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Monday, June 6, 2011

The good and bad of iPad apps for kids

I am a big fan of the iPad. My mom got me one and let me tell you, I cannot imagine life without it. And neither can Ranger. There are at least as many apps for him on the iPad as for me. I thought I would share my thoughts and opinions on some of these. Because I am still on crutches and haven't been out of the house and don't have anything else to write about.
- if you are getting an app for your child, stay away from free ones. They are free because there are advertisements, which the kids can easily tap onto.
- oh, and turn off your (enable the restrictions for) in app purchases.
Educational:
- our favorite right now is alpha tots. There is the normal singing of the alphabet, but each letter is presented with an activity, where the letter is used as a verb. You "add" candles to a cake, you "build" a robot, etc. I haven't seen any others where the letters are presented in verb form. Ranger quickly picked up on many of the actions, and will grow into others. My only complaint has been that in order to change to a letter out of alphabetical order, you really have to hold your finger in one place for a while, which Ranger has trouble doing.
- a past favorite was BB Magic #1, also called BOB books. There are a series of images with three to four letter words for the child to spell out. The picture of the dog comes up with faded "d" "o" "g" and letter tiles floating around with matching letters. Ranger has gotten quite good at matching the letters, though not in the correct order (the second level requires the letters to be in order). I wish there were more series like this, because Ranger has since tired of the pictures.
- First Letters is a nice iPhone app that works well enough on the iPad. Ranger likes to play this one, though he refuses to do it himself. He grabs an adult's finger and moves it to match the letter tiles.
- Kids Spanish is an app Ranger seems to enjoy popping in and out of, going to the different categories (sports, letters, animals, etc) and he will listen to one word over and over. I don't think it would teach him Spanish, but I thought it might help make the sounds familiar.
-SoundTouch is Ranger's favorite place to go for sounds. Animals, domestic and wild, vehicles, musical instruments, and household sounds all have images he can press to hear several different examples of the sound made by the thing pictured (IRL pictures accompany the sounds)
- my least favorite is ABC phonics. With the sound off it is fine. But without the sound Ranger doesn't enjoy it. This app has images, very cartoonish, of animals, the name spelled out so that an older kid could trace over the letters, and if you touch the image, it makes a sound which I can only assume someone honestly thinks these animals make. That would be true if you were, I don't know, deaf and using a horror film sound effects machine poorly labeled. Every animal sounds like it is on it's violent death bed. Ranger of course enjoys the most annoying of these, the camel.
Books:
- Our all time favorite is "Moo, Baa, La,La, La" by Sandra Boynton. Every page has interactive images, from pigs that rotate, to cows you can make wiggle and moo. Some of the interactions are so cute that you cant help but keep playing with them. Our favorite is on the page with the dogs and cats. If you pull back on the images, you can fling them forward. The dogs lose their collars, which will stay at the bottom of that page. So when you flip the page and turn back, the dogs and cats are back and can be flung again, but the old collars are there too. We've built quite the pile playing with this page. Once you close out of the program, the collars go away. Too fun!
- "Nighty Night" is a great app that allows the user to turn out the lights for various farm animals. It is the perfect going to bed book. Of course, Ranger wants to play with this book all times of the day, because he likes to press the light switches. Before you turn the light out, mess with the animals a bit. You can get the hen to lay an egg, and the duck to go under water!
-There are several books that are great when in auto play mode (a narrator reads and the pages turn automatically): "Green Eggs and Ham"
"The Emperor's New Clothes" by ireading HD8
"The Ugly Duckling" by kidztory 10
"Grover's Farm"
Entertainment:
This could be, understandably, the largest category. For that reason, I will post it another day.

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