Oceanhouse Media was happy to recently hear from educator Richard Colosi, a first-grade teacher from Canandaigua, New York, who is using Dr. Seuss omBooks in his classroom to practice reading fluency.
Colosi’s students are echo reading with iPads. What is echo reading? As first-graders Emily and Molly will tell you in the video below, “it’s where a student listens to a narrator reading the text and then tracks the print with their eyes, then they echo, or imitate the reader.” Check out the students echo reading with the Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat omBooks (and their wonderful reporting skills!):
According to Colosi, echo reading is a beneficial activity for his students because they develop a metacognitive ability with reading as they begin to hear how a fluent reader reads. This has been helpful getting students to move from reading word-by-word and into fluent phrases. He adds that fluency is important because the more fluent a student reads, the better they will be able to comprehend information in the text.
Since getting iPad devices in the classroom, Colosi says he’s enjoyed enhancing his reading curriculum with the different Dr. Seuss omBooks.
“One of the first apps that I used in the classroom was The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss,” says Colosi. “The students in my classroom loved this story and when I saw that app, I knew that it would be engaging for them. Students in my class commented that they liked the ability to touch words on the page and to watch the animation on the page which zooms in and out.”
Colosi feels that the omBooks are extremely user-friendly and has seen his students easily navigating through the stories.
“What I really like are the different options available in the book apps that allow for differentiation of instruction,” says Colosi. “In my class, students who are just learning to read can explore the books using the “Read to Me” option to repeat the narration. This helps them build their word recognition and fluency skills. Students who have started to read independently can use the “Read it Myself” option. What’s nice about this option is that if a student doesn’t know a word or phrase, they can just touch to hear it. They can also attempt to read the page and then listen to the narration to make sure they read it correctly. This allows for even more independence and helps to eliminate the situations of students getting “stuck” on a word or missing key information.”
Even though his students had previously read these Dr. Seuss stories, Colosi adds that they enjoyed reading them again on the iPad and trying to sound like the narrator in the story. Plus, they particularly liked the enhancements such as the movements on the page and the sound effects.
Thanks Mr. Colosi and your first-grade class for sharing your video and story with us. It’s wonderful to see first-hand your students practicing reading fluency and having fun as they’re learning! For information on Richard Colosi, visit his website at http://www.richardcolosi.com.
For more ideas on how omBooks can be used in the classroom, visit the Educators section on the Oceanhouse Media website for teacher’s guides that you can download for free.
Have a story you’d like to share with us? Feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
Plus, check out our new Educators section of our website, an exciting resource for teachers, parents and home-schoolers. This section offers fun ideas to help you get the most out of your omBooks, including our Smithsonian collection. You’ll find downloadable teacher’s guides with discussion questions, classroom activities, extended learning projects and tech tips. Try them out, then share your feedback on the new education tab on our Facebook page!
In addition, we’re saying thank you to teachers with a special sweepstakes just for them. Teachers are encouraged to visit our Facebook page and enter to win a 10-pack of the Oceanhouse Media apps of their choice (for Apple devices only). Three winners will be chosen on May 31st. Spread the word to the teachers in your life!
Are you a teacher that is using iPads in the classroom? We’d love to hear your story! Please leave your comments below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April is National Autism Awareness Month. We at Oceanhouse Media often hear from parents who have children with autism. Below is a heartwarming story and photos from one of our young readers that we wanted to share with you this month.
It’s Sunday morning and for seven-year-old Sam, that means it’s his time to enjoy reading on his iPad. Three of his favorite book apps are The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Backand Green Eggs and Ham. He sits on the couch snuggled next to his parents wearing his headphones as he ritualistically reads his omBooks (Oceanhouse Media digital books). It can take him well over an hour to finish all three because he reads them in such detail. For Sam, the Dr. Seuss omBooks and their narrators are synonymous with the iPad.
Sam has high functioning autism. His mom, Erika, says the iPad combined with the Dr. Seuss omBooks help him cope with long trips in the car, and with stressful environments such as airplanes that used to be much scarier for him.
“Sam has been reading since he was three,” says Erika. “Because he’s autistic and thus perceives the world as such a loud, bright, and overwhelming place, he finds order and repetition soothing, so he has focused on letters since before he was 18 months old. He can trust letters. The omBooks have enchanted Sam and taught him to be more imaginative as he reads his other books.”
Sam reading on a hotel room bed. “It was raining and there was nothing to do,” says his mom, Erika. “Thank goodness for Dr. Seuss on the iPad.”
Erika says Sam was so enchanted by the narration in The Cat in the Hat omBook that he asked, “Is the man reading The Cat in the Hat real?” When he found out it was voice actor Joseph Narducci, Sam wrote a fan letter to Joseph (“Dear Josif your voice is awsome love Sam”). Subsequently, Sam wrote fan letters to the narrators of The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and Green Eggs and Ham omBooks.
In addition to the narration, Sam enjoys the background music and tapping features in each omBook. He knows the nuances of his omBooks so well that he is especially tickled whenever he discovers a tiny detail that he hadn’t noticed before, for instance, a new item to tap, such as “Porthole!” when the train crashes onto the boat in Green Eggs and Ham.
“Sam ‘plays iPad’ by tapping and naming things in his environment,” said Erika. “He also has a rhythmic routine for making the omBooks pause and resume as he is reading them. ‘Resume’ has now entered his vocabulary. If he is not playing with a toy right now, it is ‘resuming’.”
Sam’s reproduction of the Green Eggs and Ham font, inspired by the omBook and the original print version.
Sam’s creativity doesn’t stop there. He’s quite interested in fonts (see picture above) and has also memorized all three of his Dr. Seuss omBooks. He’ll put on costumes, grab his stuffed animals (and parents) and act the books out.
“Sam’s love for The Cat in the Hat, nurtured by his omBook, inspired our Halloween costume a year ago when he was 6,” Erika adds. “He told me he wanted to be Thing One. I was thrilled because in previous years he didn’t have enough language skills to comprehend the nature of Halloween. When I asked if Daddy and I should be the fish and the Cat in the Hat or Sally and Nick, he replied ‘No, you should be Thing Two and Thing Three.’ ”
After all, Erika says, if there are Little Cats A through Z, why not Things One through who-knows-how-many?
Sam (Thing One), Todd (Thing Two) and Erika (Thing Three) enjoying Halloween.
Thanks Sam and Erika for kindly sharing your story with us. Families such as yours encourage our team to continue developing apps that uplift, educate and inspire. And thank you Dr. Seuss for still inspiring young minds with your brilliant stories and illustrations.
Have a story you’d like to share with us? Feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
Read Across America is going GREEN this year with reading events across the country based on Dr. Seuss’s children’s story, The Lorax. Explore The Lorax Project for information about being friendly to the environment. Plus, read the story for yourself in The Lorax omBook (0.99 USD) and help regrow the world’s Truffula Tree forests with the Lorax Garden game for Apple devices (FREE until March 8!)
App Friday with Moms With Apps:
We’re kicking off the birthday sale by hosting the Moms With Apps weekly app party on our Facebook page Friday, March 2nd at 10am PST. Please join us for special news, discounts and freebies from this fantastic group of family friendly app developers . . . you’ll be glad you did! And stay tuned all week for more Dr. Seuss celebrations on Facebook!
For the folks down under, our friends at Treasure Kai will be hosting the App Friday kickoff party on their Facebook page from 8am – 9am Sydney time.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than YOU!” – Dr. Seuss
The exciting Dr. Seuss Musical Instrument Game is now FREE on the App Store! Jam along with playful Seussian melodies or create your own whimsical masterpiece with this fun, vibrant, energetic musical instrument that all ages will enjoy! As you play, you can unlock new instruments, silly effects and catchy songs. Contains over 120 combinations of sounds, so you’ll always have something new to discover!
“Frank wasn’t satisfied doing ordinary frog things. He wanted to to fly. But he was a frog. And frogs can’t fly”
Our little green hero encourages us to be fearless and to follow our dreams in his new omBook, A Frog Thing. While Frank was busy hopping his way onto mobile devices this week, we sat down with Kidwick author, Eric Drachman for a little Q&A session.
1. What inspired you to become a writer?
I needed a holiday present for my niece and nephew. First I created some very rough books-on-tape based on already published books. These were just personal presents, but the kids loved them and over a few years, those projects evolved into fully edited books-on-CD complete with sound effects and audible page turns with my niece and nephew playing the kids’ roles. A lot of people who heard them wanted to buy them, but these were not my books, so I decided to write my own… and found that it was something that came naturally.
2. Where did you get the idea for A Frog Thing?
The genesis for this story was kind of roundabout… I was spending some time in The Hudson Valley in New York. At the time, I was into radio controlled model planes, so I couldn’t resist visiting the aerodrome, where I could see vintage planes up close and in the sky. I even went for a flight in an open cockpit biplane! When I told the people who ran the aerodrome that I was writing children’s books, they suggested I write one about the history of flying that they could sell in their bookstore. I liked using animal characters in my stories and was drawn to alliteration, so I came up with the idea of a flying frog. At first, Frank was going to try every means he could think of to fly, mirroring the path of mankind, in our pursuit of flight. However, when I really got into the story, I just preferred a small personal story about a frog who really really wanted to fly…and the birds who helped him.
3. What message do you hope children will take away from Kidwick Books?
Rather than explaining to kids what the “message” is, I like to let them come up with it on their own. First of all, they’ll surprise you with how sharp they are − culling the message is, after all, their job in life. Second, the message that they take from it might be different (and more appropriate) than the one that immediately jumped to your mind. In my experience, the message we take seems to be the one that we need to hear. So, while it’s important for a children’s book author to be clear about the characters’ motivations and impediments to getting what they want, I say, let’s ask kids what their take away is rather than telling them.
That said, I would like my books to inspire kids to play and believe in themselves. It takes a great deal of self-esteem to do all of that. By inhibiting these traits (or activities) we limit ourselves and our children. How can you teach self-esteem, though? While it might seem like it’s about strength, I think it’s really delicate and it needs to be coaxed. Perhaps learning by example is the best way − even if the example is set by a lightning bug or an elephant or a frog who really really wants to fly.
4. How did you cast the character voices in your stories?
Luckily, I have a very talented family! The characters of Leo, Ellison and Frank are all boys, so my only nephew at the time took on those roles. His performance as Leo has been described as “beyond cute!” Patricia’s character in “It’s Me!” was inspired by my cousin’s daughter, Sivan, so she was a natural to play that part. Everyone in our family pitches in. I have used the talents of my brother, my cousin and his wife and two daughters, and my nieces and nephews, not to mention myself and some of my alter- egos.
All of the talent who have helped to create our characters’ voices are featured on our website. Come see who they all are at http://www.kidwick.com/aa_frog_cast.html From here, you can also read about the musicians and see everyone’s picture!
5. What have you enjoyed most about your books being turned into apps?
It’s nice to introduce these stories in a digital format for a new generation of readers to enjoy! It has also allowed me to revisit my older stories, which was a nice walk down memory lane. I love how kids are empowered by turning the pages and following along in the book app. They can listen on their own and hear each word read aloud as they’re learning how to read. The audio dramatization of the stories are wonderfully integrated. When developing the app, I wanted to let children enjoy the wonder of reading a book, not just give them another game to play with. Problem solved — the team at Oceanhouse Media has captured the best elements of the books in the design of these apps, while at the same time adding functionality, fun and portability! Plus the story and illustrations look beautiful on mobile devices!
6. What advice would you give to other authors looking to turn their books into apps?
Find a great developer! I passed on working with quite a few developers before I licensed my books to Oceanhouse Media. When I originally wrote the stories, every aspect of the books’ production was important to me, whether it be the quality of the paper, the binding or the audio. I wanted the app versions to have the same level of quality as the books. Working with Oceanhouse Media, we’ve come up with some really great apps that we all are proud of.
7. What projects are you currently working on? Can we expect more children’s books in the future?
I plan to continue creating quality picture books with audio dramatizations for my young readers. The publishing industry is changing fast, so I’m always looking for new and current formats for “books”. In addition to app versions of my books, I’m exploring the idea of adapting them for TV and film, but don’t worry — I’ll always stick with what I do best, which is writing the stories and making the audio.
Dr. Seuss published his first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” in 1937 and it was an instant hit with parents and children. The story’s free spirit and wild illustrations shook up the children’s book scene which at the time was mostly focused on teaching children lessons and manners.
This year marks the book’s 75th anniversary and what better way to celebrate than by releasing an interactive omBook edition! Download And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street for your Apple or Android device and experience the story that started it all. You’ll find it hard to believe that Dr. Seuss almost burned this manuscript out of frustration from it being rejected so many times. In fact, he nearly gave up entirely on writing children’s books — we’re so glad he didn’t!
– Fun facts about Mulberry Street –
The manuscript was rejected by twenty-seven publishing houses for being too different and edgy. He was told that “neither fantasy nor verse sold well and that his story lacked a moral or lesson.”
Dr. Seuss was ready to give up on the book when he ran into a friend from college, Mike McClintock, who had just become juvenile editor of Vanguard Press. McClintock asked to take a look at the manuscript and ended up publishing it.
The young boy in the story, Marco, was named after Mike and Helene McClintock’s own son.
The original title of the book was “A Story That No One Can Beat.” The president of Vanguard Press asked Dr. Seuss to give it a snappier title.
The rhymes were written to the rhythm of chugging engines on the Swedish ship the M.S. Kungsholm while Dr. Seuss was on a vacation with his wife, Helen.
Mulberry Street is an actual street in Springfield, Massachusetts, less than one mile from Dr. Seuss’ childhood home on Fairfield Street. It is now a tourist destination containing many historical buildings and sites, including a plaque referencing Dr. Seuss and the book that made the street famous!
On behalf of all of us at Oceanhouse Media, I wanted to send a brief update and a huge “Thank You” to our customers, partners, and supporters!
Karen and I started this business in January of 2009 at a time of uncertainly for our family. We had a vision of building a digital publishing company, but we did not hold rights to any content. We choose to embark anyway. Along the way, we found tremendous support from customers, reviewers, fellow developers, teachers, parents and incredible license partners. Recognizing all of the support that we have received from the community, we are humbled and grateful.
2011 has been an amazing year. Back in January, we announced the sale of our 1 millionth paid app. We’ve subsequently added close to a dozen license partners, grown the team substantially, and moved out of our house and into a beautiful office space.
We are learning just how much our apps are impacting people and their lives. For instance, some of the email messages we received from the parents of children with special needs have brought us to tears. Each story that we receive reinforces the knowledge that we are fulfilling the work that is expected of us at this moment. It is incredibly rewarding to know that our efforts are impacting the world in such a positive manner.
We are honored to have the opportunity to work with great license partners. We are thankful that they have entrusted us with incredible content. We are committed to delivering ever higher quality interactive experiences as the technology evolves. And, wow, do we ever see the technology evolving quickly!
On a purely personal note, Karen and I love how we are able to share our journey with our 3 year old and 18 month old daughters. They are some of our best app testers! Also, spending quality family time with the girls is the single best way to re-invigorate me and remind me why we work as hard as we do.
So, as we celebrate Thanksgiving I simply wanted to take a moment to extend a warm “Thank You” from all of us at Oceanhouse Media. Without you as customers, partners and supporters, we would not be able to do all that we do.
Please accept our best wishes! May the coming holidays be filled with good health, peace, love and laughter!
We’re excited to announce a new series of educational omBooks from The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library! The first title, “There’s No Place Like Space!: All About Our Solar System,” is now available on the App Store, and offers a fun new way for kids to learn basic science concepts.
As children explore this animated omBook, they will discover special interactive learning moments that reinforce specific topics. Users can tap stars in the sky to reveal constellations; learn the order of the planets in our solar system through a Seussian mnemonic device; search the night sky with a telescope; find hidden information cards from Thing One and Thing Two; and even access an instant glossary by tapping on highlighted words.
We tested this app in a local elementary school classroom, and here’s what the kids had to say!:
“My favorite part was when I looked through the telescope. I also liked it when it gave me a warning not to look at the sun.” (7 year-old boy)
“It was cool! I liked that it reads to you and explains all the stuff.” (10 year-old girl –English Language Learner)
“I like that it told you about the planets and how far they are from the sun. I learned that some planets are very far away and get very cold!” (7 year-old girl)
“It was talking about space and I learned some interesting words like astronaut. I like the pictures—I like the colors and the details.” (7 year-old girl)
“I like that if you don’t know a word you can touch it and it will say it for you.” (10 year-old boy – English Language Learner)
– Check out a sneak peek of the app! –
– About The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library –
Aimed at children ages five to eight, The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library is a nonfiction series that appeals to children’s natural curiosity and engages them in the process of scientific exploration and discovery. The titles explore a range of subjects, including dinosaurs, pets, marine life, trees and outer space and feature classic characters from the original The Cat in the Hat — The Cat, Sally, Dick, Thing One and Thing Two, and even the fish!
Look for more Learning Library omBooks like “Oh Say Can You Say Dinosaurs?” coming soon!
Join us Wednesday, November 16th at 6PM PST for a Twitter Party introducing a new line of educational omBooks from our recent partnership with Random House Children’s Books. There’s No Place Like Space!: All About Our Solar System kicks off an exciting collection of The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library omBooks, which introduce children to basic science concepts in a fun, interactive way.
There’s No Place Like Space! is our most ambitious omBook to date so we’re very excited to finally share it with you and hear your feedback. Please join us for a discussion on educational apps – why you like them, how you use them, and what features you’re looking for. How important is it that apps have educational value? Do you allow your children more screen time if you feel they are learning something? (plus, we’ll also brush up on some fun facts about the solar system! :))
We have a very special guest, Carisa Kluver from the popular app review site, Digital Storytime, who will lead a Q&A session during the second half of the hour, with Oceanhouse Media’s early childhood education specialist, Liz Griffiths. They’ll discuss some of the new educational features of The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series, and everyone is encouraged to jump in so we hope to see you there!
Twitter Party Details:
Who: Everyone is welcome!
What: Introducing the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series of educational omBooks.
Where: For Twitter parties it’s best to use Tweetchat, Tweetgrid, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck etc.
When: Wednesday, November 16 6-7pm PST
Hashtag: Follow and post with #OMApps