An ode to an app

My kid has been playing with the iPad for a long time and we have tried a lot of learning apps; some have been bigger hits than others. Some she has loved and I have hated because I don't understand what they were actually teaching. We've had some big hits that she still plays with, like the Monkey Preschool apps that I recommend to anyone looking for a toddler or preschooler friendly game. Last week I downloaded the Super Why! app from PBS Kids.

This is my ode to that app.


In the mornings we tend to watch CBC Kids while I'm getting some a bit of work done, and I had noticed that the kid got into Super Why! and was doing well with the sounding out of works with the Super Why team. I figured the show would have an app so I went looking and downloaded it.

When the kid plays the app, which has all four main characters doing different activities with letters and words. Princess Pea sings, and right along with her my daughter says 'S-P-E-L-L spell!'

She finds the sounds, makes the words, sings and laughs. This app is working her towards reading more than any other she's played so far and I love to watch it. When I sit down with her with workbooks or a crayon on some paper she doesn't get as involved as she does with the Super Why! team.

I give it an A+.


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App review: Bunny Math Race

by Lara I don't know about your kids but mine love apps, so when I got the opportunity to review a new iPad (it also works on android) app for kids 3-8 I was really excited.


What they tell you (AKA Key features)

  • Different math-learning tasks for 3-8 years old kids
  • Child-friendly, easy to play interface: they only need to tap!
  • Cute, colorful and cartoonish 3D game environment, with lots of fun tasks!
  • 18 levels of fun! Play in Desert, Icy Road or in Mountain scenes!
  • 6 free-to-play Race Tracks in Bunny Math Race for kids FREE
  • 3 levels of difficulty – the challenge adjusts with addition and subtraction tasks


How I see it

The app is simple but a lot of fun.  While a little too easy for my 6.5 year old (he mastered all the levels in about half an hour), the 4 year old twins both like it and are definitely learning from it.

They like getting to choose the colour of their bunny.


They like racing their bunnies and winning carrots.


And when it gets too hard they just like to hit all the answers until something works :)



The app is free and definitely worth checking out.  Unless you value your own time with the iPad because in the week we've owned it I've woken up more than once to a little face looking at mine asking "can I play the bunny game?" ;)

*This is a sponsored post.  All opinions on the game belong to me and my bunny adoring children :)

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The beauty of a visual schedule

by Karen This is a post in an ongoing series I'm doing for Kids in the Capital to talk about our experience in going through the assessment process for our son, Brandon. My hope is to give ideas and insight to families of special needs children, as well as some creative ideas for families who want to incorporate different ideas, all while raising awareness and telling our story.


A couple of months ago, we took Brandon to a speech pathologist for a series of assessments on his speech/language skills. It was an interesting process. I got to see a very concentrated view of his transitioning abilities, which is an area we've had challenges with for a long time.

And let's face it: Change is hard!

The speech pathologist gave us two really good tactics (and even made some of the tools for us to start with)!

First Then

"First then" is a shortened visual schedule method. We've used it to emphasize pieces of the overall daily schedule at times. Other times we use it to make it clear to Brandon that before he can do what he wants, there's something he needs to do.

Having a visual reference gives a more concrete understanding of what's going on, particularly for children who comprehend visual information more readily than verbal, as is the case with Brandon (based on my personal observations).

Visual Schedule

A visual schedule is portable, flexible and gives an overview of the entire day or a block of time that has a series of transitions. When we use it (and admittedly, we don't always think about it), transitions go more smoothly. We discuss the schedule as we're laying it out and Brandon gets to provide input.

(It cracks me up when he removes bedtime from the schedule, though I'm always super serious and never let him know it's funny. Yeah, right. ;))

Our visual schedule consists of an odd mish mash of items, but as we get deeper into using this as a tool, I am thinking of lots more to add to it.

Getting Brandon involved gives him a sense of control about his activities. This is important for him. He needs to feel safe and secure in knowing what's coming next. We don't like to plan our weekends and often regret not having a plan because we haven't equipped ourselves to adequately prepare Brandon to move from one activity to the next. (We're a work in progress!)

The visual schedule and first then tools would be useful for any child, though some clearly benefit more than others. If you're interested in putting one together, here are a couple resources to help you get started (Google can tell you loads more!):

Factsheet for autism therapy: visual schedules, by Healing Threshold

How-to Templates: Visual Schedules (PDF), by HANDS in Autism

Because we're a tech geek family, I was keen to find out what was available for our iDevices. Turns out there's quite a bit! did a review of "10 Revolutionary iPad Apps to Help Autistic Children" and I think there's one I'm going to check for a free trial version with the intent to buy if it's good. They range from free to nearly $200 for more sophisticated functionality. (Depending on a child's needs, that $200 may be a cheap expense. iPods/iPads - we've found - are fantastic for helping Brandon explore and learn.)

These tools were my first glimpse of how the pros would end up helping us learn to cope differently. There is a heightened level of attention to detail required of us to accommodate Brandon's needs, but he's worth it. Besides, the right kind of attention mixed with the right frequency has never been known to hurt a child.


Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (4), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping businesses use social media more effectively. Karen is also committed to doing her part to keep the coffee industry alive, because who needs sleep?

Making fun and easy videos

by Lara I've been wanting to make fun little videos of the kids for awhile but I often get derailed when trying to figure out how I would do it: what software would I need? Where do I find copyright free music?

Then I remembered a program I've seen a lot of photographers use and decided to try it out : Animoto.

It was easy as anything.  Free if you're happy with videos that are 30 seconds or less or for $30 for the year, you get access to more themes and you can make your videos as long as you want.

It was super straightforward to figure out and within minutes I had made this video:

Then I saw they were advertising their iPhone app so I downloaded that and then created another video right from my phone (nothing could be more convenient since my phone and iPad are where I take all my videos of the kids)

Have you ever played around with making fun little videos of the kids? What do you use?

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Learning through gaming

by Lara Kiernan loves to play video games. On the computer, on the iPad, on the Wii - wherever we'll let him. I try to make sure that he gets a variety of games to play. Sure he can play angry birds and where's the water, but sometimes I want him to play something that challenges him to think a bit more.

Scribblenauts is a game that gets the player to figure out how  to get through the levels by typing in words for items they need or actions they need to do. It takes a lot of thought to figure out what tools are needed and then how to spell the word.

I loved that Kiernan loved this game but the thing is, he can't spell, at all.  So playing this game became "Mommy, how do you spell tree?" "Mommy, how do you spell magic box?" "Mommy, how do you spell green potion?"

So I came up with a plan!  He had to TRY to spell each word three times.  If he couldn't do it, then he would draw a picture in his newly created Pictionary and I would then print the name of the word underneath the photo for future reference.

It made me feel better about letting him play games too much because he was alternating between being creative on paper and being analytical on the iPad.  Seemed like a great mix to me.

What creative ways have you come up with to turn the every day into something educational?

Lara is mom to five year old Kiernan and three year old boy/girl twins Quinn and Juliette. Between the kids and her social media consulting business, she spends most of her time running frazzled.

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