My children are addicted to the iPad.
They play it a lot. They watch videos/movies on it a lot. They fight over it a lot too.
BUT – they are also learning on it. Playing together on it. Taking crazy pictures of themselves and laughing together because of it. When Kendall is in the hospital 3 hours away for days on end, they can stay connected to each other through it.
Basically – the good far outweighs the bad. So i let them keep playing it.
At least I can control WHAT they are playing on it by providing good solid apps for them to learn from/interact with. It’s not easy – many of the “kid friendly” apps are actually just designed to be money-suckers from the parents to the app-makers by needing “in-app purchases” that rack up at astounding rates. And many of the “educational” apps are highly priced. In this house, i need quality for cheap.
So when I saw a few things flying around the Tweeter (aka “twitter”) about Ruckus Media and their kids apps that parents were just loving, I had to see what the Ruckus was about. And I am so glad I did!
Ruckus Media is the brain behind a dozen or so awesomely illustrated and beautifully narrated apps with an educational approach to fun. I mean seriously, click on that app page and look who is narrating some of their apps and stories! Robin Williams, Meryl Streep – hello!!! But I think what made me most fall in love with this company and their offerings was the words of their CEO, Rick Richter:
The goal of Ruckus is to combine the most creative minds in children’s media with tremendously exciting new mobile devices. We’ll be satisfied when a mom or dad can hand their phone or tablet to their child without one ounce of guilt, knowing that the experience the child is about to have will entertain them, challenge them, perhaps make them giggle, and be utterly satisfying.”
– Rick Richter, Ruckus Media Group CEO
But beyond all of that great “stuff”,here’s what it boils down to: my girls LOVED these apps. The first time Karissa (7 years) sat down to play “Andrew Answers”, she was enthralled. She didn’t have to do all the work of reading every page by herself (it auto-plays), but the pages that concentrated on Andrew’s pithy one-word responses to his teachers/principal/mayor/the president – she could GET those words. Karissa is my “i’m glad she is good at dancing because school is definitely not her strong point” child. She has what I like to lovingly refer to as “Shiny Object Syndrome”. She could be in the middle of telling you a story and notice a piece of glitter on your cheek and become intensely focused on the pretty shiny thing on your cheek and TOTALLY forget what she was just talking about. So working on concepts like “guided reading” is frustrating at best. This app got Karissa to sit and concentrate on the story, AND read along once she realized every few pages would only have one “sight word” on them. Very quickly after Karissa started, Kealey was interested in joining in the fray, and the two of them sat and actually SHARED THE IPAD without fighting or squealing or really even talking much – for almost 15 straight minutes (unheard of in this house). So not only does it help teach your kids, it keeps the peace too. AMAZING!
And its not just for the older ones – Kaylen (4) and Kendall (2) also love hearing Andrew answer the teacher, and i love that it reinforces some early phonetic block-building with the repetitive sounds of the words. I really just like that the Ruckus apps are more than just “games” – they are BOOKS, that utilize all that is fun about “the digital age” to make reading FUN. Of course I wish that my children would just love books because I love books – but some kids just struggle with that connection, and this is a GREAT bridge in that gap.
We were also offered the opportunity to try out the “Chuck and Friends – Friends for the Long Haul” and “Present for Milo” apps. Present for Milo is an absolute hit with Kendall, who, for those who don’t know her story, has some developmental delays due to a mitochondrial disorder. Part of what she struggles with is fatigue on a daily basis, in spite of sleeping more than 18 hours a day, as well as a lot of “sensory” issues. Some days she needs LOTS of sensory input and listens to things very very loud, bangs into things, needs lots of stimulation. Other days, she just wants to lay quietly and not be bothered. The iPad was really meant to be “hers” for the long trips up to her doctors, long days in the hospital, long days of not being able to play outside. She loves to read Present for Milo, because it makes the story as “alive” as she wants for that day, depending on if we have the volume on or off to hear all the extra sound effects that come from a kitty chasing a mouse through the house! Again for Karissa my “reluctant reader”, it’s a great way to practice reading in a “low pressure” situation, and be able to “read” to her little sister.
And finally – Chuck and Friends – oh the fun never ends with this one! First, it’s a very well animated app with bright colors that aren’t garish, and characters that are attention grabbing. Second, the story is VERY interactive, and i LOVED that it emphasized spelling – another area Karissa struggles with! Third, and I think this was honestly my girls’ favorite part, is that you can record the story as you read it. I am pretty sure that this handy feature is meant to help children become confident in reading out loud, as well as for parents to “hear” that their child is reading the words correctly. However, my children used it to record different endings to the story. Well, actually KEALEY used it to record different endings to the story. Which quickly de-railed into lots of potty talk and gales of laughter. (They are Ben’s offspring, what can I say?) But as a mom, I loved how feature-rich this app really is. It highlights the words as the narrator is reading them, which is great for a reader like Karissa who needs that extra input to connect the word she sees with the word she hears. It has a section to meet the characters, which is really cute, and within the story are lots of games and challenges to reinforce reading concepts further. VERY interactive.
We are definitely anxiously awaiting a few new releases from Ruckus due soon – My Little Ponies and TRANSFORMERS. (Ok it might be only me that is anxious for the Transformers one – its more than meets the eye!!) But we definitely have some major Pony fans here in this house of little girls!
But I’ve saved the best for last –
Right now, through Labor Day, the Ruckus Apps are ALL ON SALE for 99 CENTS EACH!!!! Yes you read that right. $0.99 apps rock my socks for reals. So go buy some, or all of them. Cause they are seriously that good. They are worth every PENNY of their regular price, but at this sale price, they are an absolute steal. Go – run – get them now. Fill up your pretty little apple device in honor of the good man who started it all, Mr. Steve Jobs.
And because I love these apps so much – I’m going to give away a couple to you my readers.
All you have to do is leave a comment here telling me an app you think you’d be interested in from the Ruckus Media lineup (click on the link above, it will take you right to their app lineup). Get an extra entry if you can tell me what is wrong with the *bleeping* code on my community page (it’s something about my theme, it won’t let me change the page template – you’re a genius if you can figure it out.) The community page is a tab up there on top. Get another extra entry if you like this post on facebook (click the facebook like button at the bottom of this post, then leave another comment that you’ve liked it – this will share it on your wall so all your friends can come here and like it and find out about the awesome Ruckus apps and then we’ll all just be one big happy family playing Chuck and Friends. Sound good?
so get your comments in here before Saturday at 8pm Eastern. I’ll announce the winner(s) – cause I might pick 2 or even 3! - and send you links to your apps on Sunday evening.
Thanks for letting me ramble on about some awesomesauce iPad goodness today in the form of Ruckus Media apps. I’m currently working on more illustrations for future posts since you all loved Ben’s story about his surgery so much.
See you later party people.
Disclaimer: I received my copies of these 3 apps in exchange for a review about them from Ruckus Media. The apps that I am giving away are paid for completely on my own and are not in any way affiliated with a Ruckus Media giveaway. Much thanks to Ruckus Media and the amazing Holly for the opportunity to test out these apps!