Tag Archives: iPad

Magic Belles: Magic Music – A Review

My girls love fairies and music so they were very excited to try this new game on the iPad. Created to introduce children to the world of music, Magic Belles: Magic Music
features seven vibrant mini games to entertain girls between the ages of 3 –

There is one game for each fairy, all featuring musical sounds and lots of interactive features. The vibrant colours and graphics are captivating and the games feature things all little girls love including rainbows, flowers and butterflies.

My girls favourite was the rainbow game. After filling the paint pots from the rainbow, toadstools can be painted and every colour has a different sound.  My 3-year-old also likes the butterfly game. The object is to find hidden butterflies and by tapping them reveal their different sounds as they fly away. When all the butterflies have been found a melody is played. My daughter sang along to the notes as she tapped the butterflies and then declared in song what she was going to do next.

My personal favourite is the picnic game.  Food is dragged onto the picnic blanket to create a melody.  The food can be moved into different positions to change the tune and if you place 2 items of food above one another a chord is played.  I also like the dot to dot game for encouraging number recognition in a fun way.

If I could change anything about the app it would be the tone of the sounds used.  The notes can be quite harsh and piercing (similar to a tuning fork) and I would suggest keeping the volume low or you are likely to end up with a headache.

My girls have enjoyed this game and I expect that they will look out for more from the fairy characters.

From an educational perspective, it is a useful introduction to melody and harmony but don’t expect your children to become the next Mozart .

Magic Belles: Magic Music is available from the App Store for £1.49  and can be downloaded for iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.



The Changing Face of Literacy

As an Early Years teacher I have always capitalised on opportunities for literacy in everyday life. Making children aware and involving them in these things is often key to children viewing reading and writing as fun. Traditionally these would have been things like writing shopping lists, reading road and shop signs, mark making in diaries and calendars or following recipes.

However literacy in the real world is changing. Children these days are just as likely to see you read or write on your phone or laptop as they are to see you write a list or note.

This really hit home with me when I watched my 3 year old playing on my iPad a few weeks ago.  She asked if she could download an app called Dad book, designed for dads to record stories for their children.

But mummy it’s not doing anything

she said once it was downloaded.

No, someone has to tell the story and record it.

I replied.

I asked her 7 year old sister to record the story for her, they sat together as my 7 year old narrated the story.  When she was finished my 3 year old listened and then repeated the words as she had seen done with another app Pat the Cat .

What a great opportunity for playing with literacy for both children.  This made me think about all the other literacy activities my children tap into on the iPad.

My 3 year old is learning about the alphabet and phonic sounds using the wonderful Elmo loves ABC’s app.  This has loads of different levels of games all based around learning letter names and sounds and includes lots of  memorable Sesame Street clips.

Another favourite is Me Books a children’s picture book reader for classic Ladybird books.  Both my children enjoy following the stories and adding in their own sound effects. This is simple for the children to do and another great way of getting different aged siblings to share reading.

The Ladybird Touch and Say books are also a great way for my 2 year old to learn to read simple words and even my one year old loves the Baby Touch app.

My 7 year old loves creating her own stories and animations using Toontastic or Puppetpals and these are also simple for pre-schoolers to use with adult guidance.

We have even discovered new songs and rhymes through English Songs and Chants. My 3 year old loves this one and can be heard walking around the house reciting the chants and singing the songs.  The chants are excellent for teaching rhythm and steady beat, a concept I usually teach using Ros Bayley’s Beat Baby.  I wonder whether Ros has considered creating a Beat Baby app?

There are a number of things that I really appreciate about the way my children use technology to play and learn about literacy.

  • The children freely choose the literacy apps and never feel like they are learning literacy skills.  Everything they choose to play is fun and interactive.
  • The apps are an added dimension to their experience of literacy. They still love books and choose to read traditional books more often than  e-books, still love to write, tell and listen to stories.

Current touch screen technology is still a little small to offer good mark making experiences for the youngest children but the drawing apps are good fun for when they get a bit older and are able to work on a smaller scale.  I look forward to a time when I can roll out a big screen onto the floor and let the youngest children explore markmaking on a large scale.

I also think Kinect holds great possibilities for literacy. My children talk to their dad via video Kinect when he is not at home. There would be great potential for speaking and listening activities if they connected with other children from around the world and shared experiences about their life and culture.

My girls are avid readers, I’m not afraid that new technology will distract them from traditional literacy, but that it adds a richness to their lives and new possibilities for exciting literacy experiences.

Little Princess – I Want to Play iApp

I’ve been given the chance to try out the new Little Princess I Want to Play iApp.  As I am always on the lookout for good apps for pre-schoolers, especially those of an educational nature I thought I would give it a try.

My first impressions were favourable – the Tony Ross illustrations are as vibrant as those in the books and there is a selection of 4 games to play.  The games are simple enough for young children to play, are very visual and have nice sound effects.  The instructions for the games are written on the screen.  As an app designed for pre-school children I feel it would be very helpful if they were also explained in audio, although once the rules are explained by an adult they are very easy to follow.

My 2 year old absolutely loved this app. She made her way through each of the games starting with pairs as this is familiar from many other apps. The cards are touched to reveal characters from the Little Princess stories and the object is to reveal all the matching pairs. 

 The dressing up game was a firm favourite, a selection of clothes and accessories are dragged onto the princess until she is dressed, you can then take a picture of your chosen outfit.  My daughter was a little disappointed that when she dressed the princess in her swimming costume complete with armbands, goggles, flippers and rubber ring, the princess did not go off for a swim.  Perhaps this could be an added feature? A helpful arrow appears to show where the accessories should be placed on the princess, helping to avoid unnecessary frustrations.

Bath Time was another popular choice, Puss and Scruff need to be cleaned.  To begin with you rub the animals to lather them up (an arrow appears to tell you if you have missed a bit) and once they are covered in soap, bubbles appear .  The object is to pop all the bubbles in the shortest space of time. Even my 9 month old enjoyed playing this one (much to the annoyance of her sister).

The final game is bunny bop.  Rabbits appear from rabbit holes and the object is to bop as many as possible on the head in the alloted time. If you bop Puss or Scruff points are deducted ( this didn’t deter my 2 year old who prefered to bop the cat and dog – clearly not as competitive as her dad then).

The app was a huge success with my 2 year old and my 7 year old enjoyed it too.  I wouldn’t say it has any particular educational value but is a very good entertainment app for under 5’s.

The Little Princess I Want to Play iApp is available to buy for £1.99. Money well spent I would say.

This app was tested on the iPad.

Is there any value in pre-schoolers using iPads?


As you may have read in previous posts I am very interested in harnessing technology to engage children in early literacy.  I have been reading a number of articles about using iPad with pre-school children and am still yet to come to a satisfactory conclusion. 

In Maine there is an initiative to give iPads to  pre-schools in the hope that it will open up new worlds of learning for students.  It is recognised that this it will take a great deal of thought to achieve optimum benefits.  The hope is that it will be used to open up new avenues for exploration and not purley for entertainment.


This is where I struggle.  My 7-year-old has just been allowed a DSi and I had hoped that she would use it as a camera and music player, creating projects to share . As yet I have only seen her engrossed in solitary activity and pushing her younger sister away.  I fear that this could also be the case with iPads if the applications are not creative and far-reaching enough.  Are there any applications that promote creativity and open-ended activities?  Are there any that are designed to be used with groups of children collaborating on tasks?

I have looked for many recommendations but have so far found that most involve variations on the same theme.  The kind of things that have been around on children’s websites for years – memory match games, puzzles, flashcards, colouring in, matching and tracing. Also I have seen a number of interactive books which are great on some levels but would worry that they would replace important aspects like bedtime stories.

So I’m very much on the fence at the moment .  If anyone has experience of using an iPad with pre-schoolers (particularly in the classroom) or has found any ground breaking applications in line with an active, play based,creative and interactive classroom I would love to hear about your experiences.