Magnificent Musical Apps
Monster Music has developed an app in which the youngest child can compose a song using movable monsters. Each monster represents a sound in a song and is placed in a “composition” area of the screen where it can be moved around to create a song with other monsters. The app is simple enough for a 3-year-old to compose their own song. The playback shows the bar sliding across the screen and the monsters making their corresponding music as the song plays. Experimentation is at the heart of this app, and the app provides a place to save all the musical creations. Monster Music Pro is $2.99 , available for iPhone and iPad, and is appropriate for children ages 3-8.
Jelly Band is the rock band stage for kids. Jelly Band uses monsters who appear in color and a black and white stage as the musical playground for kids. There are 2 different stage areas in which kids can create their own rock band. The monsters play a wide variety of instruments from drums to electric guitar to flute. The main focus of the app is experimentation and creation of different combinations of sounds into a song. Songs can be replayed or mashed together to create a longer piece of music. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children ages 4-8.
This app focuses on teaching children about the orchestra. After a short introduction, a picture of a full orchestra is shown with several touch spots for children to select which area they would like to learn more about. After choosing an area or instrument, a diagram, picture, musical examples, connecting composers and a short paragraph that can be read aloud are all integrated into the interactive learning page. There are 40 different pieces of music integrated into the app. The app is $4.99 and available for iPad only. My First Orchestra is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Tags: App, App Store, apps, bubbamonkey studios, Children, creative, Education, Educational, game, games, infinite dreams, ios, jelly band, kids, KinderTown, Lanette Walters, monster music, music, musical, my first orchestra, naxos digital services, Parent, parenting, parents, review
New iPad? Get Started With Free Apps!
If you are new to the iPad world, starting with a few free apps is a good way to get your feet wet. By downloading free apps, you can take a look at the landscape of apps and features without spending a lot of money. Don’t be afraid to delete the free apps that are not a good match for your child. Check out these high-quality free apps. Finding free educational apps can be challenging. Check out these free apps and download the free KinderTown App to search for free apps to find even more recommendations!
Many museums and educational organizations create apps to accompany their exhibits and collections. It’s a great way to take a virtual field trip to the Museum of Modern Art. MOMA Art Lab features 9 different activities that explore the use of shapes and lines in unique ways. For example, create a virtual mobile and watch it move, or create a collage and shake your iPad to reconstruct the collage. MOMA matches an artist’s work with the activity to educate children about modern art while creating their own masterpieces. KinderTown really likes how the activity directions can all be read aloud to children making the app accessible to children as young as four. In addition, there is a light-bulb icon which provides ideas for creating your own artwork. The app allows children to save their work within the app. MOMA Art Lab is free, and appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Scribble My Story encourages children to develop their writing skills. Open-ended templates of mini-books are provided for your child, and they can fill in the missing parts of the story. The “All About Me” template is especially popular with children. Children can illustrate their story and save it within the app. Fun stickers, different markers and stamps can also be used. The app is great for beginning writers, and offers additional motivation over pencil and paper. This app is great for children who are learning to compose stories, typically Preschoolers, Kindergartners and First Graders. The app reinforces the connection between reading and writing by creating mini-books that can be reread. Children can also create their own stories by using a blank mini-book. The app does have in-app purchases, so be sure to be aware of how your child is using the app. The app is free, and appropriate for children ages 4-7.
This completely free app made by Scholastic is a fantastic example of how apps can transform somewhat boring academic tasks, like memorizing facts, into learning activities. In Sushi Monster, the monster in the middle of the screen displays a number. Outside of the monster are two rings. Your child must move numbers from the outer ring to the inner ring to “make” the number. For example, Sushi monster might display the number 14, and the plates on the outer ring display 11, 1, 7, and 7. Your child must choose which plates to “feed” to the Sushi Monster in order to make the number 14. The app progresses through 7 addition levels and 5 multiplication levels. There is a wonderful amount of content for free! Kids love to see the Sushi Monster gobble up the numbers and along the way they are developing important number concepts. The app is free, and appropriate for students learning their addition and multiplication math facts, typically ages 5-8.
WWF Together is beautifully created with stunning pictures of endangered animals. This app is one that would be valuable to sit with your child and discuss “endangered species” through pictures. Each endangered animal is displayed through origami and includes information on creating your own origami creatures.The app also provides a few interactive activities that coordinate with some of the animals featured in the app. The app includes facts about the animals, but these are not read aloud. There is a 3-D interactive globe which pinpoints exactly where endangered species exist, and children can calculate their distance from the species. Our child testers loved discovering the videos embedded within the app of endangered animals. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-8 and is a wonderful learning experience for the whole family.
Tags: App, App Store, apps, art, Children, creative, Education, Educational, fingerprint, free, game, games, ios, kids, KinderTown, Lanette Walters, math, mom art lab, museum, nature, Parent, parenting, parents, review, scholastic, scribble my story, sushi monster, world wildlife fund, writing, wwf together
KinderTown’s Top 14 of 2014
KinderTown transforms mobile devices into powerful teaching tools by finding and organizing the best educational apps for kids ages 3-8 years old. Our mission is to improve early childhood education by empowering parents with the tools to be better teachers. We work hard to find the best educational apps for children. Each app we select for KinderTown has been tested and reviewed by educators, parents, and most importantly, children. Not all (or even most) of the apps meet our high standards. We take many factors into account including educational value, ease of use, engagement value, design features, artwork, cost, and shelf life. It’s through this process that we believe we can help parents use their iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches to teach their children anything.
Learn with Homer is an full “Learn to Read” series of lessons for kids. The app features letter sound instruction, sight word introduction, read aloud stories, and a mixed review of concepts presented. The app does a nice job of mixing reading instruction, a review of previously taught concepts and the reading aloud of real books which are all key components to learning to read. The developers of Learn with Homer conducted research using their app on children who were beginning to read and showed that the use of the app 15 minutes a day lead to an increase in their beginning reading skills. Learn with Homer is free to download but does include in-app purchases to buy additional lesson content.
Marble Math Junior is an excellent example of how to merge quality game design with significant educational value. This app moves kids through the sequence of understanding the question, tapping into knowledge to form an answer and creating a strategy for navigating the gameplay maze. Getting answers wrong is not an issue here, where it’s highly motivating to learn through trial and error, too. Take time to read the information pages to learn about all the features and customize the problems and levels. One of the most engaging, educational math apps we have played to date.
Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. To reinforce vocabulary development, each word is presented with a picture. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints) so students are reconstructing the word in order to continually practice spelling it, building 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. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual hints and audible hints, as well as smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty in order to provide what is called Adaptive Assistance.
Barefoot World Atlas will completely mesmerize all members of your family. Open to a globe dotted with images that just beg to be tapped. Read and listen to fun facts by touching the images on the screen. Looking for more depth? Search by country and region to learn facts that give you a look into the lives of people and places around the world. This app is completely worth the price of $4.99 and will be appreciated by both the adults and children ages 4-8. Find a time to sit with your child and enjoy Barefoot World Atlas together.
The Human Body is an app made for exploring and asking questions. There is animation to accompany the six different body systems. Encourage and answer your child’s questions while exploring, and they will direct their own learning. Tap different parts of the brain, and an animation pops up depicting what that area of the brain controls. The app is not narrated, so parents need to provide the support for learning. In addition, the app offers a parent section and an option to set up multiple profiles for different children. Children can record questions while using the app, and parents can respond to them. Tinybop has even made a helpful parent guide to accompany the app. We highly recommend downloading it and using it with your child. It’s perfect for answering the tough questions your child may ask about their body. This app is brilliantly designed for scientific discovery.
In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. There are two levels of game play, easy and hard. Easy is recommended for children 3-5, and hard for children ages 5-8. KinderTown recommends that all children begin at the easy level to understand the goals of the puzzles. Your child does not have to spend a long time at this level to be ready to move to the harder levels, but this will set them up for success. A blinking “redo” symbol flashes in the corner to assist your child when they are stuck and unable to complete the challenge. The challenge is then reset with the maze. The challenges in the mazes come in the form of obstacles. Some unique obstacles include fire blocks, ice blocks, balloons, and KinderTown’s favorite, the jelly block. The jelly block allows your character to jump up from one area to another. Another child tester favorite was the fire block. Watch out! If your character rolls into the fire block, it will turn black and burnt, which our child testers loved! However, the goal is to not become burnt. Children eventually solved the puzzles after experiencing the burnt characters. As the levels progress, children have to use visualization skills to predict the cause and effect of several “moves” in the puzzle. Concepts about physics and chemistry are sprinkled along the way when children must make decisions about the moving gear box, figure out how to make the balloon pop and move the ice to quench the fire. The app offers an amazing amount of content in the 90 levels of easy game play and 90 levels of hard game play. Be sure to read the Chapter descriptions in the settings section for parents in order to have a complete understanding of all the challenges presented in each level or chapter. Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7
Draw and Tell brings the best features of drawing apps into one fabulous art experience. Choose from a blank page, your photos, or one of the app’s backgrounds, and start creating. Tools like crayons, stickers, paint and erasers are used while this app records your child singing, talking, and moving stickers all over the screen. Not feeling up to creating your own picture? Try out the variety of coloring pages where you get to drop paint into the lines to create a vibrant scene. The real gem is the final product where your child’s voice and artistic creation are made into a personal movie.
Kodable is an introduction to coding for young children. 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 to earn color changes for the puff ball by successfully completing puzzles. Kodable is for kids ages 5-8 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 in 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.
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 sized dots within the app. While playing with the dots, children are learning math concepts such as comparing numbers, counting, adding and subtracting. 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.
Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings provides an app 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, 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.
Endless Alphabet is a super silly, wacky, hilarious vocabulary learning app for kids. Scroll through words inside a friendly blue monster’s mouth. Tap on one that looks especially interesting, and learn what the word means. Kids need to build the word, letter by letter first, then watch, listen and learn about the meaning of each word. Wacky, weird letters and colorful, interesting (non-scary) monster characters play the starring role in the app. You won’t find any high scores or multiple levels in Endless Alphabet. This app is just about learning new words in a playful, discovery-focused way.
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. 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! Parents, be sure to check out the settings area where you can decide which skills your child is practicing. Check out the fun facts section for tidbits about food, nutrition and cooking. The app is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-7.
Kids Discover is a jam-packed, non-fiction learning experience for kids. Kids Discover has a variety of topics that they offer in magazine/book-styled apps. Each topic contains pages with information and interactive elements. The app does contain a large amount of text, which is not read aloud. Parents read aloud the text to your child, or help define the topic-specific vocabulary words your child may not be able to read themselves. The apps contain great real pictures, drawings, diagrams, and areas to learn more. At the end of each app there are activities that relate to the topic of the magazine, and multiple choice quizzes with an answer key. Check out their website for excellent parent guides. They also have a teacher area with free lesson plans to accompany each of the apps. Visit their webpage to see all of the app magazine topics like electricity, the Incas, geology, the Civil War, galaxies and much more. Each one is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 6-8.
ABC PocketPhonics brings three important language skills together into one app. In abc PocketPhonics, children learn to recognize letters, hear letter sounds, form letters by tracing, and use the letter sounds to build words. Parents are able to create multiple users, have control over the font and letter types, what letters their child can work on, and how flawless the writing needs to be. ABC PocketPhonics tracks each user’s answer and will not advance a user unless they first demonstrate mastery of the basics. The app is $6.99 and is appropriate for children who are learning their letters and their sounds ages 4-6. Try the Lite version first to see if it is a good match for your child.
Tags: abc pocketphonics, App, App Store, apps, apps in my pocket, artgig apps, avokiddo, barefoot world atlas, binarylabs, Children, coding, daniel tiger grr-ific feelings, dexteria dots, draw and tell, duck duck moose, Education, Educational, endless alphabet, fairlady media, favorite, free, game, games, grandma's kitchen, handwriting, human body, ios, ipad, IPhone, iPod Touch, kids, kids discover, kids discover apps, KinderTown, kodable, Lanette Walters, learn with homer, letter sounds, little big thinkers, logic, math, math marble, multiple skills, originator, Parent, parenting, parents, pbs kids, Reading, review, rocket speller, science, social, spelling, story creation, thinkrolls, Tinybop, top, visual memory
Winning Word Apps
Playing with words is an excellent way to develop vocabulary, develop spelling skills and learn new words along the way. Check out these winning word apps!
Curious Words is an exploratory app that inspires children to make connections between words and their personal surroundings. My children love to create videos on their iPad. This app works to direct a child’s learning while making videos. The app prompts children with words, and then they are to take a picture that coordinates with the word. Children can swipe to the left or the right to choose new words. The app then combines the words and pictures into a unique video for the child. If the child does not like the video they can easily deleted the video and rerecord. For young readers, the words are read aloud, so the focus of the app is word associations not learning to read the words and developing creativity and curiosity. Curious Words is $1.49 at the time of this review and is appropriate for children ages 4-7.
Word Sundae is a smart spelling game for kids and their parents or peers. Word Sundae can be played in different ways, but always involves 2 players. Play against the computer, a parent, a friend or sibling. Children are presented with Scrabble-like tiles that they must combine to make a word in their sundae bowl. KinderTown likes how scoring is different for kids and parents to level the playing field for friendly competition. A child friendly dictionary is automated within the app, so children must submit real words not nonsense words. Children earn rewards along the way such as extra turns, bonus tiles and extra points. Word Sundae is .99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8.
The lovable monsters are back! This time with a focus on reading rhyming words. The monsters travel around a map with stops along the way. Once the monster stops his mouth opens with a rhyming word. The word is sneezed out and the letters are scattered. Your child must reconstruct the word. The letter sounds are made when the letters are touched and the word is read once the word is reconstructed. The app does require the child to reconstruct the word in letter order. The words continue to be presented and all relate to a rhyming family; ran, can, pan, tan. Once a series is complete a sentence is presented with the rhyming words in context and the monsters act it out. The app is free and does have in-app purchases ($4.99) to buy more rhyming families once you complete the 3 free rhyme families. A great app for the beginning reader in your family.
Buy This, Not That: Coding Apps
This week is Computer Science Education week, and to celebrate, everyone is invited to the Hour of Code. Everyone, ages 4 to 99, are encouraged to spend an hour learning how to code. It is the basis for our heavily digital environment. There are coding exercises for preschoolers through adults. Spending an hour together as a family, learning to code, would make a great family activity. There are many coding apps out there, but I wanted to tell you about one I liked and one I wouldn’t purchase in Buy This, Not That: Coding Apps.
The Foos is a programming game geared toward the youngest coders. Right away, it was easy to tell how to proceed. Tap the play button, then choose the first level. This app is ideal for children who do not have any coding or programming experience. The app prompts you to slide the block into place to make the character walk forward in a bright and cheery town. Instantly, the character walks through the star and the child ‘wins.” The levels progress very easily and slowly in order to set up a basic understanding of programming. There are 8 different levels with each of the 3 main characters to complete. At the end, your child can earn a certificate for completing the Hour of Code. The app is free and does not include any in-app purchases. Th Foos is appropriate for children ages 3-8.
When first opened, Cato’s Hike looks old and outdated. After choosing your character, a boy or girl, a tutorial walks your child through how to start. Even after reading the short tutorial, I was unsure of exactly how to proceed. In order to help my child, I began randomly selecting button to see if I could program the character. After figuring this part out by trial and error, the app does work to move your child from easy programming to more complex skills. After choosing a level, I wanted to exit the level because it appeared too difficult. I found myself searching for a “home” button. It did appear at the top, after I tapped around the screen but I was frustrated that it just didn’t appear all the time. In addition, I found the music to be distracting, but the settings area does allow you to turn it off. The app includes a nice manual, but it is 20 pages long! This might be suitable for a teacher in a classroom with multiple days set aside for programming, but for the average parent, the guide is overwhelming. Cato’s Hike is $4.99 and does not give coding an easy start, nor a welcoming, fun feel. Choose The Foos if you are looking for that, for free, instead.
Top 2 iPad Cases for Kids
Recently, KinderTown received an email asking about the best cases for kids. I have a 3 year-old and 7 year-old that use my iPad pretty hard, and it has dropped on my tiled kitchen floor many times, so I understand the need for a sturdy case. Here are my two recommendations; these are the only cases I have bought, and they worked so well I didn’t need to try any others!
I would avoid flip-type covers, such as the standard cases designed by Apple. Flipping the cover doesn’t seem to work well for children, or it gets caught on things and aids in dropping the iPad rather than working to protect it. Try these instead:
My #1 favorite is:
M-Edge - I have used this case from the very beginning of my iPad ownership, and it has been worth every penny. It has lasted five years now, and has bounced off the tile floor, been dropped on the sidewalk, thrown on the ground, and probably a handful of other typical kid behaviors, without any damage to my iPad. The reason I love it so much is that it does not have a plastic cover on the screen, so I can see graphics perfectly, and there isn’t any hindrance to the touch screen. It also wipes off really nicely with a mild soap and cloth. Mine is blue and I’m known for carrying it everywhere and even had a student affectionately draw a picture of me with the big blue case around the outside of my iPad. If you wanted a stand to work with this case, you could purchase it separately. Or, a school shortcut is to use a library book display stand, they work perfectly for iPad stands as well.
My #2 choice:
GumDrop Cases - I used these cases extensively with a school, and we really liked them. They do have a plastic cover to protect the screen, and they have styles with a stand. The outside is a rubbery consistency that is very similar to the M-Edge and is easy for little hands to grip. They come in a ton of sizes and colors, so there are lots of options with their cases. These also clean up really well with a mild cleaner if you remove it from the iPad. You will want to clean your iPad really well before putting the case on the iPad, because it really secures the iPad tightly. Removing the case is tough, so be sure you won’t be removing it from the case often.
Do you have a case you love? Leave a comment and tell KinderTown about it.
I’m excited to share Tiggly Christmas with our fans. KinderTown loved Tiggly Shapes this year, and the Tiggly Christmas app is equally exciting. Thanks Tiggly! In order to use Tiggly Christmas, KinderTown recommends that you purchase the Tiggly Shapes. They are rubbery 3-D shapes that interact with the iPad, perfect for toddlers. Tiggly Shapes are appropriate for children ages 2-4. They make a unique gift for the techy toddler. The shapes are made to interact with iPad and the iPad mini. Tiggly Shapes also work with the free apps, Tiggly Safari, Tiggly Draw, and Tiggly Stamp.
Decorate your very own tree using the Tiggly Shapes. The app prompts your child to match the Tiggly Shape with the outline on the screen. Once the correct shape is placed on the outline, the app says the name of the shape and shows the word as well. Voilà! It becomes an ornament on your tree. Next, presents are shown and children must match their handheld shapes to those of the presents. Many of the shapes combine to make a toy that children can play with in the Christmas scene. Children can send their creations to friends with the assistance of an adult. Children are developing their spatial understanding using circles, squares, triangles, and stars as they play. Tiggly Christmas is $1.99 and available for iPhone and iPad. The app can be played without the Tiggly shapes, as in the iPhone version, but KinderTown recommends the use of the manipulatives to maximize your child’s learning experience. KinderTown also really enjoys the Tiggly blog. The blog includes educational math activities to complete with your child offline.
Educational Apps for the Holidays
12 Days of Christmas is a delightful holiday app that gives kids an opportunity to experience the traditional song, and also creates a custom video of themselves singing. You have two options for game play: sing-along or play-along. In play-along, your job is to follow along with the song and tap the number that goes along with the song patterns. In sing-along, your child records him- or herself, both video and audio, singing along. Create your own family’s 12 Days of Christmas. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-6.
First Words Christmas will support your beginning reader in building winter holiday words, sound by sound. For children already blending sounds, First Words becomes an app for practicing spelling. Parents can set up the appropriate environment for their child by adjusting the variety of settings. Thematic words paired with colorful pictures for young children, and options for parent customization, are what make this app a success. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-6.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas! brings the classic holiday story to your device. The original story, text and illustrations, are easy for your children to listen to or begin to read themselves. The interactivity in this text is timed to not disrupt or distract from the story. The best part is that you don’t have to read the story aloud day after day if you use the “read to me” feature. We enjoy the apps for the family to listen and share together in the car or as a bedtime routine. The app is $4.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-8.
KidsMag takes the traditional children’s magazine and makes it come alive with thematic interactive games, teaching moments, art and music. For the holiday season, KidsMag has released a special Christmas issue that has your child dressing up Santa and a Christmas tree, spelling Christmas words and playing with shadows. KidsMag integrates vocabulary lessons with meaningful Math, Science and Language activities, created in a learning environment where kids thrive. Kids Mag Christmas Edition is $1.99 and appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas takes your child through the beloved Christmas poem with a few new twists and turns. Features include options to use the app as a book with no hotspots, or with full interactivity while the story is read aloud or with just word support. In the app you’ll find flying sled games, coloring pages, and a few other surprises. At the end, parents are supported with questions for talking and thinking about the story. Overall, Wubbzy’s The Night Before Christmas is a fun, colorful story that kids love to listen to. The app is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-7.
Thinking About Purchasing an iPad?
Thinking of purchasing an iPad for Christmas? iPads are becoming increasingly popular with children and parents. What does the iPad have to offer children ages 3-8?
Many say that the iPad has the best collection of apps to offer, and here at KinderTown we agree. Want to develop creativity? Work on Math facts? Gain assistance with reading? Learn the letter sounds? The iPad has a vast selection of educational apps available. Download KinderTown onto your device so you’ll always have a handy guide sorted by age group, device, and subject area.
The iPad allows creativity to the youngest learners. Apps that include pictures, drawing, creating stories and movie making are available for students as young as 3. Check out Draw and Tell for the youngest iPad user, and Toontastic for older children. Have your child create their own book with easy to use apps. You will be amazed at what they will create. Many iPad apps encourage exploration such as Bobo Explores Light and Monster Physics, which explores the use of gears and pulleys.
The iPad offers a great portable tool for kids. As our lives become increasingly mobile, so are our kids’ lives. In my house, we use the iPad everywhere. Try a great recipe in the kitchen, take pictures or your favorite toys and family members in the living room, and curl up with a digital book before bed. Time yourself in the bathroom while you brush your teeth. Take pictures of the changing leaves outside. The possibilities are endless. And, of course, take it along in the minivan while you wait to pick a sibling up from soccer practice, or turn any waiting room into a classroom.
Access to wi-fi seems to be everywhere now, potentially putting the world at your child’s fingertips. With the iPad, children can reach across cultures and discover new types of people and places without ever leaving their house. Our lives are all now global in nature with most jobs and work opportunities expecting people to work with people all over the world. Read about a few global apps that your child may enjoy.
Easy to Use
Most appealing to many parents is that the iPad is easy to use. Guidance and troubleshooting are rarely necessary. Most 3 year-olds can pick up the iPad and are ready to use apps designed for their age level. They may even discover how to use the apps more quickly than adults.
While KinderTown recommends children use iPads as a learning device, it is a wise move to have a dinner time conversation about the use of the iPad, the responsibility associated with it, and your personal family values related to media. This is time well spent and may decrease conflict over the use of the device in the future. Ask questions like these: Who does the iPad belong to? Is it a family iPad? When and Where can children use the ipad? What do we do if a pop-up box appears? Where is the iPad stored? How long can kids use the iPad?
Share your experience with us. Does your child want an iPad for Christmas?
Image by Brad Flickinger, via Flickr. (CC By 2.0)
Top Global Apps for Kids
One of the greatest advantages of having an iPad for your child is the ability to reach around the globe and access different cultures. Check out these top apps to learn about other cultures.
Homes is the newest app from Tinybop, a developer focused on play and the natural curiosity of children. In this app, they have developed interactive homes across the world for kids to play in and discover new facts about other cultures. There are four different homes across the globe represented at the time of this review: United States, Guatemala, Yemen, and Mongolia. Once a location is chosen, a child can begin to explore the house. A sliding window bar allows you to peer inside the home. Tap on areas of the home to zoom in on the room. Once inside the individual rooms, children can play with the objects. For example, a room in a house in Yemen has a musical instrument to play with, tea cups and a pitcher to serve tea, and pillows on the floor to rearrange. The app begs kids to ask questions like “How do others live?” “What makes up a home?” The app can easily be changed to several different languages, encouraging children to listen to other languages and learn new words. KinderTown would like to see more information attached to some of the objects to further educate children (and parents). For example, a wash basin in Guatemala is used to wash clothing and prepare food. When talking with the creators, KinderTown learned about the extensive research that went into creating authenticity in the app. In addition, check out the Homes Handbook, which provides lots of facts and questions to ask your kids. The app is based on free exploration, so children can explore at their own pace and follow their interests as well. This app is a great way to learn about other cultures through the home environment which is familiar for young kids. The app is $3.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-8.
News-O-Matic is a news magazine for kids. This magazine contained within an app includes interactive activities and videos. News-O-Matic features 5 daily stories covering the United States and International news, sports, arts, science and more. The articles are written by their staff of journalists, including educational experts, and reviewed by psychologists to ensure age-appropriate content. The content of the articles is designed for young readers to understand. The app is also ad-free so the distractions are limited. News-O-Matic also features complete playback of the articles via a Read-to-Me function, making the information accessible to younger students and struggling readers. Definitions and pronunciations are provided for difficult words within articles. A few games are featured as they relate to the news of the day. The app also offers a Spanish translation. A special school edition exists for classroom settings or homeschool environments. KinderTown’s favorite feature that is only included in the school edition is the ability to change reading levels within the app from a 1st grade reading level up to a sixth grade reading level. In addition, the school version includes assessment questions for students. News-O-Matic is a very complete educational news magazine for kids and lots of features for educators and parents. News-O-Matic is appropriate for children ages 5-8.
Barefoot World Atlas will completely mesmerize all members of your family. Open to a globe dotted with images that just beg to be tapped. Read and listen to fun facts by touching the images on the screen. Looking for more depth? Search by country and region to learn facts that give you a look into the lives of people and places around the world. It is completely worth the price and will be appreciated by both the adults and kids. We see this app becoming one that the family sits on the couch and uses together. The app is $4.99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8. A KinderTown personal favorite!