Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Little eLit?

Early Literacy and Electronic Literature for children

Why should we even consider eBooks for children? This is a hot topic right now, and while some forward-thinking and inherently awesome librarians (and other people) all all jiggy with eBooks for kids, others are not yet convinced. The plain and simple truth is that we live in a digital world, and if we want our kids to be successful in that world, they're going to have to be smart about technology. Let's give them good books, electronic AND tree-based, so that their little sponge brains can soak up all that good learnin.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

App Review: Wheels on the Bus

$0.99 on iTunes and Amazon

Very cute interactive musical book!  This app is a 2010 Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner.  Duck Duck Moose makes many educational apps for toddlers and babies.  Even though the suggested age for this app is 4+ on iTunes, the designer says 18 months and up, and my 5 month old enjoyed it too.  Of course, it is more fun when kids can use the interactive elements themselves.  Every page has different elements: the doors on the bus open and close when you touch them, the driver winks and moves her arm, and a dog barks, among many others.  You can change the language of the book to French, Spanish, Italian, or German, change the instruments in the music, or even record yourself singing the song.  This is definitely worth the price.

Review be Leslie McNabb

Friday, January 20, 2012

Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is a research lab that specializes in the use of emerging media to enhance literacy development in young children.  They produce media (this is Sesame of Sesame Street, after all), research,  conferences, and all sorts of other resources for educators, researchers and parents.  Check out their Initiatives page to see what they're up to and Reports for full-text research articles on children, learning and media.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

eBook Review: Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham
Oceanhouse Media
$3.99 from Amazon App Store
Read on Kindle Fire

Green Eggs and Ham!  I'm trying to like them, Sam I am!

This is the same people who did Rudolph.  So.  Some of the same stuff stands.  Kinda creepy, annoying narrator and those big red words that pop out when you click on pictures.  It's psychedelically annoying.  I might just be a party pooper about this, but I'd rather have some of other kind of interaction.  They sell this book for $3.99 on name recognition, mostly.

The problem is, my kid LOVES this.  He asks for Sam-I-am and loves the train going through the tunnel and the accompanying choo choo sounds.  He points out the eggs, he points out the ham, and he says "I do not like them, Sam-I-am!" at dinner when I'm trying to get him to eat something green.  We have a few Dr Seuss compilations that we read from, so he recognizes the art and the cadence.

I'd rather listen to Moxy Fruvous than read this eBook, but I'm not the boss of me.  My 2 year old is.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

eArticle Review: iLearn II: An Analysis of the Education Category of Apple's App Store

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop has recently published iLearn II: An Analysis of the Education Category of Apple's App Store, which is an in depth research study that examined 200 of the top selling education Apps with the intention of tracking trends in the industry and setting best practices for developers. Take a look at some of their findings:


Apps are an important and growing medium for providing educational content to children, both in terms of their availability and popularity.
• Over 80% of the top selling paid apps in the Education category of the iTunes Store target children.
• In 2009, almost half (47%) of the top selling apps targeted preschool or elementary aged children. That number has increased to almost three quarters (72%).
• The percentage of apps for children has risen in every age category, accompanied by a decrease in apps for adults.

Early learning apps for toddler/preschool are particularly prominent. Developers should consider potential saturation of this market.
• Apps for toddlers/preschoolers are the most popular age category (58%), and experienced the greatest growth (23%).
• General early learning is the most popular subject (47%), and there are significantly more general early learning apps than the second most popular subject (math, 13%).

The first iLearn report was published in 2009.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

App Review: Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime

The Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime app is an interactive ebook app from ustwo for iPad. The look of it is gorgeous. The illustrations are reminiscent of 19th century woodcuts, vividly colored. Each nursery rhyme (there are 8 of them) is presented in two "pages" and each page has at least one interactive element. The text is incorporated as part of the illustration, and some of the text moves or reacts along with the images on each page. The narration can be turned on or off, and the reader is a British woman with a pleasant voice.

The interactive elements are fun but don't add much, if anything, to the comprehension of the rhymes. There's some wit and ingenuity to the design in some rhymes, e.g. Humpty Dumpty cracks open and the King's horses and men spill out; but in others, like the Grand Old Duke, it feels a bit more random. The humor is a little bizarre, with a tinge of the macabre. The sound effects when Jack and Jill tumble down the hill or get smacked with fish from the well (yes, you read that right) sound like an old kung fu movie, and after you cut the tails off the three blind mice with your carving knife guillotine, you can send the severed tails careening around the screen, or reattach them and cut them off again. Of course, this is my 3-year-old son's favorite part of the ebook. He thinks it's hilarious.

Overall, though, it seems that he's already getting a little bored with it. The interactive elements are quickly mastered and there's not much else to discover. After playing with it a short time I noticed he was already skipping some pages and even his favorites didn't hold his attention long. At $3.99 it doesn't break the bank, but as great as it looks I doubt we'll get hours and hours of entertainment from this one.

Review by Genesis Hansen

Monday, January 16, 2012

App Review Blog: A Matter of App

Here's another blog that reviews children's apps. This one is run by Dr. Cynthia Chiong, who is a educational media researcher with Digital Kids.  This blog reviews apps for kids aged 3-8 and uses a rating system which takes into account the following factors: Developmental Appropriateness, Balance, Sustainability and Parental Involvement.  An explanation for her rating system can be found here.