Book Creator

APP book creator logo copyBook Creator

is the simplest, most powerful way to create digital books. It’s easy enough for preschoolers, yet can be used by older students or adults.

Children can add photos, videos or drawings to enhance their story. They may type their words and add a recording of the reading of their story. Imagine how excited children will be to publish their own book!




Children select the + to add a page, a photo, text or sound. The camera allows capturing a photo or a video. Just grab the image in the middle to move it on the page or resize the video by dragging the corner. Book Creator automatically saves so your child doesn’t need to remember that step.

Books created with Book Creator may be exported as an ebook to read using the iBooks app, as a video to post on the web or as a PDF to print or share by email, Airdrop, iCloud, DropBox, Box, or Google Drive.


The app looks simple to use. There are simple buttons and not very many choices, or so it seems. The app is well designed so that the options are concise and powerful. The books may be created in the portrait, square or landscape view. Selecting the + will allow inserting photos or videos from the camera roll or camera, drawing with a pen, typing with text, or recording audio. Audio may also be imported from iTunes.


Selecting text or an image, then selecting the info (i) allows the text or image to be customized. Other customizing includes changing the page color and adding a sound track.


The free version offers In-App purchases.

Young children may need help with typing their story.


Explore Book Creator together with your child. You may want to look through the short tutorial book to learn about the simple to use features. After learning how to use the app, then start your first book by creating a book of story ideas. Brainstorm topics, characters, settings and gather photos as story starters or story enhancers.

All ages can use this app to create a book.


Here are some questions to get you thinking (depending on your child’s interest, age and language abilities):

  • What story will you tell?
  • What characters or people do you need in your story?
  • What images do you need to create to illustrate your story?
  • Where does your story take place?
  • What comes first? Then what happened? What happens in the end?
  • How might (a character) feel if…?
  • What is something exciting that will happen in your story?
  • What can your readers learn from your book?
  • Shall we make up our own story?
  • Who shall we make a story for?

Remember, let your children tell their story! Listen to what they are saying. Enjoy learning from their knowledge of the world!


APP book creator logo copy BOOK CREATOR

$4.99  available for iPad, Android, Windows



Book Creator QR


Puppet Pals HD Directors’ Pass

APP puppet-pals-hd-directors-pass LOGO PUPPET PALS HD DIRECTORS PASS

is the most complete puppet and storytelling app we know. This app has more than 115 characters and 90 backgrounds.

Even more exciting is that children can use your photos for backgrounds. Photos of family members, friends, pets and even toys can be easily made into puppets. Imagine how excited children will be to have their pictures in their story!




Children select characters and backgrounds, then they tap the red record button, speak to tell the story while moving the characters with their fingers. When they are done, they can save their movie to the camera roll by tapping the save button.


The app looks like a stage with curtains. The built-in characters and backgrounds look either like cartoon drawings or realistic photos. They are easy to drag to move and to make smaller or larger with two fingers.


We really like that you can take a photo, trace around the person (or pet or toy), then use it as a character in your story. We also like that you can use your own trip photos as a background in the story. Your children would love to act out their trip to the farm or to Grandma’s house!


This is an app that could be used just to create noises with characters moving around on the screen. This is okay when children are just playing and exploring, but don’t be fooled, there is much more to this app. The possibilities for storytelling and reporting are unlimited.

The child may need help typing a title for the story in order to save it.


Start out by playing together. Be silly and change your voice, make the characters larger or smaller, or tell a far-out, make-believe story. After you and your child have figured out how easily the app works, then you are ready to tell more purposeful stories.

All ages can use this app to tell a story. Choosing the “Arthropod Armada” or “Fair Weather Friends” categories listed under “more characters”, young children may tell about a time that they saw or found a bug, while older children may tell facts they have learned about insects. The characters and categories lend themselves to both imaginary stories and non-fiction reports. If there is a character or background missing, you can take a photo to make a customizable character and make the story perfect!


Here are some questions to get you thinking (depending on your child’s interest, age and language abilities):

  • What characters or people do you need in your story?
  • Where does your story take place?
  • What comes first? Then what happened? What happens in the end?
  • Can we make it a bit like _____(the book you just read)?
  • What would it be like to be in this place? (or to be this ____ (butterfly, astronaut, monster…)
  • How might (a character) feel if…?
  • What might be like this in our house? at our beach? under our tree? in your bedroom?
  • Do you think we can make our own character?
  • Shall we make up our own story?
  • Who shall we make a story for?

Remember, let your children tell their story! Listen to what they are saying. Enjoy their imaginations!


APP puppet-pals-hd-directors-pass LOGOPUPPET PALS HD DIRECTORS PASS

 $3.99    Available for iOS

APP PuppetPals HD QR

Creativity and Apps

Modern days games Creativity?

Ask Google to define creativity and you get: the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

Merriam – Webster defines “creativity”:  the ability to make new things or think of new ideas

Marianna says: creativity is when you make stuff and make stuff up

Children learn much from painting, drawing, singing and creating, and it seems as if app developers have figured out that teachers and parents who select and download apps for young children value creativity. We see more and more apps in the app stores, in app reviews, on Twitter and in blogs that say they are “creative” and we wonder if they have thought deeply about that.

What we think is NOT creativity.

Click to “Paint”

On-tablet coloring books, on-tablet “painting” where the finger swipes simply color in the lines even if the finger wanders off the “page”, and apps which are too restrictive in how a child creates an image are not usually “creativity apps”. Click in the lines to fill the image with color or, in the more “advanced creativity apps ” in this category, you can fill the picture with rainbows or unicorns or patterns. These paintbynumber kyle macdonaldharken back to Gail’s childhood of buying “paint-by-number” kits and carefully following the numbers to make “amazing” art.

They may engage children and some children may like to “complete” images with this kind of activity… but is it encouraging creativity? We can find coloring in coloring books a soothing activity for ourselves, but we would never suggest we are being “creative”.

Instead Look For

… open-ended apps with drawing and painting tools. Look for apps which provide no judgement as to the child’s creations other than encouragement and opportunities to revisit and reflect on their work, perhaps even recording their thoughts and ideas about their work via voice or text.

Click to Assemble

We have seen apps where children are to “cut” shapes and “assemble” these shapes into “creations of their own” when in reality they are unable to choose the shapes, the patterns or where to place these in their creations. These are often promoted as creativity tools. They are really more like puzzles where your child is to put pre-designed elements into predetermined locations.

Instead Look For

… apps where children can use shapes and items they design or which are pre-designed for them and then create new items and composites with no restraints. These allow for children to create collages or scenes with their own vision and creativity. The apps “allow” for pigs in trees or vases as bodies for creatures or for boats made of half-circles and triangles floating on hand-drawn purple seas.

Be cautious.

Apps are often labelled as creativity apps when we think the most creative thing about the apps is the marketing efforts in labeling these as creative. To select apps to encourage and allow for your child’s creativity look for apps which are open-ended, encourage experimentation, and provide opportunities to return to “creations” and reflect.

Apps to Consider:

We will provide more complete reviews of these and other apps in the future, they are included in our book: Using an iPad with Your Preschooler

Sago Mini Doodlecast logoAPP Sagomini Doodlecast QR  Sago Mini Doodlecast

APP Zolo LOGOAPP Zolo QR copy  Educational ZoLO Creative Play Sculpture

APP Drawing Pad LogoAPP Drawing Pad QRDrawing Pad

Moma logoAPP MOMA Art Lab QRMOMA Art Lab

PlayArt copyAPP PLayArt QR  PlayART


We hope you will share your thoughts via comments here or email us at



David Wiesner’s Spot

Spot logoDavid Wiesner’s Spot

is a new iOS app from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and it is a beautiful app ready for you and your children to explore together!

This is a departure from most apps – it is not a book, not a game, not a “teaching” app, not a maze – what it IS is a rich playground for exploration, discussion, and imagination.

Spot provides a very open-ended collection of interlinked worlds which, at their core, seem to thrive in the dots on a ladybug’s back. There are undersea places, robot-rich worlds, cat-filled communities and more.

The Good

Ease of Use

Navigation is as simple as pinching on the screen and there is no wrong way or order to explore. Each time the app is used a different path can be discovered and new objects and illustrations can be examined and enjoyed.

Spot is spoken-language-free. There is no voice-over so children and their adults can have conversations in the language they choose. There are some signs and papers and such with English words, but these are minimal.

Look and Feel

The illustrations are not childlike and we like this. So many apps for children are flat and colorful for color-sake these illustrations are not babyish or “cartoons”.  The depth of detail will intrigue and engage children and provide opportunities for many “what next?” and “Wows” in surprise. The worlds may inspire children to draw their own secret worlds of surprise.

The Not-So-Good

This is not an app format most people will have experienced. At first glance the ease of managing/using this app may lead one to think this is a simple and quick app with little “reuseability”. Don’t be fooled, we think there is much more to this app. We think the app’s maker recognized this as they have provided a free download of an iBook exploring the possibilities for parents and teachers – find it in the iBooks Store (David Wiesner’s Spot: A Parent and Educator Guide), it is free.

This app left us wanting more – more apps like this one.

How to Maximize this App

Oh my! Plop your favorite child on your lap or cuddled up next to you on the couch and begin exploring. Follow their lead. Ask about what they see, what they think, what they wonder… Laugh together, tell stories and imagine yourselves in the worlds of this app.

Here are some Ideas:

Here are some questions to get you thinking (depending on your child’s interest, age and language abilities):

  • What do you see? (Then ask about details… )
  • Where is the ____? (a sort of ISpy game lead by you or your child)
  • What would it be like to be in this place? (or to be this ____ (cat, robot, dog, etc…)
  • What do you think is happening here? What do you think might happen next? What happened just before?
  • How would you feel if…?
  • What do you think this place would (smell like?, feel like?, sound like?)
  • What might be like this in our house? at our beach? under our chair?
  • Do you think we can make (draw, paint, sculpt) a little world of our own…
  • Shall we make up our own story?

Remember, let your child lead when they can… join their amazing journey!


Spot logoDavid Wiesner’s Spot



$3.99    Available for iOS

Here is a trailer for  the app: 




YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids LogoYouTube Kids is Available!

There is much excitement in the air and online about the news… not just about the Oscars, but the newly announced app for kids from Google – YouTube Kids. This new app, developed by Google for the under-five age group provides a quick, easy interface for little ones to access “kid-friendly” videos from YouTube.  There are some really nice things about this app, and a few things to be aware of.

The Good

Parental Controls

Parents (or children who know their number words) can open a settings screen which allows for turning off the background music (a GOOD idea) to turning off sound effects.  Parents can also turn off the search feature to  keep little ones in just the videos on the home screen. There is also a timer which can be set to limit the amount of time a child is watching the videos… this has a remarkable span including the “limitation” of viewing to ONLY 120 minutes! Relaunching the app allows the child directly back into the app, even if the time limitation was reached.

Full Screen Automatically

When a video is selected the video automatically changes to full screen, making it easier for children to stay focused on the video without other videos appearing.

Voice-Based Search

IF you have the search option available there is a microphone icon which children, or you, can use to search for videos. This makes it easier for children who are not great spellers or typists to find a video on a topic or with a character they are eager to find.

Diverse Options

The variety of videos is wide. You will find familiar characters and a few new ones perhaps too.There are also instructional videos and some surprises (especially when you search – more on this below)

The Not-So-Good


This sort of app just makes it more likely that children will be passive consumers of video on their devices. Sitting, laying on the floor, or riding in a backseat watching videos should be just one very, very small part of the way children use technologies. This is not to say we adults can’t join in (more on this below).


The parental controls are easily bypassed. Closing the app and reopening it turns the timer off. A parent who wants to control the amount of time a child is using this app via the timer will need to set the timer each time the app is opened. Of course many four-year olds will also be able to read the number words and enter in the “secret” code to change the settings all by themselves.


This is a tough one. This app includes a lot of content which we love to share with children. Fun videos, songs and also learning and how-to videos. This content is a little too broad perhaps, especially if you intend to have children searching and finding videos in an independent manner. Say your child is interested in all things “bath” or you are searching for bathtime songs. A search for “bath” brings up “bathroom tour” and “bathroom remodel” (hints on organizing a bathroom or remodeling one from home improvement experts) as well as some adults sharing bath tips and some reviews of bath products. Searching “birth” brings up even odder options. I think I would turn search off in parental settings!


This app will need to be supported financially, and it appears placing “child appropriate ads” is the method chosen by Google. The “pay to play” with a little money is my preferred method of payment rather than the interruption and distraction of children, but others may be okay with this choice. We must support the development and maintenance of apps for children one way or another.

How to Maximize this App

While we know that there are times we need a child to spend a little independent time so WE can spend a little time cooking dinner or answering an important phone call, but we also believe the use of mobile devices as pacifiers can, and should, be limited.

Instead, use this app to watch videos together.

Here are some ideas:

  • Pause the video and talk about the characters.
  • Ask your child to point out colors she is learning or shapes he notices.
  • Sing along then sing the songs when you are also away from the device.
  • Pause the video and ask, “What do you think will happen next?” or “Why did he do that?” or “What would you do?”
  • After a video stop and draw or act out part of the story.
  • Find books related to the themes or content your child chooses and read them together.

Be part of the action instead of apart from the action and this app may provide opportunities for great fun and learning with your child.


YouTube Kids Logo     YouTube Kids

Free for Android and iOS

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