ReadAskChat by ReadAskChat, Ltd. – Review



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

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

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 ReadAskChat.  This 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.

“Mario’s Trucks” illustrated by Hyewon Yum

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.

ReadAskChat comes with a free starter pack with three selections: Light of Mine (song); Animal Tails (science feature/African American folk rhyme); and The Old Man in the Tree (nonsense verse by Edward Lear).  ReadAskChat is offering a 2-week sale of $34.99/year (which comes to $2.92/month) OR $4.99 for one month. Subscribers receive a new story pack (each with three selections) bimonthly, beginning early 2018.  On December 15, the price will be $39.99/year (which comes to $3.33/month) OR $7.99 for one month.

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.

NOTE: This app has in-app purchases

ReadAskChat for Children 0-4 ReadAskChat for Children 0-4 by Read, Ask, Chat, Ltd.

Price: $FREE

This beautifully illustrated library includes on-demand guidance for parents in reading interactively—the tried-and-true way to foster school readiness and love of learning. Subscribers receive new .

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

 

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

Who is the Ugliest of All? by The Happy Dandelion – Review



 

What we love…

fun interactive app featuring a girl as she dresses for a Halloween event, I really loved all the interactions on each page – and seeing what would happen if I tapped multiple times

What we’d love to see…

design your own treat bag, dress some of the other characters

Summary

This fun interactive Halloween themed app includes a girl and her inner voice as she gets ready in the mirror.  Join her adventures in picking her dress, shoes, socks, and makeup while getting ready.

Our Rating

Who is the Ugliest of All? iconWho is the Ugliest of All by The Happy Dandelion is a universal Halloween themed app for iOS featuring an interactive mirror.  The main character is a young girl who is trying to figure out what to wear to a Halloween trick or treat.  This storybook app has the main character picking out a dress – which she admits is tight and stained is her attire of choice.  She then puts on her stockings with a few repairs needed and mismatched socks of orange and teal as well as two different shoes – one grey and one brown.  Then it’s off to makeup, nails and hair.  Her hair has a raven nest with three small chicks and UV sunglasses to protect her eyes.  Be sure to check out the other apps by The Happy Dandelion which include Queen Bee in Paris, The UnStealer.

This app features narration of the story – simply tap on the text to have it read aloud as well as a variety of interactive elements on each page.  On the dress page there is a belt to tap, the dress which twinkles and disappears and then re-appears in the mirror.  By tapping on the mismatched shoes – a new rip appears which is quickly fixed by a spider who you can later swing after she’s completed her repairs.  Navigation is via hidden buttons at the top of each page – simply tap the left side to go back and the right side to go forward.

This app features the internal dialog  of a girl getting dressed for Halloween.  Join her as she finds her dress, puts on her mismatched socks and shoes while getting ready.  My favorite part of the app was putting on her makeup because all of the colors made me laugh – green lipstick, blue blush and the magic marker eyebrows.  The animations and illustrations in this app are great, I enjoyed tapping around (and tapping some things multiple times) to make sure I captured all of the various animations.  Seeing the gloves with no tips against the green smile and animation was cute as you could interact with each element.  The best though was the Raven’s nest in her hair – and the raven feeding her chicks with the worms!  The app is for older kids and adults as some of the self talk especially when she refers to herself as ugliest can be a bit self depreciating until you get to the last page when you discover she’s dressed for Trick or Treat!  On the last page you can unwrap a mummy, tap on Frankenstein, or make the magic stone glow.   The app ends well when you discover that the girl was simply putting together a Halloween costume!  I have to say that I have looked at this app multiple times – and it never fails to delight with the fun animations.

In terms of enhancements – it might be fun to dress some of the other characters on the last page or even to design her trick or treat bag,

This fun interactive Halloween themed app includes a girl and her inner voice as she gets ready in the mirror.  Join her adventures in picking her dress, shoes, socks, and makeup while getting ready.  The app is child-safe with no external links or in-app purchases.


Who is the Ugliest of All? Who is the Ugliest of All? by Joshua Wilson

Price: $3.99 USD

Who is the Ugliest of All? is an interactive Halloween Story featuring a young girl's internal dialog. With her questionable fashion choices and increasingly odd imperfections she challenges our conventional.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.


Boys Only Reading Comprehension by Reinvent Recess Digital, LLC – Review



iPad Screenshot 1

What we love…

great boy themed reading content that has questions where kids demonstrate comprehension and mastery along with a scorecard

What we’d love to see…

more chapters for kids to read, my son loved the sports ones and kept asking for more

Summary

Overall, this is a great reading app that has a lot of potential for kids who may struggle with reading.  For my son one of the biggest challenges to reading is finding a topic that he likes along with being able to understand it.  He is now able to do both with this app!

Our Rating

Boys Only Reading ComprehensionBoys Only Reading Comprehension by Reinvent Recess Digital is a universal app for iOS that features 15 chapters or passages for kids to read and then take a short test on to determine if they comprehended what they read.  The multi-user app has topics which range from sports, to science and history with both fiction and non-fiction choices.  Upon opening the app and adding the admin and first user, the child can pick ten chapters to read which will be sent to their scorecard.  Users are tested on a summary of the text, identifying items in sequence via  timeline of events (first, second, third), finding an unknown word, problem/solution.

Getting my son to understand what he is reading has always been a challenge for me.  He loves anything sports related so when I had him test the app he picked out all of the sports related chapters along with a few others.  I then had him sit down and read a story to see what he did.  He used an iPad for reading the story and doing the questions.  One of the first comments he made was that the stories were “real” and that he could actually identify with some of them.  As he carefully read the passages – he got better at this as time went on he started getting more of the questions right.  As part of his daily homework, my son can read for 15 minutes and then have a discussion about what he has read.  We used the app multiple times for him to read and then take the test to demonstrate what he learned.  After completing the passage, you are given real time feedback on any answers that were right or wrong and if they were wrong what the correct answer was.  Using a timeline was one of the most challenging things for my son, because although he remembered the events in the story at times it was hard for him to sequence them.  Using the app definitely helped him with that as well as helping him to really take the time to understand what he was reading.  At times when he struggled we also worked on having him tell me the story then going back to answer the questions.

iPad Screenshot 2

As a mom, I really liked that the app encouraged my son to read and comprehend what he was reading.  I also liked that the questions were multiple choice so my son could pick from a field of correct answers similar to tests he takes at school.  The topics were very relevant and interesting to him especially the sports related ones – and had him wanting to use the app for homework — which I call a huge win! I also liked that some passages were shorter or longer – this helped me with having my son pick and choose which one to complete based on the time we had available.  Currently longer passages are marked with a * so you know ahead of time they are longer.  I also liked that my son could go back to the passage to verify what he had read before submitting the answers to the questions.  This gave him a “double check” that helped him feel more confident in his answers.  I also really liked that the scorecard was emailed to me so we could identify areas that we might need to focus more on – and I could share it with his teacher to demonstrate that he was doing reading homework nightly.

iPad Screenshot 4

In terms of improvements, I would like to see more than 15 chapters or passages contained within the app.  At this point, my son has used it quite a bit and has “memorized” some of the stories since we have done them over and over again.  I would like to see some additional passages so we could use it on a more routine basis for reading homework.

Overall, this is a great reading app that has a lot of potential for kids who may struggle with reading.  For my son one of the biggest challenges to reading is finding a topic that he likes along with being able to understand it.  He is now able to do both with this app!

Boys only reading comprehension

Boys Only Reading Comprehension
Boys Only Reading Comprehension
by Reinvent Recess Digital, LLC

Category: Education, Books
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74, iPhone8-iPhone8, iPhone8Plus-iPhone8Plus, iPhoneX-iPhoneX
Size: 8.44 MB

$2.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

 

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.


Ladybug Band by Rain Boot Media LLC – Review and Giveaway



screen ladybug band

Ladybug Band by Rain Boot Media LLC is a 28-page rhyming musical storybook app that introduces children to different kinds of sounds and gets them involved in a musical performance with the Ladybug Band.

What we love…

Children are able to sing or play along with the band and have it recorded.

What we’d love to see…

Words highlighted in sync with the narration, repeat button for narration.

Summary

Ladybug Band is filled with colorful illustrations, different interesting sounds and fun interactive activities that will appeal to preschool children.

Our Rating

The 4-member Ladybug Band lives on the island of Kacha and they love to perform every night by the sea. There is Squiggle on the microphone, Bouncer on the strings, Dotley on the drums and Cheeks on the reeds (a wind instrument). Readers are introduced to the sounds of these 4 musical instruments – voice, strings, drums and winds as each member appears on stage.

Then the story invites the readers to be a part of the music with a variety of actions like shaking the iPad, drawing the campfire, clapping and dancing to the beat! More interesting sounds are heard and these include the sound of the waves breaking, the crackling sound of the campfire, the scratching sound of drawing in the sand and the whistling sound of the wind. This book app is quite a treat to the senses!

But the most enjoyable part for kids must be the chance to be a member of the Ladybug Band, singing or playing their musical instruments to the Coconut Jamboree tune and recording (audio only) their performance in the app.

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Up to 6 recorded sessions can be saved. When the recording is full, you just need to delete a previous recording to free up space for a new recording. These recordings are easily accessible from the home page which means that kids can come back frequently for a quick jamming session with the Band.

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There are 2 reading modes – children can either read along with the app or read it by themselves. For the read along mode, I hope that the app will add a word-by-word highlighting feature to facilitate words recognition for younger children. It would be awesome if this feature is also added to the Coconut Jamboree lyrics in the sing-along section.

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The story is simple but children will be happily engaged by the many interactive activities that are found in all its pages. The app is also easy and safe for young children to play by themselves. This is a delightful musical book app that gets children singing, dancing and performing together with the Ladybug Band.

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Ladybug Band

Ladybug Band Ladybug Band by Rain Boot Media LLC

Price: $0.99 USD

"This picture book app is so much fun, and educational on so many levels!"
- Sara Tate Goldstein, Principal
Accelerated Schools of Overland Park

"My 7 year old loves recording her own voice.

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NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Grace was working in the fields of early childhood education and staff training before quitting to attend to her 4 children full time. She and her family live in Singapore, which is well known for her highly competitive education system.

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