Category Archives: Freebies

Create Video Lessons With Belkin Stage Pro

I have been messing around lately with Belkin’s Stage Pro, an iOS app that allows you to create KAS (Khan Academy Style) video lessons using the iPad. I first found out about the app at an education conference months ago, but only recently have I had the time to create some videos with it.

I was able to import my own graphic from the Photos gallery (in this case, of the grid with the three blocks shaded in blue), then draw and make notes over it while talking. I’ve been using a set of earbuds with a built-in mic (the basic Apple variety), which produces much better sound than the iPad’s microphone alone.

I was delighted to discover today how to place and move objects around, which was perfect for a little kindergarten lesson about cardinality:

Stage Pro actually uses the device’s camera for the background–so you could set the iPad up on a stand and record virtually anything, and deliver your own voiceover and on-screen notes. I’ve been getting (and wanting) a black background because I’ve been keeping my iPad sleeve closed over the camera for the lessons I’ve been working on.

I just noticed that Belkin is running a FREE promo right now on Stage Pro–I spent $5 on mine back in January, but you can get it FREE until July 4! Go and try it out now!

FREE for Earth Day: My Pouch Upcycling Book!

Planet Pouch

My little craft book is FREE today!

If you’re looking for green ideas this Earth Day, look no further. I’m making my Kindle craft book Planet Pouch: Simple Juice Pouch Bags Anyone Can Make FREE through Monday, April 22. So now’s the perfect time to grab this book and start turning those leftover juice pouches into something stylish!

No Kindle? No problem. You can read this book using the free Kindle Cloud Reader on any PC (or Mac). And if you like the book, please rate and review it on Amazon and Goodreads–I’ll be eternally grateful, and it’ll help others who like to make things find the book.

Happy Earth Day!

FREE Through March 17: Saoirse Friendship Bracelet Pattern

Saoirse Friendship Bracelet Design

Saoirse Friendship Bracelet Design

Wear your own luck o’ the Irish this year: try your hand at friendship bracelet making with my FREE (through 3/17/13) pattern. Pronounced ‘seer-sha,’ this design was inspired by twisty Celtic cables in knitting. Exclusively available (for now) on Craftsy, Saoirse is a straightforward two-color design, perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or any day! What are ye waitin’ for? Go grab your own today, before the free promotion is over!

Planet Pouch is FREE Today!

Planet Pouch

My little craft book is FREE today!

Today is my birthday, and to celebrate, I decided to make Planet Pouch FREE today. So please: if you are reading this, go straight to Amazon.com and get yourself a copy, post a review and help me spread the word.

Planet Pouch: Simple Juice Pouch Bags Anyone Can Make is a craft how-to book that shows you how to turn those shiny juice pouches into fun bags and totes using a simple sewing machine. Tons of full-color photos and step-by-step instructions make the process easy.

And if you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. You can use the free Kindle Cloud Reader and read this (and thousands of other) ebooks on your computer.

Thank you, and have a wonderful Father’s Day!

How to Get Free Books

FREE Books!If you’ve stopped by this blog before, you already know I like book apps. What I haven’t shared nearly as often is my love for ALL types of books, especially mysteries, YA and middle grade novels, business and other how-to volumes, and even the occasional chick lit book. Because the only thing better than a good book is a good FREE book, I have found myself visiting a few special online destinations to help me be one of the first to know when a book shows up free or at a steep discount.

Book Apps

For those of you looking for the best deals and free offers on apps, look no further than the Daily Deal Page at Digital Storytime. I don’t know how she does it, but Carisa Kluver (the muscle behind Digital Storytime) handpicks the best deals on storybook and other apps for kids twice a day! I LOVE it and check it at least every day or two.

Free App Alert doesn’t specialize in book apps, but stories will show up in their daily listing of apps that are temporarily offered FREE. I have found many cool apps this way, mostly game apps.

Amazon Kindle Books

While I don’t actually own a Kindle, the Kindle app on my iPad gets a lot of use. And with the help of the following three sites, my wallet doesn’t have to be adversely affected (much!).

Pixel Of InkMy favorite Kindle deal site is Pixel of Ink. This site provides brief write-ups on books that have recently come down in price or are being offered FREE in the Kindle store. They seem to mention books of high quality, helping me separate the good stuff from the dreck.
I admit I stop by the site a couple of times a day when I remember, but sometimes I need a bit of prodding. That’s where their Twitter feed, daily email newsletter and Facebook page come in handy.

Another resource I recommend is Kindle Nation Daily. Run by Steve Windwalker (cool name, eh?), this site has a searchable, continually-updated list of Kindle freebies, sorted with the most recent additions at the top by default. This is a complete list (with no curation), which is useful every once in a while when Pixel of Ink doesn’t mention something I think I might like.

eReaderIQ ListingOne I’ve discovered recently is eReaderIQ. They have a similar freebie listing to that found at Kindle Nation Daily, but they add a Recent Price Drops section that is generated by their readers and includes a wide range of prices. I like the icons that appear next to each title, showing you at-a-glance which books are lending and TTS enabled, etc.

Dead-Tree Books

While I am quickly making the transition away from printed media, I admit this effort is sometimes stymied by my cheapskate tendencies. I refuse to spend $9.99 or above for a Kindle book I can get cheaper as a paperback. I take special delight in circumventing the outdated and no-longer-relevant new book retail process and getting books secondhand.

The best way to do this is through PaperbackSwap.com. The idea behind the site is genius. Start by putting up for trade a pile of physical books you no longer want (paperbacks and hardbacks are welcomed, as are audiobooks). Agree to ship (at your expense) one of these books to another member who requests it. Doing this earns you a credit, which you can use to request a book of your choice from another member.

I have scored many hard-to-find and out-of-print books through PaperbackSwap, which I love. If there is a book you want that isn’t available, just add it to your wish list. It might take a while, but someone will eventually post it, and the system will offer it to the next person on the wait list for that book. I also really like the fact that the books I don’t want any more get shipped to someone who is happy to receive them.

Scored any free books lately? Got any other resources you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.

Apps I Like: Spot the Dot by Ruckus Media

When I heard that David A. Carter had developed an app in conjunction with Ruckus Media, I thought: “This is a match made in heaven!” My kids and I are already big fans of Carter’s pop-up books (I even have a copy of his wonderful Elements of Pop-Up, a hands-on how-to book for aspiring paper engineers) AND other Ruckus apps, so you can imagine how eager I was to try out Spot the Dot. But did it measure up to my high expectations?

The app is not a storybook app–more like an activity book (in line with the other geometric shape pop-up books Carter has developed). There are ten ‘playspaces’ for the user to explore, all featuring a ‘find the colored dot’ activity. A clearly-articulated male voiceover guides folks through each playspace. Lively animation, a beautiful color palette and well-chosen sound effects and music add to the experience.

The presentation is such that people of all ages will find themselves amused while searching for the elusive colored dot. And the icing on the cake: when the app is restarted, the dots will show up in a different location, so the puzzle solutions can’t be memorized! I consider that feature to be a real gift–straight from the app creators to me, adding exponentially to the replay value and entertainment factor.

I don’t give out star ratings for my informal reviews, but if I did, Spot the Dot would get five stars out of five. I just love it! Get your own copy for $3.99 on iTunes (iPad only), or if you’d like to try it out for free before purchase, download the Lite version, which includes three of the ten playspaces for you to sample. What are you waiting for?

(Full disclosure: I received a copy of this app for review purposes.)

Swimming Pool Maze

I love how Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. During the hottest time of the year, my kids love splashing in the pool above all else, and this maze activity sheet was created with them in mind. Find your way to the beach ball, and enjoy!