Category Archives: iPad
Even though the iPad is not kid-friendly out of the box, it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. One of those tricks is Guided Access.
Guided Access allows the user to lock the iPad into one active app so that the user cannot get out of the app or access certain features without the passcode. Often, this feature is used with students who are on the autistic spectrum or kids who have a hard time focusing but need to complete their assignment within one app. I am currently using it so that I can focus on writing this blog post and not jump out to check my news feed every two minutes (see, it’s made for distracted techy dudes too!). If the child were to hit the home button, the device would give a message that the Guided Access feature is running and that the child needs to “triple click the home button to exit.” If the child triple clicks, he is prompted to enter a four digit password (if a password has been set up) in order to exit Guided Access or to change any of its settings.
To access Guided Access on your own iPad, follow these steps (screenshots below):
Click: Setting > General (on left hand side) > Accessibility (on right hand side) > Guided Access (under ‘Learning’ category)
From there, you can turn on Guided Access and change its settings.
Now let’s apply this feature practically in Early Literacy programs in our libraries. Say you are hosting a Digital Storytime where the kids and parents have playtime afterwards with the iPads. Maybe you had a certain theme and want them to complete a specific activity on the iPads today versus letting them free-roam the apps as usual. Guided Access will keep the child (and parent) on task in order to, say, complete a finger painting of an elephant in the app Art of Glow. Or maybe you are considering using iPads as an Early Literacy station in your library somewhere. You can definitely leave it open to all the apps you have installed (with Restrictions in place of course), or you could do some creative programming by hand selecting apps for use on certain days of the week, maybe tied into the theme of storytime or Summer Reading.
Or perhaps you’ve just so happened to position yourself as the App go-to Guru in your library, and parents are looking for ways to use their iPad with their children and they need help keeping them in one app at a time (e.g., to spend time learning their letters before launching into Angry Birds).
Whatever the case, just know this is a tool for locking into an app for singular use. I recommend trying it yourself. Turn on Guided Access, set a passcode (but don’t forget it!), experiment with the settings, lock yourself in your own apps so you can finish your work before checking what’s up on Facebook! Exit out. Log back in. Do it again and again until you are a master and ready to use it to meet your needs!Stephen Tafoya works as a Technology Trainer for a library district, and he partners with Youth Services Coordinators to engage kids and teens with technology in library programming.
Whether stated or not, the implication for the apps loaded onto the iPads in the library are that these are librarian selected apps. The resources and skills that we use for choosing material in traditional formats can be directly applied to app selection. Many of the review journals we trust for recommendations have already begun including app reviews. Using the tools at our disposal, we can narrow down the selection of literacy apps, but many review sites make no distinctions between a great app for one-on-one use, apps for use in storytime, and apps that give the best experience when mounted in the space. That’s when we have to step in as librarians and evaluate the best apps for our early literacy spaces. When evaluating apps for use on an installed iPad, there are a few selection criteria I like to keep in mind.
Avoid advertising and don’t get stuck. Some free apps can get “stuck” on a parent information screen or attempting to connect to the iTunes store, or may contain age-inappropriate advertising. Because most mounts provide no home button access, I look for apps where there is little or no opportunity to become stuck.
Watch out for vertical orientation or “tilting.” Unless you’re mounting an iPad on a spinning or movable mount, watch out for vertical apps. Several great apps, Nursery Rhymes and Go Away Big Green Monster, use a vertical orientation and are therefore better suited for storytime use than in a horizontal mount. Other stories, like Nosy Crow’s Little Red Riding Hood, ask users to tilt the device to complete an activity which may frustrate young users when iPads are in stationary mounts.
Choose interactive apps for use on interactive technology. I think it’s valuable to select apps that offer a high level of interactivity and a variety of activities. Some free apps only make one image or activity available, which doesn’t provide as rich an experience as Lingo Zoo, for example. I prefer not to purchase apps which provide almost no interactivity–for example, those that provide a comparable experience to watching a video. We already offer Bookflix, ebooks, and videos for checkout or viewing on the Kids’ computers, so I prefer a more interactive experience on the iPads rather than a passive one.
Look for intuitive navigation. I look for apps that are intuitive for children to navigate with or without their caregivers. Some apps require a caregiver to adjust settings or to navigate from screen to screen and lend themselves better to a guided experience. Caregivers and children should be able to sit down and dive right into the experience without requiring tutorial or written instructions. Make It Pop is an excellent example of intuitive navigation.
Putting the time into selecting apps suitable for use in your children’s space will pay off in reduced frustration for both patrons and staff. Tablet technology, like all the interactive elements of children’s library design, can be a great tool for encouraging early literacy behaviors and caregiver engagement.
Good luck and have fun!Amanda Foulk is a Youth Services Librarian at Sacramento Public Library. She became passionate about children and technology when her branch was chosen to pilot early literacy iPads for the Sacramento Public Library system, and has always been opinionated about quality content for children in any format. She can be reached with questions or comments at email@example.com.
The Dixon Public Library (near Sacramento, California) is putting together iPad programs for children. Here is a brief “Guide” for Dixon staff that may be useful for other libraries in similar program planning stages.
Cen is the consultant on this – Lucky Dixon Library! Thanks to Katrina Bergen for sharing this information.
One of the many daunting challenges parents face is Christmas Present Shopping. All the choices. The different prices. What’s hot, what’s not. And what your children actually want for Christmas. And that’s just TOYS! But as you may know, tech toys–especially tablets–are one of the HOT items this holiday season. And like toys, tablets come in so many varieties and configurations that, if you are not up on the latest-and-greatest in tech land, you can get lost in the swarm. Luckily, we are here today to discuss tablet shopping for the kids.
What to Look for in a Tablet for the Family
If you have not had the chance to try or buy a tablet, there are some very key questions you should ask yourself before you buy the first tablet that comes across your radar. The first question being:
Who will primarily use this tablet?
In this scenario, we are assuming you are buying for your child, but there’s nothing that says it has to be their tablet only. Much like the home computer that is shared among family members, you could have a tablet that is shared amongst everyone. This question alone can determine which way to go.
If the tablet is for the child only, there are a slew of Android-based (Google’s operating software) tablets that are customized to make them kid-friendly, mommy and daddy approved. Meaning, they are restricted from access to ALL the apps in the app store with limited (or no) access to the internet. Instead, they are pre-loaded with pre-approved (by you) educational apps and games. Tablets that fall into this category include the Nabi 2 and Nabi Jr, the LeapPad, and the VTech InnoTab. There are more kid-only tablets out there, but these are the HOT ones this season!
If you are looking for something shared, tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids and the Amazon Kindle Fire should do the trick. In this situation, there is a bit of a learning curve for how to switch from “kid-mode” to “adult mode” to do everything you want to do, and vice versa. What’s pretty cool about the Kindle Fire is Amazon’s content option, called Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, which offers unlimited access to all of its kid-friendly books, apps, and games on a subscription basis starting at $4.99 (or $2.99 if you are a Prime Member).
Outside of the kid-friendly tablets, you do have traditional offerings. You can always buy a general Android, Windows 8, or Apple iPad tablet. Going this route can be trickier in terms of securing your tablet so as to prevent your child from accessing areas they are not supposed to be in. Or in the case of one family, pushing buttons and racking up a LARGE app bill on the parent’s bank account. This is not to say an iPad or Android tablet is not safe (we here at Little eLit are big iPad users!). You will just need to spend some time learning how to adjust the appropriate controls in each device to suit your family’s needs. Also, having a full-fledged tablet grants you access to ALL of the content in the app store, so really it grows with the child as they move on to more age-appropriate apps.
Once you have decided who will be using the tablet, you want to consider such things as:
- Tablet size (7 or 10 inch category. Consider little hands and their ability to grasp the size and weight of tablets in each size range)
- The Drop Test (and sticky finger test, and the Poke-the-screen-with-hard-toy test…) Basically, is the tablet you are purchasing durable enough for your children and the way they play?
- App Store (which apps are you looking for? Educational only, or are you looking for a game the kids already LOVE and MUST HAVE? The iPad tends to have a wider variety of quality apps for kids than a full-fledged Android tablet, though the kid-friendly tablets are working to change that)
- Parental Controls (though we discussed this already, it’s important to reiterate in doing your research to find a tablet that meets your standards of tablet security)
All this is typically what I recommend to parents asking about tablets for their kids. There are a handful of articles out there that discuss all these topics and even go into details about the tablets, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I will just link you to two similar articles HERE and HERE.
Also, if you live near a store such as a Best Buy or Micro Center, take an hour to go and test out each of their demo tablets. Pick them up. Look at the screen from all angles to see if it has a good screen. Feel the weight. Push buttons. Ask the sales rep questions. Let your kids try it too if they are with you! See how easy (or hard) it is for them to interact with the tablet. If you don’t live near those kinds of stores, check your local library to see if they have a tech kit that serves this need, or ask a family member or friendly neighbor if they would be willing to let you test drive their device.
Whichever tablet you choose, make sure to make it a learning experience for both you and your children together as you explore the wonderful world of the tablet frontier.Stephen Tafoya works as a Technology Trainer for a library district, and he partners with Youth Services Coordinators to engage kids and teens with technology in library programming.
The Tech Together program at Arapahoe Library District was designed to provide an opportunity for parents & caregivers of preschool children to learn about age-appropriate digital experiences, ask questions, and explore tablets & apps.
In creating the program, we relied heavily on reports from other libraries who have tried similar programs, and are grateful to have had that input.
For this pilot, our tablets came from a variety of sources. We were able to borrow the three iPad minis that are available for children and teens to use during our Library on Wheels bookmobile stops. In addition, we purchased two 7” Nexus tablets with funds from an internal program designed to support innovation, and we used personal devices (iPads & Nooks) from our department staff to reach our goal of 10 tablets. The program was open to ten adult-child pairs, with two staff presenting.
One of our hopes in using a variety of devices was to see if we had strong preferences for one kind or another. If we are able to continue this program as a regular offering, we will probably purchase a set of iPad minis, largely because we preferred the selection of apps on iOS over Android, and the mini size was adequate for pairs to share at a more affordable price than the full size iPads.
We were fortunate to have Lisa Guernsey present 2 programs in August 2013, one open to library patrons and the larger community, and a second event tailored to staff only. We timed the Tech Together pilot to run immediately after her visit, over 10 days of a post-summer-reading-program storytime hiatus. We were hoping to capitalize on interest generated by Lisa Guernsey’s appearance as well as use the storytime hiatus to help our patrons differentiate between the Tech Together programs and our regular storytimes. We held one program per day at each of our 8 branches. Attendance varied from just one family at our smaller branches, to 5-7 families at our larger locations.
We wanted to let our families know that when it comes to sharing technology with children, the best digital practices are related to the best analog practices: interacting, engaging, conversing, and sharing. We started our time by looking at a print copy of Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton together, modeling dialogic reading and inviting the children to become involved. Then everyone had a chance to explore the same book on a tablet while the staff wandered the room and checked in with each family.
Then, we set aside the tablets and built a truck out of felt shapes on the flannelboard, and we used that activity as a springboard to talk with the adults about active versus passive use of technology. The tablets came out again and we invited the kids to explore a paint program and keep making and creating, just like they had done together with the the flannelboard.
During the free play time at the end of the session, we talked individually to the adults about how to choose apps, making connections to the Every Child Ready to Read five practices that we also talk about in story time.
Our feedback was very positive. One nanny said, “I really appreciated that the program was nanny-friendly and explained how apps could benefit little kids and aid in development.” Another parent said, “This was wonderful! Great explanation of how to talk to your kids while using apps. Now it’s just about finding the right apps for my kids–you gave me a great start.”
Our goal is to use our experience with this pilot to develop and offer more sessions, so we can continue to be forward-thinking and mindful of supporting parents and caregivers with best practices for using technology with their young children.
For a list of apps used in Tech Together programs, check out Apps for a Preschool Tablet Program.Melissa Depper is a Librarian in Child and Family Library Services with Arapahoe (CO) Library District. She is a 2013 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, and she blogs at Mel’s Desk.
I’ve had a severe case of pneumonia ever since I came back from Chicago (truth be told, I even cut the meeting short because I felt so bad!) It hurts to move, I can’t catch my breath and I mostly lay around on the couch all day long. (No, this post isn’t a pneumonia pity party, I do have a point.)
My son has been home from school as well, and often I don’t even have the breath to read him a story. I’ve had to stop halfway through a book, apologize to him and try to explain that mommy’s lungs are sick and she can’t read to him anymore. It royally sucks for both of us and it freaks him out. Pneumonia has given me first-hand experience with the need (yes, the NEED) for different formats of digital books for very young children.
I still hear people spouting the evils of screen time for young children, and doubts or judgements from librarians about parents who make use of various forms of digital information with their young ones. I’ve had the experience over the past month, however, where I have simply not been physically able to read to my son. In my workshops & articles I’ve been advocating supporting different literacy levels, different languages in the home, different caregiver capabilities, avoiding judgement, and paying close attention to content, context & the individual child, and now here I am. Living some of that. Digital books in various formats have been saving my wheezing, exhausted hide lately and I am so grateful that I know what’s safe and age-appropriate for my son, so I know that if I happen to nod off on the couch, he’ll be ok. He’s reading high quality books or engaging in age-appropriate play, and his momma is right there with him (even if she’s having a codeine-induced catnap).
Here are some of the things we’ve been doing:
I signed up for a trial of Audible and we’ve been listening to one of the best produced radio-style audio books I’ve ever heard: Winnie the Pooh (Judi Dench!) We listen to these stories while we’re eating breakfast sometimes (my coughing is worst in the morning and I try just not to talk at all for awhile) or sometimes Jude will be playing on the floor and he’ll ask to listen while he’s talking to himself and his toys. One thing’s for sure: You never can tell with bees.
A book app we’ve enjoyed reading is A Frog Thing, which is about a little frog named Frank who wants to fly, which is not a “frog thing.” Different voice actors in this one, too. Carisa gave it 4.5 stars, and I agree. It’s a good one. I like books about creatures who make things happen against all odds. You know what Jude (4 years old) said to me about Frank the frog? “He’s an anthropomorphized frog because he talks.” I don’t think his brain is being fried by extra iPad time or our quarantined home.
Jude has also been experimenting with Toca Builders. When I’m able to talk we have great conversations about what he’s making, what the characters are doing, what the colour palette should be like, why he can’t drop boxes in the water etc. When I’m not able to talk, I help him “spit” paint all over his digital architectural creations. Here’s a screen shot of the things he’s been building while mom’s been too sick to read to him.
I say this all the time, and I’ll keep saying it. We as librarians MUST NOT judge parents about their media consumption with young children, especially if they’re asking for our help in the library. We have no idea what they’re dealing with. We model healthy media behaviors in storytime. We offer recommendations for the very best content in every format we can. End of story.
I got the chance to participate in the New Media in Storytime training sponsored by the Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Library. Cen Campbell provided everyone with fantastic information and insight into using picture book apps and other newer technology in a storytime and library setting. After seeing how successful her demonstrations were, I was determined to try a picture book app in my own storytime to see how my families would respond. I decided that I would have enough material for a “normal” storytime (i.e., no apps) but have one ready to go if the group I had that day was up for it. I decided to actually show the story directly from my iPad screen to keep it simple.
After we finished our story books, I had the children move closer to the front so that everyone could see. We used the “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive this App” on the iPad. If you are not familiar with this particular app, it features Mo Willems’s Pigeon asking to do something that the user denies. If a child is familiar with the Pigeon in book form, he or she will have no problem adapting to the app. There are three options that allow users to have different levels of control over the storytelling elements. The first level, “egg,” simply tells a story. Level two, “chick,” allows the user to pick different elements of the story from different lists. Finally, the third level, “Big Pigeon” allows the user to record his or her voice to add a personal creative element to the story. I used this app in two different storytimes, one with 18 children and one with 12. I decided to use the chick version so that we could add some creative ownership to the story by picking elements, but we wouldn’t have to try recording sound with that many young children trying to help.
Some of the children had trouble NOT touching the iPad. I could tell that they weren’t used to having a table present and not being able to touch it. However, once I explained that I would be pushing the buttons so that everyone could see, they understood and managed to keep their fingers in check. As each option for the story was presented (what is the smelliest – gym socks, kitty litter, or stinky fish), the children called out choices and I tapped the picture to add it to the story. Once all of the choices had been made, we were ready to hear the story we helped create. The kids were entranced. They listened intently and participated by yelling “No!” when the Pigeon made his request. After the storytime, I had a chance to talk to a parent to see what she thought about integrating apps and technology into storytime. She said that she liked it and that as long as it wasn’t the only thing we did in storytime, she thought it was a nice addition. Overall, I thought my first app in storytime experience was a success and I hope to try more in the future!Catherine DiCristofaro is the youth services librarian at the Charlotte Hall Branch in the St. Mary’s County Library System. Catherine served on the 2012 Blue Crab committee for the Children’s Services Division of the Maryland Library Association. She is passionate about picture books and making sure that children and adults alike view reading as something that is fun and worth doing!
The ideal way to present iPad apps to a large group (as in more than 5) is to mirror wirelessly to a big projection screen. iPads come with a feature called “AirPlay” that makes this possible. With AirPlay, you can connect your iPad to your laptop or an AppleTV over a shared wifi network—connect that laptop or AppleTV to a projector and, blammo!—you’re projecting! (Read Tony Vincent’s article “6 Ways to Show Your iPad on a Projector Screen”). Unfortunately, many of us have discovered it’s not as easy as that at our library. Here’s the rub: AirPlay and AppleTV are consumer products designed to be used by individuals on a home wifi network. Institutional wifi networks for public use have safeguards to prevent people from accessing each other’s devices. Unfortunately, those safeguards also prevent AirPlay from working.
But there ARE workarounds (Yay! Workarounds!) One workaround is to create an “ad hoc” wifi network. That’s the official term for it, though it sounds informal and sort of, well, ad hoc (you can also say “peer-to-peer” if you don’t like “ad hoc”). The general idea is to create a wifi hot-spot—sort of a mini wifi network that you are in charge of—that allows your devices to do what they need to do so AirPlay can work.
Tony Vincent posted this link to instructions for setting up an ad hoc network in response to a comment on the “6 Ways” article above. I tried this out with a MacBook running Reflector App. Following the instructions, it’s pretty easy to set up the ad hoc network with the MacBook as the hotspot. When it works, your wifi symbol will have an up arrow in it.
Open Reflector App on the MacBook and connect the iPad to the ad hoc network by entering the name and password for the network that you created. Double click the home button to open the iPad’s “tray” and slide all the way to the left to see the “AirPlay” button.
Use that to connect to the MacBook and start mirroring. You would need a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter to hook the MacBook up to your projector. I didn’t try this with a Windows computer, but a quick Google shows me there are plentiful how-tos, so it should be possible.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention an internet connection. It is possible to use an ad hoc network for mirroring without an internet connection if all you want to do is project an app that is already downloaded onto the iPad. If you want internet access, you’ll need to have your laptop plugged in with an Ethernet cable. Also, you’ll probably need to have your IT Dept. “allow” the MacBook to connect to the network by adding its MAC address to their whitelist. (MAC is different from Apple’s “Mac,” I was surprised to find out—it means Media Access Control address. It is a unique identifier for any device on a network.) There are many variations on this set up you could try—for instance, if you had your laptop hooked up by Ethernet, but it was too far away to plug it into the projector, you could probably use an AppleTV added to the ad hoc network to connect to the projector.
Please note: you MUST put a password on your ad hoc network if you connect it to your Library’s network via Ethernet. Actually, it’s possible to set it up without a password but that would be Very Bad, especially from your Network Admin’s perspective. Not password protecting the ad hoc network opens up a backdoor to the library network and circumvents all the security work they do—please don’t do that.
Besides the ad hoc network idea, there is another workaround which we’re using at my library: we set up a separate wifi network just for the mirroring devices. My IT department actually already had a “test” wifi network set up that wasn’t being used—our Network Specialist had to open up the necessary ports and give me the name of the network and the password. They also needed to add the MAC addresses of the devices I’d be using to the network white list. Now, when I need to mirror, I connect the AppleTV and the iPad to this network, connect with AirPlay, and mirroring happens.
I hope that this post is more helpful than confusing—and there are certainly more questions to address, so please share your successes and challenges with mirroring setups in the comments! Many thanks to Dave Nelson in our LAN Department for talking me through the ad hoc test for this write-up. And, since it is bad form to have a whole blog post with almost no pictures, here is my cat, Marcel…Bradley Jones
Youth Technology Librarian
Skokie Public Library
Digital non-natives talk about the digital world and the physical world as if they are separate, clearly delineated spaces. Digital natives (read: all the children you work with) instinctively know otherwise. The line between the digital and physical is blurring, with occasionally magical results. For example, check out this Alchemy Studio blog post about the DIRTI app, which allows toddlers to turn their mud pies and ice cream smears into sound and light waves:
More videos of the app in action are available here: http://alchemystudio.com/2013/07/the-tapioca-interface-physical-and-digital-part-deux/
This type of activity has far-reaching ramifications for the way we conceptualize early literacy and creative play. The toddlers are leading the way, so we’d better catch up!Rachael Stein Information Services Manager Eastern Shore Regional Library
During the Conversation Starter at ALA, an audience member asked how librarians have been integrating technology into their storytimes. That’s a great “conversation starter” on its own, so I thought I’d take a moment to highlight some of the ways contributors to Little eLit have been incorporating digital media into their work.
One way to incorporate technology into storytimes is to project eBooks onto a screen for all the participants at your storytimes to view. Using a mirroring device such as an Apple TV with your iPad allows you to operate the tablet while the image is projected. You are then able to seamlessly share high quality eBooks and apps in combination with traditional storytime methods.
Typical Equipment Used:
- Keynote App
- VGA Cable
- VGA/HDMI converter
- Nexus S (for portable Wifi and Bluetooth)
Digital Storytelling is a wonderful way to provide a storytime for a very large audience. Projecting onto a screen enables even the participants at the back of the room to appreciate the illustrations of the eBooks. You can also scan and project lyrics to songs and the words to fingerplays. This encourages the adults in the room to participate in the fun! One of the most valuable benefits of this type of storytelling is that it allows the librarian to promote quality eBooks and also model to caregivers how to interact with children while sharing digital media. As Cen Campbell puts it, “using high quality digital media in storytime is one way we can expose parents to good quality book-based or educational apps. This is just a fun new kind of reader’s advisory!”
Apps as Storytime Extensions:
Another way technology can be integrated into storytimes is to use apps as an extension of your storytime theme, the same way you would use a flannel board or a puppet. The librarian holds the iPad and does the tapping and swiping while interacting with the children. This works best for groups of about 20 or less. There are a large number of apps on the market that can be easily used by the librarian to engage with children. For example, you can use an animal sounds app or a vehicle sounds app and have the kids guess which animal/vehicle they are hearing. You can use a robot-building app and have the kids help you design a robot. You could also create a “felt board” using the Felt Board app developed by Software Smoothie.
Typical Equipment Used:
- Various Apps
The only equipment needed is the tablet, so this is a very easy way for librarians to test the waters as far as integrating technology into storytime. Also, using apps in storytime allows you to promote high quality apps to caregivers. Often, parents think of the iPad as a means of solitary play for the child, a “babysitter.” Encouraging them to engage in play with their child is an important aspect of what we do as Children’s Librarians. By promoting the apps in storytime you are also allowing an opportunity for the caregiver to extend the storytime at home. I doubt many parents have the time and supplies needed to recreate a flannel board at home, but they can easily download an app and play with their child.
Fleet of Tablets
Providing tablets for each family to use during storytime is yet another way some librarians have included new media in their storytimes. You can preload the devices with the eBooks and apps you will be using during storytime and guide the participants to use them throughout the storytime. This is not a replacement of traditional storytime activities (songs, fingerplays, print books…), but rather another tool to engage young readers and their caregivers.
Typical Equipment Used:
- Multiple tablets (typically iPads)
- Various Apps/eBooks
- Headphones with splitters (optional)
This type of storytime is the perfect way to encourage caregivers to engage with their little ones as they use digital media. It allows the adult and child to “cuddle up” while using a tablet (the same way we encourage them to do with print books). It also makes using the device, and the storytime at large, a truly shared experience. And as with the other methods mentioned in this post, it allows the librarian to promote high quality media. Lastly, it provides access to technology that some patrons may not otherwise have access to. Using a fleet of tablets is a wonderful way to provide access and guidance while also promoting engagement.