Blog Archives

Touchtronic ABC’s: An App Review, by Lisa Mulvenna

I am always looking for a fun new way to promote early literacy and Touchtronic Letters is a great product. I picked my set of 26 lowercase letters up from Lakeshore Learning as I was setting up a recent program where kids and parents could come and play with recommended apps.

Touchtronic ABC’s is a free app for kids who are working with letters (ages 2-7) and uses the Touchtronic Letters. There are three games in this app that work with different levels of letter recognition. The games do require some fine motor skills as users need to find the correct letter to match to the screen.

Mystery Door is the easiest game and has the user put your letter in a window. When this happens, the door will open to show an item that matches that letter. For example, if you use an M, the door will open and you will see a monkey. You will also hear “M is for monkey.”

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The second game is called Letter Bubbles is a little more difficult.  You match letters to bubbles that carry different items.  For example, if you see an apple in a bubble, you will put the A on the bubble to pop it.  The narrator will also say “A is for apple.”

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The third game, Word Machine, is for a little older user.  The game has kids adding the last letter to three-letter words.  Users are shown a picture as they hear the word spoken out loud.  They are then asked to find the missing letter.  In this case, I heard “fox” as I saw the fox and was asked to find the O to complete the word.

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From a public library perspective, I would either circulate the letters as a kit where customers can download the free apps to go with them or use them in a program where kids or parents get to try out apps.  They would also make a good early literacy station if you had a way to monitor the letters so they didn’t disappear.

 

Lisa Mulvenna is the Head of Youth/YA 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.

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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.

Shake and Make App Review, by Lisa Mulvenna

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 8.05.38 AMEd 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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 8.05.55 AMWhile 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.

 

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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 Perspectives on the Little Critter ABC App

Oceanhouse Media recently released a bunch of new apps, and a few Little eLit librarians volunteered to test out the new Little Critter ABCs app and report back. Here’s two librarians’ perspectives on this new app:

photoFrom AnnMarie Hurtado, Pasadena Public Library:

I used the app together with my four-year-old daughter, who is very well-versed in the alphabet and loves to name what words begin with each letter. She had the most fun recording herself saying “E is for Easter egg” and “O is for owl” and then playing back the recording to hear what she said. She also took a few seconds on each page to touch the screen everywhere and hear and see the names of every item she touched. You even get the names of pictures whose names change. For example, you can touch the egg and hear “egg,” but once it hatches and a baby chick emerges you get a new word–“chick.” Pretty clever!

photoFrom Lisa Mulvenna, Clinton-Macomb Public Library:

If you haven’t used an app from Oceanhouse Media before and you work with young children, you will definitely want to start. Their apps are great early literacy tools. In addition to reading the story, users are able to touch various parts of the illustrations and both see and hear the word for that item. For example, if you touched grass, you would hear the narrator say “grass” and would see “grass” written out on the screen. This is great for showing that letters have meaning!

Oceanhouse Media’s newest offering is Little Critter ABCs. This title is based on the board book by Mercer Mayer, but the book is hard to find in both libraries and bookstores. By turning a board book edition into an app, the title becomes more accessible to everyone and I can use in on my large screen. What I really like about this alphabet app is its simplicity. On each page the narrator (or you) says the letter and the word beginning with that letter. For example, you might hear “D, dog”. If I am using this app in its entirety, it works really well for the 2-3 year old age group. Because it is an alphabet app, it also would work well if you were introducing a letter of the day. You could use just one specific page to highlight your letter.

We run an iPad-based storytime at our library called Tablet Tales. I will be adding this to our June lineup which will cover ABC apps. It pairs really well with Wee Sing & Learn ABC, My A-Z, and Jamaroos Musical ABCs. If you are looking for “playing” apps to go with this one, check out Alphabeasties, Alphabet Aquarium School, and Endless Alphabet.

Little Critter ABCs is only available through iTunes at this time. It has a special introductory price of $.99.

 

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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.

iKids: Adding Tablets & Apps to Your Programs for Young Children, by Lisa Mulvenna

Last week I was invited to speak at the Michigan Library Association’s Spring Institute on the topic of using apps in storytime. This was a great chance to share what I have been doing in my programs for the past 1 ½ years with 75 or so Michigan librarians.

In addition to discussing research and reviews to help librarians find their own apps, I showed off some of my favorites for storytime. For those who were already app savvy, I showed off ideas for taking apps to the next level, including an all app-based storytime (see my Farm Fun program plan here) and app recommendations for your library’s web site. My session handout is linked here.

Based on the feedback that I got, the librarians who attended came out with a lot of good information. In addition, a few librarians stayed afterwards and we had an additional discussion on apps to use at the reference desk, which sounds like another presentation topic!

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.
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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.

App Chat at the MiKidLib Unconference, by Lisa Mulvenna

What happens when you put 20 or so youth services librarians in a room together?  They talk about apps!  Last Friday was the first MiKidLib, a youth services librarian unconference, at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library.  One of our afternoon breakout sessions was all about apps-the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Here’s what was discussed:

Devices-There was no one favorite device, although both the iPad and Nexus tablets were mentioned.  When choosing what to use, it is important to check for availability of apps before you purchase your tablets.  Customers will ask you why you chose what you did and this will help you explain why you chose what you did.  Know your community-do they mostly use one device over the other?  Also, check with your schools-if they only use iPads, you may want to do the same.  One library had recently purchased an Inspire-NG from Kaplanco which will support 50 touches at a time.

There was a big debate over whether or not to use apps in storytime.  Some parents will actually argue when you add them in as they want their storytimes to be screen-free.  It can also slow down your timing as you wait for an app to load.  Others thought of apps as an additional tool in our storytime toolbox, such as a flannelboard or puppets.  The big thing decided here was that intention and purpose are important.  Why do you want to add them and what do you hope to accomplish?

Other librarians have created tablet-specific programs to highlight apps.  They are extremely popular and then you only get attendees who want to learn about apps.  Participants want a chance to explore the apps used, so make sure you add this component into your program.  Two examples of programs are:

We all agreed that parents want to know about apps.  How can we put quality apps in their hands?  One idea was to schedule Facebook posts on the same day each week about a new app.  Does your library/children’s department have a blog?  If so, you can regularly post there.
Where can we find out about new apps?  The sources discussed include:

What were some of our favorite apps mentioned?

Due to the success of the day, MiKidLib will be an annual thing.  Look for us in 2015 in Kalamazoo, MI!

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.