Sponsors
Sponsors

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

Entries in Educational (2)

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.

Sheet Music on Steroids now on your iPad - Etude for iPad released

We let you know back in mid-March that Wonder Warp Software were planning to release an iPad specific version of their brilliant piano tutor software Etude.  Well yesterday the Etude app was updated to a Universal app that will support both the iPhone/iPod Touch and your iPad, with device specific user interface and features.  

The iPad version looks really nice and they have maximised the use of the screen space to show much more of the score at the same time.

Even better, if you already own the Etude iPhone version, your iPad version is free! Otherwise, the app will only cost you $4.99 (£2.99), which is a very good price when you consider that you can download all of the sheet music and songs to play for free, with premium, artist licensed songs coming soon.

Etude can be downloaded from the app store now, or you can see more information about the app and a video demo here.

There's more - Free Mac software 

If you are on a Mac and want something to help create chord progressions or use as a teaching aid, you can get a free copy of Wonder Warp's SimpleChord desktop app.  This software lets you look up piano chords and create chord progressions of your own, and supports an external midi keyboard too.

It also includes a midi export option for the chord progressions that you create in SimpleChord, and these midi files can then be used in Garageband very simply as a new track, ready for you to add the rest of your masterpiece, or just use it to practice with.

SimpleChord would normally cost you $12.95, so it is worth a tweet to spread the word. Details are here.