Two of the six early literacy skills I focus on in storytime are print awareness and print motivation. Like librarians everywhere, as we read, play, sing, talk, and write I want kids to see that print is everywhere and understand how a book works. I also want to get them hooked on stories, books and reading.
Along with print books, I’m always looking for early literacy boosting apps and other digital media that I can review, use in programs, and recommend to families. So when I had the opportunity to review the WePublish app recently, I was interested to see what it was all about. Oftentimes the way to connect a young child with reading is too share with them books that reflect their experience. So the idea behind WePublish, an easy to use app that helps families or multiple children make their own book together, intrigued me.
WePublish is an app that lets kids and adults design and publish an eight page book, creating a new story or retelling a favorite. The app is based on digital collage, an interesting choice.
When creating a new book, each of the eight black pages appears separately. While the bookmaker works on each page independently, all of the pages can be viewed in preview or imposition view with a tap of a button. Design tools include images of common textures that can be cropped and snipped to make shapes, along with a drawing tool (black or white) and multiple fonts. The combination of the new images, text, and accents blends to form a collage on each page. Instead of a bookmaking tool where the sky’s the limit, the few design tools in the WePublish app help keep things simple, allowing young book creators to focus on the elements of the story instead of the various tools.
Book creators can use the device’s camera to capture new images for the texture library. Kids and adults can find interesting textures, snap a picture, and then cut or crop the image to turn the texture of grass into a tree, for example, using one finger and budding fine motor skills. Kids can also make artwork to include in the book, again using the device’s camera and photo library. The artwork can be used as a texture to further manipulate with the design tools, or included as is. The finished book can be printed on A3 or A4 size paper or shared via email (via a parental gate). I used legal size paper (similar to A3) and it worked fine.
This app would fit nicely in an early literacy program for adults and kids that offers enough time to learn how the app works and time to create a book. I’m planning such a program for later this winter. Kids love telling stories and this app helps them share that story in a new way–in a book of their own making. An adult working with one or more young children would make a nice bookmaking team, each member adding to the collaborative project.
While English is the only language currently included, a wordless book could easily be created and have significant value for pre-readers and those who speak a language other than English. Creating images that prompt an oral story can strengthen bonds between family members and build a child’s narrative skills.
I, and a couple other reviewers, did find that editing is limited after a book has been created and stored in the app’s library. Imported images can be moved around, but not deleted. Drawn lines couldn’t be deleted or moved and text cannot be deleted by tapping on it. I was able to slide the text and a texture image off the page that I didn’t want and they didn’t appear in printing, but I figured that out through trial and error. In other cases I had to delete the page’s entire content and start over.
Tips, sample books, and a short video on how to fold your printed, finished book (origami!) are included in the app. The app is free of in-app ads and purchases.Claudia Haines, Little eLit Curation Coordinator
Youth Services Librarian
Homer Public Library ~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
Sago Mini has created many delightful toy-apps for young children. Last week, I had an opportunity to use Sago Mini Monsters in storytime at my library and everyone loved it! Gameplay is simple:
1. Drag a monster silhouette up from the primordial goo at the bottom of the screen.
2. Decorate the monster using your finger to draw in one of 5 colors.
3. Tap on the checkmark to tell the game you’re done drawing on the monster and your monster will grow eyes, horns and a mouth (although if you don’t like those, you can pluck them off and different features will grow in their place).
4. Feed the monster foods that pop up from the goo (could be cake, could be a boot…)
5. After the monster has eaten, its teeth look quite dirty, so it’s time to brush!
6. Pull more accessories up from the goo (a hat! a bandaid! a lightning bolt! the options are vast.) and finish designing your monster.
7. Take a picture (or don’t) and tap on the checkmark when you’re ready to meet a new monster.
I love this app for the open-ended (but not overwhelmingly option-heavy) art play and for the silliness factor that makes users of all ages giggle. The storytime kids loved telling me how to design the monster (What color should we choose next? Should we draw spots? Stripes? Squiggles? Where should we put this mustache? Do you like these eyeballs?) and they loved watching it eat crazy food and brushing its teeth. One mom told me that her daughter loves to use the app and then go into the bathroom and brush her own teeth. Every time. Hooray for the sneaky health lesson!
For a limited time, it’s free in the app store (all decked out for Halloween!), so grab it while you can. Read about the other monster apps I used in my storytime here. Make your own Sago Mini Monster finger puppets by downloading the pdf’s here (then printing them at 25% and adding a strip of paper at the bottom to wrap around your finger).
Finger painting is a tremendous amount of fun. But let’s face it. It’s messy. Some kids hate getting their fingers dirty, and most adults hate cleaning up. Now the Finger Paint with Sounds app (iPad/Android) by Inclusive Technology Ltd. not only allows kids to finger paint without getting dirty, but also throws in the fun of music or sound effects.
The app provides clear directions for use; choices for no sound, music, or sound effects; multi-touch and single touch options; and contains no in-app purchases.
The blank screen has seven half-circles of color on the edges. Touch one of these and every touch on the screen after that is that color and has that individual sound until you touch another color. A double tap in the corner allows you to exit the screen or clear it. It’s that simple! Preschoolers adore this app, and the single touch selection lets them practice the fine motor skills they need for writing in kindergarten. It’s an Early Literacy Skills builder cleverly disguised as a lot of fun. Shhhhh—don’t tell!
During playtime after stories last week, I pulled this app out and let the kids go to town. Oh. My. Gosh. I had it on multi-touch so that more than one child could play at a time. I sat down on the floor to hold the tablet, since we don’t yet have kid-friendly holders. Immediately, I had kids crawling all over me, making various parts of my body lose circulation. They were utterly glued to the screen, creating, making the sounds, exploring—it was a thing of beauty. Then, I looked up to find parents clustered around us, too, and they promptly demanded to know what this fabulous app was and where they could get it.
I love that!
I used the app as a general playtime app, but it would also work great with a color storytime, or a music storytime. Comment if you dream up any other uses!Awnali Mills works in the Children’s Dept. of a public library and she gets the snot scared out of her by sudden loud sounds coming out of apps she’s trying out. She blogs at The Librarian is on the Loose. ~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Maryland again to present Transforming Preschool Storytime: Plugged & Unplugged (it was our pilot session) with my good friend Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen. Our presentation included some new information from her new book Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs (co-written with Melanie A. Hetrick & Celia Yitzhak). We worked with an amazing group of librarians from Western Maryland (thank you, Julie Zamostny for having us!) and then also got to spend some time with Carroll County & Baltimore County (MD) librarians. Many thanks to Marisa Conner & Dorothy Stoltz for taking such good care of me while I was there, and for facilitating such a fruitful & inspiring conversation!
Here is our resource list, which includes all media mentioned in the session, plus our slides. Many, many thanks to Carly Reighard and Stephanie Long for letting me put them on the spot about their amazing programs. Carly has shared some of her app guides with us.
In my role as an Advisor for Youth & School Library Services at the Massachusetts Library System, I like to highlight innovative programming and services to the libraries in our state. One way to do this is by having our own local talent present for their peers. When I saw Clara Hendricks’ post on Little eLit back in December, I immediately asked her if she would be willing to do a training for us at her home library. She enthusiastically said “yes” and even let us record the presentation! You can view the videos and grab Clara’s handouts at our MLS Guide: http://guides.masslibsystem.org/digitalstorytime
We’ve also added all sorts of resources for using tablets in your library, from accessibility issues to app review sources, and of course we feature Little eLit!
Clara’s program was so popular we offered it again this fall to rave reviews. People really like to see the use of storytime apps and eBooks in action. Clara also does an amazing job of explaining the librarians’ role as model and mentor for children and families as they navigate using this technology. We are so thrilled to share this with our libraries, so I hope it helps to share it with an even wider audience!
April Mazza is Advisory for Youth & School Library Services at the Massachusetts Library System. ~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
Today, we here at Little eLit are happy to release the first chapter of our book, Young Children, New Media, and Libraries. This chapter, entitled “New Media in Youth Librarianship,” was written by Cen Campbell and myself. It’s available by clicking here, or on the image below.
This project has been a work in progress for some time, with many contributing authors. Subsequent chapters will be released once per month, on the 15th, until all chapters have been published here. At that point, the entire work will be put into a single PDF ebook document, including appendices and other additional materials.
This work, including this and subsequent chapters and any appendices, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Ed Emberley’s Shake and Make app from Night & Day Studios, Inc., is a fun puzzle app for ages 4-8 (or even adults). It is currently free in the Apple Store.
You start off by choosing your puzzle based on one of Emberley’s simple shape-based illustrations. You are then given 60 seconds to recreate the picture without a pattern to follow. There is a hint available if you are like me and need to see the picture again. While the puzzles look easy, as they are made up of simple shapes, you really test your memory in recreating the shape.
I tried out this app with three of my nieces, ages 2, 5, and 8. It was really too old for the 2-year-old, as her favorite part was moving the pieces around the screen. Unless you were lucky, the pieces did not lock into place in the puzzle shape. The 5 and the 8-year-old really got into it and many times beat me as the adult. I was personally a big fan of the hint button.
While I think that this would be a great app to put on department iPads, there are two issues to consider. First, the app works vertically, rather than horizontally. Second, the puzzle requires you to shake the iPad to start the puzzle. If your department has mounted iPads, then this app is not for you. On the other hand, if you check out or use your iPads in cases where kids can maneuver the iPad, then definitely add this app to your “must check out” pile.
Lisa Mulvenna is the Head of Youth Services for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library and one of the three co-founders of MiKidLib. You can also find her blogging at http://www.lisaslibraryland.blogspot.com or on Twitter at @lmulvenna.
~*~ Little eLit is a collaborative think tank of professionals thinking about the topic of young children, new media, and libraries. Individuals who share their viewpoints, experiences, and presentations in Little eLit blog posts are expressing their personal views and do not represent Little eLit as a whole.
Little eLit regular, Carissa Christner began a new app-based storytime series at the Madison Public Library last month. Read more about it (and learn why it’s called the Supper Club) on her blog here.
I was doing some research recently on what libraries were implementing in the way of new media & kids, and Claire Moore from the Darien Library shared a presentation with me that she had done at the New England Library Association conference in 2012. What’s awesome is that her slide provide a kind of historical backdrop for the kind of work we at LittleeLit are busy figuring out; the hows and whys of emergent media in libraries. Take a look at what Claire put together; much of it still applies, even though the technology itself has moved on since then! Also, I see both Gretchen & Kiera in there! Hi ladies!
Starting this month, the Little eLit book, Young Children, New Media, and Libraries, will be released serially here on the blog. This project has been in the works for a while now, with many contributing authors, and we’re very excited to be sharing it with the library world soon.
The first chapter, which provides an introduction to the concept of new media in librarianship for young children, will be available in PDF format on October 15. New chapters will follow on the 15th of every month until early next summer, when we’ll piece the whole thing together in one volume.
So mark your calendars and get ready for the Little eLit book–part guidebook, part collective exploration–as we continue to venture into what it means to be a youth librarian in the twenty-first century.