Blogger Spotlight: Melissa Northway

November 7th, 2013

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Welcome to the next edition of the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight- our new blog series featuring bloggers who use our apps! Today the spotlight is on Melissa Northway of Dandelion Moms, who got a chance to check out “A Whale of a Tale!: All About Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales” from the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series.

Oceanhouse Media (OM): When did you launch your website? How has it evolved since the beginning?

Melissa Northway (MN): I launched my author website about four years ago and it looked much different than it does now.  Back then, I wasn’t doing much blogging, but after I changed over my site to WordPress, I started updating my author site weekly with interviews from people in the tech and book industry, App and Book Reviews, and Giveaways. I created a lifestyle website dandelion moms August 2012 and post daily on that site as well.

OM: What is the mission or goal of your site?

MN: My author site provides insight into the wonderful apps that are available as well in interviews with those in the industry. I like to interview authors, developers and companies on the cutting edge of technology and publishing. It is such a wonderful time to be a writer with so many options now to be published, I hope to inspire and educate aspiring authors to look into other avenues to getting their story published. For dandelion moms, I hope by featuring Inspiration Moms we inspire women to go after their own dreams – whatever they might be. As well as provide delicious recipes, fashion and parenting tips and other good content for them to enjoy while they take a break!

OM: Do you remember the first app you ever downloaded?

MN: Yes! It was my app, Penelope the Purple Pirate, back in January 2011. I can remember sitting there watching it on my iPhone for the very first time and really understanding how storytelling is changing. It was a magical moment for me to see my story I wrote the previous year come to life on the iPhone.

OM: How to you determine if a kids app is “smart”?

MN: If it engages children and provides a good story and the characters are positive role models for our kids. Do the illustrations help move the story along and engage the kids! These are things I look for when reviewing storybook apps.

OM: What was your favorite storybook growing up?

MN: I have loved reading all my life and read a lot when I was younger. I still read at night but I don’t have as much time to like I use to. As a child, I really enjoyed Anne and the Green Gables, Old Yeller, the Nancy Drew series, and my all-time favorite was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell!

OM: Which kids book do you wish had a different ending?

MN: I remember being very sad about the ending in Old Yeller as a kid! I wanted it to end differently so badly.

OM: Who is the most tech-savvy person in your house?

MN: Gosh, it just might be my seven year old daughter truthfully! I find that she is not afraid to try things out on the iPad and can move around it better than my husband and I. But I try to keep up with the latest devices, apps and tech products on the market and like to provide reviews when I can.

OM: Which apps is your daughter obsessed with right now?

MN: Most definitely Mine Craft! She loves to build cities, towns, hospitals and the “coolest house ever with a waterslide.” per my daughter.

OM: Name a beach location on your travel bucket-list.

MN: A beach in Nha Trang, Vietnam. I visited Vietnam years ago while cycling across the country to raise money for UNICEF supported programs that educated women and children with skills they could use to make a living and absolutely fell in love with the beaches along the coast! My favorite beach was the one in Nha Trang – the water was so green/blue and clean! (see photo below!)

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OM: If you could swim with any sea animal, which would you choose?

MN: Most definitely a dolphin! When I was younger I was a bit obsessed with dolphins and even had some photographs of them hanging on my walls in my room. I guess I am not surprised I have a dolphin (Daphne) in my first storybook app.

Big thanks to Melissa for participating! Stay tuned for more installments of the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight.

Check out the first spotlight with Anne and Jayne of Teachers with Apps here.


Blogger Spotlight: Teachers With Apps

November 4th, 2013

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Welcome to the first edition of the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight- our new blog series featuring bloggers who use our apps! Today the spotlight is on Anne and Jayne from Teachers With Apps, who got a chance to check out “Clam-I-Am!: All About the Beach” from the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series.

Oceanhouse Media (OM): When did you launch your website? How has it evolved since the beginning?

Teachers With Apps (TWA): We launched TeachersWithApps on November 29, 2010. What started out as being a blog/outlet for Jayne and review/resource site for us to do “on the side” has become our main focus and full time job! We now have a monthly following of well over 50,000 educators and parents. People have come to rely on us as valuable online resource for finding the best education apps out there. We have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in today’s educational landscape, and the passion to share the knowledge.

OM: What is the mission of your website?

TWA: Our mission has always been to be a viable and reliable resource for teachers, parents and students to find quality education apps.

OM: If you were stranded on a desert island, which tech gadget would you want to have with you?

TWA: iPhone

OM: Do you remember the first app you ever downloaded?

TWA: ABC Shakedown Plus

OM: What are the most important features you look for in educational apps?

TWA: We look at: content, presentation, and execution, and overall user experience. Having a long shelf life is also a consideration.

OM: Complete the sentence: My favorite thing about being a teacher in the technology age is ____.

TWA: We love the challenge of learning new ways of doing things and figuring out the best ways to implement these new tools into the learning environment, whatever that may be. It keeps us current and continues to keep us in the role of learner, not just teacher.

OM: What’s the first app you recommend for a teacher to download?

TWA: We have several that we recommend: News-O-Matic, any of the iTooch apps and iDevBooks – Educational Math Apps. Also, Letter School and Math Tools.

OM: Which app can you not live without?

TWA: Jayne – “As a Special Ed teacher, I can’t live without Letter School.” Anne – “NYTimes Crosswords.”

OM: Ocean or mountains – which is your favorite?

TWA: Ocean

OM: If you could be a sea creature for one day, which one would you chose?

TWA: Mermaids

Big thanks to Anne and Jayne for participating! Stay tuned for more installments of the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight.


Two Oceanhouse Media Apps Win Parents’ Choice Gold Awards

October 31st, 2013

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We are excited to announce that we have been selected for two 2013 Parents’ Choice Gold Awards, for “Ice is Nice!: All About the North and South Poles” and “On Beyond Bugs!: All About Insects”! The Gold Award is the highest honor awarded by the Parents’ Choice Foundation, and we are honored to be recognized with this prestigious award.

“Ice is Nice!” and “On Beyond Bugs!” are both a part of the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library, a series that introduces children to basic science concepts including dinosaurs, maps, marine life, outer space and much more. The apps feature animated objects, instant glossary terms, and interactive diagrams to reinforce specific subjects, all led by classic Dr.

Seuss characters including the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and even the fish! The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library apps are meticulously designed to promote learning and encourage curiosity in young readers.

“Ice is Nice” invites readers  on an icy cold expedition to the North and South Poles! Children can mingle with native animals like reindeer, polar bears, and penguins and learn about concepts such as how the Earth’s orbit around the sun affects seasons. The Parents’ Choice Gold Award adds to a list of merits for this app, including an Editor’s Choice Award from the Children’s Technology Review.

“On Beyond Bugs!: All About Insects” teaches children everything there is to know about insects, from butterflies and crickets to fireflies and honeybees, exploring how they see, smell, communicate, and pollinate.

Eight other titles currently join “Ice is Nice” and “On Beyond Bugs!” in the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series in the App Store, with many more exciting subjects on the way!

Special thanks to everyone who was a part of the production of these award-winning apps, including Random House, Dr. Suess Enterprises, and the Oceanhouse Media team!


Oceanhouse Media’s Positive Adventure!

October 15th, 2013

Recently, the Oceanhouse Media team embarked on an adventure to Uplift, Educate, and Inspire as we celebrated the end of third quarter at the UCSD Ropes Challenge Course in La Jolla, CA! Led by our friends at Positive Adventures, our day of fun in the sun was full of overcoming challenges, team development, and endless smiles and laughs!

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The adventure began the afternoon before the outing when our founder and CEO Michel Kripalani advised us to dress in comfortable clothes and close-toed shoes, but did not give us a clue as to where we were going or what we would be doing! Although we all pried for more information (some of us even attempting to use our expert internet skills to crack the mystery), we were all surprised to find out the next morning that we would be spending the beautiful sunny day taking our team-building to new heights (pun intended).

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The UCSD Ropes Challenge Course is a state-of-the-art outdoor training gym located in the heart of the beautiful UCSD campus. Surrounded by budding eucalyptus plants and avid joggers, the course was the perfect setting and we lucked out with clear-blue skies and warm September weather. After lathering on the sunscreen and downing coconut water and kombucha, we were ready for our adventure to begin!

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The program kicked off with a variety of team-building activities on the ground to help develop trust and communication. In one particular activity, we were lined up on a log and given the challenge to think of our favorite animal and then arrange ourselves from biggest animal to smallest animal without using human language or stepping off the log!

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“They say everyone has a preferred communication style – usually it isn’t mimicking animal sounds while hop scotching over each other on a suspended log. Overall we did a great job on the challenge and quickly learned how important it is to be a versatile communicator!” – Natalie

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After a quick lunch, it was time to take on the high ropes Odyssey Course! We geared up in harnesses and helmets and ascended the rope ladder one-by-one to two different platforms 35-55 feet high (talk about “uplifting”)!

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As in any group, our team was a mix of phobic height-haters and fearless adrenaline-enthusiasts, but everyone was willing to fully participate and stretch his or her own limits. We spent the next few hours suspended above the ground, moving as a team across four different challenges, providing one another with a helping hand (literally) every step of the way.

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“For me, the biggest challenge was not in completing the ropes course, but in completing it TOGETHER. Supporting, challenging and encouraging each other, both physically and verbally, became the focus of the exercise and where I feel I grew the most.” -Greg

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One challenge even required that half the team be blindfolded and led by other half across a wire suspended high in the air, demanding complete trust and communication.

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“Being able to trust your coworkers  walking on a wire and blindfolded at 40 feet makes it really easy to do so on the ground.” -Michael H.

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The Odyssey Course ended with a soaring zip line, bringing us safely back down to the ground.

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“Our day with Positive Adventures at the UCSD Ropes Challenge Course was a ton of fun. Dangling and maneuvering through the course, I learned just how close we are as a team.” -John

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The importance of support and encouragement became immediately apparent throughout the experience, as we were able to overcome our fears and successfully complete each challenge together. At the end of the program, one of the facilitators noted that our team was exceptionally cohesive and passionate about helping each other out.

“Trusting one another and knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses can contribute greatly to a high performance, harmonic and cooperative team.” – Kim

“The support of our team and our ability to work together helped me tap into courage and strength I didn’t know I had.” -Chandler

It is safe to say that we unanimously give the UCSD Ropes Challenge Course and Positive Adventures 5 out of 5 stars! Thank you for the fun and inspiring experience!

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Digital Literacy: Record and Share Feature Helps Dual Language Learners Build Early Reading Skills

June 7th, 2013

Co-reading with your young child creates lasting memories and is a special bonding experience. Together, you can help prepare them for school and introduce new ideas and topics. For dual language learners and their families, however, access to good quality stories and informational books can be a challenge Oceanhouse Media recently learned of a family literacy program in Maine that is exploring some new solutions.

 

Comienza en Casa| It Starts at Home was created by Mano en Mano | Hand in Hand to serve the unique needs of migrant farmworker students and parents who are enrolled in the Maine Migrant Education Program. The program works together with families of preschool and kindergarten children who primarily speak little or no English in the home. They have discovered that using our record and share feature, with the help of a skilled bi-lingual volunteer, the families are able to enjoy hearing digital stories in their home language, helping children build early literacy skills and school readiness.

 

Monthly meetings are held at the local elementary school.  The program’s educators and the local kindergarten teacher discuss early learning topics and goals with families, and engage in a variety of hands-on educational activities. This is an opportunity for many families to participate in learning modules involving technology use as well as traditional early learning activities and enjoy resources that they may not otherwise have access to in their home environment. Topics such as the importance of speaking in the home language, using rich language and “digital media diet”/balance are also discussed. After the meeting, families are loaned iPads loaded with apps to take home and use with their children, as well as provided with a variety of activities that encourage families to read, play, and create together.

 

Digital reading plays an important part in the program. All of the apps have been carefully screened by educators for age-appropriateness and to align with the early literacy and learning goals for each module. Originally, the program provided and discussed written Spanish translations with families for a number of Oceanhouse Media digital book apps. With the addition of the record and share feature, it is now possible to translate and make an audio recording available in Spanish (or any other language), email the file, then open it on the iPad in the app, so that it is available as a narration choice. While the text is still in English, the children and families can hear and better understand what the story is about.

Red Fox at Hickory Lane is one of several Oceanhouse Media digital book apps that include the record and share feature.

The program’s website quotes one parent as saying “The translations were useful because we don’t understand all of the words in English so first in Spanish, then in English you get the idea of what it’s trying to say.” Bonnie Blagojevic, an early childhood educational consultant for the program, really appreciated parent feedback about the importance of having the audio narration available in Spanish, making it possible to really listen to the book with their child and discuss important concepts.

 

Two weeks after the initial meeting, Ana Blagojevic, Migrant Education Coordinator at Mano en Mano, visits families in their homes to discuss how the various activities, some on the iPad, and other traditional early learning activities that might take place inside or outside the home, have helped their child learn educational goals for the month. It’s at these one-on-one meetings that Ana works together with parents to create an action plan for their child based on what the parent feels is a priority for his or her child to learn and focus on during the remaining two weeks.

 

The program is always looking for digital book apps that will allow families to experience vivid storytelling that’s filled with great content and social/emotional value. While original use of Oceanhouse Media digital books apps involved sharing written translations for stories such as A Frog ThingLadybug at Orchard Avenue, The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin and Leo the Lightning Bug, with the record and share feature it is now possible to hear the narration in Spanish of Red Fox at Hickory Lane. Parents of several of the children in the program shared that their children really enjoy animals and appreciated the opportunity to be able to listen and learn about foxes in Spanish.

 

“For families with young children that speak Spanish and/or other languages at home, there’s a limited number of apps offering really strong stories and the chance to build knowledge/understand concepts,” says Bonnie. “The record and share feature in Oceanhouse Media’s digital book apps is a wonderful example of quality resources that make apps accessible to dual language learners so that parents and children can learn together.”

 


Our visit with Digital Storytime

April 18th, 2013

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Earlier this week Carisa Kluver from Digital Storytime (one of our favorite app review sites) stopped by our office to say hello and talk book apps. Carisa has been reviewing book apps since 2010 so it was fun to chat with her about the many changes in the industry.

We recommend Digital Storytime to any teacher, librarian, or parent who wants to locate good quality book apps in an extremely crowded appstore. Carisa has reviewed over 700 book apps in the last few years and rates titles on interactivity, re-readability, educational quality, originality and more.

She also offers 29 curated book lists for topics including dinosaurs, dogs, seasons, moral stories, feelings, bathtime, sleep and much more. Plus, you can search for book apps based on the device you own (iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and NOOK Tablet.)

Thanks again for stopping by, Carisa. It was nice to finally meet you!

Carisa previewing an upcoming book app with Development Director, Greg Uhler


PadGadget Interview with Michel Kripalani

April 10th, 2013

Oceanhouse Media’s President Michel Kripalani recently sat down with PadGadget to discuss the Dr. Seuss apps and the significance of the iPad for children’s book apps. Below is an excerpt.

Behind the App with Oceanhouse Media President Michel Kripalani

Children’s book app developer Oceanhouse Media is well-known to iPad owners for their cutting edge digital — yet still faithful-to-print — versions of the Berenstain Bears, Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter series, and, of course, Dr. Seuss for iOS. If a reader wants to own Green Eggs and Hamor any of Dr. Seuss’ other classic titles on her iPad, she’s only going to find it as an omBook.

Company President Michel Kripalani shared his thoughts on how his company partnered with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, how to know when an apps has enough bells and whistles, and where the iPad will be in 5 years.

(PadGadget): Oceanhouse Media is well-known as the developer who brought Dr. Seuss to iOS. How did the relationship between OM and the Dr. Seuss estate develop?

(OceanHouse Media): As a UC San Diego graduate, I had an affiliation with the UCSD Geisel Library (named after Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) and was able to secure an introduction to Dr. Seuss Enterprises in 2009. From there, we had to pitch why Dr. Seuss would be great on an iPhone (the iPad had not yet been announced). Thankfully, they saw our vision. In the Fall of 2009 they gave us the approval to develop our first digital book app based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Its success led to us further partnering with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to bring all 44 classic Dr. Seuss titles to the app market. Over the last three years, we’ve developed over 40 Dr. Seuss apps including classic books, short stories, book collections, cameras and games, including the best-selling Dr. Seuss Band musical instrument game app.

To read the entire interview, visit PadGadget.

 


Oceanhouse Media’s President Michel Kripalani 
Named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 Semi-finalist in San Diego

April 8th, 2013

Oceanhouse Media, Inc. is excited to announce that its president, Michel Kripalani, is a semi-finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 Award in the San Diego region. The award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Finalists will be named in May, with awards being presented at a special gala on June 13, 2013 at the Hyatt Aventine in La Jolla, Calif.

“I’m honored to be selected as a semi-finalist for this distinguished award,” said Michel. “As a serial entrepreneur, this is definitely wonderful inspiration for me, both on the professional and personal front.”

Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award recognizes the significant contributions of entrepreneurs who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. Now in its 27th year, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Program has honored the inspirational leadership of such entrepreneurs as Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, Michael Dell of Dell Inc., Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, Fred Smith of FedEx, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Richard Schulze of Best Buy, Andrew Mason of Groupon, Mindy Grossman of HSN, Inc., Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn, and many more.

For more information on the San Diego semi-finalists, please visit http://www.ey.com/US/en/Newsroom/News-releases/Ernst—Young-LLP-announces-Entrepreneur-Of-The-Year-R–semifinalists-in-San-Diego.

 

Michel Kripalani, president of Oceanhouse Media, Inc.

Michel Kripalani, president of Oceanhouse Media.


Happy 109th Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 1st, 2013

“Write me a story that first-graders can’t put down!” This was the challenge that Dr. Seuss accepted that became the classic The Cat in the Hat. The book includes 236 different words that a first-grader can read.

The Cat in the Hat is this year’s featured book for Dr. Seuss’s 109th birthday and our “Hats Off to Reading” celebration. We at Oceanhouse Media in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises are celebrating by putting the digital version on sale for 99 cents and offering The Cat in the Hat camera app as a free download through March 7! In addition, more than 40 Dr. Seuss book, camera and game apps are on sale.

Our award-winning digital version of The Cat in the Hat brings the antics of the infamous mischievous cat to life and has been a top-charting digital book app since its release three years ago. We’ve stayed true to the original words and illustrations of Dr. Seuss (check out the photos from both the original manuscript and the digital version below) when adapting the book into an interactive digital book app, enhancing the story with professional narration by voice talent extraordinaire Joseph Narducci. Now, you can record and share your own narration with the iOS version of the app!

The Cat in the Hat book was published in 1957, the same year as How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the first Dr. Seuss digital book app developed by Oceanhouse Media to hit the app market). It’s amazing to think that both of these timeless classics were published in the same year!

Did you know that The Cat in the Hat wasn’t the first Seussian feline to don a hat? Dr. Seuss first put a hat on a cat in 1949’s Bartholomew and the Oobleck (an upcoming Oceanhouse Media digital book app).

As Oceanhouse Media celebrates Dr. Seuss’s birthday, our team is reminded each day the indelible mark that he’s left on children’s literature. We feel honored to bring his books to life in digital form. And, like the Cat in the Hat, what great fun we’re having along the way!

What’s your favorite part of The Cat in the Hat story and why? Feel free to share your comments below. You can even send us your recording of you reading your favorite part of The Cat in the Hat at info@oceanhousemedia.com. We’d love to hear it!

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An early manuscript of The Cat in the Hat.

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The digital version of The Cat in the Hat stays true to the original words and illustrations of Dr. Seuss.


Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!

January 22nd, 2013

And he took off his hat – and it didn’t do any good. Another hat sat on Bartholomew’s head.”

- The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Dr. Seuss’s second published book, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Oceanhouse Media is joining the year-long “Hats Off to Dr. Seuss” celebration with the release of the digital version, launched on the same day as Random House Children’s Books’ newly re-colored 75th anniversary hardcover edition.

In the story, King Derwin of Didd demands “hats off to the King” when he passes by his citizens. But poor young Bartholomew Cubbins has a problem. Every time he removes his hat, another hat appears atop his head! The interactive book app includes our newest “Record and Share” feature so you can record yourself reading young Bartholomew’s humorous attempts to remove his hat to honor his king.

Did you know Dr. Seuss was an avid hat collector? Ever notice all the fun hats of different sizes, colors and shapes that appear throughout Dr. Seuss’s stories? Check out a few of the fun examples from our Dr. Seuss book apps below:

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So, let’s tip our hat to the great Dr. Seuss and kick off 2013 with a hat-ful of fun!

Do you have a fun hat story inspired by Dr. Seuss to share with us? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment below or email us at info@oceanhousemedia.com.