Artistic Apps by Avokiddo

I love the artist quality of the Avokiddo apps so much that I want to highlight both Avokiddo Emotions and Avokiddo ABC Ride.  These apps are so artistically created that you will wonder whether you child is playing and learning with art or an iPad, really it’s both.

 

Avokiddo ABC Ride

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ABC Ride blends the great artistic qualities of cut paper art design with learning letters.  The characters, Beck and Bo appear in the park and your child can begin to play with them as well as choose a bike to begin riding through the park.  Along the way, activities included in the scenery prompt your child to play a learning game that is associated with a letter. Once the activity is completed, students must reconstruct a word that starts with that letter. Another way to navigate the app is to use the ABC icon in the corner to choose a specific letter.  In the parent section, choose Uppercase or Lowercase letters, whether to have the app state the letter name or the phonics sound and other options such as music and narration check boxes. ABC ride combines artistic characters and scenes with a healthy dose of play while learning letter names and sounds.  ABC Ride is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5, and available on iPhone and iPad.

 

Avokiddo Emotions

 

Screenshot 2014-04-11 11.11.52Avokiddo Emotions opens with Avokiddo’s signature artistically created characters.  Tap on the zebra, sheep or giraffe to play with the character.  Next, objects fall onto the screen, and your child gets to choose which ones to attach to the character.  For example, a big straw hat turns the character into a beach loving animal.  With each object and scene, the characters display emotions associated with the scene and objects.  Decide which foods to feed the characters to see how they will react and if they will like pumpkin, watermelon, or a sandwich.   You can save your picture to your camera roll while playing or pull the lever to have all new objects come into the scene.  Through this type of play, young children are learning about emotions, cause and effect, and body language.  Avokiddo Emotions is available for $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5, and available for iPhone and iPad.  Enjoy the artistic characters and play with their emotions and fun props.

Show What You Know: Cut Paper Art

 

The app, Beck and Bo is designed in a cut paper style.  Grab all your paper scraps around the house and have fun creating a cut paper masterpiece and incorporate letter-sound associations, too.

Supplies:

-scraps of paper or full sized pieces of paper

-glue

-1 larger piece of paper to use as a construction base

-scissors

Have your child begin to cut paper to design a picture. For example, cut out a circular shape for a ship, circles and squares for windows, and long rectangles for the mast. Arrange the cut pieces on the larger piece to create a picture. While creating this with your child, attach the beginning letter or word to objects. For example, write the letters “Sh” on the ship, and “M” on the mast.  Talk about the beginning sounds with your child. Provide the letters and sounds if your child is at the beginning stages of learning their letters. If your child knows most of their letter sounds, write the word and ask “What else begins like the word sun?” This activity can be tailored to many different levels. Also, allow your child to experiment and explore with different abstract shapes that may not have a direct letter or word correlation.

We would love to hear from you…. Does your child love one of our apps?  Did you try the “Show What You Know” activity?  Let us know what you thought at sayhello@kindertown.com.



3 Engaging Apps for Kids

We have new apps to add to the KinderTown store, and KinderTown has rounded up three engaging apps your children will return to again and again.

 

Grandma’s Kitchen

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Grandma’s Kitchen is sure to delight your youngest chef while practicing a variety of skills including patterning, counting tens and ones, visual discrepancy, telling time, and ABC order. Grandma’s Kitchen has a nice balance of creative play, skill-based practice and informational videos to build vocabulary. When the app opens you are greeted by Grandma cooking in her kitchen.  Click on “play” and your child is shown a mixture of 8 different types of questions to answer.  Grandma will even give your child prompts if they are having difficulty answering the question. After your child answers the question, they are rewarded with an activity with grandma such as adding ingredients to the mixer to make a cake, watching an informational cooking video, dancing with Grandma or our favorite, giving Grandma a kiss! Children can even take pictures of the cakes they decorate with Grandma. Parents, be sure to check out the settings area where you can select which skills your child is practicing. Check out the fun facts section for tidbits about food, nutrition and cooking. This app is appropriate for kids ages 4-7, and is available for iPod, iPhone and iPad for $1.99. This app is sure to make your child feel like they are learning in Grandma’s Kitchen!

 

Endless Reader

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Our child testers kept coming back to Endless Reader to see the quirky monsters, playful animation and humorous interactions between the monsters. Endless Reader combines colorful characters and common words for your beginning reader.  The opening screen has a rolling ABC line inside a monster’s mouth where children can choose a letter. After a letter is chosen, the word that corresponds with the letter comes alive with animation and the letters are scattered. Your child’s job is to reconstruct the word. When each letter is tapped it makes the corresponding letter sound, reinforcing the letter-sound associations. Next, a definition sentence is presented and your child must match the words to the sentence.  Endless Reader then reads the sentence to your child and the playful animals act it out. This app is perfect for children who are just beginning to read or who have mastered most of their letter sounds. The app is free and includes 6 free words, with in-app purchases to buy additional reader packs. It is appropriate for children ages 3-6. Download Endless Reader and have your child learn to read with these friendly monsters!

 

Bugs and Buttons 2

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Bugs and Buttons 2, appropriate for ages 3-6, offers 18 new games and includes many of the features we’ve come to love in other Little Bit Studio apps, such as pleasing music, astounding graphics, and, of course, those playful bugs!  From the home screen, click on start to begin the game play. Skill based games that work on colors, matching, letter sequencing and much more begin!  It even includes a game to work on fine motor skills for beginning handwriting. The games automatically increase in difficulty according to your child’s skill level. While playing the games, children can earn stickers upon successful completion of parts of the game. In addition, parents, you can easily check the stickers earned in the explore menu section. Also, this app allows for the creation of multiple profiles, which makes it ideal for learning centers, Pre-K or Kindergarten classrooms, or multiple children in one household. Bugs and Buttons 2 is packed with learning and our child testers kept returning to this app so it comes highly recommended from KinderTown!  To find out more about Bugs and Buttons 2, download the free KinderTown App, the educational app store for engaged parents.



The Essential Children’s Book about Technology

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If you read one children’s book about technology, it should be Dot. The message of Dot. is essential for our children. I saw this children’s book at a book stand a few weeks ago and instantly fell in love with it!

 

Dot is a young girl with curly-hair who wears a bow, a polka-dot pink dress and carries an iPad. Dot. is a book that is crucial for today’s modern technology-infused family. The message and language speak to the need for balance with technology and all the other key areas of childhood.  The author Randi Zuckerberg, whose last name you may recognize from her famous brother, Mark Zuckerberg, talks about the need for childhood essential play such as running outside, building forts and painting pictures. The book begins by showing Dot engaging with technology, such as tablets, mobile phones, and T.V. The author uses relevant language like tweet, text, tap, swipe, and share.  The artwork in the book is captivating and shows Dot using technology as kids would engage with it, on the go, on the floor or  while lounging around. Once Dot is all worn out from the technology she runs outside to recharge and reboot. The author plays on words and Dot remembers while outside to play tag, tap nature, touch flowers, pretend to surf, and share food.  The artwork captures her lively personality and excitement for the world.  Dot. has the perfect message for our kids, and it is never too early to start talking about responsibility with technology.  The message is accessible enough to read to a three-year-old and still relevant enough for a seven-year-old. Thank you, Randi Zuckerberg, for providing a meaningful, age-appropriate conversation-starter for our kids in the book Dot.

 

 

Randi Zuckerburg is the author of Dot., as well as Dot Complicated Untangling our Wired Lives, an adult book about her professional and personal story as well as a guide about how to understand technology and how it influences and informs our lives online and off. You can purchase Dot, the doll, who is the character in the story here. The book is available on Amazon here.



Best Free Educational Apps from KinderTown

Free! Yes, there are some great free apps out there, but it takes a lot of work to find them. Most free educational apps are a preview of the full featured versions. I would recommend taking advantage of these when you are thinking of purchasing the full version. There are a few educational apps that are free and full featured. Here are three of the best ones from the KinderTown educational app store for parents. Download the free KinderTown app, and select Free, to find these superb free apps for kids. Note: The free apps selected do not include in-app purchases or links to ads. This makes them a win-win for parents and children.

 

Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe Interactive Game Screenshot 2014-03-18 09.51.21.png

 

This full featured phonics learning app by Lakeshore Learning, is designed around the traditional Tic-Tac-Toe game and is best played with a child and adult. The questions are arranged on the Tic-Tac-Toe board, but are not read aloud to children. You can guide your child’s learning by reading aloud the questions. When you or your child answers correctly a X or O appears on the board. The questions cover beginning reading concepts such as identifying blends and digraphs, recognizing words with the same beginning sounds, counting syllables, recognizing words with the same ending sounds and identifying sounds in words. I like how the game allows children to try again if they answer incorrectly the first time on their next turn. Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe is available for iPhone and iPad and is appropriate for children ages 4-6.

 

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Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene to practice spelling.  The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. In addition, each word is presented with a picture to reinforce vocabulary development. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints) so students are reconstructing the word in order to continually practice spelling the word and build visual memory of the letters.  Children like how getting a few correct answers leads to different choices for designing their own rocket ship and eventually blasting it off into space. Parents can choose between capital or lowercase letters to form the words.  KinderTown recommends choosing lowercase for activities involving common words that mostly appear in lowercase print.  Rocket Speller has five different levels that offer options for visual hints, audible hints and smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty and provides assistance called Adaptive Assistance. Rocket Speller is free and available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Rocket Speller is appropriate for children ages 4-7.

 

ABC ZooBorns

 

Screenshot 2014-03-18 10.55.53ABC ZooBorns is an excellent app in the Peapod Labs ABC series that combines safe searching with the topic of animals. If you have five minutes or fifteen minutes to spend with your child on ABC ZooBorns, they are bound to learn something about animals. The app is easy enough to open quickly and dive into the learning, or explore more during a longer time period. Each ABC app by Peapod Labs incorporates an easy to use alphabet layout. Once a letter is chosen, an animal picture, a fun fact, and an interactive area that includes a video or activity for children is shown. Delightful classical music plays in the background as children explore through tapping different letters. Children can research and discover based on their interests and letters are reinforced as kids search. Videos, interactivity and facts that are read aloud in the app keep both children and parents in love with the ABC apps. ABC ZooBorns is free and appropriate for children ages 3-7 and available for iPhone and iPad.

 

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3 Fantastic Language Arts Apps for 4 and 5 year-olds

Do you have a child who is 4 or 5 running around with an iPad or your iPhone?  Turn this time into learning time. These apps would be a great way to support their learning at home, or provide additional activities if you are teaching or supporting a Kindergarten program at home. Children at this age are sponges for learning.

 

Their minds are rapidly developing understanding around letters and sounds, words, visual patterns, and language. Here are some great KinderTown selected apps for 4 or 5 year olds you can download from the KinderTown app to support their learning. Download the KinderTown app and explore these language arts apps, located in the Language category.

Reading Raven

Reading Raven is a self-paced, phonics-based reading app for emergent readers. “Emergent readers” is just teacher-speak for children who are starting down the path of learning to read. Young children need to spend time in front of letters and words. Repeated exposure to letters and words will help children when they start to blend the sounds together to read on their own. Reading Raven has done a wonderful job of creating a variety of phonics activities that support and motivate children in practicing skills that will help them be strong readers. The app will take your child from just discovering letters through when they are blending letters together to make words. The app also seamlessly connects writing each letter to the phonics activities which helps reinforces letter identification and formation in context. Parents and teachers are given in-app tools for customizing their children’s learning experience. Make sure to read the parent and teacher guide in the app and visit the Reading Raven website for videos and more information. Reading Raven is appropriate for children ages 4-6, and is $2.99 at time of publication.

 

iWriteWords Handwriting Game

iWriteWords makes writing numbers and letters engaging. Kindergarten is sure to be full of lots of letter and number writing practice, so provide your child with a different way to practice. This is a beautiful and entertaining app that children can use long before they can handle a pencil, which makes this a great purchase. It includes lots of settings, three levels that grow with your child and small fun activities to break up the tracing. Your child will enjoy the unique playback feature to watch how they formed their letters and numbers. Gdiplus, the developer, has done a nice job of updating the app over time. Try using a stylus with your child to develop fine motor skills. iWriteWords is available for $2.99 at time of publication as is appropriate for children ages 3-5. This is a must-have app for learning to write numbers and letters!

Puppet Pals HD

Four and Five year olds love to invent stories, and Puppet Pals HD is an app that will bring out the creative story-teller in your child.  One set of characters comes free with the app and additional characters can be purchased through in-app purchases. Check out the in-app purchase, Director’s Pass, for the most beloved feature of adding your own characters. We love the open-ended feature of this app for crafting and sharing stories. While making these stories, your child is developing critical vocabulary and language skills.  In addition, children can learn to create a story that has a beginning, middle and end. Use a background from the app or again, add your own. Record yourself retelling and acting out (as you move the puppets around) your favorite parts of your fishing trip, family vacation or just a silly moment that you have on your camera roll. Export or play your new video right from the app. Check out the the website for the Parent and Teacher Guide. Puppet Pals HD is available for free with in-app purchases and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.  Happy storytelling!

Show What You Know: Playdough Letters

 

Children love playdough and there’s sure to be some around your house. In addition, learning letters and their sounds is a big part of Kindergarten. Take some time to practice this multi-sensory letter experience.

 

Tools:

Playdough

Stick, rod, pencil or building block for poking

Playdough roller or Kitchen Roller

 

Roll the playdough in long snakes.  You child is sure to love this part!  Roll lots and lots of snakes.  Then have your child form letters using the pre-made snakes. Recall which ones were difficult or tricky from the apps you have been using with your child. Now, for each letter have your child say the letter name while poking holes in the playdough letter  using a stick, rod, or building block.  Make the holes follow along the same direction as they would write the letter (typically top to bottom).  Alternatively, your child could say the letter sound if they know most of their letter names.  See how many letters you can create, poke, and say the sound!

 

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Maker Inspired Apps

Another big theme of last week’s conference, SXSWEdu, was the current Maker Movement.  It seems funny to an early childhood educator that the idea of tinkering, experimenting and testing hypothesis with various tools, is a new idea. This is what children do naturally when they play. It really isn’t a new idea, but it’s rise in popularity and the vast array of products flooding the market is new.  There are after school programs, kits, curriculums, and toys that speak to this rising movement.  Computer labs and libraries are reinventing their spaces into a Maker Space complete with engineering tools to create towers, robots, and circuits. The exciting part for me, is that these types of educational products are now readily accessible to children as young as five. They can use them to experiment with and learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM), all at the same time.

 

Download the KinderTown app, and find these selected apps under the Science category to accompany the “Maker” in your home:

 

Monster Physics

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 8.11.48 PMThis app cultivates the experimenter in your child.  The app also provides guided tutorials in the beginning to get your child acquainted with the tools and how they function.  I found this section really valuable with children, and a great way to discover the app together.  The tools in the app include wheels, magnets, claws, wood and plastic.  Children combine the parts to make their own unique creation and see if it will solve one of the 50 missions presented in the app. The app combines open-ended experimentation with problem-solving.  Your child will not realize they are tinkering with physics concepts such as friction, force, mass, acceleration and more.  Parents, after you guide your child through the tutorial section, stick around as the missions become more challenging.  Help your child think through trying different solutions to the “Missions” or problems presented.  This app is appropriate for students ages 5-8, and is available for .99 (at time of publication for a limited time).

 

 

Bobo Explores Light

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This app is structured like a book but invites exploration into the concept of light through the guidance of a friendly Robot named Bobo. The introduction provides a nice overview to the interactive book about light. The app has moments where children are invited to tilt the iPad while flying through space. As you fly through space, there are stops along the way that present facts, interesting tidbits, and questions to further investigate. The facts in the book are not read aloud to children, so parents, help your child read and understand the information presented. Bobo Explores Light is suitable for children ages 5-8, and available for $4.99.

 

PLAY123


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PLAY123 definitely has capital PLAY at it’s heart.  This exploration app is for the youngest scientist at heart in your home, geared towards children ages 3-5.  The app can be explored in many ways and children play with shapes, motion, color and cause and effect while freely directing their own play. There is no right or wrong way to interact with the app, just pure play.  Parents, be sure to sit with your child and enjoy the app together because you will certainly love it too. The calm background music is a gift to parents as well. Parents, you could provide a conversation or dialog with your child about colors, shapes or movement.  This app is free, and contains no in-app purchases, so there is no reason all children shouldn’t play with PLAY123.

 

I think that the most important concept to take away from the Maker Movement is that you can never cultivate your child’s interests with hands on learning enough.  Whether it is math, engineering, reading, or art, getting in touch with our children’s interests is an integral part of parenting.  Look for after-school programs, summer camps and clubs as part of the Maker Movement popping up in your area too.  Now, I look forward to the ways in which “Maker” companies will more closely pair apps with their products to influence children’s experimentation and learning with the Maker Movement.

 


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Take Aways for Parents from SXSWedu

I am spending the week attending SXSWedu in Austin, Texas. There are so many amazing things happening in the world of education that are exciting for parents because you are your child’s first and best teacher.  I want to share with you some of the engaging, educational toys I have seen and experienced this week that I think you’ll love as a parent.  Here we go:

 

LightUp
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LightUp is a hands-on kit to learn about electronics. As I interacted with the kits, I liked their simplicity and how they naturally invited discovery through play. LightUp says:

 

“We created LightUp to empower every kid to understand and create their own electronic projects. LightUp combines an electronics construction kit with an interactive augmented-reality tutor app, helping kids understand the fundamentals of technology.”

 

I was able to get a sneek-peak at their app and talk to the creators, I’m definitely staying tuned, to see where LightUp is going, and getting my children’s hands on these kits. Way to go LightUp!

 

Play from Scratch 

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I was immediately drawn to Play from Scratch. The design is brilliant and takes an activity that all kids naturally engage in, building, and inspires even more creativity. At my house, the cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, and paper towel rolls are never immediately thrown away. They are repurposed for play. Play from Scratch integrates their toy into this kind of play. Visit their website for even more creative play ideas. I can’t wait to create myself with Play from Scratch.

 

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Numbers Alive!

There is something for everyone at Numbers Alive! Learn about numbers with hands on materials and discover music and culture all integrated together into Numbers Alive!  Their mission is to:
“Improve numerical literacy and encourage creativity by visualizing world patterns through fun and friendly number characters.”

 

As I met “The Numbers Lady,” I could feel her passion for early learning and creativity. She has developed a long line of products around her number friends for children ages 2-6. She is also soon releasing an app for kids, and I look forward to reviewing it once it hits iTunes.

 

I hope to discover new things here tomorrow to pass along to you!

 

 

 

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Celebrate Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss E-Books

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”-Dr. Seuss

 

Today, I am happy to be attending SXSWedu Conference to learn about the latest and greatest in educational technology.

 

But, my heart longs to be reading a Dr. Seuss book today to a child.  My hope is that many of you will be doing this today or this week as the nation celebrates Dr. Seuss’s birthday in schools and homes. The National Education Association sponsors Read Across America Day today in many schools to keep kids excited about reading.

 

Download the KinderTown app and check out Dr. Seuss’s books for the iPad. In the KinderTown app, select the Language category, then the Reading sub-category.  We have included Dr. Seuss’s Book Collection #1 and #2.  Dr. Seuss’s books are appropriate for children ages 3-8 and include interactive areas that your child will enjoy exploring. Each app includes five Dr. Seuss books for 14.99 (only $8.99 for Read Across America Day).

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If you’d like an engaging activity to celebrate the day, try these Dr. Seuss hands-on math activities with your child with supplies you most likely have around the house, from the blog Coffee Cups and Crayons.  I agree with author, Megan Sheakoski, that practicing non-standard measurement is a great way to introduce concepts of length, width and height.  In addition, she suggests going on a pattern hunt around your house.  Grab your iPad or iPhone and take pictures along the way to facilitate a conversation about patterns when you are finished. Thank you Megan for the great hands-on activities!

Coffee Cups and Crayons: Activities for Kids

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KinderTown Favorites

I’ve spent priceless time with my children and our iPad.  My children like to climb in bed and enjoy an app together, or we explore an app on the go on the weekends. I have a few favorite apps from the KinderTown store I’d like to share with you.

Bugs and Bubbles

My whole family is in love with this app! The app is centered around a theme of realistic bugs and bubbles.  Bugs and Bubbles offers educational puzzles and areas for free-play. Kids tap, swipe, pinch, laugh and learn while popping bubbles and playing with bugs. The learning concepts are presented in playful ways and include counting, patterning, mind play, sorting and much more. You will find familiar games repackaged in easy to play activities that increase in difficulty quickly to keep kids engaged. Stay close by your child as the games progress so that your child does not get frustrated. In addition, be on the watch for Morty, the playful bug in command that allows your child to earn extra stickers and rewards. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-6. Bugs and Bubbles offers 18 games for children for $2.99 which makes it a definite must have for parents.

 

Toca Kitchen

Toca Kitchen is a wonderful app that your child will enjoy using while you are making dinner, driving in the car or while playing “restaurant” at home. Within the app, jazz music and conversations fill the background while you chop, blend, boil, pan sear and heat up foods for four different characters. My son enjoys the reactions each character makes as you feed them food they like and dislike. Make sure to read the parents page to get tips for using Toca Kitchen and questions to ask while playing with your child. Toca Kitchen is appropriate for children ages four to six and is available for $2.99.

 

 

Art Maker

Art Maker by ABC’s Play School designs a scrapbook-style environment for children to create, narrate and imagine. Children choose from a variety of backgrounds with characters and objects to add, easily resize and manipulate. If your child enjoys playing with stickers, this app allows for playful creation with endless stickers. Listen to your child chatter as they play with the characters and scenes. Each picture can be saved in the app, assembled into a storybook, or transformed into an interactive video as your child narrates and moves the images around. Art Maker is appropriate for children ages 3-6. A very informative “for parents” page gives tips and ideas to help you get started. Art Maker is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages three to six.

 

Show What You Know: Sticker Stories

My children enjoy stickers, and I have fond memories of my own sticker collection.  Try this activity with your child with any kind of stickers you might have around your house.

sticker stories

Materials:

Stickers

Plain Paper

Markers

Tell your child that for this activity they are to choose a few stickers or select the stickers for your child. Have a conversation about the stickers. Provide lots of ideas about what the stickers could be doing or how the stickers could be part of a bigger picture. Have your child place the stickers on the page and create a scene around the sticker. Have your child tell you their sticker story. Add to the story, or invite another chapter of the story with another sticker. Older children may choose to write a sentence about their sticker story. Collect the stories and retell them with your family. Through this process your child is developing their vocabulary, imagination, and artistic skills.

Download the KinderTown App and these must haves for your family and enjoy them with your child. Share your sticker stories with us and let us know what your must haves are by:

 

Liking the KinderTown Facebook page

Following @KinderTownApp on Twitter

or Emailing us at sayhello@KinderTown.com

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Now Powered by Demme Learning

We have some new developments coming from KinderTown that we’re excited to tell you about. As part of the Demme Learning family of products, KinderTown provides information on educational products that combine with Demme Learning’s other products to help parents engage with their children’s education. We have a new teacher in KinderTown to help us bring you the best educational apps – Lanette Walters, Digital Curriculum Reviewer. She’ll be introducing herself soon (read more about her here) and sharing some of her favorite apps. New reviews, apps, and information are coming soon – stay tuned.

biocrop

 

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