Saturday, 22 September 2012

Being Different Review

Being Different is an educational interactive storybook app  for the iPad from Beemates Media Limited, that teaches your child that it is ok to be different . The book is aimed at readers aged 3+.  It is compatible with the iPad and requires iOS 4.o or later.  It is available in 15 different languages namely English, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish.

Being Different is the story of a young bee named Bee-Different, who lives in Bee-Town. Bee-Different is a happy go lucky type of bee who enjoys life and embraces his differences in life. That is until one day he finds himself being laughed at and pointed at by four other young bees who have spotted that he has vertical stripes instead of horizontal stripes like all the other bees. 

Bee-Different is a sensitive little bee and is extremely confused and hurt by the way other bees are laughing at him. He doesn't understand how they can be so insensitive. Bee-different is allergic to pollen so prefers to walk in the summer time instead of flying as the pollen gets in his eyes. He feels so lonely when others laugh and make fun of him. 

Later on we see the kindness of two other little bees Bee- Kind and Bee-Nice, who upon hearing of Bee-Different go out in search of him and offer him the hand of friendship. Bee-Different is unsure, but is finally persuaded to return with them to their hive. Once they arrive they discover that the other bees are desperately searching for pollen to replenish the hive's supply. They soon discover that Bee-Different has a unique talent that could be of enormous benefit to them. Due to his allergy to pollen Bee-Different is able to detect pollen from far away. 

Bee-Different proves that being different is not always a negative thing. Thanks to his ability to detect pollen the other bees are able to gather enough pollen to refill the hives stores. Bee-different no longer feels so alone and all the other bees learn the moral lesson that "just 
because someone is different it does not mean they are not special"

There are two different narrators to choose from in this ebook. You can choose between an English or an American Narrator. 

The book has the usual controls of Read to me, Read it myself or Auto play also. Now one thing you will find a little unusual about this storybook app is that the pages are not turned by the regular method of swiping the page, but instead you will see little yellow arrows on either side of the screen with the word 'Hold'. It took me a minute or two to figure out that you have to hold the arrow until the yellow disappears . Once you realise this it is quite user friendly. 

The game menu contains four different options. The first one is for a Matching Game with 15 different levels. This game will help test your child's concentration levels and memory skills. The object of the game is to match as many pairs as possible in the time allotted . You will see the time counting down in the top corner of your screen. 

The second game is Crab Shapes. My 5 year old daughter loved this option. Here we see a crab on a beach furiously digging in the sand. Each dig reveals a different shape and the user is presented with different shapes on the screen. Your child then has to find the shape that matches the one the crab dug up from the sand. Once they click on the shape the name is given. This is a great way of your child recognising and learning the various different shapes. 

The developer has also included a option called Create a Scene. Here the user is able to choose a variety of different backgrounds for their scene. You can pick and choose between various items to add to the image , and are free to place the items anywhere you like on the page. The user can also add his/her own name to personalise the image and can take a picture of the finished image which can be used as a wallpaper or emailed later on if required. 

The final option in the game section is Baby Bee Wallpaper. This is aimed more at the younger user and is an interactive digital toy that allows your child to pick from a variety of bees and activities for them to do. 

Being Different is a great app for teaching your child that it is ok to be different. It shows the reader that everyone has their own strengths. It has a strong moral message to portray and is a nice addition to any iPad. My own son who has Autism, loved the story. He read it over and over and was pleased when he discovered at the end of the book that being different is ok. He really enjoyed the interactive features on each of the pages as well. 

The only thing that bothered me about the app was the background music . I couldn't find an option to turn this off. It can be quite distracting especially if your child is using the Read myself option. in future updates I would also like to see the use of word highlighting added , as this enables the reader to follow the text as it is being read. This feature is particularly important for children with reading difficulties. 

Overall I would recommend that special needs parents should purchase this app. It is extremely difficult at times to find a suitable way of teaching our children that it is ok to be different, and no matter what each of us has our own unique talents. 

If you would like to purchase the app now please do so by clicking on this link  iTunes . It is currently priced at $2.99 in the US iTunes store. 

If you would like to find out more about Beesmates Media Limited and their apps please visit their Facebook page   or Twitter page for more information. 

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