Saturday, July 14, 2018

Charitable kid apps - an infowrap

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Charitable Apps and Sites

Donating to charity through text messages and websites is great, but kids may need something more interactive to help them understand how they're helping. Apps and sites can help families take direct action, learn about important causes, and nurture compassion. Aside from developing empathy and gratitude, helping others can boost kids' self-esteem and expand their worldview. From a trivia game that eases world hunger to stories about people in need, we've hand-picked our favourite apps and sites that help kids do good. 

age 7+
Strong role models transform bullies in lovely story.

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (2015)

Daisy Chain is an interactive story about a girl's experience with bullying and how she and a helpful friend get through it. Kate Winslet narrates the story. Related merchandise, including a Buttercup figurine doll and a picture book, is sold through an in-app store, which is protected by a parent gate. Kids can listen as Winslet reads the text and they peruse the picture book (if purchased), or they can play along with the interactive story on the device as it's read to them. A percentage of the proceeds from app-related merchandise goes to anti-bullying organizations. The kids who bully Buttercup Bree are portrayed as dark, shadowy figures, which may be a bit scary to younger kids, and the faceless characters -- while allowing for a more imaginative experience -- might not be everyone's cup of tea. The overview-style privacy policy details the kinds of information collected and shared.


Kate Winslet’s calm, assured voice sets the perfect tone for this lovely tale of a little love and kindness changing a bad situation. Buttercup Bree's new friend, Benjamin, speaks some powerful words to encourage her and paint the bullies as redeemable. "They just don't know. They've not been taught," he says while not undermining the impact of bullying. When he loosens the ties holding her, the narration is "He broke her chains (to some degree.)” As for playing through the book, having to complete the activities to advance in the story can be frustrating, especially since it may take a few tries to figure out what's supposed to happen, such as slashing the photos in half or tapping each flower to pick it. To work around that, you can use the book icon to jump to each specific page. Despite this drawback, it's a haunting, charming take on overcoming cruelty.

  • Families can talk about kids' experiences with bullying. What can they learn from how Buttercup Bree responds to the kids who are mean to her?
  • Talk about how Benjamin helps Buttercup Bree. How can they be like Benjamin to a friend in need?

age 8+

Sustainable-community sim teaches kids to help and conserve.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Mac, Android, Fire phone, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone (2016)

AN ETHICAL GAME asks kids to build communities in four regions: a savannah, an arid climate, a tropical area, and on an island, all initially undeveloped. As kids play, more of the game gets unlocked, including all four regions, different tools and bonuses, and more difficult levels. Kids can get bonuses in the game by doing well, by connecting with friends who play the game, and by making real-life donations to Save the Children. Each level begins with setting up a water source, a house, and a food crop. From there, kids work to meet the requirements of the level, providing the proper amount of water, food, housing, health, education, and disaster preparedness. Each item they place costs in-game money, but each level provides money if successfully completed; the money available carries over from level to level, so doing well on early, easier levels sets kids up for success on the later, more difficult levels. Kids can revisit lower levels as many times as they wish.

A fun and interesting resource-allocation simulation, this charity-sponsored game teaches and inspires. Each level is a puzzle requiring different priorities and combinations of solutions. Kids can likely solve the early levels without using the bonuses or any of the fancier resources, such as the chicken coop or the evacuation center, so they may not know how to best use those resources when they come across the bigger challenges later. Still, the game teaches kids the basics of what's necessary to create a sustainable community and how several of those resources work together. It also gives kids the opportunity to think hard and creatively about problem-solving and efficiently allocating their resources. The game does occasionally crash, however, which can be frustrating, but it saves your progress if you're logged in.

  • Families can talk about in-app purchases and your rules about them. Does it make a difference that the money goes to a charity?
  • Talk about the game villages vs. the real-life communities that are represented. What do you think are the similarities? What might be some differences? Are there any challenges people face that aren't shown in the game?
  • Take curiosity about the game and funnel it into research about real places and people. Which communities does Save the Children try to help?

age 9+

Learning and ending hunger, a few grains of rice at a time.
URL: (2009)

It's fiendishly simple: the screen presents the viewer with a vocabulary question. Click on the correct answer and FREE RICE donates ten grains of rice to the UN World Food Program. A graphic on the side shows bowls of rice as they fill and accumulate. That's it. Except that now there's another word on the screen, a harder word, so you click on the definition for that one and watch as the score improves. By the time the participant checks out the other topics available -- geography, French, multiplication tables -- dozens of words have been defined and multiple bowls full of rice have been donated.

The site's stated goals make it plain. Free Rice exists to provide free education and help end world hunger. Period. Somehow they manage to make it fun in the process. Kids like the game format and respond well to the challenge of improving their scores. Parents will want to play it themselves for the mental stimulation. And all the while, every correct answer drops another ten grains of rice into some hungry person's bowl.
Interestingly, the site's FAQ does more than answer typical questions. It presents issues that might be raised about hunger, about the nature of learning, and why the site even exists. The sponsors who pay for the donated rice are listed and linked to, and questions that a thoughtful adolescent might ask -- like how much rice does it take to feed a person for a day -- are addressed. There's more to chew on here than just rice. At the time of this review, Free Rice had donated over 96 billion grains of rice -- and improved the minds of countless people along the way.

  • Families can talk about the meaning of world hunger and what they learned on this site. Be prepared for conversations about different artistic styles, or sentences peppered with words like "scoff" and "chastise." As vocabulary improves, confidence grows, and dinner table conversation may never be the same.
  • Are there any shelters close to you where you can donate canned food? It's important to know that hunger isn't something that only happens in far-off places.

age 11+

Micro-loan site gives everyone the chance to help.

URL: (2012)

Kiva gives individuals, families, and groups the opportunity to invest as little as $25 in businesses in impoverished areas around the world. Kids can learn about people like Silvia in Nicaragua, who needs a new roof for her beauty shop and Norma, who owns a food stall in Bolivia and would be helped by an industrial food slicer. Kids can search for a borrower to fund based on industry (including food, construction, and retail), gender, and even whether or not they're in a conflict zone. Risk and repayment rate (98.95% at the time this review was written) are all fully disclosed.

As a family activity, loaning through Kiva is a pretty cool thing to do. Kids should love the process of picking the folks they want to lend to! Through pictures and a short write-up of each business and the faces behind it, they'll discover that there are lots of ways to make a living. Kiva isn't geared directly towards kid-only usage, so it would be a good idea to sit down at the computer along with your child and talk through the steps (also a fantastic classroom activity!) and answer the questions they're bound to have about poverty in other countries.
They'll learn what it takes to make a small business grow, the difference between giving and lending, what it means to lend money to those in need, and, when loans get repaid, personal accountability. They'll appreciate the details of each person's story, making lending through Kiva seem personal and real. And here's the fun part: when a loan is repaid, families get to choose a new person or business to share that money with. That's exciting!

  • Families can talk about challenges other countries may have (extreme poverty, no clean drinking water, etc.) that kids may not have a full understanding of. What would be different about starting a farming business in Burma as opposed to Montana?
  • What are some different ways that people make a living? How do you think they got started?

This is just a sample of Charitable Apps that are available from this wonderful, informative website.  Please head there and check out the others that are available.  I so believe in teaching kids to give back.  We are very blessed with all that we have access to, more than enough really, so from an very early age it is a good thing to encourage our affluent kids to share their abundance with others around the world that are far less fortunate.  

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