148 Apps on Facebook 148 Apps on Twitter

Tag: Day Two Productions »

The Traditional Storyteller - How the Elephant Got His Trunk Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on March 28th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

The Traditional Storyteller - How the Elephant Got His Trunk is one of a series of apps from the Traditional Storyteller that I have previously introduced to readers as these wonderful and engaging applications tell stories from around the world which are very easy to recommend for all age ranges.

Elegant in its simplicity, this app, as does the others within this series, consists of a video featuring a master storyteller telling tales in ways that are most captivating. I am impressed by how my son is mesmerized by these apps, focused on every word and deeply entrenched by the performance of these storytellers who are wonderful at their craft.

I really enjoy that these videos do not contain music, sound effects or interaction - only relying on the talents of these included storytellers, gazing directly into the camera as if talking to the viewer directly.

This specific story, How the Elephant Got His Trunk - not to be confused with the Rudyard Kipling story with a similar title - tells the tale of how an elephant, gloating over his cute little button nose is not very nice to the other animals, and is put in his place when a monkey plays a trick on this elephant, ultimately leading all the elephants of the land to have their noses stretched into what is now known as a trunk.

I enjoy this story a great deal, as does my son. It is interesting to see an elephant portrayed as a mean, unfortunately recognizable character teasing other creatures about their noses, creating a chance for families to talk about cruelty among children and how to treat one another.

It is also open to interpretation if this elephant known as "elephant" is one specific rude animal, or if he represents elephants in general, creating an open-ended conversation about whether the trick that the monkey pulled on all the elephants of the land, even those who presumably had nothing to do with the bullying, is acceptable, thus creating a tale that does include some moral ambiguity, which I appreciate.

Other sections of this app exist as well, such as Map Game, where children use their cognitive skills and memory to re-arrange tiles consisting of illustrations based on this story in their correct order, learning about the dramatic structure commonly found among stories in a creative and fun way.

Listen and Repeat allows children to tap on specific moments that together make up this tale, listening to passages of this story, then repeating this story in their own way. Likewise, Tell Your Story lets children re-tell this story from their point of view, using illustrations to help keep their minds focused on the tale being told.

Best Bits replays the favorite part of this tale again, a nice touch that kids will want to listen to over and over again.

Parents as well as teachers will genuinely appreciate how these tales not only highlight storytelling as an art form, but are also excellent for teaching the structure of storytelling, an important lesson for children to learn early as they develop their ability to tell stories of their very own.

I am pleased to announce that this series of applications won the very prestigious Best Educational Resource Award for Early Years from the U.K. National Education Awards, akin to winning an Oscar for education.

To celebrate, Traditional Storyteller apps will be half-price for a limited time. I encourage parents and teachers to add these apps to their collections, especially special needs educators as their students may get a special benefit from watching these videos with the storyteller looking directly into the camera as if making eye contact with the child viewing the video.

I recommend these applications not only as lovely, calming tales for toddlers and preschoolers to relax with, but for older children as well - anyone really who enjoys a great story told marvelously.

The Traditional Storyteller - Anancie and the Drum of Common Sense Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 3rd, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

The Traditional Storyteller - Anancie and the Drum of Common Sense is a lovely new universal app - part of a series of apps that brings traditional stories from around the world to life with the aid of wonderful storytellers.

I feel privileged to have been introduced to this series and been given the chance to review this specific app, Anancie and the Drum of Common Sense. This tale of the same name is a classic West African story about Anancie, a half-man, half-spider character who collects common sense from children in the end distributing common sense to all the land in a way most satisfying.

The delivery of this story is brilliant in its simplicity. This video recording is of Tuup, a master storyteller, who tells this story looking directly into the camera as he talks. There is no music, sound effects or interactions in this main part of this application, allowing my son to focus on the tale at hand, who was captivated with this man’s wonderful performance.

Storytelling is an art form, and for those gifted in this skill, the delivery can be quite mesmerizing. From the first few words of this story, I don’t think my four year old son, very cranky at the time, took his eyes off my iPhone.

My boy really enjoys the idea of a half-man, half-spider and the imagery of this creature trying to climb a tree - an important detail of this story. As a parent, I really liked the simple lessons taught as Tuup explains the common sense children express as he puts these rules into a drum that he tries to carry up this tree. There is also a moment in this story where Anancie gets frustrated by his own children, not realizing they were trying to help - moments both parents and children alike can relate to.

The length of this story is about 10 minutes, a great length of time for my son to be asked to sit and listen to a story from start to finish, and this expert storyteller does a great job of keeping the energy high throughout this tale.

There are a few other sections of this app with related materials.

Map Game is a very nice section that includes a series of tiles that combine illustrations and audio from moments of this story that need to be re-arranged from start to finish, testing children on the memory, comprehension and understanding of story structure.

Listen and Repeat allows children to listen to moments from this story and repeat what they can remember in their own words as they make their own recording.

Tell Your Story Game lets kids and adults record their own story and email to friends and family.

Bets Bits are short excerpts highlighting favorite moments from this story, a nice section to view when families don’t have 10 minutes for the whole story.

There are so many highly stimulating, interactive applications available that I always find it nice to share wonderful apps that simply contain great stories that kids and their adults can sit back and listen to. Anancie and the Drum of Common Sense, as well as the other apps from this series, would be excellent titles for families who love traditional storytelling.

I also think this app would be great for special needs kids who may need to practice being comfortable around others who make direct eye contact.

This app would also be great in a school setting as it demonstrates not only an excellent delivery of this thoughtful, classic story with important messages, but would make a terrific choice for teaching comprehension and dramatic structure as well as diversity. This traditional West African tale would be a very nice selection for classrooms that may be looking for more multicultural activities.

I have become very excited about this series of apps as I am a fan of traditional storytelling in general, and I love seeing this ancient tradition kept alive with the use of such modern devices.