My children use my iPad more than I do. I’m sure I am not the only parent saying this either. I remember when I first got my iPad. For a month and a half it was relatively fingerprint free and only contained two pages of well organized and intuitively grouped apps. Social Networking here. News in this folder. Books in that folder. Clean, neat and organized just like I like it. Then my kids realized there was an iPad in the house. First chance the tween got, she confiscated it, hooked it up to iTunes and I went from two pages of apps to many, many pages of apps. On my once pristine iPad now resides everything from talking bacteria to cupcake makers to the afterdead battling vegetation to furious fowl.
I don´t mind but it can ocassionally be embarassing. Case in point, not too long ago I was asked to participate in the interview process for a Director of Finance for the school district. At one meeting, I opened my iPad to look for a briefing document and treated those around the conference table to the sound of a blood thirsty ninja attacking an irate pirate. It was a tad embarassing. ¨No. It´s not mine. Really. It´s my daughter´s game.¨
And so we arrive at the point of this post.
Recently, my friends at Todobebé released their own set of apps. The great thing about these apps, especially in the case of my seven year olds, is the fact that they are fun and educational. Fun and educational. These are words which, when used together, make me very, very happy. There are four Todobebe apps in all, and all come in Spanish, English and Portuguese.
Remember, all these games are available for the iPad and the iPhone which means if you don’t have an iPad, or simply don’t want to lug it around, you have options!
PhotoMoments is Todobebe’s first and free app for the iPhone and the iPad. In essence it is a cute photoframing program which you can use to put themed (holidays, new baby, etc.) frames around the photo of your choice. What photo to frame is up to you. If you have an iPhone with a camera you’re all set. If you have an iPad which you like to download photos to, there is your source of images. Of course, in my tween’s hands, the first photo she framed was one of me which she had aged in another program to make me look like I was 78 years old. Juventud, divino tesoro…
Nevertheless, once framed you can send the photo of your darling little angels to your sister in Saskatchewan, your tia in Tijuana, or your abuelo in Argentina. The possibilities are endless.
Oh and NO I am not posting the photo of me aged 70+ that my daughter framed.
A favorite of my most artistic daughter, FirstColors is a great game both for learning the names of colors, as well as the names of objects which reflect the color learned. For example “Morado. La uva es de color morado.” If your child already knows his/her colors, in English, Spanish or Portuguese, s/he can also pick an object to color. As your child touches the color s/he wishes to use, the game’s “voice” will repeat the name of the color to reinforce the learning.
This is not a cheesy, throwaway coloring game. Kids have to actively “color in” the drawings making the game challenging, good for fine motor control and – my personal favorite – time consuming. Why is this my favorite? Because it comes in SUPER handy in situations where the girls have to wait for something. This is the theorem I have developed after years of scientific investigation and deductive reasoning:
Maria Amelia’s Time Principal #1
Waiting + Children = Tortured Parent
Maria Amelia’s Time Principal #2
Waiting + Children + Entertaining and Time Consuming App = Stress Free Parent
This is another favorite of the twins. In FirstSounds kids can click on a picture and hear the sound the object in the picture makes, can select either Spanish, English or Portuguese as the base language, and can learn all the images in all three languages. The pictures are grouped into like sets such as “Nature”, “Instruments” and “Household.” If they prefer, instead of picking a picture and listening to the sound, they can challenge themselves to pick the correct picture as based on a sound being played. Both modes offer vocabulary instruction and reinforcement.
What I most like about this game is that the sounds are real. That is to say, the dog does not say “woof woof” in English and “guau guau” in Spanish. If you click on the dog, the sound you hear is a dog’s bark. In summary, the game doesn’t “talk down” to the kids.
The fourth and final game is FirstABC123. This game, simply put, teaches children the letters of the alphabet as they are pronounced in either English, Spanish or Portuguese, as well as provides examples of words which begin with the letter being taught. In letter learning mode, children are asked to identify one of 3 images which begin with a given letter. Upon selecting the correct answer, the letter is reviewed complete with the example. In number learning mode, children are asked to pick the grouping with the same quantity of images as the number being taught.
In addition, the game also provides kids with the opportunity to practice writing letters and numbers. The screen will show a traceable image of a letter and number, and kids then use their fingers to connect the dots. This, again, is great for reinforcing learning – and in this case, learning that takes place in school as well!
All in all, Todobebé´s games are intelligent, child appropriate and conference room friendly. I would recommend them highly for the young grade school set, as well as for tweens looking for an opportunity to antagonize their mothers.
I was not compensated by Todobebé for writing this post. I am the Community Leader for Blogs de Mamás (http://www.blogsdemamas.com/) but I was not asked to write this post. I’ve written it because I am a gamer, because I believe that not all games are bad, because I believe that there are some good quality educational games out there, and because I would like to see more non-latinos embrace language learning. To learn more about these games visit: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/firstcolors/id438062605?mt=8.