With the rapid advancement of technology and the ease with which television and the Internet can be accessed, many parents may worry about their children’s attachment or addiction to a world detached from reality. They spend long hours on tablets or cell phones, consuming nonsense and wasting their human capacity for knowledge. So, why not use those leisurely hours in an efficient and productive manner? Edutainment applications provide an alternative – a cross between educational structures and entertainment – so that young minds can benefit from sensory models and acquire necessary skills for later life.

Article by: Sarah Ghantous

Although there are hundreds of edutainment apps available in cyberspace, HOME Magazine highlights five programs that cater to various subjects and aspects of learning and enjoyment for targeted age groups.

Musical Me HD (age 3–5)

Under the umbrella of Duck Duck Moose, a community of passionate designers, artists, engineers, and educators dedicated to shaping children’s learning in positive ways through educational apps, Musical Me explores elements of music with animated characters and familiar songs. Aimed at reaching children between the ages of 3 and 5, it is primarily concerned with developing five main skills: memory, rhythm, dance, instrument recognition, and knowledge of musical notes. By listening to the notes and copying the patterns that appear on the screen, children train their ears and recognize the different pitches. In this way, they also learn to read the unique language of music and compose their own songs by moving notes on a staff. In addition, understanding the difference between long and short notes, as well as learning about rhythm, is made easier through a visually appealing game in which the users touch colorful birds one at a time as they move slowly across the screen. They hear the melody the combined sounds create and assemble well-known songs, such as Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Children further their musical abilities by tapping, dragging, or holding down creatures to make them dance to a beat. They also add a mixture of drums, cymbals, triangles, maracas and egg shakers to a song to recognize the instruments and the sounds they make when played.

Puppet Pals 2 (age 6+)

A somewhat more advanced structure aimed at children six years and older, Puppet Pals 2 is an easy-to-use cartoon creator that allows users to create their own animations using a variety of themes and characters. This application is an educational tool that has been likened to a magic moviemaker, with choices of locations, rides, characters with certain occupations or fictional backgrounds, settings, songs and plots. Students master their storytelling expertise by creating short, instructional videos and acting out stories, as well as narrating and recording them. Puppet Pals 2 offers creative opportunities by re-enacting stories or historical events. It helps reluctant public speakers present to their classes and foreign language students to practice fluency and language skills, and assists in brainstorming or storyboarding ideas and presentations.

The Human Body Lite (age 4+)

Children can send sound vibrations through the ear canal and see them descend deep into the stomach, see pupils dilate when a bright light is shone, feel the tingle of nerves on a touchscreen, and watch and listen to audible heartbeats, gurgling guts, and moving lungs. This unique program, designed by Tinybop for curious children four years and up, dives into the very real anatomy of a human body. It delves into how our bodies work, and the functions of the skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, nervous, muscular, and digestive systems, in an interactive and animated model that is fun for children and adults alike. Users of the Human Body Lite learn about the heart, lungs, and bones through detailed and accurate prototypes and simulations on the screen. A dashboard allows parents and teachers to support their children’s progress, as well as view, save, and share conversations with them. Interactive text labels even provide playful learning in over 50 languages. The program includes a free downloadable app handbook with facts and tips, as well as an intuitive, safe, child-friendly design.

Smart Kidz Club e-Books (age up to 12)

This app is designed to give unlimited access to all books available on the app or website and features read-along technology, smart word features, stunning illustrations, and a platform for students and teachers to collaborate in reading and comprehension, for children up to 12 years of age. New content is added every week to ensure constant engagement for users. Children expand their imaginations, vocabulary and knowledge through sights, sounds, quizzes, and interactive activities, such as word searches, fill-in-the-blanks, or match-up. This platform nurtures all kinds of learners based on age, reading level or interest categories and its global appeal means it can be used as a supplemental resource for teachers in classrooms.

Timer for Kids: Visual Task Countdown for Preschool Children (age up to 7)

This is a super timer for children, a handy means to help them stay on task and complete daily routines such as simple chores around the house, teeth brushing, and getting dressed. These tasks, while often tedious to young people, become fun and competitive. Parents can set the time duration and select a favorite character that will gradually reveal itself as the countdown nears its end. The app features 11 animal pictures and three musical themes, is very user-friendly, works in the background so that other apps can be used, and sends a notification when time is up. With this fun and straightforward tool, it is literally a race against the clock.

Sarah Saade Ghantous hosts and edits three segments of a morning show on ALIVE | MTV Lebanon. The first segment, related to kids’ edutainment activities and parenting, hosts talented kids and teens. The third segment is related to lifestyle – providing smart tips. Sarah also has more than eight years’ experience in planning, designing, arranging and coordinating every detail of various types of event such as corporate events, product launching, birthdays, playground, seasonal events, summer camps, promotional shows, exhibitions and social events