A few weeks ago, we were sent through a code to review a new educational ipad app from Mindshapes, based on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. It actually really reminds me of the LeapPad system, which is great for helping little learners as they start to read. You can choose between the "read to me" option or try help your child read along by themselves, with the possibility of clicking on words for a prompt. That in itself was immediately a big hit with Juliette, who is just starting to learn to read. It gives her great independence, knowing that she can click to get help when she gets stuck, so is a real confidence-booster, not to mention fabulous way of learning to recognise new words.
But the app offers so much more than that because it has a whole host of interactive features as the story progresses. You can change Jack's clothes (our personal favourite being the embarrassing Little Bo Peep outfit because he looks so cheesed off when you make him wear it !) and you need to look carefully at each screen to see if there are things to click on. For example, if you fill the sink up with water, it makes bubbles that you can pop and if you move the cloud, the rain moves around the screen. Juliette and Sophie loved hunting out these "secret" hidden things to click on.
We all loved the humour and modern twists on the classic fairy tale, and the bright colours and cartoon-style graphics went down well too. It's all a lot of fun and the girls loved playing, coming back to the app many times. But it's all actually carefully designed to get them thinking and learning without even realising it.
Mindshapes explain : "The classic fairy tale is re-interpreted through beautifully crafted animation, injected with cheeky humour and produced by Mindshapes’ award-winning design and animation team. The challenges and interactions have been overseen by Mindshapes’ educational consultants to develop a range of skills through play:
* Developing fine motor skills: Children can use the accelerometer to control the flight of Jack up and down the beanstalk
* Language development: The app gives parents the option to select either “Read by Myself” or “Read to Me”, highlighting the words being read to help the emerging reader
* Understand basic physics: Children can play with the magic beans and bounce them around the screen, colliding and falling in accordance with gravity and the orientation of the iPad"
Learning through play is always a winner and, parents and kids alike, here at The Madhouse we've all been impressed with how good the app is, for learning to read but also just for having fun and whiling away half an hour.
star rating : 5/5
RRP : £1.99
for more information : http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/jack-beanstalk-by-mindshapes/id448670529?mt=8
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