Dec 24, 2015

The Supper Club presents: Dotty apps!

 There are LOTS of apps about spots and dots and circles.  Here are a few of my favorites that we explored during the December Supper Club:

David Weisner’s SPOT (I actually didn't get a chance to demonstrate this one, but it's a unique title with a very intriguing interface!)

 (based on the excellent and nearly app-like Press Here book)

We also made these great dotty garlands (or necklaces) with office supply round stickers and some thin string.


Dec 17, 2015

WonderWorks: Magnets (outreach edition)

What do magnets stick to?

variety of large, non-choking hazard magnets
iron filing cases
a tub full of a mix of things that would stick to a magnet and things that won't stick
small objects in plastic jars with lids (some metallic)
What we read:
cover art Stuck / Jeffers, Oliver
(while not strictly about magnetism, this book is way more fun to read than any book about magnets and hey, magnets get stuck on things so....)
What we sang:
Icky Sticky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum Song

Dec 4, 2015

Toddler Art Class: Spice Painting

The most delicious-smelling class ever is surprisingly difficult to clean up.

Art Project: Spice Painting
--spices (I used cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, 5-spice, coriander and cardmom. You can use any spice you'd like, but I'd avoid anything that's going to be too "spicy" if kids decide to taste their art or that might burn if they rubbed their eyes with spice-covered hands.  For instance, I considered turmeric for the beautiful yellow color, but chose to avoid it in the end for those reasons.)
--glue sticks (the purple kind work best for this project)
--heavy paper
--a "dump" container for each table to shake off excess spice 

  cover art All for pie, pie for all / Martin, David
This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving-ish books that has nothing to do with the actual holiday and everything to do with PIE .... and sharing.  No idea what spices are used in the pie in the book, but I think it's still a good fit for this project.

Dec 1, 2015

Toddler Art Class: Squishy Sparkle Bags

An ocean of fun contained in a zip-top baggie!

Art Project: Squishy Sparkle Bags
cheap hair gel (I got a few bottles at the dollar store)
paint (optional, to add color.  I had best results with an iridescent blue tempera)
mixed metallic confetti shapes
packing tape
paper towels and/or wet wipes for spills


cover art I'm the biggest thing in the ocean / Sherry, Kevin

Nov 25, 2015

Apps in the News: Inventioneers

My favorite app for older kids. I once had a pre-teen tell me that he thought it was "better than Minecraft."  Whoa.  You can see my full blog post about it here, or... just watch the video above!

Nov 18, 2015

The Supper Club presents: Robot apps

Here's the apps we used in October (yes, I'm posting these super late...)!

WonderBox by Duck Duck Moose (free, iOS only):  One of the daily themes is about robots, so this one is a stretch for this topic, but it's a fantastic app, packed with content and opportunities for creation and I wanted to make sure you saw it.
Robots for iPad by IEEE (free, iPad only): Photos, videos and other information about actual robots that have been built and are being used.

Toca Robot Lab by Toca Boca ($2.99, iOS): Design a robot, then navigate through a simple maze, then do it again!

Robot Factory by Tinybop ($3.99, iOS): Similar concept to Toca Robot Lab, only TONS more options and the design choices you make actually affect the robot's abilities.

Endless Wordplay by Originator (free (with in-app purchase), Android &  iOS): Adds a little round robot to the familiar cast of monsters

Odd Bot Out by Martin Magni ($1.99, Android, & iOS): My top pick of the night!  This is a fantastic app for kids and adults to work on together. Lots of opportunities for problem solving!

Toontastic by Launchpad Games (free, iOS only): includes a few robots as characters.  Great app for kids to play with and secretly learn about story arc's at the same time.

This month's "Take Home Box" included:
Machinarium by Amanita Design (Android and iOS, $4.99) – an excellent, long-play game with lots of problem solving puzzles. Parents should be aware that there are mild references to smoking and alcohol.

Trash Toys by Duckie Deck ($2.99, iOS & 99c Android) – this app is great to try out your robot design ideas from recycled objects!

Tonight's Craft: "Build-a-Bot Blocks"

My favorite was when this young artist designed his own parts in the blank spaces on the page.  Yay!


Nov 11, 2015

WonderWorks: Tweezer & Tongs (outreach edition)

Fine motor skills, sorting, and technology (tools) -- this STEM lesson has it all!

Today's Project: Tweezers & Tongs (outreach edition)
salad tongs (medium and large size)
pom-poms (teeny and average size)
cotton balls
wiffle balls
egg cartons


cover art How to catch an elephant / Schwartz, Amy
This is such a strange little storyline, but it's got some great interactive elements if you play them up.  The kids loved this one!

cover art Chopsticks / Rosenthal, Amy Krouse

Nov 6, 2015

Toddler Art Class: Masking Tape Mummies

Tape + a die cut machine = lots of artistic options!

Art Project: Masking Tape "Mummies"
masking tape (the off-white kind)
black construction paper
die-cut machine (optional: you could use scissors and just cut out shapes instead)
crayons (optional)

 cover art Mommy? / Sendak, Maurice
*note:  like many Sendak titles, this one is decidedly... odd. It's a pop-up book, so it held the kids' attention and I don't often get an excuse to read it to a group, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to get this book if you don't already own it.

Nov 3, 2015

Summer Special: Content Creation Apps for School Age kids

With a little advance planning, apps can bring kids together for collaborative, creative fun.

This summer, I made a few visits to our local community center where I worked with a great group of kids using some apps I loaded onto iPads that I brought along. The kids seemed to enjoy all three apps that we used, so I thought I'd share them here.  I visited the community center three times with iPads and we used a different app during each visit.

The first app that we worked with was YakIt! for Kids.  I was inspired by my friend and colleague, Anne Hicks and brought in some books and magazines with big faces on the cover. I encouraged the kids to take a picture of the cover and then use the app to add crazy eyes, mouth, and more to the picture and then record themselves speaking.  As they spoke, the mouths they'd added to their photo moved to give the impression that the photos were talking.  The kids had fun with this and didn't take long to realize that they could also photograph their friends and teachers and add silly things to those photos.

During the second week, I introduced Toontastic.  This is a fantastic and powerful app that is a great introduction to animation and the concept of creating a story arc. You can use their pre-made backgrounds, people and props or you can design your own! We barely scratched the surface of what this app can do in the one hour I was there. During subsequent visits, someone almost always asks if they can just use Toontastic again once they've played with whatever my featured app is. Toontastic could easily have been used for the entire three week session!

For the third week, we used the app Keezy. This is the simplest sound-mixing board I've ever used and there are so many great ways to use this app.  The kids in this class had already been using their hands to create rhythms, so I knew they'd enjoy the opportunity to create a whole mix of music.  Basically, there are 8 colored squares and you can use the pre-recorded sounds or make your own sound board and mix it however you want to.
I especially enjoyed the ingenuity of these two guys who searched their classroom to find different things they could use as "instruments."

I think this app would be a fun way to create soundtracks to use in the movie-making activities that go on at my library!  All of these apps were free to download and use.  I'm looking forward to trying more apps with this group over the course of the school year.

Oct 31, 2015

Toddler Art Class: Leaf Punching

Shaped punches and an unusual medium can make for very absorbing play.

Art Project: Punching shapes from fall leaves
a variety of hole punches (someone loaned me the set pictured below. Similar here. But any type of hole punch will work)
leaves (I gathered mine in early fall before they got crunchy but after they'd turned colors)
glue sticks
heavyweight paper


cover art Leaves / Stein, David Ezra

Music to make art by:
 Through the Woods/ Okee Dokee Brothers

Oct 30, 2015

WonderWorks: A LEGO building game with sneaky math

Got a big stash of LEGO at your house? Got some dice? Try this fun game!

Today's Project: 
LEGO bricks
small bowls/buckets or a divided container with 6 segments

Prep work: 
sort the LEGO into 6 different piles and label them with the numbers 1-6.  I chose to sort mine like this:
1) bricks with one or three bumps (there's not a lot of three's)
2) bricks with two bumps
3) bricks with eight bumps (I know, it's confusing....)
4) bricks with 4 bumps
5) mini-figs
6) bricks with 6 bumps

 cover art Raise the roof! / Suen, Anastasia

Oct 28, 2015

Apps in the News: Endless Reader

Learn more about the Endless Reader app here.

The app developer's site is here.

I also highly recommend Endless Spanish, which is the exact same app, only in Spanish.  Perfect for native Spanish speakers as well as anyone who is learning Spanish as a second language.

Oct 17, 2015

WonderWorks on the Road: Geoboards

Can WonderWorks be used for outreach visits?

Today's Topic: Shapes
Rubber bands

  cover art Shape up, pup! / Heck, Edward 
  cover art Perfect square / Hall, Michael

Oct 16, 2015

Apps in the News #1-- DipDap

I'm starting a new segment on our local news (every other Monday, on the 5:00 broadcast) talking about apps for kids.  Here's the first one, from Monday, Oct. 12!

Oct 15, 2015

WonderWorks: Pulleys

Do pulleys really help us to lift heavier loads?

Today's Project:  Pulleys
empty spools
wooden dowels (or chopsticks or hefty skewers...)
heavy things (blocks, books, bag of flour, etc.)
rope or cord or string
pulleys (a variety, from the hardware store)

Today's book:
  cover art The Monkey goes bananas / Bloom, C. P.
(I'm actually fairly proud of this book as an option for pulleys.  Here's a photo of the pulley action:
subtle, but still totally there!

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