KinderTown Flips Over Osmo!
My Osmo product arrived this week, and KinderTown was giddy with excitement! Osmo is a unique game system for iPad. Osmo comes with a stand and a mirror that attaches to the iPad and allows for the integration of real objects into the play associated with the iPad. There are 3 apps that can be used with the Osmo system. When you open your Osmo system, assemble the red mirror device onto the iPad, and the iPad on to the stand. Download the free apps and you are ready to begin.
The Osmo Tangram kit comes with tangram pieces that interact with the iPad. Download the free Osmo Tangram app to get started. Osmo offers a nice “getting started” section to familiarize your child with the use of the pieces and their interaction with the screen. The child must arrange the tangram pieces to match the on screen arrangement. While constructing the pictures, your child is developing important visual spatial skills. After your child completes the “getting started” section, the app offers different pictures for your child to choose from to construct with the tangram pieces. The app also indicates the level of the pictures from easiest to hardest by color coding them yellow, orange and red. The yellow puzzles offer color clues and the orange puzzles offer black and white shapes. The app does offer a hint button if needed to complete the puzzles. The hardest level offers just one solid black outside line. Arranging the tangram pieces was challenging, engaging and also fun to complete with a friend.
Osmo Words is played with the letter tiles. One set of letter tiles is blue and the other is red. To play, you can either play alone or with a friend. To compete with a friend was challenging and loads of fun! Osmo Words shows you a picture and the number of coordinating letter tiles. For example, a picture of a tree and 4 blank tiles. You must race your competitor to see who can throw the correct word tiles out first. The letters can be tossed into the playing space in any order. KinderTown really likes how more than one child can play with the tiles and the iPad to develop cooperative play skills. One suggestion KinderTown has is that the letter tiles are all in capital letters. Most words when written in text are lowercase. It would be great to see both upper and lowercase forms of a letter on a tile, maybe one on the front and one on the back. Children need exposure to both forms of the letters, especially when learning to read.
Osmo Newton uses the Osmo system to reflect the space, and the players choose which objects they use from around the house to affect the space. Osmo Newton drops balls from the top and supplies targeted areas that the balls should reach. KinderTown used blocks, paper clips, pencils and drawing lines on the paper in the space to change the movement of the balls to reach the targeted areas. Osmo Newton was challenging and does require persistence on the part of the player to solve the puzzles. As you continue to play, the number of targets increases and objects around the targets are added to increase the challenge. KinderTown recommends using 3D objects to affect the space. The drawing of lines was helpful but more difficult to change (erasing) when we wanted to change the direction of the moving balls. This app uses your child’s thinking and problem solving skills to interact with the screen in a challenging way!
Super Why’s ABC Adventures and Base Ten Bingo
Base Ten Bingo is appropriate for students developing number sense, counting skills and place value understanding from approximately kindergarten through second grade or ages 5-8. Base Ten Bingo begins with child creating a personalized avatar. Then your child may choose from Bingo, Practice, My Bugs or Home. In the Bingo section, children can choose to play with ones, ones and tens, or ones, tens and hundreds. Next children choose how large of a grid they would like to play on. Then a split screen appears with the numbers on the bingo board on the left and the ones, tens and hundreds counters on the left. In the practice section, students must read and make the number that appears with the ones, tens and hundreds blocks. For each section your child completes correctly a playful bug is added to their “My Bugs” section. Parents please be aware that this app only focuses on the concept of creating and counting numbers using the ones, tens and hundreds counters. Base Ten Bingo is appropriate for students developing number sense, counting skills and place value understanding from approximately kindergarten through second grade or ages 5-8. The app is $1.99 and is available for iPad.
Super Why ABC Adventures is hosted by the characters on the show Super Why! on PBS. The app does a nice job of providing multiple different ways to practice letters and their sounds. KinderTown likes how the letter sounds are repeated often to reinforce your child’s learning. Each of the five characters has a unique game to play with your child to practice the letters. Each time your child may choose upper case, lowercase or a mix of upper and lowercase letters. The games offer a high level of engagement for children. For example Alpha Pig helps your child take pictures of the correct letter, K, and then children get to see what the camera turns the letter into; a koala picture! Your child can help Princess Presto swim to the correct letter bubble underwater, or help Super Why! construct his treasure map to find the missing treasure. Students can earn souvenirs for completing activities correctly and decorate their map of the world. The app also includes 4 videos from the show Super Why! The app is appropriate for children learning to identify all of their letters both upper and lower case, approximately ages 4-6. This skill is most often introduced in preschool and mastered in kindergarten and first grade. The app is $3.99 and available for iPad.
Top 4 Childhood Adventure Apps
Does your child like adventures? All children seem to have a natural sense of curiosity instilled in them. These apps provide a sense of adventure through your iPad without leaving home. Enjoy an adventure with your child by downloading one of our favorite adventure apps.
One Globe Kids is an app designed to bring kids in other countries and cultures into your child’s world. The app allows children to learn about kids from around the world. KinderTown loves the pictures and voices of the children included in the app as they share different aspects of their everyday life. The app opens by allowing your child to personalize their experience by choosing their language and adding a photo of themselves. Then children can explore different cultures by spinning the globe and tapping hot spots that indicate a child is featured from that part of the world. Each child featured includes facts about that child’s native country, language and even a tutorial on speaking a few words in that language. Pictures of the child in their home country are included and show what a typical day in the life of the child might include. The app is appropriate for children ages 3-8 and provides an easy way for children to learn about other cultures without ever leaving home. One Globe Kids is completely kid safe with no advertisements, or information being shared with others. There is a section where children from other countries ask your child questions and they can record their responses as if they were talking to that child, but the information is not shared outside of the app. The app is free, and includes a profile of one child in Haiti. The rest of the content can be purchased as in-app purchases. One Globe Kids has an education version available as well called Globe Smart Education which provides all of the content for one purchase price.
The Monkeys provide an all new entertaining app with 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, there is a fun race game for children to complete and they are rewarded with a choice of a hat for Milo the Monkey. The developers of Monkey PreSchool have a “Thups Knack” system which changes the difficulty of the game as your child plays. This app is a simple one for children to navigate and includes interesting graphics. The app is 2.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5.
Come have an adventure with all the circus entertainers! Shiny Circus teaches young children beginning concepts about measurement and relationships between objects. Shiny Circus has two different options for engaging with the app; Story Mode and Game Mode. In Story Mode, the children read a story and interact with the characters along the way and participate in learning games. In game mode, children choose which game they would like to play. The app features 4 games that work on early childhood math concepts such as biggest and smallest, near and far, shortest and tallest, and balancing objects. After answering questions correctly children can collect stickers of the characters for their sticker book. Shiny Circus is appropriate for children ages 3-5 and is $2.99.
KinderTown loves this unique app as your children can explore pictures of the world as seen from space for free! Made by NASA, the app encourages children to see the art in the images. The app does not read aloud to children, so parents you may want to read aloud some of the captions. This app would be an excellent addition to a study on geography or inspiration for art. NASA Earth as Art also includes technical information that can grow with your child as they get older and learn about different parts of the world. The app also includes time lapse pictures that show how different parts of the earth have changed over time. Thank you NASA for sharing your work and allowing children to explore the earth from a unique perspective.
Apps with Virtual Play; Plants, Jello and Dots!
Plants by TinyBop is a fabulous app to explore, play and learn about plants. The app is based on three biomes, the grasslands, tundra and desert. Once inside the Deciduous forest, the seasons change, the weather changes and children can interact with the plants and animals. The app allows for multiple logins so children can explore at their own pace. The learning within the app is based on what your child explores within the biomes. While the app does provide labels in the various biomes for plants and animals it does provide facts about each one within the app. Be sure to explore their wonderfully created handbook about Plants for parents. It provides a purposeful way to explore the app and facts about the different biomes as well as further websites to explore. Plants is a truly unique educational app!
Cursive Writing Wizard includes three different cursive fonts, Zaner-Bloser, D’Nealian and French. Once you choose your font, there are five different areas for practicing cursive. The areas include practicing cursive lines, capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and words. Cursive Writing Wizard also includes an area to create your own words such as your child’s name, spelling words or favorite words. KinderTown likes how the letter name is said and the coordinating sound is given when practicing the formation of the cursive letters. The beginning area develops fine motor skills and works to prepare children for cursive writing. KinderTown recommends using a stylus to mimic the movement and feeling of cursive writing that would be completed on paper. The app does a really nice job of varying the style that the pen completes the writing in. For example, you child can write with rainbows, beads, hearts, or cupcakes. After correctly forming the letter, the style that your pen is using, for example hearts, come alive and children can play and move the hearts around the screen. This is an excellent brain break and keeps the child’s interest. Children can even shake the iPad to make the objects dance! Parents check out the reports section to view the letters and activities your child has completed. Also, the app has the ability to add different users so multiple children in a household or classroom can use the app with individual reports collected. This app is packed with content and well worth the price of 3.99 and is appropriate for children ages 5-8.
KinderTown loves the creative approach to numbers that Dexteria Dots provides. Dexteria Dots designed a game in which players are developing visual tracking, visual memory and visual motor planning skills through manipulating different size dots within the app. While playing with the dots, children are learning math concepts such as comparing numbers, counting, addition and subtraction. In addition, fine motor skills are used to slice and connect the dots on the screen. The unique design relates the size of the dots to the numeric value. For example, a 4 dot has twice the diameter of a 2-dot. There are two different games inside Dexteria Dots 2, Make Equal Dots and Compare Dots. In the Make Equal Dots Game, children are challenged to use all the dots to make two equal dots. In the Compare Dots game children combine dots to see which side of the screen is larger. As the games advance the numeric representation on the dots disappears developing visual memory and discrepancy. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children learning addition and subtraction concepts who are approximately 4-8.
Back-To-School Apps for Young Girls
These apps are sure to tickle your youngest girls fancy!
Fancy Nancy Dress Up
Does your daughter like to dress up? Fancy Nancy Dress Up is the app for her! Fancy Nancy is a beloved character in children’s books for young girls. The app Fancy Nancy Dress Up is a well designed app in which your child is creating Nancy’s “look” on each page of the story. Your child can dress Nancy in a number of lovely outfits for each page in the story. Open Fancy Nancy’s dresser and choose from a variety of options from skirts to outerwear to jewelry, your daughter can completely dress Nancy from head to toe. Add a background or use a picture that you have taken for a personalized background. If your daughter needs inspiration choose the random button to see what appears. When your child is finished, enjoy reading the personalized story together. If you haven’t enjoyed a Fancy Nancy story with your daughter be sure to check out a few of her great books at your local library.
Solve it! with Jim Henson’s Doozer’s
If you aren’t familiar with the Doozer’s, they are a creation by Jim Henson in which three-inch characters live just beyond the world. They live in a self contained community that is focused on technology, cooperation, teamwork, inventing and eco-consciousness. This app involves the use of cooperation, technology and eco-consiousness. In this app, simple problems are presented to your child. Kids must attempt to solve the problems in the physics based challenges. Some challenges include adding pieces to the puzzle to allow the ball to complete a maze. There are 50 levels with increasing challenge and once three stars are earned on each level, a sticker is awarded for the sticker book. This app develops problem-solving skills as well as beginning engineering skills in a fun and friendly environment. KinderTown thinks this is a perfect engineering game for Pre-Schoolers! The app is $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-7.
Dora Hops Into Phonics
Dora needs help hopping across the Lilly pads in order to get to the other side of the river. The app invites children to respond to questions like “Which picture goes with this word? Which letter will change Cat into Bat?”Children are invited to manipulate the beginning, middle or ending sounds in the word to make a new word. The ability to manipulate these sounds is an important skills to become a proficient reader. Parents please note that your child should be a beginning reader to be successful with this app. Many three syllable words are presented that children must read aloud. The app does include a nice tracking system in which parents can view their child’s progress and which type of words their child is working with. Also, multiple players can be added to this app easily so several children in one household can easily use the app. The app is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and is $2.99.
Back-to-School Apps for Young Boys
Daniel Tiger’s Grrific Feelings provides an environment in which kids can learn about different types of feelings while playing and singing with Daniel Tiger. Our kid testers loved the trolley game in which children navigate the trolley to 12 different games. Each game has a specific feeling to complete an activity around such as feeling frustrated and having to find a lost toy, or feeling happy and making Daniel Tiger dance. There is also a sing along section where kids can sing about feelings with Daniel Tiger, as well as a drawing area that includes paint, crayons and stickers. This app provides an age-appropriate way to explore different types of feelings with children ages 3-5 and is a great way to start conversations with your children about feelings. The app is $2.99 and available for iPad.
Join Elmo and Grover for the book Another Monster at the End of this Book story. The animations in the story app are captivating and invite children to get involved in the story. Children can easily tap to turn the page and giggle with Elmo and Grover as they try new ways to block the reader from turning the page. Of course, every child wants to turn the page anyway to see what silly tricks Elmo and Grover will try next. The book does include interactivity with objects on each page to interact and play with, perfect for young children. The app is $3.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5. This book is one that is sure to be enjoyed again and again.
The app is colorful, includes lots of interactivity for early learners and presents questions in a mixed format, keeping the interest level high for children. KinderTown likes how each activity involves the children in pouring tea, cleaning the windows on the bus, moving socks, or making clouds disappear. The mixed review includes early childhood concepts and vocabulary important for child development. This app includes learning games about counting, quantity words such as smallest and biggest, number concepts, and size. Other fun activities are sprinkled throughout the review such as creating a snowman, or clearing a mud path for Mr. Mole. The app is free, but to unlock all the of the content you can complete an in-app purchase for $2.99. The app is appropriate for children ages 3-4.
This app is collection of books by the author Byron Barton. It includes four books about transportation; Planes, Boats, Trains, Trucks. On each page an interactive component is presented such as playing with a boat or airplane in the scene. KinderTown likes these books because they offer age-appropriate non-fiction text. Children are learning facts about transportation while enjoying the interactivity the app provides. The words are highlighted as the author reads and children can click on the word to hear it read aloud. Another great feature is that you can record your voice reading each page, so parents can narrate the story for their child or your child can read the text and record their own voice. This is an app that can grow with your child as they learn to read. The collection is $4.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6.
Famous Children’s Authors Apps
KinderTown can’t think of a better way to prepare for school than to dive back into reading books. Books are always a favorite experience at my house. My children love to sit on my lap and enjoy a story – I’m sure your children to do too! Take a beach towel outside and find a shade tree; you and your children are sure to enjoy the last moments of summer together. Check out these literature apps, to get your children back into reading before school starts.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App
Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App, is a personal favorite of mine. The app is based on the famous book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” By Mo Willems. The app is cleverly titled “Don’t let the Pigeon Run this App”, which plays on Mo Willems famous books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late and many more. Check them out at your local library. In this app,appropriate for children ages 3-6, your child brings a new Pigeon story to life when the bus driver asks for ideas. The app is narrated by the author Mo Willems, as himself and the Pigeon. When opened, the app awakens with the happy cheering voices of children. Choose Create Your Own Story to begin. This app offers three different options for creating your own pigeon story depending on your child’s level; egg, chick or big pigeon. The egg level creates a new pigeon story for your child to listen to and invites them to read along. We recommend leaving the reading tab open so your child can see the words as the story is told. The chick level gives your child picture choices in order to customize the story. In the Big Pigeon level, your child then uses their own voice to add their ideas…a definite parent favorite. Once you make choices for the story you must shake the pigeon in order for the story to be created. Finally, listen to your story and laugh with your child and enjoy literature, storytelling and the experience of loving a book character. The app saves all your child’s creations under Favorite Stories and includes an area where your child can learn to draw the pigeon himself. This is an app to be enjoyed alongside your child and is sure to be loved by children of all ages. Pair this app with Mo Williams’ books from your local library for a rich learning experience. The app is $5.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Friends Play and Explore
This app is based on Eric Carle’s famous book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The app opens with Eric Carle’s famous artwork and a book to open. Inside the book, the narrator explains non-fiction concepts about caterpillars, butterflies and other informational topics that coordinate with The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. After listening to brief age appropriate explanations about nature, children are given a goal. For example, one goal is to win a Healthy Eater Badge and try to avoid all the sweet treats. After each activity, another brief informational text is read with a new goal given. From the main home page, children can also choose to complete puzzles, spot the differences or create a sticker scene with Eric Carle’s artwork. Parents please be aware that the app does include additional in-app purchases to unlock all the content in the Spot the Difference, Jigsaw and 3D Sticker book areas. The app is $3.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5. This app would best be paired with an author study on Eric Carle. An author study is simply a detailed look at an author and noticing their style and craft of writing. Your local library would be a great place to discover all of Eric Carle’s books.
Literacy, Length and Letter Apps
Curious Ruler is a uniquely designed app to encourage exploration with objects and measurement. This app would be best used with a child the first few times to aid in understanding how to use the app and how to understand the information the app is providing to your child. When you open the app, a menu of basic household objects is presented. Your child is to choose an appropriate reference object that will serve as the comparison object to whichever other items you would like to measure. For example, I chose a baseball. Next snap a picture of the baseball and whichever other object you would like to measure such as a cup. This works best if you line the reference object and the object to be measure up on a tabletop. Then, slide the rulers provided to align with the objects in the picture. Now, tap the “Compare” button. The app then tells me that the large cup was 3.5 times longer than the baseball and provides you with a visual of 3.5 baseballs. This app is a good aide in the exploration of measurement and would compliment a conversation or study on measurement. Curious Ruler is $.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Lola’s ABC Party is an app to practice letter sounds, letter formation, memory skills and beginning word recognition. The app starts with the short vowel sounds which are foundational to learning to read. Lola, a friendly panda, asks “Can you find all the letters that sound like “A?” Your child must select the letters from the screen that make that sound. This activity is developing phonemic awareness skills that are critical to the success of beginning readers. When your child answers the question correctly a paw is earned at the bottom of the screen. After ten paws are earned, your child can play with Lola and fill balloons, or decorate hats in order to prepare for a party. Parents can subscribe to receive a parent progress report to their email address.This app is well constructed for the child learning their letter sounds or reviewing them in order to prepare to learn to read. Lola’s ABC Party is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and is $4.99
Stories Alive is a digital library of children’s books contained in one app. Stories Alive provides well crafted digital books for enjoying with your child, on the go or at home. Each story has beautiful graphics and provides interactivity for your child to enjoy. There is a dictionary included in the app as well to reference as needed. In addition, your child can read and record their own voice as part of the story. The app is free to download and many story samples are available to preview. A subscription fee of .99 per week is available as an in-app purchase for access to the Stories Alive collection of books. Stories Alive is appropriate for children ages 3-8.
It’s all About Numbers!
Numbers Here, Numbers Everywhere….10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Numbers are viewed by children everywhere in our environment. Check out the best number apps!
Drive About: Number Neighborhood
Drive About Numbers incorporates many different types of games that practice number concepts. When the app opens a child friendly map is shown and includes 9 different mini-games that practice different math concepts such as shapes, writing numbers, counting groups of objects, matching and collecting numbers in order. Our child tester favorite was using the slingshot to put the correct number of balls into the monster’s mouth. The app is $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6. This app would be a perfect fit for a child entering pre-kindergarten or kindergarten this school year. Throughout the year as the math concepts are presented in school, your child could return again and again to the app to practice them.
Todo Math is a free app designed to practice early childhood math skills. Todo in spanish means “all” and is designed to inspire play with all the early childhood math concepts. It includes 18 multi-level games. It has two different types of play; free choice and mission. In mission mode, the app gives a brief overview of each game and guides your child through each game one at a time. In free choice mode, all games are presented and your child chooses which one they would like to play. It includes multiple levels of math games and includes adaptive play, which means the games automatically adapt to your child’s skill level. Parents, you can sign up for a parent account which will provide you with a more detailed look at how your child is progressing through the app. Compared to most apps, Todo Math does contain a worthwhile amount of free content practicing many different areas of math for children ages 3-6.
Counting Caterpillar is appropriate for children ages 3-6. The app has three levels: easy, medium and hard. In easy mode, the child counts by ones to add segments to the caterpillar. In medium mode, the child practices in the same way by counting by 2’s, 5’s or 10’s. In hard mode, children are presented with a random number to begin counting from. In the app, your child must feed the aphids to the hungry caterpillar. After the correct number is fed to the caterpillar it is added as a segment to the caterpillar.The app rewards children with a butterfly after an exercise is completed correctly. This is a simple app designed to practice basic number concepts.
Just Plain Fun! Educational Apps for the Summer
Busy Shapes encourages children to use their logic and problem solving skills to maneuver shapes and objects into the correct holes in order to advance to the next screen. Busy Shapes is an app inspired by the work of Jean Piaget who proposed that children construct their own knowledge through play, in this case digital play. Busy shapes has 38 levels of play and continues to advance and challenge children as it adapts to their level of learning. It includes an area to set up multiple logins per household. The app does not teach the names of the shapes but encourages free play and cognitive development through experimenting with the shapes. Busy Shapes is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 2-6. The app is colorfully made and includes basic tools along the way to help children explore the effects of the tools on the shapes. As the levels become more difficult, multiple tools are presented. The app is very intuitive for children who are familiar with the iPad. They start dragging the shapes and they are off to solve the problems presented. Parents, you may need to assist when your child reaches a challenging area they can not solve on their own, but generally this app is one your child will be able to navigate independently.
Care Bears Love to Learn grabbed my attention, because I can distinctively remember my purple Care Bear that I loved! The Care Bears are back because, we grew up with them and they remind of us of our own childhood. I like this app a lot because it is simple, yet presents easy to understand questions in a randomized fashion which kept the attention of our youngest child testers. The app works on a mix of basic Preschool skills such as colors, shapes, letters, memory skills and counting. The app also rewards children with digital stickers when they answer the questions correctly. The app is free and appropriate for children ages 2-4.
Grandma Loves Bugs is an app that practices different types of skills that are appropriate for children ages 3-5. The app includes 10 mini-games and 8 educational videos for children to enjoy. The app works on skills such as matching letters, memory skills, identifying groups and looking for differences. Grandma is charming as always and dances, and needs help finding the bugs in her hair. This app offers great basic skills practice for the summer. Children can also catch fireflies, draw a spider web and eat caterpillar leaves with Grandma. The app is $1.99.
This app by OceanHouse Media is a digital book sure to be loved by your kids. I know many boys who love to pretend to be pirates, and I often observe large playground toys, or backyard tree-houses imagined into pirate ships. The How I became a Pirate book was a New York Times bestseller and is sure to be a favorite digital book as well. It has two options for reading: Read to Me, and Read by Myself. The book has several different interactive options. When reading, your child can have the words read again by tapping them or tap the wrapping on one of the pirates heads and hear the word bandanna. This story is perfect for summer because the story begins with a boy using his imagination at the beach spying a pirate ship in the ocean. The pirates come upon the shore and interact with the boy. The boy in the story board the pirate ship and has an adventure. I really like the recording feature on each page. Beginning readers can read and record their voice. Save the recording and your child can listen to themselves read the story. This is a great learning activity for children ages 6-8. It develops fluency and expression while reading and will become a parent favorite as well. The app is $3.99 and appropriate to read with children ages 3-8.