Archive for the ‘apps’ Category

App Time Session 14: Otter on His Own and MarcoPolo Ocean

April 18, 2015

otterThe first app we used this week in App Time was Otter on His Own from Oceanhouse Media’s Smithsonian Collection. It is available through iTunes and Google Play for $2.99.

This app is based on a book by the same name, but the illustrations have been updated and allow for some interaction. It would make a great addition to digital libraries for kids ages 4-10, especially as it has plenty of non-fiction educational content. The book follows a young otter pup as he grows up and goes from depending entirely on his mom to being able to go off on his own. In this digital version, kids can read on their own, listen to the story with highlighted narration, and tap on different items they see on the screen to find out what they are, which is great for vocabulary development.

otter 3




We then looked at the activity app MarcoPolo Ocean, which is available through iTunes for $2.99ocean

MarcoPolo Ocean is a great way to continue your exploration into the sea. This app has five puzzles kids can do in addition to the free play aspect of diving deep into the depths of the ocean. They can assemble a coral reef, herring, orca, boat or submarine. As they build, the narrator will give them facts about some of the parts. They can then add animals to their ocean and interact with them during the open-ended play. You can also check out the Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer app, which has a simpler version of ocean exploration, but is free.

ocean 2

Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 13: Hello, Baby Animals and Lazoo Squiggles

April 11, 2015


baby animalsThis week in App Time we looked at Hello, Baby Animals developed by Shortstack. It is available through iTunes for $2.99.

I love that the interaction in this app is simple and relates directly to  the text. Kids can learn the baby animal names for different animals. I even learned how to pronounce foal (a baby horse) correctly. Hint: it rhymes with rock’n’roll! You can turn narration on or off. If you choose to turn narration on, you have the choice to hear an adult’s voice or child’s voice. I like having the child’s voice as the narrator. It might inspire your kid to read along! I thought it was so cool, how the words appear as they are read. This is a different form of highlighted narration, which boosts word recognition and raises print awareness.

Our activity app was Lazoo Squiggles by Lazoo. It is available through iTunes for free.lazoo squiggles

 Haggard Library has had this app on our App Time iPads and the iPads available near the Children’s Info desk. I’ve seen lots of kids enjoying this doodle app and decided to highlight this app for a demonstration. Doodling is so much fun, but it’s also a great way to build fine motor skills. Even kids who can’t hold a crayon yet can get ready to write simply by making some squiggles. Foster human relationships by asking your child questions as they build a scene. It can be as simple as “Where did the car go?” or you can challenge them to think “Why did the flowers grow when it rained?” These questions will help build narrative skills.

App Time is funded by the Texas State Archives and Library Commission (TSLAC) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services(IMLS). Come to Haggard Fridays at 11am and join us for App Time. See you there!

Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 12: Trucks and Peekaboo Barn

April 4, 2015

byron barton appsIn App Time this week, we used the book app Trucks from the Byron Barton Collection #1 produced by Oceanhouse Media ($4.99 on the App Store or $1.99 if purchased individually).

For young listeners who love vehicles, this app is a great companion for the books of the same name. It features bold colors and simple navigation with a bright orange triangle at the bottom right for page turns. Sentences appear in black and are highlighted as read aloud (you can turn this option off, too). Pressing on a word will pronounce and display the word again. Sound effects are minimal: Pressing on objects in the scene results in identification of the object, and sometimes prompts additional sound effects. I like the non-distracting format of this app, ideal for younger children. Pressing the orange arrow at bottom center gives the option to close, go to home, navigate to particular pages, record your voice for read-aloud option and turn on/off sound effects.

peekaboo barnWe also used the activity app, Peekaboo Barn by Night & Day Studios ($1.99 on App Store and Google Play)

A wonderfully simple and pleasing app:  a red barn is front and center, and tapping on the wiggling doors opens them to reveal a farm animal. The animal noise is heard, and the word for the animal appears. Tapping again closes the barn doors, and the child can tap to open the doors and reveal another animal.

This one is great for interaction, animal identification and sounds.  Additionally, there are many language options, making this a good one for non-native English speakers or for those wanting their children to learn animal words in another language. 

peekaboo barn 1Parent options can be accessed by swiping, and allow play modes of regular or looped; voice on or off; voice in other languages; or the option to record a voice.



Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 11: Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats and Little Pim

March 28, 2015

Today in App Time we demonstrated:

kalley's machineKalley’s Machine Plus Cats

Developed by RocketWagon

$2.99 in iTunes and Google Play

This app is a delight! Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats is based on a true story. Kalley actually did make a drawing of a machine that would make food so that her dad could skip work and stay home with her. Her dad explains that he has to work for more than just food on the table, but Kalley assures him that she will make machines for those things, too! Instead of creating the machine, Kalley’s dad helped her make the drawing into a book app. Have fun exploring the different parts of the machine. Crank gears and lift levers. Bake marshmallows, and put food in the refrigerator. Talk with your child about the science behind machines and have them create a machine of their own. When they explain their machine to you, they are strengthening their narrative skills! There is highlighted narration in the book. Tap on a word to hear it again. This is a great feature for word recognition and building vocabulary skills.

kalley's machine play


Developed by Little Pim

Free in iTunes

Help your child learn Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, and Japanese. Lists of words are divided into themes. Turn the child mode off to see the word in the language of your choice, the pronunciation, and the word in English. Practice vocabulary often with your child and use in everyday language. Once you turn child mode on the text disappear. Can your child remember the correct word for the picture? If so, check the box labeled “Learned” and move on to learn more words! The app tracks the progress of your child. You can also check out Little Pim videos at your Plano Public Library and the Little Pim YouTube Channel.

pimtrack screens

Join us on Fridays, 11 am, at Haggard Library for App Time. See you there!

(Reviewed by Kate at Haggard)

Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 9: Pat the Bunny and Felt Board

March 14, 2015

Since we didn’t have a very high attendance for App Time Session 1, I decided to repeat the apps we demonstrated. The apps were Pat the Bunny and Felt Board. Here’s the link to the original App Time Session 1 blog post.

Pat the Bunny is available through the iTunes store for $2.99. There is highlighted narration, which is a very important feature in book apps for early readers. Highlighted narration is similar to running your finger along the text, which helps raise print awareness (i.e. we read text from left to right). I also like that interaction with the book app is directly related to the text.

Felt Board is an app with endless possibilities. The app is available for $2.99 through the iTunes Store. The first time I demonstrated the app I focused on creating scenes. Having your child talk about details or create a story about the scene helps build narrative skills. This week I focused on another way to interact with this app: building letter recognition.  Katrina Bergen shares a good letter recognition activity over on Little eLit.

Join us on Fridays at Haggard Library, 11am for App Time!


Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 8

March 7, 2015

monster appThis week in App Time, we looked at the book app There’s a Monster at the End of this Book!  It’s produced by Sesame Street and available for $4.99 on the App Store.  Based on the beloved book of the same name, Grover narrates the book, warning readers NOT to turn the pages because there’s a monster at the end of the book. The book’s interactivity comes into play as readers can “untie” the ropes and “break down” the brick wall that Grover builds, in hopes of preventing the reader from turning another page. It’s easy to navigate with the bottom corner of the page pulling up, and Grover acting as a guide with funny comments. Interactive parts glow so it’s obvious where to tap, and there’s highlighted narration.  There is also a parent tab with lots of extension activities, and ideas for using the app to calm a child’s fears.
ACPL appThe activity app this week is ACPL Family (free on the App Store) from the Allen County Public Library.  The app promotes early literacy and can be used with preschoolers up through elementary-grade children. There are booklists with helpful themed lists, with some common ones such as Great Books for Toddlers but also less common ones such as “Dentist” or “Clay Illustrations.” Keep in mind that the books link to the Allen County Library so you’ll want to use the Plano library app to check for the titles recommended here.

There’s a Tips & Facts section that gives early literacy tips by age group.  There’s also a Reading Timer (great for independent readers or adults who want to commit to read-aloud time with their child).

The READY on the Go section is impressive for its videos related to each of the 5 early literacy practices (Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing & Playing).  The videos, aimed at the child but modeling for the parent or caregiver, give ideas for how to reinforce that practice.


Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 7: Wee Alphas and Endless Reader

February 28, 2015

This week in App Time we covered two alphabet apps!

17_wee_PR_Alphas_App_icon_144dpi Wee Alphas is a fun and interactive app where kids can learn their letters, sounds, and new words while finding hidden letters in creatures. This app allows you to work on letter recognition and establishing new vocabulary words.



Endless Reader is a great introductory app to letters and words. The ‘lite’ version offers letters A-F and you can spell words while learning the different sounds the letters make within the word.

Join us next Friday at 11 AM at Haggard Library to see which apps we recommend!

Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 6: Curious George and the Firefighters and Toca Nature

February 21, 2015

curious george

Curious George and the Firefighters by iRead With

available in iTunes and Google Play for $2.99

Yesterday in App Time, we looked at the app Curious George and the Firefighters. There are three ways to interact with this app. The first option is to simply listen the narrated story. The words are not highlighted as the narrator reads, so make sure you are running your finger along the text to help your child raise print awareness. The second option is why I chose to demonstrate the app. It is called Read & Talk. This option includes a parent avatar that acts as a guide while you engage in the story with your child. As you click on different colored words throughout the story, the parent avatar will pop up with a question or a prompt that requires an answer from your child. The act of asking questions helps increase reading comprehension. Statements such as talking about how characters feel or discussing why a character did something in particular helps keep your child engaged with the story. Feel free to incorporate this practice as you read other book apps and print books. In this option, you can also record your voice for specific words that are highlighted throughout the story. The app calls these words living words. When you select living words on the page, they complete an action along with the corresponding illustration. Living words help with word recognition. The third option in the Curious George and the Firefighters app is called the Theater. This option allows your child to recreate different scenes from the story with stickers. They can record their voice as they animate the scene. This is great way to boost reading comprehension and narrative skills.

toca nature

Toca Nature by Toca Boca

available in iTunes for $2.99

Our activity app in App Time was called Toca Nature. This is one of my favorite apps we’ve explore in App Time, so far. It encourages open-ended play, something that is so important for children’s early literacy development. The app starts off with an empty plot of land. It’s your child’s job to create a whole new world using the options at the bottom. They can create mountains and hills, lakes, rivers, and ponds, and all kinds of different forests that contain various wildlife. Once they are happy with their creation, they can explore the landscape with the magnifying glass at the bottom. In this explore mode, your child can move forward, backward, and side to side. To turn, use the globe at the bottom left corner. You’ll come across lots of different wildlife as you explore. There are bears, bunnies, foxes, birds, and deer. Sometimes they get hungry!! A thought bubble will appear above their head with the specific food they are craving. Feed them from your food collections at the bottom. There are berries, nuts, mushrooms, and fish. If you run out of berries, for example, search the ground until you find berries. Click on them and you can add them to your collection. To exit the explorer mode, click the arrow at the top right corner. To start over and create a new world, use the axe to erase trees, the water to erode mountains, and the mountains to fill up water.

Hope to see you at App Time! This program is held at Haggard Library on Fridays, 11am.

Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 5: Boats & MOMA Art Lab

February 14, 2015

Boats appThis week in App Time we looked at Boats, an app based on the book of the same name by Byron Barton.  It’s produced by Oceanhouse Media and is available as part of the Byron Barton Collection #1 for $4.99 from the App Store.

This app has the bright colors, bold outlines and simple shapes that are familiar from Barton’s books.  The book will automatically read aloud unless you go into the settings. There is the option to record your own voice.

There are sound effects and animation as the different boats move onto the page. Navigation is intuitive with the triangle appearing in the bottom right.

Tapping on a boat repeats a sound effect. You can also move the boats by holding and dragging. Tapping on objects or parts of the scene will identify the object and the word will appear, a great way to build on a child’s vocabulary.


moma art labThe activity app this week is MOMA Art Lab from the Museum of Modern Art in NY. It’s available for free from the App Store and encourages open-ended creativity.

Once the app is opened, you’ll see 3 colored buttons on the left. The button with the lightbulb gives you ideas for your artwork; the scissors and pencil button gives suggests activities based on a specific artist’s work.   Each of these button also has the option for audio, so that a pre-reader will have the activity or suggestion read aloud to them. The third button is your gallery where you can save your artwork.  On the right side, there’s the option to start a new work, take a picture of your art, change the canvas color, or delete your artwork.

In the middle is a blank canvas with drawing, shape and color options at the bottom. Bring shapes onto the canvas by tapping on them. You can move shapes around, resize them and turn them…or drag them off the screen to remove them.  Practice shape and color recognition with your child using the app.  There are lots of color and drawing options, and a handy eraser if you need to revise your artwork. The drawing option will allow a child to scribble and practice pre-writing skills by “writing” in their own way.

This app has so many possibilities: discuss the artists featured on the app; visit a museum; try some of the artwork with real art supplies; talk with your child about their artwork.


Print Friendly

Print this entry


App Time Session 4: Epic! and Animal Memory

February 7, 2015

This week at App Time we featured two new apps: Epic! and Animal Memory.

Epic-Books-for-KidsEpic! is an app with thousands of amazing books for your kids to read. You can customize this app for your child by age and reading interests. There are a lot of neat features of this app: read to me, unique avatar, reading logs, and more!

icon220x220Animal Memory is a cool memory game where kids can learn about animals across the globe. Check out the video for more information about these apps!

App Time is funded by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Join us next week for App Time on Friday at 11am at Haggard Library!

Register online to use one of our tablets or bring your own:

Click here to see all of our App Time videos.

Print Friendly

Print this entry