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Entries in kids (17)

11 Year Old iPad Artists

We found this video on YouTube and thought you might like it.  Posted by a teacher at The International School in Kuala Lumpur, it features the work of some Year 7 students created on their iPads and it is quite impressive, especially when you consider these kids are only 11 years old.

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

Loopseque For Kids - Fun and Educational

We liked the original version of Casual Underground's Loopseque a lot and now they have released a special version of the app aimed at younger ones starting to explore music creation on the iPad. It is being offered for only $0.99 (69p for us) at the moment so we purchased it to see what our little testers thought of it.

Fun and Familiar

Loopseque Kids is a fun app with cute graphics and sounds, some of them restful, some not so much. If you have used Loopseque before then the user interface will be familiar to you with it's circular soundfield but unlike the original, to switch between one of the (only) three sound sets you touch the circle in the middle. This changes the sounds, graphics and colours to match a particular time of day, either daytime, dusk or nighttime.

Loopseque kids sunset

Sound Choices

Too much choice can be confusing for very young ones or those new to music making and this app is aimed at being an introduction to music creation for youngsters, but within those three sound sets there is a good range of tunes that you can create.

In addition to the main circular sound grid there are little trees, houses, hills, clouds and sun or moon, all of which have their own assigned sounds too that can be played over the top of your arrangement.

Whilst limited, the app is a lot of fun and, with a bit of experimentation, can even be quite soothing with the nighttime sounds especially.

Play Your Own

For slightly older ones, the limited soundest can be a bit frustrating and our (admittedly short attention spanned) 6 year old tester found this to be the case.

That's where the piano mode comes in. This gives you a circular keyboard with a couple of different instrument sounds covering a lower and higher octave. We liked this mode for enabling experimentation and it is multitimbral so you can play chords plus a melody if you have the skills.

Loopseque kids piano night

For less than a dollar (or pound) we think Loopseque Kids is a great app to have on your iPad both to encourage musical exploration for your little ones and as another distraction technique on long journeys.

You can download Loopseque Kids from the App Store now and if you have little ones using your iPad we recommend you do so.

If you try this out with your young iPad users be sure to let us know what you think.

Video Find: iPad Makes Music Education Fun

Here's a creative way to engage kids and help them learn how to make music using an iPad.

We've mentioned Kevin Honeycutt's inspirational teaching methods before and here he is at this year's ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference with a new twist on getting kids involved and motivated in education through music.

Using an iPad running GarageBand, attached to a Paper Jamz guitar, he demonstrates in this video just how tactile this experience can be.

We're tempted to go out and get a Paper Jamz guitar and try this out. What do you think, do you like Kevin's ideas?

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.

Teach Little Ones To Play Piano on the iPad

Fancy giving your toddler a head start on their musical creativity? Juno's Piano aims to make teaching the piano to your little ones a fun and easy process. We take a quick look at the app and let you know if you should buy it.

Here in the UK, the Juno Baby brand isn't that well known, so I had no idea who Juno was when I first saw this app, despite having 3 and 5 year old kids.

The price of the app though and a desire to cultivate any musical creativity our young software testers may have, makes this a no-brainer. For $0.99 (59p) you can't go wrong with this app which children are sure to love.

How the app works

There are three ways to use Juno's Piano, or modes of play:

  1. Learn a Song
    Learn to play one of three Juno songs by following the keys pressed Juno jumps on to - a bit like the Simon game - but helped by the notes being highlighted in Pink one after the other during their go so they don't have to remember the sequence
  2. Play Together
    You play some notes and your little one plays them after - similar to above but you choose the notes
  3. Free Play
    As the name suggests, they can bang away at the keys while Juno dances and spins above the keyboard

At any time you can go back to the Home screen and jump into another mode. The app is fast and responsive, including playing notes on the keyboard (although one at a time, not polyphonic).

What the kids thought?

Even though they had never seen Juno before, the iPC kids loved seeing her jump around and talk them when they pressed the right keys whilst learning a song. It probably would have helped if they were familiar with the songs so that they could hear themselves playing something they knew.

There is a clever marketing trick here, because now they want to see more of Juno's world, I am saved only by the fact that the Juno stuff isn't currently easy to get hold of here in the UK. Having said that, the philosophy behind education through and by music is something we wholeheartedly support and for every Juno product purchased a music education DVD is given to children in need under their One for All program.

Things we liked

  • Constant encouragement from the Juno character and animated actions keeps children's attention
  • Pace of play is set by the child, they follow as quickly or slowly as they need to
  • Colourful design and graphics
  • Non-academic and fun way to learn
  • Price! Just $0.99 (59p)

Suggested improvements

  • The choice of songs in Juno's piano are limited to just three and likely familiar only to those who already know the Juno brand, more songs and perhaps better known ones would be appreciated
  • Keyboard is not polyphonic (not a major issue given the app's goals, but it would be nice to play more than one note at a time)
  • You can't turn Juno's voice over off on the Home menu or when first entering the modes, she says the same thing every time which can get a bit annoying, for the adults anyway. It would be good if we could tap on Juno to mute her momentarily or have a voiceover on/off button.

It feels a bit like nitpicking to be honest finding fault with an app this cute and inexpensive with such a great educational value, so we recommend you go and get this app if you have little ones. Our kids certainly enjoyed it and for fans of Juno Baby and now Juno Jr. it is probably a must have.

Quick Look: The Monster At The End Of This Book

A quick look at the iPad interactive version of the classic Sesame Street book 'The Monster At The End Of This Book', developed by Callaway Digital Arts and which has recently been updated.

Grover

We have not mentioned this app before now because, frankly, it was a bit disappointing and crashed repeatedly on the same page every time we read it through with the iPad Creative kids.

This caused no end of annoyance and frustration for little kids and big kids alike.

That changed though with the recent upgrade to version 1.2 a few weeks ago and now we feel we can recommend the app for your little ones, with a few caveats.

Fun and Interactive

The app has some great voice acting by Grover and really makes our kids giggle as his sense of panic heightens the closer you get to the end of the book. The interactive elements are fun too, encouraging you to move the story along by breaking down the various obstacles that Grover puts in the way to try and stop you turning the page, something which the kids really liked.

The text is highlighted as it is read by Grover and the synchronisation of this with the voice narration has greatly improved in the new version. The illustrations are as per the original book and are animated in keeping with the feel of the paper version.

A Bit Slow

Although there have been some major improvements in speed and crash prevention in this version, the animations still take a relatively long time to load whilst you stare at a blank page. It is only a matter of maybe 6 seconds or so at worst, but it feels a lot longer when you are waiting and is still long enough to annoy, especially impatient youngsters.

Some of the interactions can be a bit slow to respond too with our little testers touching the screen repeatedly when it didn't respond quickly enough meaning that by the time the app caught up, the wall (in this case) had already collapsed.

We have to say, this didn't happen every time (we have taken the Developers' advice and restarted our iPad after install) but occasionally these issues did still pop up.

Overall

All things considered though, we liked the app and, more importantly, our little ones like it and keep going back to it, a sure sign that something has been done well enough to appeal to its target audience.

The Monster At The End Of This Book is available for $3.99 (£2.39) on the app store.

If you have tried this app on your iPad and would like to add your thoughts please leave us a comment below.

Kids Can Mix It Up With Mixeroo

This initially seemed like an odd idea for an app. Using the studio mixing desk as a basis, Mixeroo aims to help kids learn about music and the relationship of the instruments to each other within the overall song via a very simple (in a good way) interface.

We've played with audio mixers before on our iPads but we would never have thought of handing them over to our kids so they can learn in this way, yet Mixeroo Developer/Dad/Professional Sound Mixer, Kirk Wheeler, obviously did.

We were kindly provided with a review copy of Mixeroo by Kirk and we were not really sure what to expect but, in short, we loved it.

Remixing The Songs

Mixeroo is supplied with 4 songs with the music created by Michael Farrell, a multi-instrumentalist who has worked with some well known recording artists and with some big name TV shows. The four songs are: Twinkle Twinkle, Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Ode to Joy, each with their own mix of instruments and, in most cases, percussion.

These songs run on a loop when you hit the play button so that you can continuously make adjustments without having to restart the song every time. The instrumental arrangements are not just repeated each verse either, there are variations played in each verse emphasising different instruments or parts, the audio is very high quality too.

The very simple interface hides a lot of versatility. For example, you can fade out the drums for the verse, then bring them back in for the next verse to build up the song, you can make one instrument, maybe the main melody, louder then do a 'hush verse' before bringing everything back in. You can also use multi-touch and adjust more than one slider at once.

We were surprised at how much fun it is playing with the song mixes and changing the overall sound and presentation of the song, we even let the iPad Creative kids have a go in the end and they loved it too. It was interesting to watch how children learn the interactions and how they quickly understand how to control the sound they are hearing with the simple but attractive sliders.

Overall we would say that Mixeroo is a surprisingly fun and educational app that kids love experimenting with. We would recommend it for iPad users who want to encourage little ones to explore and learn about music.

Mixeroo is available for $1.99 (£1.19) in the app store and we think it is great value.

What do you think of this idea? Have you tried Mixeroo with your little ones? Let us know in the comments below.

Inspirational iPad Educator

How can you teach kids who cannot or do not want to learn the traditional way? How do you make a boring subject fun and engaging for kids? Kevin Honeycutt is one of those big thinkers who has a creative approach to this problem.

If you haven't heard of Kevin Honeycutt and you are even vaguely interested in how technology like the iPad and iPhone can be used creatively to help people learn, then we highly recommend you check out his site and YouTube videos for some truly inspiring ideas.

The video below is a section from Kevin's keynote speech at last week's AESA (Association of Educational Service Agencies) National Conference. It is a bit of fun with an iPad being played live as a drum kit, along with iPhone lead instruments and even a real guitar, but it demonstrates how involving this new technology can be and how people immediately respond to it being used with curiosity and good humour. 

Kevin is a fantastic speaker and he also has a few other clips on his YouTube account from this keynote speech which really made us think about how technology can be used to facilitate learning, at the same time enabling learners to have fun and express their creativity so they do not even realise that learning is taking place.

We hope you enjoy watching the video, as we did, and Kevin's extraordinary presentation style. Don't forget to let us know what you think in the comments.

'Coloring Farm' for Free but be quick

We spotted the Coloring Farm app being offered for free today and thought you may want to grab it quickly for your iPad (or iPhone) as a nice little colouring book for your kids or young at heart iPad users.

The app has some nice line drawings to colour in with the original set of 18 Farm pictures and recently added set of 18 Vehicle images.

There are a set of coloured pencils represented at the bottom of the screen and an eraser, but not much else by way of tools or controls, so no line thickness, etc. which makes it a little bit difficult to keep inside the lines sometimes. 

For a quick distraction and with the ability to add your results to an in-app gallery for keeps, we think it is worth a download and our little people enjoyed playing with Coloring Farm. It is only available Free for 2 days so if you want to grab it, be quick.