Visit www.computerexplorers.com to learn
more. The web-based (html) version of
this page is at
http://www.littleclickers.com with live
links, plus a place to report any errors.
Note that CTR and COMPUTER EXPLORERS do not have commercial interests in
the sites listed on this page. Librarians
and teachers are permitted to copy this
page for non-profit use. To suggest a
future topic, or to report a bad link, please
contact the editor, Warren Buckleitner
[WB] [email protected] or call
908-284-0404 (9 - 3 PM, EST).
1. Who invented the GoPro? Meet Nick Woodman, a surfer in
search of a better way to capture his rides. He tells the story
that led to his invention at http://bit.ly/1pozQHB.
2. Can you put your action camera inside a washing
machine? You bet! They have no moving parts and
waterproof cases. We found more crazy uses for
action cams, including the view from a hula hoop,
at http://bit.ly/213Nqy4
3. How far can an Action Camera fall, and still
survive? At https://youtu.be/aU-KvtA20v8 you can
see what happens when a camera falls out of an airplane.
4. How much does an Action Camera cost? Here are two options that vary in price. Both save their videos on tiny micro
SD cards that cost about $20 for 64 GB (about 2 hours of HD video).
1. Kidizoom Action Cam ($50,
VTech) comes with a waterproof container. You
won’t get HD footage, but you won’t pay as
much either. See http://bitly.com/1W2yVLb
2. The GoPro Hero 4 Silver ($350, GoPro) is
the most famous action camera. Most of the
videos you see on YouTube were captured with
this camera http://bitly.com/1TqWdV2.
Megan’s Action Cam Videos
Here’s a set of hand picked Action Cam videos from YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcBVHzUUEKwlfalNd1nku5RcDM-1GvfzS
3
Children’s Technology Review, May 2016
16
“Nice Touches” When
Applying Technology to
Language & Literacy Development
The chart was called “Nice Touch” and it remained within reach of any
discussion or demo during the recent three-day language and literacy
retreat at the Highlights Foundation. For a recap of the event, see Jayne
Clare’s post on Teachers With Apps, at
http://www.teacherswithapps.com/highlights-retreat-2016/).
Whenever an app was demonstrated or discussed, a participant could
jot down an example of a “nice touch” and add it to the list. Here’s what
we collected (keep in mind, this is only a starter list): NICE TOUCHES WITHIN APPS
3 In the same way an app like Toca
Tailor lets you use photos of your
clothes to become the clothes of your
character, let a child take a photo of his
or her skin and their character would
have the same skin color as the central
character in the story.
3 Place “old fashioned” QR Codes
inside traditional print books with
links that lead to additional digital
materials, including an audio podcast
of the author reading the book. Just be
wary of audio rights infringments.
3 The animation used in Nosy Crow
apps always work in the same direction
as the plot line. They are more than just
gratuitous interactions.
3 Create a clearly defined narrative
space (or world) for a child and then
give children a measured degree of control within this structure. Case in point?
The Nosy Crow apps.
3 Using VR to let a child put their head
inside the narrative structure using exiting VR technology. Case in point: WuWu,
of Step In Books.
3 Employ better text scaffolding techniques, including touch and sound (as in
Oceanhouse Media apps) and/or different language crutches.
3 Let the child become the curriculum
designer and genetic epistemologist.
How? By giving them control over difficulty level, select the reading level or
the timer option.
Children’s Technology Review, May 2016
3 Put the author’s identity
inside the app. Too often,
digital work is authorless.
There’s no excuse not to
put a short introduction
video directly from the people who made the app. This
gives the product a voice.
Ideas contributed by Jo Booth, Warren Buckleitner, Andre Breitman,
Diana Calio, Jayne Clare, Carissa Christner, Daren Carstens, Martina
Dell’Acqua, Lisa Guernsey, Marci Jones, Michael Levine, Gail Lovely,
Nadine Kloss~Gannon, Tracy Ludwig, Sandhya Nankani, Katie Paciga,
Denise Panza, Heather Urtz, Catriona Wallis and Kate Wilson.
3 Incorporate characters that reflect
the real world. “I love that Red Riding
Hood’s mother isn’t skinny!”
3 I love the interpretation of “hanging”
by the arms in HangArt, like on a chinup bar. So much less macabre.
3 Loved how narrative/text techniques
were integrated with art and math concepts in Daren Carsten’s Attributes.
3 I liked the feature where children
could rate the problems, as done in
“Hang Art.”
3 Be true to the accent. USA teachers
like “pure” British accents rather than
localized versions that might feel diluted.
NICE TOUCHES FOR APP STORES
3 The app stores should have a visible
classification system to let you sort by
quality, ethics and effectiveness of apps.
3 Have a “free sample” area where
publishers with premium apps can put
risk free, gimmick free samples of their
apps.
3 Increase the amount of dialog
between teachers and developers.
3 Include reading level indicators and
better localization information.
4
Feature Reviews and New Releases
MAY 2016
Here's an alphabetical listing of both the feature reviews (with ratings) and the new and
future releases. "Entry Date" refers to the date we first learned of the product.
A Montessori Approach to Math
This is a scripted collection of math tutorials with little opportunity for exploration.
The menu, which requires reading, offers four sets of activities.
Audio instructions lead you through each part of the lesson as you practice
counting by using different types of counters, or watch as odd or even numbers are
divided with animated arrows. While the content is Montessori-inspired, the teaching
style is heavily scripted and low in child control.
Details: Mobile Montessori, www.mobilemontessori.org. Price: $3.99. Ages: 3-6.
Platform: iPad, iPhone, Apple TV. Teaches/Purpose: counting, math, odd and even
numbers. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 3.1 stars. Entry date: 4/12/2016. [WB]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
7
63%
6
N
6
6
And So To Bed - Edu. Bedtime Routine App for Children
Beautiful art meets clunky interactive design and limited content in this interactive
story designed to introduce a bedtime routine.
The scenes are made out of cardboard and paper to create an interactive world
with a "hand-made" feel, and the app features a specially composed soundtrack of 20
tracks.
In the story, Cat is sleepy and wants to get ready for bed. Children tap on parts of
the screen to move the cat through 10 tasks in six scenes.
Details: Paperly Apps Ltd, www.paperlyapps.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 2-up.
Platform: iPad. Teaches/Purpose: health, bedtime. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 3.2 stars. Entry
date: 7/23/2015. [WB]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
8
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
8
64%
7
6
5
6
Annie's Picking Apples 2: Learning Games
This app gives you a playful context for counting from 1 to 20 in English, Spanish,
French, and German. It mixes jigsaw puzzles and apple sorting (by color), and keeps
records.
In the app, children help Annie the squirrel pick apples, prepare pies and put
together puzzles in 27 worlds, which are arranged like a board-game.
Features include: parental controls for parents and educators to track a single
child's performance; enable the time control screen and set the time the child will be
able to play to manage turns among children; highlights the achievements and
progress in each level of play; progressive difficulty in each level in each of the games;
and original music.
You can toggle the languages on the fly, making this a good way to provide
informal experience counting in new languages.
Details: Real Fun Learning, realfunlearning.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 4-up. Platform:
iPad. Teaches/Purpose: math, counting, spatial relations, German, Spanish, French
and English. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4 stars. Entry date: 8/22/2013. [WB]
5
8
8
8
8
80%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
Brainventures
Fun, responsive graphics turn your iPad into an interactive cartoon adventure
where health-related information is indirectly delivered by way of memory, sorting
and timing games.
The game is light on facts but responsive, and many of the activities require fine
motor timing - and are fun.
In the game, you take on the role of a brain cell and progress through narrative
quests and mini games as you befriend other neuron characters in your quest to reach
the Hall of Brain.
The app was designed by educators with a health background, with the goal of
helping children learn "growth mindset skills" like perseverance, curiosity and
confidence - by communicating the idea that children can change their brains by eating
healthy foods, exercising, and taking on new challenges.
Details: Kizoom, www.kizoomlabs.com. Price: $free with IAP of $3.99. Ages: 7-10.
Platform: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch . Teaches/Purpose: health, timing, reading,
physcial fitness, exercise. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.2 stars. Entry date: 6/30/2015. [WB]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
8
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
9
84%
7
9
9
9
Captain McFinn's Swim & Play
Designed to promote social and emotional development in children, Captain
McFinn & Friends contains a very rare feature - a live person, inside the app. These
real people, known as Explorers, respond in real time to how a child engages with
Captain McFinn’s cartoon undersea world. They are like camp counselors who
encourage you to share feelings and talk to your avatar.
Because everything is done in the context of the non-human avatar there is no risk
of identity theft. To test the app, we posed as a child who was very upset about our
sick dog. We drew a picture of the dog using the drawing tools, and our mentor
quickly dropped in and asked about how the dog was doing. It was rather startling.
The picture was then shared with others who were logged in. The mentors obviously
follow a script, and rarely stray from themes about the importance of being pro-social
-- to share, be polite and so on.
Note that this app needs to be online to start, and can take a while to get to the first
screen "downloading new content."
Details: Captain McFinn LLC, www.captainmcfinn.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 3-5.
Platform: iPad, iPhone; requires Internet connetion. Teaches/Purpose: social and
emotional development. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.4 stars. Entry date: 12/11/2014. [WB]
88%
8
8
10
9
Dr. Panda School
Freely explore in five areas of a school (hallway, classroom, art room, school yard,
and cafeteria) with 19 child and adult characters that can be dressed up, fed or moved
from room to room.
There's a lot to discover. You can paint or sculpt in the art room, combine shapes to
make toy blueprints, sweep the floor or grow plants on the playground. It is fun to
customize the animal characters with clothes, hats or glasses. The app supports multitouch, so more than one child can share the experience and is very similar in design to
Toca Life: School, with a slightly younger age range (a better title might be Dr. Panda
Preschool). There are a few minor issues to note. The graphics are less refined, which
makes some screens seem a bit cluttered, and some of the items don't respond as they
would in the real world, especially if you "break the rules" (say, by putting some fruit
in the dishwasher). See also Toca Life: School.
Details: Dr. Panda Limited, www.tribeplay.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 3-6. Platform:
iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Android, Kindle. Teaches/Purpose: cause and effect,
creativity, problem solving. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.6 stars. Entry date: 4/1/2016. [WB]
6
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
9
8
10
9
10
92%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
DYI Gamer Kit
This is an Arduino-based game device that you can either build yourself, or that
you can purchase pre-soldered. You then program the LED "screen" and the speaker
with your computer (a USB wire is required). The games are very simple (e.g., of the
Flappy Birds variety). According to the instructions, the assembly takes about 2 hours,
and you'll need both a 9 volt battery and a soldering iron. Learn more at https://www.
techwillsaveus.com/resources/diy-gamer-kit/
Details: Technology Will Save Us, www.techwillsaveus.com. Price: $100. Ages: 8up. Platform: Windows, Mac OSX, Chrome. Teaches/Purpose: programming, coding,
circuits. Entry date: 4/8/2016.
ExplorArt Klee - The Art of Paul Klee, for Kids
Jump into the mind of Paul Klee - the Swiss-German artist who mixed different art
styles. While the interactive design is mid-quality, the content is excellent, which
makes sense given the source.
There are six nicely animated versions of his paintings including Landscape with
Yellow Birds, Dream Town, Castle and Sun, Twittering Machine, and the puppets that Klee
created for his son out of recycled materials. Each has a simple activity.
Features include the ability to toggle between English and Italian. There are no
third-party advertising or in-app purchases.
Details: Lapisly S.C.P., www.lapisly.com. Price: $4.99. Ages: 6-12. Platform: iPad.
Teaches/Purpose: art, classification, spatial relations, Expressionism, Cubism, and
Surrealism. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.3 stars. Entry date: 4/1/2016. [CC]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
8
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
8
86%
9
8
9
9
Find Adventure, Alfie Atkins
This animated adventure from Sweden lets you decorate a car and then drive it
around in a world with pop up people, creatures and flowers. You learn that some
items, like fruit, can be collected. The interactive design is simple but limited. The
items you discover never seem to end and it isn't clear how you get back to the car
decorating area or the main menu.
Based on the Scandinavian children’s book classic "Very Tricky, Alfie Atkins" by
the author Gunilla Bergström.
Details: Gro Play, www.groplay.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 2-6. Platform: iPad,
iPhone, iPod Touch (OS 6.0 or later). Teaches/Purpose: spatial relations. Rating (1 to 5
stars): 3.8 stars. Entry date: 6/22/2015. [WB]
7
7
8
7
8
76%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
Fisher-Price Soothing Motions Seat
Designed to simulate the natural motion of a parent, this seat has three settings:
bounce, sway, or bounce and sway. Fisher-Price admits "there’s no substitute for the
comfort of mom or dad’s arms." But still...
Features include a machine washable seat with a plush insert, calming vibrations,
and 10 songs and nature sounds. There's also a mirror and three dangling toys.
Includes an AC adaptor.
Details: Fisher-Price, www.fisher-price.com. Price: $160. Ages: 0-2. Platform: Smart
Toy. Teaches/Purpose: a baby utility for parents. Entry date: 4/18/2016.
FurReal Friends Torch My Blazin' Dragon
This battery operated dragon has red LEDs in his (her) mouth, and the ability to
breath steam, so it appears that a red mist comes out of it's mouth. As with other
FurReal pets, the motions are activated by touching sensors on the snout.
Details: Hasbro, Inc., www.hasbro.com. Price: $80. Ages: 3-8. Platform: Smart Toy.
Teaches/Purpose: a watch me toy. Entry date: 4/19/2016.
Iconia One 10
Here's a solid, stable all purpose Android tablet with mid-quality speed, standard
batteries and a clear 10.1" screen. On first glance it looks like an iPad Air. But that's
where the comparison ends. Features include an Android Cortex A53 MT8163
processor, with a Quad-core 1.3 GHz 10.1" WXGA (1280 x 800)Wi-Fi1 GB, 32 GB Flash
Memory. The tablet has a 5 Megapixel rear camera and a 2 Megapixel front camera.
Details: Acer America Corporation, www.acer.com. Price: $150. Ages: 5-up.
Platform: Android. Teaches/Purpose: A tablet. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 3.7 stars. Entry
date: 4/7/2016. [WB]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value 10
8
74%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
Infinite Arcade, The by Tinybop
Make basic versions of four varieties of classic video games, like Space Invaders or
Pong, by dragging and dropping items onto your iPad screen and pressing "go". After
you create a player profile (name and avatar), you choose one of five game templates:
pinball, ball & paddle, platformer, maze, and a blank screen (our favorite).
You can either start with a pre-designed starter game, or drag-and-drop
components from screen bottom. The game templates have been inspired by the
classics. It is easy to see the influence of Mario Bros., Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Zelda,
and Breakout.
Materials include blocks of rocks, hot lava, water and dirt; and there are a variety
of transporters, a trampoline, crystal geysers, and disco bricks.
You can add enemies like zombies, evil snails, electromagnetic cats, and collectibles
like glittery skulls and gold coins. It is also possible to attach effects or sounds to
specific blocks, and customize the text that appears in the game.
Games are autosaved on each individual device, but can't be shared for others to
play. The bottom line? For $2.99, this is an excellent open-ended problem solving
experience that contains some of the core design elements of basic video games, and
lots of opportunities for debugging.
Details: Tinybop, Inc., www.tinybop.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 7-up. Platform: iPad.
Teaches/Purpose: creativity, game design, art, temporal relations. Rating (1 to 5 stars):
4.8 stars. Entry date: 4/26/2016. [WB]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
9
96%
10
10
9
10
IQ Safari MATH
Solid, straightforward math facts practice experience with a safari theme, designed
to quiz children on four operations. The illustrations are mid-quality, but that doesn't
get in the way of the carefully leveled problems.
After you create a profile, you can play in one four different modes: Practice,
Lessons, Test and Games. As you play, you increase in rank until you've solved over
10 hours of problems. We liked how the answers are instantly scored.
Content includes: 24 new collectible cards; 15 new achievements and accessories for
the avatars; Multi user for families and school classes; relaxing mini games (Memory
cards, Treasure Hunting, Bubble pop); Drawing Board and Help tips for each lesson; 6
languages (English, Swedish, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian). The game also
has a parent or teacher mode that lets you view each individual student's achievement
and lock and unlock lessons and chapters for each student.
Details: Mabozo AB, http://www.mabozo.com/. Price: $2.99. Ages: 9-12. Platform:
iPad, iPhone, Apple TV. Teaches/Purpose: math facts, addition, subtraction, division,
multiplication. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.3 stars. Entry date: 4/12/2016. [WB]
Labo Paper Plate
Teach children how to make simple crafts using paper plates with this set of 12
step-by-step projects, plus 11 games and activities. You can let children make a dog,
hen, duck, musical instrument, cars, elephant, frog, monster, penguin, and pig; color
the crafts with 11 colors; and save crafts gallery (unlimited). Languages include
English, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and
Traditional Chinese.
Details: Labo Lado Inc., www.labolado.com. Price: $1.99. Ages: 3-7. Platform: iPad,
Android. Teaches/Purpose: . Entry date: 8/19/2015.
9
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
8
9
8
8
10
86%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
LightUp Edison Kit
What if you could "see" electricity? Here's a combo app/maker kit that leverages
the power of your tablet's camera to make this look possible. The smaller of two kits,
LightUp Edison contains a set of snap-together magnetic circuit blocks that you can
use to create a circuit. Next, you download the LightUp Learning app (for iPad and
iPhone) for debugging or for viewing the function of each part. The app includes
introductory project ideas as well. LightUp Lens, the in-app augmented reality feature,
helps kids out when things don't work.
The Edison Kit projects include a flashlight, an SOS beeper, a voltage meter and
more. The larger LightUp Tesla Kit is compatible with the Edison Kit, and lets you
make more projects. In the box: a rechargeable battery, a red LED, buzzer, light sensor,
momentary switch, a 50k variable resistor and wire blocks.
Details: LightUp, Inc. , http://www.lightup.io/#. Price: $50. Ages: 11-up.
Platform: Smart Toy, iPad, iPhone. Teaches/Purpose: science, logic, electricity, circuits.
Entry date: 4/29/2016.
MarcoPolo Arctic
This third MarcoPolo app isn't as good as the first two, but it does succeed in
providing a sandbox-style setting where you can explore basic Arctic life.
Some of the animals become animated after they are assembled, jigsaw style.
Others simply respond to the touch. The illustrations are nicely adapted for a tabletsized screen and the narration is clear.
Content includes four puzzles (land animals, land and sea animals, whales, and
birds) with 30 arctic animals, six different types of food (feed the polar bear, and help
the musk ox graze) and three types of arctic environments (tundra, taiga, and ocean).
Details: MarcoPolo Learning, www.gomarcopolo.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 4-12.
Platform: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch (iOS 8.0 or later). Teaches/Purpose: science,
ecosystems, the arctic. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.2 stars. Entry date: 8/12/2015. [WB]
Miaomiao’s Chinese New Year
Designed to introduce Chinese traditions and basic Mandarin vocabulary, this is a
narrated story (in English) with 70 interactions (hot spots) designed to illustrate key
words.
In the story children join Miaomiao and her puppy Doudou as they set off to find
the stolen New Year dumplings and save the Lantern Festival.
Content includes five mini-games: Making Dumplings, Connect the Stars, Build a
Bridge, Dragon Dance and a Matching Card Game plus 20 early learning Mandarin
vocabulary words.
The parent options provide ideas to extend the content.
A partner website features Mandarin activity sheets, coloring sheets, Chinese
character practice sheets, lesson plans for teachers, cultural crafts, Chinese recipes, and
weekly updates.
Details: Mark Animation, http://markanimation.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 3-5.
Platform: iPad, iPhone. Teaches/Purpose: Mandarin chinese. Entry date: 1/15/2015.
10
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
9
8
8
9
8
84%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
MLB The Show 16
According to the publisher, new 2016 features for The Show include "ShowTime",
to offer a more personalized experience that acknowledges your career baseball
moments plus a new “Topps Prospect Showcase”, with a new 20 - 80 scale scouting
report.
Other modes include Conquest (a single-player online experience that lets you
travel around North America); Battle Royale (take a drafted squad through a singleplayer, online tournament) and a Revamped Franchise Mode (take the reins and run a
big league ball club in Franchise Mode).
A new Player Morale system can have a big effect on your team’s on-field
performance.
Details: Sony Computer Entertainment America, www.us.playstation.com. Price:
$59.99. Ages: 8-14. Platform: PlayStation 4. Teaches/Purpose: sports, baseball. Entry
date: 4/7/2016.
Monopoly Ultimate Banking
This year's edition of Monopoly uses a small battery operated card reader. Every
card in the game has a printed optical code, and each player gets a bank card to store
money. The rents increase as the game progresses, or can suddenly decrease if say, a
tornado hits. The cards have printed marks that are scanned by a portable optical
reader. For two to four players.
Details: Hasbro, Inc., www.hasbro.com. Price: $25. Ages: 8-up. Platform: Smart
Toy. Teaches/Purpose: money, economics. Entry date: 4/19/2016.
11
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
Montessori Numbers: Learn to Count from 1 to 1000
Designed in France, this elegant early math app was originally published in 2012.
The 2016 edition contains two additional number sandboxes that are ideal for letting a
child freely tinker with early mathematical relationships.
1 to 20 (the first menu option) starts by offering a choice between three levels: 0 to
5, 0 to 10 and 11 to 20. You can then freely drag-and-drop blocks to build the numbers
in order. When your set is complete, you are rewarded by a block building activity,
where everything on the screen can be moved around or stacked.
Quantity is a base 10 activity ideal for showing you how numerals can be
represented by beads, number bars, or number squares. If you like, you can hide the
numerals to work specifically on the association of number names with quantities. You
can also touch placed beads to hear them counted out loud. There are 3 levels of
difficulty: 0 to 9, 10 to 99 and 100 to 999; or you can set your own number range.
100 Board lets you fill in a 100's grid, one numeral at a time. As you do the
numerals are read out loud in a clear voice. If you're a teacher, you'll love this on the
big screen, because you can toggle on/off hints or let children see how quickly they
can illustrate patterns
Numerals specifically asks you to find a spoken number on a number line. Each
experiment is labeled in clear speech, and illustrated in real time, showing children the
size of the numeral they have discovered.
Numerals (from quantity) associates a quantity with a given numeral. This time,
you're asked to build the number that matches a quantity, displayed as blocks. For
numerals greater than 10, this can be hard, because the child has to consider decimals.
Tracing Numerals lets you trace each numeral using a range of animated effects
that make your finger feel powerful. There are sparkles, swirling stars and so on that
are very responsive and fun to explore.
This app is loaded with ways to customize the experience, which makes it
appealing to classroom teachers. It's now possible to set your own custom number
range, between 1 and 999), and many of the activities include the ability to freely stack
objects or scribble with fountains of stars. Other features include your choice of three
English dialects (American English, British English and Australian English). You can
also adjust the sounds, decide if the numeral 4 should have an open or closed top, and
keep records for different children. Children are automatically assigned a profile, as
User 1, User 2, etc.). It is rare to find an early math app that offers this type of number
range and flexibility.
Details: L’Escapadou, lescapadou.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 3-7. Platform: iPad,
iPhone. Teaches/Purpose: math, counting, math facts. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.8 stars.
Entry date: 4/19/2016. [WB]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
9
96%
10
9
10
10
Multiply With Me
Practice your times tables with your voice, with this straightforward quiz app. The
"Learn" mode is rather dry, with step-by-step tutorials that deal with grouping, arrays
and skip counting.
There's also a times table. Multiply with Me is a fun and engaging app that helps
kids learn multiplication facts. The app is powered by a well designed speech
recognition engine that works well nearly every time. There are also a few rather
clunky learning activities and a times table unscrambling game.
Note that we reviewed the full version, which is currently $free on iTunes. We
were told by the publisher that an IAP version is planned with limited teaser content
(only facts up to 5x5 in the free version). The app uses the KaldiIOS speech framework.
Details: Keen Research, LLC, www.keenresearch.com. Price: $free with IAP. Ages:
6-10. Platform: iPad, iPhone, Apple TV. Teaches/Purpose: Multiplication, math, times
tables, math facts. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.2 stars. Entry date: 4/7/2016. [WB]
12
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
9
9
8
8
8
84%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
Night of the Living Debt
Designed for older children (in high school and college), this app is designed to
introduce credit issues and debt. The game is complicated at first and it takes a few
rounds to figure out some of the big concepts (like the importance of going into debt to
get your credit rating up).
In the game, you survive a zombie outbreak with the right financial decisions. If
you use your credit card correctly and manage your college loans, you can stay alive. If
not, you start over. The game helps you understand that zombies and debts have a lot
in common. They make you stay on your toes and you should be prepared to handle
them - or you may be "eaten alive" by bad credit.
The grant-funded game is free, and designed to be used alone or in group/school
settings. Learn more at http://apps.nmsu.edu/
Details: Learning Games Labs, http://learninggameslab.org/. Price: $free. Ages: 4up. Platform: iPad, iPhone. Teaches/Purpose: money, economics. Entry date:
4/21/2016.
NumberShapes Whiteboard
Every elementary or middle school math teacher needs this powerful math visual
aide hooked up to his or her projector. It quietly connects the movement of your finger
(s) on the screen with mathematical relationships. Swipe left or right on a numerator to
see a pie chart change. Do an outward pinch to change the number of slices in the pie,
or an inward pinch to reduce the fraction.
There are four options on the main menu: Fractions, Integers, Decimals and
Multiply. In each case the sets or graphs change every time you touch the screen. This
app could be used as a standalone activity or with written exercises. The main content
is targeted at 4-8 year olds but it could be useful for upper grades as well.
Details: NumberShapes, http://number-shapes.com/. Price: $1.99. Ages: 4-8.
Platform: iPad. Teaches/Purpose: math: counting, fractions, addition, subtraction,
decimals. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.6 stars. Entry date: 4/19/2016. [WB]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
9
93%
10
N
8
10
Sago Mini Robot Party
Freely mix and match robot parts, and then take them apart in this well designed,
very responsive, sandbox-like app that can work with one or more children at the same
time. As with other Sago apps, this is a nice addition to a child's first app library.
You start by picking one of eight robot bodies that vary slightly in shape and
design. Next you drag and drop heads, hands, feet and outfits onto (or off of) your
robot. We like how easy it is to be silly with this app. You can use the sock for a head
for example, or put two heads on the feet, and flip your robot upside down. There are
just enough combinations to try. The next step involves spinning a dial to charge your
robot and then taking it apart to play musical instruments, or to break a piñata. The
last step involves a visit to a photo booth, which saves a picture in your photo library
(along with Sago branding). This is a no-fail starter app with limited, yet endless
possibilities. Note that there are neither ethnic or gender clues in this app, and you can
turn off the "Sago News" setting in the your iPad's Settings (Scroll down to the Robot
Party icon).
Details: Sago Mini, www.sagomini.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 2-6. Platform: iPad,
iPhone. Teaches/Purpose: causality, creativity. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.9 stars. Entry
date: 4/22/2016. [WB]
13
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
10
9
10
10
10
98%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
This is My Spacecraft - Rocket Science for Kids
This solid space-related app is full of space-travel-related facts to discover.
Innovative features include the ability to record your own instructions. There are
seven "chapters" presented in sequence - from dressing your astronaut (by dragging
and dropping the parts into place), to exploring the Solar System. Each chapter
contains five or so small interactive activities that let you get your hands into the
concepts.
Teachers will like the additional materials, on the publisher's web site,as PDF
documents.
Details: Urbn Pockets, www.urbn-pockets.com. Price: $2.99. Ages: 6-8. Platform:
iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch. Teaches/Purpose: science, language, solar system, space
travel, the moon. Rating (1 to 5 stars): 4.2 stars. Entry date: 4/5/2016. [WB]
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
8
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
9
Ease of Use
Educational
Entertaining
Design Features
Good Value
7
84%
8
9
8
9
Time Drop - The Colorful Time Travel
Does the world need another version of Bejeweled or Candy Crush? Following a
familiar fun formula, Time Drop lets you swipe through drops of paint to score points.
The more connections you make the faster you get to the next level. The levels are
themed to reflect time travel and the illustrations are well done. As you'd expect, this
game starts easy but gradually gets harder and more expensive to play, because you
can buy coins to continue. It is possible to save progress and resume play.
Details: faktor zwei gmbh, www.faktor-zwei.ch. Price: $free with IAP. Ages: 4-up.
Platform: iPad, iPhone. Teaches/Purpose: logic, spatial relations. Rating (1 to 5 stars):
4.3 stars. Entry date: 4/19/2016. [WB]
86%
8
9
7
Veggie Bottoms Kitchen
Forty real vegetarian recipes show how common vegetables, nuts, dairy products
and fruits can be mixed and matched to make up different foods. The recipes are
illustrated with step-by-step animated graphics, or you can view a traditional printed
recipe. It is also easy to sort by Dairy Free, Nut Free, Egg Free or Vegan. The dynamic
visual listing makes is easy to see how some common ingredients are used in many
recipes. It is also easy to pull up a particular category of product -- e.g., only Egg Free
for example.
There are two modes: Test Kitchen - a rather random feeling open-ended activity
where you freely combine up to four items into a smoothie, and Chef's Kitchen (the
best part) where you can browse recipes and follow the steps, one at a time. The design
is playful and the illustrations are nicely done, but the user experience could be
improved and it is fair to note that this app is reading intensive, with small fonts on a
regular sized iPad. For a child with food allergies, this app could be useful.
Details: Red Card Studios, http://www.redcardstudios.com. Price: $1.99. Ages: 4up. Platform: iPad, iPhone, Apple TV. Teaches/Purpose: nutrition, food. Rating (1 to 5
stars): 3.8 stars. Entry date: 4/13/2016. [WB]
14
8
7
8
8
76%
FEATURE REVIEWS, MAY 2016
View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer 2.0
This year's (2016) second edition of the View-Master comes with a longer title and
has been modified to handle larger smart phones (such as the iPhone 6). It has
"enhanced lenses and ergonomics, better audio with a headphone jack, a focal
adjustment feature for use without glasses and a built in iPhone 5 adapter.
New apps will include the View-Master Plus Pack ($20), in which you work
together as a team to solve riddles and escape a Labyrinth. This is a "asymmetric twoplayer game" meaning that one player (the “Escapee”) uses the View-Master viewer
and Labyrinth app, while other player acts as the “Guide” by using a physical book of
clues. The app presents a new game every time, with levels not only increase in
difficulty but are constantly moving as walls shift, puzzles evolve, and player
communication changes.
A second new release is the View-Master Experience Pack National Geographic
Dinosaurs ($15, ages 7-up) that lets you travel back to prehistoric time to see dinosaurs
in their natural habitats. You can examine dinosaur skeletons from different angles, or
hunt for food and avoid being eaten in a survival adventure game. Content includes
panoramic 3-D environments.
Details: Mattel, Inc., www.mattel.com. Price: $40. Ages: 7-up. Platform: Smart Toy,
iPad, iPhone, Android. Teaches/Purpose: VR, geography. Entry date: 4/8/2016.
15
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