HappiTaps, for the Tech-loving toddler!

HappiTapsBear

Warning!! Introducing your child to HappiTaps may mean you’ll be seeing a lot less of your Iphone. On the flip side, it’s sure to provide lots of giggles, heartwarming moments, and some uninterrupted “mommy time.”  HappiTapps pairs up technology with teddy for a winning combo!

Like most toddlers, my daughter loves to play on my Iphone.  Her favorite thing to do is watch YouTube videos and listen to music.  Recently, she’s been waking up saying, “Bear,” and before bed she says, “Night Night, Bear.”  I’ve never before reviewed an app, but the new Infantino HappiTaps Beary Happi app had so many neat toddler friendly features, I was excited to test it out.  Clearly, it’s a hit with my daughter!

Features:

  • 3D computer animation in conjunction with the iPhone/iPod Touch cutting technology to create a toy that reacts to a child’s life moments
  • Over 150 different expressions to keep kids engaged and learning
    • Tell jokes, share fun facts, tell stories, sing songs, teach educational tidbits
    • Beary Happi also loves to laugh, wink, make faces and of course he eats and sleeps
  • Full of games and activities for engaging play
  • 2 Play modes
    • Toddler Mode – Hides the navigation so toddlers cruise carefree from 1 activity to the next
    • Manual Mode – Let’s kids choose between the 7 games and activities
  • The cover features a lock for the home button to ensure kids stay within the app
  • Age: 18+ months

What exactly are HappiTaps?

HappiTaps are a toy/app hybrid. Infantino/Step 2  created a winning combination, merging kids  fascination with technology and an adorable snuggle buddy to create an interactive companion.  Brilliant, I say!

Beary Happi is the very first HappiTap. Put your Iphone or Ipod inside and download the free app to make him “come to life”.

I’ve already downloaded the HappiTap app and am eager to get my bear case that will wrap around my Iphone.  I know my daughter will go crazy over it!  We are just beginning to learn about all the features as we navigate through the app.  I’m torn because I think this would make the perfect stocking stuffer for her–once the bear arrives–but I’m so excited to see her reaction that I don’t think I can wait until Christmas!  😆  At a retail price of just $19.99 plus free shipping, this makes a great gift for nieces and nephews too!

 

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Infantino HappiTaps and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.  All opinions  are my own.

 

 

How Social Media Makes Saying Goodbye a Little Easier

As I’ve moved around quite a bit in the past few years, moving from Virginia to Oklahoma to California to Illinois to finally Rhode Island, I’ve had to say goodbye many times to good friends.  Unfortunately, it never seems to get any easier.  This time I happen not to be the one moving, but our good friend and owner of amomknowsbest.com, Allison Alexander, is the one moving.  It’s very sad to see a friend moving away, but at least as technology has progressed over the past few years it is easier to keep in touch.  I would always say, “Let’s keep in touch!  We’ll write each other and call,” but everyone knows that is easier said than done (unfortunately).  Moms are busy, both working and raising kids, and day to day life in the new place becomes all consuming.  You make new friends, you move on, but you do always hold in your heart the friends you had in other places.  Now technology is giving us the chance to keep up with friends easier!

(Part of the AMKB Contributor Crew with Allison, Owner of AMKB)

The greatest thing now is the expansion of social media.  I created a Facebook profile in 2006, and have connected with many friends and family through that outlet ever since.  It’s such an easy way to keep in touch and see what friends are doing.  I have been able to connect (and even reconnect) with friends from all the States I’ve lived in.  It makes it so you can actually say, “Let’s keep in touch!” and truly mean it.  Our group at amomknowsbest.com will use social media (Facebook and Twitter) and other technology available to keep in touch with Allison on a very frequent basis.  I’m sure we will be Skyping her in at meetings!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Friends I keep in touch with from Illinois through Facebook!)

Technology is always advancing and bringing us new great ways to communicate.  My parents, even in their 60’s and 70’s, are using tools to commute with us!  We just spoke to them from their Alaskan Cruise, via my father’s iPad 2 to my MacBook Pro, using Facetime (the Mac version of Skype).  It’s just really amazing how much technology has advanced even in the past 10 years.  One of our AMKB contributors, Joanna Stepka, was able to view her child’s crib on her phone from the restaurant we were eating (see her article).  Now that’s some great technology!   I guess we’ll see what they think of next!

(Skyping with my kids while my parents were babysitting them)

 

Allison Alexander, we will miss you here in Rhode Island, but we know you will be just a mouse-click or Skype call away!

*  How do you use technology to keep in touch with friends?

 

 

Kristin Wheeler

My 5 Favorite Websites for Kids

Being a former teacher of 4th-8th graders, and having technology as an area of focus in my teaching, I always search to find good educational sites for my kids to utilize for their “computer time.”  I look for how easy the site is to navigate, how interesting it is to my kids (and me), and what educational value it provides.  Here are a few sites that I found to have these qualities:

1.  Sesame Street (www.sesamestreet.org)

There are many cute games on this site that are fairly educational.  Both my kids around age 3 loved the sorting game with Zoe.  I was so amazed at their skills.  I had no idea they could even sort by color, size, or shape.  Both my kids also practiced their alphabet letters with Elmo.  They loved pushing a letter on the keyboard and hearing Elmo say it, and then they would watch to see what picture would come up that starts with that letter.  I would also choose a letter for them to find on the keyboard (added difficulty and skill).  There are some games on here “just for fun” too.  I would let them choose one to play with me, then I picked the rest.

2.  IXL (www.ixl.com)

This site is fabulous for grades Pre-K through 8th.  It focuses on math standards and has fun drills/games for kids to work on their math skills.  I love that you first click on the grade level you want, and then you can choose the topic.  It basically breaks the topics down into sections like a textbook, but with interactive ways to practice skills.  As a teacher, I think this is fabulous and would use it in the classroom if I were still teaching (now a stay-at-home mom).  Lastly, you can also click on the State you live in at the bottom of the page, and it will tell you how the site aligns with State math standards.  Very cool!  A+ for this site.

3.  Magic Keys – Children’s Storybooks Online (http://www.magickeys.com/books/index.html)

This site has storybooks for kids to read online from young readers to older readers.  The stories are cute and illustrated.  I especially like the stories with the volume icon on the side of them.  This shows that the story can be read to the kids.  It’s nice for beginning readers because they can follow along and read the words with the reader.  A good site to help improve reading skills, and keeping kids interested in reading (and actually learning about technology as well).

4.  PBS Kids (http://pbskids.org/)

Some of the games on this site are not as educational as others, but you can find some cute games for rhyming, spelling, math skills, and even science content-related games.  The Super Why games are fairly educational, and I really liked the measuring game under the Dinosaur Train games.  Another nice thing about this site, is that it states the learning goals/curriculum areas of study across the top of the screen as you click on each game.  Kids also like this site because they can connect with familiar characters that they see on TV.

5.  Sheppard Software (http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/web_games.htm)

I found this site while searching for a good website for my daughter to practice her States.  It has games for State recognition, State placement, States and Capitals, etc.  This site is good for 1st grade on up!  Adults can even revisit their knowledge of the States if they need some brushing up on their facts.  The site is very basic (not too many bells and whistles), but it’s easy to use and highly educational.  I’m sure we will be using it for years to come!

Obviously, I love the fact there is technology available as a tool for kids to use in their learning, but I also feel that it needs to be used appropriately.  “Computer time” should be limited for kids (just like TV time), and it is most effective when kids are supervised by an adult.  Parents can help kids use the sites correctly, monitor how well kids navigate through the sites, and even use the experience to aid in additional learning for their kids.  “Computer time” can be used as a nice bonding time with kids, and as the kids become more familiar with their favorite parent-approved sites, some freedom can be given as kids use programs like skill drills to reinforce learning.  Have fun!  Use technology as a tool for learning, not a babysitter!

*  What are your favorite sites for kids?

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Kristin Wheeler