Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Toddler’s YouTube Playlist

Take a look at Tara Gill Studios!  I met Tara at an eBooks and Apps for Young Children program that I put on at Blossom Birth Services a few months ago. We spent quite some time sharing the apps that we share with our boys.  Tara is a photographer, artist and tech geek and she is truly creative in her use of digital technology with her young son.  She has put together a YouTube playlist especially for Little eLit, and written a little post about us on her blog.

A Toddler’s Playlist

We may see more reviews and cool stuff from Tara in the future.  Welcome to Little eLit, Tara!


Paws off my iPad, kiddo!

Smart Apps for Kids

I subscribe to Free App Alerts from Smart Apps for Kids, which means that every day I get a heads-up on well-rated free apps for kids. Some of the apps are free because there are in-app purchases later on, and sometimes the publisher/developer has a giveaway.  Most apps are for iPad, but I have been able to find some for my Kindle Fire and Galaxy Tab.  The site also runs giveaway and reviews and you can search by age range. App developers can submit their wares for review there as well.

ALSC Blog post: Three Great Creation Apps for Kids

The great Kiera Parrott of the Darien Library has posted some more recommendations for awesome apps for kids.  She’s included some value added stuff too- how to use said apps in the library. This post came JUST when I needed it; I’m trying to expand my digital storytelling repertoire and I’m going to try out the apps she recommended.

New Project!

I have just started working on a brand new project: designing a digital storytime at a medium sized suburban library system. The plan is to augment a traditional storytime (probably aimed at preschool kids, or family storytime) and use an iPad, hooked up to a projector to display our content: eBooks and apps.

Part of my challenge is to choose WHICH apps and eBooks to use.  I have Felt Board which I think we’ll use extensively for songs, fingerplays and some simple stories, and I’m going to try my hand at some draw and tell stories with some kind of drawing app. I have Chalk Pad right now and I’m going to check out Adobe Ideas as well (that might be like killing a flea with a sledgehammer though).

I’m going to go through Axis 360 to check out what kind of picture books they have on offer, and to test them out to see how well they’d do projected onto a screen. Tumblebooks and Bookflix are troublesome both in display and in format; we’ll see how Axis 360 and Blio measure up. Read a little more about Baker and Taylor’s stab at ebooks here.

Part of what we’ll have to figure out is just how much digital content to include.  The program should still support the acquisition of the 6 Early Literacy Skills, and should include wiggling, stomping, singing, audience participation etc, but the vehicle that we use to share some of our goodies will be changing.

I’ve never performed a digital storytime to a room full of preschoolers, but I have done lots of old school storytimes, and I’m hoping we can use these digital tools to successfully and seamlessly share digital early literacy programming with our communities.

ALSC 2012 National Institute

I am TOTALLY jonesing to go to the 2012 ALSC National Institute in Indianapolis in September. And I’m REALLY jonesing to attend the following workshop:

Phones, Pads, eReaders & Tablets: Keeping Kids Connected to the Library
Does your library have what it takes to keep up with children in the 21st century? Your young patrons and their caregivers are using smartphones, tablets, eReaders, and iPads: are you catering your services to your high-tech patrons? Learn about communication, publicity, programming, and reference services and trends with these portable devices and how you can maximize your library’s tech-potential and keep a high cool-factor.  Presented by Laura Brack, Guilford Township Public Library

There are some other programs I’d like to attend as well, but not all of these relate to technology. I may have to spring for this 3 day children’s services extravaganza on my own if I can’t sweet talk anyone into sending me.

It’s All About the Money: Corporate Partnerships in Children’s Programming
Have you ever been strapped for cash for a children’s library program? Need a cash infusion? Well you’ve come to the right workshop. We’ll show you how to target corporations to receive funding for a successful library program. You’ll learn how to prospect for businesses, give corporations the hard sell, and in the end, gain the much needed funding. Remember, it’s all about the money!  Presented by Silvia Cisneros, Santa Ana Public Library and Cheryl Lee, Palo Alto City Library (Hi Cheryl!)

Moving Mock Newbery Online
Learn how the King County Library System (KCLS) transformed their Mock Newbery program from an internal staff development activity to a large, system-wide program.  The online transformation included blogging, video reviews, in-person debates, online voting, regional classroom discussions, and much more.  No matter what your audience, there are fun and easy ways technology can be used to enrich the experience and get everyone talking about the year’s big winner.  Presented by Angela Nolet, King County Library System

Planning for Excellence: Developing Best practices for Youth Services
You’re doing good programs – right? People are attending – right? But…if asked, could you explain the reason and purpose behind what you’re doing? What parameters you’re using to assure a consistent quality and message?  Hmmm… Unsure? We’ll share our process for developing best practices for youth programming birth through teen.  Presented by Celia Huffman, Cuyahoga County Public Library

Shake, Shimmy, and Dance: Using Music with Preschoolers
Looking for a way to shake up your preschool storytime? Try a dance party! Get the children moving and grooving to the best in children’s music. Participants will learn the importance of introducing music in early childhood, how to conduct a dance party, and how to encourage creative movement in children. Come ready to dance and participate!  Presented by Kate Schiavi,  Louisville Free Public Library

What difference does it make? The Impact of Early Literacy Training on Youth Services Staff
In May 2011, Hedberg Public Library youth services staff and community partners in Janesville, Wisconsin, participated in a two-day early literacy training program with Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Saroj Ghoting. Short and long term effects of the training on the library staff will be presented as well as observations from parent participants of the programs making this one of the few studies to find out what parents/caregivers are getting from changes in programming.  Presented by Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen, Mother Goose on the Loose® Early Literacy Program, Saroj Ghoting, early childhood literacy consultant, Sharon Grover, Hedberg Public Library, Dr. Allison G. Kaplan, University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Julie Westby, Hedberg Public Library

NAEYC Position Statement: Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8

I was doing a little research for another post and I came across this document again, which is a joint effort of the NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center.  The key messages contained in this position statement are as follows:

  • When used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development.
  • Intentional use requires early childhood teachers and administrators to have information and resources regarding the nature of these tools and the implications of their use with children.
  • Limitations on the use of technology and media are important.
  • Special considerations must be given to the use of technology with infants and toddlers.
  • Attention to digital citizenship and equitable access is essential.
  • Ongoing research and professional development are needed.

There is a 21 minute webcast that you can view here: Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs

BookFlix Review

Image Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
A Bear Cub Grows Up by Pam Zollman
Free on BookFlix

BookFlix is an online eBook service provided by Scholastic, and is available through your public library’s website.  We really enjoy the tree versions of Wilson’s Bear books: Bear’s Loose Tooth, Bear Wants More, Bear’s New Friend etc.  These well-rhymed books tell stories about a brown bear and his woodland companions; in this one, bear sleeps through howling wind, the crackling of a fire, the popping of popcorn and the sounds of merrymaking.  Bear only awakens when a flake of pepper flies up his nose and he sneezes himself to consciousness, at which point he laments that his friends have been enjoying themselves without him. There is no interactivity, but light animation like snow falling and dancing creatures add interest to an already adorable book.

There is a menu on the left hand side with links for reading the picture book, the non-fiction book, puzzles based on the books, information about the author, and websites for further reading (includes a disclaimer about the content of the websites because they’re not affiliated with Scholastic.)

BookFlix pairs fiction books with non-fiction books on a similar topic.  The non-ficition pairing for this book is A Bear Cub Grows Up, which was more enjoyable to read than I expected.  I viewed both of these books on a laptop, which made the experience less let’s-cuddle-up-and-read and more let’s-learn-about-bears. The interface is a little clunky, and you have to use the mouse to navigate, which is harder for little hands to master than swiping on a tablet. That said, the text is clear, the pictures good and there are vocabulary words highlighted within the text that you can hover over, and the definition pops up, along with an ear icon that you can click on to hear the word pronounced.  The Read Along function can be turned On or Off at any time and the volume control is right below the text (the sounds quality differs from book to book).

eBook review: Freight Train

Freight Train
Harper Collins Publishers
Available from iTunes store
available for iPhone or iPad, but optimized for iPhone

I was so excited when I saw this story about the making of the Freight Train eBook on the Horn Book website. My three-year-old son loves the Donald Crews book, and I thought an interactive eBook version would make a great addition to our eLibrary.

My son loves it, and so do I…mostly. The book is a very good fit for an eBook adaptation. The songs that were chosen as the soundtrack are appealing recordings of great, classic railroad songs. The read-aloud voice is appropriate to the book, and the interactive elements  enhance the experience, rather than detracting from it (e.g. the child moves each car to add it to the train, and it connects with a satisfying clang).

A couple of minor complaints: the default read-aloud setting plays the music and the narration at the same time, and so parts of the book are read at the same time that lyrics are sung. It’s distracting. Also, some of the illustrations that were added to make the app interactive seem like they were imported from another book. I love the clean visual style of the original illustrations, so the change in style for the added elements was jarring. My son doesn’t seem to care, but it grates on me a bit. And finally, the book is optimized for iPhone, so if you expand it on the iPad the resolution is a little fuzzy.

Overall, though, it’s an engaging and fun adaptation of the print book, and has become one of my son’s favorites.

Field Notes: Introducing New Apps

photo by mitikusa: parent who’s been asked to read the same picture book 20 times in a row understands that young children can be creatures of habit and like repetition. I’ve found the same to be true with ebooks and apps – my son tends to use the same few over and over and over. For the sake of Mommy’s sanity and to help him branch out a little bit from time to time, I’ve tried some different methods for introducing him to new apps.

For the record, the obvious approach (“Look, we have a new ebook! Want to try it?”) absolutely does not work with my kid. It only generates resistance. I’ve found that similar approaches work for introducing ebooks as for print. When we get new books, I just put them in the big pile of books on my son’s bed and let him discover them for himself. He’ll ignore them for awhile, but eventually will pick them up and browse through. With ebooks and apps, I put new ones into his folder on my iPad and just wait for him to realize they are there. At first he’ll open the app, look around for a minute and then abandon it. Gradually he’ll spend more time exploring each time he opens it, and within a week or so, if he likes it, it’s become part of his regular rotation.

If I’m really excited about a new app and don’t have the patience to wait for him to discover it on his own, the surefire method for getting his interest is to let him see me using the app. I just wait until he’s out of the room, open it up and start reading. He can’t resist the lure of the iPad, so as soon as he sees me using it he’ll come sit with me and check out whatever I’m doing. The first chance he gets  he’ll take over and start exploring on his own.

How about you? Do your kids take easily to new apps and ebooks? How do you get them to try new things?

(photo courtesy of mitikusa)