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Entries in children (25)

Real Green Screen Effects on your iPad from Do Ink

Check out the above demo video for new app Green Screen from Do Ink.  We think it will be a massive bonus for iPad content creators, especially in the Education field.

We have covered several times already Do Ink's brilliant iPad Animation app widely used by Educators. They released Green Screen a couple of days ago for just $2.99 / £1.99, we think it is going to be a big hit.

We are downloading the app now and will be roping in the iPad Creative kids to test it this weekend.  More on that soon!

In the meantime, grab your copy of Green Screen and be sure to share your results with us in the comments. 

Videos: Creative Teaching via iPads in Schools

Educators are always seeking the 'Holy Grail' of teaching - engaged learners. It's even better when students don't realise they are learning but do so through having fun and being creative. That's where the iPad comes in.

Children especially are naturals at wanting to interact through the touch interface, many computer owning Parents will testify to that after repeatedly cleaning smudgy fingerprints off their screens.

Here are a couple of videos demonstrating how the iPad is being used to engage and teach children through fun and creative learning.

iPad Pilot Project - RCEF

This video from the Redwood City Education Foundation (RCEF) shows how one elementary school is using the iPad to help children get involved and interactive with learning, mainly in Maths and Literacy lessons:

iPad Pilot Project Funded By The Redwood City Education Foundation from RCEF on Vimeo.

Using DoInk to envision the future

This video, one of many from the Clay Animation Network, shows what children from the Lawton Elementary school think the future will be like. Apparently in 50 years time the world will be full of aliens, robots, teleportation and floating people. Sounds about right to us (apart from the aliens probably).

The elementary school students used the brilliant iPad animation app DoInk to create their vision of the future:

At Lawton elementary 66 students are creating animations in groups of 2 and 3 students using the animation program called DOINK.  Each group will create a 10-15 second animation showing a scene that could happen in a school 50 years from now.

There are a lot of ideas in this video, it's quite a long one, but stick with it, we think you'll enjoy the animations:

Share your story

We love hearing about how the iPad is being used in the Education field, so if you have any good examples of creativity in the classroom with any age group, young or old, please let us know about it.

Freddi Fish Finds the iPad, Brings Adventure

Made in the traditional adventure game vein of explore scenes, collect objects and solve puzzles, Freddi Fish and the Stolen Shell published by Atari, is the iOS version of the original point-and-click game from Humongous Entertainment, launched for the Mac/PC back in 1998.

Don't let the age of this game put you off though, this is still a fun and creative children's game ready to delight a new generation of young adventurers (and their Parents).

Here's a short trailer:

We really enjoyed this title in our house and it is a big favourite at the moment. Each night before bed we hear the cry "Can I do more Freddi Fish?".

It's all about the gameplay

What stands out in this game for us is the gameplay. Puzzles are mostly challenging enough to keep young ones interested without being too difficult (although we have had to help out a few times).  Another very nice touch is that new characters and situations pop up each time the game is replayed.

The colourful, old school, cartoon animation is very appealing and the hidden interactive elements on every page encourage your little ones to explore the screen to see what they can find.

Who dunnit?

Clues as to who stole the 'Great Conch Shell' are left all over the place and each character that Freddi Fish and her sidekick meet have something to say about the night the Conch was stolen.

The idea, of course, is that each encounter and puzzle solved leads our little adventurers a bit further along the path to discovering the thief amongst the characters.

Special elements

Our iPC kids loved Rosy Pearl's Luau Show, one of several little bonus areas that form part of the story. 

They enjoyed getting creative and making tunes on the circus style organ and create their own versions of characters in the 'Crook Book'.

Even after a week or so of playing the game there is still much to be discovered and it is great to know that the next time it is played elements of the storyline, situations and even some characters will be different.

At $2.99 (£1.99) Freddi Fish and the Stolen Shell is fantastic value and we think that if you download this app just before setting out on a journey with your kids you won't hear from them until long after you get there (although we can't promise this will work).

App Store Link: Freddi Fish and the Stolen Shell

Creative Kids Get Stylish with Toca Hair Salon

Over the holidays we have spent a lot of time with friends and family. Of course the iPad has been a big draw, especially for the kids, and one of their favourite apps this weekend has been Toca Hair Salon by prolific iOS Developers Toca Boca.

Here's their promo video so you can see what the app is like in action:

Creative Fun

We really like this app because it encourages creative play through its bright colours, sense of humour and detailed but easy to use toolset.

Our kids laughed every time they used the hair dryer (and so did we) and they loved it when the character smiled, meaning they were happy with the style they had been given.

Great Sounding Fun

The act of snipping or clipping hair away and adding colour is made all the more realistic with a fantastic sound set that adds volumes (pun intended) to your enjoyment of the app. The whole experience is pure addictive fun!

When you want to share your creations you can take a photo and it is added to your iPad's Camera Roll.

For keeping kids entertained and coming back for more, in addition to offering up some creative downtime for the big kids too, we would highly recommend Toca Hair Salon. We think you will love it.

App Store Link: Toca Hair Salon - Universal App ($1.99 / £1.49)

Kids Canvas Review - Plus Win 1 of 5 copies

Kids Canvas from Swedish developers Epicore evokes memories of those white plastic boards with lots of holes, into which we used to stick little coloured plastic pegs to make pictures. But there is much more to this art app and a few nice surprises.

Kids Canvas was created as a way for little kids (and not so little) to experiment and express themselves using traditional tools such as perler beads, mosaic, marbles, sweets/candy, crayon, paint splashes and cross stitches.

You can also use Post-it notes as your material, reminding us of the recent Steve Jobs portrait created at an Apple Store in Munich, Germany.

A Few Surprises

A few nice surprises are included in your tool palette by way of animated versions of the crayon and paint splash tools, the latter jiggling around on the screen reminding us of that classic 70s cartoon Roobarb & Custard.

The iPad Creative kids really liked these animated tools but they loved even more the ladybugs which wander around after they have been painted on to the canvas. It's a little bit creepy seeing them crawl around your screen but fascinating at the same time.

Swap and Change

The great thing about these different tools is that they can be changed on the fly. So if you start with the paint splodges, changing the picture to ladybugs is just a case of selecting it from the tool palette and the picture is converted to the new medium as if it had been painted that way in the first place.

We think this is a very nice touch and a great way for kids to learn the effect of different creation tools / techniques on the same image.

Share and Collaborate

As well as saving your image to resume later (although there is no easy way to add it to your iPad's Photo Library), Kids Canvas offers the usual sharing routes for your creations via email and Facebook but no Twitter at the moment.

As you would expect from an app that was No 1 in the Apple Education Store in Sweden, there are already several hundred images being shared on the Kids Canvas Facebook page and plenty more being added all the time.

Another great sharing feature is built in to the email function. If the recipient of your email has Kids Canvas installed on their iPad, they can open the file and edit it from where you left off.

This could be really useful in a classroom environment for example, where you could ask one group to start a picture, another group to add to it and so on.

Imagine a student exchange with children in another country who could collaborate on the same images being passed back and forth via email.

Final Thoughts

If you have little ones who will be using your iPad we would definitely recommend you take a look at Kids Canvas. We're sure that they (and you) will have fun playing and creating images with it. 

The collaboration features are a nice addition too and we certainly see them being used creatively by educators.

Kids Canvas is available for $1.99 (£1.49) in the App Store but don't click that link just yet. Read on for your chance to bag a free copy.

Win a copy of Kids Canvas

Epicore have kindly provided 5 promo codes for us to give away to our readers. All you have to do is leave us a comment below and tell us what your favourite creative iPad app is. That's it.

Please make sure you enter an email address when posting your comment. It will not be made public and we will use it only to contact you if you are a winner.

We will select 5 commenters at random on Wednesday 23rd November 2011 at 2000 GMT. We will then email the winners with their promo code (so we really need your email address).

Using DoInk iPad Animation in Education

Here's a video by DoInk demonstrating how their brilliant iPad vector drawing and animation app can be used in the Education field. We have already said how much we like DoInk, see the video description on Vimeo :-), so if you're not already familiar with it be sure to check it out.

If you are using DoInk we would love to hear about it in the comments.

Cinderella 3D iPad Book - Kids Will Love This

When we saw the above trailer for Cinderella for iPad by Developers Nosy Crow we knew we would have to try it out for ourselves (or rather, we had a certain little Princess who would love to try it out).

We were given the chance to see a pre-release copy of the app and we handed the iPad over to our more discerning 6 and 3 year old testers to see what they thought.

Beautiful Animation and Voices

The book is beautifully illustrated and presented, the animation is colourful and appealing with a classic pop-up book look that comes in large part from the stunning 3D illustrations.

You really just want to sit and take in the artwork, whilst the kids will find themselves drawn to the character animations with their retro, yet modern, feel.  The characters are really well voiced too, with the child voice actors fitting very nicely with the warm and friendly feel of the book.

Packed full of Interactivity

Unfortunately for my little boy, he didn't really get a look-in on this book as his older (and really rather bossy) Sister claimed the Cinderella app for herself and she is in love with it. It has become her main bedtime story.

In fact, when I removed it temporarily from my iPad to make room for a very large music app I was testing, she got quite upset. Fortunately, the Cinderella app is Universal, so you can put it on your iPhone/iPod Touch too.

Much of my Daughter's adoration of the Cinderella app comes from the plentiful interactive elements within the book. These aid the telling of the story so that your little ones will feel much more immersed in the story and its progress. The sheer range of interactive elements also makes the app ideal for repeated viewings.

Favourites here were the garden scene (lots to discover and do) and the dance scene at the Ball (with the choice of dance music).

A Special Feature

For those using an iPad 2 there is a very special interactive feature that the kids will love. Using the camera they can actually appear in the story themselves (see the mirror in the screenshot below) with the story's characters even saying "Who's that in the mirror?", a very nice touch that literally makes your kids a part of the story. 

Final Thoughts

We were really impressed by Cinderella for iPad, but more importantly the target audience in our household loved the app and keep coming back to it. That makes it a hit for us.

At $7.99 (£5.99) in the App Store, Cinderella for iPad is about the same price as a well illustrated children's print book. It is definitely one of the most enjoyable, beautiful and engaging iPad picture books we have seen.

If you have kids who use your iPad and like the story of Cinderella (who doesn't), we think it will enchant any little Princess (or Prince for that matter), keeping them entertained for many hours.

As always, if you get this app, let us know what you and your little ones think in the comments below.

Thomas Needs Rescuing on your iPad

Callaway Digital Arts bring us a new Thomas and Friends story with the Misty Island Rescue app. This lovely story brings the most recent in a very popular series (especially with the iPad Creative kids) to the iPad with the style and quality that we have already seen in other Callaway titles.

App Highlights

We liked the style of animation that features on every page. It feels in keeping with the book itself because it is the illustrations that you would see in the paper version that are animated, so it really feels like the book is coming alive. You can see what we mean in the video below.

Whilst each page does have an animated element to it (usually drifting mist if nothing else), not every page has interactivity. Callaway have added a yellow glow effect on elements you can interact with when the page opens.

Unfortunately this didn't stop our little testers stabbing at every bit of the page they thought should react to them and they found this a bit frustrating.

Clever Narration

The narration is very good and great quality, but if the kids get impatient (as they do) and start touching the interactive bits of the page, the narration cleverly pauses. It can then be resumed by clicking on the white circular arrow underneath the text.

It would help if this resume arrow was a bit more obvious because we missed it the first few times we used the app to be honest, maybe a different colour on the white background or using the yellow glow effect.

Fun and Games

There are some other features included in the app to keep little ones busy including Jigsaw puzzles, join the dots, games and colouring pages, all of which the kids loved. There is also a video featuring the Misty Island theme song.

We think that Thomas and Friends Misty Island Rescue is a well illustrated, carefully animated and visually appealing iPad book that will provide Thomas fans with plenty of value. If you have little Thomas fans using your iPad we recommend you check out the video and App Store link below.

Thomas and Friends Misty Island Rescue is available on the App Store for $4.99 (£2.99).

24 iPads + 1 Awesome Music Lesson = Must Watch Video

When we were at school, music lessons were just an excuse to muck around and, ever so occasionally, to actually play an instrument or learn a song. Needless to say we were generally bored out of our minds and completely uninspired by the whole thing.

If music lessons were like this though, using iPads and real instruments together to actually create something we would never have wanted to do anything else!

Neil Johnston the man behind Store Van Music, the company that made this song and video, is passionate about making music education fun and engaging. If this video is anything to go by we should all be listening to him.

This well crafted pop song will get stuck in your head, and if you really like it you should be able to buy it very soon from the iTunes store.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Review: New iPad only KidsMag is Gorgeous, Fun and Great Value

Any Parent, Uncle, Auntie or Grandparent will know that keeping young children entertained is a full-time job. Fortunately for us then the iPad, with its bright colourful screen and touch interface, attracts Children like bees round a honey pot (not always a good thing of course).

New monthly mag

Already well versed in creating brilliant apps to entertain little ones, Portegno Apps has brought out a new iPad only app KidsMag.

This monthly book-style app includes lots of educational based activities led by Brother and Sister characters, Teo and Bianca. The activities echo the kind that you would get in paper magazines, you know, the ones the kids nag you to buy every time you visit a shop. The price is about the same, or even less, than the 'analogue' version.

What do the kids think?

The iPad Creative kids like this app a lot. As the app has an educational bent to it some of the commentary is a little long for kids impatient to see everything but most of the activities really captured their imagination. Things like dressing up the Fire Fighter characters and for my three year old Son the Fire Engine noises. My just-turned-Six Daughter enjoyed the 'spot the difference' and 'find the things that don't belong' style activities.

The Farm activities are fun and the animal noises made the kids chuckle too. There is even a musical caterpillar page called 'Springtime Music Maker', that has a xylophone type of sound board plus some drums and bass guitar concealed around the picture, that the kids loved finding out about.

KidsMag Musical Caterpillar

They liked the narrated stories too. These pop up the words so your kids can read along. The writing and narration are clear and very well pitched for the age group.

KidsMag Story

You can access different versions of a lot of the activities by shaking the iPad (gently!), for example the 'match the shape' puzzles can be changed for a new set of puzzle pieces, and the kids had their favourites they wanted to use.

Overall they were thoroughly entertained by KidsMag and they will no doubt be asking for it again when they get their iPad ration later today.

Language learning

There are three pages at the end of the magazine that are designed to help your kids learn Spanish, by naming parts of a house, learning some Spanish verbs and Spanish words for things seen in this issue of the magazine. This is a nice teaching technique providing relevance and context, especially on repeated viewings, "What's that in Spanish?".

KidsMag Spanish

Whilst the Spanish language is not taught very much at school here in the UK, it is still nice for children to start learning another language at a young age. In the UK children are more often taught German and French at school, but with programmes like Dora the Explorer being shown on kids' TV, Spanish is becoming more common and personally, it is preferable as it can be more useful.

What about the cost?

We found that the kids seem to be more willing to play with the iPad app and spend longer doing so than with the paper magazines we buy them. These paper versions can cost anything up to £3.50 (~$5.70) each and we have to buy two of them to stop fighting!

KidsMag cost us just £1.79 ($2.99). The website does say $3.99 so the price may increase, but even so, the quality of narration, voice acting, animation and range of activities, easily makes up for that price. Plus the entertainment value of using 'Daddy's iPad' means the kids can't argue over who owns the magazine because it is not theirs to fight over. We just need to referee the iPad session!

Future issues and Publishing model

Portegno's publishing model interests us too. It is not a monthly subscription model but, like other magazines, they plan to make this a monthly issue, so it will be interesting to see how the sales go after the first issueand importantly if they can deliver fresh, new and entertaining content month after month.

In our experience kids will drop something like this as soon as they get bored, so it is a tough job they have on their hands. The next issue looks like fun though, with a Space theme and more Spanish learning so we'll see.

Advertising in a paid app?

We were disappointed to see 2 whole page ads for other Portenago apps in the mag. As much as we like their apps, having paid already for this app we don't like having to scroll past an ad page quickly before a little finger jabs the app store button, which they always seem to find.

We could be being a bit harsh here, it is not offensive, there is even some interactivity built-in to the ads, such as the 'iWash My Dogs' page shown below where you can click on each of the 4 washing stages and see the cartoon dog change.

But because the add pages look just like one of the magazine pages, skipping past them upsets the kids as they think they are missing out on something and that just annoyed us to be honest. This might not bother you at all but we thought we should mention it just in case. 

We know that a print mag will have adverts throughout, but somehow we don't expect to see them in paid for apps, and kids can't automatically buy things from printed pages, yet...

It's a small annoyance really, taken on balance we still think KidsMag is a great app.

Final Thoughts and Video

If you have little ones to entertain, especially around 5 years old and under, we think KidsMag is well worth the money. It is packed with bright, colourful and fun activities that include good educational value.

Kids will keep coming back to the activities to explore all the different variations and we think you will easily get a great deal of entertainment value out of this app.

The first edition of KidsMag is available in the app store now. you can see what to expect from the video below. A full description and feature list can be found on Portegno's site.