Write To Read – App Time

Write To Read is a new app which encourages children to learn to read. We’re finding it really interesting too, surprisingly so!

This is going to be a two-part review – Write To Read is a new app from WriteReader which encourages children to learn to read. Now, H is  almost four and already knows a few words – so I was curious to find out more.

Write To Read

What you get is a really straightforward app and one which I can see how it works – H is doing this at a very basic level (one word descriptions – ‘mummy’ rather than ‘this is my mummy’ sort of things). She starts school in September so I fully expect her to get a lot more from this towards the end of the year, which is when I’ll post a follow-up.

Essentially, you’re creating an online photo book and your child will explain what each picture is – in their own writing and spelling. You (as the adult) then type in the correct sentence underneath so the child knows what the correct words are and this in turn helps them learn to spell – you’re working together making your own story. We’re actually doing something quite similar – a couple of months ago I started a photo blog for H which has one new photo a week which she describes and I type up –  and this app takes the learning a step further. She will often try to spell words, so the formation of them is there – and I feel like this complements what we do really well.

Write to Read - basic

Also – Write To Read has no Comic Sans!

It’s really clearly explained and straightforward to work, and I’m looking forward to using it as her spelling progresses.

Once your child doesn’t need help from a parent they can create their own books without the repeated spelling, so this does have a long life ahead of it – you’re spending a fair amount for something which could last you seven years or more.

The Write to Read app is aimed at 3-10 year olds and completely revolutionises the way children learn to read. It has been phenomenally successful in Denmark where it is used in more than 300 schools and nurseries. Write to Read encourages children to learn to read by physically writing and spelling words on the iPad rather than reading the printed word on a page.

Write To Read costs £4.99 from iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/write-to-read/id590707197?mt=8

We’ll post a follow-up later in the year, but right now I think this is brilliant and has a lot of potential. For the month of July Write To Read is available at a cheaper price as well!

We were gifted this app to review, all opinions are our own and honest.

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App Time – Ben and Holly’s Magic School

Ben and Holly Magic School

P2 Games have recently released ‘Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom – Magic School’ where you’ll find familiar games, sticker rewards and all the characters from Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom all together.

I currently have Nanny Plum telling me to “GO onnn! Touch the game you want to play!!” which amuses me.

The sections you get in this game are:

Wand Creator – Get creative by designing your very own wand! Pick your wand shape, colour, face, sparkles and sound! What will you choose?

Wand Practice – What will you turn Wise Old Elf into? Practice your wand skills by joining the stars to transform Wise Old Elf into a variety of objects and animals!

Potion Making – Create your own magic potion by picking ingredients and fairy dust and mixing them in a large cauldron to test the funny effects on Ben!

Magic Picnic – Help Holly transform the plates of food for each character into something tastier! Use your wand to tap and zap the right food at the right time!

Box of Burps – Holly wanted to show off her magic skills by creating a beautiful flower but she accidently created a box of burps instead! Use your wand to stop the burps escaping from the Box!

Elf Tag – Touch the elves and fairies that are covered in jelly to splat it off them with your wand.

End of School Photograph – Create your own imaginative photo with the stickers you have won.

Yet again the game is a hit with H – she enjoys all of the games and I like there’s different difficulty levels in each section – she particuarly likes changing the Wise Old Elf into various characters (it cracks her up, she thinks it’s hilarious!).

If you’re a fan of the show you’ll love it – and it’s available now from the App Store for £2.99.

We were sent a code to review the app, the link is an affiliate one.

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App Time – Guess How Much I Love You iPad App

Guess How Much I Love You app 2This app is currently free at the App Store. If you’ve seen the ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ tv programme you’ll be familiar, and even more so if you’ve read the books.

Guess How Much I Love You features two full interactive episodes ‘Touch The Stars’ and ‘Snow White Hare’ broken into sections with an activity relating to that part of the story – from matching shapes to turning the iPad to guide Little Nutbrown Hare on the screen.

Guess How Much I Love You app

At the end of each story there’s an option to send a postcard to someone – you can pre-set the addresses in the options menu of the game.

We love the show, and H is really enjoying the app – I’m not sure if it has always been free, but in case it hasn’t, grab it quickly – it’s really lovely.

Guess How Much I Love You – Interactive Episodes – SLR Productions Pty Ltd

The Guess How Much I Love You website (with activities and fun things)

App TimeWith thanks to the Facebook Apps For Parents group for the heads-up!

App Time – Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper

Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is a new app from Gazoob to complement early learning at school.

Read With Biff Chip & Kipper App

I jumped at the chance to review the Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper app – H is starting in reception this September and I know they’ll be reading their books, I’d been looking at buying the books or picking some up at Car Boot Sales. Shaun regularly points out we have too many books (I know, that sounds bad but once she’s reading we can box away a lot – I bought lots of ‘That’s Not My…’ books when she was a baby and they take up space) so having all of them within an iPad app is possibly the perfect solution. Plus H enjoys reading books on there – we’ve had the Mog app for a while now and she often reads it without me, doing it in her own time.

I was keen to see the books as things have changed since I was little, I learnt using ITA – these days it’s far more sensible and uses phonics. Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper comes in six levels –

Level 1: Getting ready to read. Age 4-5 years
Level 2: Starting to read. Age 4-5 years
Level 3: Becoming a reader. Age 4-5 years
Level 4: Developing as a reader. Age 5-6 years
Level 5: Building confidence as a reader. Age 5-6 years
Level 6: Reading with confidence. Age 5-6 years

There are 48 books in total. I spotted on the Gazoob website that the books go to a higher level – their response to the question is as follows : There are two parallel Biff, Chip & Kipper series from Oxford University Press.
Ours is a home reading series and is designed to complement the 9 level Classic series which is used in schools.
The classic series is not currently available as apps.

Read with Biff Chip and Kipper tips

Each book has some Tips for Reading Together – which has helpful hints of things to do when reading. I know I rush when I read books and it’s teaching me to slow down a bit, and spend more time talking about the pictures as well as pointing out each word. Most of this is about repetition and encouraging your child to join in – as well as having an activity to do on each picture – the first book you need to find a shell in each picture, and so on.

read with biff chip and kipper phonics tips

The phonics option is brilliant – so far we’ve barely gone into any depth, but having an I-spy game so the child has to work out which object starts (or ends!) with a letter is genius – and one H puzzled over for a good twenty minutes today – and tracing over the letters is always fun and good practice – I’m looking forward to more on the phonics side of things and how we’ll progress as you can almost feel it clicking somewhere with it being done properly.

Read with Biff Chip and Kipper app Get On

Within the story side you have three options – Read by myself, Read to me and Auto play. Right now we’re doing the second stage quite a lot, though H does read it herself – you can press each word and it tells you what it is. At the end of each book are questions about the story and a puzzle.

Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper comes from a new company called Gazoob who aim to develop, publish and recommend educational materials, be it Apps, Games, Videos or Teaching materials.  They already have a few titles under their belt, and will be adding a lot more as the year goes on.

Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper H

How have we found it? I’ve been impressed. H’s word recognition has definitely improved and she’s much more confident – they don’t use these books at her nursery preschool but will in her school from September. Phonics-wise I think this is where she’s made the biggest jump and can now spell words and work them out much easier than two or three months ago.

I think Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is an excellent app – it’s free to download with the 48 books being an additional purchase at £149.99 – which is a lot of money, although you can buy individual books at £3.99 each (so it works out cheaper overall to buy the books in one lot – a lot would depend on the stage your child is at). I love how H asks to play apps on the iPad and sees these books as fun, to me that’s half the battle with learning. It’s also something we’ll get a lot of use from, and isn’t going to be something that’s ignored in six months time – potentially taking H up to her sixth birthday which is still two and a half years away. The design of Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is nice and clean, the fonts are good (and yes, comic sans is present, grrrrr!) and instructions are clear.

It is Mac and Windows compatible – for more information head to their website.
There’s a giveaway on their site to win the full app – you need to head to their Facebook page, and quick – the giveaway ends on the 31st May 2013!

We were sent a code to review the full app with all books – all opinions are our own.

App Time – Peppa Pig’s Holiday

Peppa Pig has a new game out, based on a few episodes from the latest series – this time she’s on holiday. H is still very Peppa obsessed, and I can’t see an end to it soon. This game follows a similar pattern to previous ones, so anyone familiar will know the kind of thing.

You play games and earn stickers to place on a page within the app. Simple enough – and this time the food creation part is to make a pizza which we all had fun with – you’ve the additional skill of chopping the vegetables for toppings, and the pizza to serve.

Peppa Pig's HolidayH has been getting a bit frustrated with it though – but I think that’s a really good thing, and I’ll explain why. These games have an element of your child having to pay attention – the ‘At The Airport’ section has several bags which pass through the X-Ray machine, and you have to match the right item to each bag – but the item disappears. I like this as I’ve felt like while we’ll play the games they can be repetitive (H doesn’t mind), so having to listen, remember AND get it right appeals to me in a big way. The first part of the game has you placing the bags on the conveyor belt – and you’ll get various commands – “five bags”, “all the green bags”, “three yellow bags” and so on, with the second being the part where you identify the correct items.

In ‘Going to the Beach’ Peppa and George are getting ready for the beach, and need help picking their swimming costumes and beach toys as well as applying the sun cream!

In ‘Ice Cream’ they help Auntie Goat make ice cream – it’s similar to the last ice cream game on the previous app – you create one and pass it on to whoever is next in line.

‘Swimming Race’ is based around the pool at the villa, and can be played with up to four players (or just one) – similar to some of the ones on Sports Day, quick and fun especially if your child is the competitive kind (mine is… sigh).

‘Sky High Song’ is the ‘Big Balloon’ song which features in the holiday episodes – just the video. It’s short but for the Peppa fan that will be possibly all they could ever want.

‘Postcard Sticker Book’  is the section for the stickers – collect them throughout the game and arrange on some postcards –  and you’re able to make the stickers bigger or smaller which will help with the pincer grasp if help is needed. That and you can put a gigantic Daddy Pig in the swimming pool too which always amuses H.

Peppa Pig's Holiday ipad

The game is out now and released by P2 Games – and already is at the top of the charts. Having a Peppa fan in the house, she enjoyed the game a lot. I feel like there’s a lot of repetition in this game from previous ones – although the ‘At The Airport’ section more than makes up for it – I want my girl to concentrate and remember things, and for this alone I’d recommend this app.

Buy Peppa Pig Holiday by P2 Games here
P2 Games

We were given a code to review this app, all opinions are mine. H loves it. This review also contains an affiliate code.

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App Time – The Wheels On The Bus app

I am currently sitting down on the laptop, a lazy Saturday sort of moment, with H sat next to me on the iPad. She’s playing this game, and is playing ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ app on the keyboard on this section of the game. She’s absolutely hooked – really focused and playing along – for the first time ever. She’s doing it correctly, and isn’t getting frustrated.

Wheels on the Bus Main Screen

A bit of background – a while back we reviewed the ‘Four Little Speckled Frogs’ activity box on here – and the same people – Music For Kids have now made available the Wheels on the Bus app for the iPad with P2 Games – and it sits perfectly alongside the game. It’s all about teaching children about music – I don’t want to confidently declare she’ll be playing it on her own in a week, but she has recognition of the notes that make up the song – and being very sticker motivated, is delighted when she earns one as well. There’s something different about this game and I haven’t yet worked out what – it could be the slower tempo of the song, which allows her to play at a similar tempo, it could be it’s really nice and clear to join in with maybe. I know she loves earning stickers as each sticker does something, makes a noise, plays a song even.

Wheels on the Bus Play Along

There are several sections to the Wheels on the Bus app – you can paint some pictures (which she always enjoys), you can do the stickers, you can play the tunes (and make up your own with several different tones – our favourite was the last one – green maybe? It makes all kinds of great noises!) and you can put together jigsaws.

In fact, what I like about this game is that she’s learning – it’s one that I’ve been able to sit alongside her and help, but she’s got her head around quite quickly and done on her own.

Wheels on the Bus Sticker Scene

 

That’s why we’re loving this game – she’s got a real sense of pride when she’s played a tune she recognises – and I think that’s a fantastic achievement!

The Wheels on the Bus app comes from P2 Games Limited and is available on the App Store now and costs only £1.49.

We received a code to review, all opinions are our own

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App Time and Giveaway – Little Red Wagon App

I love it when people in bands make music for kids and base it around more ‘traditional’ things – and even better when there are interactive elements to it – such as the Little Red Wagon app based on the song recorded by Cat Doorman.

Cat Doorman is Julianna Bright and various musicians who has recently released an album, ‘Cat Doorman Songbook’. The album features appearances from local Portland OR musicians Seth Lorinczi (Corin Tucker Band), Nick Reddel (The Golden Bears), Chris Funk (The Decemberists), Garth Klippert (Old Light), Ralf Youtz (Built to Spill/Halo Benders), Kate O’Brien-Clarke, Annalisa TornfeltJenny Conlee-Drizos (The Decemberists), Cory Gray (Carcrashlander), Jennifer Harrison (Portland Brass Quintet), and Sara Lund (Corin Tucker Band).

littleredwagon2

One of the tracks on this album is the traditional folk song ‘Little Red Wagon’, which is where this Little Red Wagon app from Night & Day Studios comes in.

Little Red Wagon has hand painted illustrations from Julianna Bright – it’s simple and that’s what makes it enjoyable, plus ‘Little Red Wagon’ is a wonderfully catchy song – we’ve been singing it a lot. You start by choosing your instrument (H likes that part a lot and will play all three parts in a row) – guitar, piano or full band. There’s plenty of interactive parts to the game – touch the sun and it spins and changes its expression. Touch the cow, and it does a poo (this was one of our favourite bits, it makes H roar with laughter) – drop the food at the bakers and a bird swoops down to pick it up, drop an apple in the orchard and the mole has a magnet which picks it up, and so on.

littleredwagongarden

For older readers who are looking at learning songs and reading music, you get the song with notes along the bottom of the screen which I like!

The ending is cute, and one that pleased H a lot as well.

littleredwagonend

The drawings make this feel different too, it has a lovely homemade feel about it, I love Julianna’s voice (and I’ll be buying the album), it has a real warmth to it and the songs are easy to sing along to.

I have a giveaway! I have a code for the Little Red Wagon app – just leave a comment to this post. I also have a copy of the ‘Cat Doorman Songbook’ to give away – so please say if you have a preference (iPad App or CD).

Cat Doorman’s website is here
Cat Doorman on Facebook
Cat Doorman on Night & Day

App Time at Mum Friendlya Rafflecopter giveaway

App Time – Miffy in the Snow

It’s no secret I love Miffy – I grew up with the books in the seventies (how I wish we’d kept them) and given Miffy is still going strong I knew it’d be something I’d bring H up to love too. The books never seem to date at all – the colours are simple and the messages are always positive ones (Miffy is Naughty, the most current book being the exception).

We’ve missed a few of the iPad apps so far, but today spotted that Miffy in the Snow has recently been released and what with the weather being the way it is outside, I figured what better an app to buy?

Miffy in the Snow

It’s great too! There’s enough on there that’s good fun – you have the story read to you, complete with interactive sections – as well as this three people can record the story so you can have it read to you in different voices (I love this option for these kinds of apps), and finally there’s a games section – matching pairs and knock the hat off the snowman, plus a chance to make a card (though no obvious save option – I took a screengrab instead). As the games progress they get a little bit more difficult – I liked that with the snowman game you need a good hand-eye co-ordination for it to knock the hat off, which made H concentrate a little harder. The matching pairs was also interesting – she’d work on each colour to clear them rather than individual items. Mid-way through the story she skipped a couple of pages, and you’re able to go back a page by viewing the menu at the top (press the flower).

Miffy in the Snow - interactive part

The app is available in English or Dutch and costs £2.99 from the App Store which isn’t cheap, but I think there’s enough on there for H to do as she starts to learn to read more words, and don’t object to paying it. If you’re a Miffy fan too, you’ll probably find there’s enough in there to keep a young one entertained!

H's Miffy in the Snow Card
H’s Miffy in the Snow Card

Buy miffy in the snow at the App Store.

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App Time – Everything’s Rosie

H playing the Everything's Rosie appWe were sent two Everything’s Rosie apps to review, and almost immediately we hit a problem – a minor one but one which slowed us down – our iPad is a first generation, and while the app worked, it would quite often crash so we could never work our way through it. However, as good luck would have it, we now own an iPad Mini, we loaded the games onto it and so far, brilliant!

Are you familiar with Everything’s Rosie? Surely you must with the catchy song (hear it once and you’ll probably not get it out of your head, even if you can’t remember the words) – Rosie is a lovable ragdoll character who has friends she has really sweet adventures with. These apps are two of them.

Everything's Rosie Bedtime Activity Fun
Everything's Rosie Bedtime

Firstly, we have Everything’s Rosie Bedtime – where you get a bedtime story and Colouring Fun & Spot the Difference in the Activity Fun section. The story is read out and H enjoyed it, and even recognised some words (gulp!) – plus I found there were good fonts, nice and clear too. (and no comic sans – hurrah!) The colouring, well yet again she amazed me – she’s started to use different colours on pictures and got on with it, she seems to love colouring in things on iPad games and picks up all the different settings and colours very quickly.You have a colour wheel and a choice of brushes on this one.

Everything's Rosie Playtime Everything's Rosie Playtime Activity Fun

We also have Everything’s Rosie Playtime – a daytime story which again had H hooked, reading it (and recognising a few words!!) – I like how each word is highlighted as it’s read so there’s a good educational element there too. The activities with this game are Magic Mazes and Funny Faces – there’s four different mazes based on each character which are a little bit difficult, so take a little bit longer (but not prohibitively so!), and Funny Faces which is just that – and is easily H’s favourite part to play.

Everything's Rosie Funny Faces

If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll love this. It’s currently H’s favourite app (she declared this fact to us tonight!)

You can buy both Everything’s Rosie apps for £2.99 each  at the App Store

Everything’s Rosie Bedtime App
Everything’s Rosie Playtime App

We were sent a code for the purpose of this review, all opinions are our own.

App Time at Mum Friendly

App Time – Disney Fairies Lost & Found

We mentioned this app before Christmas – and have had a good play on it. There’s a few things which spring to mind – the main one, this is suitable for older kids – or at least ones who can read. If I could change one thing slightly I’d have made an option to have the objects names spoken, though all it meant was I played it with H and we didn’t try for any time challenges – as I quickly realised this game is about a good time and finding as many objects as possible as closely together.

Disney Fairies - Lost and Found

So, what’s it about? There’s the new Tinker Bell movie which has just come out (which we saw two days ago, and H loved), and this is based around scenes from the movie. There’s six sections, each with a different fairy and within those there’s three stars to get. You also have a time challenge. To gain stars you need to find a number of objects which are listed at the bottom of your screen. It starts quite easy but is quite difficult at the end.

Disney Fairies Lost & Found

This is the bit where I also add that Shaun and I were both playing this last night, determined to get three stars in each section – as in we were both on the one screen. It’s pretty difficult to get the three, the objects to find are random, though none of them ever move from their location. H doesn’t have the ability to finish it, though it means we can play the game and find things and each chapter of the book is now unlocked – though we’ve one final challenge to do, find all objects, which will unlock one final thing (I’ve no idea what!).

As far as the game goes, the graphics are gorgeous, the objects are easy enough to find if you know what you’re looking for – you may find you need to play each section a few times to remember locations. You’ll recognise objects and scenes from the films, and of course the fairies too. The book you unlock is the story from the film, so now we’ve seen it I think things will make a lot more sense to H – and game-wise she’s happy to find things as long as we’re around to tell her what she needs to find.

Disney Fairies: Lost & Found is available at the App Store and is still only 69p (and it says there’s an update due soon too, ooh goody!)