parenting

Kids Apps: Review of Two Educational and Health Centered Apps

parentingeducation

This past January, Apple announced that it would be introducing a new iPad textbook experience and iBooks authoring tool that would present many opportunities to use this technology in the classroom. They started selling textbooks from McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin at prices comparable to the print, or as I like to say, "tree" version.

There is no denying that this technology has revolutionized the way educators and parents can teach many topics to school children. In my day if we wanted to look something up for a school project, we would have to go the library or hope our household Encyclopedia would have the information we needed. It is pretty fascinating to think about how easily it is to learn a new language, musical instrument, or improve reading skills all at the touch of our fingers. But how is a parent to discern through all of the apps available?

With over 500,000 apps available in the iTunes Store, it has become increasingly more difficult to know which ones are worth the download—even the free ones, as they take up space on our devices! As a mom and author of a storybook app, Penelope the Purple Pirate, I wanted to help busy parents navigate through the endless number of apps available on the market, so I started to review apps this past year. Following are two apps that we really enjoy in our house:

Education and Learning: Walt Disney's Peter Pan Storybook App

When the crew at Mom It Forward asked me to review Walt Disney's Peter Pan storybook app, I was so excited as we are big fans of Peter Pan in this household. What is not to like about lost treasure, Tinker Bell, Peter Pan and The Lost Boys? The first page of the story starts off with the ability to insert a photo of your child (or yourself if you are so inclined) and to type in your name. We are shown a map and reminded of all of the wonderful places in the book such as Pirates' Cove, Mermaid Lagoon, Skull Rock, Indian Camp and Crocodile Creek. In fact, when you touch the screen, the names are repeated and the text is flashed across the screen, making a good educational tool for pre- and early readers!

Another nice feature is the highlighted words as they are read. There are simple animations such as the boys playing with wooden pirate swords before bedtime and Nana (the dog) watching over them blinking her eyes at their mischievous behavior.  And if want to take a break, in the upper right hand corner on most pages, you will find various activities, such as the page with a paint brush. When you touch it, it takes you to blank illustrations from the story that you can paint, save, and even send to someone. They also have a fun feature that allows you to play the wooden pipes, either by yourself or listen and learn.  There are many added educational features that we really enjoyed.

The illustrations stay true to the original story, which I loved. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me and a new experience for my kindergartner. She enjoyed the sounds of the forest while John, Michael and the Lost Boys went looking for their Indian friends. Parents won't be disappointed with this Disney classic with all of the added educational activities and fun animations throughout. I am so happy they stayed true to the original story, kept it simple, as the good stories usually are, and made it quite educational!  This is a winner in my book!

Healthy Eating: D.W.'s Unicorn Adventure App

Another app we really enjoy is by PBS Kids. Arthur and Martha Speaks are just some of the great programs we have enjoyed in our household. They have come out with a fun and educational game called D.W.'s Unicorn Adventure. Arthur and D.W. are from the popular PBS KIDS TV series ARTHUR and have to help a lost unicorn return to her home in Unicornia through three worlds. There are twelve levels of increasing difficulty.

We are told by Arthur that we need to eat healthy foods in rainbow colors such as strawberries, carrots, oranges and apples to gain energy and to avoid the bad foods such as potato chips, candy bars, cookies, and soda, as these will make us lose energy.  Then we see Martha riding the back of the unicorn. When we touch the screen, she will jump up and catch the various healthy foods hanging in the woods so she can continue riding. If we touch too many bad foods we are told to eat more of the foods from the rainbow.

This is a fun game that teaches little ones the importance of eating healthy foods. I really liked how they explain that the bad foods, such as potato chips and soda will drain your energy, which IS what they do. But it is told in such a way that is easy for children to understand. My daughter enjoyed the various levels. It was tricky as there are cliffs to jump over and we have to be wary of the bad foods hanging around on the ground ready to drain your energy. So you have to be quick and jump over these foods. It is cute when you jump up and grab the healthy foods as they yell out things like "orange boost" and "strawberry power," which is a nice way of explaining that these foods will give you powers and keep you healthy!

We really enjoyed playing this game and I like that they teach little ones the importance of eating healthy foods from the rainbow!

Both apps are quite enjoyable and a good addition to your children's app library!

What are your favorite educational children's apps?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

Reference: Why the iPad won't transform education just yet by Sarah Kessler, Mashable.  Posted January 20, 2012 at www.cnn.com.

Melissa Northway recently completed the Masters Program in Nutrition at the University of Bridgeport.  She is a writer and the author of Penelope the Purple Pirate, a Top 25 iTunes book app.  Her little tomboy was the inspiration to write about a spunky redhead who likes to have adventures with her friends and at the same time teach the importance of treating others with kindness and respect.  Penelope's next adventure, Penelope the Purple Pardner, takes her to the Wild West and will be available this summer.  She can be reached at: [email protected] and www.melissanorthway.com.  You can follow her piratey antics at:  @melissanorthway and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Penelope-the-Purple-Pirate/184530521575620

Check out Melissa's app mall here: http://melissa.appymall.com

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