Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More iPod/iPad Apps for Kids!

Lolly is now a month over 3 years old.  She's constantly changing her use of our iThings, she uses an iPod, and our iPads, mostly mine, which is now crammed so full of kids apps I can scarcely fit my own stuff on there.  Thank the iPad gods for folders!  Here's what she's chosing lately:

Nosy Crow's awesome retelling of the Three Little Pigs.  This is interactive fairy-tale fun at it's best.  Quirky art, great animation, and a fun story, you can tickle the pigs, there's a range of voice responses from every character, and lots of interactive bits as a natural part of the story.  The tale is re-told with a great sense of humour and fun.  Highly recommended!  Lolly and I are looking forward to the other apps Nosy Crow has slated for the rest of the year.  The one drawback I have is the usual gendered stuff, the "female" pig is a tad girly, and there's a couple of typical tropes there about how she can't build and likes to decorate.  Honestly, it's not that hard to leave this stuff out when you're building an app like this, it doesn't add anything.  *shakes fist*

Unfortunately, Lolly is more than obsessed with Outfit7's money pit Apps "Talking *Everything*" (Talking Hippo, Dino, Cat, Giraffe and so on ad nauseum).  Some are free but ask for in-App purchases.  I'm loving that Lolly's common chat now includes "we're not buying food for that Giraffe!"  My favourite of this lot is the one aimed more at kids, Talking Hippo. If you haven't had the joy that is the Talking-Shit Apps, they basically "listen" and repeat what they "hear" via the mic on the iThing, in a variety of amusing voices.  They have basic interaction, you can touch the screen and interact with the character, for example you can give the Hippo food, a dummy (sigh), a balloon, and make a butterfly appear.  This is totally awesome, really.  And Lolly LOVES them.  Can I repeat that again for effect: LOVES them.  I have come out out of the study to see her with her Talking Hippo propped up on the couch "watching" Octonauts on the TV with her.  Now that's a sight from *the future* - my kid interacting with her touch screen responsive talking virtual pet.

What I object to here are the in-App ads, cross advertising for the millions of other Talking-Shit apps, and on some of them, the violence. Talking T-Rex attacks another dinosaur, you can "hit" Talking Tomcat and knock him over, that kind of thing.  Arguably, most of these Talking-shit apps aren't for kids, but, let's be realistic, you advertise them inside the kids apps, most kids are going to want the talking dino/cat/whatever as well.  Lolly loves to open them up one after the other and listen to different voices.  I'd rather the kid rated versions stuck to advertising the kid rated apps, or that there was a parent-controlled way of setting preferences, or that you could choose to pay a dollar more to get a version that didn't have the cross-version ads in them.  But, I do think these are great Apps for kids.  Lolly still looks so amazed and full of wonder to hear the Hippo talking back to her, and she can chat to it for ages.  Worth a go, with the ad-based limitations in mind.

The final App for today is the fabulous and hilarious My Underwear.  Thumb Arcade have produced a great new app for kids with four games.  Adorable drawings and animation, and easy to control games, Lolly has been chosing this nearly every time since we got it a couple of weeks ago.  There's underwear matching, a memory match game, a paint-your-underwear paint game, and a hungry undie-eating monster game.  And the music is infectious and awesome.  DO give this one a go, it's worth it!  And I love that Thumb Arcade have given us all four in one game, rather than rorting parents for four separate games.  That is extra awesome. 

Oh okay one more, we have recently been crazy here about You Tube (can you spell, *Mummy learning parental controls frantically*?), and discovered Eric Herman's the Elephant Song.  Which has an App (basically just the song, a bit of interaction, and a puzzle game.  Worth it, though, this song is just great, and Herman's got heaps of other kids music that doesn't make me want to poke out my eye.  Try 'em out on YouTube.  The pirate song is a particular fave here, and the whole family is also dancing like they've got ants in their pants...

Enjoy!  And do let me know in comments if you try any of these out on your own iThing!


Elizabeth said...

I'm wondering if your step-daughter Snail responds to any of these or what ones she does like --

Stacey said...

Oh fab! We've set up the old iPhone and I need to find more things for Imogen (she's bored with Angry Birds) so will def try the last two (the first two though... those cons are too much for me). You rock, thanks!

Selene said...

lol, Stacey, Lolly quiet likes Angry Birds, too :D

Elizabeth, Snail loves the Elephant song, we play it through the TV. I've got a post coming up about Apps that Snail interacts with (and squee, we're getting her an iPad very soon!).

Sam said...

We have just discovered Angry Birds and it is a hit lol

Thanks for taking one for the team and wading through all of the shite Apps and recommending the good ones!

Anonymous said...

It is a nice post. Thank you for sharing such a useful information.

Kids have their own way of understanding the things and usually they don’t like it to be a boring stuff. They want fun in everything. But parents want their kids to learn something from everything. So these educational apps suffice all these wants of the parents.

Kate Wilson said...

I am glad that Lolly liked The Three Little Pigs. We have a real passion about bringing reading experiences for children to the iPad/iPod touch/iPhone. We write about it in, for example our blog post Appy Days on our website.

Really sorry you didn't like the "gendered stuff" in The Three Little Pigs. That there is a girl pig in The Three Little Pigs at all is unusual! As a mother of two girls and a children's publisher for 25 years, I am very interested in representations of girls in children's books. Over the years, with my own girls having read a real range of books with a wide range of representations, I am perhaps more relaxed than I was about these things: they've turned out pretty strong and confident. If you've not been utterly put off, do have a look at our Cinderella app which will be out in July. That's a pretty "gendered stuff" story, but we tried to keep things as fresh and modern as we could.

Selene said...

Thanks for coming to comment, Kate! I do love the App and it's definitely on the cutting edge of interactive books. I love the illustrations and thought that's gone into the interaction, and it has a nice sense of comedy about it that parents appreciate.

On the gendered stuff, the majority of the book is just fine. It was those niggling tropes that frustrated me. Like the mother pig in the first main page vacuuming while the father pig sits and reads/watches TV. Or the girl pig saying "I'm such a good dancer" while the boy pig says "where's my hammer?".

For me, while I appreciate that it's at least something that one pig is a girl, the old familiar stories about what girls and boys like and say, and what parents do, do disappoint. It is almost impossible to find positive or neutral gendered stories out there. This was almost, but not quite, one of them.

I'll certainly be back to Nosy Crow for more Apps, and do love your work. It's a problem bigger than one company or one grump-prone feminist mother.