KidloLand

Enter disclaimer text This post is brought to you by KidloLand, makers of an app for your smart devices.

Screen time. I know. Before you start mom bashing because I let my kids have screentime, hear me out. Being a mom of four, you sometimes have to call on your village. My village just happens to include the iPad, phones, and (yes) TV. Frankly, my parents let me watch a healthy amount of popular kids’ TV shows that I let the kids watch still today – and not to boast, but I don’t feel harmed by it at all. That’s just part of why I am perfectly fine with the time our kids get in front of a screen.

KidloLand
The twins enjoying a nursery rhyme at the mall.

Especially when that time is focused on educational activities. With apps like KidloLand, I am confident that the girls (and even sometimes the Bigs) are getting valuable learning experiences. All it took to get me to sign up for a trial of this specific app was this description:

KidloLand is loved by kids under 5 years. Kids can learn ABCs, animals, fruits, vegetables, shapes and more with the help of 800+ interactive nursery rhymes, songs, stories and educational activities.

800+? Yup. There will be no “I’m bored” with this app. New content is added every month and you can try the app for free before you buy (a one-year subscription is $39.99).

For the twins, their favorites are the nursery rhymes because they love to dance to the beat of the music and point out things they recognize (like dogs and apples) as the videos play. Ava is keyed in on the number activities while Isla likes to play with the letters. No surprise there!

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Now, to be completely honest, I had to wipe the iPad of our videos and photos in order to get the extra features to download. Try preaching patience to 21-month-olds while you do that. (You have to download the activities in the app which makes sense since there are so many. The download speed at the point in our house furthest away from the internet was max 30 seconds an activity – and I promise you our internet is super slow there.)

Check out the girls playing “Tasty Alphabets” – a fun ABC puzzle game with friendly monsters to gobble up the letters.

To give KidloLand a try, use the link that best matches your smart device of choice:

iOS (iTunes)

Google Play Store

Amazon App Store

Luca Lashes Visits Mommy in the Hospital

Disclaimer:  I was provided with the app below in exchange for the post. All opinions are 100% my own.

As you know, 2014 has been the year of the sick for us. Luckily…so far…Greg’s been okay enough to not be in the hospital, but the kids just might be prepared because they’ve been playing with a new iPad app this week–Luca Lashes Visits Mommy in the Hospital. 

This app is a story in the “Luca Lashes” eBook series and tells children when to expect when visiting someone in the hospital by telling the story of Luca visiting his mommy in the hospital. There are interactive pieces to the app that my kids love (especially the balloon and heart monitor), too.

When I had some struggles during my pregnancy with Evan, Arianna visited me in the hospital. I’m pretty sure it was a bit scary for her – I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors and confined to the bed. No fun for a two-year-old! This story helps kids learn that hospitals are for help.

I was also sent these tips, which if this year keeps up, I probably should keep on hand. Please use these should you ever find yourself taking your child(ren) on a hospital visit.

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Do you have a parent spending time at a hospital? Here are five suggestions to help a child through this.

(By Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of Luca Lashes Visits Mommy in the Hospital, from the “Luca Lashes” multilingual interactive App and eBook series.)

There are a few occasions in life where a child is going to have to visit a parent in the hospital. Accidents happen, surgeries become necessary…life happens. When these occasions require extended, or even just overnight stays in the hospital, children will want to visit their parents. Sometimes just to be reassured, other times to make the parent feel better. Here are some tips to help get you through this.

1. Get Crafty

Children can be very creative, especially when they make something for their parents. This can be a card, a trinket, or some other craft in which they can convey their feelings to their parent. With a little help, a child can make something that can make anyone smile! Add a picture to this and it makes a great memento!

2. Share a meal?

Parents who are in the hospital are eating hospital food, often by themselves. When getting a visit from their children, it might be nice to have a picnic together at the hospital to help make this day a little brighter. Even if all you can do is share the hospital food together, a shared meal is always a great chance to laugh and connect!

3. Use technology!

Visiting hours at hospitals and doctor schedules don’t often correlate to the best times to have children visiting parents in the hospital. With so much global wifi around us, it is possible to use video chat applications like Skype or Facetime to help children connect with and see their parents, and vice versa, when put into this situation.

4. Be calm when it happens

Both the parent bringing the child to the hospital and the parent in the hospital need to be as calm and natural as they can be. This is not a regular occurrence where someone needs to stay at a hospital for medical care, and children often do not understand what is going on.  Remember, model the behaviors you want your children to emulate. Stay comfortable and calm to set the example!

5. Use resources

A lot of hospitals now employ special counselors to help family members dealing with a loved one in the hospital. It is important to use all the resources at your disposal to make any experience easier and less of a challenge for your children, so make sure to inquire at the hospital! Why re-invent the wheel?

Visiting a spouse in the hospital is always a stressful situation.  Add bringing the kids along, and this job just got a whole lot tougher. After the visit is over, make sure to ask your children how the visit went, what they liked or thought about it. Dialogue is so important in making everyone more comfortable with new experiences.

Luca Lashes Visits Mommy in the Hospital is available at www.LucaLashes.com and all major eBook and App marketplaces.

Luca Lashes Visits Mommy in the Hospital
Source: iTunes.apple.com

Tech Tuesday: Mickey Mouse Mash-Up

Disclosure: I received the app below in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

The Mickey Mouse Mash-Up app has my ‘lil artists getting ready for family game nights by having them “follow along with Mickey Mouse in an adventure involving their own personally drawn character! Mickey and your creation will travel through cities, visit new places and experience incredible journeys, while encountering hi-jinx and hilarious events along the way.”

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I was just wowed as Mickey asked Arianna to draw him “something real small that you’d find on the beach” and she drew…

A clam!

Seriously. I didn’t even know my five-year-old knew what a clam was. But she sure did draw it. I wish I could prove it, but it was in the story in a part where she had to move fast and hide Mickey. I couldn’t move fast enough! 

And then, Mickey put that clam in a story about “No Service” at a beach-shack diner. Arianna was totally captivated as the story went on, and didn’t even get upset when Mickey noted that “oops, we forgot to draw food!” and had to go back in and make an addition to the story. (Love that it’s teaching her mistakes are okay!)

Source: https://itunes.apple.com

There was one part of the story that she didn’t get, a timed activity to draw a box and a trash can to draw something to hide an unclothed Mickey (all part of the “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” theme).

She did enjoy recording sounds to be included, too, and even critiqued her ability to make them just right by not hitting the check mark until they were perfect. (Oh my goodness.)

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Arianna signing her name to the short

I love that this app doesn’t seem like it will get old. Now to convince Evan that it’s not really in his age range so he doesn’t get mad when he doesn’t *get* all of Mickey’s instructions. (It’s rated 4+, I’d almost wonder though because the store I listened to with Arianna talked about “naked” a few times. All depends on how open you are with your kids – I’ll leave it up to you!)

Mickey Mouse Mash-Up is available on the iTunes Store for iPad and iPhone and retails for $3.99.

Bonus? At the end of the short, your child can even draw Mickey! Here’s Arianna’s:

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Tech Tuesday: Doc McStuffins: Moving with Doc

Disclosure: I received the app below in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

Get healthy isn’t just something I’ve been working on. The kids (and Greg) are in it with me, too. When I was asked to have the kids give the Disney/iTunes App Doc McStuffins: Moving with Doc a try, I knew it was something they’d love.

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Arianna played it for a solid day without sound. I didn’t take the time to go into the app and see what was up because she wouldn’t give up the iPad. When I finally got to look at it, I tried a few things I thought I knew would work. When they didn’t, I found the app on iTunes and went to the support link. It was very helpful:

Source: Disney FAQ http://disneystorytime.com/customer-service/
Source: Disney FAQ http://disneystorytime.com/customer-service/

Oops! Even tech-moms can learn a few new tricks every now and again. (This boggled me because other apps were playing sounds!)

She showed me the “Compete” game where she had to have the Hallie run and jump to pop bubbles (she could have picked Lambie or Stuffie, too).

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Next up was “Train” where she was able to stretch with Doc (but I got in the way with the kid restrictions and had the camera turned off). It was okay by her, and she even came up with a way to hold the iPad in a kitchen chair and her to do her thing. By stretching, she’s earning stickers in a health chart!

There’s even a game area to grab good for you foods. When Evan tried to grab a chocolate bar, Arianna screamed, “SUGAR ISN’T GOOD FOR YOU IF YOU ARE TRAINING, BUB!”

Source: iTunes

Here’s some more info about this app:

In Moving with Doc, kids can practice healthy habits and explore the importance of exercise through engaging activities featuring Doc McStuffins and her friends. Discover the basics of eating right in exciting games and activities, and even compete in the Backyard Games! Additional features include:

  • Use the in-app camera to stretch with Doc

  • Keep track of healthy habits with the Healthy Me Chart

  • Discover new ways to be healthy and fit with fun activities

  • Offline tips, recipes, and more help grown-ups reinforce healthy habits

Doc McStuffins: Moving With Doc is available on iTunes for $4.99.

Technology Tuesday Bonus: Sofia the First – The Floating Palace

Disclaimer: I was provided with an app to review. All opinions are 100% my own.

The kids have been reading one story over, and over, and over today…all thanks to the new “Sofia the First: The Floating Palace” app. In the “Sofia the First: The Floating Palace” app (available on Apple’s App Store), they can be read an adventure and create their own puppet show in the theater.

At a price of $4.99, I’d say they’ve got their worth out of it. While there is only one story (hence the over and over), they’ve been making endless puppet shows (not even looking at the storage on the iPad right now).

Sofia the First
Source: Disney

Both of my kids like Sofia the First, and this tale / app is an underwater adventure:

The app is based on the first-ever “Sofia the First” prime time special, “Sofia the First: The Floating Palace,” which premiered on Sunday, November 24 on Disney Channel. The special, in which Sofia is magically transformed into a mermaid, features an appearance by Princess Ariel from “The Little Mermaid,” voiced by Disney Legend Jodi Benson who reprises her iconic role from the animated film. The special also introduces a new character named Oona, a young mermaid voiced by Kiernan Shipka (“Mad Men”).

(I was a bad mom and we have yet to watch the special, but because I LOVE “The Little Mermaid” and have a newfound love for Sofia, we’ll be finding it on replay.)

If it kept my busy kids occupied, it’s sure to keep your little ones busy, too.

Arianna enjoying “The Floating Palace”

Sofia the First: The Floating Palace is available in Apple’s App Store in the Kids category for $4.99. It requires iOS 6.0 or later and is built for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Disney Princess Palace Pets

Disclaimer: I was asked to write a review of the app Disney Princess Palace Pets. All opinions are 100% my own.

We have a few new pets in our house today thanks to “Disney Princess Palace Pets”, a free app available in the iTunes App Store.

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At present, Arianna is cutting the hair Ariel’s pet “Treasure” because “it’s getting too big”. Earlier, she and Evan just could not get enough of the sweet stories of how they met the Princesses.

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These kids really love taking care of pets, and the bonus is that these ones belong to their favorite Disney Princesses. Unrelated? I swear Arianna has other clothes. She just loves to be in her jammies all.the.time. 

Here are the details I was sent from Disney:

As any animal lover knows, pets need TLC.  With the special styling section of the app, kids can pamper, groom and style the Palace Pets with brushes, bows, tiaras, and more. Kids can also save and share photos of the Palace Pets with the app’s photo-saving tool.

App features include:

  • Intricate artwork and fun animation
  • Interactive salon includes washing, brushing, treat, and accessories stations
  • Professional narration, character voices and charming music
  • Royal Gallery featuring all styled pets

Now available in toy stores is a new toy line including figures, plush, play sets and more. Children can collect, nurture and pamper the Palace Pets in real life, too. Disney Princess Palace Pets is available in the App Store for free.

I’ve been granted back a solid hour of silence simply from this app. Thanks for the heads up, Disney (and a pay it forward “you’re welcome” to you).