ABC Spelling Magic Enhanced for Faster Learning

Kids are a lot smarter than we think, and when we give them the tools to learn, they will. Not only are they eager to learn, they are ready. If you have a tot who loves to sing the alphabet and know the sounds of some of the character and is ready to take the next step toward building words, then waste no time downloading ABC Spelling Magic!

Created by Preschool University, this app presents letters in a fun and colorful way, with well designed exercises that immerse kids into the world of phonetics. After all, this is the building block of words.

The app itself is divided into two parts.

The first part focuses on recognizing a limited set of the alphabet, the sounds that each letter in this set makes, and provides games for the kids to use these letter to form words.

The second part expands on the first by providing the entire alphabet, including the different types of sounds each letter makes based on its pairing with other letters. Again, kids use these letter to mix and match and make words.

Before you get antsy about how complicated this will get, take a breath. This app focuses on words that employ just three phonetic sounds connected by short vowel sounds. So, the complications are limited – to avoid overstimulation which could lead to frustration.

ABC Spelling Magic app

The main screen gives parents lots of option on how to navigate. The Parents section of course is the first place parents go to make sure the app is setup correctly for their kids, including sound settings and such.

There is also an Instructions page which provides guidance on how the app works and how you can make it work for your child. To start, I highly recommend the Movable Alphabet area first, so kids can learn the alphabet and their sounds.

Next you would move on to the Word Building area, where kids can then use what they know about the sounds of each letter and actually start to build words.

The word building exercises are organized by type of word. Examples include words with the short a sound, short 3 sound, short i sound, short o sound, and short u sound. There is also a section for double consonant words. After the child is comfortable with these focused exercise groups, you can mix it up by going into Shuffle mode.

When kids build words, they are shown an array of letter to choose from, a picture, and empty slots into which they slide the letters. If they are correct, you get affirmation and move on to the next word. If not, you continue on the same word.

As valuable as this app is, I would love to see an expansion come soon that allows for larger words, so kids can continue using this effective tool to learn and build words.

I see lots of potential for ABC Spelling Magic and look forward to seeing where the creators take it.

Audials – Globally Sourced Sounds at Your Fingertips

Boasting a boundless array of music genres, the Audials radio app is like no other streaming machine. It captures sounds from around the world, allowing you to experiment and listen to music from all over. It feeds a variety of radio stations straight to your device. All you have to do is browse the selection, choose what you like and enjoy.

Audials features over 80,000 stations. I don’t know about you, but that is a selection that I don’t think will ever grow out of. Spread across these stations you’ll find over 120 music genres.

So, how is Audials different from other radio streaming apps? Can you save a song you just listened to and loved? Audials lets you do that.

Sometimes, and I have had this experience with Pandora, you hear a song or piece you just have to have; or, you are listening to something really cool and have to get up to take care of something. Normally, you’d have to pause and play, and oftentimes you would just miss the song. With Audials, you simply hit Record, and you will have that song ready to play whenever you want.

Audials reaches past audio to video, as well.  You can stream and watch music videos and even some shows. An added bonus is that the music and videos stream ad-free – you couldn’t ask for more than that.

Audials app

Where Audial is strongest is its search engine. You can type in keywords and artist names, even genres, to find what you are looking for, if it’s something specific. If you are simply looking for something new within a genre, search via genre and explore.

With a clean design, the app is easy to move around in and is quite intuitive to use. The scripting on each screen is so easy to read.

If you are already talking yourself out of using Audial because you have no interest in global sounds, don’t make a move. Audials offers a strong set of local sounds, too. This includes radio stations across the U.S. and those that are in your own city.

There are no issues with disruptions in streaming at all. It’s powered to handle a large bandwidth, so you’ll never see a circle that tells you the app is buffering.

A feature I fell in love with was the timer. You can set the timer to shut the app off after a set period of time. I use it to put myself to sleep. Others can use it keep themselves occupied and then serve as a reminder to move on to the next task.

Audial has only one shortcoming – you can’t move your recordings from one device to another. I would really like to do this. Maybe they can save your recordings.

The only downside is the inability to move the recordings from your phone over to another device so you can listen from there; however, in all fairness, the ability to record is something that overshadows this one small shortcoming.

Download Audials soon, because you don’t want to waste anymore time listening to the same old stuff over and over again. Broaden your auditory horizons with Audials and you’ll discover sounds you never knew existed!

dispair – Brain Teasing Exercise to Strengthen your Noggin

With so much automation in our lives, it’s a wonder that we are able to remember anything anymore. Think about how many phone numbers you can remember now. A decade ago you probably had ten numbers memorized, ready to be dialed. Now, you’re lucky if you can remember your own cell number.

Things may not be that bad, actually, but it is a fact that we are using our brains for certain activities much less often than before. This can lead to deterioration – also known as “use it or lose it.”

If you are looking for a fun way to use your noggin, then download dispair today. It’s a neat brainteaser game that forces you to focus and activate brain connections to get the right answer.

The game itself has you look at a bunch of letters, and then place them in the correct order.

The app challenges players with increasingly difficult puzzles to solve. The complexity behind them is such that the play levels don’t even start at 1, they start at level 4 and make their way up to level 8:

dispair

  • Level 4: this is the introductory level, where you accustom yourself to the goal of the game
  • Level 5: games are bit tougher, but you will easily work your way through this level
  • Level 6: the challenge gets more serious at this level, but multiple trials will strengthen your ability to pass from this phase
  • Level 7: games at this level are harder, and you may be tempted to quit at this point, but because the game is so addicting, you will keep going back to get through this level
  • Level 8: this is for die-hard players who know they have what it takes to beat a brainteaser

You can also play in two different modes. Beginner’s Mode allows you trial play and lets you make several attempts at your answer, allowing you to learn the game and how it works. It also allows you to figure out quickly just what the game is looking for in terms of an answer. The combinations are many, so practicing in this mode is crucial.

Professional Mode is the serious side of the game. Here, you are challenged and afforded little leeway when mistakes are made. This allows you to turn on the heat and see how your deductive talents work.

I initially found dispair a bit despairing. It was hard trying to figure out what the right combination was and I came across several fails. However, each fail was really a learning moment that allowed me to collect data and learn how to play better.

I would say that having a Level 1, 2, and 3 would help players feel less anxious about playing this game, because as it stands right now, it’s a bit daunting to think of playing at Level 4 straightaway.

Nevertheless, once you start playing dispair you easily get hooked onto it, especially if you are the combinatorial mathematical type.

LingoKids Teaches Kids Chinese the Easy Way

Commerce in China is no joke. Businesses have been making a beeline to the Orient to capture dominance in a market that is one of the largest. To counter that, Chinese businesses are booming and spreading worldwide. It’s only fitting that command of the Chinese language may be what sets your child apart from the rest when it comes time to seeking global opportunities.

How do you easily introduce Chinese to your child without making it a project? Scientists have proven that the younger a child is, the better they absorb a second language. Given that fact, and the fact that you most likely don’t know any of the Chinese dialects, you are left to seek out a source of instruction.

That’s where LingoKids for learning Chinese comes to the rescue.

LingoKids has offered a variety of language learning apps that target youth who have minds like sponges and can pick up a second language effortlessly.

LingoKids immerses children through activities and games, introducing symbols and sounds that make up the language. Kids don’t realize they are learning because they are having so much fun. Once you download the app, you can play it anywhere; it’s all on the device and requires no connectivity to the internet.

LingoKids app

What really attracted me and kept me interested was the colors and animation.  I can see why kids would never want to put the device down once they got started.

One thing to note is that while the app itself is a free download, you will have a small set of games to play included with the free download. Once your child moves past those games and needs something different, you can make an in-app purchase to expand your collection. You can sign up for a 12-month subscription for $89.99, which will allow you access to the app and all new games for one year. I would recommend this because most kids fly through the games, and you will want them to be able to continue their learning without pauses. You can also avail an exclusive 25% discount from this link.

What I found especially helpful is the printable worksheets that kids can complete to supplement what they learn in the app. This allows parents a way to engage the kids without devices and forces them to use another medium to learn.

I really couldn’t suggest anything wrong with the app. I would like it if the free download came with more games so that parents could see if the app works for their kids. But I do see the benefit to making the app require some purchases; it prevents having to rely on ads, which parents definitely do not want on app their kids are using.

Safe to use and quickly effective, LingoKids Chinese is the way to I you are looking to expose your kids to the Chinese language.

Vadovia – Explore the World Using Tips from Travelers

Admit it, you have wanted to see the world for years, but were too scared that the experience would fall disappointingly short of the amazing expectations you have let your imagination create. Traveling is not easy. Especially if you don’t know what it is you can expect or what to look for to being with. That is why VadoVia is an app that you have to download now if you have any plan, as minute as can be, that you will be traveling in the near future.

Why VadoVia? Because this app is not like any other travel guide or planner. Nope, VadoVia is your personal view into a destination and it’s powered by people who have been there.

What better feedback, advice, and input can you get than from someone who has already been to where you want to go?

You can search for your destination and from there look at a list of available tours, suggestions and commentary left by folks who have used those tours, and of course, rankings so that you can make judgments based on what is most important to you.

Using VadoVia also brings your travel experience into the future. No more paper maps or tour itineraries; you have access to all of that information from your iOS device. What is most important about this is that not only do not have a library of documents to tote around, you are kept informed of any last minute changes to your itinerary – instantaneously.

vadovia app

With VadoVia, you can choose to experience a new place almost like a local would. You can even create your own tours and specify if you want to explore by bus, bike, or simply by walking the streets. The app allows you to filter searches the mode of transportation, which makes it easy to plan different days using different ways to get around and immerse yourself.

Each tour and place you visit will be a part of the app, and it will be further enhanced with background information as if you had your own tour guide at your fingertips. You will walk away from each experience with so much more knowledge about what you just saw and a stronger imprint of the experience in your memory.

Nothing else can come close to making those memories.

When searching for places to visit, partial day tours, or whole day tours, you can peruse what fellow wanderers have posted and suggested, along with notes, photos, and videos of what they found fascinating.

What is really neat about VadoVia is that you can capture images from your device and then use them and the app to create digital postcards to share with friends and family. I really liked this, because who has time to buy and mail postcards?

The app is super easy to use and I had no issues finding what I needed. At times I stumbled across things I did not intend to find, but they turned out to be future destinations that I now look forward to. At times I would tap on a destination for which it seemed a tour was available, but upon tapping no information popped up. It was a bit disappointing, but something I am sure developers are working on fixing.

Nonetheless, if you plan on traveling, whether it be within the U.S. or abroad, I highly recommend you download VadoVia – your trip and your experience will be so much better.

Let Your Kids Race like the Tortoise & the Hare

Remember the familiar tale of the Tortoise & Hare told by Aesop that entertained while teaching important life lessons? While the art of storytelling has evolved over the years, thanks to technology, we can still share these valuable stories in a medium that attracts kids in today’s world.

Wanderlust has taken Aesop’s famous tale and turned it into an experience for kids of all ages. For those who don’t know how to read or are just learning to read, there is the narration option. This option allows kids to have the story read to them. They can also tap on words to hear them individually sounded out. This helps them learn to read.

For those kids who already know how to read, they can flip through the pages at their own pace.

In addition to the reading aspect, this app brings both Tortoise and Hare to life, along with all the things that surround them.

If you choose to be read to, the app starts off with a Alistair Cooke-like host, sitting in an armchair by a warm fire, with book open and eye wide. He introduces himself and gets ready to take you on your adventure.

If you choose the Play option, you can tap on trees, rocks and doors to see character come out, do dances, birds fly, and more.

What’s really neat about the app is that you can turn on other languages. Available options include UK English and French. If you are looking to teach your kids French, what better way than to immerse them in stories written and told in the language? If you make an in-app purchase, you can get the app in German, as well.

Additional Features include:

  • Each language offers over 500 interactive words
  • Word play spread across 12 completely interactive pages
  • Actionable items across every page
  • Hidden surprises powered by animation
  • Move through the book in two way, swipe to the next or previous page, or scroll
  • Tips for parents and teachers, helping them present the activities to kids in the most productive way
  • Classroom Activities and a free preview of the Tortoise and the Hare Classroom Activities guide

There were a few pages where only a few animated sequences were found. I would also like to see more interactive items even when the child is using the “Read to Me” option. Maybe those interactions can be enabled after the narration on the page completes.

For a small price, Tortoise and the Hare brings a world of value and entertainment all wrapped up into one. Your kids will be mesmerized and educated at the same time, without even knowing it. Any app that you can find that does that is well worth the price; and this app is just $4.99.

Wanderfuls has succeeded in marrying technology with tradition, bringing famous fables to kids, so we can share important lessons and help our kids grow up to be responsible members of society.

Trail the tail – Fun App Where Kids Follow, Find and Learn About Animals

Kids love to learn and explore, but don’t always have the opportunity to experience firsthand different places and things. When it comes to a love of animals, they love to see and hear and learn about what each type is all about. The zoo is a great place to show kids a little about the exotic animals that live on the African savanna; but a better way to introduce those animals in a more interactive and fun way is through Thematica’s Trail the tail app.

Trail the tail runs on iPad and magically transports little ones to a new place, with different games, activities and animations to keep eyes wandering and fingers tapping. A tail swishes and wiggles mysteriously and quickly disappears, inviting kids to explore the savanna that is home to a variety of animals we don’t often see.

The app is an interesting mix of entertainment and education, keeping kids searching for animals, turning over rocks, moving aside branches and seeing firsthand how savanna animals live and behave. Navigation is as a simple as a tap. There are no complicated or rushed actions needed. Kids and adults alike will take simple pleasure in moving around the various venues offered by the app.

To start, the main screen offers up three major areas to explore, denoted by three buttons spread across the bottom. Tap on any one of them; there is no specific order to follow or complete. Each button takes you to a different area of the savanna with different types of activities.

Trail the tail

Each area then offers its own set of activities, animals to watch and learn about. In some places, a camera is given, and kiddos must take snapshots of the animal when it makes itself available. This involves careful placement of the camera so that the animal falls within the boundaries of the lens, and then a quick snap! The photo is taken and can be saved in a frame by tapping on it. Kids will see a line of empty frames waiting to be filled. Once completed, kids then move on to the next adventure by tapping on a leaf that quietly waves hello. If kids don’t quite get the clue, have no fear; because the app conveniently offers up an arrow showing you where to go. 

Returning to the main screen is always available by tapping on the “return” icon that sits at the top left of the screen. Activities left undone will revert back to the start, so kids will have to start from scratch filling frames or finding things. Another type of activity offered includes feeding different types of animals. In a much understated way, kids will learn the types of foods each animal can and will eat, and which types don’t work. This is done by dragging food items near the animal’s mouth, and seeing if the mouth opens wide open with bright eyes to boot, or if they shut in agony. Through game-play, kids learn about eating habits.

Being such a simple app, there is not much lacking but for an increase in challenge or something to work towards. Each activity or game is fun to play, but there are no points accumulated or treasures to uncover, which may entice kids to try a bit harder. Nonetheless, Trail the tail is a great way to keep little ones a bit busy, in search of mysteries that are hidden, only to uncover a new animal while learning something about it.

DraftCode – A Powerful PHP Web App Development Tool

Web app development has skyrocketed in demand with the increase of traffic online and life in general moving towards the Cloud. Every person uses web sites in one way or another; either to shop, register for classes, tap into a portal from the doctor’s office or just surf for something to do. We are all on the internet more than we spend time sleeping, it seems. To support all of this, we have web apps.

Any kind of software development most people think of usually requires the use of sophisticated development environments, access to servers and connectivity to other machines so pieces of code can be captured or called to complete a function. In web app development, much of this connectivity can be self-contained. You are mainly developing to add increased functionality to a web site or page, possible providing interconnectivity between other sites. However, in the grand scheme of things, not much is needed in terms of external servers.

Yet, most development environments require just that: a connection to the internet and to servers. This can lend itself to limitation on where you can take your creativity; and, in web page and app development, you want flexibility. DraftCode PHP provides that flexibility and more on your iPad, all in the palm of your hands. When you first download this app, which is not too pricey for something that will allow you to make beaucoup bucks. It has an extremely simple interface for something that allows you to make complicated and deeply functional apps. The interface can also be customized to help you make the most of your experience on the iPad. Color schemes, backgrounds, fonts and more are all choices you can make to make it easier for you to decipher and decode.

DraftCode

Web app development should not be a chore. It should be labor of creativity. Having a place to perform it on your iPad means you can take it with you and make changes when and where you want. Creativity must not wait for a computer. It should be captured when it occurs. Coding for WordPress? It’s supported. Coding for Flatpress? Ditto. The app supports PHP 5.4.23 and allows developers to develop offline themes and plugins, while testing in a fully functional runtime environment. You will run app as if they were running for real on the internet and rendered on Safari.

Extensions supported include Sqlite3, MySQL, PDO, OpenSSL, libxml and ZIP, so developers will not want for more. Although, the creators of DraftCode promise more is to come. Cookies, forms and sessions as needed are all basics that make for reality while developing, so there are no surprises when the app is released. Files can be moved around, shared and imported, so ideas can be reused with ease. DraftCode can tap into the iPad’s camera roll and photo storage to make use of graphics you’ve already got. See an image you want to use on the spot and use it. This environment has opened its doors and made it possible to see more and connect.

A bit of help or instructions on the app itself would have been extremely useful. It took me a few tries to figure out what each icon represented and effects it would have. Yet, for a small price, this app provides a great deal of convenience and power in hand held machine that becomes your very own server that serves up your creation.

Artistic App Brings Alice’s Wonderland to Life

I am not a big fan of reading e-books simply because I cling to the old ways and languish in feeling crisp paper between my fingers while listening to the rustle of paper as I turn pages to reveal more about a story I’ve become entrenched in. However, for lovers of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” there is a book app available in the iPad that makes you forget about all that and literally transports you into Wonderland alongside Alice, as if you are dreaming.

The Alice App, created by Emmanuel Paletz, is literary creation that takes the well-known novel of “Alice in Wonderland,” surrounds it with imagery and interactivity in a way that engages, whether you are reading it or entranced by the enchanting narration. Follow the reader as he guides you on the path that Alice takes, down the rabbit hole, to a tea party, at the Red Queen’s Palace, and on the lookout for the Cheshire Cat.

The app is a easy download and comes with instructions, although these may not be needed by younger users. Simple by nature, but ornate in appearance, the app presents itself as a book in landscape mode. The very first page, or main page, allows the user to choose whether or not they wish to read the book or hear the narrator. You can also set the sound level of the music and narration and learn more about how to use the app under the Instructions page.

The Alice App screenshot

As a default, the app is setup for narration. Tap on Start and soar through the pages. The app displays two pages at a time, with some pages being full illustrations. These illustrations are like paintings that come to life. Tap away on the screen and see what moves or jiggles. Reveal puzzles and brain teasers to make the story stick better and take it to a new level. Kids these days need more than just words. Technology feeds into our five senses helping us to actively experience rather than just passively receive.

As you pass through the story, try tipping the iPad this way and that. This action also reveals new actions in the illustrations to keep the young ones engaged. Flipping from page to page is done by swiping upward from the bottom corners, either the left or right, depending on which direction you want to go. Need to skip to another chapter? No problem. Tap on the green satin bookmark that rests at the top center, nicely nestled between the two pages, and it will present a window with pages you can swiftly tap to.

This app knows no bounds. It has taken a classic story, maintained its richness, and added an new level of value by making it interactive, filled with animation, activity, and audio. I cannot say much in terms of what it lacks. The only thing that took a while to understand was how to navigate back and forth to the main page, but by being a bit inquisitive and tapping away, I found, by accident, the power of the bookmark. This led me to the navigation window and the ability to “get out” when need be.

If you are looking for an e-book that takes you back to the days when you enjoyed Alice, and you wish to share it with your young one, or just experience it in a whole new way, The Alice App is a must to download.