Christmas is just around the corner and Nativity Plays, Carol Services and festivity and good cheer are the order of the day. Pupils are excited and their concentration levels are decreasing with every passing day. For this reason I would like to showcase some Christmas apps that can help them access the magic of Christmas in a fun and educational way.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – Dr. Seuss by Ocean House Media
All of the Dr. Seuss apps are excellent so naturally the Christmas lives up to these high standards. This interactive book includes professional narration, background audio and enlarged art work for each scene. Children tap pictures and words increasing engagement and promoting reading skills. What I particularly like about this app is that it combines the original artwork with interactive technology bridging the gap between the old and new. This book can be read to the child or the “Read it Myself” option can be used when the child can read it independently. Autoplay plays the book like a movie for younger readers. Children can also record their own voices. This option on many of the e-books is extremely useful in the classroom setting.
The Nutcracker Musical Storybook by Mouse King Media
This app really caught me by surprise. It tells the story of Clara and her beloved Nutcracker Prince. The artwork is magnificent and the story comes to life through music and colour. The children are captivated from the first scene and asked to read it again and again. What gives this app the edge over many others is its simplicity and clever marriage of music and picture. It is a wonderful introduction to the well known Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker for any child or indeed adult. The book features interactive sound effects where the child can rub a lamp to make a geenie appear and make the cat purr! The only issue would point out is that navigation is not quite as clear as other Interactive Storybook apps. This navigation and orientation in reading is a basic component for developing comprehension skills and I found even the more proficient readers getting lost in certain sections of the book.
A Christmas Carol by PadWorx Digital Media Inc.
This book brings to life the classic work of Charles Dickens in 130 pages of interactive ingenuity. The eye could not but be drawn to the graphics, music and sound. The book features all sorts of knobs and steam powered devices and reminds me of spell classes in Hogwarts. Throughout the story the reader can find hidden Easter Eggs for bonus content. The story itself is a little dark for younger children and teachers and parents should use their own discression in deeming it as appropriate for their intended audience. Nonetheless this interactive book is a festive feast that has been directly endorsed by the Dickens’ family.
Deck the Halls HD – Sing and Play Alongs Musical Christmas Book by Jackson Fish Market. This app has similarities to a Happy Feet game for Nintendo DS a few years ago. You tap the “fa la la la la la la la la” along and keep in time with the song. It is a bit tricky in the beginning but by the end of the song I had a six year old pupil who mastered the timing. I think this is definitely something that we could be seeing a lot more of and engagement again is high but perhaps more shortlived than other apps due to limited nature of song.
The Night Before Christmas by Mving Tales Inc.
The Night Before Christmas by One Hundred Robots
Pop Out! The Night Before Christmas by Loud Crow Interactive Inc.
These three apps are excellent and show that there is more than one way to tell a story. This poem is a particular favourite in my class and so when I saw there were three apps based on the poem I just had to get them.
Nighty Night! HD – Winter Special by Shape Minds and Moving Images GMBH
12 Days of Christmas Sing Along by Polk Street Press LLC
This app lets you video record your class singing the song. They absolutely loved it. The singer is slightly annoying so we turned her off as she sang an alternate melody. You can then save the recording and export it to your Camera Roll. Simple and effective use of the iPad camera. I was able to project this onto my Interactive Whiteboard screen using the Reflector App and so it really motivated the children to sing along.
iTunes – 12 Days of Christmas
Free downloads from iTunes from 26th December until 6th January 2013. This app is similar to 2011 version. The app sends push notifications of what the download is for that day. There is no catch, last year I was highly sceptical. Not all items may be of interest to you and you are free not to download but I know that some were very good and am looking forward to what they will make available for us this year.