Remote Learning and Reading with your child

 


Teaching your child to read is most likely one of the hardest things I have done with my
kids.  As a Mom, I think it among the most rewarding.  Reading opens up a whole world for kids. I remember when I was young, I struggled to learn to read when I was young but used a variety of strategies I worked to learn.

 

Teaching my now first grader to read, is different.  There are apps to use versus physical workbooks.  We also have leveled early readers and go to the library often to pick up new books.  At the library, it is now through the curbside.  I remember going to the library when I was little and I always loved to pick out new books. As a parent, a whole new world opens to your children as they read.

 

Independent reading is made more fun with Bluebee Pals. 


My son enjoys sitting with Sammy the Bear and reading different books.  Sometimes “reading” is looking at the photos and trying to figure out what the story might say.  We have read a variety of different books including Poky the Little Puppy and reading along.  He often hugs Sammy and reads to him.  I asked him why he liked reading with Sammy – he said Sammy helps him to learn. He uses Sammy to help him “tap” out his letters using Fundations which help him determine if he has a “just right book”.

 

Reading Apps for Kids

Reading Egg – this app by Blake eLearning includes a test at the beginning so that you can determine your child’s reading level.  Through interactive games you practice sight words, digital story books, learning lessons including rhyming and interactive reading.  My son loves working for the Golden Eggs and pairs his iPad with his Bluebee Pal so the two of them can work on reading together!

 

 

Epic is a reading app that includes 40K books from 250 platforms.  You can choose books that are read aloud or your child can read by themselves.  The app includes picture books, different types of books including some of my son’s favorites community helpers like police and learning videos as well!  I love that my son can choose his favorites – and practice reading at the same time.  We also practice looking at pictures and trying to “decode words”.

 

 

 

FarFaria is one of the best reading apps for struggling readers because it is such a fun app!  It has several “worlds” to explore, each one containing a certain genre of books that would be captivating for kids to read or be read to.There are thousands of stories and songs, with more added weekly. And they are the most popular books available.  Also, there is a badge system so your child will be motivated by his/her achievements. Plus parents and teachers can monitor their students’ achievements by seeing which badges have been achieved.

 

YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR5EJvsmHHE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

ReadAskChat by ReadAskChat, Ltd. – Review

What we love…

fantastic app that encourages parents and caregivers to read with children featuring a library of curated stories, conversation starters and bright colorful artwork.  I loved that we were able to carry over and do activities after learning about them during our daily lives like stomping, slipping, sliding and being more observant

What we’d love to see…

parental lock of some sort on the cog wheel – there are no external links but my son liked to tap on it.  I would also like to see a bigger parent’s resource section included – there are a number of resources on the web but not integrated within the app.

Summary

Beautifully illustrated app that encourages active reading via the story by asking questions, making observations and learning.  Kids can also tie it to real life and role play the stories.

Our Rating

Art for “Light of Mine” (c) 2012 by Christopher Lyles

ReadAskChat is a curated library of stories designed for children from six months to age 4.  The stories feature bright artwork, text and parental cues to help parents read with their children.  I still remember the first time I sat in the rocker with my then infant son and held a black and white board book to read with him.  I felt unprepared because I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to read with him or help him learn.   You can read our interview with co-founders Alice and Carolyn to learn more about the reasons on why ReadAskChat was created.  You can also read a paper about the science behind ReadAskChatThis app takes it beyond your device or tablet and encourages interactive reading using conversation starters to help kids engage and learn.  Key concepts in the app include rhyming, patterning, early academics like colors, shapes, early sight words along with math and science concepts.

As I have gotten to be a mom of two – reading with my kids has gotten easier.  They both know when it’s bedtime – we have 15-30 minutes depending on the day that we sit, snuggle and look at books.  We practice things like how to hold the book, turning pages from front to back as well as moving with the text via songs, pointing to objects and just handling a book.  In this digital age, it’s also important to consider that books are available on tablets, smartphones and other devices meaning that downtime doesn’t just have to mean that your child “plays” on your phone — you can turn it into educational time.

Here’s a snippet from Carolyn about the idea behind ReadAskChat

 The inspiration for ReadAskChat comes from personal experience. My husband and I are adoptive parents, and when our daughter Jiji came home at 9 months, she was clinically failure to thrive. She couldn’t hold her little head up or babble, or reach for shiny objects—things that 9-month-olds should be doing. But after only one month of reading picture books, singing songs, playing and snuggling, and “chatting” about anything and everything, Jiji was a fully caught up and happy 10-month-old.

When we read using my tablet or smartphone – one of the first things I do is to turn on the “night shift mode” which changes colors to be more easy on your eyes and less stimulating for children.  I also love that the app can change depending on which child I am reading with – meaning I can choose prompts for my toddler or my older son while reading the same story.  When you open the app, there are three free stories that are included in the library.  Additional stories are available for purchase.  Each story includes “conversation starters” – these are based on the developmental level of your child and can range from suggesting you bounce your baby in time with the rhythm of the story or music to questions you can ask your kids to prompt them to engage more with the story.

iPad Screenshot 1

Using your device, you login to the app to access the library.  For purposes of the review I was given access to the full library of stories.  When you use the app for the first time on your device or a new device you are prompted to download the stories.  The Starter Pack includes, “Light of Mine”, “Animal Tails” and “The Old Man in the Tree”.  In the subscription based version other stories are categorized by Big Ideas, Special Friends, Indoor Mischief, On The Move, Action Rhymes, Math Stories, Science Stories.  You also choose the developmental level for the conversation starters.  They range from baby (six to 18 months);  toddler (12-24 months); preschooler (2 -4 years).  As we have gotten more familiar with the stories we have recently changed from toddler to preschooler level to help him continue to follow along and be engaged.

My toddler aged son loves anything to do with cars and trucks and things that go.  We typically let him pick a story and then I choose one.  One of his favorites is Mario’s Trucks – which includes descriptive text like “Raise that Shovel!  Dig that hole”.  I typically read to him and then we talk about what we see in the photo – things like a yellow dump truck, a hard hat that Mario is wearing, a yellow digger and blocks and a crane.  The conversation starters also encourage parents to add the sounds to the story and then the “ask” which encourages kids to think about what the truck does – my toddler answered carries and dumps.    You are also prompted as you read to chat about what Mario might be building – my son said “tower”.  We talked about it being a construction site on the first page.  I also loved using the app to guide off-device play where we re-enacted specific stories that my son identified with.  The illustrations in the app are beautiful and encourage kids to look and pay attention to details.  The stories appeal to children and are not too overwhelming in terms of new information that is shared on a page.  They also gently encourage sleep or relaxation at the end.  At the end of the story you can either slide to the next story or close out of the app.

I loved the wide variety of content that was included in the app and that my son was engaged and learning from stories – which we could look at no matter where we were at a point in time.  I actually found myself reading more with my son because I could pull out my iPhone or tablet while we were waiting for appointments or had short periods of downtime.  He loved tapping on the screen to show me what he was seeing – and I liked hearing what he saw in the photos and engaged.  Both of us became more engaged with stories – rather than him sitting in my lap passively to hear a story.  In addition, I recently read to my son’s classroom and used ReadAskChat along with a software which was able to reflect my screen onto a whiteboard so that the group of kids could participate.  Although the app is designed for more 1:1 or 1:2 use it was fun to use in a class because it encouraged open-ended conversations and allowed kids to really engage with the story.  As kids get bigger you can encourage them to help swipe and actively pick out sight words, look at the images within the stories and pick out specific details or even find an object or color within the image. 

With my son as we read the stories and he’s become more familiar – we now sometimes play “I spy” to see the details that we might have previously missed.  One of the other things that I really enjoyed was the conversation starters to help me encourage my son to better engage with the story.  Another feature I liked was the “swipe lock” which made it so my son couldn’t accidentally move forward beyond pages that I wanted him to be on.   The app also lets you favorite stories using a heart at the bottom – my son quickly learned about this and we picked out his favorites and then we were able to scan for the hearts when picking a bedtime story.  I also really liked the descriptive words used within the app to tell a story which tied to the picture.  Words like  “slip and glide” for my son were new – so we actually practiced them by sliding our feet on the rug.

In terms of enhancements – I would love to see a section for parents to understand more about reading with their children as well as the importance. I found a number of resources on the website for Readaskchat – but they were not referenced when we used the app.  It would also be nice if the cog wheel at the top were parental gated – there are no external links but my son recognized this from other apps and wanted to touch it.

Overall, this is an app that is unique in that it actively encourages parents to teach their children while reading.  My son loved sitting on my lap and engaging – rather than passively listening to a story.  Since then I’ve noticed that when we read board books or bedtime stories he looks at the picture and we read and talk about them more – for example, find the green wall or white bunny rather than just reading the text as a more rote method of learning.

Pricing: Launch sale through December 25, 2017: Only $14.99 for the full library for one year.

LAUNCH SALE through December 25, 2017
$1.99/month
$14.99/year (which comes to $1.25/month)

AFTER DECEMBER 25
$2.99/month
$29.99/year (which comes to $2.50/month)

**Subscribers receive a new story pack (3 selections) bimonthly in 2018.

Note: Bulk rates are available for institutions.

 

NOTE: This app has in-app purchases

Bluebee Pals and a Special Needs child


I still remember those words like it was moments ago.
Your child has special needs. At the time those words felt crushing. I didn’t know what to say or to do. My world felt like it went into a tailspin. Over the years, we have gotten medical news about our child – some of it good, some of it bad, and some of it difficult to comprehend. In my mind, I can tell you where I was the moment that I heard that news – and how it changed my life. Each time, we have adapted and changed to be able to best help our children.

 

I had a magical moment. Today, I was able to share Bluebee Pals with a classroom of special needs children. Today, instead of tears we saw smiles. Instead of frustration, we saw encouragement. After all, that’s what being a parent is all about. It’s about those magical moments when you see a breakthrough with your child. When life suddenly doesn’t feel as challenging anymore. I personally have seen how Bluebee Pals have enriched my children. Bluebee Pals aren’t just a Bluetooth enabled device that you can connect to your tablet, smartphone or laptop – they are a friend.

Bluebee Pals can help to give your children a voice, they can provide a friendly companion when your child is feeling sad or they can simply be a friend when your child needs someone to talk to. All of my life I have seen that children of all ages gravitate to stuffed animals (myself included). Today, I saw a magical moment where tears stopped and kids were smiling.

When we first opened up our Bluebee Pal, we used it for music, narration of a storybook and with a few apps. Then, we unlocked how Bluebee could help my children be successful. We use Bluebee now to help with directions – first you do this then you can give Bluebee a hug. We use him as a positive reinforcer when my kids do something great like helping to clean up toys, doing daily chores or even using the potty. I’ve even “caught” my son reading his Harry Potter books with Bluebee narrating along while he follows along in the text. These are all magical moments – moments brought to us by Hudson, Sammy, Lilly, Leo and Riley. Helping our kids to reach new levels and communicate is in the end what it is all about.

When a child is having a meltdown related to autism – sometimes something as simple as cuddling a stuffed animal or using a weighted blanket can help them to calm down and recalibrate. Using Bluebee not only does that but it can help to give them a voice – one that they may not have the words for using an AAC app or even a storybook.

I bring Hudson and Sammy to the park at times with my kids – some ask why would I bring such an expensive toy with us. To us, Hudson and Sammy are not toys – they are friends that we use to successfully navigate and explore the world.I like to write social stories for my kids using Kid in the Storybook maker – and have one of their Bluebee’s read my story aloud using narration. My kids often listen to these stories over and over again – both for comfort and to become familiar with what the story is telling them.

I recommend Bluebee Pals as a loving companion and educational tool for children with autism and of all abilities.

https://www.bluebeepals.com

Win Riley the Zebra

Playing with Riley the Zebra is a fun experience for kids of all ages.  We love using  Riley when we are reading books like Puppup at the Zoo and seeing him act out all of the animals.  Bluebee Pals will work with any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer that has Bluetooth.  Bluebee Pals can be used with an AAC app to provide communication, paired with a storybook app to read with your child or even paired with any app that has narration to speak the various parts.  Bluebee Pals have an interactive mouth communicates while connected to all Music, Storybook, Educational and AAC Apps. Winner of Mom’s Choice Awards, National Parenting Publications, Parents Choice, Creative Child Award, Academic Choice ( Brain Toy) and Tillywig( Brain Child)

Check out our fun Christmas video!

Enter to win a Bluebee Pal – open to those with a valid United States mailing address
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

 

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 GrandpaAt the Zoo With Grandma and Grandpa App 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. We paired Riley the Zebra for purposes of this review. Having my toddler play with the app made him laugh since he was a zoo animal!

Buy the app here.

Pin It on Pinterest