A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Magazine Feature, News & Opinion

New Product News – July/August 2015 “Public Libraries”

by Tanya Novak, Member Services and Outreach Manager for Califa, tnovak@califa.org on October 12, 2015

Miss Humblebee’s Academy

Gale/Cengage has been focusing very strongly on educational services and just launched a new resource, Miss Humblebee’s Academy, specifically for children in preschool through kindergarten. Miss Humblebee’s Academy offers more than 700 lessons, all based on Common Core Standards. The lessons cover language and literacy, math, science, social studies, art, and music.

A parent or caregiver has the choice of creating an account or using a guest account. The guest account lets you access the lessons, however when you create an account you have the ability to add as many children to it as you’d like. You have the option to have each child take a cognitive skills assessment and you are emailed weekly progress reports that help you identify a child’s’ strengths and weaknesses. The progress reports can be accessed via the account as well. Once you’ve chosen your account type you can start your learning adventure. If there are multiple children you are asked to select a student. All children within one account can access Miss Humblebee’s Academy simultaneously. You can access the lessons in two ways a guided step-by-step approach that progresses sequentially or you can choose a specific lesson.

The interface is engaging and interactive. While all the lessons are in English, the interface is available in 100 languages. All lessons are read aloud. When you complete a lesson you are awarded one of three awards coins, stickers, and puzzle pieces or some combination based on the difficulty of the lesson. In addition to the lessons, there is the Music Room, Library, and Art Box where you can access the songs, books, and art that are used in the lessons. The Music Room has sixty-one songs, some familiar like “The Alphabet Song” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” but many wonderful catchy tunes unique to Miss Humblebee’s Academy. The Library has nineteen books, and the Art Box has images you can print out to color, which you can also access from the Printables tab which has practice sheets from all the lessons.

Miss Humblebee’s Academy is available for Windows and Mac computers and laptops, iPads, and Android tablets and phones. iPhone access is coming soon. For a trial of Miss Humblebee’s Academy, visit http://learn.cengage.com/LIB_SP_LIBP_PA_15EGL0406.

ABCmouse.com

ABCmouse.com was developed by Age of Learning, Inc. and provides a curriculum designed to help children ages two through seven build a strong foundation for future academic success. ABCmouse.com provides more than 3,500 learning activities across all major subject areas reading, math, science, social studies, art, and music.

There are two ways to get started, with a guest account or by creating a personal account. With a guest account, patrons simply choose a child’s age and select an avatar. Guest accounts do not save a child’s progress after they log out. Personal accounts do enable patrons to save their child’s progress when a session ends and resume where they left off when they return to the library. With more than 3,500 activities it can be a little overwhelming and the bestplace to start is your homepage. From here you can access all the sections of ABCmouse.com: My Learning Path, Classroom, Zoo, Map, Farm, What’s New, Featured Activities, and Things to Do. My Learning Path has a series of step-by-step learning activities based on the child’s selected age. You work through a progression of lessons, with each having a number of activities that you advance through to reinforce that lesson. Along the way you earn tickets, gold stars, and special prizes that you can use to purchase items for your virtual space. The Classroom takes you into a classroom setting where you can access most sections of ABCmouse.com in a variety of ways, just like in a classroom! What’s nice about this screen is as you mouse over all the items it announces what the items are, and some items link to additional activities. The main ones are the Whiteboard and eight icons at the top of the screen: (1) reading, (2) math, (3) world around us, (4) art and colors, (5) music and songs, (6) libraries, (7) puzzles, and (8) games. There is a What’s New icon for selected activities that have been recently added,a Featured Activities icon that provides several activities based on your age level, and a Things to Do icon with math and reading basics. Statistics are provided for librarians, including number of users, time spent, activities completed, and books read. These can be can be viewed by last week, last month, or last year. To help librarians promote ABCmouse.com to patrons, free flyers, bookmarks, table tents, and posters are provided, as well as sample descriptions and images for listing ABCmouse.com on your website. There are no ads or third-party links. It will soon be accessible on tablets and smartphones through your library’s Wi-Fi network by downloading the free Early Learning Academy app from the iTunes App store, Google Play Store, or Amazon Appstore. This is available free for libraries for use in the library at www.abcmouse.com/libraries.

LaunchPad from Playaway

After doing research and learning that libraries are buying tablets and apps to circulate, Playaway created Launchpad, a secure, preloaded app learning tablet for ages three through thirteen that can be circulated. Each Launchpad is preloaded with at least ten learning apps grouped by age and subject or theme and comes in a carrying case with a USB/AC charger. The device is a seven-inch, highdefinition screen enclosed in a plastic protective bumper. All the apps are ad-free and were tested and reviewed individually to make sure they are appropriate for each age group and that the technology works—that there are no bugs, errors, or glitches. The content was checked to determine if the apps engage children over multiple uses; if there is a low level of adult assistance needed; if there is learning reinforcement; and if it is effective, fun, and engaging. The apps come from sources such as Little Pim, SandraBoynton, and Speakaboos.
There are 100 different packs tochoose from. Each pack is designed for four age groups: (1) ages 3-5 or pre-K; (2) ages 5-7 or K-grade 2; (3) ages 8-10 or grades 3-5; and (4) ages 10+ or grades 5 and up.Each age group gets apps organized by theme or subject. For the theme
packs, the apps are on a variety of subjects based on themes such as dinosaurs or transportation. For the subject packs,
all the apps focus on the same subject such as math. There are six subjects or learning areas: (1) English language arts, (2) language learning (foreign languages and ESL), (3) math, (4) critical thinking, (5) science, and (6) creativity.

The interface uses Android OS and is very simple and easy to use. Once a child logs on, he or she is prompted to create an avatar, then to click the start-playing button to be taken to the homepage. On the homepage are at least ten apps, the Accessories Store and the Informational Parent Console. Every time a child plays a game, points are earned that can be redeemed in the Accessories Store, where accessories can be purchased for the avatar.

The Informational Parent Console has an easy graphic display letting a parent or caregiver know how many games the
child played and in which subject area, and it lists the three most played apps. By logging on, the device is able to track points, apps played, nd avatar information, however once the device is reset all information is erased, and the child’s play history and avatar information are no
longer available. Resetting the device and getting it ready to circulate is as simple as pushing the reset button. Playaway includes MARC records for each LaunchPad. They also provide a number of free marketing items to help promote the LaunchPads, from posters and sample social media descriptions to interactive tabletop displays. A library can also purchase various accessories such as earbuds, headphones,
cleaning cloths, and Alpha security cases. Prices range from $99 to $149.99. For more information, visit http://playaway.com/launchpad.


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