A Christmas Carol Drawn & Told is a stellar universal adaptation of the class Dickens tale of the same name.
I am very impressed with the quality of this app which includes more than 300 beautiful drawings, as highly these stylized images are used to illustrate this lengthy story, complete with fabulous narration.
Users simply sit back and listen to this classic story, gazing at wonderful artwork which brings great dimension to this Dickens tale.
These images are often dark, moody and simply gorgeous to look at, making this not just a topical app for Christmas, but ideal for anyone who needs to study A Christmas Carol in school, especially those who enjoy graphic novels as they are often haunting as well as edgy at times as well as beautiful to look at, making this app stand out from other re-tellings of this story.
There is also a slight use of the Ken Burns effect – the panning and zooming of these illustrations to draw the eye – quite effective in the support of this storytelling.
The narration is top-notch in every way, if not spoken a little fast, but not difficult to get used to hearing. A few other voice actors are also incorporated for a great effect which I really appreciate.
I remember reading this lengthy book in high school, and I would have really appreciated this app a great deal. For me, my best comprehension came from both listening to a story at this point from a borrowed set of records from our public library, reading along word for word. This is how I read works like Shakespeare, Catch-22 or Native Son, and it really worked for me quite well.
This app does not include the text, but the illustrations are so very vivid, students of all ages will find themselves engaged, fully understanding and even enjoying this story, especially those students not looking forward to reading Dickens by themselves.
I appreciate that this app is broken down by chapter and allows readers to pick up where they left off as well as including information about Dickens that I found interesting.
I highly recommend this app for all students who are reading A Christmas Carol as well as for teachers in a classroom setting, especially at such an affordable price. I am unclear if this is an abridged version of the classic, but even if so, with almost two jours of narration, there is enough content here to be a valuable adaptation worthy of being used in class to understand the major plot points and concepts.
I would love to see more classic literature adapted this way, as this is a perfectly realized re-telling of a classic story.
iActive Christmas Carol – Unabridged, as the name may suggest, is an unabridged adaptation of the Charles Dickens Classic Tale: A Christmas Carol.
This app is without narration but includes both Victorian-inspired drawings as well as interactions that one can explore when reading this story.
The pages of this app have distressed edges, adding a vintage feel to this app that I appreciate, but the total lack of sound comes across as unfinished. I would rather listen to ambient sounds such as the crackle of a fire while on text pages or the sounds one would expect to find while performing included interactions, such as metallic or subtle ticking sounds one may expect if a watch were bouncing around the page or liquid sloshing sounds as a wine bottle is being tossed around the screen. I also find some of the interactions to be a little on the nose but can be fun to move about the screen.
I do wish page numbers could be included to keep track of one’s space in this book as there is no place-saving included.
It is worth noting that this app will open to the last page if iActive Christmas Carol is left running in the background of one’s iPad. This feature should be included intentionally as well.
A menu of pages is included that one can go through, but from a distance each of the pages without interactions looks the same. Readers can still take a few minutes to find the place where they left off.
Even with these notes, iActive Christmas Carol is worth taking a look at if one is in need of an unabridged version of this story that includes some interactive elements and illustrations.
Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is a splendid educational app for iPad 2 and beyond that does a thorough job of explaining the American Revolution and the details of Paul Revere’s ride.
Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is a new app in a series of Ansel & Clair apps that revolves around intergalactic travelers Ansel, a travel photographer from planet Virtoos and Clair, the Virtoosian robot who accompanies Ansel to Boston at the start of the American Revolution to take historical photographs used to teach other Virtoosians distant history.
During their visit, children, along with Ansel and Clair, will be led through a collection of scenes that bring much life and detail to the American Revolution through a variety of interactions, such as the ability to take photographs of important people and events or meet key characters who explain the issues of the day such as the Boston Tea Party in ways that will stick with children.
Children will also be quizzed on what they have learned along the way as well as incorporating puzzles, mini-games, poetry and art, all bringing great richness to this experience.
I have enjoyed Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride a great deal, learning a lot of historical details I had forgotten many years ago, and I am sure this app would educate children about the American Revolution as they are kept engaged and entertained. An excellent use of music is also present, creating a lot of drama and suspense that will keep children engaged as they learn about American History.
I also really appreciate the mild science fiction aspect to this story when Ansel & Clair are discovered and are allowed to tag along as observers as long as they do not affect the history unfolding, bringing another layer to this experience.
Multiple players can keep create accounts holding their space through this lengthy application – a very nice touch.
There is so much to say about all the details included within this Ansel & Clair app that reviewing it is a daunting process, but I do feel very excited to recommend this app to all ages of children – older preschool through fifth grade and beyond.
As the weather gets cold and families travel, parents begin looking for applications to entertain their children for long stretches while feeling good about the screen time their children are exposed to.
Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride consists of many hours of historically accurate information and a sizable amount of interactions and activities that will leave children with a greater sense of understanding of American history after they have completed this app, making the time they have spent with Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride well worth it.
Do be aware that this app would also make a wonderful gift of substance for other families as well as those who have access to an iPad 2 or higher.
Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is a stellar choice for the educational setting, as this information is delivered in a way most multi-sensory, making great use of iPad technology, especially for students who may be reluctant readers who would thrive on meeting the historical cast of characters who talk about their lives first.
I sincerely hope Cognitive Kids continues to add applications to this series as Ansel and Clair apps are perfectly realized educational apps every child could benefit from.
Disney American Presidents is a impressive app for iPad which contains a great deal of information on each of the U.S. presidents in a way that is humorous and engaging, based on the Disney DVD series, The American Presidents.
Styled as the “Un-official Oval Office Scrap Book,” there is a page dedicated to each president and consists of a handful of items pertinent to these leaders that can each be tapped to learn more. Also included are fun sound effects and short written sections that include more information about each president or the time period in general.
A short sound bite is also included that can be heard with a tap, consisting of a few words that express what stands out most about each of these presidents.
By far, the best feature of this app are the videos included for each president.
I admire the use of multimedia within these videos, making them utterly engaging and oftentimes showing off a smart sense of humor as well as interviews from such knowledgeable people as Bob Woodward, Mo Rocca or Sam Donaldson.
Disney American Presidents is a terrific app for grade school children. I do appreciate that the good as well as the bad moments in office have been discussed, creating complex characters for kids to think about such as Richard Nixon, as well as unflattering details like the unpleasantness of John Adams, which will seem relevant and honest to children.
I also enjoy that the lesser known presidents are also represented here and given the same general lengths of time, this app doing their best to make the story of these presidents as interesting as the rest.
A few options are included, such as being able to choose music to coincide with the era a chosen president is a part of or a common theme song for this app, Battle Hymn of the Republic. One can also see as well as gain access to all the presidents laid out on a single page, arranged in order as well as color codes by era – a nice touch.
Adults may find the wit displayed in these videos familiar as Disney has teamed up with a producer from The Daily Show and Colbert Report to create these shorts which surpass the category of being solely for children, as my husband and I have really enjoyed these modern takes a great deal.
Some parents may raise an eyebrow, however at the mention of an inappropriate relationship with an intern during Bill Clinton’s video, but as this was an important detail leading to his trial for impeachment, this detail needs to be touched upon, which it is within this video in a delicate nature I was satisfied by.
It is worth noting that I have had problems with the sound portion of this app, as the music, sound effects and sound bites have at moments stopped working during my time exploring this app – a disappointment that I hope can be fixed in a later update. Luckily, the videos have not been affected, so there still more than enough content allowing me to easily recommend this app.
I would also like to note that although I really appreciate not needing an internet connection to use this app, but the size of this app at 1.02 GB is quite large – large enough in fact that some families may have issues downloading this app to their iPad in terms of space.
Although I find this app important enough in terms of wonderfully educational tool to make room for it on one’s iPad so that children can learn from this resource, I would love to see this app optimized in the future.
Only time will tell if this app is updated to reflect the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, an update I would love to see included in the future.
PHLIP is an interesting and engaging puzzle app for both children as well as adults. It is a universal app, but do note that a camera is necessary to make this app compatible with one’s device.
Said to be a combination of the words Photo and Flip, PHLIP is a really creative puzzle app where one uses a photo from their device or snaps a new image to include as the background of an intriguing puzzle app.
Once a background is selected, players can choose the number of pieces their new puzzle will contain – between four and twenty tiles that will rotate independently, breaking up the original photograph.
Gameplay here is simple to grasp yet these puzzles can become quite complicated to complete, as one can tap to select tiles to either rotate or lock as players tilt their device clockwise or counter-clockwise to make these tiles rotate into their rightful places.
I appreciate how the same photo can be an easy or more difficult puzzle, depending on the number of tiles included, making this app a great choice in puzzle activity for children of all ages – preschool and up – as well as adult.
There is a very nice level of polish that has gone into this app, as fun, quirky sound effects are included each time a tile is rotated, and players are also able to see the completed puzzle with a tap, allowing players to also go back and complete their work after being given help if feeling stuck.
The number of moves needed to solve these puzzles is retained but is unintrusive enough – good to know as I don’t always find that score-keeping adds to my enjoyment of a game or activity.
Another function of this app is the ability to challenge friends and family who have downloaded this app with solving puzzles that one has personally created – a nice touch as I can see puzzle enthusiasts sharing photos among friends, sending these puzzle backgrounds back and forth via email.
Although players are encouraged to create intricate photo experiences to capture in order to make unique and creative puzzles, I have had very good success in finding images from my camera that I have enjoyed turning into photos, as my son has taken to creating architectural photographs of his Lincoln Log structures that he enjoys building which have become great fodder for some interesting puzzles.
I enjoy the interactive elements included within this app as well, as players need to select, de-select, and re-select tiles to be rotated, giving busy fingers and minds a lot to focus on, as does the tilting of the device in a way that I think could be very engaging as well as calming to my sometimes antsy son.
Although not specifically educational, I enjoy my own thought process as I work on these rotated puzzle elements, looking for pieces with recognizable landscapes and working my way out from there.
Depending on the image used, these puzzles can be simple, difficult, or simply time-consuming, often requiring focus and patience that adults can adjust for their children or themselves to be challenged at a level they will get the most from.
Although this app was designed for one to create stylized photos to thoughtfully make puzzles, I think this app could creatively take photos very much in the moment that adults and children could enjoy as they are out and about, making this a wonderful puzzle choice to pass the time for all ages.
PHLIP is truly an app that you make not only your own, but you get what you put into this app in terms of creating the perfect puzzles to spend time with.
Magic Forest HD Pro is a physics-based game for iPad with a lovely sense of style, including eighty unique levels to explore. An iPhone version of this app exists, as do free iPad and iPhone versions with advertising.
There are many variations of this style of game in the iTunes store such Cut the Rope, but I enjoy the look of this app, with backgrounds reminiscent of water color or batik artwork and include forest motifs that I find appealing and a little different from what is commonly found in a game such as this.
Here, one is looking to help these pets into their basket, breaking glass bricks or other obstacles that prevent these animals from typically falling into where they belong.
Many of these levels also include other elements that a small amount of text will explain regarding new game play details such as the use of logs, jelly or balloons as well as other objects that can increase one’s score such as candy, gems or coins.
Fun, almost Victorian carnival-like music is included, also adding to the mystical tone that has been created here that may be of interest to both adults as well as older children who enjoy flexing their logic and reasoning abilities as they need to select what bricks or other items to wisely remove first.
I do recommend that if this app is purchased, there is an adult seasoned in games such as this to help out at trickier levels.
It would be nice if a hint button could be included within this application to aid children who come to an impasse so they could get full use from this application, possibly highlighting the object to remove in sequence, walking children through a level if necessary.
Such a button is not traditionally included within these types of applications but would be a worthwhile addition that would make this app really stand out as a good choice when purchasing a physics-based application for children.
The ability to skip a level is included as an in-app purchase – an option that would be nice if hidden so that a frustrated child does not feel the need to spend extra money within a paid application – a great pet peeve of mine.
Instead, I would love to see this app break convention and leave all these levels unlocked, allowing users to skip levels as I have never found being locked out of part of an app ever added to my sense of accomplishment in the least.
Even with these notes, I do really appreciate how pretty this game is and how nice the music is to listen to.
I also enjoy how nature is depicted here very much and although he is young for this app now, I would be happy for my son to spend time figuring out how to get the animals into their baskets.
Nevertheless, I believe my boy would enjoy this game more with hints that he could access himself when stuck instead of asking an adult for help.
WitchOfEast is a wonderful storybook app for iPad – perfect for children who enjoy a scary story.
WitchOfEast is a skillfully written story – very classic in nature about a Witch of the East who is intent on getting her hands on fairies, tricking them in a way most terrible for them, but creating a great read for children and adults. I don’t want to give much away in this review as I thoroughly enjoyed the plot twists the first time I read this story, enjoying how original this tale is, yet with nuances of many favorite Grimms and other dark fairy tales that I grew up loving as a child.
Without interactions or animated elements, this is an app to sit back with and enjoy without any distractions. The illustrations included are simply stellar, with a terrific ability to be beautiful, yet have moments of great gruesomeness as well – for a great effect.
The story itself is crafted in rhyme – a style often used in storybooks, yet it is uncommon for a rhyming tale to be this effective, as here the superb narrators are Braveheart actor Jimmy Chisholm and Royal Shakespeare Company actress Siobhan Redmond, who both bring much comprehension to this storytelling.
Although the words are not highlighted when read, the pages are broken into verses which make the following along easier. I also appreciate the interesting-to-look-at yet easy-to-read font choice used within the text – a small detail not to be overlooked within a wordy story such as this, making the readability that much greater for children to follow along.
Music of a very high quality is also included, adding another element which creates a rich experience for readers.
I also appreciate the section of this is app where one can meet the characters found throughout, very thoughtfully written and including a pertaining sound effect as well as illustration. It is impressive the amount of back story and extra information included for each character within this section, details I really enjoyed learning more about. This section is a fun read as it is not narrated, but I would welcome the chance to listen to this information as well, possibly in a future update.
A very nice page of biographies are included where readers can read up on the narrators, author and illustrator, a nice inclusion that I find unfortunately lacking from most other applications.
All of the visual and sound elements, the illustrations, narration and music are perfectly realized. Readers will miss nothing from this app not being interactive – an aspect I actually appreciate as a change from the highly interactive apps we also enjoy.
The only note I have is that the narration heard which asks readers to turn the page, although witty and clever, can be distracting as I oftentimes paused between pages to absorb the illustrations or re-read the text. Because of this, it would be nice to have the choice of turning these prompts off.
I cannot conceive of a typical reader doing a better job of reading this story out loud than the accomplished professionals this app includes, but I think some parents may want to read this app to their children, or older kids might want to read this story to themselves. For this reason, it would be nice to be able to turn off the narration as well.
I really enjoy this ghostly story involving witches and ghouls very much as an adult, and would have great fun with this title as a child as well, but I was a rare breed of kid who enjoyed scary movies and stories from a very young age. For the average child, this tale may be best for grade school or beyond, but I am sure older preschool-age children who enjoy being scared by stories can enjoy this app as well.
Let’s Color! is a wonderful animated coloring book for iPad that children and adults will love to explore.
I absolutely enjoy this cute and quirky art application. This app allows children to be highly creative yet work off prompts both seen as uncompleted drawings as well as text, both spoken and written, that trigger children’s imagination instead of trying to be inspired by a blank page.
The illustration that children are adding to is also quite child-like, making non-drawers comfortable with their level of drawing skills – an issue my son has as he is aware of this lack of representational drawing ability.
As this app opens up, children are first asked, “What is coming out of the hose?” allowing children to then answer this question with any doodle they see fit with the use of many colors to choose from as well as different sized drawing points and even sticker choices.
Once children add whatever they imagine coming out of the hose, a tap will animate their drawing. Also included are fun sounds which really bring their work to life, here flushing different elements of their drawing out of the hose with great whimsy.
Other topics touched upon are “Can you make it snow?” which duplicates the snow drawn by readers, creating a confetti-like experience that then drops down to the bottom of the page; “Who is riding in these train cars?”, which is a great opportunity to use the included stickers, or even more open-ended questions such asking children what is being drunk out of large twisty straws, or an off-beat request such as “What could be coming out of this trumpet?”
Personally, I enjoy the toilet humor in this app as well, asking children to “Let’s draw poops” in a large yellow toilet center page, allowing the adding images to be flushed away, yet I can imagine some families being turned off by this section.
Although the saving of the original image created is possible, I would also like to return to these pages to re-watch the animated moment created for each section. Unfortunately, the drawing is not saved to re-watch once the page is turned – something I would love to see included in a future update.
I greatly admire how the children’s illustrations are de-constructed in creative ways to fit into this simple page story, and I find this app wonderful to encourage children like my son, who has shown vast creativity in storytelling, yet hesitate when it comes to drawing anything representational for fear of failing his personal standards.
It is worth noting that the first 18 pages of this app are free, with the ability to add another 16 sections for $1.99 as an in-app purchase. I don’t typically recommend an app with this format, but “Let’s Color” is a truly special experience with a tremendous value even without the in-app purchase – an option that can be hidden from children’s view, a nice touch.
From my perspective, Let’s Color is a must-download for any iPad owners with children. I admire the storytelling aspect of this app, triggering the imagination of children, complete with highlighted text with cute children’s narration which asks children to complete these drawings.
This is certainly an app that is hard to explain or describe with words alone, and I wonder if I have given justice to the experiences created. Luckily for readers, one can download it as a free app, and readers can see for themselves what all my fuss is about. Please note that another related app from these same developers is also available, Squiggles! If interested, please look for it in iTunes.
Monkeys in My Head is a very interesting interactive storybook app for iPad with a wonderfully quirky sense of style that will be a huge hit for families with an acquired taste for the offbeat.
Personally, I really enjoy this tale about the monkeys in the head of a girl who is the main character as they represent negative feelings such as self doubt or low self esteem. To deal with these monkey bullies, the girl devises a plan to rid herself of these creatures, and I admire how this story is up for interpretation as these monkeys could also be thought of as bullies in the flesh that children may encounter in school.
The look of this app is impressive, with a bleak gray and tan color scheme with few pops of color that I appreciate as something a little different that works quite well within this story, and the monkeys themselves have a level of grotesqueness that I find quite appealing without being over the top for a children’s story. A menu of pages is also included to help readers find specific moment of this story, always a nice touch.
This is not a story that all families will welcome, however, with the term “shut up” appearing on the first page, the use of “monkey pesticide” to subdue these creatures and the basic nastiness of these monkeys. Because of this, I wonder if the target age of this app is really older children who may be more prepared to enjoy this app than preschoolers or those younger, as the included animated moments bring to life the behaviors of these terrible monkeys in ways that may scare younger children.
It also gives me pause that one monkey is said to have “fat fingers” which to some, may lack sensitivity to those who may have weight issues, as this app is supposed to boost children’s confidence among the negative whispers one may hear in their heads. Therefore, using “fat” to describe these horrible beasts, as homely as they are cruel may send an unintended mixed message to the very group of impressionable children that this app is trying to reach.
Even with these issues that some may have with this app, the ending is quite moving and upbeat, redeeming itself from the dark place this app opens with.
The wonderfully styled drawings, narration and included music create a decidedly interesting and unique indie feel, making this app stand out among other storybooks found within iTunes which includes a powerful message about inner confidence that will be enjoyed very much by the right family, but this app is not for everyone.
Tick Bait’s Universe is a wonderful children’s science app for iPad that truly puts the universe into perspective in a way that children can understand, appreciate and enjoy.
Starting out, this app introduces readers a chance to view an ordinary dog, Tick Bait one meter, roughly three feet overhead, as he lays on his back in a backyard typical of many homes. From here, one has a chance to explore the unseen in either direction, zooming in or out closer or further to Tick Bait by the power of ten.
In choosing to investigate Tick Bait closer, the view becomes 1/10 of a meter (about four inches) close to Tick Bait and from here one has a view of the ticks this dog is carrying. Getting still closer makes children aware of the even smaller dog mites that are commonplace – a version of this mite also living on human hosts as well.
Zooming in further reveals the dog mites’ cells, and later bacteria and the even smaller viruses as well as even DNA. The app discusses such topics as DNA sequencing and zooms down small enough to atoms, their protons, neutrons, electrons and even the smaller ““quarks which ends this section, as matter can’t be broken down into smaller pieces.
Viewing Tick Bait from higher and higher vantage points is equally impressive, detailing such principles as different levels found within the atmosphere as well as an interesting view of Tick Bait’s house, neighborhood and state in which he lives, pulling out to see the Earth as a whole, later in orbit with the other planets until Earth is seen as simply part of the Milky Way and beyond. It ultimately shows a representation of the entire observable universe, ending this section of this highly engaging and educational app.
Do note that one may want to be view this app in landscape mode to make the most of this application as here, both the images as well as text are available, whereas the image is only seen within portrait mode.
There is so much information to be read about within this thoughtfully conceived application. I admire the structure of this app because of the way that it delivers all the included information. It is as easy to follow as it is engaging – with an abundance of interesting facts as well as fun true or false questions that add related information about topics at hand.
I also admire how one can move back and forth between tenfold distances with the pinch or spreading of fingers, the tap of a button or the scrolling between sections, and I appreciate all the additional information found within this app along the way as well including much about scientific notations and the concept of the power of ten. Because of this, metric measurements are used here but are roughly translated to imperial measurements as well.
Although this app does not contain narration, wonderful sound effects really bring these different vantage points to life, with each sound element well chosen and effective in making this app really come alive, even when simply moving from one tenfold to another, as well as when readers know they have zoomed in and out as far as possible.
This is a perfect science application for older grade school children and beyond, and is an app that adults will genuinely enjoy as well.
Without narration, readers rely on themselves or an adult to read the included text, making this an app possibly not fully suitable for younger children, but with the aid of an adult, I think that bright, curious children as young as late preschool could enjoy this app if it is read to them by an encouraging adult.
I have greatly enjoyed Tick Bait’s Universe, This app is one of a kind and is a wonderful app for home as well as school settings. I am eager to see what other apps the developers at You University Apps may come up with next as this application is top-notch in every way.