Painting with sound

Babi2.0 playing with Singing fingers. Took her a minute to work out she needed sound and contact with the touch-screen to be able to draw. Maximum cuteness points for her song though!

 

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Ozobots

The girls got the chance to play with some Ozobots recently. They respond to the colour and path of whatever line you place them on, so they will move along the path and change colour or direction depending on the colours they pass over.

The bots come with some pre-printed cards and you can download games for tablets but the most fun for our 3 and 5 year olds was to draw their own. The lines need to be fairly thick to work but they soon got the hang of it.

I tried to draw a path with loops (physical not code) to see if the ozobots could write a name but these little guys want to follow the easy path and got confused by the crossroads.

If you think of any other ideas to try please let me know!

Babi2 is home with the chicken pox and I’m preparing for a tech workshop, sounds like a perfect combination!

If you can get hold of one, MaKey MaKey is a neat bit of kit which makes anything into a keyboard. It takes less than a minute to set up and the only limits to what you can do with it really are your imagination and the contents of your fruit bowl. Check out all the fun projects here.

I showed her how to connect it and loaded up the piano and bongos websites. She mastered those and then realised she could connect me up too, either by holding my hand or by having me hold onto a crocodile clip and then pressing my nose instead of the banana to play the notes!

 

On the BabiTech iPhone

I’m sure you’re all dying to know which apps made it to the current BabiTech list. If there’s something missing that Babis 1 and 2 really need to have, stick it in the comments and we’ll try it out.

IMG_4720Toca Boca

Toca Boca’s Hair Xmas, Toca Builders, Toca Band, Toca Fairy Tales, Toca Hair Salon 2, Toca Kitchen Monster, Toca Doctor

Yes we are huge fans of Toca Boca, no they didn’t pay me to say that. We’ve not found one we don’t all like. The games are well thought out, catchy but not mindless, creative, educational and fun.

Apps Cymraeg

S4C Cyw, Cyw a’r Wyddor, Mwnci Bach, Tref a Tryst, Cyfri gyda Cyw, Ben Dant

The apps produced by S4C are pretty good, my favourites are Cyw a’r Wyddor which helps teach letter formation (Welsh alphabet) and Cyfri gyda Cyw which does the same with numbers. Mwnci Bach is one of those interactive games where the monkey repeats back to you whatever you say, it frequently breaks and I recently removed it as it drives me nuts and has little edcational value. Ben Dant is Babi 2’s favourite, there’s a memory game, a spot the difference and a couple of other games with a pirate theme.

Big Click‘s Llythrennau and Llawysgrifen are excellent letter learning games created by a company in the Rhondda, just up the road from BabiTech HQ. They have a real community focus and work closely with kids, more about them soon I hope!

The Rest

Lightbot – one hour coding There are a few apps in the lightbot series and they all teach coding through a series of tasks which you have to programme the animated robot to complete. It’s cute and simple but needs some basic app literacy and a patient adult on standby.

TACU I have talked about before, great fun adding animated faces and audio to any picture, this is one of those apps to work on together as the interface is not terribly child friendly.

Singing Fingers is so lovely and creative, I wish the iPhone version worked as well as the iPad one does. It’s Babi1’s favourite way to make a lot of noise. Touching the screen triggers audio recording and leaves a mark, you re-touch the mark to play back the sound. Babi1 likes to sing a scale whilst drawing a spiral and then play it back backwards tracing her finger back over the pattern she drew.

If that sounds too complicated watch the video

And last but not least, my favourite app of all time is Qiver (formerly ColAR Mix) the augmented reality colouring book. You have to print the pictures from their website (pdfs so you can save them) and colour them in however you like. Then scan them with the app and see them come to life. Magical!

IMG_2611

Frozen Coding

I just found a lovely one hour coding tutorial where you learn how to get Anna and Elsa to skate in a snowflake pattern. I’d say it was suitable for a bright 6 year old with supervision, I’m going to try it with My 5year old but think she’ll get bored after the first few screens, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Try it on your computer at https://code.org/learn

There are other games apps and ideas on the site, I think the unplugged activities will be easier with younger children. I’m hoping I can get babis 1 and 2 to programme each other!

Heggs

We took Jen Hughes’ advice and tried out the TACU app. It’s lots of fun and if you use your imagination, educational too. I asked my girls to tell me what eggs would say if they could talk, here’s the result!

Noisy Creatures

Happy Touch – Animals

http://www.happy-touch-apps.com/

The free version is a very basic cartoon farmyard scenes where the animals make sounds when touched. Provided 2 minutes entertainment max for both Babis. For 69p you can unlock more pictures.

Pros – pretty pictures and very little risk of exploring fingers accidentally downloading in-app purchases due to a nifty little double tap requirement, so thumbs up for that.

Cons – limited educational value, and some of the noises are a tad suspect.

 

Grasshopper Apps – Animal sounds

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/animal-sounds-baby-toddler/id692853597?mt=8

The free version has over 24 animal sounds linked to photographs of the animals, an upgrade will set you back 69p. Tapping on the thumbnail plays the sound and shows you a bigger version of the picture, you have to tap the picture to return to the menu.  Animals are divided into those well known biological kingdom categories of Cat, Cockerel, Rhino, Bird, Squirrel and Snake.

Pros – authentic sounds and good pictures provide some educational value.

Cons – you need pretty good fine motor skills to change categories as the buttons are tiny making it not so child friendly.

Six tried and tested Android Babi apps

Android Apps

Baby Toy  – Babi loved it 10months+ nice pictures and it makes lots of fun sounds. The fun sounds can all be played at the same time so it eventually drove me mad! The phone locking pattern is a nice idea but was easily unlocked by my little one.

Talking Tom Cat (free version) caused no end of tantrums (“Eee-ow! Ee-ow! MINE!!!”) and as amusing as it was to hear Tom squawking back, the constant prompts to update or buy add-ons completely detracted from the  joy of having a very cute kitty talk to you. I appreciate that it wasn’t designed as a child friendly app, you can disable the “allow violence” feature, but even as an adult time-waster it’s more frustrating than fun.

Shoot Bubble Deluxe again not designed to be a child friendly app but lots of fun for little fingers. You tap the screen, it fires a coloured ball, it makes a funny sound, Babi giggles, hours of fun!

Lauren's Skitch
Artwork by the beautiful and brilliant Lauren aged 2 and three quarters who happens to have a learning disability.

Skitchcomes highly recommended for its ease of use, a friend’s little one worked out how to scribble a picture in seconds and was published on t’internet within minutes.

Baby Bus have lots of free apps for Android. We have been playing with three; letters, numbers and shapes.  The alphabet one is good fun once you get the hang of the controls although I couldn’t work out how to move past the first level, I’ll put that down to my phone being a bit naff!  Couldn’t get numbers to run without crashing the phone, again I’ll blame my phone but be wary if you’re short on memory. Babi likes the shapes one best of all because it’s easiest to understand but it is very repetitive and even she got bored of finding all the squares, crescents and “rounds”.  Not bad for a freebie and kept Babi (26 months) entertained for a good half hour.