Square Panda Phonics Playset by Square Panda – Review & Giveaway

Square Panda Phonics Playset by Square Panda – Review & Giveaway



Square Panda Phonics Playset

What we love…

ability to use a multisensory approach to learning letters which includes apps and physical letters placed on the playset to form words; included parental dashboard to track your kids progress

What we’d love to see…

ability to customize words in all apps, a mobile friendly version of the Square Panda Playground website

Summary

The Square Panda Phonics Playset is a great demonstration of how you can use your iPad and integrated playset to provide learning both on the screen and using tactile letters to complete a goal – I can’t wait to see what else this company will bring.

Our Rating

 

recommended-by-the-imums

The Square Panda Phonics Playset by Square Panda which features a bluetooth enabled playset to engage kids in learning a variety of activities from learning letters, spelling, letter sounds, rhymes, learning new vocabulary words and more.  The set consists of 45 Smart Letters, a Playset box which you pair to your iPad and holds your device while in use, access to the Square Panda Playground where you can manage a parent account, see information about your child’s progress and additional learning opportunities as well as 4 AA Batteries.  The Square Panda Playset requires either iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPad Air 2 or iPad Pro in order to run and you must be running iOS 8.x and above.  The Square Panda Phonics Playset provides a multisensory tactile learning experience which combines content on your iPad with letters and visuals within the app. It includes 14 levels of phonics play as well as an integrated dashboard to track progress.

Setup is quick and easy.  First, you set up an account on Square Panda with your email and other information.  That gives you access to the parental dashboard.  After that you can unpack the Phonics Playset, install the 4 included AA batteries, download the apps and be using them within 10 or less minutes.  I spent some time in the Square Panda Playground website because I wanted to check out the features there.  There are so many great things!  You can add your own custom words including your child’s name – and for me when I last had my son use the playset I included words from his spelling list that week!  When you enter custom words they are put into your child’s games and you can even upload a picture to go with them!  Words must be between 1-8 characters, so more complex spelling words won’t work here, however, it’s a great way to practice.  The Square Panda Playground also lets you choose words for specific types of situations like bathroom and body anatomy as well as even excluding a specific letter if you misplaced it from the playset.  You can also block specific types of words if you wish which gives you a great level of customization.

iPad Screenshot 1

The playset includes 45 smart letters.  Vowels are yellow and consonants are yellow to make for easier differentiation between the letter types.  These all stored inside the playset case when not in use.  You can have up to three players per playset, and the content dynamically changes depending on which user is selected so with my 2 year old we are simply working on even identifying letters while with my 8 year old he is working on spelling words and earning badges.  The Square Panda Playset includes access to two apps, and one of the two apps Square Panda Lagoon allows you to use the custom words that you have created.   Square Panda Bowling (above) has you bowl with your finger to knock down the pins and spell out words.  It combines a multi-sensory approach where you do an activity, get a letter with your finger on your iPad and then properly place it in the try to spell the word.  Kids are taught to spell words correctly from left to right which is the way that The National Reading Panel recommends as well as the way that reading is taught in school.

iPad Screenshot 4

First of all – this is not the plastic letters that I grew up with!  Many of us may remember growing up and having the magnetized letters that we used to spell things on our refrigerator.  I loved that the app required letters to be correct before allowing you to move on.  Letters are placed individually in a white box at the bottom of the playset.  The must be positioned correctly and placed on the playset in the correct order.  The photo above is from Square Panda Lagoon and includes a photo as well as the word below to reinforce learning.

It isn’t often as a mom that I find a toy that both my 2 year old and 8 year old can use.  One of my favorite things about the Square Panda Playset is the level of customization that is included especially with the Square Panda Lagoon.  I can see it is a great way to practice “trick words” or words my son might be having challenges with at school and having a great way to keep track of what he is learning in terms of letters.  With my 2 year old, we can work on understanding letters and teaching him that my iPad is a learning device.  I also liked that we could store the letters inside the playset which meant that they were not misplaced the next time we went to use it.  I use a Griffin Survivor case on my iPad Mini because even though it’s “mom’s iPad” my kids use it a lot and I loved that we could leave on the protective case even when it was in use with the Square Panda Playset, this isn’t always the case with other products on the market.  I really liked the Square Panda Playground where I could keep track of what my kids were doing with the apps – I knew what my 2 year old was doing because we were playing together but with my older son I usually help him learn how to use something and then let him try and figure it out on his own.  I liked seeing the badges of the items he accomplished as well as the ability to add in the custom words for his spelling list that week!

In terms of enhancements, I wish that both of the apps included the ability to use custom words, my son enjoyed rolling the bowling ball in Square Panda Bowling more than the Square Panda Lagoon game – I’m not sure why he preferred it more other than he enjoys bowling, so having the two app options was great.  Square Panda is planning to add more apps Letter Lab.  I hope that they include the ability to use custom words in this app.  I’d also like to see a mobile friendly version of the Square Panda Playground – I don’t often get time to sit down at my computer so I was trying to look at it on my iPad and it wasn’t as user friendly as I would have liked.

Play with letters and words today...

The Square Panda Phonics Playset is a great demonstration of how you can use your iPad and integrated playset to provide learning both on the screen and using tactile letters to complete a goal – I can’t wait to see what else this company will bring.  The Square Panda Phonics Playset retails for $119 USD and includes a standard one year parts and labor if the letters malfunction or the product itself malfunctions.  It can be purchased from Square Panda for $119 USD.

alison

This is not your mom’s letter playset.  This is a fun and interactive toy which can be used by younger and older children and can customize and provide data about what your child is learning.  It is a true demonstration of what the iPad can do versus other tablets on the market.

Apps


Square Panda Lagoon Square Panda Lagoon by Square Panda Inc

Price: $FREE

A goofy chameleon with a love for dancing introduces children to letter sounds and phonics in a fun, exploratory way where any combination of letters (both nonsense words and real words) create a learning.



Square Panda Bowling Square Panda Bowling by Square Panda Inc

Price: $FREE

STRIKE! Letters meet their match in a bowling alley on a faraway island! With every roll of the coconut ball, your child learns the relationships between letters, sounds, and words. Compatible with the.

Video demonstration

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

 

Giveaway

If you would like to win a Square Panda Phonics playset , please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to to those with a valid US mailing address, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 At the Zoo With Grandma and Grandpa by Fairlady Media – Review & Giveaway

At the Zoo With Grandma and Grandpa by Fairlady Media – Review & Giveaway



iPad Screenshot 2

What we love…

fun zoo themed app which includes 8 educational games including spelling, math, animal sounds and a puzzle

What we’d love to see…

animal facts cards for each of the animals especially ones you haven’t seen before, perhaps a mini game where you draw the spots on a leopard or stripes on a tiger and the ability to feed the animals

Summary

Who doesn’t love spending time with their grandparents?  This fun zoo themed app is sure to delight and had my son learning animal names, spelling and math and he learned about a new animal each time that he played.

Our Rating

At the Zoo With Grandma and Grandpa At the Zoo With Grandma and Grandpa by Fairlady Media is not your traditional go to the zoo and see the animals type of app.  In fact it’s much more fun and educational!  The app features 8 mini games which you plan along as you meet new animals – some that my older son had never even seen at the zoo.  You also practice matching, addition, puzzles and more!  This is the 10th app by Fairlady Media and the first that features both Grandma and Grandpa as central characters within the app.  The app features over 50 animals from around the world and is designed for elementary aged children.

Educational games within the app include:

1) Animal Sounds: What animal sound do you hear behind the curtain?  Pick one from an assortment of 3.

2) Fix the sign: Use the letters to fix the sign – it must be in the correct spelling order, you move the letters at the bottom to match the letters on the sign and has a zoo themed twist using types of animals.

3) Spot the Difference: Which fish in the aquarium is different?  Tap to choose the right one and see what might be different about it as well as the name.

4) Tram Math: How many people are on the tram.  You can either finger tap count or see that each car has a certain number in it to solve the problem.

5) Jigsaw Puzzle: Put together the pieces of an animal and learn about them.  Does the animal live on the ground or in a tree?  What is it called?

6) Fossil Dig: Who doesn’t love getting dirty?!?  Use your finger to help find the fossil and don’t get dirty in real life!

7) Match the sign to the animal: Using your eagle eyes, determine which sign goes with each animal type.  I loved that the animals in this game were both ones we knew like alligator and other times a Tasmanian devil!

8) Feed the Penguins: Move the penguins to find the fish and feed them.

Other mini games/interactions:

1) Draw the stripes on the animals using your favorite crayon color

2) Having a snack with Grandpa is just the best because you never quite know what to expect 😉

3) Move the seal to balance the ball on his nose.  How long can you keep it in the air?

4) What trip to the zoo is complete without picking out a souvenir to store and play with in your toy box?

iPad Screenshot 4

I loved that this app introduced my son to new animals especially ones that were not traditional at the various zoos that we have visited around the country.  Having a variety of animals and games made the app fun and interactive.  We also really liked that both Grandma and Grandpa participated in the app – this was fun because we usually only see one or the other.  The graphics are fantastic and clear and my son learned something about a new animal each time that he played meaning that he kept playing to keep learning – a huge win!

One enhancement I would like to see is “animal facts” – perhaps you could add in cards at the end of the app that you earned with facts about some of the more unusual animals like the Tasmanian devil which would include a photo, animal sound and a fact or two about them.  My son also loved being creative and “drawing the stripes” aka decorating the animals with crayons and asked if there could be a game where you draw the spots on the animal or stripes on a tiger within specific lines.  My son also asked if we could feed the animals to learn more about them as well – we recently learned that a turtle at the aquarium liked brussel sprouts which encouraged my son to at least touch them!

There is no external advertising or in-app purchases beyond Fairlady advertising their own apps.  Internet access is not required to play the app.  External links are protected with a parental gate which requires your year of birth.  You can access the settings and turn on and off the games depending on your child’s ability level which allows you to target specific skills or make it easier for younger kids.  You can also turn on and off the music.

Overall, this is a fun zoo themed app that introduced my son to some exotic animals we had never seen before. My son enjoyed playing the app over and over again and learned something new each time if it was an animal or perhaps how to spell an animal name.  Huge amount of replay value and the app can target younger or older kids depending on the options you choose for the mini games.


At the Zoo With Grandma and Grandpa At the Zoo With Grandma and Grandpa by Fairlady Media

Price: $2.99 USD

Do you know what a Malayan tapir is? Let’s go to the zoo to find out! Fix the animal signs, color a zebra, add up the visitors, solve puzzles, feed the penguins, put on a seal show, dig for fossils, .

Giveaway

If you would like to win a $25 iTunes gift card, please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
 Handwriting Heroes by Cheryl Bregman – Review and Giveaway

Handwriting Heroes by Cheryl Bregman – Review and Giveaway



image

Are you looking for a handwriting app that makes it easy for your kids to learn, practice and internalize the skill? If you are, then you should check out Handwriting Heroes right away! Designed by an occupational therapist, Handwriting Heroes is a fun app that uses an integrated multi-sensory (visual, kinesthetic, auditory and tactile) approach to teach children of all abilities how to write the lower case letters. There are animated stories with playful characters, visual cues and guided practice to engage students as well as supplementary program materials to extend the practice beyond the iPad.

What we love…

The cute and funny handwriting heroes.

What we’d love to see…

Option for longer practice session.

Summary

Students get different types of inputs in Handwriting Heroes to help them remember how to form letters correctly. From multi-sensory learning, progressive instruction, integrated practice and a specialized font, this app offers all the effective tools students need to master handwriting.

Our Rating

Students learn best when there is structure to help them organise the information that they are learning and in this app, the letters are sorted into five groups based on their beginning stroke. Each letter group has a handwriting hero that will demonstrate how it uses its superhero actions to write the letters:-

* skydivers for letters that skydive down (l, t, k, i, j)
* canon pops – start like c (c, a, d, o, q, g)
* bouncers – bounce down, up and over (h, b, r, n, m, p)
* skiers – ski diagonally down (v, w, x, y)
* surfers – surf the waves (s, u, f, e, z)

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You can choose in the settings which letter group to work on and students can choose to play a specific letter from the main menu by tapping on the letter. Once a letter is picked, they will get to watch an animated story of how the letter is formed. The story also incorporates words that begin with that letter. For example, ‘e’ walks the plank, then surfs around to escape the evil pirate while ‘h’ drops down, bounces back up and over the haunted house. These fun animated adventures help students visualise the letter formation even when they are not on the iPad.

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The cute and funny handwriting heroes themselves are the perfect cues to remind students on where and how to begin the first stroke. These visual reminders and the associated action words together provide important guides for students to write correctly.

After watching the animated story and learning the handwriting movement, the app automatically switches to the practice mode. There are 3 stages of practice – trace, copy and write and you can pre-select how many stages an individual student will work through. You are also given the option to choose the level of accuracy required of the student’s writing and there is no limit to the number of student accounts you can create (and customize). From the stories to the different practice formats, the 3 writing lines – skyline, clouds and grass lines are always shown clearly to help students make the necessary connection with the proper letter placement and subsequently transfer the skills to paper writing tasks.

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In this app, students learn and practice writing the letters in groups. This definitely accelerates the learning process but if a student needs refresher on just a few letters, the app doesn’t offer a convenient way for students to keep working on a particular practice format for the same letter. Having a choice of repeat or forward button on the writing screen will be very useful in this case.

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What I like about Handwriting Heroes is that it equips students with multiple ways to remember how to form the letters and there is emphasis on carry-over to writing on lined papers. To make it even easier for students to learn, a special Handwriting Heroes font was also developed to encourage the use of continuous strokes and to decrease reversals. You can download the font here to create worksheets and materials with the correct letter formation and line placement.

Students get different types of inputs in Handwriting Heroes to help them remember how to form letters correctly. From multi-sensory learning, progressive instruction, integrated practice and a specialized font, this app offers all the effective tools students need to master handwriting.

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Handwriting Heroes

Handwriting Heroes Handwriting Heroes by Cheryl Bregman
Category: Education, Educational, Games, Adventure
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 945.92 MB

$2.99USD

Giveaway

We have promo codes for Handwriting Heroes to be given away during The iMums’ birthday promo code party! Check our Facebook page for updates! ‪#‎happybirthdayimums‬

If you would like to win the complete Handwriting Heroes program consisting of the app and all the supplementary materials (worth more than $20), please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Grace was working in the fields of early childhood education and staff training before quitting to attend to her 4 children full time. She and her family live in Singapore, which is well known for her highly competitive education system.
 Read – Kids learn to read and write in 20 easy lessons by Olivier Romanetti of One Tree Hill Studio- Review

Read – Kids learn to read and write in 20 easy lessons by Olivier Romanetti of One Tree Hill Studio- Review



iPad Screenshot 3

What we love…

Lots of great activities to engage readers including  letter formation, sight words, reading comprehension, writing pad, alphabet, listening skills,  Multi-user capability.  Interactive word pad lets kids experiment with word and sound formation.

What we’d love to see…

a test to skip materials already previously learned, some sort of “trophy” or awards case to demonstrate progress and ability to export the lesson progress.

Summary

Content rich app which will help kids with a number of skills including letter formation, letter sounds, reading comprehension and sight words.

Our Rating

Read - Kids learn to read and write in 20 easy lessonsRead – Kids learn to read and write in 20 easy lessons by Olivier Romanetti of One Tree Hill Studio is a universal app for iOS targeting kids aged four through 8 (or second grade) which helps them to acquire core reading skills including letter formation, sight words, reading comprehension, writing pad, alphabet, listening and more.  The narration can be done in a United States narrator, English narrator, Australian narrator or Indian narrator.  You can also speed up or slow down the words per minute and pitch of the speaker as well as turn on and off the background music.  The app uses phonics teaching sight words in combination with word decoding.    It also includes multi user capabilities and lesson progress

The app features twenty different lessons with over 100 different exercises and interactive stories.  It is designed for the beginning reader through approximately second grade.  Letters are introduced in the app by frequency – something that my son struggled with a bit because he felt they were “out of order”.

Content includes:

  • Letter tracing: Using a finger or stylus your child traces the letter using a supplied model and repeats five times to demonstrate mastery
  • How do you spell it: Listen to a sound and pick the correct letter from a field of six options.
  • Choose the right word: Listen to a word pronunciation and pick the correct answer
  • Listen & Write: Listen to the word and put the letters on the line to spell it
  • Match Words & Sounds: Match a sound with the written form of it – perfect for practicing sight words
  • Interactive Writing Pad: Children can “construct” words and sentences by dragging and dropping individual letters, making letter combinations which are read aloud as the app is played.
  • Stories & Questions: Starting at lesson 5, stories are given in the context of the app and the user is tested for reading comprehension
  • Learn the Alphabet: This helps kids connect letter names and letter sounds with both uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Sight Words & Phrases: Over 100 sight words and sight phrases used in the English language

iPad Screenshot 4

This is a brightly colored app that engages kids to learn core reading and writing skills.  The activities are presented in a patterned way which requires children to finish specific tasks before moving on which is important for early learning skills.  I also liked that as you traced letters or spelled words out that they were sounded out which helped kids attribute the letter sound to the written letter.  Our favorite section – since my son knew many of the sight words was the original story content.  My son enjoyed hearing the stories – although I did have to adjust the word speed so he could follow along more easily – the words were spoken quickly and at times the highlighting and words didn’t match what was being said.  We also liked the sight phrases since my son has moved on beyond his core sight words and wanted to work more on putting words together.

 

iPad Screenshot 5

In terms of improvements –  at times it was hard to discern the word as it was spoken and it would be nice if you could have a second choice.  It would also be nice if the app dynamically adjusted based on if you were getting answers right or wrong.  A visual cue especially for the easier lessons would be helpful too if a child is getting answers wrong – for example showing a picture of a mat along with the spoken word and spelling it out.  I would also like to see the option to “test” so that children can test out of content they might have already learned which would make it repetitive.  Some of the letter formation was different compared to what my son learned in school, but that may vary based on geography.  My son also asked for some sort of “trophy” or reward that you could earn after completing levels which would demonstrate mastery.  It would also be nice if you could transfer progress from device to device – my son played both on my iPhone and iPad and was frustrated when he had to repeat things he had done before.  I’d also like to be able to export my lesson progress. I’d also like to see more options for the letter formation as my son didn’t learn with the manuscript option in school.

Overall, this is a content rich app which will help kids with a number of skills including letter formation, letter sounds, reading comprehension and sight words.  It is a great app to help kids with learning or one to help them practice over the summertime and prevent the #summerslide.  The app includes a parental gated area with a multiplication problem that does have external links.  There are no in-app purchases.


Read4Kids - Kids learn to read in 20 easy lessons
Read4Kids - Kids learn to read in 20 easy lessons
by Olivier Romanetti

Category: Education, Books
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone3GS-iPhone-3GS, iPhone4-iPhone4, iPodTouchFourthGen-iPodTouchFourthGen, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 33.01 MB

$2.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

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Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

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