Designed by a champion surfer, the Surf Creatures HD iPad app features 26 unusual underwater creatures to delight and intrigue younger children. The creatures are hand drawn, the words rhyme, and up to four different people can record the book for playback.
Surf Creatures HD iTunes store icon
The app was designed by champion surfer Shaun Tomson who has an abiding interest in educating others about the sea and sea creatures. All of the creatures covered in this app live in surfing zones. There are 80 pages in the book and 26 creatures are featured. Information about each one is in rhyme. Shaun Tomson narrates the book, but up to four others can record and save their own voices, including the child if they are old enough. In that case they can then read along with their own prerecorded tracks.
The creatures are more like cartoon drawings and each page is very colorful.
Sample pages from Surf Creatures HD iPad app
Surf Creatures HD iPad app was released December 16, 2010. It sells for US$3.99 on the iTunes store. It is available in English only and requires iOS 3.2 or later.
Using the app
I tested this app on a very rambunctious 4 year old boy who nevertheless loves books. Like many kids his age he loves to have his books read to him over and over. He has played with apps on my iPad a couple of times, but does not have access to one on a regular basis. At first he just wanted to flip the pages, but once we got that out of the way he started asking about the individual creatures. At that point we started at the beginning and I turned on the sound. I had previously recorded both my own voice and that of his mother reading the rhyming text.
He was truly enchanted and kept looking from me to the iPad, not quite sure why he could hear my voice when he could see that I was not speaking. In the way of 4 year old boys, he kept interrupting and asking questions, but the app presents the ability to pause so that was not really a problem. He sat through the entire book and asked to “read” it again before his attention wandered to something else.
I did not have access to children of any other ages to test the app with.
For any child that you can trust to use an iPad with respect, you can allow them to simply play the app over and over to their heart’s content, choosing from among the voice options.
Do I recommend it?
I do. It is clever and colorful. It is not too long, but has good information. Some parents might prefer that the images be real rather than drawn, but I did not have any real problem with that. I felt that simply introducing the child to the whole concept of different kinds of creatures was a good place to start. And anything that holds the attention of an active 4 year old for any length of time is a good thing.