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The iMums Favorite Christmas Apps

The iMums wanted to share some of our Christmas and holiday themed app favorites with you. Below is a short summary of each of the apps along with links to our reviews as they have been completed. We hope that you will enjoy these apps as much as we have with our families. Many of these are ones we load onto our devices year after year to enjoy – and some stay on all year round! In our family, we pick a new holiday themed book to read every night – these are some of our digital favorites among The Mums. Come visit us at The iMums for more great tech and app reviews! Looking for more great app reviews – check out this page on Bluebee Pals. Reading with our kids is one of the favorite things to do with our iKids.

The iMums Christmas apps #1
Charlie Brown Christmas by Loud Crow Interactive is a real taste of nostalgia – featuring both the pictures and audio from the classic Christmas movie, with the addition of narration by Peter Robbins, who was the original voice of Charlie Brown. You can switch the narration on or off and the text is highlighted as it is read. The original music from the movie plays in the background and a nice feature is that you can control the music volume independently of the narration. Version 2.0 of the app added the director’s cut as a free in-app purchase. I would recommend installing this before starting to use the app as it adds 4 scenes, 2 activities and an extra carol. Read iMum Mary’s review

A Charlie Brown Christmas + iMessage Sticker Pack! – Loud Crow Interactive Inc.

The iMums Christmas apps #2
The Bernstein Bears and The Nutcracker by OceanHouse Media has been released just in time for the holidays. In this story Brother, Sister, and Honey open their presents on
Christmas morning. Among their presents is a Nutcracker Bear which Papa reminds them is from The Nutcracker ballet they saw on TV. At first, the cubs weren’t too interested in it, choosing instead to play with their new toys. It didn’t take very long for the cubs to get bored. With plenty of time before dinner, Papa suggests they entertain themselves by using their imagination. The cubs think this is a splendid idea and soon find themselves lost in the world of The Nutcracker. Read Fides review.

The Berenstain Bears and the Nutcracker – Oceanhouse Media

The iMums Christmas apps #3

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad- Little Critter by Oceanhouse Media, Little Critter attempts to make Christmas special for his Mom and Dad. He tries different things such as making cookies, picking out a Christmas tree, and wrapping presents, but each time the results are not quite what he was hoping for. Even though Little Critter messes up at everything he tries, you can’t help but fall in love with him. He is charming and funny as he explains what he did and what happened when he did it. My kid and I really enjoyed this story. Read our review.

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad – Little Critter – Oceanhouse Media

The iMums Christmas apps #4
Felt Board Christmas by Software Smoothie has become a quick favorite in out home this season. It is similar in every way to the original Felt Board but comes with a huge assortment of Christmas themed pieces such as the nativity, Santa, reindeer, snowmen, gingerbread cookies, snowmen, ornaments, and stockings. Read Fides review
Felt Board Christmas – Software Smoothie

The iMums Christmas apps #5
Santa’s Suit is Missing by Ginger Whale Apps is a story about Christmas Eve and it is snowing at the North Pole. It is your first day in Santa’s workshop, but all the work is done, the presents are packed, and the other elves are sleeping. You are feeling disappointed to have missed all the fun, when suddenly your Santa Phone beeps – Santa needs you!! Santa has lost his suit and needs a new one before he heads off to deliver the presents. You rush to the village to find him the perfect outfit. What will you get first ? Boots? A hat? A suit? There are lots to choose from, will you get him a traditional Santa outfit or something different? Maybe a ballerina outfit or an astronaut suit ? A Jester’s outfit or your own unique combination? Once you made your choices you take the suit back to Santa – but what will he think ? You’ll have to read Santa’s Suit is Missing story to find out. Read iMum Mary’s review

Santa’s Suit is Missing! – Ginger Whale Pty. Ltd.

The iMums Christmas apps #6
Tacky’s Christmas by OceanHouse Media is a seasonal offering in the popular Tacky the Penguin series of books written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, and brought to the app store by Oceanhouse Media. The story tells the tale of Christmas in Nice Icy Land. The penguins are busy choosing and wrapping gifts. Sadly, in Nice Icy Land Santa doesn’t visit (you may need to explain to your children why Tacky is pretending to be Santa), so Tacky has volunteered to dress up as Santa. The friends are also busy making Christmas ornaments and singing carols when they realise there are no trees to hang their ornaments on. Tacky volunteers to help out by being both Santa and the tree (at the same time). As usual with Tacky, things don’t quite go to plan, but he ends up saving the day and everyone has a Happy Christmas. Tacky is an odd bird, but a nice bird to have around – especially at Christmas. Read iMum Mary’s review

Tacky’s Christmas – Oceanhouse Media

The iMums Christmas apps #7
Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose is a virtual cookie shop without the mess! Do you enjoy decorating cookies with your family? Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose is a universal app where children make a recipe, bake and then decorate a virtual cookie with none of the mess associated with baking at home. The app features 24 , over 200 cookie cutters, photo cookie dough, and 85 different toppings. You can practice recipes with tasks like naming the various objects in the recipe, sifting, rolling, mixing and using cookie cutters to shape the cookies. The recipes can be used in real life to make cookies and help your child practice naming items, measuring, sequencing and fine motor skills. Read iMum Alison’s review

Cookie Doodle – Shoe the Goose

The iMums Christmas apps #8
Five Little Monkeys Christmas by Loeschware is a Christmas themed app featuring my favorite little Monkeys! The app features an an interactive counting game with a musical touch based upon the popular nursery rhyme. This app helps toddlers and preschoolers practice early literacy skills with word highlighting, repetition, addition and subtraction practicing early math skills and of course lots of fun. The app features three different musical scores including, “rock”, “country” and “pop”. This is perfect to work on counting, expressive and receptive language as well as a fun way to learn!

Five Little Monkeys Christmas HD – LoeschWare

The iMums Christmas apps #9

The Witch and the Christmas Spirit is by SlimCricket is a brand new app for iOS. The Witch is getting read for a Halloween adventure when her friend Peepo the Elf calls and says that a terrible illness has spread across the North Pole. He asks the Witch to come and help Save Christmas! Will they be able to? Enjoy this Free app with IAP that includes games, 3D pages and more!
The Witch and the Christmas Spirit – SlimCricket

The iMums Christmas apps #10
Reading Train Christmas Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station is a leveled reading app containing 30 different Christmas stories. I loved sharing these Christmas stories with my sons and helping them read at the same time!
Reading Train Christmas Books, Songs & Games – The Learning Station, LLC

This post was originally made on The iMums in 2015 at http://bit.ly/1IK2fRo. It is republished with permission.

Bluebee Pals App Review by The iMums

Bluebee Pals App by Kayle Concepts LLC – Review

What we love…

Bluebee Pals app is a fun educational app which encourages kids to practice daily routines, using words to narrate what they are doing, sight words and play

 

Summary

Overall, the Bluebee Pals app is a fantastic app which encourages kids to learn as well as have fun. I love seeing all the different ways that my kids interact with the app and try the various activities. The app is gender neutral and allows you to pick your favorite Bluebee Pal to play along OR choose your own Bluebee Pal.

Our Rating

Bluebee Pals app by Kayle Concepts LLC is a universal app for iOS and Android. As many of you know, I have been part of The iMums for a really long time!

 

I’m pleased to note, that I had a chance to help design this app. The app brings BlueBee Pals to life using an app which teaches life skills such as; bathing, tooth brushing, washing hands, bedtime routines, as well as a kitchen which encourages your child to feed Bluebee a variety of meals and snacks. The app uses scaffolded learning, the first mini game is generally easier and for younger children – if you tap the arrow at the bottom you are given a more complex game for example, lining up your ABC’s turns into sight words. In the ice cream mini game, first you find the Bluebee Pals and then you have to match them to the appropriate beach chairs. You can learn more about the app on the Bluebee Pals website.

Upon opening the app, you are able to select your favorite Bluebee Pal – or one that you already have. Then you can view an instructional video where you learn more about Bluebee Pals and how to connect them. From there you can enter your child’s name – and while there touch each of the Bluebees to have them say their name and wave! Choose your favorite color balloon, and a favorite activity. A screen is presented with a variety of things you can do with your Bluebee Pals – did you know that Bluebee works with any Bluetooth enabled device ranging from a smartphone, laptop, smart TV, to a tablet? After that you are brought to the hub of the app where you choose a room for your daily activity – which I will highlight below.

The Bluebee Pal App

The app features narration and a variety of fun games as well. Below I will highlight each – these can be accessed either from the house hub or via the Bluebee Pals library.

  • Kitchen – Enter and exit the kitchen to try a variety of meal options including: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Be sure to enter and exit the kitchen multiple times so you can see each of the meal options. The recycle bin lets you recycle items as well! There are cups, plates, food and even a cake to put on the table.
  • Living Room – Enter the living room and tap on the various objects including the couch, iPad and laptop to hear their name
  • Bedroom – Enter the bedroom and see how Bluebee cleans his room and puts his sneakers away! He also uses an animated guitar, shoe typing sequence and then a bedtime routine. In this room you can also put Bluebee to bed, change the covers and then turn off the light. After the Bluebee goes to sleep, you can go back to his bedroom and tap on the objects in the room.
  • Bathroom – Enter the bathroom and give your Bluebee a shower. Turn on the water and then tap the sponge to wash Bluebee’s fur. After getting out of the tub Bluebee needs to be dried with a bathtowel or blow drier. Then, brush the fur so it’s soft and clean. After bathtime, it’s time to brush teeth – kids move around the toothbrush to clean their teeth. After 20 seconds, teeth are clean and it’s time to practice washing hands. Then kids can tap on the items in the bathroom to hear their names.
  • Playroom – This room has learning and fun! Kids can practice their ABC’s and sight words, drag Bluebee through the maze, find a Bluebee on the island and match them to chairs, move cars and trucks around the track and hear their horns. Other mini games include a six piece puzzle, voice recorder so kids can record their voice — or parents can record their voice and have the app say it back. There is also a robot game where you assemble robots, dress up and match fruits to the right color balloon.
  • Bluebee Pals Library – Using this library you can select a mini game for the playroom. 
  • Bluebee Resource Section – this parental gated area requires a four digit date of birth where you can access resources including: voice recorder, activities along with app reviews, a letter from founder Laura Jiencke about Bluebee Pals. This parental gated area does contain external links.

My son loves this app – one of his favorite mini games is the cars and trucks around the track. He loves placing all the cars on the track at the same time and seeing them zoom around. As a parent, I love that the app has both an educational and fun component to it. My son will practice zooming cars, learning letters, practicing the names of foods and more! I really liked that we can show a bath routine sequence, and then follow through in real life. I also loved using the app with our Bluebee Pal Parker who speaks the narration and moves his head in time to the app. My son also loved reading with Bluebee – for a full list of items that you can try with Bluebee – look in the resource section accessed from the main hub of the house or try this link. The app contains a parental gated area with resources and external links. I find that my son is repeating words that he learned in the app – especially in the kitchen and I’ve even gotten him to ask for a few foods like banana as a result of seeing them in the app. Above, I have highlighted each of the individual areas and items within the app – my kids have spent hours discovering each section as well as practicing letters, puzzles, creative thinking to solve problems and more.

Overall, the Bluebee Pals app is a fantastic app which encourages kids to learn as well as have fun. I love seeing all the different ways that my kids interact with the app and try the various activities. The app is gender neutral and allows you to pick your favorite Bluebee Pal to play along OR choose your own Bluebee Pal.

iOS

Google Play

This review was originally published at The iMums.

NOTE: I was involved in the design of this app.

Learning Time with a Bluebee Pal

Learning Telling Time with Bluebee Pal

Todo Telling Time is a learning and interactive app for children K-2 that helps facilitate learning of time concepts. This educational app is also very functional because it relates to the everyday concepts and also helps target various aspect of time. With this app, children will learn to tell time to the hour and minute, calendar concepts, digital time, and the parts of a daily schedule. With this app, your child can also practice placing numbers around a clock face, counting by 5s, and learning estimation.

 

Todo Telling Time contains six multi-level mini-games. The games include learning days and weeks in order, putting numbers in order and learning number orientation on a Ferris wheel, learning about the timing and order of a schedule, learning time with a train game, building short-term memory and sequencing skills in a memory game and a quiz that assesses your child’s knowledge of time.

 

  1. Connect your Bluebee Pal. Choose from the six interactive games below. With Day the Weeks game, your child or student will be placing the days, months and numbers in order on a calendar. Let Bluebee reinforce the sequencing by saying the name of the day, month or number on the calendar. With the calendar game, your child or student can learn about time and schedules. It’s 8:00 am, time for school! After your child places the hand on the right location, Bluebee Pal will tell you what time it is!
  2. WIth the train game, your child or student or will learn digital time and Bluebee Pal will reinforce the time by repeating the correct time. With the memory game, the challenge is the find the number that was called out and shown to you briefly. Forget the number? Activate the rewind icon and Bluebee Pal will say it again!
  3. With the timed quiz at the end of the game, your child or student will be challenged with questions asked by Bluebee Pal such as “It’s 7:00 pm. How much time until 12:00 am?”. The time quiz gives you three choices that you can choose from.
  4. Continue having fun with Bluebee Pal and learning time by navigating through different levels and finding various ways to challenge your student or child. This app is so much fun you might run out of time!….https://www.bluebeepals.com

 

Early Academic Learning Apps for ages 5-7

When my older son was in kindergarten, I remember him coming home with a ring and a stack of cards to learn his sight words.  I had been working with him on reading and basic core skills to get ready for school.

 

Below are a few of our favorite apps that we used when he was in kindergarten and first grade.  Each of the apps highlighted focuses on a specific academic skill ranging from spelling, geography, problem solving, reading, word families, sight words, space and more!  I am glad that these apps helped to give my son some of the tools to succeed in school.


Early Academic Learning Apps for ages 5-7

 

Spelling HangmanSpelling Hangman by Emma Mills, is a new, exciting way, to practice the spelling words given each week. I work in an elementary school and “spelling” is no longer the term used; however, a similar concept exists. This app allows a child/student to work on their given words through a more enjoyable mode. Spelling Hangman allows the facilitator to record the words they wish to be practiced through a “Configure Test” option. This option allows the words to be set up under a given name such as “week 1”, or “ar words”, etc. As a speech-language pathologist, I believe this could be utilized within the therapy room as well. When working with a group of students focused on a particular sound (“r”, for example), the therapist could program in those words, allowing the students to try and guess words with “r” in them. Just an SLP’s twist on a general education app!  Read the full review.

 

World Of Liberty “Paintings, Planes and Pioneers”World Of Liberty Paintings, Planes and Pioneers  by World of Liberty.   Each of these interactive storybooks takes you on an adventure which involves the United States and a country connection to another country.  Other apps in the series include It’s Raining Pumpkins in Delaware and Chicago’s Green River Leads to the Emerald Isle!.  These  universal apps for iOS encourage kids to learn about history in a fun way that doesn’t make them realize they are learning.  This adventure features the state of Kansas and a school field trip to the Air and Space Museum where Liberty learns about Amelia Earhart and her red Vega plane.  The characters in the story are: Liberty Lane (the primary character), her toy eagle Georgie, her toy plane Truman and her dog Ellie as they adventure around the world. Her classmates, Tobi and Mei Li are also featured at the beginning of the story during the field trip and help her make the first connection about Amelia and her flight. Each story features “read to me”, “read to myself” and autoplay modes.  The app also features word highlighting as the text is read along with audio narration and background sounds.  Read the full review.

 

Build With GrandpaBuild with Grandpa by Fairlady Media is universal app for iOS designed to help kids with a variety of building as well as teaching them about environmental re-use as kids knock down buildings, drive a construction truck and design a new home to be built. The app includes six mini educational games which require choice of equipment from a field, addition which items add up to x number, painting, decorating, designing a house and more! It appeals to preschool, toddler and elementary school depending on which things your kids like to do with the app. Skills practiced in the app include, math to number 9, literacy through reading and identifying words, design, creativity, landscaping, problem solving, cause and effect. It also teaches skills about construction and how you go through the process of building something.  Read the full review.

 

Professor Astro Cat’s Solar SystemProfessor Astro Cat’s Solar System by Minilab Ltd is a fantastic app to get children excited about the great outer space. It is based on the book Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, by Dr. Dominic Walliman (quantum physicist) and Ben Newman (illustrator). It teaches astronomy in an a way that is interesting and easy to understand. The graphics in the app stays true to Ben Newman’s illustrations and has a beautiful retro look and feel. Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System explores the sun, planets, moon, and space travel. There are four areas of learning. First, on the left side of the screen are what I like to call fast facts. These are bits of trivia that are explained further when you click on the (+) icon beside each fact. Both trivia and detailed explanations contain only a sentence or two, making them easy to learn and remember, never overwhelming. Second, the planet/sun/moon unzips to reveal what it looks like inside For example, the earth unzips to reveal the core, mantle, and crust.  Read our full review.

 

Stack the States® 2Stack the States 2 by  FreeCloud Design’s Dan Russell Pinson.  You learn state capitals, cities, shapes, landmarks, flags and then after you answer a question correctly you can drop the animate state on the screen – but watch out if you are not careful your hard work tumbles away!   After successfully completing each level, you earn a new state.  The app allows you to set up multiple profiles so a parent can have a different profile than kids or multiple kids can play and the app can narrate and be based on what they have completed so far.  The app includes an interactive map with major cities and a 3D visual of each state with 10 different 3D scenes with various locations – we loved New York, Hawaii and Chicago the most especially the dolphins jumping.    Skills targeted include trivia, geography.  Read our full review.

 

The Sounding Out Machine - Assistive Reading DeviceThe Sounding Out Machine – Assistive Reading Device by FizzBrain is an iPad only app that helps kids who are reading to focus in on specific words that they may not know.  The app allows you to take words in three forms and then sound them out.  This app can be used with preschool through elementary school and is great for emerging readers.  By learning how to break a word down, they are more successful and ultimately that leads to more reading because it is fun rather than “something they have to do”.  It presents with a screenshot of the different types of reading modes.  You also create a profile for each child so that you can track the types of “hard” words on a daily, weekly and monthly basis so you can see change over time in reading comprehension. The three modes of the app are: Camera mode – take a picture of the page of the book using your iPad; Library mode –  Take a picture ahead of time, save it on your camera roll and open it when reading; Typing mode – Type in your own word.  A great app to practice word decoding skills in a fun way that doesn’t have the pressure of making a mistake in front of the teacher or let’s kids practice on their own.  I have seen great improvements especially in “hard words” and my son is asking to read now rather than being “forced” to.  Read the full review.

Piiig Forest Explorer: Natural Science for KidsPiiig Forest Explorer: Natural Science for Kids by Piiig Labs, is an app designed to introduce little ones to the few forest animals. It is an early science app, best suited for children up to first grade, and can be played in 8 different languages: English, French, Japanese, German, Swedish, Russian, and Chinese. The game begins with a chipmunk peacefully sleeping inside its burrow. When you tap on the chipmunk it awakens and scampers up, revealing that the opening to its burrow is a hole in a tree stump. Now it’s time to explore the forest to search for food and meet some new friends. Guide the chipmunk by tapping the area on the screen you want it to go to.  Read the full review.

 

Wonster Words - spelling... iconWonster Words by 77 Sparx Studio is an app for iOS which teaches kids words using word families, phonics, vocabulary words and digraphs in a fun interactive way using monsters as the underlying theme.  For example, the word families for “at” include “splat”, “cat”, “rat”, “bat”.  First you make the word with letters then you see a variety of ways it is illustrated “baseball bat” or “bat” the animal.  After completing the word, you move on to see it illustrated and then used in a “real world” setting.  The app is targeted at older preschool and early elementary aged children as it captures a number of sight words and can be used by pre-reading children as well as those working on sight words. I loved when you were making words that the letters are sounded out individually as that helped my son clearly understand each of the words and the sounds that they made as well a describing what the word did.  For example, “hike” showed the word and then a nature hike.   There’s a nice carry over of skills here that encourages kids to engage in a fun way and continue using the app.  I also liked that you could scroll through the app and look for specific word families to practice on – my son in particular struggles with the “th” since it’s silent at times and he did well with this lesson and was able to practice the words in real time.   Read the full review.

Rhyme to Read full - teach beginning reading with phonics and sight words and word families (English Version)Rhyme to Read by Rhyme to Read, LLC is an iPad only app designed to help your preschooler through early elementary aged student learn skills that will help them learn to read.  The program which does include in-app purchases  to purchase up to twenty books individually or via a bundle if you choose to buy them all at once.  The app features word families with similar sounds (cat, sat, pat) and helps children to understand different reading patterns.  Children should be able to recognize letters and understand how sounds go together before beginning the reading process.  Each book builds upon the previous one, so if you enjoy using it you should buy the package via one in-app purchase rather than buying the volumes individually as they build upon each other.  The app was originally a set of print books by Sarah Hines and Lynn Klairman, the cost of the print books was too expensive to maintain so they decided to turn them into an interactive app to help reach a wider audience. The books teach a variety of sight words and practice the previously learned sight word patterns as they progress within the series.  At the end of each “book” you can see a list of sight words listed in the program thus far (which gets longer with each book) and then a list of word families that have been learned.  Read the full review.

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