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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: apps, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. App of the Week: PhotoMath

Photomath
Title: PhotoMath
Platform: iOS and Android
Cost: Free

From WordLens (now part of Google Translate) to Invisibility 3D, apps which use the camera as an input tool to harness machine intelligence always interest me. When one such app, PhotoMath hit the top of the download charts last year, there was some minor outcry among educators. Would students use the app to cheat? But while the PhotoMath app reads and solves mathematical problems by using the camera of your phone and tablet in real time, it is far from the scourge of math teachers. Like Wolfram Alpha, it is a nice tool to have on hand when you can't remember enough math to help students with their work.

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Within the app with an active camera, you can manipulate the size of the datawell to pick up the whole of more complicated questions, and the app solves advanced math problems including quadratic equations and inequalities. The app goes beyond solutions, anticipating the admonition to "show your work." A red button opens the step-by-step process for doing just that.

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You can flag incorrect answers, and updates build upon the errata to produce a more robust tool.

The app has its limitations. It can only scan printed text, so it won't work on a teacher's handwritten equations. And, given the push towards more constructivist assignments and the intuitive mathematical understanding embodied by the Common Core, I don't see it as a tool for cheating beyond the solutions which math textbooks have been including for decades. Y

Have a suggestion for a featured App of the Week? Let us know. And don't forget to check out more great apps in our archive.

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2. Rough Animator App Lets You Animate On Your Tablet

An iOS/Android app for easy animating on the go.

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3. App of the Week: Lark

lark_icon

Title: Lark

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS

Many youth services specialists will be familiar with Lark's parent site, Storybird, which enables dazzling yet simple drag-and-drop digital storytelling. Like Fridegpoems by Color Monkey, Lark, Storybird's Poetry app, is a digital incarnation of a refrigerator magnet poetry set, inspiring creativity within a finite vocabulary set as you move and reorder the words it generates over an image.

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A lightning bolt icon launches a new project. You can browse art in a gallery, search by keyword or choose a random different background or word bank by swiping left. Many of the images, alternatingly fantastical and almost unbearably poignant, look as if they were cribbed from vintage picture books. You can also use a color picker to change the colors of the words on screen for optimal artistic impact. The overall effect is quite attractive and quickly achieved.

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You can post your creations to the shared database, save it to your picture roll, and Lark has the usual social sharing components built in, too.  If you're not feeling inspired, you can browse poems, follow those you find compelling, and "heart" or comment on poems you like. You can also block and unblock users, though the controlled vocabulary makes it pretty problem-free for school use, but registration through verified email is required.

Lark is designed for iOS 7 and is compatible with iPhone 4s and later. It isn't available for Android devices or optimized for iPad. Featuring it on public devices would make for an easy drop-in program for National Poetry Month, or working with a group to generate a poem with time constraints could prove a fun contest.

Have a suggestion for an app we should highlight? Let us know. And don't miss the hundreds of other great apps in our Archive.

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4. Cultivating Creativity: Technology that encourages learning about art

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. - Pablo Picasso

Two of my favorite types of programs to offer at the library are science and art programs. Many times I find the boundaries between the two blurring, discovering connections between the two areas. That’s probably why I loved adding the “A” for art to STEM to form STEAM (a movement started by the Rhode Island School of Design: http://www.risd.edu/about/STEM_to_STEAM/).

Pointillist style paintings of eyes

A 6th grade class used art to explore how the eye mixes colors that are adjacent to one another.

Children experience deeper learning about science through creative, artistic activities and correspondingly, discover more about art through the lens of science (think about light and the Impressionists, Georges Seurat’s scientific approach to pointillism, Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura.) So I’m adding a little art into your Pi day today!

Children are, as Picasso noted, natural artists. For preschoolers, scribbling is a first step toward writing and drawing.

hands pasting paper onto a mural

Preschooler and parent work together to glue shapes onto a mural.

Cutting with scissors, pasting and gluing, molding shapes with playdough, and scribbling all help to develop those fine motor skills that will be needed in school. Learning to appreciate art can be a bit more challenging, but something that can be encouraged. I didn’t take an art history class until college, but with online opportunities offered through Khan Academy and the Google Art Project, among others,  kids can explore art quite closely these days even if they live far from a large city with a major art museum. These sites also can develop vocabulary for talking about art. Experience with story is helpful in appreciating art, and it works both ways — children can learn about stories through art, and their knowledge of story and history can help them to understand and appreciate art.

Below are a few technological resources to support your exploration, to encourage you to help create a culture of art at your library. Hopefully these will be considered as starting points and as extensions for other activities, for there is no substitute for messy, hands-on creative activities or for an actual museum visit where you see a painting and think: “Wow! I didn’t know it was so big!”, experience a sculpture in all three dimensions, or wonder at the movement of a mobile.

Background Knowledge & Virtual Museum Visits:

Khan Academy

Web, free

From the main page, under “Subjects”, choose “Arts and Humanities” and the second heading is Art History. You might begin with the basics or try “Why Look at Art?

There are lots of great videos and resources included here. Preview videos before showing them and consider the ages and sensitivities of your audience (no fig leaves!)

Google Art Project

Web, free

Zoom in on some objects and be amazed at how close you can get — close enough to see brushstrokes. So close that if you were in a museum, the guard would likely be coming over to talk to you!

Playing with art:

NGAKids, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

iPad, free

Explore different paintings in the collection with different interactive experiences.With some activities children will gain familiarity with the work of art: for example, adding boats, figures and changing the light of a seascape before setting it in motion. In other activities they will create their own work in that artist’s style, as when they blend rectangles of color like Mark Rothko. Their works will be saved in an online art gallery and can be shared with parental permission.

MoMA  Art Lab, Museum of Modern Art, New York

iPad, free

Explore different artworks with engaging activities — for example, try to make mobile a la Calder, though it can be tricky to balance it just right.  Or “Draw with Scissors” and create a collage in the manner of Matisse. You can also choose a blank canvas to begin and create a completely original work with the tools provided.  Children can create art they can save and share, and get a smattering of art history along the way.

Lazoo: Squiggles

iPad, free

For the preschool age, this app is a fun early literacy tool to encourage pre-writing and fine motor skills. It is easy for young children to use themselves, open-ended and responsive to a child’s touch. After children make squiggles to the cartoon drawing they press “go” and the picture becomes animated. The more squiggles the artist makes, the more exciting the result.

For more apps that encourage creativity, see the recent Common Sense media guide:

“Modern Kids Guide to Creativity (to Crafting, Coding, Composing and More)”

which features many apps and games to encourage creativity. The guide offers detailed content reviews, recommended ages, information about in app purchases and ability to share with social networks. Some are low cost or free, while a few DS games are $30.

Additional Resources:

“The Art Room” by Heather Accero, ALSC Blog, Sept. 17, 2013. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2013/09/the-art-room/

“Library as Art Gallery” Karen Choy, ALSC Blog. May 29, 2014. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2014/05/library-as-art-gallery/

Library as Incubator Project. http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/

Making Art with Children blog from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. http://www.carlemuseum.org/blogs/making-art

“Meet Art” by Heather Bentley-Flannery. Jan. 27, 2015.  http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2015/01/meet-art/ – describes a great Matisse program

“Meet Art: Creative Hands-On Art Programs” by Heather Bentley-Flannery, ALSC Blog, Oct. 30, 2013. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2013/10/meet-art-creative-hands-on-art-programs/

Robin L. Gibson is a Youth Services Librarian at the Westerville Public Library in Westerville Ohio and member of the Children and Technology Committee.

 

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5. quick parent safety lectures

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 8.35.09

The principals of all the local schools got together and did a parent safety evening at the school. I was one of the presenters. I think they were expecting a big turnout, but it was a small (but interested) crowd. I did two very short presentations

1. Ten apps in ten minutes. For parents who are not using mobile devices for social purposes outside of facebook, knowing what the various apps are and what they do can be useful. I just had a very basic slide deck and talked over some images of the apps. I had to learn to use Snapchat which was sort of hilarious.

2. “How the heck does this work” a short talk about things parents can control in their home internet environment and what they can’t. Obviously the standard line is that the best thing you can do is talk to your kids and this is more useful than just using technological tools on what is, ultimately, more of a social problem. That said, it’s good to understand what you can and can’t do with the technology.

Most importantly was, I think, people seeing and getting to know each other and getting to have conversations about what their systems were at home. One parent charged all the devices in his room at night, for example, so the kids couldn’t sleep with their phones. Another had a “no phones/devices before homework is done” policy. Another had a “two hours of screen time a night” rule. I was glad to be a “local expert” of a sort who could give people some perspective on what technology can look like form another direction. The newspaper wrote up a short article about the event. Feel free to use my slides for your own safety talks.

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6. What Are the Best Literary Apps Available Today?

The question came to me and I admit I was a bit stumped at first.  A colleague was looking for recommendations of the best literary apps for kids.  Put another way, apps with a distinct tie-in to specific children’s books.  So I thought about it. I’ve toyed about with several apps for years.  I could make such a list.

However, before I present it to you, I would like to point out that literary apps are in significant decline.  When first they hit the scene they were prevalent because they were novel.  However, publishers were quick to notice that from an economic standpoint they don’t really make a lot of sense.  The amount of time and money you pour into an app is incongruous with how much one is allowed to then charge the consumer.  It can take years for apps to break even, and ours is not a society where such slow money is seen as desirable.  So while I don’t think apps will ever go away, literary apps will continue to be far and few between.  The only ones I’ve seen crop up in the last year or two are labors of love from creative personalities (Bill Joyce, Shaun Tan, etc.).

Also please note that this list is NOT particularly good at listing nonfiction tie-in apps.  There are, I know all too well, some fantastic ones out there.  However, aside from the Barefoot Book World Atlas, I haven’t had much contact with them.

And now, the hits!

Animalia by Graeme Base – Allows the reader the chance to turn a simple reading of the book into a game.

The Barefoot Books World Atlas by Nick Crane – Absolutely jaw-dropping.  A must-have for any child over the age of four.  Allows the viewer to zero in on different parts of the globe and learn learn learn.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App by Mo Willems – I’m sort of cheating by putting this here since technically it’s based on a children’s book character rather than a specific title, but when it’s the pigeon, honestly who cares?

Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss – Pretty basic, but I like a lot of what it does.  Reads the story straight through but allows the reader to hear individual words defined.  Plus I like how it handles the many mumbling mice in the moonlight. Mighty nice!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce – The rare case where there was first an app, then a short film, and finally a book.  I don’t know how well this one holds up in terms of rereading, but it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a film in a book app form.

Freight Train by Donald Crews – This may be the earliest book related app out there.  It used public domain music and was originally designed for phones. When the iPad was introduced it had to undergo a change, and remains somewhat pixelated as a result.  That said, it’s still a beautiful piece.

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton – Boynton books make for difficult book-to-app transitions since there’s not much too them to begin with.  This one relies heavily on a good narrator and small interactive options.  I don’t know that a kid would turn to it over and over, but it’s not a bad app for the little bitty guys.

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills – A great book to begin with, the app reads the book straight, but also contains interactive elements that don’t distract from the storyline.  A difficult balance to strike.

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone – Remarkably good. Truth be told, Sesame Street has almost never been good at books.  Stone’s classic is the sole exception, and the app they made for it is stellar.  Though Grover is not voiced by Frank Oz, you’d never be able to tell.  The imitation is dead on.  All the interactive elements work beautifully.  Kids can read this over and over and never get bored.

The Numberlys by William Joyce – Joyce remains the king of the app-turned-book.  Again, this was an app first, a book second.  I doubt anyone minds.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt – When I first saw Random House premiere this app they acknowledged openly that a Pat the Bunny app is an inherently ridiculous concept.  That said, it’s a very good one for the younger ages.

Press Here by Herve Tullet – Also a bit of a cheat since at no point does the book appear. Then again, the book itself was a sort of anti-app, so what you’ll find here makes quite a bit of sense in retrospect.

The Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan – Tan bears a lot of similarities to Bill Joyce in terms of his love of apps, cinema, and books (not necessarily in that order).  He employed some truly lovely musicians when he worked on this one.

The Story of the Three Little Pigs by L. Leslie Brooke – Also a book meant to look like a pop-up but in this case the reader is allowed to see how the inner gears of such a pop-up might work.  It’s actually really quite cool to watch.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – You’ll actually want the one called PopOut! Peter.  There is also a similar Benjamin Bunny app that makes for a good follow-up.  It’s just one of the most beautiful I’ve ever encountered.  It makes a great deal of effort to resemble an interactive book down to the silken ribbon there to hold your place.  A masterpiece.

Wild About Books by Judy Sierra – The designers did a very clever thing here when they found a way to allow the reader to tilt the screen so that you can see around and behind the characters and set pieces.

See a gaping hole in the list?  Tell me about it!

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7. More on Assistive Technologies

I’ll confess, like many of you I collect apps. I have an old tablet devoted to nothing but “kid” apps. Finding information about a variety of book apps is relatively easy now that so many of us are using them and reviewing them. One question I am asked frequently is “Can you recommend any assistive technology apps?”

There are several that have caught my eye recently so I decided to give them a try. I was impressed with the continued growth and development of these types of applications. There are many people, both young and old that could benefit greatly from using these simple programs. All the apps mentioned are intuitive, easy to use, some have a nominal fee and others are free.

Kidspiration Maps is a kid friendly mind-mapping app for the iPad. Kidspiration is similar to the Inspiration Maps, but Kidspiration includes more kid friendly templates and clipart like graphics. Kidspiration allows users to create mind mapping webs to help organize ideas and information visually. Unlike Inspiration Maps, Kidspiration allows users to insert a large variety of clipart images into their maps. Kidspiration also includes the ability to add a recorded voice note; a feature that is unfortunately missing in Inspiration Maps.

Kidspiration Maps includes a large number of pre-loaded templates for reading and writing, social studies, science, and math. These templates are geared for elementary school children and range from an “all about me” web to sorting and matching activities. If no template is applicable there is an option to start a new document. One template contains a number of words and instructions to arrange the words into alphabetical order while another asks kids to match states to their capitals. With the nice visuals these activities can be engaging and easier than using physical manipulative. One drawback is when the student is completing the activities there is no way to program the correct responses in order to give the student immediate feedback. Also, when searching for clipart students cannot search for an image by keyword, but instead must scroll through long lists of images.

Bookshare is an essential service for people with print disabilities. Bookshare.org provides accessible e-books for qualified students. Members can choose from over 200,000 downloadable titles including many textbooks. Bookshare books can be downloaded in a DAISY format for use with text-to-speech software or in a Braille format. Similar to Kurzweil, the combination of text-to-speech and highlighted text can greatly speed up and reading and increase comprehension for qualifying students. Thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Education Bookshare is free to U.S. students.

 Learning Ally is another provider of accessible books for the blind and dyslexic.Learning Ally mostly provides human narrated audio books for their members. Learning Ally is also expanding to provide “VOICEtext” books which include human narration and highlighted text. The highlighting of “VOICEtext” books is not word by word like in Bookshare and Kurzweil but rather is paragraph by paragraph. Learning Ally books can be read on iOS and Android devices using the Learning Ally Audio app.

 Co:Writer by Don Johnston is an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Co:Writer has exceptional word predication capabilities that can help struggling spellers. Co:Writer’s most unique and noteworthy feature is the ability to use topic dictionaries to improve word prediction based on the topic a student is writing about. For example, if a student is writing about World War II he or she can turn on the World War II topic dictionary in order to get more targeted word prediction.

Prizmo is an optical character recognition (OCR) app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The app gives students the ability to take a picture of a text documents and have it read back to them using text-to-speech in seconds. So if a student comes across a document that they can’t read they can use Prizmo to quickly take a picture and have it read back to them. Prizmo can also act as a portable scanner that can convert printed document into a digital PDF format.

These were are just a few of the many assistive technology apps available. If you are using or recommending and other apps that fill this niche, send me an email and let me know: asantos@princetonlibray.org

Allison Santos

ALSC Digital Task Force

Princeton Public Library, Princeton, NJ

 

 

 

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8. Fusenews: Starring the World’s Creepiest Cat in the Hat!

  • Here in New York we’re getting very excited.  The 90-Second Film Festival is coming!!  And soon too!  Here’s a PW interview with James Kennedy about the festival and for those of you in the NYC area you can see it at NYPL on Saturday, March 7th at 3:00 p.m. In fact, now that I think about it, you could begin your day at NYPL at 2:00 p.m. at my Children’s Literary Salon Blurred Lines?: Accuracy and Illustration in Nonfiction.  We’ll be hosting Mara Rockliff (author), Brian Floca (author/illustrator), Nicole Raymond (editor), and Sophie Blackall (illustrator/author) as they discuss the responsibility of an illustrator when working on a piece of historical nonfiction for kids and whether or not words garner closer scrutiny than pictures.  Should be a fabulous day.
  • We all know on some level that when a book is adapted into a movie the likelihood of the strong female characters staying strong is negligible.  There are always exceptions to the rule, but by and large it’s depressing not to be more shocked by the recent Cracked piece 6 Insulting Movie Adaptations of Strong Female Characters.  I was very pleased to see the inclusion of Violet from A Series of Unfortunate Events too.  Folks tend to forget about her.
  • At the beginning of February I had the infinite pleasure of hosting a Children’s Literary Salon at NYPL on Collaborating Couples.  I invited in Ted & Betsy Lewin, Andrea and Brian Pinkney, and Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.  You can read the PW round-up of the talk here, but before we hit the stage I had to ask Sean about this incident that occurred involving his book with Selina, The Case for Loving and W. Kamau Bell’s treatment at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café.  We didn’t touch on it during our talk since it wasn’t pertinent to this particular discussion, but if you haven’t read the article I suggest you give it a look.
  • If I’m going to be honest about it, this perfectly encapsulates what I’ve always personally felt about the Elephant and Piggie books.  This is because growing up I was the child that wanted everyone and everything in the universe to pair up.  Sesame Street fed this desire to a certain degree but the only time Mr. Rogers got close was during the opera episodes.  And don’t even get me STARTED on Reading Rainbow (no sexual tension = no interest for 4-year-old Betsy).  Hence my perverse desire to see Gerald and Piggie become a couple.  I know, I know.  Clearly I need help.
  • Moomins!  Ballet!  Moomins in ballet!  Sorry, do you need more than that?  Thanks to Marci for the link.
  • It’s fun to read this look at the Mary Poppins Hidden Relationships Fan Theory, but I’ve a bone to pick with it.  Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the book of Mary Poppins make it very clear that yes indeed Mary Poppins WAS Bert’s nanny back in the day?  Or am I just making stuff up?  I thought this was cannon.  That other stuff about Bert’s relationships is particularly peculiar as well.

Perhaps you feel, as I do, that you’ve read every possible Harry Potter related list out there devised by the human brain.  Still and all, while I had seen a bunch of these, there are still some lovely surprises in the BuzzFeed list 21 Times “Harry Potter” Was the Cleverest Book Series Ever.

Speaking of Harry Potter and BuzzFeed, new term alert: Racebent.  Didn’t know it, but this piece has actually convinced me that it is entirely possible that Hermione Granger isn’t the white-skinned schoolgirl she’s often considered to be.  Recall if you will that it was only ever made explicit that Dean Thomas had dark skin when the Harry Potter books were brought over to America (a fact that is not usually mentioned in these stories).

  • Oh, what the heck.  May as well get as Harry Potterish as possible today.  Look!  Cover animations!
  • For years I’ve yearned to go to TLA (the meeting of the Texas Library Association).  State library meetings are always fun, but Texas takes their own to another level.  So far I haven’t had an excuse, but I was reminded of this desire recently when I read the rather delightful piece on how an abandoned Texan Walmart got turned into the ultimate public library.  McAllen?  You’re good people.
  • Let It Be Known: That every author and illustrator out there that makes school visits on a regular basis should take a very close look at Nathan Hale’s School Visit Instructions and replicate PRECISELY what he has done on their own websites.  Obviously you cannot all draw so in terms of visuals he has you beat.  However, this information is perfect and you could certainly write it down in some form yourself.  Let it also be known that his upcoming book about Harriet Tubman, The Underground Abductor, is AMAZING.  Here’s the cover:

  • David Wiesner created an app?  Yep, pretty much.  It’s called Spot and it is now on my To Buy list.
  • Oh!  I don’t know if any of you folks actually know about this.  Were you aware that there is a major children’s book award out there for math-related titles?  Yep, there is.  It’s called the Mathical Award and it’s a project that has come out of a collaboration between The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC).  Those of you producing such books should look into it.  Could be very very useful to you.
  • Daily Image:

I’ve been meaning to get back to work on updating my post of the Complete Listing of All Children’s Literature Statues in the United States for a while here.  There are definitely some sections that need work.  However, one image I will not be adding is this statue of what might be the world’s creepiest Cat in the Hat.  Not because I don’t like him (oh, I do, I do) but because it’s on school rather than public property.  That doesn’t mean I can’t share him with you anyway, though.

Many thanks to Paula Wiley for bringing him to my attention.  Wowzah.

 

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9. App of the Week: Post-it Plus

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 6.50.52 AM

Title: Post-it Plus

Cost: Free, with in-app purchases

Platform: iOS

From LiveScribe to Moleskine, there have been a number of visions on how to capture the physical process of notetaking in a digital incarnation. Like many with a love for stationary, I had played around with the digital sticky note applications, but when a student raved about the Post-it app, it sounded like something more than a mere yellow placeholder.

IMG_1085

There are two methods for creating notes. You can add them with a click, as you might in decades-old Windows programs, or your can photograph your actual physical notes. The in-app photography mechanism is among the easiest I've seen, coaching you on light levels and holding your device steady. But it's what happens when you take that picture that sets this app apart.

IMG_1083

In contrast with Evernote and its associated applications, Post-it Plus is a little different: it doesn't attempt to make sense of your writing. Each note remains its own image, which can be dragged and dropped into intuitive order. But you can write more on the notes, or even use a typewriter gadget for longer, more legible input, or even delete it altogether after you have capture or refined the sentiment.

Post-it Plus Organization

Your scanned notes retain their original colors, but a $2 in-app purchase gives you access to a rainbow's worth of post-it color options, which also make for fun organizational options. When you're done with your creation, you can share it in a range of file formats, depending on your needs.

Post-it Plus Output

Post-it Plus is a possible solution for students, teachers, and librarians, or anyone else looking for digital brainstorming and storyboarding tools that can be output in a variety of file formats. The transformation of the fixed physical into the mutable digital is bound to give you a little thrill, too.

Check out more Apps of the Week in our Archive. Know an app you'd like to see featured? Let us know.

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10. Disney Imagicademy App Available for Free!

Do you work with kids in need? We’ve got great news for you!

Disney Imagicademy Launch

© Disney

Our friends at Disney recently launched an innovative learning experience that encourages kids to learn by interacting with their favorite Disney characters and stories – inspiring a lifelong love of learning and creativity. The app and tools are available now to program leaders and educators serving children in need for free through the First Book Marketplace.

For some time, we’ve heard from our network of 150,000 educators and program leaders that web-based tools and interactive learning programs are incredibly important to helping the children they serve read, learn and achieve. We’ve worked hard to meet this need. And today, thanks to Disney, the programs and classrooms we serve have greater access to innovative learning apps and tools at the same time it is available to the general public.

To further support learning for kids ages 3 to 8, Disney will provide a three-year, $55 million product donation to First Book. This donation over the next three years is First Book’s largest gift targeting early childhood programs.  Specifically, the commitment will provide $5 million in Disney Imagicademy apps and tools to First Book and other non-profit organizations.  Disney announced its commitment on December 10 at the White House Summit on Early Education.

Teachers and educators will be able to receive free download codes from the First Book Marketplace to use the new Disney Imagicademy math app.  As parents are an ever-important part of successful learning, educators will also have the opportunity to share these download codes with the families of the children they serve, allowing families to bring lessons home and be even more involved and engaged in their child’s learning.

mickeys_magical_math_worldThe first app available through the First Book Marketplace is Mickey’s Magical Math World, which includes five app-based experiences in one large app that immerses children in key math-focused activities and games, including count along, sorting, add and subtract, shapes and problem solving.

Parents AppThe companion app for parents, Disney Imagicademy Parents, which is free on the App StoreSM, enables them to see what their children create through the apps, send digital high-fives back to their kids, ask questions to spur conversations about their child’s work and get ideas for more activities to reinforce and encourage their child’s learning.

Do you work with children in need?  Sign up with First Book today to gain access to Disney Imagicademy apps and tools, along with many other books and resources!

In-App Purchases  may be sold separately. Terms and conditions apply. This offer must be redeemed on an iPad, and, if and when available, an iPhone or iPod Touch. 
This is a promotional code and is not for resale, has no cash value, and will not be replaced if lost or stolen. Valid only on United States iTunes Store. Requires iTunes account. Must be 13+ and in the United States. Terms and Apple Privacy Policy apply, see http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/us/terms.html. Compatible products and services required. Apple, the Apple logo, iTunes, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are registered trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iTunes Store is a trademark of Apple Inc. App Store is a registered service mark of Apple Inc. Apple is not a participant or sponsor of this promotion. Content is free for a limited time only and subject to availability.     

The post Disney Imagicademy App Available for Free! appeared first on First Book Blog.

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11. Book App For Kids Supports Ebola Patients in Liberia

screen640x640In the wake of an Ebola panic, a new children’s storybook app has been published to help lift the spirits of children in West Africa.

Dentist Bird: A West African Folktale tells the story of bird who explores the sights and sounds of Liberia’s rainforest. The iOS app is based on a folktale called How Plover Bird Came to Clean Crocodile’s Teeth. Michael Richards reads the story. It was illustrated by Liberian painter David Wolobah and features music by Dora the Explorer composer Steve Sandberg.

The app makers Literary Safari are promoting the app with the hashtag #ReadforLiberia and are contributing the proceeds from the app to We-Care Foundation, a non-profit group that is pushing reading and education for children in Liberia despite the Ebola outbreak. (more…)

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12. Electric Literature’s ‘True Legends’ Story App is Free in iTunes

screen480x480True Legends, an app adaptation of author Alex Epstein’s illustrated short story, is free in iTunes this week.

The interactive app, from Electric Literature, tells the story of a blind piano tuner. It features design and illustrations by Tsach Weinberg and music by Ulrich Ziegler. The app is designed with intuitive navigation and readers can use gestures instead of page turns to interact with the story.

“We are tremendously proud to publish Alex Epstein’s work again, and his use of a new medium and method of storytelling is inspiring,” explained Andy Hunter, founder of Electric Literature in a statement. “We are excited to present this unique app to readers everywhere. We are in an era of publishing innovation and Electric Literature is an enthusiastic participant.”

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13. Take a ‘Shelfie’ to Get a Free eBook Version of Any Print Book You Own

1_shelfie.minWant an eBook version of a book that you own in print? Check out bitlit, a new app that will help connect you with an eBook if you can prove that you own the print edition.

With the app, you take a “shelfie” of your book shelf. The app will use that photo to see if any of the books on your shelf are eligible for a free download. Here is more from bitlit about how to claim the title:

Now that you know which books are available, take a photo of the cover of your book and sign your name on the copyright page in ALL CAPS.

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14. App of the Week: aa

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 10.04.05 AM

Title: Aa

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost: Free, with in-app purchases

I discovered this addictive "waiting game" after watching our students staring, seemingly blankly, at their iPads, ready to spring when they see an opening. It might look like something out of The Manchurian Candidate, but while the central wheel twirls around, the player must gauge the perfect moment to add another spoke in the spaces remaining without knocking any of the existing elements. Any error sends you back to the adding all of the elements all over again.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 10.05.49 AM

Like Dots, the underlying gaming concept behind Aa couldn't be simpler. Any gesture on the screen inserts a spoke at the bottom of the spinning radius. But, by adding an element as you advance through each level, it quickly builds into a challenge as it becomes more difficult to insert a new one given the scant room available. Avoiding the impulse to "fire" spokes in a rapid-fire manner is the real test of patience and hand-eye coordination.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 10.05.36 AM

Aa is free, but the ability to skip and unlock levels are available as in-app purchases, as is a nominal charge to remove ads, which appear every few levels (just when a break can be welcome). The highest level you've mastered appears numerically in the center of the wheel, providing an immediate talking point based on skill.

General Adaptive Apps has a range of similar games using different shapes and objectives, but this seems to be their most popular incarnation. I think it might appeal to novice gamers getting new devices over the holiday, too.

For more apps for teens and the librarians who serve them, check out the App of the Week archive. Have a suggestion for an App of the Week? Let us know.

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15. Soundtrack Tool Booktrack Now Has 1 Million Members

booktrackBooktrack, a tool designed for self-published writers and publishers to add soundtracks to their eBooks, now has more than a million users.

The company, which launched 11 months ago, expects to reach 2 million by the end of its first year. Over the last year, more than 4,000 authors have joined the platform and Booktrack users have published more than 6,000 titles in 30 different languages. This includes more than just authors. Here is more from the press release:

Booktrack’s reach also extends to the classroom, where it has been proven to dramatically improve student literacy. More than 4,000 educators around the world have adopted the Booktrack Classroom application to help students more deeply engage with creative writing, essays, novels, and poetry studies.

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16. Sesame Workshop Releases Its First ‘Digital Pop-up Book’

screen520x924If you thought a print book was required for reading pop-ups, think again. Sesame Workshop has teamed up with digital services firm StoryToys to create a digital pop-up book that brings the elements of pop-up to the screen.

The first Sesame Street 3-D pop-up book, Elmo Loves You!, actually looks a lot like a real book in the way that the content jumps out at the reader. The book includes 15 interactive scenes, in which characters move and pop off of the page in the way that they would in a real pop-up book. Readers can help Ernie play the drums, exercise with Cookie Monster and count with the Count.

The eBook is currently available from iTunes for $3.99 and will soon be available on Amazon and Google Play.

You can watch a video demo of the story here.

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17. New App Features Every One of Dr. Seuss’ 55 Books

screen520x924Oceanhouse Media has been putting out digital versions of Dr. Seuss apps for the past few years.

Now the company has built the ultimate app for fans of the children’s book author: the Dr. Seuss Treasurythe entire classic Dr. Seuss book collection in one app.

The app includes 55 digital books. Each book includes the original text along with interactive features that were developed for the story. There is also a tool that allows parents and teachers to track a young reader’s progress.

The app is available through a subscription or you can buy the entire collection for one payment. It costs $14.99 per quarter or $49.99 per year for a membership or $99.99 to buy the whole thing.

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18. NPR’s Books Concierge Returns

cover2_custom-a1e9548a368241f2cbbcc1c5912aedd63246fed7-s600-c85Looking for books to buy for the reader on your holiday shopping list this year? Check out NPR’s Books Concierge. The service, which launched last year but has been updated and expanded for 2014, allows you to search the NPR staff’s favorite books of the year based on what you feel like reading.

The Book Concierge lets you mix and match from 26 different categories of reading including: Funny Stuff; Historical Fiction; It’s All Geek to Me; and Let’s Talk About Sex. All of the books are tagged with various categories, and you can hone in on your search. For instance a search for “It’s All Geek to Me” and “Love Stories” recommends Andrew Smith‘s 100 Sideways Miles. A search for “Funny Stuff” and “Music Lovers” nets Caitlin Moran‘s novel How to Build a Girl. The app features 250 titles. (more…)

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19. Tom Hanks Types a Book of Short Stories

TomHanksHeadshotGiven his affinity for typewriters and his collection of favorite models, including a Hermes 2000, a 1930s Remington, and a midcentury Royal, we imagine Tom Hanks tapped out first drafts for the book he just sold to Alfred A. Knopf. Images of his typewriters inspired a series of short stories.

According to the New York Times: “’The stories are not about the typewriters themselves, but rather the stories are something that might have been written on one of them,’ Mr. Hanks said in a statement released by Knopf on Monday.”

In September, Hanks shared the origin story for his typewriter love with NPR’s Audie Cornish, “I ended up just having them around because they’re beautiful works of art, and I ended up collecting them from every ridiculous source possible. It really kicked off probably when I had a little excess cash. But better to spend it on $50 typewriters than some of the other things you can blow show-business money on.”

He also discussed with Cornish how using a typewriter changes the writing process:

“It makes me work a little slower, and when you work a little slower, you work a little bit more accurately. … I like operating a little bit slower. Typing on an actual typewriter on paper is only a softer version of chiseling words into stone.”

Hanks’ book of short stories follows the release in August of his writing app, Hanx Writer, which simulates a typewriter keyboard and action, and his 2013 New York Times op-ed, “I Am TOM. I Like to TYPE. Hear That?”

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20. App of the Week: Brushstroke

Name: Brushstroke
Cost: 2.99
Platform: iOS 7 or later

code organa logoBrushstroke is a seemingly simple app that turns a photo into a painting. You might think to yourself, so what? But really, it’s a pretty powerful tool that gives teens, teachers, and librarians the chance to use a variety of effects on their photos and is a great way to start discussions on painting techniques, styles, how visual messages change as a result of visual choices, and even artists and art movements.

The way it works is that a user selects a photo from an iPad or iPhone camera roll or takes a photo from within the app. The next step is to crop the image if need be. After that, and I admit it took me a minute to figure out how to get from the crop screen to the painting screen – it’s the > on the top right (as you can see in the images below) – the image is rendered as a painting. In the photos below you’ll see the original version of the photo I painted on the left and the painted version on the right.

original photo of harry and lulu relaxing brushstroke painted photo of harry and lulu relaxing

Once a photo is turned by Brushstroke into a painting, a wide-array of painting styles are available to render the image in. Choices range from oil and watercolor styles to experimental and abstract styles. You can also add color filters; a canvas type such as primed, rough, canvas, stone, and so on; change exposure, brightness, and add a highlights; and add a signature to a painting. Brushstroke signature screenWhen adding a signature there are a few color choices available and as the signature is created it’s visible on the painting so it’s easy to tell which color will display the best.

After completing a painting it can be saved, shared via traditional social media channels, or even produced and shipped framed and ready to hang in a school, library, or teenager’s bedroom.

Teens who are interested in different styles of art can compare their favorite artist’s paintings to the styles they create with Brushstrokes. Teachers who are working with teens in art classes, history classes, and so on can use Brushstroke as a jumping off point in conversations about the ways in which different painting techniques can be used in order to send a particular message or create a particular emotion.

Turning a photo into a painting might seem like a simple idea. But in reality, to transform the photo into the style most appropriate for the image portrayed takes a lot of thought and trial and error. Critical thinking and problem-solving are a key part of the process.

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21. Scribd Subscribers to Have Access to 30,000 Audiobooks

Scribd 200Scribd will add 30,000 audiobooks to its library.

Subscribers to the digital book streaming service will have access to both new releases and popular backlist titles. Some of the audiobooks that have been made available include Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, Roberto Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives, and Brené Brown’s nonfiction book Daring Greatly.

Here’s more from the press release: “The addition of this extensive audiobooks selection, which includes titles from Blackstone, HarperCollins, Scholastic and Naxos, to Scribd’s existing library of more than half a million eBooks represents the largest unlimited-access offering of eBooks and audiobooks available today…Listeners can browse special audio-only collections curated by Scribd’s editorial staff, including collections arranged by length, narrator, and subject, from ‘Shakespearean Actors Reading Shakespeare’ to ‘Roadtrip Listening: SF to LA,” to “What to Listen to on the Way to a Job Interview.’”

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22. NaNoWriMo Tip #7: Always Carry a Notepad

evernoteIdeas can come at any time. All writers, that certainly includes NaNoWriMo participants, should get in the habit of carrying around a notepad to jot down their thoughts at a moment’s notice.

These days, there are other ways to doodle and scribble besides using pen and paper. The Evernote team recently released the Penultimate app for iOS mobile device users; the developers made it a mission to give users the “most natural digital handwriting experience on iPad.”

This is our seventh NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in a single month, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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23. NaNoWriMo Tip #10: 3 Ways to Tackle Writer’s Block

Murakami QuoteEven the most seasoned authors tangle with writer’s block. We’ve collected five methods to help with this affliction so that NaNoWriMo participants can continue to progress with the projects.

(1) iPad users can try out the “Unstuck” app to access digital tools and encouragement from an empathetic community.

(2) Grammy Award winner Sting was able to beat his writer’s block by drawing inspiration from other people’s stories. The memory of the the shipyard workers he knew from his youth lead him to write the songs for The Last Ship musical.

(3) American Born Chinese graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang forces himself to write “horrible, amateurish, grammatically incorrect, barely comprehensible sentences.” At some point, “ the decent sentences start coming out.”

This is our tenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.

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24. Penguin Random House Audio Team Launches The ‘Volumes’ App

VolumesThe Penguin Random House Audio team has developed a new discovery app called “Volumes.”

With this free app, readers can listen to clips from works by Jodi PicoultSophie Kinsella, and Jim Gaffigan. Sometimes, full-length audiobooks will be made available at no charge. At the moment, users can download a free digital copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which features the voice acting talents of Jim Dale.

Her’s more from the press release: “As part of the app’s launch, and to encourage users to give listening a try, Penguin Random House Audio is working with Literacy Partners to donate one audiobook (up to 25,000 audiobooks) for every person that downloads the app and pledges to listen. Listeners can take the pledge on Random House Audio’s Facebook page.” What are your favorite audiobooks?

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25. ‘Captivated By You’ Joins The iBooks Bestsellers List

Captivated By YouSylvia Day’s new book, Captivated By You, has joined Apple’s Top Paid iBooks in the U.S. at No. 1.

Apple has released its top selling books list for paid books from iBooks in the U.S. for week ending November 10, 2014. David Baldacci’s new thriller, The Escape, and Gillian Flynn’s suspense novel, Gone Girl, are occupying the second and third spots on the list this week.

We’ve included Apple’s entire list after the jump.
(more…)

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