Plays Saxophone is an animated e-book that tells the story of Sam the Squirrel and his quest to make his music sound just right. He travels halfway around the world to find just the right something that is missing.
- Animations and sound effects on every page
- Highlighted words as they are read
- Read aloud or read-to-me options
- Extra activities to build comprehension and other skills
- Professional narration with differentiated character voices
Sam Plays Saxophone is a high-quality e-book app. The default setting is narrated with sound effects, but users have the option of turning these off if desired. Each page has animations that are marked by a blue dot or a set of orange arrows. The key is explained before the story starts, but I think many children would rather explore the page to find hidden animations. In addition, I think that many children might skip over the oral directions completely in their rush to get to the story itself. The home screen includes two links for parents, privacy and information, but these are somewhat challenging to access, even following the printed directions. The device did not seem to be responding to my “swipe right” that indicated access.
This app is educational for young children. Sam the Squirrel takes a trip “down under” to find just the right musical friends, and children can infer that he makes a long ocean voyage from California, stops at New Zealand, and finally Australia. Many of the characters, like the kiwi, dingo and kangaroo, provide adults with a great opportunity to talk about these animals that are not native to the United States. The illustrations are outstanding, and also will provide teachable moments as they show famous rock formations in Australia, cave drawings and more. It’s a great chance to help young children learn a bit more about a faraway land.
The story is told in rhyming verse, so it presents a chance to work with rhyming words and other phonemic awareness skills. Each line is highlighted as it is read. This would likely be more effective if the words were individually highlighted instead of the entire line.
Sam Plays Saxophone includes several activities after the story has been read. These can also be accessed from the home page if desired. The first is likely a bit too challenging for preschoolers and kindergarteners. Users are presented with a map showing the United States, New Zealand, and Australia and challenged to place the characters along a progress line in the order in which Sam encountered them. Three overlap and would likely be quite confusing for young learners. There are two comprehension questions on this page, as well. Both can be answered orally, then users can hear the correct responses. They also are a bit difficult for the young users in the target audience. One asks users to recite the instruments played by Sam’s new friends, and the other asks for names of the two rock formations in Australia. The names of the formations were not mentioned in the story; they were simply indicated by signs in the illustrations.
The other two activities are great. One is an outline of a saxophone that children can assemble like a jigsaw puzzle. Complete the puzzle, and you will hear a brief history of the instrument. This is pitched at a fairly high language level, and is likely to mostly go over young children’s heads. The final activity is a music score of the melody played by Sam throughout the story. Touch each note to hear it individually, or press the “play” button to hear the entire piece.
Sam Plays Saxophone is a fun e-book that will entertain young children. It’s always intriguing to explore the animations on the pages of an e-book and the story itself is engaging and interesting. Though some of the extra activities are pitched at too high of a level for the audience likely to enjoy the story, most have some play value even if they are too difficult, and children will feel successful even if they do not understand all of the information.
This e-book is priced at $3.99. The story is fun and the activities are enjoyable, but neither are likely to capture most children’s attention for the kind of repetitive play that one would expect with an ebook.
This app is very child friendly.
- Protected parent area (contains no outside links)
- NO social media
- NO in-app purchase
- NO 3rd party ads
Sam Plays Saxophone is a pleasant e-book with a small selection of activities to supplement the story, but it may not live up to the levels that the price might lead one to expect.