Sunday, April 14, 2013

REVIEW - Timeline Builder App from Knowledge Quest

I have been a fan of Knowledge Quest products for years now. I'm pretty sure I own most of them! 

I already owned the Timeline Builder iPad app when the opportunity came up to review it. It was a great opportunity to finally put it on the girls' iPads and see how it worked.

I love the idea of timelines. I have attempted to do timeline books with the girls. I've printed my own, and I've used bound books (the ones from Knowledge Quest, incidentally, are lovely). However, it's just not something we remember to do regularly. It can be time consuming to look up the images and make sure they're all ready to go in the book. Also, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and my girls have inherited that trait, the poor dears. We actually bought a book with suggestions of where to put the figures in our timelines, because we were so concerned about messing them up. (It was good to know, actually, that there is enough demand for someone to create that resource. We're not the only ones! Ha!)

The TimelineBuilder iPad app makes the entire process SO much simpler! Here's how it works:
  1. Open the app, and click on the "New Timeline" tab at the bottom of the screen (it's yellow).
  2. Give your timeline a name by tapping in the "Timeline Name" field, add a description if you like, and enter the starting and ending years. You have the option to choose BC/AD or BCE/CE, whichever appeals to you.
  3. Select a background for your timeline by tapping on the "Select Background" button. 
  4. Voila! You have a lovely blank timeline! In the upper left corner, you will see a button that says "New Event." Click on that. Tap in the fields to bring up the keyboard so you can enter the information. 
Creating the Timeline

See there? That's all there is to it! Once your events are entered, you can use your finger to tap and drag your pictures where you'd like them to appear on the timeline.

I started out by making my own timeline. I thought I'd just go from the beginning of history until present day. That may have been overly ambitious, so I revised my plan. I decided to start out more simply and make a little timeline for my son. First, I created the timeline. I added his birthday, when he started preschool, his broken leg with a graphic from the internet, and picture of him digging for treasure in our yard, with a picture my daughter took with my iPad.

When you want to add an image to the timeline from the internet, the app automatically takes you to Wikipedia, but you can go from there to anywhere else. The timeline app will close when you do this, because of the way the iPad works. Once you've found the image you want to use, the key is to keep tapping it until it's the only thing you see, and then hold your finger on it until the "copy" menu comes up. Then, you will exit out of the web browser, go back into the app, and select "Import from Pasteboard." Choose the pixel size of your image, and then you will see it in your timeline record. It took me a little playing around to figure out the "Import from Pasteboard" button.
Adding a graphic from the internet
Adding a picture from the camera roll on the iPad is quick and simple. First, click on the button that says "Import Image from Library" It brings up the little screen you see below on the left, with the photos  you have available. Tap on the one you want, and it will take you to the resizing screen (above left). Once you choose your size, your picture is there and your event is ready to go!

Adding a picture from the Camera Roll on my iPad
When I was ready to have the girls create timelines of their own, we decided to make one to go along with a book we're reading,  Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall. We've been reading it over the last couple of years, and they've enjoyed it. It's been one of our favorites. Conveniently, the version of the book we have includes timeline dates. They add images when we can find them, but it's not required. It's an ongoing project, and we're all having a good time with it. They love to be able to work independently of me and not having to do lots of cutting and pasting of paper. I would still like to do a hard copy timeline book, but perhaps we will make it a family project instead of everyone doing their own. My plan going forward is to have them create a timeline for each year in our history cycle.

The only very small detail I didn't care for in the app was the way the images are sized. They automatically become square, so they are a bit distorted. You really don't notice it much when you look at your timeline, but if I had my "druthers," I would be able to choose the portion of my image that would fit in the required spot in the app, and be able to maintain the original proportions.

When I first got the app, the application that came to my mind was to use it as a tool for our history studies. It has proved to be excellent for that purpose - but you can do so much more with it! You could use it for many subjects, including science and literature, as well. I love the idea of making a family timeline. I love genealogy and thought it might be fun to make a timeline of my grandmother's life. I'd like the girls to consider doing one for their own lives. It has business applications, as well. You can even share your timeline via email or with other users of TimelineBuilder.

The app is intended for all ages. I would think any child who could read could use it easily. I am sure my 5-year-old (not reading quite yet), could use it as well, but I would have to do the data entry for him. It's available for the Early Bird Special price of $4.99 (reg. $6.99) on the iTunes App Store. Definitely check it out! They have lots of images with ideas on their website.

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