Jul 16, 2015

The Supper Club presents: Farm apps (a belated post)

 Do you have a fan of the farm at your house? These are the apps for you!

Way back in May, the Supper Club featured apps about farm life.  Honestly, I had another theme I was working on up until a day or two before, but I realized that every app on that list was iOS only and I really like to have more diversity in my platforms each month, so I switched at the last minute to a topic that I knew I'd have no problem finding tons of options for.

When people started arriving for Supper Club that night, I was so excited to see that some new families had heard about Supper Club and decided to try us out, but the kids in one of the families were a bit older than my usual crew and as I progressed through this set of apps, it became increasingly clear to me that these apps were all skewing very young. About halfway through, they decided to quietly sneak out the back and while I couldn't blame them for not wanting to stay, I wished that I could run after them, assuring them that there was usually a broader target age range to the apps I talked about.  And so, I dragged my feet about writing this blog post and felt like my app picks weren't even worthy of sharing online.

But then I realized that a) some families DO have children (and adults!) who are fans of the farm and would love to see this app list and b) perhaps there were some larger lessons for librarians exploring app possibilities that I could share on the blog.  And so, 2 months late, here's my blog post about the farm.  I'll put my librarian reflections at the bottom of the post so you can skip it if that part of the conversation doesn't interest you.

May 2015: Farm
Jump See Farm by JumpSeeWow ($2.99, iOS & Android)
Nighty Night by Fox & Sheep ($3.99, iOS & Google Play, free on Amazon)
Moo! Said Morris by Digital Leaf (free, iOS only)

And now for some Deep Librarian Thoughts:
1. If you're advertising a mixed-age program, be sure that there are at least one or two options aimed at older kids and others aimed at younger (duh, but apparently sometimes I need a reminder).
2. "Simple" themes like "farm" or "circus" or "trains" will often bring up results that are aimed at a preschool audience for much the same reason that you'll find far more picture books on these topics than chapter books. BUT, if you search intentionally, you might be able to find apps that will appeal to an older audience as well.  OR, just brainstorm a few titles for older users that you're currently excited about and see if you can make them fit your theme.  For instance, this month's (July's) app theme was "Water" and I chose to include Monument Valley which has a few levels with water in them, but is SUCH a fantastic and beloved app to users of LOTS of ages that I've been wanting an excuse to introduce it for a long time.
3. An alternative would be to either go "themeless" (I personally like the focus that a theme brings, but I will not hesitate to choose "Carissa's Favorites" as the theme some month if necessary to avoid sharing lukewarm apps just because they "go with the theme") OR choose more complex themes like "Think outside the Screen" or "Becoming Global Citizens."  Granted, it's MUCH more difficult to search for apps in those categories, but it becomes easier the more apps you familiarize yourself with.

So, if you've read this far, what do you think? If you're a parent, do you like themes in storytimes like Supper Club or not? If you're a librarian, would you use themes when choosing a batch of apps?

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