Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Article: Role play – kids apps to help kids process a new situation with play

Kids learn best through play and explaining what they are seeing and doing. Recently, every time I turn on the television news or tune in to the local radio, I am prompted things that I know I do not want my child to see or things that I might consider to be scary for them.  Research has shown that children learn best through play — and playing out situations via role play can help them to better process and understand them.  With the recent Hurricane Harvey here in the United States – there has been a lot of news on the television and radio that is overwhelming.  As such, I started thinking about some of my favorite apps that would help kids in these situations. Helping children process traumatic events they seen in the news such as the recent Hurricane Harvey and other frightening news, can be overwhelming.  Many children learn better with play therapy.  Below are a few apps that involve role play, social stories and more to help them process difficult situations as well as explore new situations.   Below is a list of some of my favorites.

Kids learn differently than adults.  Introducing a new situation can be hard.  One of the biggest things I struggle with as a parent is helping my kids understand a new situation.  Helping my kids prepare for new experiences can be overwhelming as.    One of my favorite thing about the MyPlayhome apps is that there are no rules – kids can play and role play while narrating what they are doing.  I love to see all the different games that my toddler comes up with or see my son talking about an upcoming doctors appointment using MyPlayhome Hospital.  Using Social Stories like Kid in the Storybook maker can help kids better understand a new situation.  Dr. Panda has a series of role play apps including firefighters, daycare, school bus and more.  .

My PlayHomeShimon Young is a genius. Shimon is the developer of the universal My PlayHome app and has managed to find a way to keep my iToddler (2.5) entertained for more than just a few minutes. Not an easy task. My PlayHome brings the dollhouse into the digital age by offering an entire virtual home, complete with an adorable family of five that kids can explore and interact with. Also available on the iPhone (Pocket PlayHome!), this app features beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and realistic sounds associated with each interaction. My PlayHome also has a simple user interface very easy for little fingers to control.  This app caters for 2-8 year olds which is appropriate as it’s simple enough for the younger users to play with yet detailed enough to keep the older kids entertained too.” Quite a comprehensive app but still very easy to use by its intended audience. One of the best kids apps I have come across on the App Store!”  This continues to be a top pick of The iMums for kids of all ages.  Read the full review.

 

My PlayHome StoresWhen iMum Amanda reviewed the original My PlayHome back in 2011 she described it’s creator Shimon Young as a genius, and I have to agree. After being  installed on our iPads for 2 1/2 years my kids still play with My PlayHome regularly, and there are very few apps that retain their appeal long term like that. So when I told my children there was a new My PlayHome app out, to say they were excited is a definite understatement.  My PlayHome brings the dolls house into the digital age with an entire interactive house and garden to play in, and My PlayHome Stores expands the play by adding four shops to explore and shop in. The app stars the same characters as the original app – there are 3 moms, 3 dads, 3 girls, 3 boys and 3 babies from a variety of ethnicities and you can mix and match them any way you like to create the family in the app. The twist that my children really love (and that I have not seen in any other app) is when the family go shopping in the stores they can walk home with their purchases, and if you own My PlayHome they can take their purchases from the stores back to their home.  Read the full review.

My PlayHome HospitalIn the fantastic tradition of the Playhome Software Company, comes the latest My Playhome app, My Playhome Hospital. Fully integrated with the other My Playhome apps (HomeSchool and Store), this new app allows the player to explore all aspects of the hospital experience. When the app is opened, the child is faced with the view of the hospital and an ambulance. No settings tab, no external options, and no parental tab. The only extra button to press is the Tidy the Hospital wheel, which is a great option. It allows the player to actually erase the previous designs created and start fresh. The home page ambulance can be driven to the school, home or store; linking the other apps (one of my favorite features).  An interactive app that familiarizes children with the workings and people in the hospital setting. Multiple different scenes with many opportunities to interact with the objects and characters on each page.

 

My PlayHome SchoolOne of the best loved toys of all time are doll houses. It brings hours upon hours of enjoyment to boys and girls alike, and it’s only limitation is a child’s imagination. My PlayHome Software Ltd has brought this enjoyment in the most portable form possible in My PlayHome, My PlayHome Stores, and very recently, My PlayHome School.  While my children and I enjoyed My PlayHome and My PlayHome Stores, My PlayHome School far exceeded our expectations. It has almost everything you could find in an elementary school: a receptionist desk, the principal’s office, a cafeteria, boys and girls restrooms, a science lab, an auditorium, a janitor’s closet, lockers, and of course, classrooms.  Read the full review.

 

 

Explaining difficult situations to kids or helping them understand something new is the premise of  Kid in the Storybook maker.  This app allows you to take photos of an upcoming event — be it a doctors appointment, new school or even a vacation and use your own words, photos and voice to describe it to the reader.  I loved using Bluebee Pals with my son when we recently did a social story about his new school.

Kid in Story Book Maker:... iconEnuma, designs assistance and play-based learning apps to empower kids to be independent learners. they have a special interest in producing apps for children with special needs.  LocoMotive Labs is located in Berkeley, California and was founded in 2012, its design team includes many of the team who produced the Injini child development suite. Kid in Story was designed to help parents and therapists easily produce their own stories for children. As children with Autism often respond well to social stories that include them, they wanted to include a way to easily add the child into the story.  Read our full review.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
Yaya Learns English by Kiddies City – Review

Yaya Learns English by Kiddies City – Review


What we love…

bright interactive app that encourages children to learn a variety of words in English ranging from numbers, colors, shapes, and everyday words.

What we’d love to see…

use of matching numbers to roman numerals for the counting, no timer for some of the games, shorter “test” at the end of the app

Summary

Fun interactive kids app that teaches children numbers and a variety of words in a interactive birthday adventure for Yaya.  There is no IAP or advertising.

Our Rating

Yaya Learns English by Kiddies City is a iPad only app in which a young girl named Yaya explores the city in a variety of interactive scenes.  Each scene has a variety of activities from finding coins and matching them up by numbers in the train scene, to earning tickets at a theme park and attending a birthday party!   The app uses U.K. English, but many words are similar to American English and it is great for kids of all ages.  The app features English, German, Spanish, Korean, or Chinese as languages.  There are four apps in the series including Yaya learns German, Yaya learns Spanish, Yaya learns Chinese all of which have a similar story just with different languages tied to them.  The app features multi step directions, completing a task, finding coins and matching them up, getting the birthday ready and more.

My son loves anything to do with trains – so he really enjoyed putting together the tracks and matching the first letter of the objects (“r” for rainbow and “t” for tree).  He really enjoyed trying to make the tracks correct so he could continue within the app.  At the birthday party, it was fun for my son to help Yaya decorate by making juice – he chose orange and loved watching the blender make it.  He also enjoyed matching the letters to the words and getting stars for finishing each task.  The app has beautiful artwork with animations throughout including floating balloons.  As a mom, I also liked my kids could touch the speaker icon to hear the word spoken again.  The app features numbers from one to ten and thirty seven other words like apple, roller coaster, bridge, house and other words you use everyday in the English language.  The narration in the app is well done by a native English speaker.  I would suggest this app for kids aged four through about second grade because of the complexity for some of the mini games.  I liked that the app had a comprehension test at the end – although 30 questions seemed a bit high – I would prefer if there were ten or so questions that rotated through.  My older son especially enjoyed the birthday room and making the cake, blowing up the balloons and sorting the candy items for the favor jars.  The app features a gated parental area which includes a glossary of the words including pronunciation, links to social media.  This parental area is accessed by touching a number and holding it for three seconds.

iPad Screenshot 1

In terms of improvements, seeing a number on a coin versus the roman numeral can be confusing for kids who may not have learned that concept yet.  I have a 3 year old who loved finding the coins, but had a hard time matching them to the roman numeral because they were not the same. When you successfully complete the numbers, you are presented with a screen which shows the coins – again with numbers and the spelling of the number which is different than how it is presented within the app. Older kids may understand the concept more clearly and be able to execute   There are also a number of items within the various screens it would be nice to see an interaction with when you touch them.  In the park, my son got frustrated because when you put the kids on the rides you are timed as you answer questions – it would be nice for younger kids if you didn’t have a timer because when time ends you have to start the level again.    I would also like to be able to mute the background music – as it can be a bit distracting but when you turn down the sound you lose the narration.

Overall, this is a cute app designed to help kids learn English in a fun and interactive way.  It is designed for children who already speak English  as well as non native English speakers.  The mini games are fun and have good replay opportunities – but younger kids especially can get frustrated when you try the app because of the inconsistencies in the levels of the games.  There are no in-app purchases and no advertising contained within the app. This is a fun educational app that will have kids playing over and over again.


Yaya Learns English
Yaya Learns English
by Chin Yee Karwehl

Category: Education, Educational, Games, Family
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 229.25 MB

$1.99USD

Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
Date Wheel Date Calculator by Creative Algorithms – Review

Date Wheel Date Calculator by Creative Algorithms – Review


What we love…

super easy to use date calculator that lets you countdown to dates; figure out when follow up appointments should be and more!

What we’d love to see…

ability to integrate with iOS calendar; calculate by years as a countdown

Summary

Overall this is an easy to use date app which helps you calculate the time from period in a variety of ways.  It does include a “rate this app” in iTunes link but because it’s primarily for parent’s this isn’t a problem.

Our Rating

Date Wheel date calculator  Date Wheel by Creative Algorithms is a great app that lets you calculate from one date to another using business days, weeks, months and regular days.  It has made scheduling my life as a mom so much easier.  The app is very straightforward and easy to use and it easily calculates date duration without complicated math or even having to look at a calendar!   How many times have you stood looking at a calendar trying to figure out when you need to follow up with your kids doctor or schedule your next haircut?  Other apps by Creative Algorithms include Recipe Manager which I love to use near the holidays.

To use the app, first you click on the start date – this can be a date you can enter or you can click the button for “today”. From there you set the duration and pick the type of duration it is ranging from months, weeks, days or business days. The app will fill in the end date for you at the bottom.  Alternatively, you can fill in the start date and end date and it will tell you the duration in between – we used this as part of a back to school countdown for my kids. I can tell you how many times I have stood at the counter of my kids doctors waiting for them to schedule a follow up appointment in X weeks.  Schedulers will often say the doctor has availability at X and I usually took it at face value because I wasn’t doing the calculating at the moment – now with a quick date entry I can figure out the number of weeks and if the date is in the ballpark.  We also used the app to count down to the solar eclipse that recently occurred near us.

iPhone Screenshot 4I really like how easy the app is to use – and the flexibility of the app.  Being able to calculate by months, weeks and days is how I normally use it the app.  You can also use it for project planning as well.  At the bottom you can save and have a number of date trackers running all at the same time should you be using it to track milestones or you can simply use it and not save it.

My son used it this summer to track the number of days he had left in his summer reading program.  He also used it to count down to the end of the summer and plan for us to buy school supplies.  You can easily enable or disable sound as well as have the end date included.  You can also easily keep track of calculations by clicking hte list in the lower right hand corner.  Other ideas include: when to schedule your next dental cleaning or haircut; count down to important days; and even calculate when an item will arrive.  I also like the lock function so you can lock things like the start date, duration and end date.

In terms of improvements, I would like to be able to calculate by years in a future update.  Another would be integration with the iOS or Android calendar to remind me that I need to do x task in the future.

Overall this is an easy to use date app. It does include a “rate this app” in iTunes link but because it’s primarily for parent’s this isn’t a problem.  Under the “i” there are online links including Facebook, Twitter and various contact me items.   If you want to try before you buy, you can test it on the web.  You can also check out some other great productivity apps on our site!


Date Wheel date calculator Date Wheel date calculator by Creative Algorithms

Price: $2.99 USD

Date Wheel™ is an award-winning date calculator that calculates time between two dates in months, weeks, days, & business days. ● Save calculations for future reference. ● Countdown to an important.

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
Stanley Stand by Distil Union – Review

Stanley Stand by Distil Union – Review

What we love…

easy to use portable stand for your iPhone, iPad or other device

What we’d love to see…

better way to carry it around – I currently put it back in the box each time I use it although it can be flattened.

Summary

Overall, this is a great flexible stand which is perfect for anyone with tech in your life.  It’s held up very well during my testing and multiple uses.

Our Rating

recommended-by-the-imums

The Stanley Stand by Distil Union is a leather device that bends to hold your device and accessories while cooking, serving as a portable charging station, holding your tablet and more.  Stanley Stand is made of leather, merino wool felt and heavy steel.  The Stanley Stand is covered on the outside by leather in your choice of color (black, brown, gray, lime, aqua, red) and on the inside is Merino wool felt.  They cover up a piece of steel inside which bends to make the Stanley stand usable in so many situations.  Each stand has light grey Merino wool felt which has white stitching, and the darker stand (black) has darker grey felt with black stitching.  The stand features a small hole in the back designed to feed your cables through so they are not in the way of your device.

You can use it as a non-traditional dock on your desk at work, on your kitchen counter to hold your device while cooking, to act as a small typing stand or simply to get your device up from a flat spot.  It will hold phones and tablets up to 8″ tall and held my iPad Mini in a Griffin Survivor case quite comfortably.  You can bend the stand to your viewing angle (so you can watch movies while it is on a table or use it for cooking) or a low angle so you can use it as a typing stand.  Inside the box is the Stanley Stand in your choice of color and a USB extension cable which is six feet, this plugs into your lightening charger for your iOS device and works with any USB cable you already use to charge your device by giving it a bit more length.

When I got my Stanley Stand I started coming up with great ideas of using it.  The Stanley Stand is  small enough to toss in my backpack and bring with me when I’m out with my kids, so I can stream a Netflix movie while they are having an appointment or while I wait in the car for the time of the appointment.  I also brought it along as a portable charger – I like many have my iPhone go dead sometimes.  This can be frustrating – especially when you find a plug but it’s a little bit too far away or perhaps you don’t want to be limited by the length of your standard issue Apple cable.  Thankfully using the USB extension you can now comfortably sit in a char while having your device plugged in!  I also liked the Stanley Stand when cooking – I have lots of recipes on my device but I hate touching my iPhone with dirty hands to check the ingredients.  Now, I simply prop it on the Stanley Stand, turn off sleep mode and get cooking!  My husband also recently brought the Stanley Stand to a conference he attended where he had all of the slides on his iPad – instead of having to hold his device while listening to the lecture he simply propped it up and could easily follow along.  One of my favorite things was that I could adjust the Stanley Stand to almost any direction to make it suit my needs – it was nice that it was not molded plastic and static.

In terms of enhancements – right now I put the Stanley Stand back into the box each time I take it somewhere with me – and the box is getting a bit tattered.  I haven’t figured out a better solution – it’s pretty small and fits in tight spaces but I don’t want to mistakenly stretch it out.  It does fold flat – and I have done that a few times to slide it into a tight space in my bag – but I’m not sure if that is a good idea long term.

Overall, this is a great flexible stand which is perfect for anyone with tech in your life.  It’s perfect for kids who may be using a tablet to do reading and need to prop it up, adults who need a desktop charging stand or anything in between.  It’s held up very well during my testing and multiple uses.  In fact, if anything the leather has gotten a nice patina to it.  At a cost of $49.99 USD I feel the Stanley Stand is worth it and is a great gift for someone on your list who may be hard to buy for!  You can buy it direct from Distil Union for $49.99, Amazon and other retailers.

Product details

  • Compatibility: Phones and tablets up to 8″ tall
  • Bend to your viewing angle, or low angle for ergonomic typing
  • Premium materials, skilled craftsmanship, and 1-year warranty
  • Materials: Leather, Merino wool felt, and heavy steel
  • Included: USB extension cable (6ft) – Note: Cable is NOT an iPhone cable. Instead, it works with any USB cable you already use to charge your device.

 

 

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.

 

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

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