Friday, August 26, 2016

Children’s iPad App, Pigsty - animals on the loose

Children’s App Review, Pigsty - animals on the loose
by Susan Stephenson,

Pigsty is a puzzle game app for kids. It was designed by Ravensburger and can be played on the iPad and iPhone.

From the developer:

The animals have run helter-skelter at the crazy farm. In 70 unique and fun levels (20 of them are free) it is your job to fence in the pigs, cows, sheep and chickens that have run all over the place during the storm.

But beware: the animals are everywhere and you must not touch them while you are building the fences. Count on getting help from jumping tires, springboards and big red barns.

Once you start playing, you won’t want to stop!

This app is very easy to play, but you need to use your brain to overcome all the challenges. Are you a master at fencing? Be quick and smart and get 3 stars!

This app features:

- 70 fun levels
- An innovative gaming experience
- Beautiful graphics
- A simple fencing mechanism
- Cute animals who want to get back home

What I liked:

The puzzles started out easy but became more challenging. There are easy-to-understand tutorials on what to do: basically you need to draw fences with a finger to manipulate animals into the target areas. Kids will need to think and experiment to improve their times. It’s fun to watch the animal cartoon style characters bump into each other - and even the fences, even though this means your fence-placing hasn’t worked!

I also like the business model displayed in this app. To play 20 levels is free, but to unlock the next 50 levels, you need to pay. This enables users to get a fair idea if the app is worth paying for.

Check out my iPad App Reviews on Pinterest, and find more apps and articles via my Listly page. This review will be going on my list of iPad Puzzle Apps for Kids. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Children’s Book Review, Mummy and Mumma Get Married

Reviewed by Susan Stephenson,

This children’s picture book was created by Roz Hopkins and Natalie Winter, illustrated by Cara King and published by Captain Honey (2015).

From the publisher:

Phoebe wonders why her mummies aren’t married. When she is told that they’d like to, but You-Know-Who won’t come to the party, Phoebe is undeterred.

With her trusty sidekick, Biscuit the cat, she plans a big surprise wedding for her mummies. Soon, the whole town is in on it and they are all coming along. But what about You-Know-Who. Will they ruin the surprise or make the day?

Mummy and Mumma Get Married would make a thoughtful choice for librarians, teachers and parents who want to be sure they have diverse stories and characters available to kids. It’s about Phoebe, a little sweetie who lives with her Mummy and her Mumma. When everyone else in their lives seems to be marrying (including movie stars like Hugh Packman and Jennifer Aniseed!) she decides to throw a wedding for her two mums. The worry is over whether You-Know-Who will come. (Exactly who this is is not made clear, and yet there are plenty of clues as to whom it might be, with authority and political figures hinted at, as well as the inevitably difficult family member.)

Hopkins and Winter have kept the story simple and I believe succeeded in allowing kids to take in as much or little as they need of the fraught question of marriage equality by letting parents and teachers answer questions that may or may not arise. I suspect younger kids will accept the wedding matter-of-factly, and wish to know more about the unicorn or the elephant who somehow join the celebration! King has illustrated the book in gentle yet vibrant colours and with more than a hint of whimsy. Kids will love all the subtext details supplied by the illustrator, and I think adults will chuckle over many of the cartoon-style characters.

There are excellent teacher notes to accompany the book, with activities and discussion prompts to have kids think about weddings and marriages, and who should decide when someone wants to marry.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Children’s iPad App, LumiKids Snow

by Susan Stephenson,

You may remember I’ve previously reviewed the apps: LumiKids Park, LumiKids Beach and LumiKids Backyard. Today’s review is of LumiKids Snow, an app for pre-school/Kinder children in iOS and Android.

From the developer:

Trace each letter’s path for your friends to sled their way through the alphabet, hearing letter sounds and names as you go.
Help the aviator penguins by experimenting with different playground objects they can use to find their way to all the balloons.
The walrus wants to find his seal friends in a fun game of hide and seek! Watch where the seals hide and use memory to find their correct locations.
These yetis are hungry and are excited for you to share the marshmallows you roast over the open flame.

What I liked: As with the other LumiKids apps, LumiKids Snow is all about encouraging children to explore a digital landscape. There’s learning a-plenty but all the activities are about discovering through play, and the emphasis is on fun. I am fussy about art work in children’s apps but these little creatures and people are cute and appealing, not garish. Playing WITH a parent or caring older friend gives little ones lots of opportunities to develop vocabulary and discuss their thinking about the games.

Where to find it?

Check out my iPad App Reviews on Pinterest, and find more apps and articles via my Listly page. I’ll be adding this app to my List of iPad Puzzle Apps for Kids.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Don’t Forget! Celebrate Children’s Book Week 2016

                                         by Susan Stephenson,

Children’s Book Week takes place each year in Australia in August. In 2016 the dates are Saturday August 20 to Friday August 26.

In case you missed any of my Children’s Book Week articles, I’ve gathered them here into a Listly list so I can keep adding to it as I write more. You’ll find 2016’s articles about celebrating Children’s Book Week according to the theme, Australia: Story Country; 2015 articles; 2014 articles; and some from 2013 too. Inside my articles, you’ll also find links to the appropriate free PDFs I’ve made, and a host of wonderful resources offered by others.

Click on amy item in the list below to be taken to the appropriate article.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Children’s iPad App, CHOMP by Christoph Niemann

Children’s App Review by Susan Stephenson,

I’d like to tell you about CHOMP, an app by developer, Fox and Sheep GmbH. I have previously reviewed Fox and Sheep’s Little Fox Music Box, which I LOVED, and Hat Monkey!

In a nutshell, CHOMP encourages kids to make very easy short videos with Christoph Niemann’s funky art work and their own faces.

From the developer:

‘CHOMP’ combines playful, humorous, and lovingly hand-drawn animations with realtime video, enabling children and adults alike to slip into a variety of comical roles. From a virtuous pianist, to a spaghetti-slurping dog, or a living cuckoo-clock, anything is possible!

What makes this App so inspiring and special is that children participate using their own faces, mimicry, and song, allowing their creativity to run free.

With the video functions, all of these adventures can be saved forever. ‘CHOMP’ is so easy and intuitive to use that kids can create and sing their own personal messages to send to parents, grandparents, friends, or siblings, all in the blink of an eye.

What I liked:

The app provides a decent number of hand-drawn scenes and the animations are sure to appeal to a child’s sense of humour. It’s good to know the developer chose not to have ads, in-app purchases or data mining as that’s something many parents worry about. There are few directions and no text, but the visuals quickly guide users in what to do. I love that kids can record themselves along with the video - lots of storytelling possibilities here! I can also imagine the fun children will have by asking family or friends to be models for their videos.

For educational purposes, I wish the app also allowed kids to take still pictures and save them to the camera roll. These could encourage further storytelling and writing of stories using that prompt. If kids know how to do screen grabs on the iPad, this would be a work around. I'll be adding this app to my list, Creating with Kids and iPad Apps.

Gain an idea of the art work and the animation in this short sample video on Youtube.

Check out my iPad App Reviews on Pinterest, and find more apps and articles via my Listly page.
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