Three great iPhone/iPad apps for creative kids
Don't want your kids just playing games on your iPhone? Try these mind-engaging apps!
by Akela Talamasca on January 20, 2011
There have always been parents who decry the idea of sitting a child down in front of a television set simply to occupy him because Mom or Dad needs a break. You may see no harm in this, but to be fair, recent studies do suggest a correlation between excessive TV viewing in kids and potential psychological issues. However, thanks to the advent of the iPhone, the new trend seems to be that handing your kid your iPhone is a much better alternative. Rather than passively absorbing content, the child is at least interacting with the device and getting those neurons firing, right?
There is a further concern. Depending on which type of app is being used, that alone time may require greater or lesser actual critical thought from your child. Games are fun, but if you'd rather have your kids actively applying their creativity instead of capitalizing on their sugar high with twitchy action, then you'll want to check out these apps. (Note: These apps work with the iPhone and iPhone touch, except for Story Patch, which is iPad-only.)
Does your child love to draw? Does she spend her quality time with crayons or pens, inventing new creatures and worlds to inhabit? On those long car trips, she might enjoy Scribble ($0.99, by Zintin). There are many good drawing apps for the iPhone, but Scribble has a simple interface, is easy to understand, and has a free Lite version.
The budding artist is offered a vertical palette of 11 colors that appears from the bottom at a touch; a second touch puts the palette away. The drawing cursor may be changed to three different sizes, and the color of the background may be changed to your taste. There is an undo button, and while you don't have access to an eraser per se, this can be faked by choosing the color of your background. Even better, you can erase the whole picture by shaking the iPhone, just like an Etch-a-Sketch.
A fun feature: Set a photo from your roll as the background, allowing you to doodle all over the faces of those you love. Kids especially will enjoy this, as they can draw crowns on their own heads or give themselves different-colored skin. Artwork can be saved as a photo, so your child's creations may be sent as email attachments. Upgrading from the Lite version to the paid grants you the ability to take a photo from within Scribble for instant doodling fun. Give this app to your child and worry about what she's doing to your face behind your back... at least she's being creative!
Part of growing up is learning about the world and our place in it. Children do this in part by telling stories. What better way for them to hone this skill than by use of an iPad app? Story Patch ($4.99, by Haywoodsoft LLC) is a great application that helps guide kids through the mechanics of telling a story using both text and pictures.
Story Patch offers a couple of ways to compose a story. You can choose to be guided by the app, which offers basic story templates from which to select, and you'll be asked questions along the way to determine the plot points. Once those have been laid out, you'll start at page 1 to write the actual text. You have the option of sticking with pre-written sentences, or you can type in whatever you'd like.
The other composition method is completely free-form, and you can write as mild or wild a tale as suits you. Whichever method you choose, you also have a large image library at your disposal to help illustrate your story. Over 800 vector pictures are available, with a small tool set to help orient, resize, and reorder elements the way you feel best fits your story. There's even the option to create a human character that can be saved and reused for recurring scenes, eliminating the need to re-create it from scratch each time.
Finally, your story can be saved and printed or sent to others as a PDF. Story Patch is a great way to teach your child the elements of storytelling, and it may in turn teach you something new about how he sees the world.
One of the greatest things about childhood is that there are no preconceived notions about the "proper" way to do things. If your kid thinks using a fork to strum the spokes of his bicycle's front wheel is music, then it simply is. This same experimental spirit can be found in Gliss ($2.99, by TeaTracks), an app that approaches music creation from a different angle.
Taking its name from the term glissando, which means to glide from one pitch to another, Gliss turns artwork into music. Specifically, this app lets you assign sounds and samples to different colors, then lets you use those colors to draw lines on the screen. As the tempo plays, your lines are played in real time, giving you immediate feedback on how your piece sounds.
Five colors are available, which means five sounds / samples / voices can be used in your composition, but you also have the ability to assign a sample set to a color, allowing a single color to represent an entire grouping of sounds.
You can plot your lines or dots by a grid, or let them be placed freely on the screen. All lines are editable at any time, and once the tempo is locked in, tilting the iPhone will change sound pitch and even playback direction. You can upload samples to Gliss to use in creation, record your compositions, and save your projects to your Soundcloud account. By transforming music into this graphical environment, your child's imagination can run free, unrestrained by traditional notions of how music is typically created. Is your kid the next Brian Eno? Gliss might be a fun way to find out!
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