TinyTap – Enormous Potential.

Creativity and simplicity are core elements of this very successful app… that also happens to be free! For all the thousands of simple educational apps focusing on one or two core skills, this app has the potential to blow them all away, with apps created by your own child! I see huge potential for TinyTap, applications for it are unlimited. Kids can create their own games with ease and access hundreds more in the marketplace if they choose to play only.

Essentially the app works by uploading a picture or series of pictures from either your own photo library, the internet or a selection of pictures available within the app. Drawing, text and full creative control of the game pages are allowed. Once each page is complete, a series of audio questions can be recorded and areas of the page corresponding to the correct answer, traced. This afternoon my children created a collage of their school holiday outings and recorded questions for their little brother to use in his search for familiar items. Great sound effects and the personalised nature of the game ensured it was a hit, squeals of delight were heard not only while game playing but also in the creation phase

I am very excited about the future of this app, for classrooms and in homes, across a wide variety of users. I can’t wait to see where our tiny tappers will take us next.

TinyTap
Free

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Keeping your child in one app – guided access

The iOS feature Guided access is my new friend. The thing that most annoys me about the occasional iPad access my toddler has, is the constant switching between apps and deletion of my favourites! Guided access is the answer… If you haven’t heard of it before and you have a toddler, you’ll be wondering why there isn’t a large fluorescent sticker explaining the feature on the front of every iPad and iPhone box!

In short, this feature will keep your child in the one app, requiring a pass code to exit – thereby eliminating the chance of inappropriate purchase, viewing or deletion of apps. It also works well with web pages, blocking specific areas of a screen so external links cannot be accidentally followed.

Here is how to set it up:

Tap on – settings > accessibility > guided access

In this screen you can switch the feature on and set a pass code.

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Once you have completed this setup, you are ready to use guided access:

Whilst in any app, click the home button 3 times.

You can then choose to disable touch and / or tilt functions. The home button will automatically be disabled. You may also select an area of the screen to disable. As mentioned earlier, this can be used to disable the navigation bar or areas with external links on a web-based program.

Once you have made your selections, click “start”, and guided access will commence.

To exit guided access, triple click the home button again and if you have set a pass code you’ll be asked to enter it.

Simple! … you’re welcome 😉

Dr. Panda

As promised, here is the review of apps by the newly crowned king of all app developers (according to my household), TribePlay. Dr. Panda apps are targeted at the 2-6 yr old age bracket, a time when finding out about the world outside your front door is most exciting. I’m not aware of other developers using the term “educational values” but it is a fancy way the people at TribePlay have of saying that these very engaging apps won’t just teach your child to count or recognise the alphabet as you would typically expect of educational apps for this age, they will educate your child in a broader sense of the word. An example of this is the occupations explored by the various apps. Your child can discover; in a considerable amount of detail, what a doctor, shopkeeper, farmer, chef, beautician and handyman do.

To give an example of the level of detail you can expect, here are a couple of our favourite activities:

In the Handyman app you get to assemble a bunk bed. From sawing the timber, lowering in slats and mattresses to nailing the timber together.

In the supermarket app, fruit and vegetables need to be weighed, price labels printed and placed in shopping basket. After this you can go outside and collect up the trolleys in the car park.

The restaurant app was the earliest we discovered and still remains a firm favourite. Learn what it takes to make scrambled eggs, stir fry and who could resist the gingerbread men.

Each app contains several pages of activities like the ones above, including activities for sorting, shapes, creativity and puzzles. The true test of how good an app is for me is the number of times it is requested. Requests for Dr. Panda in my house are implicit, my children would notice immediately if any of the Dr. Panda apps were deleted from our iPad!

Lookout for the new Dr. Panda Garage coming soon! If wheels are your little one’s thing (we have a huge fan of anything with wheels in our house) this will be a guaranteed hit.

$2.37 – $2.50 on Google Play (except a couple of free lite versions)

$2.59 on the App Store (except a couple of free lite versions)

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Toca Boca

Toca Boca apps are in my opinion worthy of the highest praise. They are undoubtedly the most played apps in our household of all time (although there is a new contender rising the ranks – Dr. Panda, my next post I promise) . Whilst I wouldn’t consider these the most educational, they are very engaging, promote creativity and many can be used by multiple players simultaneously – a big plus if you are a one tablet, multiple kid household.

This incredible range of 18 high quality apps includes a couple of lite or free apps. The developers refer to them as virtual or digital toys. If you think of your tablet as a seriously condensed form of your bookcase, Toca Boca is a toy box more portable than your kids!

Here are some of our family favourite Toca activities:

Feeding the monsters, painting beautiful symmetrical wings, creating crazy hair dos, designing clothes, hosting a tea party, running a grocery store and mixing up some groovy tunes with the Toca band.

$4.19 NZD each, except Toca Doctor Lite, Toca Kitchen Monsters, Toca Tailor Fairy Tales and Toca Hair Salon Christmas Gift all free on iOS.

Toca Hair Salon 2 is now also available on Google Play.

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