Category Archives: Moms With Apps

Best Kids Apps Reviews I Don’t Like Pink!

One of my favorite new app review sites (Best Kids Apps) has reviewed my storybook app I Don’t Like Pink! They even put together a teaser video–wow! Here’s some of what was mentioned in the review:

“This is a wonderful book app that is loaded with lessons. The author, as well as the illustrator, Brooks Jones is a natural born teacher…A great gift for Christmas time and interacting with many friends and family members. This app is a great addition to your kid’s toolbox for life!”

Check out the entire review here.

Pink! Review at Fun Educational Apps

Fun Educational AppsThe folks at Fun Educational Apps have posted a review of my storybook app I Don’t Like Pink! Here’s some of what they said:

“we liked the bright and colourful illustrations and the light amount of animation…we really liked the topic and messages, where quite often kids think stereotypes applies to everyone.”

“We also liked the moral of the story where although Gabi is strong minded she is respectful…The book app offers a great opening to kids discussion,  a great lesson on how to be true to yourself and show a way to use creative problem solving.”

Read the entire review at Fun Educational Apps. Their site is great, by the way–it is chock-full of reviews, app giveaways and it’s all organized by category. Check it out!

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.)

I Don’t Like Pink! Review at Digital Storytime!

Review of I Don't Like Pink! at Digital Storytime

I Don’t Like Pink! has received its first review–at Digital Storytime! Here’s some of what was said in the review:

“Features original music and delightful narration by the author herself…the illustrations are crisp and colorful…a short but sweet little book with a well-crafted story and nice educational content that is both relevant and engaging for youngsters.”

Go check out the whole review–and buy the app on iTunes for only two bucks! I thank you in advance.

Apps I Like: Two French Apps

While the rest of the world was in England last week for the royal wedding, I was in the French Alps! er, I mean Apps. I had a chance to try out two nifty French-themed kids apps, and I think you’ll like them too.

Word Wagon by Duck Duck Moose

Word Wagon: Kids spell words by dragging the letters in place.

The first app is Word Wagon by Duck Duck Moose, an award-winning developer of educational game apps for kids. This app is all about spelling words and is designed for youngsters just learning to read. A cute little rodent named Mozz lives under the Eiffel Tower (and he wears a beret!). He and his bird friend Coco guide kids through each word.

I really liked the artwork, French-themed music and animation, and I also like the fact that the letters are mentioned by name and pronounced as they should sound in the word. When the word is formed correctly, it is spoken and then the word is collected in the wagon.

Kids can see how many words they’ve formed, and along the way they collect stars which can be used to form constellations. There are four levels of difficulty in the app, which is nice because each of my two kids can enjoy the app at their own ability level.

While definitely an educational app, Word Wagon is well designed and makes learning spelling and phonics fun. It’s $1.99 and is designed for the iPhone, although it looks great at 2x on my iPad.

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GoKids Apps: Save Paris! is a clever app for older kids by Fun Educational Apps. You are tasked with saving Paris from evil alien invaders who are focused on ‘Glooping’ everything in sight!

Your mission is to learn about France and Paris, and then use your new knowledge by pairing facts with their definitions in a match card game. If you miss too many it’s Game Over. If not, you’ll be rewarded with a fun ‘whack-a-mole’ game, where the object is to tap on the aliens as fast as they pop up.

I admit I went through only the first three missions of ten. The material covered is wonderfully comprehensive and includes geography, language, culture, history and more. This would be a fantastic resource for kids 8-12, especially those who are visiting France, taking French or doing a unit on France in geography or history class. But the alien invasion theme and the game action would probably draw kids back just for that aspect of the app.

With high-quality art, music and gameplay, GoKids Apps: Save Paris! is a crash course in French culture sandwiched between top-secret missions to defeat green Gloop aliens. What’s more fun than that? Find it in the App Store for $1.99.

(Full disclosure: I received a copy of each of these apps for review purposes.)

Interview with Digital Storytime’s Carisa Kluver

the Digital Storytime site

a recent review at Digital Storytime

If you have an Apple mobile device and small kids, you probably a) look for well-made apps that are both educational and fun; and b) like to get good deals on those apps. Digital Storytime was created with both those needs in mind, and is turning into a must-bookmark site for busy parents like me. I was able to snag a few minutes of time with Carisa Kluver, Digital Storytime‘s creator/founder, who cheerfully agreed to answer my nosy questions!

Carisa Kluver, Digital Storytime's creator

Carisa Kluver, Digital Storytime's creator

1. As both an educator and a parent, you come at the concept of digital literacy from two valid perspectives. Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you realize that the iPad could be used as a digital bookshelf for your kids?

I spent the past 20 years working with children, youth and families in a variety of roles. I have a BA in Anthropology and an MSW, spending most of my career teaching health education to adolescents & training teachers, often for after-school programs to prevent teen pregnancy. I still do contract work occasionally, training teachers for a comprehensive sexuality education curricula series called Our Whole Lives. Before I left the workforce to have my little boy 5 years ago, I had settled into research work on teen pregnancy prevention and was even published in an academic journal. [That article took 6 years to see publication, so every time I push the ‘publish’ button on the blog, I think, “Now that’s instant gratification for a writer.”]

When my 40th birthday rolled around in April 2010, my plans to celebrate in Vegas seemed a bit beyond our budget, so I ‘splurged’ on a 16GB wifi iPad instead. Within a month I was downloading kids books. I was a little stunned at how revolutionary the change in my own reading routine was with my own child. I am a lover of print kids books and never liked digital books on computers. My nieces & nephews make jokes about how I only send them books for every gifting opportunity–so much so that they would be stunned to get anything else from me. I never thought I’d be willing to transition from print to digital–let alone so quickly.

2. Digital Storytime is quickly becoming the site of choice for parents who want information and reviews of storybook apps for the iPad. What made you want to create the site?

Long before the idea for our site, I loved finding good iPad kids books. But the shopping experience was dreadful. The kids books aren’t even separated out from the erotica in the app store. I also couldn’t afford my growing book app habit without serious bargain shopping. By October I had amassed over 100 book apps by watching sale promotions very closely. That’s when the idea to start my own site hit me. I was also talking to our local children’s librarian about the book apps and trying to describe them. She just looked confused and had never heard of these books. When I explained that they have no ISBN numbers, she was even more mystified.

At the same time, I was getting a crash course in marketing. I was trying to help out my husband’s Android kids game, Dash & Ditto’s Playground, and in the process I spent a lot of time on app review sites for both Android & iOS kids apps. I wanted a way to really search and sort through information and tried to find something like that for kids books for the iPad. Of course such a site simply didn’t exist. My husband needed a database project for a class he was taking in php, so I gave him a project … a big one. 😉

3. I love how each app is rated on six different metrics (Animation, Audio Quality, Interactivity, Re-Readability, Extras and Bedtime)–I find this very helpful when I evaluate apps for my own kids. Have other parents responded to the site? What sort of feedback have you been getting?

I have gotten wonderful feedback from almost everyone – from parents & educators to authors/illustrators and even developers themselves. Parents in particular have said the site is a ‘godsend’ even. It makes me blush a little. 🙂

We are also in the process of several big makeovers for the pages on our site. The response to the first page to change, the deal page, was great. We really appreciate the specific feedback … things like the different colors for free and paid apps on the buttons came from a reader suggestion.

We actually have two more categories I rate books on, Originality & Educational, that will debut with our site makeover later this month (May).

4. The Daily Deal page is a fantastic, time-saving resource for those of us who have limited funds (and who doesn’t?). Educational and book apps show up there whenever the price drops below their regular retail price (including FREE)! How did you get the idea for this great feature?

My friends know me for being notoriously frugal. My deal-finding abilities in the non-digital world are legendary. In order to start the review site I needed lots of good books to choose from to fill the site quickly with reviews. I didn’t get promo codes for books at first, so I was industrious about finding free deals and watching for price drops on chart topping books. I even started following lots of developers on twitter to hear about deals more quickly. Once I started getting promo codes, I decided to turn this bargain hunting into the deal page to share my finds. At first, I just figured a couple good friends would download stuff … but it turns out the things I wanted in a site were things lots of parents & educators wanted too.

5. There is some controversy about the use of screens for reading with children instead of traditional printed books. As an educator and a parent, what are your thoughts on moving storytime into the digital age?

This is a complicated issue. I do have concerns about screen time. That’s why I added the blog, The Digital Media Diet. Everything is about balance, mindfulness and being present as a parent (both literally and figuratively). I also think all screens (and content) are not created equally. I use my child’s behavior as feedback … if he is zombie-like and whiny after getting to play with an app, I can tell it is the kind of screen time that needs to be a treat, not the digital meal.

I expect there will be some growing pains as our society adjusts to digital kids books. I don’t get the controversy though. I guess I just don’t think we can do anything to stop this trend. The transition seems to be happening faster than anyone expected, though. The costs of printing (in financial and environmental terms) are simply too great in comparison to the ease of digital publishing and downloading. And that’s even without the extra features that make picture books come alive. Once you’ve walked through this particular door, you can’t go back. (IMHO)

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A big thanks to Carisa for helping me out with the blog today! If you’ve never visited Digital Storytime, the Daily Deal page or the Digital Media Diet blog, head on over there and check it out! You can Like them on Facebook too.

I Don’t Like Pink! is LIVE!

I Don't Like Pink is LIVE!

LIVE Now in the App Store: I Don't Like Pink!

I am pleased to announce that my first storybook app I Don’t Like Pink! is now LIVE in the Apple App Store! I am so proud to have teamed up with PicPocket Books, one of my very favorite app publishers even before I decided to develop the story as an app.

The story features a spunky young lady named Gabi who isn’t shy about expressing her displeasure with a gift she receives from her grandmother. A visit from a friend right after the present is opened provides an unexpected resolution to the problem, and a fresh take on the meaning of gift appreciation.

I Don’t Like Pink! is a full-color, interactive storybook app that features original music, subtle animation that follows the story, and a professionally recorded voiceover by yours truly! The app is optimized for iPad (iPhone version coming soon) and priced at $1.99.

I hope you won’t mind if I ask you to please Get It! and please let me know how you like the story! WHOO-HOO! Can you tell I’m excited?!