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Category Archives: Cool Tools 4 Kids

Cool Tech 4 Kids to Beat the Heat: Part 3.1: I Like Books

Given a few weeks off from work, I find myself fighting the summer battle between personal todo lists and keeping up with blogging and technology trends. Oftentimes, it is just easier to compose another blog entry (as I have quite the running and growing list of topics) rather than shift gears and begin sorting and uploading photographs for another scrap-booking project. That is why I was elated at the premise of melding the two loves.

There have been quite a few digital album deals I have had to pass on due to insufficient time to locate, assemble, and upload images to a site and then organize said images into a digital album (not much on the auto-fill option as I am a bit of a perfectionist).

I have been wanting to create a Cousin book for some time now to assemble photos from all of the events my son and his cousin have shared together over these 4 years. When Snapfish offered their “buy 1 get 2 free” deal, I knew this was my opportunity. Though I knew I wanted to create a cousin-themed digital album, I was unsure of how the book would flow…

Grasshopper Apps: I Like Series

Then I remembered the I Like Book series on the iPad: a fabulous iPad/iPod series that highlights a single topic (e.g.  I Like School, I Like Summer, I Like My Sister, I Like Cats (paid), I Like Colors (paid), etc…). I had inadvertently been given my charge: to create an “I Like My Cousin” digital book with each page highlighting a shared event or moment (e.g. I like riding a camel, I like Grammy’s toys, I like trains, I like Grampy’s rocking chair, I like the beach, I like Easter egg hunts etc…).

The beauty of the I Like Books is that they focus on one-two image(s) per page and provide a highly engaging, simplistic, repetitive text that is perfect for readability and fluency (they also offer a read to me/read to myself option where text is highlighted). Consider reading the I Like series with your child and even venturing into the LAZ readers by ReadSmart Mobile. These iPad/iPod apps are leveled reader books that focus on a wide variety of topics (e.g. Making Pizza, Art Around Us (paid), Going Places (paid), Bananas Sometimes, Busy at School (paid), A Week with Grandpa (paid), Places People Live (paid), and I Fly Hot Air Balloons: interview (paid). While they do not have a “read to me” feature (one can always turn on the VoiceOver accessibility feature found in the general settings if you so desire narration), they do include definitions and are perfect for early readers Kindergarten through third grade (with promise of advanced reading levels in the near future).

I Like My Cousin: Snapfish Book

While many digital albums are created to mimic and serve the same purpose as a traditional photo album, I wanted this book to become a treasured family classic read and requested at bedtime time and time again.
Most digital album resources will allow you to create books (and many can be shared online). My favorites are Mixbook, Shutterfly, Picaboo, Snapfish, and Walgreen’s. All of these sites offer deals quite frequently and the books can be used as gifts or for your personal library.

I Like Feeding Giraffes

Here are a few suggested themes/topics to get you started:

  • I Like: I Like Summer, I Like Water, I Like Traveling, I Like Colors, I Like Dinosaurs, I Like the Magik Theater, I like the Farmer/s Market, I Like Gruene, I Like Cheerleading
  • LAZ Reader: Making Birthday Cake, Going to Schlitterbahn, What I Learned at VBS or Summer Camp

The beauty of melding literacy with your family stories and memories is young readers already have background information and familiarity with the content so they feel a greater comfort and desire for reading the books. Such a great treasure to create for your little ones or a wonderful collaborative project for a parent and an older child. Read the books over and over with your child highlighting anecdotes and memories the images conjure up. What a great tradition.

Stay Tuned over the next couple of weeks for additions to Part 3: More eBooks and Part 4: Storytelling. Did you miss Part 1: Imaginative Play & Games or Part 2: Virtual Vacation?

If you missed Summer Technology 4 Kids on Social Geek Radio, you can now download the episode in iTunes.

Please comment with your favorite I Like Books themes or other sites for making digital books.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2011 in Cool Tools 4 Kids, ELAR, iPad

 

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Cool Tech 4 Kids to Beat the Heat: Part 3: Interactive Books

In an effort to provide my audience with more bite size morsels of technology, I have divided my interactive books section in to two parts. As students are out of school and many visit the library for pleasure reading books to fulfill their reading list quota, it only make sense to consider the iPad to fulfill the need and desire for literacy.

Ebooks for Kids on iDevices

The authors listed below are my son’s favorites from the bookshelf and the iPad. These are not books that were created solely for the iPad. Rather, they are interactive versions of the original (and beloved) work of art published for the new generation of digital learners. (All apps listed are paid.)

  1. Dr. Seuss (universal app): Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? Truly? Now you can read Dr. Seuss’s classics on the iPad with a few more bonus features:

    Image Edited with Rollip

    "Lots of good fun that is funny"

    1. read to me/read to myself/auto-play options
    2. highlighted text as it is read
    3. picture/word association (e.g. words zoom up and are spoken when pictures are touched)
    4. background audio (e.g. car motors, talking underwater, train whistle)
  2. Berenstein Bears (universal app): My 4-year old son has loved these books (as well as the corresponding videos) so we were delighted to find them available on the iPad. It also has all of the features the Dr. Seuss books offer.
  3. Eileen Christelow: “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” (universal app): My son has loved the Five Little Monkeys series for years and these interactive books stay true to the joy and engaging story line that each book provides. They also offer the same features as the Dr. Seuss & Berenstein Bears ebooks do.
  4. Mercer Mayer: (universal app): Not only do these Little Critter books offer the same features as Dr. Seuss, the Berenstein Bears, and Eileen Christelow, they also include a “find the creature mini-game”.
  5. Sandra Boynton: “The Going to Bed Book” (iPad only): These books are so humorous and fun to read. This book goes far beyond the other ones listed as it offers more interaction with the characters and objects (e.g. you can touch, turn, and pull) and allows to tilt your device to watch things tilt and cascade. The ebook also features two reading modes:
    1. “The Big Guy Reads It”: Billy J. Kramer narrates with word highlighting
    2. “I want to read to myself”: Your little one reads at their own pace and can hear individual words pronounced with the tap of a finger

Stay Tuned over the next couple of weeks for upcoming Part 3: More eBooks and Part 4: Storytelling. Did you miss Part 1: Imaginative Play & Games or Part 2: Virtual Vacation?

If you missed Summer Technology 4 Kids on Social Geek Radio, you can now download the episode in iTunes.

Please comment with your favorite children’s ebooks and authors?

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Cool Tools 4 Kids, iPad

 

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Cool Tech 4 Kids to Beat the Heat: Part 2: Virtual Vacation

Travel the World at the Drop of a Pin

Virtual Vacation: As heat, inflated gas prices, and the economy deter us from travel, consider a staycation via a virtual field trip. Consider taking a free trip to Paris, the National Zoo, Ellis Island, or the Taj Mahal without paying a cent or leaving your wonderfully climate-controlled abode.

iPad: Aroundertouch (by far my favorite… can’t believe it is still free), Tour Wrist (totally my new favorite: your iOS device becomes a portal to the world. You really have to see it ti believe it!), Fotopedia Heritage (also has a website) & Paris, Atlas of the World, GTTZoo Lite, Pocket Zoo Free (has live webcams of penguins and polar bears as well as videos of other animals), World Book’s World of Animals (free through 7/10), Cooper’s Pack Seattle or Alaska (both paid), Kids World Map, Library of Congress Virtual Tour, Explorer: The American Museum of Natural History

Web 2.0: Fraboom (interactive online Children’s Museum for ages 6-12), Google Art Project, 360 CitiesScholastic Global Trek, National Zoo Webcams (Switcheroo Zoo: Make & Play with Animals at this virtual zoo), 100 Virtual Trips, 7 Panorama Wonders of the World, A Walk in the Woods (Spanish), Ellis Island, Virtual Space

Virtual Tourism Lesson

Have your child send a postcard from the destinations they visit: Post Card Creator (Web 2.0) or Animal Greetings, Flat Stanley (paid app), or Card Shop (paid app). Consider creating a travel journal using the apps iDiary For Kids or MaxJournal (both paid) or Catch Notes (which allows you to capture ideas and experiences in text, voice, images, and locations). Collect thoughts on summer travels and anecdotes for a future scrapbook. Compose a top ten list of places they would like to visit.

Wanna have even more fun? Create your own panoramas using Photosynth (also a website ** with multiple examples), AutoStitch Panorama or Panoramatic 360 (last two paid). Share your panoramas at ViewAt.org or Photosynth. (If you plan on actually traveling this summer – what better memories to keep than 360 tours of some of your favorite spots.)

Even consider creating your own geocache treasure or scavenger hunt using an iDevice and Google Maps and/or Google Earth (both have app and website counterparts). Did you know Google Maps now has street view? Put on some ambient music to set the tone (check out NatureSpace), order some ethnic cuisine, and it is almost as if you were there.

Landa Park 360 Tour with Photosynth

For all of you Voracious Virtual Voyagers, check out Google’s: What Do You Love Site (as seen on Mashup) to locate more information (e.g. articles, photos, blogs, books, discussion groups, videos, maps, and debates) on any of the places you visit that spark your interest.

Google: WDYL (Eiffel Tower)

Stay Tuned over the next couple of weeks for upcoming Part 3: Books & Storytelling and Part 4: Scrapbooks, Timelines, Arts & Crafts. Did you miss Part 1: Imaginative Play & Games?

Tune in: Thursday June 23rd at 8pm to Social Geek Radio where I will be a guest discussing cool technology for kids (apps and Web 2.0 tools) that they can utilize on these hot summer days.

**If the virtual tour doesn’t work on your computer, you will need to download Silverlight. It is quick and painless and it fixes the issue once you exit and reload your browser.

Please Comment with your favorite apps (and Web 2.0 tools) for virtual trips and tours.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Cool Tools 4 Kids, iPad

 

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Cool Tech 4 Kids to Beat the Heat: Part 1: Imaginative Play and Games

As we are already in triple digits and haven’t even celebrated the 4th of July, many parents are opting to stay indoors rather than brave the blistering heat. While we will make the occasional trip to the Children’s Museum, Magik Theater, and Schlitterbahn, my focus has been trying to come up with alternatives to playing in the heat.


ImageChef.com Poetry Blender

If you are like me and have two young boys (or children of any age for that matter), you are probably looking for something to keep your kiddos busy… indoors. If I am not prepared, activities around the house may be as simple as block day (where we dump all of the Mega Bloks out on the floor and build various structures) or city day (which consists of pulling out all of our Fisher Price toys…airport, barns, zoo, cars, people, etc… and arranging them into something that resembles a metropolis of sorts).

These activities are fun but given some more time to prepare, I like to arrange activities that bridge the gap between fun, technology, and instruction. The activities listed are broken up into categories and are accessed via the iPad. (Upcoming posts in the series will focus on both apps and Web 2.0 tools).

As I am also a bargain app shopper, the majority of apps suggested are… FREE (or moderately priced)!

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Imaginative Play: Many of us remember tea parties and puppet shows so the idea of using technology to foster imaginative play is not so far-fetched. While Toca Tea Party may only appeal to preschool and elementary age children, Puppet Pals & Sock Puppets will bring joy to all who are young at heart.

Tea for Two or More

Need ideas for your next Puppet Show? Check out Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats for some great examples of puppet shows (both are paid). Plums Rhyme and Tortoise and Hare Puppet Show (includes step-by-step video workshop for how to make puppets and create a show) are both free!

Legos, Board Games, and Puzzles: Cure Boredom!

Let Your PegLight Shine Brite!

Create Your Own Wordventure

Have an overcast day or an early morning? Check out 225 Kid Outdoor Games (games for ages 2-16 from around the world – paid app).

Don’t have an iPad? Consider creating your own board game (Tools for Educators) or dusting off Uno and Connect 4.

Stay Tuned over the next couple of weeks for upcoming Part 2: Virtual Vacations, Part 3: Books & Storytelling,and Part 4: Scrapbooks, Timelines, Arts & Crafts.

Tune in: Thursday June 23rd at 8pm to Social Geek Radio where I will be a guest discussing cool technology for kids (apps and Web 2.0 tools) that they can utilize on these hot summer days.

Please Comment with your favorite apps (and Web 2.0 tools) for imaginative play and games.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Cool Tools 4 Kids, iPad

 

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