If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that Charlie and Lola is one of my “absolutely most favourite preschool television series in the whole wide world” (the main character, Lola, talks like this). So there’s a particular fondness in my heart for lovely British apps which I thought I’d share with you.
The Tale of Tom Kitten – free to try, $3.99 in-app purchase or standalone, available for iOS
It seems as though the only “authorized” Peter Rabbit app is this one, and though I can’t say I’ve tested it, I really like this one by Squeaky Oak. For grown-ups, there’s a rather calming piano soundtrack in the menu screen that serves as a nice background for an afternoon tea. Don’t be disparaged by the dreadful iTunes screenshots and hokey marketing because their efforts have gone into the app instead.
Users can toggle the “Read to me” function on and off, but for an interactive book, this app mostly meets my checklist for “Things that an interactive book should be.” Since books for kids are all about reading (and learning to read), I like that it has the feeling of an enhanced book. On the first page, users can even “write” in their names digitally under the “This book belongs to:” header. Illustrations have just enough movement (okay, it’s really a slight wobbling), but most parts (if not all) “react” to touch (some are really cool, like jacket buttons that roll across the bottom of the screen). The narrator also reads both the text and individual words when pressed.
Users can also download the Squeaky Oak/Beatrix Potter title, The Story of Miss Moppet, and both apps are also available in Russian.
Bizzy Bear on the Farm – $3.99, available for iOS
This super cute app opens with the sweetest little voice and such a great theme song that I wonder if this could actually turn into a very successful television series.
Users are offered the options of “Read and Play” or “Read by Myself”, and of course, I always choose “Read and Play.”
The illustration and sound design are great, the “story” is fairly straightforward (have a day on the farm), and it’s kind of neat how users actually help Bizzy Bear with tasks like putting sheep in the pen, collecting eggs and apples, and putting the tractor in the barn. Relatively slow-paced in terms of a user experience, there are blue warbling dots that give hints as to where to press for things to happen. What I’m hoping will come in future updates is that the blue dots disappear, and there are more instances of surprising interactivity. Like if you press on the clouds, do they sparkle or rain, and if you press on characters, will they do more than just “jump”?
Overall, this a good app for toddlers. The developers make a good attempt at stretching out the longevity of game play in the “Read by Myself” mode, but it doesn’t do a whole lot when the words aren’t highlighted while read or they aren’t pronounced when pressed on. But that’s the beauty of apps … they can be tweaked with updates and these might become moot points.
Pip and Posy: Fun and Games – $2.99, available for iOS
Although this app is supposed to be meant for ages 1-3 and 4-7, “older preschool” might be the age range that would enjoy it more. The best part of this app might actually be the “Make a Face” activity, which uses the camera on the mobile device to frame a saveable photo of the user. There are four other mini-games, these being the Colouring Book, Matching Pairs, Spot the Difference and Jigsaw Jam. Spot the Difference is surprisingly tricky, and the praise is appropriately, “You’re good at finding the differences!” (I’m not, I just screen jab when I get stuck.)
The colouring pictures are a bit advanced for toddlers because of the level of detail in the drawings, but older preschoolers will have a great time, especially when the voice says things like, “Nice work!”, “This is looking really good!” and “I like that colour!” One thing I would love is for the variety to change up a bit more before little ones realize that the comments are on a loop. For now, parents may have to throw in their own comments of praise or turn the sound down before that loop gets very repetitive. Also for parents, I (again, profusely) recommend a protective iPad/device cover for any sort of colouring or drawing activities that involve pressing on the screen for extended periods of time.
For really little ones, Matching Pairs and Jigsaw Jam can be played on three different difficulties, so this app can actually have a rather long shelf life on a family device – another thing to check off my wish list.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Lovely British Apps for Little Fingers.
Image Source: iTunes, Pip & Posy