Sunday, April 27, 2014

FarFaria App review

Over the last few years, I've had the opportunity to dabble in iPad training and experience the 1:1 iPad classroom.  During that time, I was an avid consumer of apps - finding the right one, researching apps that would make my classroom more efficient, engaging, etc, discovering apps that could serve as multilayer pieces of a technology project and more.  It became my passion to see what was new and useful for not only my students, but me as well.  If you've ever had an iPad classroom, managing the workflow and transitioning into a new type of learning can be difficult.

One of my students' favorite things to do with their iPads was to read ebooks.  Our media center did a fabulous job of stocking ebooks that kids could enjoy, but the process of "checking them out" was sometimes daunting.  Some books had multiple users while others only allowed one person at a time to read them.

Well, a few weeks ago, Zach from FarFaria contacted me to look at his app FarFaria.  FarFaria is a children's books app for the iPad exclusively that provides high quality stories for students.

I downloaded the app and began to play immediately.  When you enter the app, you are greeted with a screen highlighting recently added books or favorites. 5 new books are added each week.  Currently there are over 600 books within the app for kiddos to read or have read to them.

Once you enter the app, kids are then given the choice as to which land they would like to visit.  Choices include Preschool Playground, Bedtime Bluff, Mt. MakeBelieve, Adventure Island, and more. Each "land" holds multiple stories at multiple reading levels.  Reading levels range from preschool to level 4.

My favorite feature of the app is the read aloud function.  You can choose to have the story read aloud or to read it yourself.  Within the read aloud feature, text is highlighted as each story is read aloud.  Pages are flipped at the reader's pace and then by a page swipe.

My favorite section was the Sing Along City.  While this section wasn't my 4th and 5th graders' favorite, I can see where little kiddos would enjoy hearing songs like "Down by the Bay,""There's a Hole in My Bucket," and "Hush Little Baby" over and over again.

I think this app would be best suited for primary primary grade students, rather than intermediate kiddos.  The app is recommended by its creators for ages 6-8. If I was a primary teacher, I would want it loaded on my iPads so my students could hear examples of fluent reading and discover new favorite stories.

The app is easily navigated by students and very easy to figure out for teachers or parents.  One feature that I absolutely loved was the security feature.  In the setting options, only an adult is allowed to enter and must provide a year of birth to gain access.  This keeps kiddos safe and your settings safe as well.

While the initial acquisition of the app is free, there are in-app purchases and you can purchase a subscription.  A 12 month subscription runs you $39.99.  But wait, there's good news.  Zach is offering two readers a free subscription.  Yep, folks, that's right - FREE!  We all love that, right.  Just leave a comment on the blog and I'll choose 2 winners on May 4th!

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