Carissa's App Picks for Kids - June 29, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

These are Carissa's app picks from the past month. You can see all of her picks on the Library's website and, if you want to learn even more, come to The Supper Club at the Alicia Ashman Library on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:00. Bring your family, bring your dinner and discover new apps... together!

Moonbeeps: Gizmo

Moonbeeps: Gizmo

Reviewed on 06/24/16

An authentic dashboard for your pretend rocketship! This app invites users to create a play rocketship (they give instructions for making one from cardboard, but of course, you’re welcome to build it however you’d like!) and then use this app as the control panel. It’s got lots of buttons and levers and switches, it makes a whole bunch of different sound effects from calm beeps all the way to a more emergency-sounding alarm buzz. Some of the buttons you press (or levers you pull down or switches that you flip) make a light come on or change something on the control panel. Sometimes those lights change your ability to interact with another part of the control panel.  One of the windows opens to reveal a field of stars which are sometimes still (although if you move your tablet around it gives a very 3D effect as though you are looking all around your spaceship) and are sometimes zooming past as though you are traveling at light speed. There is no right or wrong way to interact with this app, no beginning or end to the play possibilities, so users could also make this into the control panel on the front of a robot costume or equipment in a science lab or build a flying saucer or submarine.  The sky is the limit!

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Platform: iOS
Keyword tags: Creativity, Engineering, Technology, Things that Go

Knock-knock with Bato

Knock-knock with Bato

Reviewed on 06/19/16

Knock-knock, who’s there? Come along with Bato the bat as she collects her friends for a music jamboree! Knock on each door, then guess who lives inside by the sound of the reply.  Sometimes it’s an animal, sometimes it’s an instrument, but all are eager to join in the parade back to Bato’s house to make some music together. This app is perfect for very young players as the gameplay is exactly the same each time.  The more they practice, the better they get at guessing who lives in each house.  If you guess wrong, the resident gives you a little visual clue (like sticking their tail out the window or waving a hoof) and you can guess again as often as you need to. The watercolor illustrations, cheerful catchy music (which increases in complexity as more friends are added to the parade) and Bato’s friendly encouraging personality give this app a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Be sure to check out the parent’s section for some ideas on how to play this game off-screen too!

Age group: Baby/toddler, Preschool
Platform: iOS
Keyword tags: Animals, Book App, Celebrations, Concepts, Early Literacy, Games, Music, Things that Go

Bla Bla Box

Bla Bla Box

Reviewed on 06/18/16

Hear the words you spell! Does your child like to string letters together and then ask you what they spell? Or are they old enough to write sentences on their own?  Either way, they’ll probably enjoy this deceptively simple app. To play, drag letters up from the alphabet at the bottom of the screen onto the “desktop” and the app will read the words you’ve created.  The app reads every letter and letter combination that’s placed on the desktop, so if you’re spelling “ROBOT” you’ll also hear pronunciations of “RO,” “ROB,” etc. on the way to the finished word. This is an excellent way for kids to figure out how language works.  What letter changes the vowel sound from long to short? What happens when I spell something wrong? (the app will attempt to speak anything remotely pronounceable, and will just say the string of letters if it’s not possible, but if the word is misspelled but still works phonetically, the app will still pronounce it.  It’s not a spell-check app and should probably not be used to practice your weekly spelling list.) If users type in a “naughty” word there’s sort of a snide giggle that happens instead of the app reading the word aloud (although I did not test ALL the naughty words!). The app is available in 5 languages.  One language (of your choice) is included with the initial app download and if you’d like to access other languages, they’re available as in-app purchases. This app can also work with the wooden letters by Marbotic -- instead of dragging letters up from the bottom of the screen, you can turn those letters off and just tap the screen with the wooden letters instead.  Simple, elegant, and a fun way to explore language and spelling!

 

Age group: Preschool, Grades K-2
Platform: iOS
Keyword tags: Concepts, Early Literacy, Spanish, Vocabulary, Writing

Sound Salad

Sound Salad

Reviewed on 06/15/16

Challenge your listening ears in this unique matching game! In Sound Salad, players listen to a sound and must match it to the correct picture.  Some of the matches are simple (a dog barking goes with the picture of a dog), others are more subtle (a rhythmic pattern is represented by strategically placed stones), and yet others are a bit imaginative (what sound DOES a zebra make?) but players can choose their preferred level of difficulty, all the way up to an advanced, timed level. The found-object collage style art is fantastic and lends a welcome sense of texture to this already sensory-rich app.The game itself is great practice in phonological awareness--the ability to distinguish different sounds-- which is a very important element of early literacy as well as musical proficiency.

Age group: Preschool
Platform: iOS
Keyword tags: Animals, Concepts, Early Literacy, Games, Music