Do you remember Mad Libs? I remember my sister got a couple books, maybe for a birthday. We had a lot of fun suggesting nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, and then reading the resulting stories afterward.
Well, Mad Libs are still around and going strong, but there’s a new iOS app that puts a new spin on it. SparkleFish is a fill-in-the-blanks story game, but uses audio recordings instead of written words.
Each story asks for anything from 9 to 14 words — nouns, adjectives, adverbs, numbers, body parts, names, animals, and so on — which you record by tapping the big microphone icon and speaking into the mic. You can re-record words as many times as you want until you’re satisfied, and then push the “Sparklefish it!” button. Then the app tells a story out loud, with your recorded words dubbed in.
It’s a pretty simple idea, but my kids absolutely love it. Since you don’t actually get to read the text of the stories, it’s a real surprise when you hear each one for the first time. My daughters take turn supplying the words, and then dissolve into giggles when it’s played back. The recordings are saved in the app so you can play them back later, but I don’t think there’s a simple way to just export them, which would be nice.
The best part? Sparklefish is free! It comes with four stories, and you can buy more story packs (5 stories each) for $.99 each. So far I’ve played around with the free stories and purchased one pack myself, and I feel like I’ve already gotten my money’s worth out of it. As a bonus, my younger daughter is starting to remember what I mean when I say “verb” or “adjective” and it makes her think about types of words.
The voice reading the story is (I think) the same guy for all of them, and he does a pretty good job but it’s not spectacular. He changes his voice slightly for different stories but you can still tell it’s him. It can be tricky timing the recordings so that they flow — usually there will be some gaps and odd pauses, but the kids don’t seem to mind.
If you’ve got one of those iDevices that has a microphone, try out the free version of SparkleFish with your kids. It’s a weird name, but a really fun app! For more information, visit the Sparklefish website.
Wired: Simple interface, free to try, lots of fun for kids, stealthy way to teach parts of speech.