Tuesday, September 6, 2011

App Review: Winken, Blinken, and Nod

One of my earliest recollections is of trying to memorize the Winken, Blinken, and Nod nursery rhyme from my beloved Bumper Book when I was 3 or 4 years old. So when I spotted Larva Labs' take on this adorable classic, I was all over it.

Their version of Winken, Blinken, and Nod for the iPad is beautifully presented in paper cutouts. Made from real, used-to-be-a-tree paper, every aspect of the visuals is breathtaking. Little Nod wears a folded newspaper hat, and his pals Winken and Blinken are no less charming. With a bright red sail in their textured wooden shoe, they are a gorgeous team.

What makes this Winken, Blinken, and Nod stand out from the app pack is the voice-recognition feature. Read the story aloud, and the words become illuminated and trigger more action. I found the sound effects perfect -- the gentle splashing of our wee boat as it sailed through the twinkling foam was soothing for a nighttime read. And the distinct sounds that identify our three characters -- a babyish giggle for Nod, a froggy croak for Blinken, and a saxophone blast for Winken -- added a bit of finger-tapping fun.

But there were a few moments during readings of this bedtime story with my three kids that produced unintentional bouts of laughter. On spots where the voice recognition failed, the kids and I would shout at the iPad as if it were a deaf uncle. One minute we were snuggled on the pillow, wrapped in the lulling rhythm of this timeless rhyme:"All night long their nets they threw. . " And the next we were repeating the text again and again to no avail, ". . . to the stars." "To the STARS!" "TO THE STARS!"

Overall, the voice recognition worked well. What was most successful for me was to read the text slowly and smoothly without a lot of monkeying around with silly inflections. Once I discovered that playing it straight led to a seamless read, I had no problems.

My little guy preferred to tap the words as he read them aloud himself, then watch what animation resulted from his progress. This approach is fine, too. For emerging readers, associating specific text with images reinforces their understanding of the story. In a very tactile way, they are extracting meaning from every word they tap.

Winken, Blinken, and Nod is a beautiful app with an interesting tech twist, that's pretty much perfect for a bedtime reading. $1.99 for the iPad

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information, Kate. I am enjoying your posts!