Last week marked the 50th anniversary of Playschool, an iconic educational children’s TV programme that has been captivating several generations of Australian children. Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty and Jemima… they don’t look their age at all. In honour of this anniversary, the App Store was featuring Playschool apps last week. A recent study by Lisa Kervin of the University of Wollongong suggests that screen time that engages both parents and kids at the same time can be rewarding for both. There is one app I really like that does just that: it is ABC’s Art Maker. Featuring well-loved Playschool characters, the app is aimed at 2-6 year olds (but I know from experience that older kids – such as me – like it a lot too)!
The app allows children to create and describe pictures from a choice of backgrounds:
Choose a scene from the featured backgrounds (e.g. farm, underwater, moon, bedroom) or by picking one of your own photos. Add characters (e.g. in the scene below: Big Ted, a shark and a crab) and objects (e.g. a treasure chest). This encourages children to make sentences, describe pictures, build their vocabulary, discuss and expand their knowledge around a theme.
From there, children can take pictures of their scene by pressing the camera icon in the top right corner. They can use them in a slide show to create a story. This is great to make children aware of classic narrative elements such as setting, characters, sequence of events, problem, resolution, etc.
Children can also move items in their scenes, record their voice and animate a short 30 second movie by pressing on the video camera icon. This is excellent for working on narrative, however, the 30 second time allocation can be a bit short for some! It is a lot of fun and kids love that part, regardless of age. Narrative is a language activity that can be rather daunting for kids, but I find that with this app, they all have a go. Parents are usually quite taken as well!
The app also allows children to catch up on Playschool episodes. I don’t use that feature all that much, but it could be great for carry-over activities, e.g. the speech pathologist could plan further therapy activities around an episode that the child has seen at home.
This app is free and there is no catch! It is just a great little app, just like ABC’s Playschool is a great TV programme for children.
Looking for language tips, activities and ideas? This blog is for parents, speech pathologists, teachers, educators and anyone with an interest in speech and language.