The Wee Society celebrates their first birthday with lots of cool new things! First up is the Wee Wishing Crowns, a DIY project where kids can make and decorate their own crowns. The pdf comes with instructions and printable templates for your little ones to have plenty of crafty fun.
One of Chloe's favorite new apps is the Find Your Special Letter App (free download through August 8th on iTunes). She loves finding the letter shape within each animal. The extra little animations on each page are too cute! Kids can also choose their favorite letter and trace it to practice their writing skills. My favorite letter is "U" for the Unicorn where the rainbow colors animate. The app is just filled with beautiful design and illustrations you and your kids will enjoy.
At 4 years old Chloe is ready to read. She constantly asks me how to spell certain words so she can add them to her pictures and she likes to pretend to read by moving her fingers over sentences in books. I have started to do that when we read at night for some of her easy reader books so she can sort of follow along. For Christmas, my in laws in France sent her the LeapFrog TAG Reading System($37.94 at Amazon) which is an electronic pen that works with their special paper books. They sent along a couple French versions of Rapunzel and Tinkerbell. I didn't realize how much she would enjoy the independence of being able to read and enjoy her books than with this TAG pen. I ended up getting her their beginning to read set as well as a few other English books. To me with a child who is multilingual this is fantastic because the same pen works for any of the language books as long as it's from LeapFrog. She can enjoy her French and English books now on her own.
The TAG pen is like a little computer and can connect easily to your computer with a USB cable (comes with the pen). It can hold up to around 10 books at a time. You can search their catalog for the book you have purchased and download the content on to the pen.
Each paper book allows the child to scan over words and sentences to have them read out loud to them. They can also choose to have the page auto read so they don't have to go over each word. I really like the beginning to read sets because the words will also be "sounded out" for kids so they can learn how to read. There are also some pages in the books that are activities in reading comprehension and visual search games. She loves the activities and how her paper books have come to life.
Chloe has some books on her iPad but I think the interactivity of the device gets in the way. In this case, you are still handling a paper book and the words on the page are large and clear for them to read. They can go back over with the TAG pen to highlight any word they want repeated and read out loud. After using this TAG pen from the holiday vacation, Chloe can now recognize words I had no idea she knew. One of her favorite books is "A Day on the Ranch" because she loves horses. She now knows some of the basic words in that book, including the word "ranch". To me this is amazing and it's allowing her to absorb the information she wants at her own pace. I feel much better spending money on more LeapFrog paper books than wasting my money on the story apps for her iPad. With LeapFrog TAG she is much more engaged and I couldn't be happier that my little girl is on her way to enjoy books as much as I do.
With the iPad to launch in a few weeks on April 3rd, it's exciting to see how books will adapt to the new medium. Watch this video by Penguin (via Gizmodo) showing how their books turn interactive, especially children's books. Anyone with a toddler knows how they already love the iPhone or any mobile phone for that matter. I'm so happy that Chloe has a deep love for books and can be entertained with them by herself, but I also love it even more when we read together the most. (She recently started to pick books from her shelf for me to read to her.) Having this kind of new technology doesn't mean that it's an automatic babysitter, although inside I know something like this will make a long drive or plane ride more entertaining and educational for a fussy little one!
Just think of it as another medium for you to interact and engage your child. Ask him/her questions about what else you see on the screen, just like you do with a regular printed book. Chloe loves it when I point out all the different colors, animals, or call out numbers.
Whatever happens, in the next year or so books are in the process of being redefined and I'm excited to see how it all pans out!