Category Archives: Tech

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The Pop Ups – Miss Elephant’s Gerald app

The Pop Ups are busy in the studio putting the final touches on a new record. But not so busy that they aren’t giving us awesome new things.

Enter stage right, Miss Elephant’s Gerald app. It features the music from the band and the beautiful illustrations of Liz Starin. It is a part of the Mibblio Kids Music App.

Now, I don’t have an iPad, so I can’t really give you a review. But based on the pictures alone, it makes we want to buy an iPad. Seriously.

Check out the teaser video below.

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Game Review: Kinect Sesame Street TV

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My daughter is just starting to get into more advanced video games. She is a few months beyond two-years. Up until now she mostly played around with smart phone and tablet games aimed at toddlers, like interactive books or musical games.

She finally seems to get how to use the Microsoft Xbox’s Kinect now. Besides a few games she has interacted with mostly on accident, there was nothing designed with her in mind.

Then, along with Sesame Street, Microsoft released what they called an “interactive TV show,” Kinect Sesame Street TV. There are 8 shows per season, and Season 1 is out now. The shows play almost exactly like a normal episode of Sesame Street except that there are interactive moments throughout the show. These aren’t just quick interactive gimmicks either.

Each episode is sort of hosted by a new monster named Cooper. He has a friend named “Mirror” that really is a mirror, but with the Kinect it actually shows the person who is playing. Cooper interacts with the player in multiple ways, like the way he changes into a matching shirt (at least by color.)

In one episode, my daughter got to play catch with Elmo and in another she got to help Grover shake some items out of a tree.

There are also your standard Sesame Street skits in the middle of the episode dealing with the episode’s theme. The interactive part in this is to point out the special item of the day and try to find them all. My daughter usually got bored during these parts, but she already does that with normal Sesame Street due to her two-year-old attention span.

I think almost any child that understand the interactivity of the Kinect would enjoy these TV shows. Though, the older kids would probably get more out of it.

The volumes are $29.99 and you can buy them at your local game store or online at the Microsoft Store or Amazon. If you have older kids, Microsoft also has an interactive season of National Geographic episodes. Eight more episodes of Sesame Street in Season 2 were released on January 7th, 2013.

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DIY.org: A Community of Kids Who Make

What is DIY.org? Great question. The name doesn’t lend itself to a quick answer. A friend suggested I give it a spin because he called it “Pinterest for kids.”

Formally, DIY.org is a website and app created by Vimeo co-founder Zach Klein. The idea behind it comes from that fact that kids love to share their artwork. They share it with their parents, siblings, friends, neighbors and anybody willing to tell them how great it is. Sometimes they won’t shut up about it. The DIY.org approach comes down to “Don’t hang the art on the fridge, post it on the Web.” The site and app is intended for kids ages six and older.

Forget Mom posting it on Facebook. This is a chance for your child to create their own profile, in a safe, parent-controlled environment. Kids are asked to use animals for their avatars to protect their identity. Parents get private access to the account to make sure the kids are only sharing appropriate material. Still concerned about your kids being online? DIY helps minimize the fear on the FAQ section of their website. Heck, your child can’t even get their account started without a ‘permission slip’ from a parent.

So instead of sending photo after photo of your child’s artwork via email, your child simply loads them to their profile to share with your family. It’s free to use, but in the future they plan to offer paid memberships with added perks.

I downloaded the app to my iPhone and it took me less than five minutes to create an account for my daughter and post a picture of something she did. To use her words, “Isn’t it pretty?” In addition, as soon as I posted it I received an email saying the account had posted a new photo. Safe to say, after spending 15 minutes on this site, I would be comfortable with my daughter posting more of her artwork on the site. Whether DIY can convince other parents is TBD.

Don’t just take my word for it — other parents have given it a test ride here and here.

They join an incredibly crowded field of apps designed for children. I will be curious to see if they can cut through the clutter and convince parents their kids can use it, with little supervision.