Category Archives: photo

Take #2!

It’s been almost 3 years since I first introduced Stella to the iPad. She will be 4 years old this month! We continue to have successes with many other early learning apps since I’ve last posted to this blog. Her current favorites include LetterSchool, and PBS Kids.

I’ll soon have the wonderful opportunity to take my son down the same path. Hold on to your little brothers because he’s going digital, baby!
kiddos

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Tot Tot Chit Chat

Repeat After Me: ABC

Stella’s 18 month appointment with her pediatrician is coming up, so I decided to quickly jot down all of the words that she says so that I’d have a ballpark figure. Once I started writing, I almost couldn’t stop. I easily filled up a page worth 65 80+ (see update below) words—words that she regularly says on her own without any prompting from me. (A widely-known benchmark at this age is 20, but it’s common for kids to have much fewer or much more without any indication for concern or pretense.) She also strings a few of them together; her favorite phrases are, “Kick it,” “Where-da-go?”, and “Hi, baby!

Obviously I can’t credit the iPad for everything Stella does. After all, she does get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with me, and she has a phenomenal daycare provider, where she is also surrounded by a 4-year-old boy, from whom she learns a lot.

However, I can’t diminish the iPad’s role in her learning environment either. Not only have I seen some amazing apps with excellent educational value, but I also think the iPad itself has given us a reason to sit down and interact with each other more than we might have without it. We take walks, read physical books, and build blocks together, but what I mean is that the iPad removes the burden of creating both educational content and context, which makes the learning process so much more accessible. For example, I don’t think I would have taken the time to create physical flash cards, let alone keep her interested enough to practice them daily. The iPad just works.

Now that she has started repeating EVERYTHING anyone says, the ABC app has been really fun for me to watch. Most of the time she repeats the letters without my prompting. How cool is this?

Remember, the purpose of my blog is not to make claims one way or another, although I have an obvious bias toward both my daughter and my iPad! I’m simply exploring a new technology that hasn’t been available to us before, so I’m not judging against an alternate approach. What parents do with their children’s educational experience is their own business—I’ve just chosen to share mine along the way.

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UPDATE: We were way off with our estimate. As the week went on—and now conscious of counting her words—there were easily 30-40 more that we missed. I’d estimate that she is well over 100 and into the 120s. According to BabyCenter, this is very common for 19-24 months: “[Your child’s] pace will pick up as he acquires ten or more new words each day. If he’s especially focused on learning to talk, he can add a new word to his vocabulary every 90 minutes — so watch your language!”

Diaper Bag or iPad Tote?

Going out to eat with a 17 month old is not fun. She usually wants to eat right away, so somewhere between placing our order and receiving adult food, she has already finished her meal and wants out of her high chair…immediately. One of us winds up walking her around, outside the restaurant while the other one eats alone. It’s a pretty sad scene.

To keep Stella better entertained, the other night I decided to bring along iPad 2 to the restaurant. It worked like a charm! We played until the food came, and then we all ate together. It was also interesting to see the iPad juxtaposed with diapers and wet naps in her diaper bag. I call it the “diapad,” as in, “Don’t forget to grab the diapad.”

Top Baby Apps on Our iPad 2

It’s been about six nine months since Stella has been using the iPad actively, so I compiled a list of our favorite apps so far. Also, check out Kids iPhone App Review for more ideas on iPad and iPhone apps for a broader age range.

Itsy Bitsy Spider – $1.99
This one is worth the money. She plays this for a very long time. The graphics are very good, and there’s always something new for her to discover. You can record yourself singing the song, too! (Many other apps are available by Duck Duck Moose. We also have Old MacDonald.)
See my video review…


Monkey Preschool Lunchbox – $.99
This is her all-time favorite app. She’s not very good at it because it is designed for older kids, but it doesn’t stop her from trying. (Monkey Math School Sunshine is now available, too!)
See my video review…


Oscar’s 1-10 Balloons – $.99
This is also a really good one. She gets very proud of herself when she finishes each set. Plus, I think this one helped her learn how to count to 10 by 18 months. (Also check out Oscar’s Alphabet Song.)
See my video review…


My First Words – FREE (limited categories)
We like this one a lot for vocabulary flash cards, but I’m not sure if it’s still available.
See my video review…




Animal Sounds – $.99
She likes to hear all of the animal sounds. She tries to repeat them in her own voice, which is very cute.
See my video review…


Color Dots – FREE
She gets bored with this now, but when she first discovered it, she was very into this game. When she’d pop all of the bubbles, she’d look at me for approval and then keep going with the next set. It has since been updated so you can change the speed and size of the dots as your child develops more dexterity. The developer also offers a Color Square game, which wasn’t as appealing to Stella entering toddler stage, but it could be good for infants.
See my video review…

PlayBabyFace – FREE
This is a cute one for learning the parts of the face in multiple languages.
See my video review…



Baby-Silencer – FREE
This is really fun for a baby 6-12 months. There isn’t a lot to it; colors and lights respond to touch. There is no audio in the free version, but Stella still liked this one a lot at that age.
See my video review…


Baby ASL HD – $1.99
This app is good if you are serious about signing with your baby. The flow isn’t that great when you use it, but the videos of the people signing are great.
See my video review…


SignShine – Free (limited songs)
Stella LOVES singing the songs included in this app because she gets so entranced by the woman signing. You get “Itsy Bitsy Spider” for free, and you can get 10 more songs for $2.99.
See my video review…


Tappie Colorit – $.99
As Stella has transitioned into toddler-hood, she has gravitated more toward this app for learning shapes and colors.
See my video review…


ABC Preschool Alphabet – $.99
This app was hit or miss—some days she LOVED it, and other days she wanted nothing to do with it. It’s probably a good one to have and keep trying as your child grows through different stages.
See my video review…

Others that we use a lot but haven’t specifically posted a review include:

Finger Tips

Tip #293: Clean your screen after every digital baby use.

Where’s Your Nose?

Stella and I explored the BabyPlayFace iPad app, which features the cutest [literal] digital baby I’ve ever seen:

All you have to do is point anywhere on the baby’s head to learn the parts of the face. Stella had a difficult time with this, though, because she tended to “paw” at the image, which kept making the “BUZZ” sound (invalid selection).

I’ve noticed that she does this motion with certain apps, but not with others. I can’t figure out the variable. For example, when using the Color Dots app, she pointed with her index finger more frequently than she pawed. Perhaps low detail and high contrast are factors?

Maybe there isn’t a pattern at all. Lately when using the Monkey Preschool Lunchbox app (a game with high detail and high contrast), she paws when matching cards, but uses her index finger to drag-and-drop puzzle pieces to the correct location. I have yet to catch the puzzle part on video, which is probably for the best because I squeal in the highest pitch known to man every time she does it. But you can get the idea of the motion required from the screen shot of the strawberry.

Either way, Stella loves learning and loves the iPad 2!

Say, “Cheese!” (Literally. Say it.)

For now, she’d rather just eat cheese. Stella’s top front teeth are coming down. I’m curious to see what effect they have on her ability to make different language sounds and how her babble will change.
teeth

She is still playing with the iPad very regularly. We’ve tried a few different apps, but she still seems to like flash cards for about 4 minutes per day.

Customized Flash Cards

Customizing the “My First Words” app for Stella so easy! I took pictures of familiar objects around the house, added photos of friends and family, and recorded my voice next to each entry. For 40 new words, the whole process took me under an hour.

custom words

Although *I* was wildly impressed with the custom category of words, Stella didn’t seem to notice a difference from the generic photos. Her response to hearing “mom’s” voice was also the same as hearing the perky lady voice that came with the app. I imagine that this customization feature hits home with older children who already have an active vocabulary (toddlers and above). Customized categories or not, thank goodness the app finishes the audio track for each word before advancing—despite a preemptive touch— because Stella’s paw was on rapid fire mode:

I can’t give enough positive feedback for the “My First Words” iPad app, but unfortunately it was removed from the iTunes store shortly after I posted my first review. When I e-mailed the SmartBabyApps support team for more information, they gave me this response:

Thank you so much for your help and support. Unfortunately, we had some problems with the latest update of the app and will bring it back again in the near future.

I hope they work out their issues soon because this really is a fantastic app!

Special Delivery

Our very own iPad 2 is arriving today! I feel like we’re adopting a new member of the family, tracking its arrival with nervous excitement:


iPad Tracking Map
iPad Tracking Chart