App Friday October 21st, 2016

Happy App Friday! This post is syndicated from the weekly App Friday newsletter. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Halloween is but two weeks, there’s a chill in the air, and it’s time for some spooky fun. Make monsters with Monster Mingle, play with puzzles in Wee Halloween Puzzles, and create the perfect pumpkin face with Spooky Lab Pumpkin carving. For the older kids we have a classic Jules Verne story brought to digital with Frritt-Flacc. Plus, the popular Read becomes Read4Kids, gets a great update and goes free this Friday. Also, we’re now on Instagram!

Garry Froehlich 
Jellybean Tunes

Read4Kids – Kids Learn To Read In 20 Easy Lessons
by Olivier Romanetti

Updated with new activities, games and 500 images. Read is a 20-lesson program designed to help kindergarten and elementary school age children (4–8 age range) acquire reading skills in a fun and progressive way. Read draws on two of the most popular methods currently in use for teaching to read in English: the phonics method and the whole language method. Most education experts now agree that a combination of both is the key to successful learning. Universal (iPhone/iPad): Free Friday (Regularly 2.99)

Spooky Lab – Pumpkin Carving
by Kidloom

Spooky Lab is a creative game where kids can carve Halloween pumpkins, discovering thousands of different combinations (exchanging shape, face expression, colour and decorations). The photograph feature allows to save and show the designs to friends and family. Inside the pumpkins, they will find amazing mini-games designed both to learn and to have lots of fun. Universal (iPhone/iPad): 2.99 – Google Play: 2.99

Frritt-Flacc, By Jules Verne
by StoryMax

Do you imagine Biology can bring reflection on social inequality and poverty? Frritt-Flacc by Jules Verne tells a classic story just to start a conversation about the 1st. Sustainable Development Goal, by UN: no poverty. In Frritt-Flacc, the reader can set the rain’s direction, make volcanoes go active and to restore life to a dying man. In addition to deep reading, the activities are designed by experienced educators and scientists. The app is available to tablets and smartphones iOS and Android. Universal (iPhone/iPad): Free – Google Play: Free

Monster Mingle
by Cowly Owl Ltd

Big Halloween update! Build your own friendly monster! Choose different body parts to help explore the world and uncover each unique island. Discover fun creatures, musical scenery and hidden surprises as your monster plays in this magical kingdom. Universal (iPhone/iPad): 3.99

Monster Mingle
Developer: Cowly Owl Ltd
Price: $3.99

Wee Halloween Puzzles
by Wee Taps

Spooktacularly fun puzzles for toddlers! Keep your kids entertained with these free Monster themed drag & drop puzzles. Universal (iPhone/iPad): Free

Wee Halloween Puzzles
Developer: Wee Taps
Price: Free


About App Friday

Did you know that App Friday started way back in 2010? Learn all about App Friday, and how YOU can participate, on the App Friday Info Page. We can’t wait to connect with you!

How to Find Stickers in iMessage

I’ve been downloading sticker apps in iMessage to research my recent post on Halloween apps for kids. Sticker apps seem popular, probably because texting (or messaging) is such a popular form of communication. But after downloading the apps, I was a little stumped on how to find stickers in iMessage.

I wrote this tutorial as a guide to help newcomers, like myself, find stickers in iMessage for iOS10 from apps they downloaded.

Open iMessage

Open the iMessage app, which is the green and white texting bubble on the iPhone. Enter the contact for the message in the To: field. Then, select the App Store icon (circled in red) next to the message entry field. If you don’t see the App Store icon, click the arrow to open it up.

stickers in iMessage

Select App Store

Selecting the App Store icon in iMessage will display more options. Click the 4-box icon in the bottom left of your screen (circled in red). This will open a tabbed view of the iMessage App Store.

stickers in iMessage

Manage App Store

Opening the iMessage App Store will default to a Featured tab view. Override this view by selecting Manage in the top right (circled in red).

stickers in iMessage

Adjust iMessage App Store Settings

In the Manage view, you can select whether to automatically add apps into iMessage once downloaded, and hand select apps to show up in iMessage. I decided to nix Apple music and images because I found them to be distracting. Then I selected, app by app, each app I purchased for iMessage.

stickers in iMessage

Send Stickers in iMessage

Now for the fun part. Go back to composing your message and scroll through the dots in the center-bottom of the screen to see your apps. From there, you can select which stickers to send in your next iMessage. I choose a jack-o-lantern 🎃 from Jack-o-moji, because that’s just the kind of gal I am.

stickers in iMessage

Peel and Stick

In addition to texting a sticker, they can be attached on top of photos too. First, text a photo to the recipient. Then, press and hold the sticker you want to attach to the photo. While holding, drag it over the photo and let go. This will attach the sticker to the photo. If you want to rotate the sticker, move a free finger around the sticker before letting go.

Did this help? Do you have any other tips or suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Feature Image: Flickr Creative Commons

Halloween Apps 2016

It’s the time of year when app makers get excited about seasonal themes for their apps. Families benefit from this excitement with festive displays of pumpkins in their educational technology. So what is the latest on Halloween Apps for 2016? Let’s check it out.

Monster Mingle Halloween Update

Chris O’Shea is wowing us again with another Monster Mingle update for 2016. Version 1.1.4 features iMessage stickers, and a new camera mode to take a monster selfie. Love that!

Monster Mingle
Developer: Cowly Owl Ltd
Price: $3.99

Busy Shapes Halloween Update

Busy Shapes by Edoki Academy just got revamped for Halloween with vampire and pumpkin shapes. Download Busy Shapes if you have a busy toddler ready to sharpen their reasoning skills through this exploratory puzzle playground.

Busy Shapes
Price: $2.99

Love Edoki Academy? Don’t miss Zen Studio and Easy Stop Motion Studio, two more educational apps with exciting twists for Halloween.

Wee Halloween Puzzles

These classic drag and drop puzzles in a fun Halloween theme (just updated in October 2016) are aimed to delight young toddlers.

Wee Halloween Puzzles
Developer: Wee Taps
Price: Free

Catch the Wally Halloween

Looking for a find and seek game? Try Catch the Wally Halloween which was recently updated for iOS10. This interactive game for kids 3 to 6 years old lets children explore what’s behind the brick wall in hopes to find Wally the spider. Will you find him?

Wee Trains Updated for Halloween

Design and build your own spooky train just in time for Halloween. The version 1.1 update has four new train engines in addition to 12 mini games ideal for early learning.

Wee Trains
Developer: Wee Taps
Price: $2.99

Halloween Junior

Jan Essig’s four fun games for young kids ages 4-7 is entertaining, educational and worry-free. Play tic tac toe, whack-a-monster, or pumpkin says without having to worry about ads or in app purchases. Very family-friendly!

Halloween Junior
Developer: Jan Essig
Price: $0.99

New iMessage Sticker Halloween Apps

I came across the app that inspired this post from an app maker and artist I’ve known for many years. Do you remember Ben Lew of Interactive Alphabet? Well he is at it again with Jack-o-moji, an app for iMessage stickers on iOS10. Fun!

Developer: Ben Lew
Price: Free

If you are into iMessage stickers, don’t miss Wee Monster Stickers from Wee Tap Apps. Have fun creating a crazy monster face on your favorite selfie.

Wee Monster Stickers
Developer: Wee Taps
Price: $0.99

There is no limit to the festive Halloween texts we can send as more iMessage sticker apps show up on the store. Take a look at these cute and spooky stickers from Laura Tallardy, a Halloween app guru!

Have you considered being a beast for Halloween? Explore the options with The Lonely Beast’s hand-drawn stickers for iMessage.

The Lonely Beast
Developer: James Kelleher
Price: Free

Are you joking? Awesome. Check out Pun Pals Howl-O-Ween for more playful puns to keep trick or treating fun.

Pun Pals: Howl-O-Ween
Developer: Regis Frey
Price: $0.99

More Halloween Apps and Lists (from 2015 or earlier)

Last year around this time I wrote a post called Halloween Apps to Delight Young Learners. If you are looking for more apps, consult that post, in addition to Common Sense Media’s running list of Halloween Apps for Kids. Meanwhile, here are even MORE apps published in earlier years that I’m just finding out about now.

Who is the Ugliest of All?

An interactive storybook of a young girl who accepts her imperfections and builds her confidence and self-esteem along the way.

Who is the Ugliest of All?
Developer: Joshua Wilson
Price: $3.99

Yum Yum Numbers (Spider Theme)

This cute app with a fluffy spiker features letter tracing for little ones, with a recent October Update to include enhancements in the Parent’s Corner.

Ready for Thanksgiving?

Time flies. Just when we have Halloween costume figured out, Thanksgiving lurks right around the corner. To continue the Fall Holidays, download a cheerful interactive storybook with a turkey who teaches about friendship. Last updated October 2015.

Or, try this fall-themed Montessori puzzle by 123KidsFun. The nature themes in here are brilliant.

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

App Friday October 14th, 2016

Happy App Friday! This post is syndicated from the weekly App Friday newsletter. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Doodle your own iMessage stickers with Sticker Doodle Machine, learn the value of money as a penguin with Penguin Cold Cash, and learn spelling with a ghost, mummy and zombie in Trilo Spelling. Plus, Halloween themed stickers, StoryToys brings Amplify educational games to the app store, Toca Boca gets into video, and the golden age of non-fiction picture books. 

Brought to you by Garry Froehlich of Jellybean Tunes

Sticker Doodle Machine
by appikiko LLC

Doodle your own iMessage stickers! Classic or animated. Yes, really, you can make a simple animated sticker right on your iPhone or iPad. The Sticker Doodle Machine app utilizes the same beautiful digital ink from the “doodles!” family of apps, which means your doodles will always look great! Universal (iPhone/iPad): 1.99

Sticker Doodle Machine
Developer: appikiko LLC
Price: $1.99

Penguin Cold Cash
by EdVenture Software

Learn the value of money as a penguin! Surf through icebergs to identify coins and bills, shoot on a hockey goalie when making change, and catch fish while counting money. Through multiple skill levels and six engaging events, players work with realistic money ranging from a penny to a hundred dollar bill. Other skills and events include comparing dollar amounts on a treadmill, figuring money equivalents while belly sledding, and using the fewest coins and bills while tubing behind a whale. There is also an activity in which players identify the reverse side of the 50 State Quarters. Universal (iPhone/iPad): 1.99 – Google Play: 1.99 – Amazon App Store: 1.99

Penguin Cold Cash
Developer: John Crandall
Price: $1.99

Trilo Spelling
by Trilo Interactive AB

**Winner of the Children’s Tech Review Editor’s Choice Award (4.5/5 Stars)** Trilo Spelling is an educational and adventurous phonics based spelling game for kids grades K-2. Follow the friendly ghost Spooka, the one-eyed mummy Sling and the funny zombie Frank through multiple spelling levels in the enchanting Trilo World while collecting puzzle pieces for hours of fun and learning. Universal (iPhone/iPad): 4.99 – App Store Lite Version: Free – Google Play: 4.99 – Google Play Lite Version: Free

Trilo Spelling
Price: $4.99

by Ben Lew

New iMessage Sticker app with pumpkin emoji & Jack-o-lantern maker stickers! iMessage (iPhone/iPad): Free

Developer: Ben Lew
Price: Free


StoryToys to become Touch Press as part a deal with Amplify

With Toca TV, the kids’ game maker moves into subscription video

A Golden Age of Non-Fiction Picture Books Is Here

About App Friday

Did you know that App Friday started way back in 2010? Learn all about App Friday, and how YOU can participate, on the App Friday Info Page. We can’t wait to connect with you!

How to Type Emojis from a MacBook Air

Have you ever wondered how to access an emoji keyboard from a computer? I use a MacBook Air to do my work, and wanted to figure out how to add emojis to marketing text without having to type on a mobile device. Searching Google for emojis macbook air unveiled a very cool solution.

Three simple keystrokes

The answer is simple and involves three simple keystrokes from a MacBook keyboard: control + command + spacebar.

emojis macbook air

Or, add emoji an keyboard to the menu bar

Another option for accessing emojis from a MacBook Air is to add them to your menu bar.

Go to System Preferences (i.e., the gear app on a MacBook Air), select Keyboard, and check “Show Keyboard, Emoji, and Symbol Viewers in menu bar”.

emojis macbook air

Once checked, a square icon pops up on the MacBook Air’s top menu bar. Clicking the icon prompts a symbol and emoji character keyboard organized by topic. Pretty neat, huh? 😀 (<== I typed this emoji from the emoji keyboard, for example.)

Good luck with your new typing tricks. If you have more to share, please let me know in comments! Meanwhile, here is a tip tweet to share with friends:


Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Feature image source: Wikimedia Commons

Family Media Agreement by Common Sense Media

As kids become active on social media, setting expectations upfront about respectful media use can help deter future problems. My kids and I wrote a family media agreement before they received their first phones. For example, one of our primary household media rules is to have all devices turned off overnight to ensure a smooth and restful bedtime. That rule is still effective.

Revisit family media agreements because kids and technology are often changing!

But revisiting media agreements on a regular basis is probably wise as kids evolve through technology and peer groups. So when my daughter’s school sent out a link to Common Sense Media’s Family Media Agreement, I took notice. The agreement was easy to read, customizable, age-appropriate, and respectful to both kids and parents.

In other words, I liked it so much I wrote the team at Common Sense Media to request permission to share it here on the blog. Let’s take a look!

family media agreement


Elementary, middle and high School

Scrolling through the pages, you will see how the contract covers a wide age range: elementary school through high school. Whether your kids are young or old, media has an important impact on their daily lives. It’s never too early to start thinking thoughtfully about how families use technology.

Stay balanced

I especially like Common Sense Media’s point about staying balanced:

I will be mindful of how much time I spend in front of screens, and I will continue to enjoy the other activities – and people – in my life.

Have a conversation

Page four of the agreement has some excellent conversation topics to cover as a family. How long should media be used each day? What happens if a device gets lost or stolen? What does it mean to be respectful online?

Make your own

The last page of the agreement has fields to fill out based on the conversation above. I like how Common Sense Media  realizes that all families may have different needs, and allows enough space for kids and parents to come to their own sense of understanding.

If you like it, please share!


Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Post the Perfect Tweet with WordPress Yoast SEO

Twitter’s newsfeed has evolved into a media-rich environment that seems to function way beyond traditional 140 character limits. I started noticing this when certain tweets generated a graphic attachment, and other tweets did not. What’s the magic behind making these images appear in order to post the perfect tweet?

The answer is found with Twitter cards, which are auto-generated visual aids associated to specific links for a blog post or web site. This article (Twitter Cards 101) explains how to set them up for a WordPress site. There are several different types of Twitter cards, but the one I wanted to implement is called a Summary card. These cards are ideal for blog posts because they feature a thumbnail image and title for every link.

Here are two examples of tweets. Can you tell which one has a Twitter card?

perfect tweet

perfect tweetAs you can see, the link in the first tweet did not generate a Twitter card. However, the link in the second tweet generated a Summary card, which swallowed the long, ugly, blog post URL into a nicely formatted graphic window.

The Twitter card found meta data for the post, pulled up the feature image, added the blog post title and description, and formatted it into a clickable window attached to my tweet.

This is how I activated Twitter Cards for my WordPress blog:

I spent a few hours researching Twitter cards. Hopefully these steps will save you that time.

  1. Login to WordPress admin dashboard
  2. Install Yoast SEO
  3. Set feature images on blog posts
  4. Go to SEO > social
  5. Click Accounts and enter the Twitter username for the blog
  6. Click the Twitter tab, and toggle Twitter Card meta data to Enabled
  7. Save changes
  8. Preview blog post links in Twitter Card Validator
  9. See your Twitter Card pop up!

perfect tweet

This is how I activated Twitter Cards for my WordPress home page:

  1. Login to WordPress admin dashboard
  2. Go to SEO > Social
  3. Click the Facebook tab and enable Open Graph meta data
  4. Upload an image for Frontpage settings

perfect tweet

I’m still learning about the exact input fields for description text and where it shows up across social media platforms. If you have experience setting up Twitter cards for blogs and websites, I’d be thrilled if you left a comment to elaborate on best practices for helping people along. Thanks!

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo credit: Flickr

10 Reasons Why Attending the Digital Kids Summit is Essential to Growing Your Business

Digital Kids Summit

This September, the Digital Kids Summit at San Francisco’s Children’s Creativity Museum will be buzzing with business leaders in family-friendly digital media. If your company is struggling with the question of how to survive in a challenging marketplace, now is the time to tune in and learn from what these experts are sharing. Here are 10 compelling reasons why attending the Digital Kids Summit can provide insights to help grow your business:

1. Learn why moms purchase certain products

New 2016 research is available that explains what motivates mothers to say “yes” to buying certain digital brands. Does your product have what it takes to secure Mom’s approval?

2. Learn about global buying patterns

Understand Intel’s latest research about cross-cultural differences and how they influence buying patterns between the U.S., China and Germany.

3. Learn about Google’s view of creative play by taking a peek inside Imagination Day

Did you know Google is sponsoring educational workshops that use creative tools for teaching 21st century skills? Get the scoop. These workshops, called “Imagination Day”, are starting in the Bay Area this fall.

4. Learn how to best design a playful product

Observe how the National Institute of Play describes product design that fosters a lifelong drive to play. In addition, hear about the new book coming soon from Mark Schlichting: Understanding Kids, Play and Interactive Design: How to Create Games Children Love. 

5. Learn why to be careful when making content for kids

What’s appropriate versus inappropriate in terms of what to include in a children’s program? Find out why Standards and Practices could be helpful in answering this question.

6. Learn about reinventing classic toys

If you had to reinvent a classic toy, how would you proceed to add value without losing its magic? This session could be useful for app makers considering license agreements with classic brands.

7. Learn from Angry Birds: Are they still successful?

I would love to ask Rovio, the Finnish developer of Angry Birds, what it takes to run a successful business making apps. At this conference, you can!

8. Learn how kids are playing online at Samsung Kids

Samsung is one of the world’s largest information technology companies. Find out, from them, how are kids are playing on their Samsung Kids mobile platform.

9. Learn how to raise money and exit successfully

Getting funded and securing an exit may apply to your growing businesses. Hear insights from the VCs themselves and other venture funded companies.

10. Learn how to navigate a corporate acquisition

Some small businesses merge with others in order to survive, grow and change. Walk through a corporate acquisition with a Shark Tank contestant and hear how she navigated the waters.

And that’s only half of the agenda! To hear it all, reserve your spot now for Digital Kids Summit. Here’s how:

The Digital Kids Summit is taking place in San Francisco on September 13th and 14th at the Children’s Creativity Museum. Register through their website or reach out to the organizers if you have questions on how to get involved.

Don’t forget to tweet so folks can meet you there!


Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Hollywood App Prompts Mother-Daughter Conversations

I saw the richest mom-with-app on the cover of Forbes magazine while browsing through an airport bookshop this summer. Intrigued, I purchased the reading material for my next flight. By the end of the day, I joined millions of others who downloaded Kim Kardashian’s app to my iPhone. Let’s see what it takes, I thought, to play the game of fame.

According to the Forbes article, the app called Kim Kardashian Hollywood is a remake of a preexisting app called Stardom. Glu Mobile, the company who made Stardom, approached Kim with the opportunity to rebrand the app. She went for it, and according to her remarks at the BlogHer16 keynote, she really enjoys the creative process of bringing app ideas to life.

Hollywood app prompts mother-daughter conversations

Sometimes I get so caught up in what’s educational for my kids, that I forget about what’s conversational for my kids. Hot mainstream topics, like the Kardashians, can be interesting to talk about with young teens. Instead of ignoring these types of media choices, I’d rather learn more about what makes them so popular, and then debate the findings with my girls.

Playing the app myself, I was faced with making choices about clothes, photo shoots, meeting with agents, and decisions about whether to attend a party or go to work. Within 30 minutes, I had over a dozen family discussion points. That does not include tidbits the girls found, like whether to make the game character be snarky or apologetic.

Hollywood app prompts mother-daughter conversations

Before getting carried away with our characters, we stopped the clock and had mother-daughter conversations based on the following questions:

  • What do you think about skipping work responsibilities to be more famous? 
  • What is snark? Why would a snarky comment be valuable in the game?
  • What are your favorite clothes in the game? Do you feel they are appropriate? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think the app is so popular?
  • If you made the game, how would you change the app?
  • What do you think are the pros and cons of being famous? Would you want to be famous? Why or why not?

Before long, we forgot about the app and resumed our regular summer routines. No one in the family wanted to sacrifice their chore money for virtual clothes. And that was fine with me. But meanwhile, we got to benefit from some girl talk by playing Hollywood for a day.

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

10 Discussion Questions for Kids Who Play Pokémon GO

Commentary about Pokémon GO has turned into a national conversation, and opinions about real life gaming have been prolific on tech and parenting blogs. As a blogger myself, I’ve been reading about the advantages and disadvantages of being able to catch Pokémon with an iPhone. But one comment that really caught my attention simply stated the importance of discussion during the gaming experience, which is a helpful reminder worth sharing more broadly.

In the August 2016 issue of Children’s Technology Review, Warren Buckleitner published his thoughts on Pokémon GO:

“The game is loaded with local history facts, which are tied to earning the Pokéballs needed to catch Pokémon. But without discussion they’re only facts. Ask your child to share and discuss what they find.”

When reading Warren’s comment, it felt relevant not only for gaming, but also for parenting. Having discussions with my kids helped me progress through 13 years of parenting. A consistent back and forth exchange of ideas enabled me connect with them to reach agreement and understanding.

In that light, Pokémon GO can be a great source of conversation starters for families.

Here are 10 Pokémon GO discussion questions for kids

  1. Can you show me how to play Pokémon GO?
  2. What are Pokéstops?
  3. How do you catch a Pokémon?
  4. Who are your favorite Pokémon? Why? How many have you collected?
  5. Where have you found the most Pokémon? Why do you think they like that location?
  6. I keep hearing about Pokémon game terms, like gyms, eggs and leveling up. Can you explain those terms to me? What do they mean?
  7. Have you ever been in a Pokémon battle?
  8. What is your Trainer name? Why did you choose it?
  9. What are some ideas you have to stay safe and sensible while playing the game?
  10. When would be a good time to turn the game off? Or on?

Next time you find yourself in the virtual reality of Pokémon GO, remember to ask a child these Pokémon GO discussion questions to start a conversation about what they think!

For more information about Children’s Technology Review, visit or follow them on Twitter or Instagram at @childtech. Don’t miss CTREX, their massive online database of over 12,000 academic reviews of children’s interactive media products. CTREX is an ideal search tool for teachers, librarians and parents who are constructing their digital learning initiatives for the new school year.

Lorraine Akemann | Co-Founder and Editor | Moms With Apps

Photo credit Flickr