Messy Mia & The Tale of Ancient Tech by AvatarGeneration – Review



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Can your kids (or even yourself) have fun without internet or technology? How do you usually entertain yourselves? Do we depend so much on technology that losing it, even for a moment, irritates us and causes disruption to our lives? That’s definitely the case for Mia’s mom. She was angry when she couldn’t find the television remote and ordered Mia to tidy her messy room and look for the remote. But Messy Mia & The Tale of Ancient Tech by AvatarGeneration is more about how technology has evolved over the past generation than how we have become more reliant on technology in our daily lives.

What we love…

Fun comparison of the old and new technology.

What we’d love to see…

Ability to toggle between the old and new technology in the story. Addition of a page menu and text highlighting.

Summary

A rare book for kids to learn about old technology and a great conversation starter for parents and kids to talk about the impact technology has on our lives in the past, present and future.

Our Rating

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While searching for the remote, Mia met a knowledgeable robot who told her the kind of home entertainment and telecommunications technology that her mom had in the past. Mia listened in disbelief that there were no TV remotes, DVDs, CDs, mobile phones, MP3 players nor laptops when her mom was young. She felt sorry thinking about how deprived her mom was as a child and promptly went to find the remote.

I enjoyed reading this storybook app as it brought me back to my youth – the era of CRT TVs, VCR recorders, video tapes, cassette players, cassettes, Walkmans, phone booths, rotary dial phones and internet dial-ups. I can so relate to the mom’s outrage when someone called in while she was on the internet because you couldn’t use both the phone and internet at the same time! I love to bring my kids to the museums, vintage shops and other establishments that showcase items from the past. I would reminisce about the old days and marvel at how much technology has progressed in just one generation.

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Messy Mia & The Tale of Ancient Tech offers the perfect opportunity for parents like us to talk about the old and new technology to our kids. To them, it is inconceivable that we could live without the current conveniences (think iPhones) and they become somewhat appreciative of what they have. Seeing what once seemed impossible is now possible, I hope they will be inspired to dream about the future possibilities and think of new ideas and inventions to further improve our lives.

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This storybook app even has a section for kids to think about how the past technology has impacted the adults, what present technology means to them and imagine what future technology would be like. There are 11 guiding questions to start them thinking. While this section is also suitable for older kids, the rest of the book is appropriate for children up to lower elementary levels. The 4 mini games (Color Mia, Match the Tech, Tidy Mia’s Room & Memory) included in the app are however suitable for preschool children.
 

Overall, this is a wonderful book touching on a topic that is rarely discussed with children but one that carries a timely reminder that we can live without high-tech communications and entertainment technology (and not being so reliant), and an appreciation of life changing technology.

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Messy Mia & The Tale of Ancient Tech HD – AvatarGeneration iPhone – , iPad –

Messy Mia - Tales and Stories of Ancient Tech with Trivia Picture Quiz for Kids Messy Mia - Tales and Stories of Ancient Tech with Trivia Picture Quiz for Kids by AvatarGeneration
Category: Books, Education
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 95.35 MB

$FREE

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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.



“It’s Raining Pumpkins in Delaware” by World of Liberty, LLC – Review & Giveaway



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What we love…

interactive history lesson about the United States and a “country connection” which brings history to life in a fun and interactive format

What we’d love to see…

answers to the questions at the end of the book as well as displaying real pictures of the colony/state and the sister city to explain a little bit about what a sister city is

Summary

Fun educational app that will have kids learning without realizing it!  Perfect for virtual summertime travel. Part history, part adventure and a whole lot of fun!

Our Rating

It’s Raining Pumpkins in Delaware by World of Liberty, LLC is an interactive universal storybook designed for iOS by Ogg Studios that takes different parts of the United States and explores how they connect to other parts of the country called “country connections” which helps to understand what America has in common with other countries with a focus on one specific state and one country at a time.  This particular story features Delaware and the sister city of Kalmar, Sweden which is the sister city to Wilmington, Delaware.  The storybook app designed for children aged seven to nine provides a history lesson in an interactive storybook app featuring animation, song, narration and features Liberty Lane (the primary character), her toy eagle Georgie, her toy plane Truman and her dog Ellie as they adventure around the world.  The app features a “read to me”, “read to myself” and “autoplay” option which brings history to life in this new series.   Liberty Lane helps to explain the tradition of Halloween in the United States and Georgie the Eagle helps to explain why pumpkins have faces for Halloween to scare away the creatures.  The app also includes information about the state such as the state flag and location of the state as well as information about Sweden which includes the language and flag as well as location and information specific to each of the sister cities and the ties between the two.  The author Amber Hood, is a professional voice over artist who is the voice for Dotty in Special Agent Oso and Susie Sunshine in Doc McStuffins.

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The narration, songs and graphics are well done and engaging to the reader so much so that my kindergartener didn’t realize that he was learning at the same time!   The story interweaves history from the country such as settlers going from Sweden to Wilmington Delaware and build Fort Christina and learning about it while exploring a castle in the story which ties into the pumpkins which are on display for Halloween.    I especially liked the questions as the end of the story which ensure that your child understands what they have read which include “What is the biggest city in Delaware” to “What colors are Sweden’s flag”.    This can prompt a question about where your ancestors come from.  The app feels much more like an adventure instead of a history lesson and even customs specific to the United States that you might not of otherwise been aware of.  I also liked how it introduces the concept of the United States being a “melting pot” to many other countries with different traditions and connections to other countries. The costumes worn in the story are also historically accurate as well, a nice touch.

In terms of improvements, it would be nice if the app included specific answers to the questions.  The questions were displayed and read out loud but didn’t include any chance to find the answers or a page reference.    I would also like to see a bit more interaction outside of the story which would allow for words to be re-read or during the state facts showing Delaware on a map and the relation to Sweden as well as more information about what a sister city is and that there are many of them across the United States.

Overall this is a fun educational book app that will engage children and help them learn the history of the United States and other countries without realizing it.  It’s a perfect addition to your summertime adventures for virtual travel or as part of your homeschooling curriculum.  I can’t wait to see what the next adventure brings for Liberty Lane and the country connection.   The story  is a bit long for younger kids. but can either be read in sections or used with children who are age 7 to about age 11 or so.  There are no external links, in-app purchases or advertising contained within the app.

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World Of Liberty “It’s Raining Pumpkins in Delaware” – World of Liberty, LLC


World Of Liberty Adventure 1 World Of Liberty Adventure 1 by World of Liberty, LLC

Price: $0.99 USD

WORLD OF LIBERTY “It’s Raining Pumpkins in Delaware” created by Amber Hood .


A fun and exciting interactive storybook adventure, about a little girl called Liberty Lane, her dog Ellie.

 

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.



Epic! – Books for Kids Subscription eBook Library By Epic! Creations Inc- Review




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What we love…

Over 2,000 books, reading log, incentives to read, well-known authors, personal book recommendations, ability to read offline.

What we’d love to see…

Even more new books, search option

Summary

Digital equivalent of having a personal library of thousands of kids books ready to be read and enjoyed with the added bonus of a reading log and reward system

Our Rating

Epic! - Books for Kids Epic! is a subscription  ebook service for children aged 12 and under. The Palo Alto based developer has teamed up with some big names in children’s book publishing including Kids Can Press, Lerner Publishing Group, Open Road Integrated Media, and Simon & Schuster to create Epic!  A 1 month free trial is available after that a subscription is $9.99 per month or $79.99 a year. Epic! says it currently has over 2,000 titles (I didn’t count them!) with plans to add more every month. It includes both Fiction and Non-Fiction books.

The app has a password protected parents area, this contains social media and email links; some of these links are also in the settings area of the individual profiles, to access them you must enter a birth year. From the parents area you can create up to 4 reader profiles, check your subscription status, and clear your cache if you are running short on space.

Each family member can customize their own avatar for their account, and as they read they can unlock more avatar options and earn badges. In setting up the profiles you can choose from 4 reading age levels: 4 & under, 5-7. 8-10 and 11-12.

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The user interface reminds me of Netflix, and within each player’s profile you can browse and see a different selection of books. At the top are  the book of the week and other highlighted books e.g. for Easter Week Bunny books are in the spotlight; then books you have recently read; then books recommended for you followed by a variety of categories e.g. Picture books, Non-Fiction, Historical, Fantasy, Adventure and Graphic Novels. Whenever you select a book it shows the suggested Reading Age inside the front cover, alongside a brief synopsis of the book.

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As you browse through the bookshelves you can mark books as favorites to make them easy to find, read them now, or download to read offline. These are not book apps- they don’t have any interactive elements, music, sound effects or narration; they are ebooks  – faithful digital reproductions of print book that contain the original text and illustrations. Having this app is not like having a bunch of book apps but instead like having a home library of thousands of print books that you can take with you wherever you go. I really like the ability to read offline as that way I can stock up with books before we are traveling and can use them in places without internet such as in the car or on a plane. When reading with an internet connection it was nice to be able to read instantly rather than waiting for a book to download; though I did find in my twins bedroom, where the internet connection is slow, that I couldn’t read the picture books too quickly or the next page wouldn’t be loaded when we turned the page.

My six-year-old twins are really enjoying all the books they can choose from and I like the fact that each child has their own profile and that the available books cover a wide age range. For reluctant readers the rewards may act as an incentive to get them reading more. As a parent I really appreciate the fact it keeps a daily record of books read, and minutes reading each book,  it makes keeping their school reading logs up-to-date so much easier!

The book selection is really good especially for the younger ages , there doesn’t seem to be quite as big a selection for the 11-12 year-olds. My kids like to see familiar names such as Olivia, Click Clack Moo, Henry and Mudge, and The Boxcar Children but also enjoy discovering the many new books in the app. When reading you can zoom in the see more details and can read full-screen in either portrait (single page) or landscape (double page) mode.

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Overall, I  really love this app but there is one thing I’d like to see added and that is a search option. It would be great to be able to search for favorite authors or for a particular topic and if you find one book your child enjoys to see if there are others by the same author available.

I would heartily recommend trying out Epic! to see if it is a good fit for your family. If you are looking for book apps with lots of interactions and narration this collection is probably not for you. However, if you are looking for the digital equivalent of having a personal library of thousands of kids books ready to be read and enjoyed with the added bonus of a reading log and reward system for reading then this is a great choice. Epic! is positioning itself to be the Children’s Book equivalent of Netflix, much as Oyster is for adult books. Although it has nowhere near as many titles as Oyster’s over 200, ooo , it does have by far the largest collection of well-known books I’ve seen in a children’s subscription book app. Ultimately I think Epic!’s long term success or failure will depend on it’s ability to keep growing its collection of titles so that the app remains fresh and interesting, I think if they deliver on their promise to keep continually adding more quality content they will have a hit on their hands.

The app is free to download but to access the library you must subscribe -there is a 1 month free trial after that it is $9.99 per month or $79.99 for an annual subscription, you can switch off auto-renew in your iPad settings.
Epic! – Books for Kids – Epic! Creations Inc

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Price: $

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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.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).



War Horse Featuring Michael Morpurgo- Review and Giveaway




iPad Screenshot 1

What we love…

engaging book, highly educational, huge amount of historical information made interesting for children

What we’d love to see…

I love it the way it is!

Summary

A fictional e-book, audio book,with historical artifacts, videos and insights, all rolled into one. Beautifully written and illustrated, containing a huge amount of historical and equestrian information.

Our Rating

War Horse Featuring Michael Morpurgo

War Horse is an app based on the beloved book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo.  It is an e-book and audio book in one.  It includes a World War I timeline full of fascinating facts, key events, stories, photos, and maps.  It also includes several videos, one of which features the author.

 

From the moment I opened this app, I was completely impressed with it.  The layout on the home page is beautiful and beckons you to take a journey in time with a remarkable and magnificent horse named Joey.

 

iPad Screenshot 2Joey is a farm horse who suddenly finds himself in the middle of World War I after he is sold by his owner to the British Army.  The story is so well written you cannot help but fall in love with Joey.  He is endearing and my daughter and I found it very hard to put the book/app down.  It is a first person, or perhaps I should say first animal, narrative.  It was different and very interesting to see war through a horse’s perspective.

 

The e-book is a breeze to navigate.  On the top center of the screen is the chapter title and immediately to the right of it is a small arrow that opens a drop down menu that allows you to jump to any chapter with just a simple click.  Further on the right is a font button that allows you to make the text bigger or smaller, and a timeline button that brings up sidebar with thumbnails of historical information from the same period as the current chapter.

 

To the left of the chapter title is the home button and the audio button.  Pressing on the audio button will start the narration at the beginning of the chapter.  To have the narration start at a different point, simply click on the sentence you want to start listening to.  Pressing on the button again will stop the narration, and pressing it a third time will start the narration where it left off.  The book is narrated by the author himself.  I have to say that Michael Murongo is not only a brilliant writer, but an excellent narrator as well.

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The timeline is a wealth of information about World War I, mostly as it takes place in Belgium and France.  Some key events from other countries are included as well.  It has the same drop down navigation as the book.  It can be read chronologically, or by theme/topic.  Information is given in short and engaging pieces, making them easily digestible and even memorable to children.

 

The Insights section is outstanding.  It contains numerous videos that do indeed provide insight into the book, the author, World War I, and horses.  I am amazed at how much information is included in this app and how well they are presented.

 

I love this app and there is not a single thing I would change about it.  In fact, I have already incorporated it into my daughter’s History and English subjects.  I whole heartedly recommend this app to those with older children.  This is an app you simply don’t want to miss out on.

 

War Horse Featuring Michael Morpurgo – Touch Press 

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Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

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Fides and her husband have been married for 16 years. They homeschool their 4 children: two amazing sons and two beautiful daughters. Fides likes to walk and jog outdoors everyday and has as very difficult time resisting a slice of paradise cake.

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