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 Shapes


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

Screenshot 2014-06-05 17.36.21Tiggly 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

Screenshot 2014-06-05 17.37.05Tiggly 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

Screenshot 2014-06-05 17.36.49Tiggly 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!



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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


Screenshot 2014-05-12 21.53.36Wreck 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.


Screenshot 2014-05-12 21.54.14PlayArt 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

Screenshot 2014-05-12 21.57.24The 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.


Vocabulary/Spelling City


The Vocabulary/Spelling City app coordinates with the website  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!



4 Superb Science Apps for Kids

Science topics are great to explore with young children because they are naturally curious and inquisitive. Delight in sharing these apps with your child! Be sure to include lots of natural dialog and answer and encourage their questions. They’ll be learning so much in the process. For more KinderTown approved science apps, download the free KinderTown app, the educational app store for parents, and check out the science category.

The Human Body by Tinybop

Screenshot 2014-05-02 10.03.17The Human Body is an app made for exploring and asking questions.  There is animation to accompany the 6 different body systems.  Encourage and answer your child’s questions while exploring, and they will direct the learning that occurs. Tap different parts of the brain and an animation occurs depicting what that area of the brain controls.  Also note that the app does perform functions of the body that may make some children say “yuck,” such as burping and throwing up.  The app is not narrated, so parents need to provide the support for the 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. In the parent’s section, the urogenital section is available for purchase so you decide when that is right for your child.  This app is brilliantly designed for discovery and appropriate for children ages 6 and up and priced at $2.99 for iphone and iPad.

Happy Little Farmer

Screenshot 2014-05-02 10.04.11Welcome to your own personal fruit and vegetable farm!  This app is adorable and you will fall in love with it!  Kids take on the role of the farmer and complete the tasks associated with growing food.  The background music plays familiar nursery rhyme tunes.  From the menu children choose the garden, tractor or monster area to play.  Children are engaged in play but certainly learning about how food grows in a very age appropriate way.  They can dig the holes for the seeds, plant the seeds, water the plants, and harvest the vegetables and even chase the unwanted bugs away.  The app does not contain narration, so parents, talk to your children about what is happening as they complete all the interactive areas. Children earn stickers along the way for extra motivation and are able to navigate the app independently.  This app is appropriate for young explorers ages 3-5 and is priced at $2.99 for iPhone and iPad.

Toca Lab

Screenshot 2014-05-02 10.04.36Toca Lab is the chemistry lab for young kids! The perfect place for exploring how different materials interact.  The app is geniously designed around the world of a science lab.  The incredible part is that children do not have to be able to read or understand all there is to know about chemistry to engage in tinkering in the lab.  As children tinker with the “elements” they create new “elements” for their own periodic table.  Please note that the “elements” and periodic table are not based on the actual scientific reactions occurring, but rather give children the understanding that when elements are placed under certain conditions a new element can be created.  Be sure to provide lots of vocabulary and ask your child lots of questions while using the app.  For example:  What do you think is happening?  Encourage them to ask questions too.  This app will make your child feel like they have all the tools of a mad scientist! The app is available for $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8 and designed for the iPhone and iPad.

Kid Weather

Screenshot 2014-05-02 10.03.38Do I have to wear a coat today?  Will it rain? Can I wear shorts?   Let your child check the weather and answer these questions with the app, Kid Weather.  Created by meteorologist, Justin Berk and his son, the app makes weather interesting for young kids to explore.  Like other weather apps, you can add your specific locations so try adding  your hometown and other locations that are familiar to your child.  In addition to showing the temperature and a child dressed appropriately for the current weather, the app includes a trivia and a graphing section. Use these sections with your child to support their understanding of weather terminology and trends over time.  The app is available for $1.99 for iPhone and iPad and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.


Show What You Know: Track the Weather


The weather is something real and tangible that children can relate to which makes it a great early learning science topic.  Begin to record the weather daily using a weather chart. Create your own chart to hang in your home. You could choose different areas to examine each day according to child’s interests and science learning level.  In addition, choose a common household item to represent different types of weather, for example a cotton ball for a cloud, a blue circle sticker for rain, and a round noodle for a sun.  Each day examine the weather and choose an object to glue on the chart.  For older students, you could track more complicated topics like the temperature, humidity or percent chance of precipitation.  No matter which level you choose, after a period of time discuss trends, patterns and compare different categories.  Which type of weather did we have most often?  Which category had the least?  What trends can you conclude from the data? You are now analyzing data with your child, a valuable science skill.




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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.


-scraps of paper or full sized pieces of paper


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


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

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.


Rocket Speller Screenshot 2014-03-18 10.40.41.png


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.




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.



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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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