I’m looking for an app about… inventions
Every month, I try to link up with Zoe at Playing By the Book for her round-up of bloggers’ book reviews under the title “I’m Looking for a Book About…” This month, the theme is inventors and inventions. I’ve picked a mix of stories and activities which will hopefully get children thinking and inspired to create their own real-world inventions.
If you are already familiar with Sven Nordqvist’s series of children’s books about Pettson and Findus (a farmer and his cat) then you will love these apps. And if you aren’t – like us – you will still love them and immediately be putting the books on your wish list. Pettson introduces each puzzle, in which you have to build an invention to complete a task like launching a rocket, giving a duck a shower, or helping a cat to find some strawberries. The difficulty level builds up gradually, so you learn what each piece does as you go, but under fives will probably will need help from grown ups (and believe me, you will be fighting to be the helpful grown up.) There is an option to include or exclude red-herring pieces. The magic of the app is in the sheer silliness of the tasks and components while also giving children a real understanding of how things work. Excellent and highly recommended.
The series includes Pettson’s Inventions 1 (25 levels) and Pettson’s Inventions 2 (37 levels) for £1.49 each, or download both with 6 bonus levels for £2.49. You can also try a light version of each before purchasing.
Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Find links to all the apps at http://www.filimundus.com/main or download the free light version of Pettson’s Inventions 1 from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/pettsons-inventions-lite/id524685685?mt=8
Spatter and Spark
by Polk Street Press
Spatter the porcupine wants to paint baby crow Hubert’s picture as a present, but he can’t reach the crows’ tree house to see what he looks like. So off he goes to ask inventor friend Spark the fox for help. Spark has all kinds of funny inventions, but none of them can help the pair reach Hubert. Instead, the reader helps Spatter and Spark to invent and decorate some new bouncy shoes so they can bounce up to the treehouse. Our favourite feature is that once you have decorated the shoes, your design is used in the rest of the book. This is a fun story with lots of ways for the reader to explore the inventions.
Compatible with iPhone and iPad. Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/spatter-spark/id551418119?mt=8 to get the story for Free with the activity pages as an optional in-app purchase of £2.49/$3.99 or from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/spatter-spark-pro/id635692019?mt=8 for the full app priced at £2.49/$3.99.
This is the story of Leonardo da Vinci’s obsession with flight, told simply and with light animations. It begins when Leonardo is “kissed on the nose” by a small bird in the cradle. (When I looked this up, I found that the reality is apparently a little more traumatic, with a kite flapping its feathers around his mouth and face!) Having been kissed by the bird, Leonardo never forgets the encounter and grows up wanting to fly. The story takes you through his studies, learning to paint, design buildings and invent machines, including a flying machine. A gentle introduction to a real inventor.
Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/leonardo-da-vinci-dream-inventor/id442902872?mt=8 priced at £1.49/$1.99 at time of writing.
Leonard is a boy who sees things in a different light to the rest of the world. One day he moves from the city to the country, taking with him his imagination and a less-than-impressed cat. But he can’t find any children to play with in his new home, so decides to make his own robot friend. A clever “Imagination Button” lets the reader transform scenes from reality to fantasy, some of which differ on each reading. Putting together the robot is great fun too.
Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/leonard/id508815860?mt=8 priced at £1.49/$1.99 at time of writing.
Build your own robot, fly it through the maze to collect three gold stars and then send it off out of the factory on the magnet, in this addictive game.The actual building of the robots is very quick (choose a head, arms, body and legs from the selection) but then using your robot to explore the maze and find the stars is more of a challenge. It would be nice to have greater number of robot parts – perhaps antennae or a control panel? – but otherwise we really enjoy this. When Mr Tall was 3 he managed to find the secret passageway in the maze – can you find it too?
Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/toca-robot-lab/id434826169?mt=8 priced at £1.99/$2.99 at time of writing.
Do you have any favourite apps for kids about inventors and inventions? Please do share any recommendations in the comments below.