Apps for Learning About Government

What is an election? What are laws? Who is running for president? Your children may be asking questions like these as our country experiences a presidential election year. Check out these apps to help them learn more about how government works and help explain the some of the difficult concepts associated with election and government.
 
how america works

How America Works by KIDS DISCOVER for iPad (iOS only)

This app tells about the different parts of American government and reads like a magazine for kids. It includes videos and interactive learning activities that discuss democracy, how a bill becomes law, and checks and balances within our government. Be sure to enjoy the 3D representation of the Oval Office and Air Force One with your child. Browse the gallery of all 44 presidents. The app is $2.99 and appropriate for children 6-8. Also, visit the KIDS DISCOVER website for a free lesson plan to accompany the app.
 
brainpopjr.

BrainPOP Jr. (Android and iOS)

BrainPOP Jr. uses cartoon style movies, quizzes, and facts to teach children. The app tackles difficult concepts for younger kids such as U.S. history and government. Be sure to check out the free video, The Branches of Government, in the Social Studies section. Free content is available within the app, but a subscription to BrainPop will give you access to a complete digital video library. The subscription can be completed through an in-app purchase. There are two options for a subscription: BrainPOP Jr. Explorer Subscription, which offers the free movie of the week plus 3 related movies for 1.99 a month, or the BrainPOP Jr. Full Access Subscription for $5.99 a month.
 
BrainPOP Jr. is a wonderful app for sparking curiosity in children and can serve as a resource to answer the many questions children may have about a wide range of topics. There are videos on Science, Social Studies, Math, Language, and more. Each video is followed by an easy or hard quiz for which KinderTown encourages parentparticipation, as reading is needed.
 
news

News-O-Matic, Daily Reading for Kids (iOS and Android)

News-O-Matic is a news magazine for kids. This magazine contained within an app includes interactive activities and videos. News-O-Matic features 5 daily stories covering the United States and international news, sports, arts, science, and more. The articles are written by their staff of journalists, including educational experts, and reviewed by psychologists to ensure age-appropriate content. The content of the articles is designed for young readers to understand. The app is also ad-free, so the distractions are limited. News-O-Matic also features complete playback of the articles via a Read-to-Me function, making the information accessible to younger students and struggling readers. Definitions and pronunciations are provided for difficult words within articles. A few games are featured as they relate to the news of the day. The app also offers a Spanish translation. A special school edition exists for classroom settings or homeschool environments. KinderTown’s favorite feature that is only included in the school edition is the ability to change reading levels within the app from a first-grade reading level up to a sixth-grade reading level. In addition, the school version includes assessment questions for students. News-O-Matic is a very complete educational news magazine for kids and lots of features for educators and parents. News-O-Matic is appropriate for children ages 5-8 and offers many different choices for price and time duration for subscriptions.

 

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Top 10 Must-Have Math Apps

Motion Math Pizza

Motion Math: Pizza! (iOS only) teaches children beginning economics by simulating a pizza shop. While using the app, children are learning about economics, setting prices, and serving customers through simulation. Parents, follow up the use of this app with conversations about why certain things cost more money than others and how your family makes purchasing decisions.

 

Bugs and Bubbles

Bugs and Bubbles (iOS only) is an engaging app for younger children. The randomized practice offers multiple ways to practice beginning math skills in a visually rich environment. Counting, upper- and lowercase letters, and sorting are all presented with a fun garden theme.

 

Pet Bingo

Pet Bingo – by Duck Duck Moose (iOS only) is a math fact practice app that includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, anddivision. This app can be replayed for a long time and could be used with multiple children in your house. Children earn rewards for completing math facts correctly in order to care for their virtual pet.

 

Quick Math

Quick Math – Multiplication Table & Arithmetic Game (iOS only) offers basic math fact practice with a simple, clean interface. KinderTown’s favorite feature about Quick Math is that you can write on the screen with your finger and it will recognize the answer. Quick Math has also developed the apps Quick Fractions and QuickClocks that provide similar practice of the concepts.

 

Dragon Box Algebra

Dragon Box Algebra 5+ (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone) is an app that develops algebra skills with approachable problems for children starting at age 5. (There is a second Dragon Box app for more advanced students, called Dragon Box Algebra 12+.) Both apps create problems that must be solved visually in order to make the quantities on both sides of the screen equal. This app is excellent for preparing students for algebraic thinking.

 

Splash Math

Splash Math (iOS, Kindle, Android) is a series of apps that are made for each grade level. The Splash Math apps cover an entire year’s worth of math skills. Through the app, randomized practice is presented to your child. The app also offers parent features such as progress reports and the ability to customize the skills your child is practicing. This app serves as a great reinforcement of concepts your child has already learned in math.

 

Math Doodles

Math Doodles (iOS only) is a puzzle app that brings a visual perspective to math thinking. This app contains many complex concepts and spans a wide range of skills. Your six-year-old child could use this app as well as a high school student because of the ability to change the type of puzzle pieces presented from simple dice to Roman numerals.

 

Operation Math

Operation Math (iOS, Android) has created two apps, Operation Math and Operation Math Code Squad. Operation Math simulates high-tech, intense math missions for children to undertake. Operation Math Code Squad follows the same ideas, but up to 4 players can play at the same time. There is a timer feature in this app, and if your child does not like the feeling of being rushed or timed, this would not be a good match. Operation Math Code Squad is an example of how apps can involve multiple players in order to practice math facts.

 

Motion Math Zoom

Motion Math: Zoom (iOS only) moves your child along the path of learning numbers, place value, and number relationships with this thoughtful app. By the use of analytics, the app guides your child at his own pace through a variety of number quantities with the goal of helping him manipulate a number line and make connections between 1’s, 10’s, 100’s, and eventually decimals. The game appears simple as numbered balloons float on the screen, but the swiping, pinching, and tapping will keep your kids on their toes.

 

Cash Cow Deluxe

Cash Cow Deluxe (iOS only) uses gameplay to help kids become proficient at manipulating money. Tap small coins to make quantities of 5, 10, 25, or 100 cents. The more coins you make, the more the cash cow earns to save the duck’s farm. The app offers several modes of play including arcade, relaxed, endless, practice, or story modes.

 

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myBlee Math

myBlee Math

myblee

myBlee Math offers a wide variety of elementary math lessons on topics such as measuring line segments, working with money, mental math and multi-digit addition for students ages 5-8. KinderTown likes how the app gives initial instruction on a particular concept before the child is asked to practice or apply it. The instruction is given with a female robotic-like voice. Another great feature is the use of “MyScript” technology that can identify a child’s handwriting as she writes her answer directly on the screen. Children will also find the use of the digital manipulatives which include movable rulers, blocks, protractors, etc. both interesting and helpful for solving problems. myBlee is an app that would benefit students who need additional practice with math concepts. The app offers communication to parents about their student’s progress through frequent emails. The app is free for 10 minutes each week. Subscriptions can be purchased for students who need more time per week for $9.99 a month or for $74.99 for a year.

 

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Engaging Math Apps

Jump! – iOS only

Jump

Jump! is a truly unique game experience based on numbers. The app takes children through challenges involving counting, skip counting, and addition. The player must lead  their character from one shore to another by jumping on the correct number. Players can combine numbers to make numbers needed if they are missing. There is a hint button which is helpful to players who are just learning to play the game. The app uses adaptive technology to quickly adjust to your child’s learning level. There is a rewarding play area where children can play with the characters they have saved. The game has additional obstacles called “Stompers” and “Fuses” that will add a challenge to your child’s strategy as they navigate their way through the game. This app is appropriate for children who are becoming confident with recognizing numbers and counting approximately ages 4-8 and is $2.99.

 

Motion Math Match – iOS only

Motion math match

Motion Math Match presents children with a series of cards and challenges them to match cards that equal the same value.  For example, a student might choose the following cards, 2+2=4, 4, and 3+1=4. The students can use both hands to match multiple cards.  Once a match has been made the cards disappear and more cards fall into place. The app adjusts to your child’s level and can be played with addition facts, subtraction facts, multiplication facts, or division facts. This iPad app is appropriate for children ages 5-12 and is $3.99. Motion Math Match is available for iPad and iPad mini.

 

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Dr. Seuss E-books

Read Across America Day is this week, and libraries and schools across the country will celebrate by reading Dr. Seuss books to children. Try some of these apps together with your child that celebrate reading! For more fun with words and sounds, check out our Power Pack Sound Play for children ages 3-4.

 

Dr. Seuss ABC – iOS

drseussabc

This e-book reinforces your child’s growing knowledge of letters, sounds, words, and vocabulary. Your child will enjoy tapping the pages of this delightful ABC book in order to find hidden surprises. The e-book reads aloud to your child and highlights the words as they are read. You can also change the settings to allow the app to “Read to me” or “Auto Play.” The “Auto Play” feature reads the pages and turns the pages to allow the book to play like a movie continuously.  In each story, letters are referred to by their size such as “Big A” and “Little a.” Be sure your child knows that this means uppercase and lowercase. The book engages your child by repeatedly asking questions such as, “What begins with C? or D? E?” etc. Try asking your child this type of question as you enjoy the story together.

 

Dr. Seuss Treasury – iOS

dr.seusstreasury

 

Oceanhouse Media has created a Treasury of Dr. Seuss books. Here you will find the e-book versions of many of the classic Dr. Seuss books your child may already know and love. For example, Hop on Pop, Horton Hears a Who!, Green Eggs and Ham, and Cat in the Hat. Check out the rest of the books and read a new title with your child. The e-books include interactive and engaging features such as reading aloud to your child, highlighting the words, and looking for fun hidden treasures by tapping the scenes. The app is subscription based which gives your family access to 55 digital Dr. Seuss books.

 

Download the free KinderTown app to access the Power Packs.


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Expanding Your Child’s Vocabulary with Apps

As children grow, their vocabulary expands from their immediate environment such as family members’ names and foods they like to eat, to naming everything they can see, to eventually learning more sophisticated topics through books and literature. Reading to your child even as he begins to learn to read independently increases his vocabulary and knowledge of educational topics. Try these apps for a different approach to build on your child’s existing vocabulary. Download our Power Pack on Vocabulary for more ideas and activities to expand your child’s vocabulary.

 

Noodle Words Action Set 1 – iOS only

noodle words

Noodle Words Action Set 1, is the first of two apps that present fun, interactive, engaging, and appealing word play experiences for children. Noodle Words supports vocabulary development and increases comprehension through motivational word play activities. The app presents individual words to your child and then demonstrates the meaning of the word with a creative visual. For example, the word “grow” is accompanied by a vine that continues to grow out of control as your child repeatedly taps around the screen. Children love the repetitive visual effects that illustrate the meaning of the 18 different action words included in the app. Playing Noodle Words with your child will be some of the most fun you will have learning vocabulary together. Noodle Words is $2.99 and appropriate for students ages 4-6.

 

Martha Speaks Word Spinner – iOS, Android, Kindle, and Windows

martha speaks

Martha Speaks Word Spinner is a fantastic board game app that will inspire lots of family fun! This app is an interactive board game that is played on your iPad. Choose your pup game piece, spin the wheel, and see who can get to the dog house first. There are six games to choose from within the app to play on each turn. Word Spinner gets kids listing words, telling stories, and playing charades. The games present open-ended questions such as “Name several kinds of fruit.” The app does not correct these types of questions, so parents will need to provide the feedback. Your child will need an engaged adult or sibling to listen and respond to the answers. The vocabulary in the app ranges from simple words like “clothing” to more advanced concepts like “prehistoric animals.” A wonderful game for the whole family! Martha Speaks is free and appropriate for children ages 5-8.

 

Endless Alphabet – iOS, Android, Kindle, and Windows

Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet is a super silly, wacky, hilarious vocabulary learning app for kids. Children can scroll through words inside a friendly blue monster’s mouth. Tap on one that looks especially interesting and learn what the word means. Kids need to build the word, letter by letter first, then watch, listen and learn about the meaning of each word. Wacky, weird letters and colorful, interesting (non-scary) monster characters play the starring role in the app. There are no high scores and no climbing levels in Endless Alphabet. This app is just about learning new words in a playful, discovery-focused way.

 

Use the techniques in this Vocabulary Power Pack to support your more independent learner.


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Storytelling Apps

The act of storytelling develops vocabulary, understanding of character, and story organization. Using a storytelling app will augment that process for your child, as you provide the occasional vocabulary help or guiding questions. Check out our Power Pack on Storytelling that will provide you with more ideas and a greater understanding of how to grow this skill within your child.

 

Superhero Comic Book Maker – iOS only

superhero comic book

This app does an awesome job of making storytelling easy for children as young as three years old. It is easy to navigate, and the pieces to create a story are embedded nicely within the app. To begin, children choose the comic maker button and select a background as the setting for the first scene in their story. Children can easily record narration for each character as they develop a story. By returning to the main menu children can create additional scenes and then combine them into a longer story. Even if children only use one scene to create a mini story, they are building vocabulary and language skills. This app provides an inviting environment for young learners to start creating stories. This app is appropriate for children ages 6-8 and costs $1.99.

 

My Story – iOS only

My Story

Your child can use stickers, markers, photos, and voice recordings to create an original book with My Story. This app also allows for the creation of multiple users so more than one child in a household or classroom can have an individual account within the app. This feature is great for classrooms or learning centers. My Story also allows for sharing if enabled by email, on social networks, or in iBooks. Parents be sure to help your child with this ­­­if you are interested in sharing stories with family and friends. This app is appropriate for children ages 5-8 and costs $3.99.

 

Draw and Tell – iOS only

Draw and Tell

Draw and Tell brings the best features of drawing apps into one fabulous art and storytelling experience. Children can choose from a blank page, browse your photo library, or select a background from within the app to start creating a story. The app provides tools such as crayons, stickers, paint, and erasers. Your child can narrate his story while the app records the audio and stickers moving around the screen. Children who are not feeling up to creating their own picture can try the variety of coloring pages where they can drop paint into the lines to create a vibrant scene. Draw and Tell is $1.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-8.

 

In this Power Pack, you’ll find activities and app recommendations that support your child by translating all their creative stories into print.



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Top 3 Apps for 3 Year Olds

If you have a 3-year-old in your home you are probably looking for new and creative solutions to add to your repertoire of daily activities to satisfy your child’s eagerness to explore, discover, and problem solve.

 

Check out these top 3 apps to encourage your child’s natural curiosity, as well as our free Power Pack focused on ways to interact with books with your 3-year-old. Then download KinderTown and search by age for more app suggestions for your young learner.

 

Grandma’s Preschool – iOS only

grandma's preschool

The app begins with the bus dropping the kids off at Grandma’s school which resembles Grandma’s house. The house is organized like a typical preschool where children can move around and choose a learning activity by tapping on letters, numbers, science experiments, or an art center. Additional activity areas that can be explored include nap time, outdoor recess, centers with books and toys, and a white board for teaching and learning. Children are positively rewarded for their effort with grandma’s dancing, clapping, and high fives. The app has a nice balance of digital play and learning exploration. You may need to monitor and encourage your child to visit the more academically-focused learning areas as the app does not regulate how much time is spent in the play arena. Grandma’s character engages players with her positive spirit and dancing energy, however, some present-day grandmas may not like the way grandma is represented with gray hair and glasses. The app does not require any in-app purchases and is available for iPhone and iPad for $2.99.

 

Beck and Bo – iOS, Androidbeck and bo

Beck and Bo delights young children with a dynamic free play environment that always has a new surprise popping up. There is no pressure to complete each thematic area in a specific way, which is something we appreciate about the app. Upon entering the app children will find twelve thematic scenes. Objects or questions are presented one at time in each scene for kids to experience thematic vocabulary. Once a scene is finished they can continue to play in the area or view each object in their own scrapbook. Beck and Bo is a fantastic app for playful discovery that understands how young children learn.

 

Monkey Preschool Explorer – iOS, Android, Kindle Firemonkey preschool explorers

The Monkeys provide an all new entertaining app that is simple for children to navigate, includes interesting graphics, and incorporates exploration as the center theme. The Monkey Preschool Explorers app provides a mixed review of early childhood concepts such as colors, numbers, shapes, letters, and association skills. One game includes Milo the Monkey driving a jeep through the jungle and children have to tap on the lower case and upper case letter indicated. At the end, children can play a fun racing game and choose a hat for Milo as a reward. The developers of Monkey Preschool have a “Thups Knack” system which changes the difficulty of the game as children play. The app costs  $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5.

 

Learn about how to incorporate select apps into your child’s play time, and learn new offline activities to expand their knowledge of books.


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Top Science Apps for Young Children

Young children are keenly aware of their surroundings, which inevitably relates to science. Check out these great apps for young children interested in science.
 

Grandpa in Space – iOS only

Grandpa in Space

Grandpa in Space provides children with an engaging science experience where they can learn science facts.  The app does a nice job of integrating other content areas while learning about science. Other skills presented in the app include: identifying shapes and opposites, memory skills, and rhyming. The app presents the skills in an outer space-themed environment where children can design their own space ship, ride in it with grandpa, and watch short interesting movies about each planet in between practicing skills. We love grandpa’s guidance in learning and his high fives!

 

Weird But True by National Geographic – iOS only

weird but true

Weird But True is a fantastic free app for children who love to read books with fun science facts or impress their friends and family with interesting tidbits of information. The facts are presented to children in a colorful way, and they can rate the “weirdness” of the app and collect their favorites by pressing the heart. The Weird But True app is free and contains a “pack” of free facts. Additional packs require an in-app purchase that is gated with a math fact (that children may be able to solve). We suggest that you monitor your child’s use of the app so he or she does not mistakenly make in-app purchases.  A fascinating app for the fact-lover in your house!
 

GazziliScience

Gazzili Science  – iOS only
Play with items in a water tank, plant a seed and watch it grow, or taste an apple pie! Gazzili Science introduces young learners to science topics in a kid-friendly environment. In the app, kids progress through six science learning areas that teach through discovery and narration. After completing each area your child can go to the Gazzili fun page where prizes earned throughout the game are used to build a unique contraption. The app also includes an option to turn on the printed narration of the app for hearing impaired students, and that’s pretty cool!

 

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Pre-Reading Skills: Beyond Letters and Sounds

Preschool and Kindergarten students (ages 4 to 6) learn to identify letters when learning how to read. It is also valuable for children at this age to practice rhyming, identifying letter sounds, segmenting words into individual sounds, and identifying syllables in words to support and strengthen their beginning reading skills.

Read with Doc McStuffins: Letters and Sounds

docmcstuffins

This app offers five  pre-reading activities for preschoolers. It’s much more than an app to practice letters. The app focuses on the following skills: tracing and matching lower and upper case letters, recognizing letters and letter sounds, listening and matching rhymes, determining syllables, and hearing beginning, middle and ending sounds in words. The activities are expertly created and simulate lessons in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. The app will grow with your child as he learns the letters and gains reading skills. The animation and characters in this app come to life (no surprise from Disney) to motivate your child and help him focus on learning the skills. KinderTown is impressed with the quality of the content provided by the app. Our child testers enjoyed the balance of rewarding activities with the learning games. This app ranks at the top as one of the best we’ve seen for preschoolers.

Parents, watch your preschooler interact with the app and then simulate the activities in the real world with your child for extra practice. For example, the app uses common words to determine the number of syllables in a word. Ask your child questions like, “How many syllables do you hear in the word macaroni?” “How many syllables are in the word banana?”  To imitate the rhyming games, ask your child, “Which word rhymes with cat, bat, or wagon?”

Check out the Power Pack: Letters and Sounds: Ages 5-6 for more tips about how to effectively use apps to help your child learn pre-reading skills, as well as hands-on activities you can do with your child.

 

Do you have a kindergarten or budding learner who investigating letters and sounds? This Power Pack is for you!


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