Playing more than just Angry Birds
KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Give a child a tablet, and there’ll be no doubt that they’ll be entertained for hours. The concern for many parents, however, is that the hours spent playing games like Angry Birds could be spent learning instead.
Here are a few recently highlighted apps for the iOS and Android devices that could help children do just that in new and engaging ways.
Launched on May 1, “Meet Heckerty” (http://www.heckerty.com/ ) is the first interactive book from the “Love From Heckerty” series, which was created by Ann Rachlin. (http://www.annrachlin.com/) You may be unfamiliar with the name, but to England’s Princes Harry and Williams, Rachlin is Britain’s Royal Storyteller who gave the princes weekly musical storytelling sessions as part of their education.
Rachlin’s Heckerty is a green-faced 409-year-old witch who, together with her cat Zanzibar, goes on zany adventures — and in the process takes readers through a spelling test, savour treats from her Cauldron Cookbook and meet Heckerty’s friends and family.
The app was created by Rachlin’s daughter Jan Ziff, a BBC broadcast journalist, who sought funds to launch the app from crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter. The narration is every bit as engaging as you’d expect, and text appears one word at a time so children learn to build their vocabulary.
The app is available for both Android (http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.BroomstickProductions.MeetHeckerty.A1) and iOS (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/meet-heckerty/id514220257?mt=8) platforms for US$0.99 (RM3). For more information, view the preview here. (http://vimeo.com/40247670)
Taking its cue from the classic “I Spy with my little eye...” game is London-based Stealth Education, which in May launched “ABC Spy”. (http://www.abcspy.com/) This photo-based iOS app tasks the child with finding an object to photograph that begins with that letter (“M for Mouse”, for instance).
Children are not alone in their hunt for objects; the app features Simon Spider, a character that makes suggestions about the types of things to look for and photograph. Once shot, the objects are named by children, the photo edited, and then catalogued in their personslised list of “I Spied” items.
Children are also awarded trophies for key achievements such as taking a picture for every letter in the alphabet, and they can also choose to convert their catalogue into a video that can be posted on YouTube. For parents, the app provides statistics such as time logged in to see how their kids are faring with their ABCs.
The app is available on the Apple App Store for US$0.99. http://itunes.apple.com/app/abc-spy/id483577483?mt=8
When Timbuktu (http://timbuktu.me/) launched in April last year, it quickly became popular after it was featured on the App Store’s recommended list. Little wonder, too: This children’s e-book app combines imaginative and interactive illustrations together with educational stories to create more than just a reading experience for children.
One year on, the Italy-based developers have launched Timbuktu’s second issue, “The Night Issue”. Stories include “Games Under The Moon”, a list of games kids can play in the night time, a children-friendly quiz on vampires, and a lovely video feature “How Do We Dream” in which kids from Municipal Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, are asked about their dreams, and what they think dreams are made of.
Artists who contributed to the latest issue include Emiliano Ponzi, (http://www.emilianoponzi.com/) Andrew Kolb (http://www.kolbisneat.com/) and Blanca Gomez. (http://cosasminimas.com/)
Oh, and did we mention Timbuktu was free? Why not give it a whirl? (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/timbuktu/id428469245?mt=8 )
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