easy to use interactive fast paced app that encourages you to remember your times tables and builds upon your knowledge
What we’d love to see…
stronger parental gate, more protection of IAP and external links
Overall, I really liked the way that this app taught the multiplication tables which is different than most of the apps in the app store. Using a scaffolded or built upon learning style helps kids be successful and build upon previous learning such as skip counting.
Times table Galaxy by Top Storey Apps Limited is a fun fast paced app designed to help you remember your multiplication facts. You enter the galaxy and can can choose from 2x to 12x times tables. For each round of times tables that you work on, you are given a time limit, once you hit that time limit you are out of fuel and have to try again or begin the level again. The app is free, but does include an in app purchase for unlimited play of $2.99. This app is aimed at late elementary to early middle school aged children and includes graphics that switch each time you successfully complete a times table. It uses scaffolded learning which means that each problem builds upon the previous one. It uses both skip level counting as well as memory and recall to complete the various times tables.
Fun interactive app that encourages you to know your times tables. I loved the fast pace and the fact that it encouraged me as an adult to remember my times tables in a fun interactive way. I also liked how the app built upon itself with skills and as you were faster and completed more times tables the content got harder to complete. I do suggest for younger kids who may feel “pressure” to turn off the timer, this can be done but hitting the down arrow. That helps take the pressure off of the math and enhances the learning in a reduced pressure environment. It does use Game Center integration which for older kids can help encourage the competitive spirit on recall and reflexes. There is no advertising contained within the app, although it does contain an in-app purchase for the full version.
Among my favorite features:
Facts presented in order (scaffolded) to reinforce skip counting which helps improve overall counting especially for children still learning their times tables
Fun interactive game that encourages children to complete the task in a way that builds accuracy
Ability to turn on and off the timer depending on the child and if they felt pressured by it
I did find at times that my son was simply adding the x number to the problem which slowed him down, but I admired that he was creative enough to realize that he could do that and “game” the system to completion
The app needs a stronger parental gate in the free version, currently you can tap through and purchase the “unlimited lives” with no math problems or gate, however, since the app is geared at older kids a more complex gate would be required. Right now it’s a tap and hold, given the audience they can easily decipher the instructions and go to the app store. You can purchase Times Table Galaxy for Schools “full version” which does not include in-app purchases. To access this area, you tap the settings button which prompts you to unlock unlimited plays. I would like to see a way to turn off the Game Center integration as well.
Overall, I really liked the way that this app taught the multiplication tables which is different than most of the apps in the app store. Using a scaffolded or built upon learning style helps kids be successful and build upon previous learning such as skip counting. The app does meet common core learning standards and will be good to help reinforce learning or help students move from skip counting to memorization and completing the task more quickly.
Bright, colorful, sturdy magnetic panel and wood dolls encourage open-ended play in creating both the physical toy and storytelling with the characters.
What we’d love to see…
A storage bag for the magnetic accessories
The Pet Portrait Studio Magnetic Playset by Build & Imagine is a great toy to encourage children to both build and use their imagination.
My daughter is great at imaginary play – her dolls are always talking away to each other, her twin brother on the other hand loves to build. I love to find toys for them that work for them to play together and that encourage her to build and him to exercise his imagination. Build & Imagine, make a series of toys that encourage children to do just that – first they get to build with the magnetic playset, then use it for storytelling and imaginative play. I recently tested out one of their newest playsets- the Pet Portrait Studio.
The set comes with 10 magnetic panels- 6 square, 2 right-angle triangles and 2 isosceles triangles. Each panel is double sided with different designs on each side. The panels can be put together in any configuration the child likes to create a StoryWall which acts as backdrop for imaginary play. They can use all the panels or just a few, create a one story building or multi-story. The square panels have pictures of indoor and outdoor scenes on them including an art studio, a grooming salon, a darkroom and a photography studio. There is no right or wrong way to put them together, each time they play children can create different combinations.
Once they have built their StoryWall the child gets to add characters to the story. The set comes with 2 wooden dress-up dolls, a boy and a girl, and 4 wooden pets- 2 dogs and 2 cats. There are lots of magnetic accessories too. As well as using the accessories to dress the pets and animals the child can also use them to decorate their studio- each panel has a star on one side of it, and the magnets will stick to the starred surfaces. The accessories include clothes, a pet bed, leash, grooming and art supplies. There are also lots more magnetic pets that can stick to the walls- including dogs, a bunny, a snake, a lizard and a toucan.
With all the different animals and pet-themed rooms and accessories this set is great for creating stories about pets.
The magnetic panels and stand up wooden dolls seem sturdy and well-made and are very bright and colorful. I found that a few of the accessories, such as the artist palette and grooming brush, that were designed to stick near the edge of a doll were a little tricky to keep in place. However, the magnets stuck very well to the panels and bodies of the animals and dolls. The one criticism I have is that its easy to lose all the small magnetic pieces so I’d like to see a storage bag included. A nice feature is that all the different play sets can be used together so if you own more than 1 Build & Imagine set you can create even more play possibilities. I would love to also see more magnetic accessory sets sold as an add on item.
Overall, the Pet Portrait Studio Magnetic Playset by Build & Imagine is a great toy to encourage children to both build and use their imagination. They use their left brain to build the backdrop and their right brain in acting out imaginary stories. I like that it is something that will appeal to both my son and daughter and that they can play with together.
Designed for ages 4+ (and not suitable for younger children due to small pieces), this is a toy my 8 year olds still enjoy.
super easy to use out of the box, encourages learning both on and off of a device as well as teaches kids basic programming skills and following directions
What we’d love to see…
a bit more information about what paper to use when drawing your Ozobot a design on physical paper as well as a link to all of the STEM learning sites
Fun, interactive must have science and learning toy which will teach your kids the fundamentals of Blocky programming while they are having fun and grooving to the music!
Ozobot Bit 2.0 is a small robot, about the size of your hand. Don’t let the small size fool you, this handheld robot brought hours of fun to my seven year old. My son loved having dance parties, STEM and science inspired learning, computer programming, cooperative play and more. The Ozobot Bit was ready to play with as soon as you opened the box. The Ozobot uses twin motors to drive quietly and precisely while using a sensor at the bottom of the robot which allows it to scan the path. Ozobot Bit can see color, follow lines (both on your device as well as drawn on a piece of paper) and detect intersections. My son drew intricate patterns using a Sharpie marker as well as using the included app. The Ozobot Bit runs for about an hour on a single charge, and charged in about two hours. I loved that it included STEM lesson plans which helped me tailor learning to him both on and off of the device.
Ozobot Bit is just over an inch tall and one inch wide. Ozobot can be played with either using your iDevice (iPad) or by drawing lines on paper which it will trace. You can also use OzoBlocky which lets you use your desktop or laptop computer, and create your own movement schedules such as how fast or slow you want your Ozobot to move, what light pattern you want it to flash, if you want it to go forward or back and how many times you want it to complete a particular movement pattern.
When we opened Ozobot Bit there were several small cards which had pre-designed pattern templates designed to help you calibrate your Ozobot. We drew out some designs while we waited for the Ozobot to get a full charge and be ready to go. We also downloaded a few of the Apps including my sons favorite, the Ozobot Groove which had some pre-designed dance moves and then he could make up his own patterns. I loved that my son was programming – without even realizing it as he worked step by step to create the dance moves he wanted his Ozobot to complete. When we sat down at the computer, I explained that the moves we made on the screen would be brought to life using the Ozobot. We used the Ozobot Bit to complete some science homework one night – which required him to write a simple program which I filmed using my iPhone to share with his teacher. It was a win win because my son loved the activity and it brought science to life. Some of the patterns he made were crazy – with lots of blinking lights while others were more choreographed and easier to follow along.
In terms of enhancements, I would suggest a bit better instructions when using a marker and paper. We had to experiment a bit with the thickness of the paper as well as which marker to use. Both Sharpies and Crayola markers worked well on plan white printer paper, while heavier weight art based paper with colored markers was a bit more of a miss. I’m not sure why, but suspect it was because the thickness of the paper made it harder due to the lack of smoothness for the Ozobot Bit to follow along.
Ozobot Bit would be a great item to add to your kids holiday shopping list. It’s fun, portable, easy to use and has provided many hours of fun to my seven year old. It will provide skills such as early programming using Blocky, setting patterns and routines using the included iPad or iPhone app as well as off device fun. The versatility, portability and fun of a robot that can work on many different surfaces from a tablet, to paper to a program run on your computer will have your child entertained for hours! STEM learning at it’s best! My son asks if we can adapt his weekly science homework to somehow include the Ozobot Bit. I call that a win for sure!
The Ozobot Bit can be purchased for approximately $59.99 and is available from many retailers including Amazon and New Egg
Did you know that you can make a battery out of cola and metals? Did you also know that a pickle is a good conductor of electricity? Or how bird droppings can affect electricity production? Your child can learn all about these fascinating science facts and more in Crayon Box’s new app, How to Make Electricity.
What we love…
The science view, the challenges to uncover discovery facts and the child-friendly story that introduces the concept of electricity to younger children.
What we’d love to see…
Labelling the different parts of electric circuits and incorporating more scientific explanation from the parents’ guide into the labs.
This is a really cool app for kindergarten and elementary school children to learn how electricity is generated in batteries, solar panels, hydroelectric and thermal power plants by doing fun experiments in 4 virtual labs.
This is an app for kindergarten and elementary school students to learn how to build four different types of electric power generators which demonstrate how batteries, solar panels, hydroelectric and thermal power plants work.
Students are first given a tutorial on how to construct a successful power generator in each of the four virtual labs and then they are given a free hand in fixing their own generators to find out which combination of parts or what conditions produce the strongest electric current, how changing the components affect the results and the science behind the changes.
Not only does the labs supply all the materials required to assemble the electricity generators, they also provide a voltmeter (to show the power that is generated), an on/off switch, a rheostat (to vary the amount of current in the circuit) plus some electrical objects (bulb, fan, speaker) and interesting conductive vegetables that students can plug into the circuits and play. What’s the fun of producing electricity if you cannot use it, right?
As students work on their experiments, they will uncover interesting facts on how to improve the efficiency of their power generators and the significance of each item in the circuits. Each lab section consists of 4 or 5 science facts, each to be revealed only when the students have experienced the phenomenon first hand in the lab. I admit it took me a few days to uncover all the 19 discoveries and there is no hint to help you if your children (or even yourself) are stuck. All I can divulge is that you not only have to experiment with all the components of the generators provided, you also have to explore what happens to the pluggable objects when you vary the other conditions. There is a Parents’ guide that gives you more information on how to support your child’s learning and I hope these information can be simplified and incorporated in the labs as well.
While the goal here is to learn what conditions make for the most efficient electric power generators, students must also be mindful that too much power can break items in the circuit. The effects are immediately evident in this interactive app and the experience is realistic and exciting.
One cool feature in this app is the science view mode which enables students to visualize the electric current through the movement of the electrons. This will come in useful when you tell your own story about electricity (suggestions provided in the app) to your children while the adapted child-friendly physical models work very well to help children understand how chemical, hydroelectric, thermal and solar energy can be harnessed and converted into electricity.
I never knew that learning about electricity could be so much fun. It is something that is all around us yet it is invisible. It is also an area of great importance as our demand for electricty increases. This app is designed to pique children’s interest in how things around them work and it is one of the most interesting science apps I’ve reviewed so far. I’m sure your kindergarten and elementary school children will enjoy the intellectual challenges presented in this app and the discoveries that they will make when playing with it.
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