Natural selections: Apps

Summer’s here and the forecast calls for products that will get children out in the garden, on their feet and in interactive mode on those long road trips.

SPARK!

The stereotypical view of smart phones and iPods is that they drive families apart, with each member furiously fifi dgeting inside their own virtual bubble, oblivious to one another. Here’s an app designed to reverse that tendency and get families talking again. It provides users with 52 questions and scenarios designed to “spark” impromptu conversations and storytelling sessions between players. A perfect way to break lengthy silences on those long summer car journeys. Available at the iTunes App Store for iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. $0.99-$1.99. Spark! is also available in hard copy form, as a deck of cards, at select B.C. toy stores (neighbourhoodtoystores.ca) or from the creators’ web site, sparkstorystarters.com.

123 POP

What better way to get math-hating kids involved with numbers than a game that’s all about destroying them? Players launch rockets at numbered bubbles that descend through a dark blue seascape. When the bubbles pop their number is added to the score. You have to be quick, because vortices and giant sea beasts may emerge to devour the bubbles before your rocket gets to them. It’s a highly addictive way to build basic numeracy. Available at the iTunes App Store for iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. $0.99.

ABC EXPEDITION

Captain Wallace, a cheerful Brit, takes preschoolers on a tour of his virtual zoo. Kids touch a letter on the onscreen keypad and up pops an animal whose name begins with the corresponding letter. By tapping the screen, the players can listen to the animal make its distinctive call and get verbal prompts on how to pronounce the letter and the animal’s name. A lively but simple method for one- to four-year-olds to safari their way toward literacy. Available at the iTunes App Store for iPad. $2.99.

 

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