Smartick is an online Maths learning programme and unlike other apps, it uses artificial intelligence to adapt to each child’s style of learning. With only a 15 minute daily session allowed, it means that children won’t get bored, fed up, and encourages them to perform their daily questions in order to earn stars which they can spend at the end of each lesson on things such avatars and items for their online house.
Each day starts with a welcome and series of faces to see how the child is feeling along with the child’s own avatar that they can customise through their earning of stars.
It then goes into a series of questions which start off easing the child into a topic, breaking it down simply with pictorial questions if needed, then moving onto the same thing but in a different way. If a key pad is required, it will pop up in the corner of the screen, otherwise things can be dragged across the touch screen.
You are expected to let your child get on with this on their own which I did 100% of the time although I did watch over their shoulder a few times in order to write this review. The programme works intuitively and won’t move your child onto harder problems the next time if they struggled to grasp something this time. At the end of each session the child also gets a chance to retry the questions that they get wrong along with receiving extra stars of course!
The end result of each session is that the child receives a number of stars. This acts as an incentive for them as they get to finish the session and try to get things correct otherwise they won’t have stars to spend at the end. They can then use these to buy things to decorate their room, by virtual pets, presents for other players and clothes for their avatar.
What I particularly like about this programme is that I can log on to my online account and see how each of my children are getting on. But even better than that is that I receive an email everyday either reminding me that my child hasn’t yet done their daily session “This message is to inform you that Blake hasn’t completed today’s session yet.” Also immediately after every session completed an email comes in to let me know the kind of questions they have been working on along with their scores. I find this incredibly useful and interesting and it saves me having to log in and check for myself.
Seeing this also encourages me to get them to use the app as I can see the benefits of it and see that they are learning as they play, although it’s not strictly a game, they do actually enjoy answering the questions and have more fun spending their stars earnt at the end.
Smartick has been a fun learning tool that has had a lot of use between my children and I encourage them to complete their daily questions as often as possible. They don’t find it boring and actually enjoy using it, I think due to the short sessions and the fun way the tasks are presented. Smartick allows your child to move ahead faster than in school because it does not follow the national curriculum nor the Key Stage system so I’ll be interested to see how my children improve at school over the year, so far all is good and if they are happy to do Smartick then I’m more than happy to let them!
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received access to the product in order to write an honest review.
One thing I struggle with getting my kids to do is brush their teeth. Even when they do it’s a battle of getting them to keep brushing for two minutes and move the brush to every side of their mouth. So when I heard about Playbrush I was keen to try it out and see if it improved my children’s daily teeth brushing routine.
Playbrush is basically a small device that attaches to the bottom of a standard size toothbrush and via bluetooth connects to a phone or tablet allowing children to play a game alongside brushing their teeth. It is rechargeable and can easily be charged via a usb cable as and when required. When ready it simply pushes onto the bottom of the childs toothbrush.
To use the Playbrush you need to link to an app, which when open the device automatically connects to via bluetooth which makes it really simple for children to do themselves. My two can just take the phone and get going themselves. The game is easy to set up with multiple profiles so once done, the child can just touch their name to continue on with building up their score.
There are four different games available and we’ve tried them all, although my children tend to stick to their favourites but change sometimes for something different. Utoothia Sky is a regular game they play although my little boy loves Utoothia Paint where the more your brush, the more of your picture is coloured in. The catch is that each colour represents a different angle of brushing so to complete the picture you need to brush each side and both upper and lower teeth to fully colour the image.
Each game lasts for two minutes to allow for optimum brushing time. The game also requires you to move the brush in different directions in order to succeed which has definitely opened my children eyes to the lack of movement they usually brush with. In particular my little boy tended to keep his brush facing one way so never really got to the back teeth on the other side. The game has really encouraged him to turn his hand and give the teeth on the other side a really good scrub!
You can also purchase a smartphone holder which has suction pads to stick to tiles or a mirror. This is really useful to protect the smartphone and also to save anyone holding on to it. We found our mirror a little high for the children and they preferred sticking it onto the side of the bath if one of us wasn’t holding it, but it worked for them.
So what do we think about Playbrush?
The children love it and haven’t got bored of it. After several weeks of trying it out they still ask to borrow a phone daily to use with the Playbrush to brush their teeth. From my point of view, I can definitely see an improvement in my children’s brushing both in terms of length of time and technique. They definitely move the brush around their mouths more and it’s lovely to see a rich lather of toothpaste from them rather than a quick brush and spit it out. For our family the Playbrush has been a success and we are seeing a much better teeth cleaning routine. I’m hoping that they will form habits from using the games, so that when they don’t have the Playbrush attached they will automatically clean every angle and keep going for two minutes. Why not try one out with your kids today, it could be just that little bit of encouragement they need and make the whole process a lot less stressful for all of you!
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.
Biff, Chip and Kipper, the characters from the much loved, popular reading scheme for children have been turned into apps by Gazoob, a leading designer of children’s educational and games apps. The apps feature six levels of reading and phonics books and with 48 books in total, there is plenty to keep your little ones occupied either on their own or reading aloud with you.
The app is easy to use and it didn’t take my 4yr old long to work out what to press to get to where he wanted to be. He loved just listening to stories and repeated each sentence after hearing them. There are also some fun little activities at the end and one to find a certain object hidden on each page throughout the book. I liked the questions at the end to check the child’s understanding of what he had read or listened to. Mister B loved the spot the difference puzzles too!
Each level has 8 books, 4 reading stories and 4 phonics books. The phonics books are brilliant for Mister B who is just learning his sounds. He could practice, trace the letters and see words beginning with that letter. There are plenty of activities to keep him interested but I found it best to sit down with him doing these to ensure he knew what he was learning about and what he had to do on each page.
I think the app really helps parents to encourage children to practice and reinforce what they’ve learnt at school in a fun way.
Miss M is 6 and a confident reader but she enjoyed reading the books from the higher levels by herself before bed. I wasn’t sure she’d be keen but the Biff, Chip and Kipper books really seemed to appeal to her. The stories are fun and easygoing with a widespread appeal and certainly kept her quiet!
The apps are available for iPhone and iPad from the App Store, Android from Google Play and the Windows Store.
You can see a trailer about the apps here:
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the app in order to write the review.
Mr Thorne Does Phonics is one of a series of apps by Mr Thorne a primary school teacher who has produced numerous YouTube videos on the teaching of phonics, spellings and also various maths topics.
We downloaded Mr Thorne Does Phonics to the iPad to see what it was like. The app contains all the Youtube videos relating to phonics sounds in one easy place, so you can just tap the sound you want to practice and the video plays.
When I first showed 3 yr old Mister B the app, he was a little disappointed as he was expecting an app that he could be more interactive with by pressing the screen rather than just watching it. It took some encouragement from big sister Miss M who sat watching them herself and repeated the sounds and words that Mr Thorne says. Mister B being one who always copies his sister started saying the sounds too and got really into it, soon watching Mr Thorne himself and repeated the sounds that he heard.
This is really good to get little ones practising phonics sounds and basic words. All sounds and words are displayed clearly on the screen alongside a real life Mr Thorne who is pronouncing them. Mister B is really starting to grasp his letter phonics and this is great for him to sit down with to listen and repeat. When he’s in the right frame of mind he quite happily sits there copying the sounds – it’s so lovely to hear and you can really hear the enthusiasm in his voice.
For 6yr old Miss M who is becoming an increasingly confident reader, the one thing she struggles with is spellings. Sometimes I’m amazed at how well she reads but then writes a story with quite poor spelling, she literally writes how she sounds it out.
Mr Thorne’s Spellbook is a series of spelling tests, each of which consist of 10 spellings. Miss M has sat quite happily trying these out and worked out that if she gets all ten right then she gets some items to display in the museum. This helped motivate her into trying hard as she could see lots of empty museum shelves that needed filling and wanted to try and gain the rewards.
I love this app for Miss M as it really does challenge her, we have a lot of apps on the iPad that are below her age, and although she loves to play, they don’t challenge her in anyway. This is brilliant for spelling practice and is one area I really feel she lacks in. The first level on this is perfect for her ability, she can easily get 7 or 8 correct but needs to repeat the other few. There are two further levels concentrating on harder words that she has yet to reach.
Mr Thorne’s apps are simple, to the point and do the job they should – they teach children. There are no gimmicks, the children learn straight away but in a fun way. Obviously you need to have the child in the right mood to respond and react to the app but I can definitely say that these apps have been of benefit to my two, they’ve enjoyed them and continue to use them to this day.
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the app in order to write the review.
My Little Pony is a favourite with most little girls, and this latest App, A Canterlot Wedding is a lovely interactive storybook with activities that can be played over and over again.
The story follows the preparation for the Royal Wedding. Princess Celestia, the bride to be has allocated jobs to each of the ponies in Canterlot, but they need help to carry them out.
The images are bold and bright in this My Little Pony storybook, something Miss M really enjoyed looking at and listening to. The word are written on each page, but also read out loud and you are prompted when to turn the page. During the story, there are opportunities to help the ponies carry out their jobs, such as decorated the wedding cake, choosing the bridal outfit for Princess Celestia and picking flowers.
Miss M really had fun going through the storybook with a smile on her face as she turned each page to see what came next. I asked her opinion of the My Little Pony storybook at the end and she said “I loved it”.
I thought this was a lovely app, then many young girls would enjoy although I would say Miss M, at 6 is at the upper age range to enjoy this. I think girls aged 3-6 years would really get the most out of this and go back to it again and again.
The app is available through iTunes and is currently half price, so now’s the time to buy a copy if you know a little girl that might like this.
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received a free code in order to try out the app and write the review.
One thing I do like to be is organised in the mornings. There is nothing worse than getting up on a cold rainy morning, the house is cold, it’s dark and you need to get the children up ready for school and yourself ready for work. By getting things prepared the night before you are not only saving time but it make’s life a lot easier in the morning if you have less to do and you are less likely to forget anything.
The night before I always make the pack lunches, pop them in the fridge and leave the lunch boxes out ready along with book bags and any other bits that need to go to school the next day. That includes my bag for work of course! Then I ensure all of our clothes are ironed and laid out for the morning. Lastly before I head up to bed I get the bowls and spoons out for breakfast, one less thing to do in the morning – a great little time saver.
One thing I often forget before I go to bed and only realise as I’m laying there reading is that I have left the heating on!! It’s either quickly run downstairs to turn it off, or leave it on (which often gets me in trouble with the husband!) but Hive have come up with this helpful gadget to make your life easier, save you money and save energy! Hive Active Heating uses innovative technology to let you control your heating and hot water remotely via your smartphone, tablet or laptop. How fabulous is that? No more leaving your heating on at night – I could turn it off through my phone whilst laying in bed and have it set to come on half an hour before my alarm in the morning so the house is nice and warm when we get up.
With it’s ability to schedule your heating to come on and off throughout the day, you can ensure the house never get’s too cold, but is always warm when you arrive home. But the handy thing is that if you are going to be home later than planned you can just simply adjust the time the heating comes on through your phone to save you both money and energy.
Helpful gadgets like this are a great help for busy families like mine and perfect for cold winter days. It’d be great to know that when I leave work and pick the children up from school that I could walk into a warm house and if we pop to the park first I can always delay the heating coming on.
Anything that saves me time, money and energy is always worth considering. Why not take a look?
Heroes of the City is a television cartoon about rescue vehicles in a small town where everybody gets to be a hero! There are lots of fun characters such as Pauli Police Car, Harry Hot Rod, Percy Post and not forgetting Fiona Fire Engine! Well this has been an instant hit with my two children, particularly three year old Mister B. With my name being Fiona, he just loves that I am a Fire Engine in the show!
The storylines follow the exciting adventures of the characters as they help the townspeople find thieves, put out fires, and solve one of the many mysteries that happen in the otherwise quiet town. You will also get to know Calamity Crow, the most misunderstood bird in town.
Aimed at ages 3-7, Heroes of the City is the perfect first app for three year old Mister B to be using, he loves watching the episodes and has really got to grips with the games. He does require a little assistance with some of them but loves playing Fiona Fire Engine to put out the fires and also has spent much time playing the puzzle games which he can sit and do himself. I love the way the app motivates and applauds the child after each stage of the game with cheers, stars and fireworks. Mister B is so proud of himself when he see’s this as he feels like he has done really well. With trophies in each game to be won, there is plenty of scope for him to play this and reach higher levels.
With episodes to watch, games to play and trophies to collect, Heroes of the City has plenty to do to keep little ones occupied. I highly recommend it as a preschool app, one of the best we’ve tried.
The app is available from the following app stores:
If you’d like to win an exclusive bundle of goodies like the one shown above then enter below. The book is full of bright pictures and easy to follow stories that little ones will love and the little vehicles are great, Mister B loves playing with them and more so carrying them around in his pocket when we go out and about! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open to UK entrants only
Winners will be emailed and will need to reply within 5 days or a new winner will be drawn
Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com
Woolly and Tig is a favourite programme with my two children. Both my 3 and 5 yr old are always keen to watch it when it’s on and love the DVD! So when we got the chance to try the Woolly and Tig App, I was eager to see what it was like.
With free play where you can tickle Woolly, stroke him and count with him or structured play where there are 10 activities to do with Woolly such as wash him, brush his teeth or help him get dressed, there is a good selection of things to do. Mister B who is 3 loved this app, his favourite activities being washing muddy Woolly, or fun in the snow where you get to create a snowman. Miss M who is 5 loved to help her younger brother but is at the top age range for this and there wouldn’t be enough to occupy her and keep her engaged.
As a pre school app this is perfect for getting young children to practice doing everyday things and getting into the habit of doing them daily. For example it’s good to get children to brush Woolly’s teeth, then go and brush their own.
The app has bright, clear, simple images to help engage children and is simple to use, my 3 year old was able to work out how to do most things with little instruction. It was great to see him excited about finishing the tasks and feeling a sense of achievement.
Another option on the app is to schedule times to do things and the children will be reminded by the app when they need to do certain tasks.
The Woolly and Tig app is available from the iTunes store for £2.99.
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.
Warner Bros. is proud to announce the arrival of Jack the Giant Slayer on DVD & Blu-ray!
Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of this life to stop them.
Fighting for a kingdom and its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend… and gets the chance to become a legend himself! Directed by Brian Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns)
Starring: Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy), Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge!), and Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones).
Celebrate this classic story with NEW content exclusive to the Jack The Giant Slayer Blog App!
You have the power! Control the moving GIFs and power the action in the movie with a swipe of your mouse!
The Giant Soundboard lets you compose your own mashup of sounds from Jack The Giant Slayer, which your kids will enjoy for hours!
Test your bravery and take the How Brave Are You? QUIZ to see if you’re as brave as our hero Jack.
The question is… are you courageous enough to rescue the princess? Are you brave like Jack? Take the quiz to find out!
If you let me know the result of your quiz below then you will be in with a chance of winning. a Rafflecopter giveaway
The prize has been offered by Warner Bros. – I have received no payment for holding this giveaway.