What does the Sock Monster really look like?

Anyone who wears socks ought to know about the Sock Monster. For me there is simply no other explanation for the disappearance of countless single socks in my household. But what does the Sock Monster actually look like, and when does he get the opportunity to steal our socks? UK based author / illustrator Lorna Fretag has created a delightful insight into the world of the Sock Monster through her interactive iPad storybook app aimed at 2-5 yr olds, titled My Sock Monster.

10 interactive pages comprise this eBook, which is a great length for a pre-bedtime read. The story begins by introducing the Sock Monster and the various sites around the house he accesses clean socks to gobble. Every time the monster eats a sock, his fur changes to the colour and pattern of the sock, a feature much loved by my colour-obsessed 4 year old. The story then poses the question, what would happen to the Sock Monster if the socks ran out? Does he simply fade away, or does someone come to his rescue?

My absolute favourite part of this review was watching my 2 yr old imitate the monster. Every gobble, giggle and raspberry noise was copied, in-between bouncing about and squealing with delight. It was truly magical to watch. My son also displayed great empathy when the socks ran out and the monster became sad and hungry. Imitating the monster helped my kids become more immersed in the story than I believe they would have reading a printed book. Cute noises are definitely a big hit with my children, something that an eBook or storybook app can achieve over and above a regular picture book. (Unless you have an expert storyteller in your family.)

The ability to choose the option of “read to me” or “read myself” is a great feature, extending the use of this app to slightly older children who can read for themselves. I personally love the charming Scottish accent of the child narrator however and would be highly unlikely to switch her off.

There are no advertisements or in-app purchases. This is a great app to use as an introduction for young children to the iPad. Simple tap once gestures control the interactive features and are easily understood by little tappers. Although not yet available, I think it would be great if this were a universal app for iPhones an iPods as well. I would love to be able to pull the Sock Monster out of my pocket in a doctor’s waiting room or other such distraction emergency.

For me, the story ending was a little underwhelming. But for the 2 yr old master of our household, the stinky socks page could not be surpassed. Finishing the story was not high on his agenda, he would have been happy to play with the smelly socks all day!

Price: $6.49 NZD… Yes, I too have been wrestling with the price of apps in the children’s ebook category. When you consider the costs associated with professional editing however, and the fact that the printed version (soon to be released) is unlikely to be less than $15, iPad adaptations of quality picture books like this one can be worth the investment.

Disclosure: I was provided with a free promo code to download this app for review. All comments and opinions are (as always) my own.

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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 😉