Friday, December 30, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
While we're on the subject of apps, here's one that I totally missed a month ago when it was released. It's FETCH! Lunch Rush, and here's the Nov. 14 press release:
PBS KIDS Launches Its First Educational Augmented Reality App
Furthering PBS’s leadership in using new technologies to support learning, FETCH! Lunch Rush App employs augmented reality to teach kids addition and subtraction
ARLINGTON, VA, Nov. 14, 2011 – PBS KIDS today announced its first augmented reality app for iPhone and iPod touch, FETCH! Lunch Rush, which is now available on the App Store. Available for free, the app uses the camera on iPhone or iPod touch to overlay computer-generated graphics on top of the physical, real-world environment. Extending PBS’s leadership in using augmented reality as an educational tool, FETCH! Lunch Rush opens a new world of learning by teaching kids ages six to eight math skills, like addition and subtraction, while blending the virtual and real world into a truly engaging experience.
“Augmented reality is becoming a popular marketing tool and a compelling feature for gamers, but no one has fully explored what this could mean for educating children,” said Jason Seiken, Senior Vice President, Interactive, Product Development and Innovation, PBS. “We were among the first to offer educational augmented reality kids content when we launched the DINOSAUR TRAIN Hatching Party online game last year, in which a player’s real world intersects with a virtual environment online to help hatch a dinosaur egg. We’re excited to expand our exploration of this space by launching our first augmented reality mobile app and continue PBS KIDS’s leadership in using new technologies to further learning.”
“The FETCH! Lunch Rush App is designed as a 3-D game, which helps kids visualize the math problems they are trying to solve,” added Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS. “At PBS KIDS our goal is to use media to nurture kids’ natural curiosity and inspire them to explore the world around them; we can’t wait to see what this new app will mean for furthering that exploration.”
The Fetch! Lunch Rush App was produced by PBS member station WGBH and is based on the PBS KIDS GO!series FETCH! With Ruff Ruffman, also produced by WGBH. In this multiplayer app, Ruff Ruffman has to collect the lunch order for his studio crew. The challenge is keeping track of how many pieces of sushi everyone wants using augmented reality “markers” (printable hand-outs) that prompt activity within the app. The app uses 3-D imagery to reinforce the early algebraic concepts, helping kids to make the connection between real objects and corresponding numeric symbols.
The FETCH! Lunch Rush App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone or iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore.
Developed in partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and powered by a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Fetch! Lunch Rush is part of a new suite of games available on the newly launched PBS KIDS Lab website (PBSKIDS.org/lab). Combined with online and interactive whiteboard games, this new app helps build a learning experience for kids that takes place across platforms, all with the goal of accelerating learning. In addition to FETCH!, six suites based on hit PBS KIDS series are available on the PBS KIDS Lab: THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!, CURIOUS GEORGE,SID THE SCIENCE KID, FIZZY’S LUNCH LAB, SUPER WHY!. and DINOSAUR TRAIN.
To date, PBS KIDS mobile apps have been downloaded more than 1.4 million times. With a transmedia approach, PBS KIDS is increasingly serving children wherever they live, learn, and play – through mobile devices, as well as on TV, online, in the classroom, and through a new line of educational toys.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
US children's television favourite Sesame Street came toAfghanistan this week with the launch of a new series featuring familiar characters like Elmo and Big Bird.
"Baghch-e-Simsim" made its debut on a local TV channel Thursday and aims to improve education for children in the desperately poor, warring country.
It features Sesame Street's typical mix of Jim Henson's Muppets and short educational films and its initial run is for 26 half-hour episodes.
But some of the most familiar characters from the original show had to be cut from the Afghan version for cultural reasons, including the trash-loving Oscar the Grouch and The Count, a vampire maths whizz.
"Oscar the Grouch I had to minimise because his passion for trash did not translate well culturally here," the show's Afghan-American producer, Tania Farzana, told AFP.
As for The Count, she added that his fangs and fondness for bats would have proved problematic in a conservative, Islamic society like Afghanistan.
Producers also had to scrap a scene they tested in which shock-headed duo Bert and Ernie barked at each other.
"I can have them do lion sounds, rooster sounds but doing a dog is not acceptable," Farzana said.
"One of the worst words you can call someone in Afghan culture is a dog so to have kids barking like one is going beyond the line of what's right."
Farzana added that, unlike the US version of Sesame Street, dancing was not encouraged on the Afghan version.
Such activity in front of the opposite sex is seen as overtly sexual in Afghanistan, so Afghan children watching the show are encouraged to exercise to music instead of dancing.
"That way I don't get reprimanded by the parents because it's exercise and who can disagree with that?" Farzana said.
It is not the first time that the Sesame Street format has been exported.
A version of the show came to neighbouring Pakistan earlier this year, funded by the US government's international aid agency USAID, while co-productions have also screened in Bangladesh, Egypt, Mexico and Russia.
The latest version is a joint production by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind Sesame Street, and Afghan television station Tolo.
"Teachers here in Afghanistan will discover that Sesame Street can help children start school well prepared," said the US ambassador to Kabul, Ryan Crocker. "Perhaps most importantly, it shows children the world around them."
Afghanistan's deputy education minister Mohammad Siddiq Patman said he believed the programme would "depict traditions, culture and other aspects of Afghan rural and urban life" and would be "profoundly useful" for children.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Here's the description as posted in the app store:
Experience a tale as old as time in this fully interactive Storybook Deluxe app. Complete with games, movie clips, puzzles, coloring pages, and sing-along songs from the film, you’ll find a surprise on every page. Hear the story read aloud, record your own narration, or explore at your own pace.
In this unforgettable story of love and adventure, a young woman named Belle finds herself in a castle with talking furniture, an enchanted rose, and a grumpy beast. Despite an awkward beginning, Belle and the Beast gradually become friends, and Belle learns not to judge a book by its cover. A beloved Disney favorite retold in a magical new format the whole family can enjoy!
* Interactive Storybook Deluxe app features your favorite characters from Disney's award-winning Beauty and the Beast.
* Two reading modes allow you to follow along as the story is read aloud, or explore at your own pace.
* Engage in exciting activities based on scenes from Beauty and the Beast—help Belle make her way to the Beast's castle in the hedge maze, or go on a hunt for hidden roses.
* Puzzles and coloring pages for all ages!
* Record your voice reading the story and hear it played back as narration.
* Jump to your favorite page with the Visual Page Index.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
And here's a little promotional film about the company in general, including their title on transportation. This is in Spanish and I wish the music were mixed a little lower because it's hard for me to follow what they're saying when Zooey Deschanel is so much easier for me to understand, but even if you don't speak the language there are some good shots of their art and design work.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Anderson School, where Loretta goes, doesn't technically celebrate Halloween, not during the school day anyway (tonight they're watching Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Wererabbit as an evening event). Next Monday is Storybook Character Day, not Halloween, so every kid's costume has to come out of a storybook somewhere. Loretta's is Annie's kimono here from Dragon of the Red Dawn. And if you're really interested in seeing it in action, here she is on the Today show this last Tuesday. A film crew caught us near the end of the day at Boo at the Bronx Zoo a couple weeks ago. So Loretta, little Isabelle (a chicken holding Cinderella's hand), and some friends are in the video at 2:41.
It was just a moment of screen time but it made Izzy's day. Happy Halloween!
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
My own kids are out of town so I can only give you my grown-up take on it, but I was not disappointed. It has 12 songs, taking viewers along for a costume party, a birthday party, and a pajama party. A group of kids (giving great performances) accompany them along the way, joining in for consistently upbeat songs like "This Hat," "Where is the Cake?," and the mischievous "The Cookie Bakers of the Night."
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Teletubbies is one of my favorite programs (or favourite programmes) out there for very young children. We used it to introduce Loretta to television when she was old enough, and now I still go back and look at old episodes on my own. I've also recently discovered the joys of In the Night Garden, the follow-up show by the same production company, Ragdoll, in the UK. I've been watching it on the Hub constantly over the past two months and can't think of a better program for the pre-preschool set, the 2-4 year-olds. So if parents have been using these shows to introduce their youngsters to TV (no younger than 2, I hope), then they can now use them to introduce them to their mobile devices. I haven't seen these apps yet, but I expect them to be pretty high quality, given the precedent.
Friday, March 4, 2011
So far so good for Disney Junior here in the U.S. But it's always sad when great host characters have to move on to that big television station in the sky, and the removal of the words "Playhouse Disney" has apparently made Ooh and Aah obsolete--and there aren't even any high quality videos of them online. These puppets were well written, well designed, and with great songs. Congrats on the long run to everyone involved with them.