We LOVE Elmer books in our house – my kids should have outgrown them by now, but I still occasionally see them picking up a book about the latest exploits of the loveable Patchwork Elephant, and his friends.
It was therefore with great delight that we discovered that there is a new App for Elmer; Elmer’s Photo Patchwork App (£0.79). It didn’t take much persuading for the kids to dive in and take a look, Stuntboy didn’t even wait to get out of the car after football:
What is Elmer’s Photo Patchwork App?
This is a really simple idea. Elmer is patchwork, right?
So….why not take a few pictures from the world around you and create your own patchwork elephant using those pictures inside your mobile device.
This is precisely what they have done – giving you ten versions of Elmer to play about with – from Elmer with balloons, to a footy Elmer. Each Elmer than has four different patchwork designs you can pick to then fill in the photo details. There are a variety of option, including stars, and hearts, as well as a standard patchwork.
No surprises that Stuntboy picked the Elmer with the ball.
As you can see, you are encouraged to share your creations on social media as well, with the pictures a perfect size for Instagram.
There is a parent zone in the app, accessed from the home screen, which helps to explain what you need to do, but it is a simple concept so shouldn’t take even little hands too long to understand. You choose your Elmer, then his design, click on the section, take your photo and hey presto – it becomes part of the Elmer elephant. You can then move on to fill out the rest of the design with other photos. After you have completed the picture, you click on the orange icon bottom right, and it saves to your photos. You do have to give the app access to these to do this, of course.
The parent zone provides you with ideas for theme-ing your patchwork though, which is extremely helpful. For example, you could photograph:
- Items of the same colour, or same shape
- In the same location, e.g. my garden or in my toy box
- With specific textures, or
- In a specific group, e.g. Flowers, teddies, etc.
The nature of the app means it is easy to just snap away as well, no need for a theme – we think the kids are more likely to have fun if they have one.
What did we think of Elmer’s Photo Patchwork App
Though this is a simple idea, it has great educational potential for children. It offers opportunities for kids to understand about photography using the iPhone; from taking close-up shots, to seeing how a photo in the distance might fit into their patchwork picture.
The REAL benefit of the app though, is in the learning opportunities for kids when they are learning to “sort” the world around them. Creating a patchwork elephant within a theme provides children with a reason to investigate their world, and then present their finds in a creative way. For example:
- Ask younger children to photograph anything red
- Ask an older child to take pictures of all the diary food in your fridge
- Get your infant schooler to take photographs of all the living things in the garden, then make another Elmer with all the dead things
- Encourage your reluctant reader to pick out his favourite books and photograph the main characters, or the front covers for Elmer – you can work your way through the books at the same time
- Even encourage your lower Junior school child to collect the leaves in the park and photograph them as you identify what each tree is
- Create a lasting memory of a day out by building a patchwork along the way.
Your creations only know the limits of your own and your child’s imagination!
In addition, while photographing, you could even teach your child about how the angle you take your pictures can create more “interest” within your elephant *who knew I would even write that sentence…*
Perhaps, you can encourage them to think about how close you are to the object, what angle you are looking at it from, and where the light is relative to the subject. Clearly, this would work better for an older child, but even younger children can understand the basics.
A quick word of warning, if you accidentally touch on on the patchwork sections before saving your photo, you will loose that picture. My daughter was keen to see a warning pop up which would say “Would you like to discard this photo and take a new one?” rather than it automatically assuming that you want to change your picture.
Some of the Elmer designs are perfect for incorporating little photo games within the patchwork too; we had great fun with Elmer and his balloons playing guess the object – but you could turn these balloons into little framed pictures in their own right within the patchwork, or perhaps theme them around a subject for further learning. A clever design that gives the app more potential……
Another great example of this, is my daughter’s first Elmer patchwork, which she managed to sneak off and do before school – I was very quickly able to spot she had been on the iPad…can you tell why? ;-)
The interface is simple, and pretty intuitive, taking barely a few minutes to master. A safety feature I was particularly keen on is that even if you go out of the app accidentally, and we know what little hands are like, the Elmer you last created is there waiting for you. This occurs even if your phone is turned off *ahem*
Overall (8/10; though my daughter thinks its 9!)
This is a good, original app, that works perfectly for its target market, encouraging learning, but with simplicity at its heart.
Even the older children, like mine, can find entertainment value in it.
As it is photography based, it is also possible to use it anywhere – getting inspiration from what the kids see around them. For example, my son was quite happy using it in the car while we waited for school to begin after dropping his sister there earlier than usual :-D
For the younger children it is aimed at (6-8s), they may need a little help with the photography at first, but they will very soon “get it” and as the creativity and learning opportunities have no boundaries, it is worth persevering. The main question I have is whether there is longevity within the app’s usage, and a couple of points I have already mentioned on its functionality.
Would children get a little bit bored of the same Elmer characters, and patchwork designs after a bit of use? Perhaps there may be an option to offer add-ons in the future, so you can buy more Elmer designs, or even put specific elements together to create your own Elmer. For example, give him a hat, or make him hold something of your choice, etc.
In addition, it would be nice to be able to select pictures from the photo library too; so you didn’t have to take fresh shots each time you are building your patchwork, or you could build one after being out during the day, and even create an Elmer memory elephant for your trip on your return home! You could then be a little more selective in the shots you are picking for those memories.
These are all minor issues though, overall the app was a great success and much loved by the kids already!
I have been provided with this app for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are my own – and so are the ideas, well apart from those which are clearly my son’s and daughter’s of course!