Tuesday, 17 February 2009

songs and stories

This morning, Jack climbed into Mia's cot and sang to her to keep her entertained. He sang "Away in a Manger" which included the new verse "The baby Jesus hurt his head, and he had to go to the doctor's." Snappy! I like it!

I was invited to try out a new bit of software from Microsoft called Time for a Story. It requires Live Messenger, a microphone, speakers/headphones, and a web cam, and allows you to read stories to your kids (or anyone else you have on Live Messenger) online. It's great fun and interactive; kids just don't listen to the story or watch it on screen, they can click on images in the story to see what happens.

At the moment, there are only Noddy stories available which is fine for Jack - Noddy's one of his favourites. I haven't had a chance to try this out with him yet, but I know this is something both my parents and my in-laws would really enjoy using. Storytime is a huge hit in our house, and having a grandparent read to the kids is even better. They're both already on Live Messenger and have web cams, so it wouldn't take much effort to get them up and running. The interface is quite simple, so if you've got a parent/grandparent/other relative who isn't very computer-savvy, it shouldn't be too difficult for them to set up and use.

Granted, this is only a beta version, but I was a bit annoyed that it insisted that I use Internet Explorer to launch the story (I prefer Firefox or Chrome.) It also won't run on a Mac due to limitations in Live Messenger for Mac. Whether or not Microsoft will make this compatible with Macs and other browsers is yet to be seen, but I think they'd be foolish to alienate/piss off a vast number of potential users.

Overall, it's a fun concept and I would definitely use it. We have the advantage of having laptops, so my plan was to take the computer right up to bed with Jack and Mia, so they could get snuggled up while listening to a story.

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