Friday, September 30, 2011

Scholastic Storybook Treasures Review: Chrysanthemum...and More Whimsical Stories

There is something about the teacher in me that runs our free time at home like a classroom.  If we are going to watch a show on TV, is it educational?  Is the book we are reading at night serve a purpose other than entertainment?  Can you count those vegetables before you eat them?!  Seriously, my brain never turns off.

So when I hear the name Scholastic I do think "educational," and they did not disappointed with their latest release boxed DVD set Chrysanthemum...And More Whimsical Stories.  The set comes with 3 DVDs, each of which is at least one hour long.  Every disc contains short stories that are read aloud by celebrity narrators.  I had a fun time guessing which ones Sarah Jessica Parker, Meryl Streep, and Danny Glover read!

I really liked the "old-school" aspect of these stories in that the original artwork (in most cases) was used, rather than a beefed-up cartoon that really takes away from the story itself.  It reminded me of working in the classroom and reading a Big Book to my students.  Now you can watch these DVDs at home and have the same feeling.  Ahhh!

The BEST feature of these DVDs is that the "main stories" on each disc showed the words at the bottom and highlighted them as the narrator read along! Hooray, Scholastic for encouraging one-to-one correspondence for little kids, and the read-along capability for older kids.  I was a little disappointed that the "bonus stories" on each disc did not have this feature, but they were still enjoyable; however, the teacher in me was sad.

Here is a break down of what you get for your money:
Disc #1- Most of these stories have a mouse theme, and are very preschooler friendly
A Weekend With Wendell
The Caterpillar and the Polliwog
Hondo and Fabian-Bonus Story
Mouse Around-Bonus Story

Disc #2- Classic fairytales with beautiful original artwork (especially in Rapunzel)
Rapunzel-NOT to be confused with the Disney version of the story
The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Talking Eggs
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China-Bonus Story
Princess Furball-Bonus Story

Disc #3- More "cutesy" stories that a younger reader/preschooler will love
Is Your Mama A Llama?-NOT to be confused with the Mama Llama series that is so popular today!
Noisy Nora
Each Peach Pear Plum
The Little Red Hen
Reading to You Bunny-Bonus Story

For under $25 Scholastic Storybook Treasures: Chrysanthemum...and More Whimsical Stories is a must-have!  You will have over 180 minutes of short stories to watch that will help your child learn various reading skills from building one-to-one correspondence, recognizing sight words, and reading along.  Buy it today and "Like" New Kideo on Facebook to see all the latest and greatest from Scholastic as they are released!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Millie And The Lost Key App Review: Dog Gone Cute!

There are so many children's APPs out there now, that finding one with the right fit (for the right price) can be a little tricky.  Well, Millie And The Lost Key by Millie Was Here is an amazing one for your little boy or girl, and for $3.99 I think it is worth the price. Plus you can get the free APP "Meet Millie" to kick off the series and give it a try.

I have tested out a lot of APPs for kids, and it seems like the interactive features in some are great, but in others fall short.  The features often over-shadow the story, but in Millie And The Lost Key you get the best of both worlds: creative interactive features AND storyline.

Millie And The Lost Key is about a dog named Millie (who looks scary-identical to my Tibetan Terrier Sami I had as a child!). Millie goes on an adventure trying to find the key to unlock the treasure box filled with her favorite treat.  She ventures through many obstacles (all set in and around New York City with real photos) to find her long lost love-bacon.

What makes this APP really unique is that the storyline is set around original photography!  You actually get to meet Millie and see her in action as she searches for her treasure.  The photos are paired up with interactive illustrations at times, and you even have the option to make Millie do different things (like fly a plane, calm down, search around, and more).

The APP has three modes to play in: read to me, read by myself, or my new favorite-bedtime mode (in which the sound is lowered and all the game features are disabled).  The narrator's voice is great and really makes the story come alive.  As a Reading Specialist, I especially like that the words are lit up as the story is read aloud! Hooray, teaching kids one-to-one correspondence in a fun way!

The interactive features are what really sell this app.  Here is a list of some of them and the kid's favorites:
-pop up pictures that you push to come to life
-moving the airplane around the page to show the route Millie will take
-playing games in which you touch a rotating "tile" to make it flip over (kid's loved this one)
-carnival-style games that you can win prizes and points for
-scratch off pictures similar to lotto scratchers-new feature I have never seen before and the kid's favorite!
-sliders to make pictures move (even a winding path one great for hand-eye coordination)
-buttons to make pictures come to life
-touch and move images
-stickers that are hidden on every page and your child can collect (a little tricky to find for younger ones, but fun to collect)

I could probably fill up this entire post if I named all the features, so you will just have to try it for yourself.  Millie And The Lost Key is appropriate for any age child, and there is nothing inappropriate (within the wording or context).  This book is a sweet story in a collection of APPs about Millie! I am excited to see what comes next!