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.
Best Building Apps for Kids
Building with blocks has long been a favorite activity for kids and parents alike. Building promotes creativity, imagination and spatial awareness. Check out these best building apps for kids.
Toca Builders is a virtual 3D playground where kids can use characters to build and create their own unique world. Each character has a different way of creating in the virtual world. For example, Jum-Jum loves to spray paint, a favorite by our child testers, and Connie is able to lift and move blocks. Your child can create several different play-based worlds within the app to add to or adapt later. There are not any words or dialog in the app, so sit with your child and discuss the characters and their abilities or perhaps create a story about the characters as your child manipulates their world. Toca builders feels like Mine-craft, but appropriate for children ages 4-8. Children are demonstrating their creativity skills as well as developing their understanding of 3D environments. Be sure to check out their “For Parents” section within the app for more ideas. Toca Builders is $2.99. The possibilities are as endless as your child’s imagination in the Toca Builders world.
Bloxy apps allow your child to build with blocks in order to create objects that they can play with in the virtual world. For example, build an airplane and construct an airport for your airplane to land at and take off again. In addition, children can build freely with the blocks. When a creation is complete, children can also upload their creations to Bloxy World or download other creations to play with or be inspired by, in order to create their own. Parent permission is requested each time one of these actions is performed. There are over 330 bricks included in Bloxy World. Children can also use their theme collections for space, castles, trees, cars and a special girls world. Other features include the ability to add speech bubbles to the mini-figures, and a snapshot feature to take pictures of the creations. Bloxy World is free to download but does have in-app purchases for selected blocks. KinderTown recommends the “Buy all Bricks” feature for $8.99. Bloxy World is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
For the youngest builder, KinderTown loves BeBop Blox. In BeBop Blox, children are presented with 12 different puzzles to build. Once the puzzle is chosen, the parts spin around the screen and kids drag the matching pieces. For each matching piece, a musical phrase is played. Each added piece adds an additional musical sound to create a song that accompanies the puzzle. When the puzzle is completed a song is played and there are four additional sound effects that can be added to the song. BeBop Blox is a creative first environment for the youngest builder. BeBop Blox is suitable for children ages three through five and is $1.99.
Best Coding Apps for Young Children
Coding. It’s the latest, most popular, and slightly geeky topic to be teaching your children right now. A recent New York Times article called Reading, Writing, Arithmetic …and Lately Coding, talks about the trend and it’s significance. I like this trend and feel that teaching coding is teaching problem solving, strategic thinking, visual/spacial concepts and math. It’s all of these skills wrapped up into one area, and usually weaved with game-like qualities that make it fun for kids to learn. That’s why coding is a great addition to your summer learning. Check out these top coding apps for young children.
Kodable is an introduction to coding for young children. The Kodable website uses the tag line “Learn to code before you know how to read.” This is an interesting thought in our digital age. When children use the app they are coding fuzz balls to move around the screen. The app starts off with very simple mazes for the “fuzz” balls to complete, and progress as your child completes the puzzles.The children we tested this app on loved the option to change the puff ball’s color as they earn additional colors when they successfully complete the puzzles. Kodable is for kids ages 5 and up and is free but does include in-app purchases to unlock additional levels. With the free version there are 45 levels with interactive tutorials. Kodable Pro offers all of the in-app purchases into one app for 6.99 and includes interactive tutorials and learning guides. Check out their website for more information on their line of apps. Kodable also offers another feature called Kodable Sync, which is designed for classrooms in order to accommodate multiple students.
Children can program Daisy the Dinosaur and learn some basic rules of programming in the process. Daisy the Dinosaur has two sections for your child to explore, free-play mode and challenge mode. In the free-play section, children can experiment with commands and see how Daisy moves as a result of their program. In challenge mode, children are presented with a problem to solve. They must use the commands given to complete the challenge. Use the easy drag and drop icons to make Daisy move. Daisy the Dinosaur lays the very basic foundation for learning programming in the future. The amount of content in the app is not expansive, but a good amount for a free app. This app would serve as a great introduction to programming or to test your child’s interest in the topic. Daisy the Dinosaur is appropriate for children ages 5-8 and is free.
Move the Turtle is reminiscent of the turtle that I used to program on the Apple II e. Move the Turtle is a much more updated version of the basic programming I learned as a child. It offers three areas to explore; Play, Compose and Projects. In the Play area there are nine different chapters with directions to instruct your child on how to program the turtle to accomplish a basic goal such as moving to a diamond or drawing a line with a pen. Children earn diamonds, trophies and stars along the way. In the Compose area your child can apply what they have learned in the Play area in order to create their own project or experiment with commands. In the Projects section, your child can explore what other children have created. Move the Turtle also offers the option to create multiple accounts for children in your house or in a school setting. Move the Turtle is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8.
3 Top Book Creation Apps
Summer is in full swing and for my family that means day trips, upcoming vacations, walks to the park, and pool. Parents, I am sure you are also snapping photos as you create memories with your children. Why not create a memory book with your child of your summer experiences? You could create a photo book, art book, a book to use as a gift, a journal or a creative story based on your summer fun. Use these apps to easily have your child create something special. Shh! They’ll be learning about reading and writing in the process too.
A simply designed app, Book Creator can take your ideas and make them into a well designed book. When Book Creator opens, a simple visual tutorial walks you through how to create a simple book. In Book Creator, you can add photos, create drawings, or record your own voice. In addition, adding text is simple. Book Creator offers 3 different book layout options, landscape, square or portrait and includes 50 different fonts. Book Creator is free and is appropriate for children ages 5-8. Ideally this is an app you would use alongside your child to encourage creativity, writing and sharing their work with others. When you are finished you can email the book, print the book, export it as a pdf, or upload it to iBooks. These options are great for sharing with friends and family.
Scribble Press is an app designed to create one page drawings, and books. Like other book creation apps, you can easily add your own photos, your child’s picture, a title and text to create a book. Your child is sure to love the rainbow pen, stamps and stickers included in Scribble Press. The color tools are especially nice in Scribble Press so your child can easily create an artistic picture. If your child needs inspiration there are over fifty story templates. Scribble Press is $3.99, and if you would like to have your child’s book published and mailed to you, there is a fee for that service. Scribble Press is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
My Story is a creative book maker where your child can use stickers, markers, photos and voice recordings to create their own book. This app also allows for the creation of multiple users so more than one child in a household or classroom can have their own 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 part if you are interested in sharing. My Story is $3.99 and appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Multi-Player Educational Apps
App developers are discovering the possibilities of social educational games for kids.There are not a lot of multi-player education apps out there, but there are a few worth noting. Have fun with your children this summer by playing one of these multi-player educational games.
If you don’t have this free app for your kids, you must download it and play MatchBlitz with them this summer! I was instantly drawn to the easy interface and competition that this app offers. The object of the game is to tap the object that appears in all of the sectioned areas of the game board. For example, in 2-player mode, tap the object that appears on each half of the screen. Be the first to tap the object and earn points. Be careful because an incorrectly tapped object will cause you to loose points. There are options for 3 and 4 players as well within the app. This app develops visual perception, memory and concentration skills in children as well as social skills while playing with others. MatchBlitz offers a practice area where children can get a feel for how the game works. MatchBlitz was created by the developer, Shiny Things, and incorporates the characters and objects from their other apps into MatchBlitz. Even though this app is free, it does not include any ads, a win win for parents and children. This app is appropriate for kids ages 4-8, and lots of fun for adults too!
Futaba – Classroom Games for Kids
Futaba Classroom Games for Kids allows up to 4 kids to sit around the iPad answering questions to win points. This app is useful for reviewing vocabulary and facts already in the app with settings to create and add your own content. There is even a single player mode perfect for independent play or homework time. With the amount of customization options in this app it is really an exciting app for teachers and parents. This app would be great for your child to review content already learned this school year over the summer. The app is $6.99 and offers content in multiple subject areas. There is a free version you can try called Word Games for Kids, but know there are ads in the app. This app is appropriate for children ages 5-8.
Operation Math Code Squad
Operation Math Code Squad gets up to 4 kids together to take math operation challenges. Playing off the same theme as the well-loved “Operation Math” app from Spinlight Studios, the team of kids playing are challenged to answer math problems in order to complete missions. The app does rank players, but is thoughtfully designed to get kids supporting each other instead of pinning them against each other. If you want to keep playing, all players need to answer questions correctly. Game play includes all operations and is easy to customize for the unique level of multiple players. The app is easy to use and fun for group play. One struggle we had was figuring out the numbers 9 and 6 which you often have to read upside down and were hard to distinguish quickly because they were spinning in the middle of the screen. This would be a great multi-player app to use to practice math facts over the summer and is $2.99 and available for iPad.
FarFaria – Digital Library for the iPad
Last week I attended the Digital Kids conference in San Francisco. I had the pleasure of meeting developers of apps I have adored for a long time, and met new developers who are creating the apps of tomorrow. I love making these connections and getting a glimpse of the future of kids apps.
Here is an app I can’t stop thinking about, and one I instantly downloaded, FarFaria. I have my Master’s degree in Reading, so I get excited about books for the iPad. This digital library is one of the best I have seen. It’s creatively crafted and offers something for every interest and age level. When the app launches an enchanting map of different islands appears which correlate with the different types of digital books offered in the app. For example: Adventure Island, Classics Grove, or Animal Kingdom. Choose a location and a selection of books appear. Please note that the books are especially created for FarFaria or are recreations of well-known classics.
Here are some of FarFaria’s great features:
-5 new stories each week
-offline access to your favorite books
-highlights the words read to your child
-option to read myself, autoplay or read to me
-$3.99 a month or $39.99 a year
I know I am keeping this handy for use with my kids this summer. It would be great for travel and could be used for your bedtime or nap time routine if you are away or on the go. I always lug a few favorite books when we go away, but I’d love to replace it with FarFaria. I especially love “Sing Along City.” These are books that correlate to your child’s favorite songs. My daughter loves the Wheels on the Bus, so that was her first choice. Explore all the different locations to find out which is your child’s favorite.
FarFaria, Thank you for creating the perfect enchanting world of digital books for the iPad!
KinderTown Loves Tiggly Shapes!
Shapes are one of the core learning concepts for early childhood development. Using the iPad to learn about shapes provides another avenue for exploration and learning.
Tiggly combines the digital world with physical manipulatives that are so important for young children. I value hands on learning, and when I saw the Tiggly Shapes I was instantly in love! Tiggly Shapes are hands on 3-D learning shapes (square, circle, star and triangle) that interact with the free Tiggly Shapes apps on the iPad. They are rubbery, durable and easy to grip for little hands. I think this concept is right on target for early learners and I could not wait to try them with children. As I suspected our kid-testers loved them too!
Most recently, Tiggly added a bilingual feature allowing you to choose two languages to engage with while playing with the Tiggly apps. Let me overview three of the free apps that go with the Tiggly Shapes. Also, if you aren’t up for purchasing the Tiggly Shapes you can use a lite version of the apps for free. Tiggly Shapes and their apps are appropriate for children ages 18 months to 4 years old. KinderTown rarely recommends apps for children this young, but we feel strongly that the hands on component of these shapes is appropriate for children as young as 18 months when used alongside an adult. Parents, please note that you must match the shapes to the screen when the app launches to allow the Tiggly shapes to sense the screen. Also, check out the parent section in each app for additional information. Tiggly apps are only made for the iPad.
Tiggly Safari invites children to match the correct shape to the outline of the shape shown on the screen. After matching the shape, the app shows the shape, and the coordinating word. Then the shape is made into a safari animal, all while hearing the animal sound in the background. In multi-language mode the name of the shape is said in both languages that are selected. Also, the word is shown in both languages. As the app progresses, multiple shapes are combined to make animals and different orientations of each shape are shown. Tiggly Safari is the app I would recommend using first with your Tiggly Shapes.
Tiggly Draw allows your child to create characters from the Tiggly Shapes. Add a funny face, a mustache or silly feet, and then save the creation to your camera roll. The shape characters come alive with animation and sounds after they are created. Choose from 10 different backgrounds, and the character combinations are endless. Parents, have fun sharing your child’s work with friends and family. In addition to learning about shapes, your child is developing vocabulary associated with character parts as well as giggling over their silly animations.
Tiggly Stamp is an open-ended creative play scene to use with the Tiggly Shapes. Each time a shape is “stamped” on the screen it becomes an object to play with in the scene. Your child may create an animal, decoration or flower. Many of the scenes presented have a theme often based on the time or year. My favorite feature of Tiggly Stamp is the recorder. This is especially great for developing oral language and interacting with your child. Tell a story about the scene with your child and the voice recorder will record all your interactions. Play your story back or delete it and create another one. This will surely be something you will want to treasure as a parent. I love listening to my child tell the story and I like knowing that I have preserved the sound of her young voice. A great keepsake for any parent or loved one!
Tags: early childhood development, ipad, KinderTown, learning, Shapes, Tiggly Shapes, Tiggly Stamp
3 Creative and Educational Apps for Kids
“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” — Ken Robinson
Wreck this App
Wreck this App as the name implies, invites children to make a mess with the pages in this virtual journal. Each page gives the user a prompt in order to think as an artist or start into an artistic direction with their own thoughts and ideas. Wreck This App is based on the book Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith. The app is intentionally created in black and white and has a simple interface that children ages 4 and up can easily use. The journal does not read the prompts to you, but younger children are able to navigate the tools once the prompts are read aloud to them. This would be an engaging app to take on a trip, to use while waiting in an airport, or on a rainy or snowy day inside. Some examples of the prompts included on the pages are: Add a photo of dirt, garbage or stains, trace your toes, or document a boring event in detail. This app makes your child think in many different directions and they can use words, photos, or drawing tools to express their answers. If your child doesn’t like the creation they’ve made, they can erase it and create another one. The app does have options for easily sharing to social media so parents will want to monitor their children when using the app or disable these features on your iPad. Wreck this App is available for $4.99 for iphone and iPad and uses creative prompts and ideas to make a digital journal your child can enjoy coming back to again and again.
PlayArt makes you feel like you’ve stepped into an interactive Art Museum. Add a background of Monet’s and add artistic elements of Van Gogh and empower your child to take on the feeling of famous painters to create their own pieces. The app has an area where kids can save their masterpieces in the My Museum section. Within the app, children can decide which painter’s elements are their favorite’s and save them to their own personal pallet. Children can also add their own paint to the background of notorious painters or start with an empty canvas. The app includes 160 elements and 48 canvases from 8 famous painters. The app is completely kid safe and does have options for sharing to social media but they are locked. We wish that the app contained more information about the well-known artists themselves, so parents may have to supply the information once children are exposed to the painters. This app is sure to pique their interest in prominent painters work and enjoy the process of creating their own unique paintings.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App
The app is based on the famous book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” By Mo Williams. The app is cleverly titled “Don’t let the Pigeon Run this App.” 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 Williams, 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 own 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. To find out more about, Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App, download the free KinderTown App, the Educational App Store for engaged parents.
Super Spelling Apps
Rocket Speller Plus
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. From an educational perspective, Rocket Speller combines naturally occurring letter sounds together such as ck, ee, ea, and or. Rocket Speller offers some nice options for parents. There are several different categories of words to choose from or mix them all together. Parents can choose to have the narrator say the letter name or sound. KinderTown recommends choosing the “sound” option when working on spelling words. 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 provide options for visual hints, audible hints and smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty and provide assistance called Adaptive Assistance. Rocket Speller is $2.99 and available for iPhone and iPad. Rocket Speller would be appropriate for children ages 4-8.
The Vocabulary/Spelling City app coordinates with the website www.spellingcity.com. The app draws on all the lists created in Spelling City and has seven free games that your child can play within the app. Student favorites are HangMouse, Unscramble and Missing Letter. In addition, parents can set up a free account with Spelling City and create their own list of spelling or vocabulary words for your child to practice. Once you have created your own account with Spelling City and created your own lists, you can login on the app and they will appear for your child to practice. This app would be appropriate for students ages 5-12 and is available for iPhone and iPad for free.
Word Wagon by Duck Duck Moose
Word Wagon is an app that progresses from learning letter sounds to the beginning stages of spelling. Word Wagon includes 103 words, and children will learn how to spell many common 4-6 letter words. As the wagon moves along, common objects fall into the scene and children can tap on them to practice spelling the word. Word Wagon includes stickers and free play activities that break up the spelling and letter practice. Students earn a sticker for each correctly spelled word and a game for every three words spelled correctly. For students ages 4-7, the stickers and game play help to keep them interested and motivated to return to this spelling app. As with other Duck Duck Moose apps, Word Wagon has appealing music and delightful characters. Word Wagon is available for iPad, and iPhone and is $1.99. Parents can change the four levels of play easily and have the option for upper or lowercase letters. It is really important to use the lowercase letters for words most commonly seen in lowercase print. This will make the transfer to reading, writing and spelling easier for children. If you have a beginning speller, this app is a perfect fit!