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Robot School - Programming for Kids Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on March 13th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: CODING MADE INTERESTING
Robot School is a great app for teaching coding to kids in a way that helps them visualize what is being taught.
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Sharing with Duckie Deck Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 20th, 2013
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Sharing with Duckie Deck is a delightful role-playing app for toddlers which re-enforces how to be nice and share with others.

Five areas are included, each including a simple mini-game to drive home different points about sharing.

One area includes three children, each of whom would enjoy two separate toys - both included within three toy selections. Drag and drop a desired toy to a child, give each what he wants - but only one toy per child in order not to leave a child toyless.

Another section allows children to decorate cakes with decorations that will then be broken up into three equal pieces. Plate cake equally at each place to feed three children.

Likewise, another area allows children to cut and serve food in equal parts to share among four hungry kids. Here, one is not forced to plate evenly as one can give children more than their fair share, leaving a plate bare and a child sad. Can children learn to evenly split up the food among the friends equally to avoid long faces? This is a very nice section that uses social cues to teach fairness.

A favorite section of mine is to sit with other children and play with toys, sometimes sharing these toys with each other. I admire how this app allows some of the children to not want to give up their toy for a swap - excellent at teaching these social cues of shaking their head and refusing in a way that is realistic yet language-neutral and easily understood by children of any language. I am happy that this app allows for children who may not want to share as well as getting used to the idea that “no” may be an answer they hear from others.

A memory game is included where one creates pairs by turning over cards. Matches produce items of interest, flowers are dropped to the bottom of the screen that players pick up with a drag and then give them equally to the children characters seen right of the screen.

There is also a drawing section where one learns step by step how to draw an image such as a cactus or dinosaur, broken down into pieces traced on the screen and then colored in - a nice exercise - but the lack of a sharing theme threw me, although a well-written Parents section explains how to use this section in a way more social. Still, I would love there to be more of a context such as a child asking for a drawing to be made, and giving it to him at completion.

Badges are also earned which contain fun facts that can be shared via social media - an odd inclusion as this app is geared toward toddlers or those with special needs, who don’t need the added distraction.

Even with these notes, there is a lot that I enjoy about this app. Bright and colorful, with fun and upbeat music, the look of this app is quite pleasing as are the intuitive mini-games. I admire the inclusion of children of different races and ethnicities as well as a well-written parents' section that guides adults on how to best use this application.

I can see Sharing with Duckie Deck being a huge hit with toddlers and those with special needs who may need help learning how to share with others as well as older siblings who will be engaged by how inviting this app looks.

I have enjoyed my time with Sharing with Duckie Deck, and I do hope that more apps like this will be developed to help children with social IQ in the future.

Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on December 6th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is a splendid educational app for iPad 2 and beyond that does a thorough job of explaining the American Revolution and the details of Paul Revere’s ride.

Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is a new app in a series of Ansel & Clair apps that revolves around intergalactic travelers Ansel, a travel photographer from planet Virtoos and Clair, the Virtoosian robot who accompanies Ansel to Boston at the start of the American Revolution to take historical photographs used to teach other Virtoosians distant history.

During their visit, children, along with Ansel and Clair, will be led through a collection of scenes that bring much life and detail to the American Revolution through a variety of interactions, such as the ability to take photographs of important people and events or meet key characters who explain the issues of the day such as the Boston Tea Party in ways that will stick with children.

Children will also be quizzed on what they have learned along the way as well as incorporating puzzles, mini-games, poetry and art, all bringing great richness to this experience.

I have enjoyed Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride a great deal, learning a lot of historical details I had forgotten many years ago, and I am sure this app would educate children about the American Revolution as they are kept engaged and entertained. An excellent use of music is also present, creating a lot of drama and suspense that will keep children engaged as they learn about American History.

I also really appreciate the mild science fiction aspect to this story when Ansel & Clair are discovered and are allowed to tag along as observers as long as they do not affect the history unfolding, bringing another layer to this experience.

Multiple players can keep create accounts holding their space through this lengthy application - a very nice touch.

There is so much to say about all the details included within this Ansel & Clair app that reviewing it is a daunting process, but I do feel very excited to recommend this app to all ages of children - older preschool through fifth grade and beyond.

As the weather gets cold and families travel, parents begin looking for applications to entertain their children for long stretches while feeling good about the screen time their children are exposed to.

Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride consists of many hours of historically accurate information and a sizable amount of interactions and activities that will leave children with a greater sense of understanding of American history after they have completed this app, making the time they have spent with Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride well worth it.

Do be aware that this app would also make a wonderful gift of substance for other families as well as those who have access to an iPad 2 or higher.

Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride is a stellar choice for the educational setting, as this information is delivered in a way most multi-sensory, making great use of iPad technology, especially for students who may be reluctant readers who would thrive on meeting the historical cast of characters who talk about their lives first.

I sincerely hope Cognitive Kids continues to add applications to this series as Ansel and Clair apps are perfectly realized educational apps every child could benefit from.

Lola’s Magic Cube Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on June 15th, 2011

Lola’s Magic Cube is a very nice puzzle app starring Lola the panda, possibly best known from the app “Lola’s Alphabet Train.” Here, help Lola put her magic puzzle cube back together after her silly monkey friend used Lola's magic wand to mix up all the cubes which fit together to make up these puzzles. Each puzzle is made up of an image of Lola doing various fun things, and is bright and colorful and fun to look at. Versions of this app are available for both iPhone and iPad.

Much like the puzzle cube my son has, each puzzle in this series comes with cubes which must be arranged in correct order to make up these puzzles, sometime needing rotation so that they are correct side up as well. There are three difficulty levels, ranging from 2 x 2 to 4 x 4 pieces. It is nice that one can tap on a reference picture that can also be displayed over the puzzle that one is completing, thus simplifying the completion of these puzzles, a very helpful tool.

I like this puzzle app, as there are many puzzles to choose from, each starring Lola herself. The addition of rotation adds a new element not always seen in puzzle apps, and I really appreciate the option to look at the reference picture for help. Kids from three years and up will enjoy this activity; even I as an adult took my time on the harder section, but not in a way that was frustrating. Kids who love puzzle apps or pandas will enjoy this puzzle app.

My Baby Book Review

Posted by Sharon Cohen on April 14th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

As soon as parents hear their baby’s first loud cry when it comes into this world, they check to make sure their new son or daughter has ten toes and ten fingers and is healthy. The next action is taking pictures--if the video camera is not already running. While the newborn is getting checked up by the doctor, all the phone calls go out to family members, close friends and people at work. The proud parents would notify the world, if they could.

Many parents also start baby books, promising to religiously keep up with all the necessary newborn and toddler information and special milestones. What they don’t realize, unless they already have the joy of another child, is the amount of time it takes to care for a baby and that they will be sleep deprived for a long, long time.

The Baby Book app makes it much easier for parents to record special moments in their infant’s first year and immediately send them out to friends through e-mail or social media options, such as Facebook.
With this app, there is no need for an extra camera. Parents can use their iPhone camera to capture photos for the Baby Book. They also have the option of uploading existing pictures and videos into the app. Since I had my video camera and digital camera with me most of the time during my sons’ first years, this would have made life much easier than pasting pictures into my print baby book. I confess, neither of my son’s baby books was completed...

The Baby Book app gets you started with special milestones—“first birthday,” ”first crawl,” “first laugh,” “first walk,” “first word” and those dreaded “vaccinations” when the baby is crying and so is the parent! With each milestone, parents can add photos and videos. If you want to add other milestones, it’s easy. In fact, I would have immediately added “first picture” to my milestones for that moment of my children's arrival. This allows you to easily add memories as your child gets older.

Another nice addition is being able to type in a comment about each memorable event. This helps the sleep-deprived parents remember exactly what did happen when their infant became a toddler with those first shaky steps.

The best, best thing about this app is that it goes with you wherever you are. Your iPhone is attached to you at all times, right? Instead of opening up your wallet and showing everyone thousands of pictures, you can just show all these photos and videos on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad.

Grow With Me Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on January 28th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Grow With Me is an interesting app which may be helpful to parents, especially those with a newborn as this app has been designed to log much of the information new parents feel compelled to keep such as data involving feedings and diapers, info given at well-baby visits as well as keeping a working schedule for vaccinations. Birth announcements can be created, and info can also be Facebooked and tweeted as well.

When our son was born, he had a hard time gaining his birth weight back within the first two weeks, so we needed to keep a detailed account of how much he nursed as well as how many diapers he used in a given day. The need to keep such detailed accounts, down to left breast and right breast, written by hand in a tiny flowchart provided by the pediatrician compounded the overwhelmingness we felt as new parents. I wish this app had been available to us; it would have saved us a lot of energy and stress. I really like that all you need to do is select "breast" and press a stopwatch of sorts when one starts and finishes, with the information now ready to be emailed in preparation for a printout to show the doctor. Options include bottle and solid feeding as well. The same goes for the ease in which you can document wet vs. soiled diapers as well as baby's sleep schedule.

I appreciate that this app is not just useful to new parents, but any family can use this app when a family member - child or not - needs to keep detailed information about symptoms of a sickness or medications needed, plus more. I find the calendar to remember appointments helpful, as is the record keeper for vaccines.

The most important thing that stuck me about this app is the ease of use, including sharing this information with one’s doctor. The one thing I find missing is a password option to keep the information safe, some of which may be of a personal nature, be it from a stolen iPhone, a nosy family member who may have access to the device but whom you don’t want sharing in this infomation, to older children, for whom it may be best not knowing the details of their illnesses. All in all, I think this app would be very helpful to parents of both infants as well as older children.

Your Pregnancy Week by Week Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on September 3rd, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

“Your Pregnancy Week By Week” is an application designed to give both basic info and to aid in keeping others informed about your pregnancy. I did like the fact that once you add your dates, this app will keep count of what week you are in and give you some info week to week about the changes your baby is undergoing, and there is a calendar function that could be useful. There is also a blog which allows you to social network and a "Baby Alert" feature that lets you notify a list of contacts when you enter the hospital.

I did have some problems with the information section of this app. The info section is divided into topics. Each topic is illustrated by a photograph, and there are times that the text, (which is white) scrolls over a light section of the image, making it hard to read. The topics were both oddly arranged and chosen, and I also found myself saying “yeah...but” while reading much of the information, sometimes being confused, and sometimes disagreeing with what I was reading. The interface of this app in general was less than intuitive.

Ladies who are very invested in keeping friends and family up-to-date in their pregnancy may enjoy this app. I also like the fact that this app is pro-breast feeding.

A Practical Guide to Managing Paediatric Problems on the Postnatal Ward Review

Posted by Nina Ignaczak on August 31st, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Are you the kind of prenatal patient who likes to be a step ahead of the doctors, showing off how much you actually know better than they do? Have you been carefully drafting your birthing plan, reading up on the pitfalls of all of the prenatal, labor, delivery and postnatal interventions so you are prepared to argue against them in a quest for the perfect birthing experience? Then "A Practical Guide to Managing Paediatric Problems on the Postnatal Ward" is for you!

OK, kidding aside. This app is not intended for patients but for doctors, nurses and midwives. It contains a plethora of data and tools for dealing with every manner of postnatal issue, from an Apgar Score calculator to a Weight Converter. An ebook is included with detailed overviews of the newborn exam, abnormal findings, and clinical problems. Included video and audio clips show examples as well.

If you are a doctor, nurse, or midwife, I would certainly hope you would have internalized the information contained within this app and that your hospital would have supplied you with the requisite tools for calculating things like Apgar scores and phototherapy requirements by the time you meet a woman in labor. If you are a medical student or midwife apprentice, this app may be useful to you in your studies.

If you are a prenatal patient, educate yourself by all means, but please relax, enjoy your birthing experience, however it turns out, and leave the medicine to the medical practitioners.

Sprout - Pregnancy Essentials Review

Posted by Nina Ignaczak on July 19th, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

This pricey pregnancy app packs a wallop in terms of content and utility- it includes virtually everything a novice prego needs to track, record, and plan for each unfolding detail of the miracle of life growing within. The mom-to-be sets up a profile which includes the name and sex of the baby (I Don't Know is an option), as well as a due date. The My Baby section features a weekly photo-realistic, computer-generated image illustrating fetal appearance, complete with text descriptions of key aspects of development. Several of the images include 3D rotation functionality, allowing mommy to turn and spin baby to view from all angles with the flick of a finger.

The Doctor Says section provides detailed textual overview of development and tips for self-care for the given week of pregnancy. An organizer section is also included, featuring an M.D Visit Planner, To Do list, Newborn Essentials shopping list, and, of course, the inevitable Hospital Bag packing list (do people really pack these bags??).

Possibly the niftiest component of the app is the suite of tools included- a weight tracker (much slicker than the Excel spreadsheet I used), a kick counter, and contraction timer. The kick counter in particular I would have found useful during pregnancy: just hit start and touch the kick button every time that little bundle of joy elbows you in the ribs. When done you have a nice dated report of kicks for the given time interval. Doc will be proud.

The app integrates a great deal of functionality for the pregnant mom into a single clean and streamlined interface. If I were to have another child I would definitely use it.