Good Use of Media

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Stuff We Love

Launchpad Toys creates “digital toys and tools that empower kids (and parents) to create, learn & share their ideas through play”. Their latest creative learning tool is called Toontastic, an app whose design arose from a partnership with Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and Zeum: San Francisco’s Children’s Museum. Off to a good start and it gets better!

In a clean & fun environment, it handholds the user through formal storytelling features (i.e. setting, conflict, character devpt., climax & resolution) and then a crash course in animation. Without cumbersome keyframes, one animates by clicking “Start Animation” and then simply moving and scaling the characters around by hand as if they’re digital Colorforms. The app records all of this motion, with a variety of characters, and also includes simple multi-touch gestures which separates this from other kid-friendly animation apps out there.

After the user records his/her voice-over track for all the characters on the stage (with the built-in mic) and establishes the background music to set the mood, they’re off to post their objet d’art on ToonTube, Launchpad’s Global Storytelling Network for Kids.  Here, kids can also find pride in receiving badges for Top ‘Toons.

Andy, over at Launchpad Toys, told me that they are “avid fans of Blues Clues and Super Why. We’re very excited to bring Angela’s readers’ stories to life (and, ok, their kids’ too)!” That said, the 1st 5 readers to follow @AngelasClues on Twitter & retweet the following will be given a FREE copy of the Toontastic app:

“@AngelasClues: What did you CREATE 2day? Win a FREE Toontastic app! TY @launchpadtoys! http://bit.ly/nVFJbK “

 

by: Laura | Filed under Good Use of Media, Parenting

Do you feel that the use of “Educational” Websites & Apps complement students’ daily learning in school or Is it a part that is missing from their curriculum?

In my opinion, the use of websites and iTunes purchased Apps during school time should be limited and that they can be used at home to complement what is done in the classroom. I think that in-school computer classes that instruct children how to use the computer are valuable, but as a teacher, I feel like we shouldn’t lose the human and social element to learning by relying too heavily on software to do our jobs for us.

A silent room of children staring at computer screens engaged in so-called “interactive” learning programs cannot compare with the buzz of an engaged classroom where children and students are discussing, reading, debating and really interacting with each other.

Where do you weigh in on the use of this technology in your child’s classroom? Let’s hear your comments.

by: Laura | Filed under Good Use of Media

As a teacher are there any good/unique web sites, or apps that you could recommend to assist your childrens’ development?

Last spring, my daughter’s 4th grade history class was assigned to identify every country in the world, continent-by-continent.  She found out about a website called Ilike2Learn.com that helps you learn geography.  It’s a free website, bare bones but user friendly and efficient.  I can proudly say now that my 10 year old knows the name, spelling and location of every country on the planet, thanks to a website (and her own hard work, of course).

Fresh off of that success, my son was beginning the agonizing task of memorizing his times tables over the summer.  As a teacher who specialized in early childhood math, I can tell you that, despite the long way we have come in teaching math “holistically,” not a lot has changed when it comes to learning multiplication facts… you just have to do it.  We researched and found an App called MathApp where the child can choose to do one ‘fact table’ at a time or do a 50 or 100- question mixed fact test.  Within a month, he had memorized up to 12 x 12 with no tears. I am thrilled and relieved that he is starting 3rd grade with this chore no longer a factor (no pun intended;-). That was, by far, the best $.99 I have ever spent.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, PRESS

CONGRATULATIONS to Christine Montgomery, Matthew Graham, Jeannine Harvey, Tina Ghubril, Dee Wren, all the amazing folks at PBS and our friends at RocketBoom!

See the Parents’ Choice Recommendation HERE

PBS Parents

 

 


by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Stuff We Love

Lego building

As our children go back to school next month, it’s natural to question to what degree do their activities assist their development. The positive benefits of childrens’ building products, like Lego, is incalculable. From learning design skills and construction theories, problem solving, tactile development…the list goes on.

Lego now allows you to download it’s Lego Digital Design Software for FREE, yes FREE! Your child (or you) can now create anything using virtual Lego bricks right on your computer.

Even if you have a complete Lego set at home and have been building for some time now, this allows your child to sketch to his/her hearts content and troubleshoot in a virtual environment. When done with a new virtual project, Lego Digital Designer will print out an inventory to list out your materials or simply to purchase the pieces you don’t have and then create, create, create!

Happy Building!

 

(FYI…a great article on the benefits of Lego play on children with autism can be found HERE)

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Parenting

Hunger Games for Kids?

I just finished reading The Hunger Games and I could not put it down. It is well written, creative, insightful and definitely a book that should spark needed discussion on our current society. Our kids are growing up in a world where they will not only need to decide what they broadcast to the world, but how they want this information to be perceived…if they even have control of this. Which side of their personality will they be known for? And since there are many traits, depending on circumstance, how does one control which trumps which?  And of course, does everything we do need to be documented, YouTubed or blogged about?

 

I do, however, feel strongly that this not a book for kids.   I get the real life parallel that Suzanne Collins is drawing here, but what does it mean when a book about killing children for sport is so popular with kids?  I get it for adults. I get it for older teens. I worry about how kids are processing such information before they are developmentally ready to. Will the book desensitize them when the goal is presumably otherwise? Is it worse than a video game where you are the killer? I think so. Because Katnis, the heroine, is so likable, empathetic and strong – a role model for girls. But with that said, the killing and the craziness of this situation is so real that, to a young mind, you can’t help but imagine yourself in Katnis’ shoes.

 

10-13 yr olds are figuring out who they are, navigating middle school, understanding the difference between real friends and those that are far from it, right vs wrong, how to almost cross the line but then come right back, etc. With the popularity of The Hunger Games, we are handing them a book that negates what they have worked so hard to understand.  This book is not written as fantasy. It’s not in a galaxy far far away. It’s not a true good vs evil, nor a robin hood story.  It’s not a family who is doing anything to survive. All this death happens as a game where kids need to kill each other to win. A game set up by the government. A game where adults bet and smoke out the kid contestants so they have to fight each other to the death.

 

I know exactly when my childhood ended.  It was when I came to the realization that adults can be wrong and cause physical harm to kids. As there are enough real life traumas that catapult our kids into adulthood, why would we choose to have them deal with a gruesome adult world as they read for pleasure?

by: Greg | Filed under Good Use of Media, Parenting

Too many “educational” math apps seem to be no more than the simple drill n’ skill tear sheets converted over to the mobile screen.  At last, someone has taken the technology & interwoven math theory properly within it.   The Motion Math founders’ (Gabriel Adauto & Jacob Klein) tech/education app is not just another movement-based learning application.  It naturally allows children (& adults) to address many difficulties through an intuitive approach.

 

Motion Math HD is supported by Joan Ganz Cooney Center and other prominent organizations.  And it’s now available for iPad!  Click here to learn more about this product.

 

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Parenting

Hey, we’ve all been there.  Moms & Dads, when nature calls, it calls.  But why is it typically just after we’ve taken our kids to the restroom AND in some remote location?  We need to thank the folks at www.ohdeedoh.com for pointing us to this latest gem.

Danika Landers & Jonathan Glanz came up with the idea behind Sit or Squat in Oct 2007 and it’s evolved from there. One can search for their nearest restroom or simply add to the database that spans the globe.

Is time of the essence?   There’s no need to open the app on your phone then. Simply text the word “sitorsquat” to DOTCOM (368266) & it’ll show you your nearest bathroom.

Pushing the limits of technology!

(side note: sponsor is none other than Charmin…we don’t make this stuff up)

 

by: Greg | Filed under Good Use of Media, Stuff We Love

Kicking off the 2nd year of their partnership, Adobe Youth Voices & The Black Eyed Peas’ Peapod Foundation have opened up yet another academy, this time in NYC.  Based on 3 of their California centers, the NY facility will also foster arts education, putting new technology into the hands of teens to engage & inspire.

Empowerment via creativity & self expression is what it’s all about!

For more info go to www.youthvoices.adobe.com/peapod/ or to get involved go to the amazing Urban Arts Partnership

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Parenting, Super Why!

iTunes/PBSKids release:

“PBS Kids Raising Readers program helps build reading skills all year long.  This summer they’re presenting 10 weeks of special programming with offline activities from your favorite PBS KIDS programs.  Download free PBS Kids TV episodes every week through August 15″

Via iTunes, simply go to:   iTunes Store > TV Shows > PBS KIDS Raising Readers

OR click on the PBS KIDS Raising Readers ad here