148 Apps on Facebook 148 Apps on Twitter

Tag: Education »

The Story Behind Grammar Girl's Grammar Pop and the Quest to Make Learning Fun

Posted by Jennifer Allen on April 22nd, 2014

Learning is so much more rewarding when it's also fun. That's part of the reason why recent educational app, Grammar Pop HD, garnered such a positive review from us last week. The brainchild of Mignon Fogarty, otherwise known as Grammar Girl, we were lucky enough to have a chat with her to find out more on how the game, as well as the persona, came to be.

148Apps: What's the story behind Grammar Girl? What made you decide to embrace that title?
Mignon Fogarty (MF): When I was a science editor, I saw my clients making the same mistakes over and over again - little things, such as using "a" when they should use "an" or misusing commas. Podcasting was new at the time, and I decided to also do a quick, simpler writing show because I saw that there were so many people who needed writing help.

Much to my surprise, the Grammar Girl podcast took off right away and essentially took over my life. I worked like crazy for about six months trying to do both Grammar Girl and the science writing and editing, since that work paid my bills, and when I finally got my book deal with Macmillan and we formed the partnership to grow the Quick and Dirty Tips network, I was able to switch to Grammar Girl full time.

The name Grammar Girl just popped into my head and I knew it was perfect right away. I believe it works because of the alliteration and because "girl" is a nonthreatening word. People have a lot of anxiety about their writing, and a lot of the grammar advice out there is delivered in a high-brow or condescending way. Being Grammar Girl sends the message that I'm friendly and approachable.

148Apps: How did Grammar Pop come about? What was the inspiration for creating a game like this?
MF: After finishing my last book, I wanted to do something different. People were playing games on their tablets and phones - I was playing games on my tablet and phone - and it seemed obvious to me that there should be a game in which you match words with their parts of speech. In fact, I was incredulous when I looked for such a game and found that it didn’t exist.

So on a plane on my way to Macmillan for a different meeting, I sketched out the initial idea for how I thought the game might work. They wanted to do it, so we went about investigating ways to make it work. I ended up coding it myself with a tool called Game Salad and working with Margo Goody, an artist at Macmillan.


148Apps: How important do you think it is to make learning fun?
MF: Grammar Girl is all about making learning fun!

148Apps: What has the feedback from players been like?
MF: I get great feedback from parents and teachers who use Grammar Pop and say it has really helped their kids learn parts of speech. It's not a chore to get their kids to play it; the kids love it and learn parts of speech without even realizing they're learning.

148Apps: What's next for the Grammar Pop series of games? Are there any plans for new installments or updates?
MF: We came out with a special Winterfest edition for the holidays, and we're getting bids right now to expand the game with more levels.


Thanks to Mignon Fogarty for taking the time to answer our questions. To find out more about Grammar Girl, check out the Quick and Dirty Tips website.

Grammar Pop is available now for iPhone and iPad.

(Image of Mignon Fogarty courtesy of Quick and Dirty Tips.com)

Grammar Pop HD Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 16th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: FUN LEARNING
Learning the different parts of speech isn't always fun, but Grammar Pop HD makes it much more entertaining than it has any right to be.
Read The Full Review »

Web Defense Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on April 9th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: HECTIC LESSONS
Handy lessons about web security are available through this sometimes chaotic time management game.
Read The Full Review »

Piano Mania Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Jennifer Allen on March 18th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: LEARNING IS FUN
Learning to play the piano has never been quite so fun, or as simple.
Read The Full Review »

Brian Cox's Wonders of Life Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on February 26th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: ATTRACTIVELY FASCINATING
Exploring the wonders of the world, this is a fascinating app of discovery.
Read The Full Review »

The Great Photo App Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Jennifer Allen on January 7th, 2014
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: CLEARLY LAID OUT BASICS
Teaching the fundamental basics to photography and busting some tricky jargon, The Great Photo App is a useful starting point for the most inexperienced of photographers.
Read The Full Review »

Blinkist Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Mike Deneen on December 6th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CHEAT SHEETS FOR THE MODERN AGE
Blinkist will be right up the alley of anyone who has ever enjoyed SparkNotes as a kid.
Read The Full Review »

Henri Le Worm Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on December 3rd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CUTE AND EDUCATIONAL
Charming, educational, and cute, Henri Le Worm is an ideal way to teach kids about the importance of eating well.
Read The Full Review »

LingoCards Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on November 7th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: ROUGH BUT PRACTICAL
It's far from attractive to look at, but LingoCards offers the basics that someone learning Japanese could do with knowing.
Read The Full Review »

Verb Challenge Spanish Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Jennifer Allen on October 30th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SI SI
Learning how to conjugate verbs is dull, but Verb Challenge Spanish makes it much more interesting.
Read The Full Review »

Modern Spanish Flashcards Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Angela LaFollette on September 6th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MUY BUENO
This flashcard app makes learning Spanish fun by providing users with beautiful photographs and clever animations.
Read The Full Review »

Symmetry School: Learning Geometry Review

iPad App - Designed for iPad
By Amy Solomon on August 6th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: HANDS ON LEARNING
Enjoy this hands-on approach to learning about symmetry both simple as well as more complex.
Read The Full Review »

EarWizard Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Jennifer Allen on July 16th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: MUSICALLY EDUCATIONAL
EarWizard makes recognizing music by ear much more enjoyable, boosting any user's potential to learn.
Read The Full Review »

Mental Case 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By David Rabinowitz on July 11th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: STUDY HARD
Mental Case 2 is a powerful and comprehensive note taking and study app.
Read The Full Review »

This Week at 148Apps: July 1-5, 2013

Posted by Chris Kirby on July 8th, 2013

Expert App Reviews


Week-in and week-out, the 148Apps reviewers search through the new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we've been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.


SuperBetter

A surprising amount of apps and games like to think that they can change one’s life. In reality, a select few can actually accomplish something that huge. Most of the remaining few might change small elements, such as providing encouragement for those trying to exercise more or give up a bad habit. SuperBetter is part of an even smaller group: it wants to change and improve everything about one’s life. A lofty ambition but one that I reckon it can accomplish, with the willingness of its users. One such glimpse into the importance of SuperBetter comes from this Ted video from game designer, Jane McGonigal, explaining just why the app can help so much. It’s fascinating stuff and ideal context. Essentially, SuperBetter is about turning life into a game. --Jennifer Allen


Layton Brothers Mystery Room

Oh, look, Layton Brothers Mystery Room. Sounds interesting. The name Layton has pretty much become synonymous with puzzle-solving brilliance. The Professor had a knack for solving most of the world’s problems with a little logic, and that talent has apparently been passed on to his progeny. Alfendi Layton, however, is not his father. Mysteries are still a key feature for this particular Layton’s adventures, however Alfendi and his new assistant Lucy Baker (Detective Constable) are out to solve murder mysteries. Two of which are available for free right from the start and seven more that can be purchased for an additional $5. The each case involves mulling over suspects, inspecting a recreated crime scene (because Alfendi is something of a shut-in), questioning suspects/witnesses, and piecing it all together until a solid accusation can be made. In fact, aside from the world and characters Layton Brothers Mystery Room actually bears little resemblance to earlier games in the series. --Rob Rich


Limbo

Limbo, the 2010 Xbox Live Arcade release that also made its way to other platforms, has finally come to mobile. For those who have not experienced this haunting puzzle-platformer, this is as good a time as any to jump in. Limbo is dark and mysterious, thanks in part to its silhouetted art style that renders most the world in black and white. There’s little guidance given, as players just kind of have to start running, and taking on the challenges that face them, from tricky jumps to finding ways to dispatch enemies, and avoiding traps. This is very much a horror game, as plenty of opportunities to scare the player are presented. Seriously, this game is nightmare-inducing. The deaths in the game aren’t particularly gory, but they are rather gruesome. That it’s a kid on the receiving end of most of the carnage is part of what makes it unsettling. That, and some of the things that are encountered in the world of Limbo. --Carter Dotson


Other 148Apps Network Sites

If you are looking for the best reviews of kids' apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

Coolson's Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet

As some readers may have noticed, I do not personally review many word games. Very few word games gain my attention because I am terrible at these types of puzzles, finding them for the most part frustrating and demoralizing. Therefore, it is quite a compliment from me to have enjoyed reviewing Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet as it is a word game that has won me over with a charming narrative, wonderful sense of style and an abundance of whimsy that I have greatly enjoyed. --Amy Solomon

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is a thoughtfully written and wonderfully illustrated children’s storybook app. This is a very personal storybook developed by Joel Grondrup as his daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the retina. The Terrifying Building in Eyeville is an allegory for this cancer as a small man named Kanser arrives in Eyetown after falling off the back of a truck during a rain storm. He knocks on the door of Mr. Nice and asks if he can start building onto Mr. Nice’s home as he is a traveling builder who looks for houses to build onto. --Amy Solomon


AndroidRundown

Space is Key

The best games, for me, are ones that are simple, easy to control and, more or less mildly infuriating. It’s why I pulled my hair, shedding years while playing Super Hexagon. It’s probably why I find Space is Key so intriguing. It mocks me. To my face. It’s evil. Space is Key is about as simple as they come. Looks-wise, it uses switching primary colors with opposing hues to highlight obstacles. The color changes do an interesting job of creating a psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of Super Hexagon that doesn’t internet with the gameplay. --Tre Lawrence


Warmly

Warmly is an atypical productivity offering from The Chaos Collective that seemingly wants to make the descriptive term “alarm” a misnomer by changing the way we do alarms and wake patterns in the first place. The opening user interface is a clear cut celebration of simplicity, and hints at the design elements that govern the entire app. It gives a scroll-through window for setting the time (with an AM/PM toggle), and nine (9) big square buttons. After a scheduling check-off and an off and ok button, THAT’S IT. Laid against the soothing yellow backdrop, the relatively minimalist viewers are hard not to like. --Tre Lawrence

LandGrabbers

Nevosoft’s LandGrabbers is a fun hybrid game that is surprisingly dependent on strategy and quick thinking. The land that makes up this game is ably represented by effective graphics the encompass several mythical environments. In the first stage, the 3D graphics do a good job of giving life to the structures, and further down the line, the scenery becomes even more intricate; rolling hills, stone bridges and shrubbery all add up to cushion the action in a reasonable looking shell. --Tre Lawrence