Brandon's Adventures
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Vacation Time

I'm so excited for vacation. We're heading out tomorrow on our Westcoast roadtrip from Vancouver, BC, Canada to Los Angeles, California. I will be posting a travel journal over on my other blog at Jen's Blog of Random Thoughts.

Brandon is ready for his first real vacation! Here's a photo of him and his new luggage.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

AlphaBooks iPad App Review

AlphaBooks By Cavallo Media Group, Inc.

24 BOOKS IN ONE APP! Designed specifically for the iPad. The fun-loving Letter Buddies help children prepare for school. Simple stories with striking photo-illustrations develop vocabulary and basic reading skills.

- One book for each letter of the alphabet (X, Y, Z combined in one book)

- Clear, bright photography introduces key foundational vocabulary

- Simple sentences combined with fantastic photo-illustrations put the vocabulary in context and teach important school readiness sight words.

- Cute and humorous, the Letter Buddies will entertain your children as they become fluent readers and learners!

Letter Buddies materials were originally developed for early childhood education and are currently being used in classrooms throughout North America! These popular teaching tools have now been adapted into the Letter Buddies AlphaBooks app so your child can develop valuable skills that will get them ready to enter Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten.

Perfect For:
- Children 2-6

Two-ways to read each e-book:
- “Read to Me” - listen to the narrated story with words highlighted as they are read
- “Read it Myself” - read the book in its traditional form

Educational Features:
- Learn early reading fundamentals
- Practice beginning letter sounds
- Acquire key foundational vocabulary
- Read along to vocabulary written in contextual sentences
- Expose children to important school readiness sight words
- Build awareness for simple sentence structures and basic punctuation

Additional Features:
- Text is perfect for developing and beginning readers alike
- Fun and engaging artwork supports simple text
- Narration supports a range of reading abilities
- Repeat audio by double tapping screen
- Narration can be turned on and off
- Text highlighting can be turned on and off

Brandon likes new apps and is always excited to try different ones. This one was a little different than the others we have. It is more like a short story or a sentence about the object that starts with the letter. Brandon is an expert at the touch screen now.. haha. The alphabet characters are pretty cute. I love how each letter has their own name that begins with their own letter. Brandon repeats and says aloud to me the sentence and I think he's learned pretty quick. Both of us wish that there were some animations in the little stories associated with the alphabet letters.

Disclosure: I received a code to redeem for the above App at no charge in exchange for a review of my opinion. Thanks to Cavallo Media Group. The opinions expressed are my own personal and honest thoughts. No other compensation was given.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter + New App: Dress Eggy HD

Hi everyone! Happy Easter! I just love Easter, especially the decorating part and making goodies to share and eat. Little Brandon had a fun time decorating his easter egg at "school" (family drop-in program). The kids got to decorate a real egg that is already hard boiled. Unfortunately, Brandon accidentally dropped his and cracked a little. We brought it home, but was starting to have that "eggy" smell so I had to throw it away.

Well anyways, there's a fun Easter egg decorating app for the iPad (and without getting too messy with the real one).

Dress Eggy HD

It’s Easter and here comes Peter Cottontail dropping eggs in every basket! If you’ve been thinking about sending an Easter egg to your loved ones, then we at Punflay have just the app for you – Dress Eggy.

We provide the eggs, the colors, the decorations, the message and even the Easter Bunny! All you have to do is paint an egg in your favorite color, decorate it – polka dots, stars, stripes… you name it, we have it – and add a bow if you like. Wait! There’s more! You can even choose from a colorful selection of wallpapers and complete your message with one of our pre-recorded messages or record your own to give it that personal touch. Your egg post is now ready to be express delivered by the Easter Bunny! And the best part is that you can create dozens and dozens of Easter eggs without repeating the designs!

Yes, Brandon enjoyed the app. Because it was new, it gave him some time to play around with the colors, designs, patterns, and even add audio to his creation. He would ask me if he could play the egg decorating game again the next day.

Disclosure: I received a code to redeem for the above App at no charge in exchange for a review of my opinion. Thanks to PunFlay and Emantras Inc. The opinions expressed are my own personal and honest thoughts. No other compensation was given.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

{WINNER} $25 GC Giveaway at select stores from DDrops Company

Winner for the Doodles Alphabet Coloring Book Giveaway that ended April 12, 2011 is..... (drum roll, please)

Congratulations to.....

Snow (#23) with the comment:
Thursday, March 17, 2011 7:39:00 AM

I have sent you an email. You have 48 hours to respond. Thanks everyone for participating in my giveaway contests. Check out my other current giveaways.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

{WINNER} Doodles Alphabet Coloring Book Giveaway

Winner for the Doodles Alphabet Coloring Book Giveaway that ended April 12, 2011 is..... (drum roll, please)

Congratulations to.....

driii (#22) with the comment:
Follow Setria James on twitter
adriana.fitzgerald at hotmail dot com
Sunday, March 13, 2011 5:11:00 PM

I have sent you an email. You have 48 hours to respond. Thanks everyone for participating in my giveaway contests. Check out my other current giveaways.

Free Shipping on orders over $25

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Puppy & Bean's "I'm Indecisive" Toddler T-Shirt

Puppy & Bean Just Back from the Pre-Oscar Gifting Studio at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Puppy & Bean Gifted Hollywood Parents at Jayneoni Moore's Exclusive Pre-Oscar Gifting Studio in Beverly Hills, California February 25 and 26.

It was Oscar weekend in Los Angeles and the famous Beverly Hills Hotel Ballroom was the location where Puppy & Bean gifted celebrity parents at Jayneoni Moore's exclusive Pre-Oscar Gifting Studio February 25 and 26. Celebrity moms, dads and kids came out this weekend to pick up the hottest baby and toddler items at this fabulous event held each year before the premier awards show. For two days, the ballroom was filled with new baby and toddler items for celebrity parents.

Puppy & Bean, a Michigan-based children's t-shirt company, received phenomenal feedback on their new line of baby and toddler t-shirts. Some new fans are James VanDerBeek known for Dawson’s Creek; Kelly Rutherford (pictured) from Gossip Girl; celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe who dressed Anne Hathaway for the 2011 Oscars; Danica McKellar best known for her role in Wonder Years; Brendan Wayne from the upcoming film Cowboys and Aliens, and Outsourced stars Rizwan Manji and Anisha Nagarajan.

Jayneoni Moore is known for her elaborate events but in addition to the swag, her events support children's charities. The Oscar Studio collected princess dresses to create dress-up closets in local Ronald McDonald houses and the Los Angeles Children's Hospital. This year's Oscar event was definitely spectacular!

I received the "I'm Decisive" toddler T-shirt from Puppy & Bean. It was adorable on Brandon.

Description: With "NO" on the front and "YES (I'm Indecisive)" on the back, this tee represents classic toddler behavior! The only truth in parenting a toddler is that they reserve the right to change their mind (over and over again!).

Oh, I really love this T-shirt. That's what my little Brandon (and most other toddlers) like to say, especially "NO" to things they don't like. The T-shirt is thin and it's great for summer wear and can also be worn underneath long sleeves. With Brandon wearing the T-shirt around the house, it gives him a little attitude which I think is pretty funny. I took a few snapshots of him making faces at me.
What's also great is the quality of the printing. The text/graphic doesn't crack, it stays on, and it doesn't fade. Material is made with 100% preshrunk combed ringspun cotton and it is by Bella.

About Puppy & Bean

Puppy & Bean is a company that is created by a Mom of 2 boys, Nicholas and Owen. They were the inspiration for the Puppy & Bean name. She called Nicholas "Puppy" because, as a baby, he had long, gangly arms and legs that it seemed he would never grow into. Now of course, at seven, he is well on his way to doing just that! And Owen has been her little Bean ever since she saw him in his first ultrasound picture.

"When we started Puppy & Bean, we were looking for a way to reach out to all the Moms, Grandmas, Aunties and friends who work so hard to make the kids in their lives happy. We love our role as caregivers, but sometimes it's too easy to lose sight of the humor in life when faced with the daily challenges of parenting. Toddlers are complex little creatures . . . our t-shirts are meant to provide that moment of inspiration that reminds us why we do what we do . . . with a smile."

Disclosure: I received a toddler T-shirt from Puppy & Bean at no charge in exchange for a review of my opinion. The opinions expressed are my own personal and honest thoughts. No other compensation was given.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Word Wall HD Kids' App Review

Help your child develop early reading skills with Word Wall. Watch them develop into confident and strong readers. Helps beginning readers practice reading and writing skills through numerous funtastic activities!

Word Wall HD

Whether by assembling a jigsaw puzzle together in Jigsaw Words or playing a memory match game in Hide a Word, Word Wall provides hours of fun and practice in early reading skills engaging young readers to become successful and confident readers. There are over 75 sight words, and 12 word families with 65 word family words.

Word Wall helps early to beginning readers learn to read and write by:

* Hearing, visualizing, vocally repeating and writing down letters and words.
* Providing activities that cater to budding readers using multiple learning styles such as spatial, visual, tactile, language-oriented, logical, or rhythmic.
* Engaging kids with four well-designed reading games that reinforce recognition of age appropriate sight and word family words.
* Providing structured learning for ESL/EFL and special needs students to help develop or improve their reading and writing skills.

My favorite apps are the ones that can teach little Brandon alphabets and words (associated with pictures). I used to make hard copy flash cards before I because I did not own an iPhone or iPad to download apps. PunFlay's Word Wall app is like flash cards and is more fun because of the animation and the interactive games.  Brandon is good with his alphabet now, but is still a little young for learning words as he hasn't yet understand how to put them together. This will be early learning for him. He does like to learn to trace the letters of the alphabets though. Brandon's favorite is the puzzle game.

When I first saw the selecton "Writing ABC", I assumed it was a letter tracing exercise. It's actually more like letter puzzles where the child drags and drops the letter into the matching letter. Then it shows an object that starts with that letter.

With the "Writing Words", the child selects a letter in the choice and drag & drop in the space on the bottom to spell a word.

What I find that needs improvement:
The annoying thing is that each game/activity we tried to select would often crash. The app would just close and we had to start the activity over again. Brandon and I were trying to complete the activity and find out what is next and we couldn't get very far. I hope the developers would fix this bug.


1) See - young readers view letters and words along with a reference picture and visual cues. This reinforcement strengthens the association between the picture and the word helping them to remember and recall each word.

2) Hear - each letter and word is phonetically sounded out and repeated reinforcing letter-sound associations.

3) Say - young readers are prompted to say the words and repeat the words heard
repetitively, thereby helping to strengthen comprehension and memory skills.

4) Write - young readers generate narrative and writing skills that encourages visual and word connection.

Disclosure: I received a code to redeem for the above App at no charge in exchange for a review of my opinion. Thanks to PunFlay and Emantras Inc. The opinions expressed are my own personal and honest thoughts. No other compensation was given.

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Geometry (Mathomatix) Kids App Review

I have loved PunFlay's kids educational apps since I was introduced to them. Whether it is free or paid, the creators know how to make it entertaining and fun for the kids (and adults). Here is another fun learning app. You can download it for free to your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Geometry (Mathomatix)
Kindergarteners will enjoy learning about basic geometrical shapes such as triangles, squares, rectangles and circles. And yes, we have several cute characters in the app that will make your little one coming back for more. The app’s content is in line with National and California educational standards. This makes it a perfect way to engage your child in some additional exercises to complement what he/she is learning in school.

The app comes with five activities that each reinforces concepts of shape.

Say Cheese: Kids will have fun tracing the shapes in this activity where a cute mouse is trying to get some cheese. Little ones will get a feel for drawing these shapes by tracing them and also learning about the number of sides the shapes have.

Sharkie Shapeater: Don’t be surprised if you are tempted to try this activity yourself. Simply tilt and help find Sharkie find a matching shape. Sharkie is a rather friendly shark who will gladly teach your little one his/her shapes.

Frog Jump: Frogs love lily pads, but this activity shows frogs jumping from one geometric shaped leaf to another. Kids will have to match the raft’s shape to the leaves. Once they get they get a match, they will love watching the frog leap and land on that leaf.

Match Mission: As the name indicates, kids will have to match the shape with the correct object in a series. There is an interesting array of objects that your child will easily recognize and match with the geometric shape that’s displayed on screen.

Munkee Munch: Kids will love dragging and placing food on the monkey’s plate. If it’s a triangle, then kids will have to choose a triangular piece of cake and place it on the monkey’s plate. A fun way to know that shapes can be found in our everyday lives. There are round cherries, rectangular pieces of pastry and interesting an assortment of objects that will keep your child engrossed in the activity.

At the end, kids can collect virtual rewards for completing the tasks.

I think this is a great app for little learners who is just learning about shapes and recognizing shapes from objects. Little Brandon likes the animated characters and sound effects (as always). He still gets some wrong, but he's just learning. He'll have some good practice to prepare him for preschool.

We had a little trouble figuring out tracing the triangle shape in the "Say Cheese" activity. It was the only shape I couldn't trace it all the way around continuously, which was a bit strange. I thought it might be a glitch. Looks like it's been fixed now. It only lets you drag & trace going one way (clockwise), but not the other way.

What I didn't like is the banner that seems to be in the way of the game or game selection. It's a free app so we have an ad banner. I wish the banner can be minimized or placed off to the side so that we can tap on the game link that's overlapping it. Here's a couple of snapshots of the banner that's "in the way":

* Kid-friendly
* Easy-to-use menu for kids
* Simple activities that offer a lot of practice to reinforce concepts
* Supplements Math concepts learned in school
* Blends California and National Standards
* 5 games in one package
* Attractive graphics and exciting animations

Disclosure: The above iTunes app was free to download. Thanks to PunFlay and Emantras Inc. The opinions expressed are my own personal and honest thoughts. No other compensation was given.

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