What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that PianoBall - Fun With Learning is a great music app designed for kids from 9 months to 5 years old. It's easy to use and has a colorful, kid-friendly interface and 10 built-in songs with instruction and playback. Toddlers and young kids can freestyle or learn to play music on a choice of two colorful piano keyboards. The app also has four different instrument sounds to choose from (piano, saxophone, xylophone, and drum kit) and more than a rainbow's worth of keyboard color choices. Parents can lock parts of the app's functionality to allow the littlest of players to focus on specific parts of the app.
What kids can learn
- improvising and music analysis
Thinking & Reasoning
- part-whole relationships
- making new creations
- combining knowledge
- using and applying technology
- digital creation
Engagement, Approach, Support
The colorful and inviting piano interface is multitouch/polyphonic and offers four different sounds for play-along of free-style playing. Ten songs give litte ears and hands plenty of room to grow with.
Learn basic music concepts and colors along an engaging and colorful eight-key piano keyboard. The app stimulates curiosity and creativity, encourages concentration, and enhances hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Easy to use with a colorful, kid-friendly interface. In-app support glosses over features. The stacked keyboard interface is suitable for infant hands, but counterintuitive for teaching toddlers musical intervals and scales.
What's it about?
Players begin choosing one of two piano keyboard interfaces designed for different motor skill abilities. One keyboard has four sets of wide keys stacked atop each other; the other has eight narrower keys next to each other. Kids then spin the piano balls to change the keyboard colors, instrument, and song. A voice speaks the color names as they're selected. Kids can freestyle and just play, or they can follow glowing yellow stars on the keyboard to play a song at their own pace. The song is then played back in rhythm.
Is it any good?
PIANOBALL - FUN WITH LEARNING is a wonderful and engaging music app, especially for toddlers. It stimulates kids aurally and visually and allows them to exercise hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and musical development, making it a great choice for a variety of learning styles. Kids can repeat musical patterns to play songs, make their own music with taps or swipes of the screen, or shake the device to unleash a star-filled experience with sights and sounds. Young kids will need help maneuvering between songs, especially when the app gets stuck on one song (fix the glitch by going to the home button, then select a keyboard again). Older kids with early reading skills may hanker for something more challenging, so try the app's solfege (aka "do-re-mi") feature.
The app has two downsides. First, the stacked keyboard design is at times counterintuitive -- kids sometimes have to descend the keyboard to play an ascending pitch (this is not the case in the other keyboard design). Second, it's surprising to find kid-accessible buttons to share the app via Facebook and email on an app deigned for this age range.
Families can talk about...
Sing along while your child plays a song. It's great modeling and will help kids with pitch recognition and to make visual and aural connections with the music.
Ask your kids to play music along with a story to help score the action or dialogue.