i Learn With Poko: Seasons and Weather! HD is another creative and fun educational app from Tribal Nova for iPad. Three sections are included that help pre-school and kindergarten kids learn the differences between each season as well as various types of weather. iPhone users keep an eye out for an iPhone version to be released in the future.
My son and I really enjoy this app, and I am happy to see a science app about the seasons and weather geared towards my boy who is only three+, something lacking currently in the iTunes store. Each section of this app has an interesting game where kids use clues they hear or see to complete these activities, helping two friendly and colorful children, Bebe and Poko, along the way.
The section Weather Conditions allows the players to help Bebe fill her photo album by choosing the correct pictures following clues given, narrowing down the choices until the correct picture is left. I like how this section uses the process of elimination to be left with the right answer, with hints such as “find three pictures where the sky is gray,” then “find two pictures where it is spring” and finally, being asked to find the picture where it has rained earlier that day. The magic behind this section is the logic and understanding used to follow through on these clues, as to find the spring photos, one must notice the flowers in bloom and the player becomes aware of which photo has puddles from previous rain as apposed to the photo where it is currently raining. I enjoy watching my son play this game, really focusing on the hint being narrated as he taps the correct photos in question.
In What To Wear, help Bebe and Poko take a photo, but be sure to correct any clothing errors or other mistakes they make in terms of seasonal appropriateness. You may find a winter hat or gloves being worn in the summer, shorts worn on a snowy winter day or objects that are out of season, such as a snowman in the summertime. Sometimes these mistakes are obvious, like wearing winter layers on a hot sunny day, but sometimes this section can be a little tricky, even for me as an adult. The first time I played this section with my son, I thought the rain boots the kids were wearing looked pretty good until I realized there was a better choice offered of winter boots with snow on them.
After playing this section once, it became clear to me what choices exist, but it may be a nice addiction to add seasonal or weather-appropriate closets one could look at to see what choices are available. I like that the camera which will take the photo when these mistakes are found has buttons that will light up when the errors are solved, showing how many problem areas are left to discover.
Another section, Fill Poko’s Calendar does a nice job of teaching about weather conditions and corresponding activities kids may do during these conditions. Fill in calendar days by tapping and dragging activities that match what the weather is like on a specific day, such as kite flying on a windy day or playing inside the house on a day that was stormy. I also like how the seasons are further demonstrated as each of these weeks takes place in a specific season, with weather that may occur during these times of the year and that each week has a corresponding month as part of the calendar as well. This also being a nice introduction to days of the week, months of the year, and calendars in general.
What impresses me about this app is how much listening and focusing on the task at hand is needed to solve these puzzles. My son really listens to the various clues and is able to make good choices on his own with some explanation of what he was looking at from me. I really like how this app prompted me as a parent to teach about weather, such as how one can tell by looking at a picture if it is windy, or what to look for to see if it had just rained or why is it incorrect for flowers to be blooming in the fall.
As with Tribal Nova’s earlier app, this application can be enjoyed by a child alone, but it is best used with an adult who can go into greater detail about all that can be learned here. I also appreciate how this app re-enforces my rules of needing a hat in the summer, something my son sometimes protests. I think it would even be nice if the characters were also wearing obvious white sunblock on their faces for the summer, something that may however be lost to children as many sunscreens these days go on clear. This would be a nice app for any child in the target age of 3-7, but also kids with special needs who may need help in remembering to dress appropriately for the weather, or who may benefit from exercising their listening skills.
In each of these sections, one can tap Murphy the monkey if in need of a hint, but it would a nice addition if Murphy’s hints were more teachable moments, giving specific hints about puddles after a rain storm, or leaves being picked up by the wind rather than more generic hints on game play. This one note aside, this is a lovely and fun learning app that teaches a lot about weather and seasons, something kids experience every day. I really like the clues given to these various sections, teaching kids not only about science, but in helping to strengthen listening comprehension skills in general.
Loris and the Runaway Ball is a simple and lovely universal storybook app about the dangers of running into the street after a run-away ball.
As a parent, one of my biggest concerns is that my fearless child will run into the street to collect a stray ball or other toy and get hit by an oncoming car. As much as we talk about this in order to reinforce this important lesson, I worry that it is never enough for this utterly crucial message to sink in.
This is a sweet story, told from the point-of-view of a loving older brother Lincoln, about how one day he is playing with his little sister Loris and their ball rolls into the street, and now lincoln needs to save his sister from her horrible decision to go after the ball. Luckily the older brother does get to his sister just in time, something I have not yet had to do, and hope I never have to.
It is especially nice that there is a point in the book where the reader gets to choose a better way to collect one’s ball, specifically asking for help from the daddy, kind neighbor or older brother. I like that this book not only teaches what not to do, but gives the reader some good things to do instead. I appreciate that at the end of this book, one has a chance to make another choice without having to read the book from the beginning to do so. Subtle animations are also included such as the family looking both way as they cross the street to collect their ball that creates a nice effect, further demonstrating the safety lessons learning in this storybook.
The hand-drawn illustrations are colorful and appealing, as are the friendly animals within this story. I like that this storybook touches upon this tender brother-sister relationship as much as it talks about street safety. Without narration, this is a lovely book to read to a child; its prose is simple but well written, and would also make a good first reader as well.
My son enjoys this book a lot and asks for it, calling it “the story about the ball and the kids,” and spends a lot of time choosing different ways of correctly getting the ball back. After reading this book the first time, I asked him what he learned and he said “a lot about language” which was not what I was expecting, but this is true as this book, being so simply written has moments where it is actually quite poetic, something my son, a seasoned story listener now recognizes.
The Adventures of Mac Slim is a very nice universal educational storybook app in a comic book style that teaches a valuable lesson about “character” and is also a good introduction to comic books.
I enjoy this comic app. Its story is fun and engaging, illustrations are colorful and stylized, teaching an important message about what it means to have character. This app is also a nice introduction to comic books, as the narration and character voices nicely demonstrate how comic book pages are read.
Here, main character Mac learns about “character” in school but is at a loss for what this really means. After researching “character” online, he falls asleep and gets sucked into his computer to play a game about “character.” Inside the computer, he meets Worm, another player, who conducts himself in ways that are most unsporting, such as trying to convince Mac to go along with him in cutting the line of fellow players.
Mac does not follow along and does the right thing all along the way, including helping the others as the floor is sabotaged to give Worm an advantage and dropping from the race to help a woman in a car crash due to Worm’s recklessness while driving in the interest of winning this game. At the end, although Worm does come in first, Mac is given the character award for always doing the right thing, even though he did not win the contest. It is a nice moment when Mac says that he still does not know what character is and then it is explained that he had it the whole time, as “Character is doing the right thing, no matter what!”
I really liked this story, as I found it exciting and I appreciate the nod to the movie Tron, as well as the use of effective music that at moments reminded me of the movie “Run Lola Run.” I especially like listening to this app, as the narrator and the character voices do very nice jobs here and sound effects are also included that bring even more life to this comic book. I also like that the game they play has different levels which take the reader to a forest scene and car race.
Although most kids won’t encounter such experiences as dramatic as the ones in this contest, it is nice that parents can have open-ended conversations about how they can show integrity in their daily lives.
It gives me pause, however, regarding the inclusion of Cheeto, the school bully who is introduced before Mac has his dream. This bully threatens Mac and his friends that he is going to “pummel” them before they run away and escape. This character may be fine for grade school kids who unfortunately may know a bully like Cheeto, but I am not looking to explain what “pummel” means to my three year old son who will soon be starting preschool and is unaware of the concept of bullies and physical threats of violence.
Maybe this app is simply not geared toward him, but I do think he would understand and learn from the dream sequence and the message about integrity, as well as enjoy a good story with a lot of action, plus an interesting comic full of storyboards – something my son has yet to be emerged in.
The antagonist Worm does enough wrong in contrast to the correct values of Mac in terms of fairness that my son would understand this message, a lesson he is not too young for, but the idea of Cheeto’s threat of violence is just too intense for him right now.
I really did enjoy most aspects of this comic book app, and parents will make the decision for themselves with regard to whether Cheeto’s character is appropriate for their child, possibly as an important starting point to talk about bullying in school.
This app was developed by Big Mouth Presentations, a non-profit group that has been speaking to schools since 2001 and nicely articulates the concept of character in a way kids will understand. I do recommend this app, not just for its message but as a neat comic book with some nice sci-fi elements.
Included are coloring pages one can print or email, and a personality quiz determining who the character in the story is most like, but this only opened to a blank page for me, something that I hope can be sorted out for a future update.
Grow With Me is an interesting app which may be helpful to parents, especially those with a newborn as this app has been designed to log much of the information new parents feel compelled to keep such as data involving feedings and diapers, info given at well-baby visits as well as keeping a working schedule for vaccinations. Birth announcements can be created, and info can also be Facebooked and tweeted as well.
When our son was born, he had a hard time gaining his birth weight back within the first two weeks, so we needed to keep a detailed account of how much he nursed as well as how many diapers he used in a given day. The need to keep such detailed accounts, down to left breast and right breast, written by hand in a tiny flowchart provided by the pediatrician compounded the overwhelmingness we felt as new parents. I wish this app had been available to us; it would have saved us a lot of energy and stress. I really like that all you need to do is select “breast” and press a stopwatch of sorts when one starts and finishes, with the information now ready to be emailed in preparation for a printout to show the doctor. Options include bottle and solid feeding as well. The same goes for the ease in which you can document wet vs. soiled diapers as well as baby’s sleep schedule.
I appreciate that this app is not just useful to new parents, but any family can use this app when a family member – child or not – needs to keep detailed information about symptoms of a sickness or medications needed, plus more. I find the calendar to remember appointments helpful, as is the record keeper for vaccines.
The most important thing that stuck me about this app is the ease of use, including sharing this information with one’s doctor. The one thing I find missing is a password option to keep the information safe, some of which may be of a personal nature, be it from a stolen iPhone, a nosy family member who may have access to the device but whom you don’t want sharing in this infomation, to older children, for whom it may be best not knowing the details of their illnesses. All in all, I think this app would be very helpful to parents of both infants as well as older children.
Look in my Eyes 3 Undersea is an interesting app designed to help teach children on the autism spectrum how to make eye contact, a social skill that does not come naturally for many children who have autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.
To play this game, the player focuses his attention directly into the center of the eyes of a child’s picture on the screen, waiting for a number to flash. Below this picture there are numbers to choose from. Tap the correct number seen while making eye contact. For each number answered correctly, you earn money that you can later spend purchasing sea creatures and sealife from the warehouse, then arranging them among different sea-themed backgrounds. The quality of these objects and backgrounds is tremendous, as is the vast selection to choose from, and I think they would be a great incentive to keep playing.
I showed this app to my son, 2.5 years, who is not on the spectrum. He really enjoyed playing this game, and I think the focus this app requires had a nice, calming affect on him. I am happy that this app can be enjoyed by many different children in a family, whether or not they may need help learning this social skill.
I am impressed with the concept of this app and I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the “For Parents” section which gives tips on helping kids transfer what they have learned in the app to their daily lives, also touching upon the fact that eye contact is not something all families are comfortable teaching.
Whether or not to try to teach eye contact to someone with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome is a personal decision that each family needs to make for itself, but if eye contact is something one interested is trying to teach, I think this app would be a great choice. Also note: this application is one of a series of apps from developers at FizzBrain which are designed for kids on the spectrum.
Game Time Limit for Parents is a new app for iPhone and iPod Touch that limits the length of time these iDevices can be used, enforcing rules and limitations set by parents in terms of screen time.
Brilliant in its simplicity, this app is easy to use, much like setting an alarm on one’s iPhone. When the timer runs out, your child is interrupted by a message telling him that time is up. A password is needed to restore function to the child’s device.
I think this is a great idea that many families will find useful, especially those with older children. I like that you can set an alarm to deal with your children chanting “just five more minutes,” but you can also set it for three hours if you choose, so they have their devices after dinner but will be locked out at bedtime, or maybe during school hours.
This app would be especially useful when siblings share an iPod Touch or iPhone, as a fail-proof way to ensure that each kid gets the same length of screen time.
For right now, I have had no problems simply telling my 2.5 year old that I need my phone back when I want him to be finished. My son is surprisingly gracious about this, but if this changes, I will start using this application.
Mommy to Be is an iPhone pregnancy planning and tracking app. Five screens are available: Today, You, Your Baby, Tips, and Notes. “Today” shows the amount of time in the pregnancy accomplished and left to go, a small blurry ultrasound image of the fetal stage, a due date range, a countdown to the due date, and dates of ovulation and last period. This screen can be emailed. “You” contains a text description of physical, hormonal and emotional changes for the week, with some graphics. “Tips”, of course, provides tips such as remembering to take a video recorder to the sonogram, and info on when gender can be discerned. “Notes” is essentially a test editor with a few prompts to start (Day of first visible bump on your belly; Day of first baby movement recognition), and can also be emailed.
My complaints about this app include: the pages are poorly laid out and are not optimized for the mobile screen, the text is too small, the content is not very detailed, and the graphics are too small, blurry, and hokey (such as a hand with a banana near text with nutrition information.) This looks like a poorly designed website that was converted into an app without much thought. There are much better pregnancy iPhone apps out there for your money.
“Your Pregnancy Week By Week” is an application designed to give both basic info and to aid in keeping others informed about your pregnancy. I did like the fact that once you add your dates, this app will keep count of what week you are in and give you some info week to week about the changes your baby is undergoing, and there is a calendar function that could be useful. There is also a blog which allows you to social network and a “Baby Alert” feature that lets you notify a list of contacts when you enter the hospital.
I did have some problems with the information section of this app. The info section is divided into topics. Each topic is illustrated by a photograph, and there are times that the text, (which is white) scrolls over a light section of the image, making it hard to read. The topics were both oddly arranged and chosen, and I also found myself saying “yeah…but” while reading much of the information, sometimes being confused, and sometimes disagreeing with what I was reading. The interface of this app in general was less than intuitive.
Ladies who are very invested in keeping friends and family up-to-date in their pregnancy may enjoy this app. I also like the fact that this app is pro-breast feeding.
Are you the kind of prenatal patient who likes to be a step ahead of the doctors, showing off how much you actually know better than they do? Have you been carefully drafting your birthing plan, reading up on the pitfalls of all of the prenatal, labor, delivery and postnatal interventions so you are prepared to argue against them in a quest for the perfect birthing experience? Then “A Practical Guide to Managing Paediatric Problems on the Postnatal Ward” is for you!
OK, kidding aside. This app is not intended for patients but for doctors, nurses and midwives. It contains a plethora of data and tools for dealing with every manner of postnatal issue, from an Apgar Score calculator to a Weight Converter. An ebook is included with detailed overviews of the newborn exam, abnormal findings, and clinical problems. Included video and audio clips show examples as well.
If you are a doctor, nurse, or midwife, I would certainly hope you would have internalized the information contained within this app and that your hospital would have supplied you with the requisite tools for calculating things like Apgar scores and phototherapy requirements by the time you meet a woman in labor. If you are a medical student or midwife apprentice, this app may be useful to you in your studies.
If you are a prenatal patient, educate yourself by all means, but please relax, enjoy your birthing experience, however it turns out, and leave the medicine to the medical practitioners.
“I love Potty Training” is an application designed to help kids learn to use the toilet. It consists of an eBook for kids, game, and tips for parents, as well as an interactive calendar page to motivate and chart results. A diploma can be mailed when the child has been fully potty trained. There is a version of the eBook for both boys and girls and can be watched in both English and Spanish.
The eBook is well done in parts, but some of it is overwhelming and not necessary for the average child.
I did not like the game “Potty Drop” for my son. The idea is to let the toilet paper fall into the toilet but to avoid the non-flushable items such as teddy bears or sets of keys. I would never put the visual of a teddy bear going into a toilet into the mind of my mischievous son, so I will not let him even look at this game.
The “tips and tricks” section for parents is general in nature, but may be helpful to parents with little information on potty training. More well-read parents may find this section lacking. Personally, I disagreed with some of the advice given. I do give credit to the author for showing the discrete use of the potty in the eBook. I think this is something important for a child to see.