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.

Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC; more resources at BlogXpertise