Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Kids learn best through play and explaining what they are seeing and doing. Recently, every time I turn on the television news or tune in to the local radio, I am prompted things that I know I do not want my child to see or things that I might consider to be scary for them.  Research has shown that children learn best through play — and playing out situations via role play can help them to better process and understand them.  With the recent Hurricane Harvey here in the United States – there has been a lot of news on the television and radio that is overwhelming.  As such, I started thinking about some of my favorite apps that would help kids in these situations. Helping children process traumatic events they seen in the news such as the recent Hurricane Harvey and other frightening news, can be overwhelming.  Many children learn better with play therapy.  Below are a few apps that involve role play, social stories and more to help them process difficult situations as well as explore new situations.   Below is a list of some of my favorites.

Kids learn differently than adults.  Introducing a new situation can be hard.  One of the biggest things I struggle with as a parent is helping my kids understand a new situation.  Helping my kids prepare for new experiences can be overwhelming as.    One of my favorite thing about the MyPlayhome apps is that there are no rules – kids can play and role play while narrating what they are doing.  I love to see all the different games that my toddler comes up with or see my son talking about an upcoming doctors appointment using MyPlayhome Hospital.  Using Social Stories like Kid in the Storybook maker can help kids better understand a new situation.  Dr. Panda has a series of role play apps including firefighters, daycare, school bus and more.  .

My PlayHomeShimon Young is a genius. Shimon is the developer of the universal My PlayHome app and has managed to find a way to keep my iToddler (2.5) entertained for more than just a few minutes. Not an easy task. My PlayHome brings the dollhouse into the digital age by offering an entire virtual home, complete with an adorable family of five that kids can explore and interact with. Also available on the iPhone (Pocket PlayHome!), this app features beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and realistic sounds associated with each interaction. My PlayHome also has a simple user interface very easy for little fingers to control.  This app caters for 2-8 year olds which is appropriate as it’s simple enough for the younger users to play with yet detailed enough to keep the older kids entertained too.” Quite a comprehensive app but still very easy to use by its intended audience. One of the best kids apps I have come across on the App Store!”  This continues to be a top pick of The iMums for kids of all ages.  Read the full review.

 

My PlayHome StoresWhen iMum Amanda reviewed the original My PlayHome back in 2011 she described it’s creator Shimon Young as a genius, and I have to agree. After being  installed on our iPads for 2 1/2 years my kids still play with My PlayHome regularly, and there are very few apps that retain their appeal long term like that. So when I told my children there was a new My PlayHome app out, to say they were excited is a definite understatement.  My PlayHome brings the dolls house into the digital age with an entire interactive house and garden to play in, and My PlayHome Stores expands the play by adding four shops to explore and shop in. The app stars the same characters as the original app – there are 3 moms, 3 dads, 3 girls, 3 boys and 3 babies from a variety of ethnicities and you can mix and match them any way you like to create the family in the app. The twist that my children really love (and that I have not seen in any other app) is when the family go shopping in the stores they can walk home with their purchases, and if you own My PlayHome they can take their purchases from the stores back to their home.  Read the full review.

My PlayHome HospitalIn the fantastic tradition of the Playhome Software Company, comes the latest My Playhome app, My Playhome Hospital. Fully integrated with the other My Playhome apps (HomeSchool and Store), this new app allows the player to explore all aspects of the hospital experience. When the app is opened, the child is faced with the view of the hospital and an ambulance. No settings tab, no external options, and no parental tab. The only extra button to press is the Tidy the Hospital wheel, which is a great option. It allows the player to actually erase the previous designs created and start fresh. The home page ambulance can be driven to the school, home or store; linking the other apps (one of my favorite features).  An interactive app that familiarizes children with the workings and people in the hospital setting. Multiple different scenes with many opportunities to interact with the objects and characters on each page.

 

My PlayHome SchoolOne of the best loved toys of all time are doll houses. It brings hours upon hours of enjoyment to boys and girls alike, and it’s only limitation is a child’s imagination. My PlayHome Software Ltd has brought this enjoyment in the most portable form possible in My PlayHome, My PlayHome Stores, and very recently, My PlayHome School.  While my children and I enjoyed My PlayHome and My PlayHome Stores, My PlayHome School far exceeded our expectations. It has almost everything you could find in an elementary school: a receptionist desk, the principal’s office, a cafeteria, boys and girls restrooms, a science lab, an auditorium, a janitor’s closet, lockers, and of course, classrooms.  Read the full review.

 

 

Explaining difficult situations to kids or helping them understand something new is the premise of  Kid in the Storybook maker.  This app allows you to take photos of an upcoming event — be it a doctors appointment, new school or even a vacation and use your own words, photos and voice to describe it to the reader.  I loved using Bluebee Pals with my son when we recently did a social story about his new school.

Kid in Story Book Maker:... iconEnuma, designs assistance and play-based learning apps to empower kids to be independent learners. they have a special interest in producing apps for children with special needs.  LocoMotive Labs is located in Berkeley, California and was founded in 2012, its design team includes many of the team who produced the Injini child development suite. Kid in Story was designed to help parents and therapists easily produce their own stories for children. As children with Autism often respond well to social stories that include them, they wanted to include a way to easily add the child into the story.  Read our full review.

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.
 Mathemagics Multiplication by SlimCricket – Review

Mathemagics Multiplication by SlimCricket – Review



screen mathemagics

What we love…

An effortless approach to learning the times tables using fun stories.

What we’d love to see…

Include the narrative text in the stories and a story quiz in the training mode to help students better recall the details of the stories before attempting the multiplication questions to ensure greater success.

Summary

Mathemagics Multiplication offers an unconventional but effective story mnemonics technique for memorizing the times tables of 1 to 10.

Our Rating

How do children learn the multiplication tables? First, they learn how to multiply, then they need to memorize the multiplication tables so that they can quickly solve math problems. This usually means lots of practice through boring drills and repetitive exercises. But what if we present you with an approach that can help speed up the memorization process while being fun at the same time? Will you give it a try even if the approach is unconventional or untested?

Mathemagics Multiplication by SlimCricket is a new app that aims to help students memorize the multiplication tables in a whole new way using stories. While memory techniques using songs and stories are not new, it is still uncommon to have students use stories in memorizing the times tables.

But even if you are skeptical, it’s still worth your time to download Mathemagics Multiplication’s free lite version app to read the parents’ guide and let your child have a go at the trial.

Before getting to the stories, students are introduced to the characters in the stories. These are actually the numbers 1 to 10, each with its own name and a personality that helps define how they interact with other characters (numbers). The first section of the app ‘I discover’ is devoted to this character association using a character quiz. This is easy as each character is shaped like its number counterpart.

Once the student has successfully completed the quiz for a character, he can then proceed to watch the multiplication stories for that number in the ‘I learn’ section. Each story is a short cartoon animation and works on the child’s visual memory of what the story is about. There is no explanation for how the times table work, students just need to watch and learn the story. The unique stories help students to form a memorable association between the characters/numbers in a multiplication fact so that when they see the numbers, they remember the stories and then the multiplication facts that they represent.

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What I like in this section is the ’trick’ to help students remember only half of the tables. Your child (or even yourself) may not be aware of this because this is often not highlighted. This trick works well in this app because students don’t need to work through each table by repeatedly adding the same number. They just need to learn the stories and the stories for half of the tables are the same, for example the story for 2 X 4 is the same as that for 4 X 2.

After the students have gone through all the stories from a times table, they can then move on to the levelled exercises in the ‘I play’ section where their memory of the stories is tested. Here, they can choose between the training or game mode, the difference is that points for correct answers are only given in the game mode. The multiplication questions in the ‘I play’ section are first presented in the form of the characters and then the mnemonics are gradually phased out as the students progress.

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After completing the tests in the ‘I play’ section, students can go on to do even more practice in “My challenges’ and earn rewards. Besides the mnemonic training, this app packs in lots of levelled quizzes and challenges to help your child master their times tables in the shortest time possible.

To keep students motivated to complete more quizzes and challenges, points collected from the game mode can be used to buy a house and the furniture for each character in ‘My rewards’ section.

For parents and teachers, you can track up to 3 students’ progress in the full version app ($4.99) while the school version app ($7.99) allows you to create up to 40 profiles.

For children, memorizing a silly story is definitely easier than a multiplication fact. This app takes advantage of children’s innate ability to retain information that has been presented to them visually. It does not take away the importance of understanding the concept of multiplication. It just provides students with a quick and easy way to memorize the tables which in turn speeds up problem solving and reduce frustrations.

You may not be comfortable with this non-traditional method of mastering the times tables, but do keep an open mind and let your child try it out. The free trial version of the app allows your child to learn some of multiplication facts from the 4 times table. My youngest hasn’t gone through all the stories yet but for those that he did, he gave faster and more accurate answers after using the app. This app is definitely worth a try and you may be surprised at how well it works for your child.

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Mathemagics Multiplication
Mathemagics Multiplication-School Edition

Mathemagics Multiplication Mathemagics Multiplication by SlimCricket

Price: $FREE

The FUN way to learn MULTIPLICATION TABLES!!!

With this free version, kids can try out multiplication tables for the number 4. The full version of the app can be unlocked with an in-app purchase.

 

 

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.
 ExplorArt Klee – The Art of Paul Klee, for Kids by Lapisly -Review

ExplorArt Klee – The Art of Paul Klee, for Kids by Lapisly -Review




iPad Screenshot 5

What we love…

beautiful illustrations & beautiful original music, fun, original ways to interact with the artwork, appeals to a variety of ages. All the extra information hidden within the app.

What we’d love to see…

addition of word highlighting as it is read, and  a resource section  with suggestions on creating a few Klee inspired art projects at home.

Summary

ExplorArt Klee is a very high quality app that introduces children to the art of Paul Klee in a fun and educational way. Highly recommended !

Our Rating

ExplorArt Klee – The Art of Paul Klee, for KidsExplorArt Klee is an interactive art appbook from Lapisly that is designed to introduce children to Paul Klee and his work. Paul Klee was a prolific  20th Century Swiss- German artist who combined influences from many different artistic movements, including Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. He greatly admired children’s artwork and  tried to achieve a child-like simplicity in his own work.

The app takes children to PK planet, a special place that came to life thanks to Paul Klee’s art. Their guides are Cicero (Cice) and his cat Ku, Cice tells how he was inspired by Klee’s famous portrait of Senecio. Cice and Ku explain that their planet is enormous because it is inspired by Klee’s work. Klee created almost 10,000 works of art, and as people create new art inspired by him the planet grows bigger. This shows children how an artist’s legacy can continue after their death, and how your own creative accomplishments can inspire others to create too.

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Cice and Ku introduce four themes that inspired Klee:-nature, music, cities and puppets. The reader gets to explore interactive, animated versions of six of Klee’s famous works of art: “Crucifers and Spiral Flowers”, “Landscape with Yellow Birds”, “Castle and Sun”, “Dream Town”, “Fugue in Red” and “Twittering Machine”, they can also play with the recycled art puppets Klee created for his son. The app is designed to allow the child to explore it their own way, they can spend as little or as much time as they like interacting with each piece of art. When they are ready to move on they stroke Ku, and he brings them to the next artwork.

Each piece of art has different ways to interact with it. In “Crucifers and Spiral Flowers” touching the flowers makes blossoms open or close, sets stems swaying in time to the music, and sends the bird swooping around the page.

iPad Screenshot 2In “Landscape with Yellow Birds” touching the birds brings them to life- pulling up worms, laying eggs, chirping and flying. As you move around the Landscape you can see the picture from different perspectives, giving a simplistic 3D type effect.

iPad Screenshot 1The “Castle and Sun” falls apart when you touch it, creating a puzzle. You have to put the pieces back in the right places by matching the various shapes to recreate the picture.

iPad Screenshot 3

“Dream Town” is made up of layers of superimposed shapes that you can deconstruct stretching them out like a paper accordion.

“Fugue in Red” starts as an almost bare screen with just a few scattered shapes, touching the shapes not only plays musical notes but also works to create the art work as each shape is replicated into multiple similar shapes that form the layers of the artwork.

“Twittering Machine” is my personal favorite – turning the handle of the machine moves the automaton back and forth opening and closing the birds beaks, and playing music at the same time. If you stop turning the handle the movement stops and if you remove your finger from the screen the music stops instantly, so it really feels like you are controlling the machine.

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The puppets are inspired by the puppets Paul Klee made for his son from recycled materials. Cice and Ku introduce the 5 puppets in a theatre, and touching each puppet brings them to life with animation, special effects and a poem about each one.

One thing I really like about the app is that it is designed to appeal to a variety of ages, they can enjoy it on different levels whilst being introduced to a great artist and his work. Early elementary school age children can listen to the pages being narrated, and slightly older ones can read it by themselves. A red balloon appears at the bottom of each page, touching it brings up a navigation bar where they can change languages, switch narration and music on or off, return to the home screen or to a favorite page or artwork. It also has a glasses symbol- tapping this will bring up more information relating to the current page. This might be a Paul Klee quote, information about the artwork, a historical photograph or more information about the artist. This is a great way to make the app appeal to a wider age range, younger children can enjoy the app as is and older ones can use this feature to learn more about the artist and his art, keeping them engaged and learning.

Paul Klee played the violin throughout his life and his mother was a professional musician, so music was very important to him. This importance is reflected in the app, with original music throughout and music integrated into the interactive artwork. ExplorArt Klee is an app that has lots of hidden surprises, and like all the best kids apps it inspires kids to keep coming back and exploring. It took me several runs through find everything hidden within it- from fun interactive elements hidden within the scenes to all the extra information available about the artist and his art.

ExplorArt Klee can be enjoyed in 5 languages: English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. It has optional narration and background music which can be switched off independently.  It is child-friendly with no adverts, in-app purchases or external links.  The developer recommends the app for ages 6-8, I would recommend it for ages 5-10.

Whether you (and your child) are a fan of Paul Klee, or totally new to his work, ExplorArt Klee is a great app for getting children excited about art. It gets them exploring and interacting with great works of art and can inspire them to create their own.  Paul Klee wanted to “make the invisible visible” and  felt that art shows us that the world we see is “not the only one possible”, so I’m sure he would have hoped his artwork would inspire future generations to use their imagination to create their own works of art. ExplorArt Klee is very well done with beautiful illustrations, beautiful original music and fun, original, ways to interact with the artwork. I love all the extra information hidden within the app. In terms of improvements, it would be nice to see the addition of word highlighting as it is read to help emerging readers and I’d love to see a resource section at the end with suggestions on creating a few Klee inspired art projects.

Overall, a very high quality app that introduces children to the art of Paul Klee in a fun and educational way. Highly recommended !

A free lite version of the app has just been released and is a great way to sample the app before purchasing the full version.

iTunes Link to Full Version

ExplorArt Klee – The Art of Paul Klee, for Kids ExplorArt Klee – The Art of Paul Klee, for Kids by Lapisly S.C.P.

Price: $4.99 USD

Jump into the mind of Paul Klee with ExplorArt Klee!
This beautifully designed interactive picture book introduces kids to the dreamlike works of the 20th century Swiss-German master. Paul Klee’s.

iTunes Link to Free Lite Version


ExplorArt Klee LITE - The Art of Klee, for Kids ExplorArt Klee LITE - The Art of Klee, for Kids by Lapisly S.C.P.

Price: $FREE

Jump into the mind of Paul Klee with ExplorArt Klee!
This beautifully designed interactive picture book introduces kids to the dreamlike works of the 20th century Swiss-German master. Paul Klee’s.

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.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
 Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens by AVOKIDDO – Review & Giveaway

Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens by AVOKIDDO – Review & Giveaway



iPad Screenshot 2

What we love…

beautiful graphics, multiplayer option, a “redo” button in case you get stuck with a challenge and multiple different types of science taught

What we’d love to see…

a demo on the first level of each “new” castle in the easy mode

Summary

I love that the app teaches #stem and #commoncore and encourages kids to play and learn at the same time.  I never thought teaching a child physics could be so fun!

Our Rating

Thinkrolls: Kings & QueensThinkrolls: Kings & Queens by AVOKIDDO is a universal app for iOS that uses creative thinking, problem solving and logic skills to move to the next level.  This action packed multiplayer app contains 228 levels of play and works well for both younger and older children (and adults!)   The premise of the app is fairly straighforward, create a character and roll them through the obstacles to capture the magic key.  Each level gets harder with slightly harder obstacles and more difficult challenges.  There are six different castles to complete which I will describe below.

Castles
● Gear & Rack: combine gears with racks to create ladders & conveyor belts
● Chest & Bridge: fill gaps and collapse swaying bridges to clear the way
● Crocodile & Harp: use the harp to lull the crocodile to sleep
● Ghost & Mirror: shift the mirror to eliminate the ghost with reflected light
● Hatch & Lever: switch the lever to open and close hatches
● Flying Potion: unleash the magic potion to defy gravity and fly to the finish

Each of the castles has a “redo” button in case you get stuck within the level and can’t progress on.  The castles have beautiful artwork with amazing detail down to the strings on the harp which is used to lull the crocodile to sleep.  In each of the castles, as you complete each challenge you unlock the next level which also unlocks additional items that you can dress your character with.  Within the app when you tap the “gear” at the top of the screen you can choose the player, type of levels which are “easy” for kids aged 5-8 and “hard” for kids aged 8+.  For purposes of the review, we tested the app on “easy” mode with my 8 year old.  You can also toggle on/off the in-game music and select the language.

iPad Screenshot 5

I loved how the app encouraged my son to problem solve to master each level – there were a few times when he brought me the iPad because he couldn’t figure out the challenge the first time like using the harp to put the crocodile to sleep.  As the levels got harder, he got better at problem solving and I loved how he realized that if he didn’t “solve” it the first time he could try different things until he was able to do so.  I love the life skill here too because it showed him that even if we have regular challenges in life maybe the traditional way we approached the problem, might not always be the solution.  The animations within the app ranging from the crocodile mouth to the use of reflection with the ghost & mirror were amazing and I could really tell that AVOKIDDO spent a lot of time testing and perfecting the app to ensure things worked well and as planned.  I definitely also noticed that my son used a lot of great words to describe all the things he was learning to explain the science concepts – which we also discussed.  I never imagined physics could be so fun for an 8 year old and that he would understand the concepts after just playing with the app to master each of the levels!  Each of the levels targets a specific type of skill like gravity, force, joints or even simple machines and gets progressively harder as you progress within the app.  As a mom, I loved that I could play with the app using my own player to play with castles that were more suited to my level compared to my son’s.

In terms of future enhancements, there were a few times my son got stuck and since I wasn’t “playing along” the entire time I had to play through the level a few times to figure it out.  Perhaps a tutorial the first time you are presented with a new type of castle or object might be helpful for younger players on the “easy” mode.

 

Overall, this is a fantastic app that AVOKIDDO has made, every time I test one of their apps I think they can’t possibly top it, but each time I am surprised with the new ways them come up with to play.  I love that the app teaches #stem and #commoncore and encourages kids to play and learn at the same time.    The app has a parental protected area with a parental gate, no banner ads, no 3rd party ads and is COPPA compliant.  There are no-in app purchases. This would be a great app to use over the upcoming holidays because it’s not a “play once and done” especially for those that have a long trip!

Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens
Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens
by AVOKIDDO

Category: Education, Puzzle, Games, Adventure
Requirements: Compatible with 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: 56.76 MB

$3.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
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Also available on Google Play and Amazon.

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. The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

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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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