In a previous post, I made it pretty clear that we absolutely love Olivia in our house. And, based on my previous iTouch/iPhone app reviews, we also love our technology. So when the two combine, it is perfect multimedia enjoyment.
When I was given a promo code to download the new Olivia Paints app, I surprised Maia and loaded it up without telling her. She reacted with her trademark dramatic delight when seeing that her favorite pig had her very own app. Funny enough, Maia has also taken an interest in color creation lately – mixing different shade combinations to create new ones. Outside of promoting the Olivia brand, this is at the heart of this cute new app.
Olivia Paints hits the iTunes app store today and allows preschoolers to color virtual stickers with a brush and pallet and then place them on different backgrounds. The backgrounds will be familiar to those who watch Olivia on Nick Jr, as will the voice of the narrator used in the app. For $2.99, this app is worth it for Olivia fans, but also for any creative kid.
For us adults: To celebrate the launch of the Olivia app, developer Soma Creates is giving away an iPad with some Olivia goods. All the details on how to win are here.
Based on the beautifully-designed international magazine for kids, this app offers a handful of goodies for just $1.99. Featuring the urban-art also present in the magazine, this ‘Happy App for Kids’ offers three categories of interaction: Read Stuff, Do Stuff and Play Stuff. Read Stuff features digital books taken right from the pages Anorak, including the delightfully unique “Three Eyed Dog” and the brightly colored and humorous “Gardens of Maryland.” Do Stuff features some standard drawing and coloring apps, but with added twists: the scribbling is on top of Anorak’s trademark character creations and kids are given a prompt on what to draw. Play Stuff features “Whack-Anorak” in a “Whac-A-Mole” style game that I found myself enjoying as much as Maia did. A Cycling game included in the app is cool looking too, but was less interesting to Maia as it seemed a little above her skill level. This app will definitely be the most colorful and artistic on your iPhone.
This free app lets the the little ones stream short video clips from the PBS KIDS Sprout network. You won’t find regular Sprout shows like Caillou or Sesame Street on the player, but instead, original Sprout-owned content like segments from The Good Night Show, The Sunny Side Up Show,and The Sprout Sharing Show. The app is easy to navigate for toddlers, letting them slide through visual thumbnails of the shows until they find the one they want. Maia’s favorites are episode clips that are all under 2 minutes or so, featuring recipes or crafts being made by kids and their parents. And, you know you are getting quality content when it is served from PBS.
This app is currently getting the most usage in our house. Just like one of those scrambled tile puzzles you would find in a birthday goodie bag, this app serves up almost 100 puzzles with Disney characters on them. Users choose the number of tiles, a Disney theme and image, and then solve away. Maia especially loves collecting points to unlock “hidden” images. Some of the themes include Villains, Mickey and Friends, Classic Mickey, Fairies, and my personal favorite, the stylized work of Bloc28. A recent app update also added a slew of “Princess and the Frog” puzzles to the mix. Favorite images can also be saved and used as backgrounds on your device. My daughter’s only complaint was the missing Princess category.
One of a series of digital books in the StoryChimes line from Siena, Little Red Riding Hood is a great addition to our growing digital book series. This book was notable for its ease of use, unique & retro artwork, professional narration and original music. Yes, “Little Red Riding Hood” can often be scary, but this version is softened with no dead grandma or slaughtered wolf.
This cute interactive storybook features “hand-drawn” style illustrations that really pop on this platform. ‘Belindra’ is certainly not flashy, but it is quirky and sweet in its appeal. The book tells the story of Belindra as she delivers veggies to her neighborhood. As an added bonus, this digital book features surprise interactions by clicking on cherries featured in each image.
The creators of one of my favorite apps, Wheels on the Bus, are back with a worthy follow-up, Old MacDonald. Similar to its predecessor, it is described as an “interactive musical book” where users sing along with each line of the song on a different page. Each page also includes a different activity as well, such as using your fingers to shear a sheep, paint a pig, operate a tractor and trigger a cow’s alien abduction. Duck Duck Moose have definitely found a way to tap into the interactive possibilities of the iPhone/iTouch touch screen.
This app is definitely not going to be called educational, but Maia has a lot of fun with it. Players create wacky, and sometimes gross, character creations by either shaking the iPod or sliding the hat, head, torso, legs and feet. Backgrounds can be switched up as well, creating tons of new scenes with every play. The entertainment value is provided by the detailed work put into the design of each character, and the humor behind it. Definitely an inexpensive distraction for older children.
We have two nightly, alternating bedtime traditions in our house.
Life’s a party in The Jimmies’ videos.
2. “Watching Music”
While the first in pretty self-explanatory, the latter may need some clarification.
Maia is a music-junkie, and enjoys anything to which she can sing, dance or rock out. Once upon a time, after streaming an episode of Caillou, we showed her a music video on YouTube and a nightly tradition was born.
“Watching Music” now consists of firing up the laptop and watching kindie-centric music videos available online. Alternatively, we have also ripped some of Maia’s favorite music DVDs onto an iPod for her to enjoy on shuffle mode. We call it her own little MTV, minus the bad reality shows.
Believe it or not, there is an ample amount of resources online for finding kid-targeted music videos. Here are a few ways to get your own kiddie music video network going in your house.
Jitterbug.tv – This online destination strictly shows music videos for kids. It is a great resource and one we have used often to find new artists and new videos.
GimmieJimmies.com (Video Page) - One can spend multiple nights just watching the videos on this site. The detail, artistry and sheer fun put into each video by this NYC-based band has to be seen to believe. There should be a kids category at the VMAs based on their videos alone.
“Jack’s Big Music Show” Music Videos – You are sure to chance upon one of the many music videos from this show on JitterBug or Zooglobble. However, this is a one-stop source for the music videos pulled from this show. (Maia’s favorite video, Lisa Loeb’s Jenny Jenkins, comes from this show.)
Xilisoft DVD Convertor Software – Taking some of Maia’s favorite music DVDs, we have used this software to rip individual files onto our iPod so we can also watch videos on the “big screen.”
Some of the ripped DVDs in our private iPod mix include: