Kidloland – App Review and GIVEAWAY

The wonderful people at Kidloland are giving away THREE free 3-month subscriptions for Make Learn Go readers! Hooray! 

Enter here: Make Learn Go Kidloland Giveaway

My 3 year old, Tommy, loves his iPad! We are always hunting for new, educational apps and games to download, so I was thrilled when the kind people from Kidloland offered us an opportunity to try out their app! Kidloland is a super fun app for ages 0-5 filled with over 1000 wonderfully educational songs, stories, and games.

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Tommy was SO excited to try out this app, and immediately downloaded the vehicles songs. These fun songs and animated videos teach about all different types of vehicles and what they do, and I have heard Tommy walking around the house singing, “I’m going in a cable car, cable car, cable car, I’m going in a cable car up into the mountains…” among other catchy tunes about airplanes, boats, hot air balloons, hovercrafts, tractors, taxi cabs, and so so many more vehicles.  This section of the app makes my vehicle-obsessed preschooler very happy!

My favorite part of this app is the Phonics section. It has fun songs for each letter, singing the sounds that the letter makes at the beginning of different words, and then fun games and activities for each letter that repeat the phonics sounds throughout the games. I have been trying to teach phonics to Tommy for a while, but he has been bored by most other apps and teaching methods that we have tried. With Kidloland, he will play the phonics games and listen to the songs gladly, and then later in the day I hear him repeating songs like, “The A in apple goes a a a a…” while he’s in the bathtub, and I know that what he is learning is really sinking in. So great!

In addition to the phonics and vehicles sections, Kidloland also has dozens of nursery rhymes, stories (fables, early reading, animal stories, bedtime stories, seasonal/holiday stories, and more), 34+ games, activities (such as tracing, dot-to-dots, and puzzles) with a variety of themes, songs about the “magic words” such as please and thank you, “Create and Learn” activities about places and occupations with (puzzles, vocabulary words, and songs), 4 different versions of “The Wheels on the Bus” (because all little kids are obsessed with that song!), weather and seasons, dinosaurs, Old MacDonald songs about all different types of animals, more specific individual animal songs, fruits and vegetables, 4 versions of “Row Row Row Your Boat” (because kids can’t get enough of this song, either!), numbers 1-100, lullabies, colors and shapes, months and days of the week, and even Christmas songs!

And I love that you have the ability to download or remove content as you wish so that you have access to the downloaded songs and games for your kid to play while the device is offline and it doesn’t use up data streaming or take up all of your device’s memory storing content that your child is not currently using. The only issue that I have had with this app is that it will crash occasionally on my son’s first-generation iPad, but it runs seamlessly on my newer iPad mini.

After you download the free Kidloland app (available through the App Store (iOS), Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore), you are given free access to: 12 nursery rhymes; 8 animal, vehicle, and food songs; letters A-D and A-C phonics songs and activities, 2 games, and 3 stories. You can try out the rest of the subscription content with a 7 day free trial. For a monthly subscription price of $4.99 (or $39.99 for the whole year), your child will have access to the whole catalog of songs, games, and activities, and new content is added monthly so that they will never get bored with it.

Since starting our Kidloland subscription a few weeks ago, Tommy has all but forgotten about the other apps and movies on his iPad and always asks, “Mommy, can I play Kidloland?” He has played it almost daily, and it seems that he has still barely skimmed the surface of the content that this app has to offer.

 

Download the free app:

*I received this app subscription for free in exchange for my (and my son’s) HONEST opinions and review.

Countdown Calendar for Out-of-Town Parents

My husband travels quite a bit for business, but it’s usually only one or two nights once or twice a month. This past week, though, Dada went away on a week-long “man trip” to hike and mountain bike in Utah, and I was worried about how  little Tommy (23 months old) would handle it. He LOVES his time with his daddy and has certain routines that revolve around their time together, so I knew that 7 nights with just mommy would be a challenge. T will ask for Dada every night when he expects him to come home from work and then again in the morning when my husband routinely gets him out of his crib and changes his diaper while I slowly drag myself out of bed.

In an effort to help T understand that Dada was going on a trip, I brought him to the airport with me to say goodbye and send him off. I explained to him that Daddy was going on an airplane and would be home in seven days. He said his goodbyes and seemed okay with it, and I realized that he did understand that Daddy was traveling when we were out later that day and he kept pointing at airplanes in the sky and saying “Dada! Dada!”

But when we were at home later that night, he started looking around the house for Daddy and getting upset. I knew that there had to be a better way to help him understand that Dada would not be home for a few more days, but that he would indeed come home eventually. So, I decided to make a little countdown calendar.

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I just drew a simple calendar with the days of the week from the day Daddy left to the day that he would return (Monday through Monday). Then, rather than listing the actual date, we counted down the number of nights left until he would return. On the final day, we pasted a picture of Daddy. Then, each morning when T woke up, we would go to the calendar and put an X through the previous day. Any time during the day that Tommy asked for Dada, I would take him to the calendar and point to the number and ask him “How many more nights until Dada comes home?” and he could look at the calender and tell me.

After the second night with the countdown calendar, he understood what was going on and stopped looking for Dada at bedtime and in the morning, and instead would tell me “Dada airplane” or “Dada bye bye” or “See you soon Dada.” It made him excited to see the days getting crossed off and was a great visual to help him comprehend that each day that passed was getting closer to the day when he would get to see his daddy again. On the final day, he kept shouting “One day Dada home!” to all of our friends and neighbors.

We will definitely be doing this from now when my husband goes out of town, and it would also be a great idea if we ever get a chance to go on a getaway together and have to leave him overnight with a babysitter or relative. It could work, too, for a little one with a sibling going away for summer camp, or even to look forward to an event, like a countdown starting the week before grandma comes to visit or a birthday countdown.

Do your little ones have a hard time when a parent goes out of town? What are some tips that help you pass the days? Share in the comments!

Typing with Toddlers

Typing with ToddlersEvery time my husband or I settle down at our computers, Tommy starts whining and reaching for the keyboard. It’s not surprising, since he’s totally obsessed with buttons, ABCs, and anything that makes noise when you tap it. Surely typing and using computers are skills that his generation will be expected to know, so I figure it’s not a bad idea to start teaching him these skills sooner rather than later.

I decided that before or after I sit down to do my own work at the computer, I can set aside a few minutes to let Tommy have a turn. I started out by unplugging the computer keyboard and letting him play with it on the floor. He loved seeing the letters and numbers and pretended to type like he sees me doing. Then I got down on the floor with him and pointed out the different letters and numbers and explained to him what some of the other keys are called.

IMG_2194This morning, as I was sitting on the couch trying to send an email to my sister, he kept grabbing at my laptop. I decided it was time to let him try typing and to actually see the characters come up on the screen. He loved it and looked like the most adorable little secretary typing away in his pajamas.

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Set up this fun typing activity for your little one in 6 easy steps:

1. Open a new Microsoft Word text document.

2. Change the page orientation to landscape so it fills the screen better.

3. Change the text to a simple, easy to read font, like Arial.

4. Increase the font size to at least 72 pt.

5. Pick a fun, bold text color.

6. Change the view to full screen.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 1.05.00 PMAfter Tommy had some fun exploring the keyboard and typing gibberish, we sat down together and I helped him type specific letters and words to work on letter recognition and vocabulary.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 3.28.56 PMFor extra excitement, I turned on text to speech in my computer settings. He thought it was so funny to hear the guy’s voice say the words, numbers, and letters that we typed.

Now go try this out with your little computer genius and come back here and leave a comment telling us all about it!

Adventures at Best Buy

Maybe you are lucky and the local groundhog predicted an early spring, but here in North Carolina, it is definitely too cold to play outside right now. This winter has been very hard for my little man, as he LOVES to be outdoors. At some point every day, Tommy will grab his shoes and coat and start banging on the door to the coat closet where I store his stroller, shouting “WALK! WALK! WALK!” If my keys are left within his reach, he will snatch them up and run to the front door, standing on his tiptoes to try to unlock it. A meltdown always follows when I regrettably tell him that today will be yet another “inside day.”

So, we have had to get creative to find indoor places to pass the time without breaking the bank. Tonight we discovered that a stroll through Best Buy can be a fascinating adventure for a toddler!

Tommy LOVES to ride in shopping carts, so that in itself was an exciting start. And, like most kids, he is attracted to expensive, breakable things like a moth to a flame. So, while restrained by the lap-belt of the shopping cart and under direct supervision of both parents, we felt that it was safe to let him explore the wonders of technology. The little guy was in heaven, surrounded on every side by touch screens, buttons, and other high-tech gadgets and flashing lights.

But, the most intriguing thing he encountered was the HP® Sprout. I don’t even know how to describe this space-age contraption, but it sure was fun to play with!

IMG_2228He could take pictures of his hand, snap some selfies, and rotate, manipulate, and decorate the photos with cute little images. I love seeing the excitement in his eyes as he interacts with new technologies. I can’t even fathom what other kinds of amazing innovations he will experience in his lifetime, but one thing is for sure- familiarity with technology will be necessary for this generation of children.

So, go to Best Buy! Play with some cool new devices. Marvel at the big, shiny curved, smart, and 3-D TVs. And, if you still have a few hours to burn before bedtime, let them pick out a fun new DVD or Blu-ray to buy so you can go home and snuggle up with some popcorn, a warm blanket, and enjoy the rest of your “inside day.”

Then, come back here and post a comment to tell us about your adventure 🙂

Welcome to Make Learn Go!

As a mother to a VERY busy little boy, I have found that boredom is a luxury that our family cannot afford. If I fail to provide him with an activity to keep him occupied, he will put his mischievous mind to work and find something to do… which usually involves climbing on, tasting, or throwing something that he shouldn’t. While my first impulse is usually to scold him for misbehaving, I have often found myself impressed by his curiosity, determination, and ingenuity. I have witnessed him discover gravity by tossing pasta high into the air and watching it crash onto the carpet. I have watched him exercise his problem solving skills as he rearranged blankets, pillows, and furniture in order to climb on top of a table to reach my can of Diet Coke. I have seen him exhibit patience, courage, and humor as he hid behind a curtain of cardigans in my pitch-dark closet waiting for me to find him so that he could pop out and say “Boo!” And as he engages in these “naughty” behaviors, I have seen a variety of looks on his face ranging from pride to wonder to sheer delight.

I have learned that for us both to get the most out of our days together, I need to train my brain to work more like his. I need to think creatively and find the excitement in the things that he does. While setting appropriate boundaries for his safety (and my sanity), I need to encourage him to explore the world around him in a way that is exciting for him. So, any time that I see him beginning to get restless, I know that it is time for us to do one of three things: 1. Make something, 2. Learn something, or 3. Go somewhere. I have learned that it really doesn’t take a lot of fancy tools or special skills to make him happy and help him grow and learn. All that it takes is for us to work together to keep our days creative, fulfilling, and active. Because sometimes, a toilet paper roll is more exciting than a $30 toy with lights and sounds.

I hope to be able to share some of our adventures with you and that you will share yours with us.

Ready? Make, Learn, Go!

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