Crayola Trace & Draw Hardware Review

Crayola Trace & Draw Hardware Review

Apr 30, 2015

In a world gone electronically amok, it is refreshing to see accessories aimed at kids… the type of gear that harnesses the power of mobile electronics in relatively atypical ways. Back in the day, we could have jamborees with some charcoal and paper.

It feels like the Crayola Trace & Draw is a system that hearkens back to those days, while being firmly planted in the present.

The review package Griffin sent us contains a single piece, a marker and documentation. The idea is fairly simple, almost crazily so: the main hardware piece is an adjustable clip that fastens onto a tablet (or, as became apparent during testing, even larger phablets). This clip’s main purpose is to hold a single sheet of paper plush against the device screen.

The secondary part of this combo is the Crayola Trace & Draw companion application, available on the Play Store. This app powers the images that are the core to the tool. The app contains a bunch of relatively simple basic images, black on white for efficacy, and grouped generally for identification. Now, with the device screen at the brightest setting (as the application advises) and a plain non-opaque piece of paper in place as described earlier, one can use the included marker to trace the image which shows through the paper.


The app has some simple child/adult-friendly tricks up its sleeve to make the process as successful as possible. One pertinent method is the way is presents the image to be traced — in parts, such that one is overwhelmed with one difficult image all at once, but a smaller section that is more easily reproduced. When that section is completed, the budding artist can tap on an arrow that adds a new section to be added, and so on till the outline is completed.

When the outline is indeed finished, the young (or old) Rembrandt can then take the sheet off and further enhance the future masterpiece.

The system is rated for kids 3+, and I was able to try it out with my tablet-savvy 5-yr-old. Simply put, she loved it, and raided the printer for paper like a vagabond. She was able to get the hang of it almost immediately, and the app was easy enough for her to manipulate on her own. I find it quite interesting that she views the old Nook Color as primarily a tool to create art now. We (yes, we) were able to use pencils and such to do the initial trace too. Nifty.

When it’s all said and done, I really appreciate it. It’s simple, affordable ($19.99 on the Griffin website), and even useful. If only to see a continued smile on my daughter’s face, hats off to Griffin for encouraging childhood creativity.

Mia – The Happy Helper! Comes to Google Play

Mia – The Happy Helper! Comes to Google Play

Jan 4, 2015

If you have a young child and an Android device, this one’s for you.

Mia – The Happy Helper! is a new game from developer Kutoka, and it is especially geared towards kids aged 4-6.

Your child is invited to go on an adventure with the adorable Mia Mouse! She needs help to do a series of errands for the General Store. In order to finish Mia’s mission, some fun challenges and educational activities will have to be successfully completed. Designed with the input of educational consultants, the app is aimed at children ages 4 to 6 years old and features two levels of difficulty.
The entertaining and diversified activities include:
• Finding something that doesn’t belong
• Counting
• Reproducing a melody on a piano
• Finding hidden objects in a scene
And lots more!
Johnny, Mr Maurice’s assistant at the General Store, has twisted his ankle and can’t go run the errands. Thankfully, Mia has offered to do them for him and your child is invited along to help get the job done!
The road will be filled with fun challenges and educational activities that give your child the opportunity to practice useful skills for school such as:
• Observation, deduction and thinking skills
• Logical reasoning
• Introduction to music and rhythm
• Practice of audio and visual memory
• Development of concentration and perseverance skills
• Development of coordination and fine motor skills
Come play with Mia! Without a doubt, this app is a great educational entertainment. Mouse’s honor!
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Berries Activity: Count while gathering the berries needed for the General Store.
Touki’s Book Activity: Use your reasoning and deduction skills to determine what is common to the group and which object doesn’t belong.
Flea Market Activity: Find a series of hidden objects in a scene.
Piano Activity: Learn to play a melody on the small piano the General Store just received!

Dandelion Activity: Count using the slingshot to take down the dandelion spores in the sky.
Acorn Activity: Count and gather all the acorns we need for the store.
Globe Activity: Associate an image to its first letter.
Hole Activity: Oh no! There is a big hole and we can’t pass. Think fast! Use the slingshot and fill the hole up with the hard berries on the bush!
Decoder Activity: Reproduce a symbol by finding the three parts that it’s comprised of (great introduction to geometric shapes).
Petals Activity: Count and gather a variety of colorful petals.

Upgrade to the paid version of the game to get access to more questions to the activities already offered in the free version, as well as 5 more scenes and 5 new activities.
Please note that playing the free version doesn’t mean your child won’t be able to play through until the end of the game. The additional content offered with the In-App purchase is located in the middle of the app.

As noted, the game is available for free, with an optional in-game unlock that costs $2.99.


Illustrated Fairy-Tales Brought On Android With Easy Tales

Illustrated Fairy-Tales Brought On Android With Easy Tales

Dec 16, 2013

Easy Tales 2

Classic stories for children come alive, thanks to a project called Easy Tales. It’s a series of digital books, illustrated and narrated to aid the famous stories. There are several games published already, with free demos available. The links to all of them can be found here: Easy Tales Website.

KickStarter Spotlight: MiiPC

KickStarter Spotlight: MiiPC

Apr 3, 2013

Introducing children to computers is a very delicate process, and one that I do not look forward to when I am finally thrust into parenthood. On the one hand, any parent wants their children to be proficient with technology as well as use all the available resources to expand their imagination and knowledge of the world. But along with that comes the unbridled mature, or immature, corners of the internet where no parent wants their young child entering. Parental controls on modern machines are clumsy and fairly easy to circumvent for especially apt kids, and they generally get in the way of everyday functions when the children are not on the computer. Seeing as the PC market is dominated by Apple and Microsoft with no viable third option catering to parents it was only time before the borderless possibilities of Android came in and lent a hand.

This week’s KickStarter Spotlight focuses on an ambitious, and impressively polished product that is squarely aimed at parents who are concerned about their child’s computer usage called MiiPC. It is not so much the content as the amount of time wasted that most parents worry about, and it is a fact that technology can be a major distraction for young people with homework. I can attest that even in the course of writing this post, I have looked away to a USA Today update and watched a few YouTube videos that were sent to me by a few Facebook friends. What MiiPC aims to deliver is a computer that, in all honesty, is not much more than a converted, overpowered tablet in a box. The main feature is the complete control parents have over the device. From setting time restrictions on apps or websites, to monitoring exactly what activity a user is doing at any time; MiiPC allows a parent to have total peace of mind while still ensuring their children get an appropriate introduction to the vast wonder of the internet.

The machine runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.2 and essentially functions as a Mac Mini, coming with no keyboard, mouse, or screen of any kind. There is not access to the entire app market, just a few that are more suited to mouse and keyboard interaction, but a basic suite of apps, for web browsing, word processing, and media management are all included. One of the biggest feature is an included mobile app that acts as a command center for the device, allowing for the user to monitor and allow or restrict their child’s actions on the MiiPC. Custom settings can be changed for each user’s profile, and there is practically nothing that escapes a parent’s control. This is why I have no reason to believe that MiiPC will not find a niche somewhere in the market immediately, and maybe a few years from now their unique strategy of marketing to young families will make MiiPC a household name.

Friday Android Free Game Recap August 24

Friday Android Free Game Recap August 24

Aug 24, 2012

Legos are super fun to build things with but suck to step on with bare feet. For this week’s Friday Android Free Game Recap, we will take a look at a few applications having to do with Legos. For the Lego builders out there, an app in the list is a guide to ideas of things to build. The other Android applications in the list are games. Let us know what you have to say about the Lego revolution in the comment section below.

LEGO App4+

Part of the fun when building something with LEGOs is playing with it afterward. LEGO App4+ is a game for kids 4 and older to do just that. First a vehicle will need to be built then it’s driven through the level by holding a single button. For people who aren’t a little kid and like a challenge, try and tip the vehicle over. I tried several times and couldn’t get it to topple.

Download LEGO App4+

LEGO Duplo Zoo

This cute little game is sure to entertain the youngest tech savvy members of the family. While there isn’t a lot to LEGO Duplo Zoo, there is a fun interactive adventure for the kids to follow.

Download LEGO Duplo Zoo

Unblock LEGO

The Unblock games are pretty challenging. The idea is to move around the block to get the red block through the exit. I thought I was pretty good until I steadily lost to a 7 year old girl. Not cool. Anyway, several other games like it are out there, this one just has a LEGO theme to it.

Download Unblock LEGO

LEGO Creationary

LEGO Creationary is pretty sweet. As something is being built out of LEGOs one of the 4 choices in the corners of the screen can be pressed to guess. The faster the correct answer is guessed, the more points are given.

Download LEGO Creationary

LEGO building examples

Even the most crafty LEGO builder can run out of ideas on what to construct. LEGO building examples will show how to build some cool buildings. Follow the steps and make a masterpiece. Other similar apps are out there giving ideas for things to build other than buildings.

Download LEGO building examples

[Update] A Grinch, A Cat In a Hat, Indeed Android Has, Two New Dr. Seuss Apps

[Update] A Grinch, A Cat In a Hat, Indeed Android Has, Two New Dr. Seuss Apps

Dec 14, 2010

It would be safe to say that at some point in our lives we’ve been exposed to the workings of Dr.Seuss. His classic rhythmic children books can be spotted on almost every child’s bookshelf. With numerous screen adaptations, merchandise and even a theme park, it is only fitting that his legacy would continue entertaining children of all ages through newer technologies. That’s exactly how app development company Oceanhouse Media, Inc. feels, and that is why they created their popular Dr.Seuss digital children’s book apps.