How KinderTown Reviews Apps: The Review Matrix

Reviewing at KinderTown is not a simple task. After reading reviews, descriptions and screenshots we make the call to put an app through the review matrix.

Reviewing at KinderTown is not a simple task. After reading reviews, descriptions, and screenshots, we independently make the call to put an app through the review matrix. Apps that pass the review matrix by meeting a portion of the criteria described below also may get a second round of evaluating with children, parents and teachers.

 

The KinderTown Review Matrix is built around four sets of criteria. Two sets focus on educational strategies, and two sets focus on user features.

 

Educational Strategies

Set 1: Educational Value

To evaluate educational value we look for explicit, authentic learning paired with effective feedback.

 

Explicit learning means that the objective presented in the app is easily identifiable. Before we even look at game play or the activity, we want to see a clear learning objective or educational experience.

 

Authentic is often thrown around lightly to describe educational activities. When we use authentic to describe learning we take it very seriously. For an app to use authentic learning it should simulate real experiences and be relevant to a child’s world. This is especially important for our 3-6 age range.

 

Authentic environments support children who are not developmentally ready to be making sophisticated, abstract connections make sense of difficult concepts. Play is the best example of authentic learning because with play, children actively explore, role play and discover to engage in the world around them.

 

The beautiful thing about app technology is that children can interact in authentic environments that are difficult to recreate at home or in the classroom. Speaking from my own experience designing lessons for the classroom, consistently creating authentic learning environments can be difficult to achieve. Apps that are not clearly authentic but use best practices from lesson design are always considered at KinderTown.

 

Feedback is a critical element that has long-lasting effects on children. Anyone working with children questions what is the best way to be constructive with praise. Research points to praising children for their effort instead of the product produced. We look for apps that model feedback on rewarding and praising children for the attempts they make or for reaching a goal instead of giving feedback only for answers right or wrong.

 

Set 2: Engagement

To evaluate engagement we look for meaningful, fun activities that use scaffolding to keep children motivated and create a long shelf life for the app.

 

Meaningful and fun can vary greatly from child to child. We evaluate these areas based on if the content would be relevant to different learning styles and if the app uses incentive strategies to keep children engaged. We believe the most powerful incentive is effective feedback as it develops intrinsic motivation. Strategies such as earning collections, sensory breaks, and social engagement also add to length of engagement.

 

Scaffolding is vital to educational app design and is directly related to engagement. Scaffolding is the way concepts and skills are thoughtfully layered on previous learning. Scaffolding lessens frustration by making every task slightly more challenging but not to the point where the child feels they can not accomplish the task. Often apps provide multiple levels or build in analytics that modifies the difficulty based on how the user interacts in the app.

 

User Features

Set 1: Ease of Use

Apps for children age 3-6 need to take into account a large span of developmental growth. A 3 year old is going to engage with a device in a much different way than a 6-year-old.

 

We look for apps that pair developmental appropriate content with suitable design. If the app is teaching number identification geared towards 3 and 4 year-olds but the user is required to drag and drop small items across the screen, or pinch and reverse pinch to get through the game there is a gap between design and educational value.

 

Ease of use also means that the child is safe in the app. Buttons for tweeting, liking, emailing, getting more apps, or upgrading the content are not necessary for children to engage in independently. We understand that these buttons are excellent tools for parents but we prefer they be locked or hidden from the child.

 

Set 2: Design Features

This last set is where we look for how apps integrate extra features that add to the whole experience.

 

We especially like to see apps that add parent features: Apps that use speech, which is critical for independent use and vocabulary development; Apps that allow multiple children to use the app, save their work, and personalize their experience. Finally, we appreciate apps that have a recording or reporting feature for parents.

 

Summary

Let me remind you what kinds of apps get approved by KinderTown:

 

We believe just about any app (even the oft-cited Angry Birds!) can be amazing in the hands of a parent or teacher who knows how to tie it to meaningful knowledge and activities. Since children are often using apps independently and don’t always have a parent or teacher to make the content meaningful, KinderTown looks for stand-alone apps that children can enjoy and learn from without the assistance of an adult.

 

Our objective is to do the time consuming job of discovery for parents. We aim to approve apps that meet the needs of the majority of children. We look for apps that possess quality design and demonstrate a knowledge of how young children learn. We approve a limited amount of apps so that parents can find what they need without having to spend a lot of time searching.

 

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Crayons and Communication: Tapping into the Minds of Children

This kindergarten classroom practiced communication through stories, drew solutions to math problems, and more.

In my kindergarten classroom children drew with pencils, crayons and markers on a daily basis. They practiced communication through stories, drew solutions to math problems, illustrated their observations of the world, shared their happiness and sadness, all on paper. What amazed me was that these same children, in front of the computer or with the tools of the SmartBoard, would go from “drawing-communicators” to what I can best describe as “color explorers”.

 

My students loved using a computer program called Kid Pix. They would add lots of colors, stickers, patterns, even type. Then they would blow up all their work with one of many “eraser bombs”. They just loved clicking away, filling up the screen with colors, pictures, letters and numbers. They would spend easily an hour on Kid Pix if time allowed. What could be more fun?

 

Were They Communicating Anything?

It wasn’t clear how they were applying what they were learning. My job was to provide a place where children could learn and grow. I needed to provide both the fun and try to get some learning or a product to emerge naturally.

 

One solution was to switch to using Microsoft Paint. No eraser bombs, no stickers, just colors, lines and a paint bucket. Was it fun? Not really, but I was able to get pictures that communicated what my students were learning. The problem was my students stopped asking to use the computer for drawing. They would groan when we were going to computer lab and beg to use Kid Pix.

 

What I began to understand was that although the exploration is fantastic, a great space for children to learn and grow, needed to figure out what I could do with the technology to keep the exploration and add the communication. After seeing children engage with a few well designed drawing apps I finally got my answer. There is something that technology can add to what children do with paper and pencil alone that does not sacrifice the depth of learning and communication.

 

A Transformed Drawing Experience

 

One of these fantastic apps is called Doodlecast, which is an app for children to create their own stories. The app contains blank screens and a variety of story starters. Choose from nine colors and use your finger to draw on the screen. Simple, right?

 

What Doodlecast does to transform the general drawing experience is that it adds a non-obtrusive recording feature. Children are still able to freely draw with their finger, but the unique playback feature lets adults tap into what is going on in the mind of the child. Also, I found that a 5 year old watching themselves draw and talk gets just as excited as when they get to launch a bomb to erase their work as in the computer programs I have used.

 

Drawing has the power to stimulate young children, give a them a way to communicate and allow us to understand how well they understand complex and abstract ideas. Why not use a tool that for $2.99 provides children an interactive, fun way to encourage creative drawing and communication? I believe fully in the power of paper, crayons and markers, but I am glad that we now have options like Doodlecast!

 

Happy Drawing!

 

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Reading Raven | App Review & Activities

Reading Raven is a self-paced, phonics-based reading app for emergent readers.

Reading Raven

Reading Raven is a self-paced, phonics-based reading app for emergent readers. Young children need to spend time in front of letters and words. Noticing the letters and words around their world and most importantly, in books (both paper and eBooks). All this exposure to letters and words will help children when they start to blend the sounds together to read on their own.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Reading Raven.

Reading Raven has one of the strongest educational and design foundations we have seen. 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 when they are just discovering what a letter is 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.

 

Activity 1: Read – Read – Read

We can not encourage parents often enough to spend time reading to and with your child everyday. It does not have to be in a formal setting. Just grab a book and plop down somewhere and read.

 

Spend a lot of time in the car? Download eBooks and share your device with your child or just keep a backpack with books in the backseat. See activity #2 for more ways to use books on the road.

 

Don’t have a set routine? Set up a chart with your child to read one book a day together before bed. Set a goal that is good for the whole family. There is nothing wrong with showing your child how adults need to be held accountable too.

 

Your child is already a reader? Here are some ideas to keep reading fun:

 

• Read to the family pet.
• Set up an author chair and stuffed animal audience.
• Include Grandma and Grandpa.
• Visit the local library.
• Read  on a Saturday morning with a mug of hot cocoa.

 

Activity 2: Favorite Stories Read by You<

 

What You’ll Need:

 

• Your child’s favorite books.
Read to Kids app (or any other recording app/device)
• Some quiet time.

 

Children love hearing repeated stories. Often there is just not enough time in the day to read stories as many times as our little ones would like. If you can get some quiet space, take the time to record yourself reading your children’s favorite stories.

 

We like the Read to Kids app because it allows you to create the page turn sounds. The app also has a built in timer that shows how long to wait for the page turn. Let your children use the app to record themselves reading a favorite book or just telling their own stories.

 

Happy Reading!

 

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ABC Music | App Review & Activities

ABC Music guides learning through research and discovery.

ABC Music

ABC Music guides learning through research and discovery. Traditional encyclopedia-style presentation combined with real instrument sounds, videos, interaction and quality images makes all the ABC apps from Peapod Labs truly special. This is an absolute MUST HAVE on your iPhone or iPad.

 

Read KinderTown's review of ABC Music.

What makes this app unique is how the free-flowing design helps children to learn in multiple ways. Instead of guiding children through a series of activities, Peapod Labs created an environment where children get to choose what is interesting and important to them. The interface models how adults search for information, moving between websites and relevant texts to gather knowledge. What an amazing early learning experience to give your child.

 

Activity 1: Create Your Own Music Dictionary

What You’ll Need:

 

• Paper.
• Scissors.
• Stapler.
• Pencils, crayons markers.
• The ABC Music app.

 

Start by creating a simple flip book for your child. Go ahead and teach your older child how to make their own flip book. A simple flip book is made by folding a piece of paper into 4 equal parts. Cut along the folds, compile the pieces. You might want to wait to staple the edges until your child has finished writing and illustrating the pages. Find more fun flip books at Vicki Blackwell’s website.

 

Open up the ABC Music app. As your child learns about each instrument help them or have them write the name of the instrument and draw a quick picture. This is a great way for your child to keep track of their favorite instruments or instruments they want to learn how to play. You might need to plan a trip to your music store to see, touch and explore real instruments.

 

This activity is a great way to start talking about alphabetical order. Help your child (or challenge your child who knows the whole alphabet) to lay out all their pictures and order them from A to Z. You might want to write out the alphabet on a strip of paper for help. When the pages are ready, staple your book and add it to your child’s library!

 

Activity 2: Make Your Own Xylophone

Make a xylophone with this exploratory and entertaining at-home activity.

 

What You’ll Need:

 

• Tin cans.
• Rubber bands or duct tape.
• Pencils, sticks, or anything you can use to bang on the cans.
• Earplugs?

 

Go through the recycling bin looking for tin cans of a variety of sizes. Coffee cans are fantastic for a nice deep sound. Try to find between 5-8 cans. After collecting and washing out the cans, strike each one to hear the different sounds they make.

 

Choose two cans to start and rubber band them together. If you don’t have a lot of rubber bands make sure to tape the cans together so they don’t move or fly around while playing. Add more cans creating a circle. Rubber band or tape together each can as you add it.

 

It is quite challenging to get the cans in straight line and have them stay put. By making a group of cans in a tight circle your child will be able to use their xylophone in many places around your home. Including their bedroom after the music making starts to wear on your nerves.

 

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Responsible Reviewing: How KinderTown Reviews Apps

At KinderTown, we believe mobile devices can be tremendous teaching tools in the hands of knowledgeable parents.

At KinderTown, we believe mobile devices can be tremendous teaching tools in the hands of knowledgeable parents. We sort through thousands of apps and “KinderTown Approve” the ones that stand up to our educational expectations. Each approved app is categorized by learning objectives and receives a brief, personalized review so parents can make better decisions about which apps fit their child’s individual needs. That’s what we do. Here’s what’s unique about how we do it:

 

We Buy Apps

We search for apps, get suggestions from parents, and talk to developers about what they are publishing. If we think an app appears worth reviewing, then we purchase the app and evaluate it using our review matrix which integrates both the latest in education research and what we know as educators and parents. We do this not only to ensure our reviews are as objective as possible, but because we want to financially support the developer community. We’re rooting for all of you!

 

“Buy App”? Don’t mind if we do!

 

We Don’t Show You Stars or Rankings

If the app is on KinderTown – we recommend it! We don’t delineate between 4 stars or 5 stars because at that point, it’s up to the parent to decide what’s best for a specific child. Our aim is to give parents the tools and information to make that decision simpler. Simple is what we’re all about, and there’s nothing simpler than saying every KinderTown approved app provides a top-notch educational experience.

 

Look Mom! No stars!

 

Crowd-Ratings Don’t Factor Into Our Reviews

There are many apps on iTunes that have a 5-star rating that we would not use with our own children. There are also apps receiving little recognition which create a wonderful learning experience. We have yet to see a crowd-rating system that we trust. Perhaps that will change, but until it does, it will not affect our opinion of an app.

 

Top Charts? More like “So What” Charts.

 

We Understand How Challenging App Development Is

We know because we’ve done it. We’ve taken an app from concept to launch and encountered every challenge along the way, from balancing fun and learning efficacy, to figuring out how to market in the app store. We never intended to be an app developer, but we wanted to be able to empathize with the hardworking developers we evaluate every day. We also wanted to better understand the technology and what is possible. Understanding the tools is as important as understanding what goes into creating an effective learning environment.

 

It’s not easy being here.

 

What We Look For In an App

Recommending apps for children ages 3 to 6 is not a simple task, but essentially, all of our methods of evaluation are designed to satisfy three objectives:

 

  • To provide apps that are developmentally appropriate. We look for apps that provide quality social, emotional and physical learning experiences.
  • To provide apps with clear learning objectives. We really like apps that are more than an interactive worksheet. Yet, we also look specifically for apps that support children who benefit from repetitive activities or calm, game-free environments.
  • To provide apps that children and adults can use together. Interaction is key for young children; we hunt down apps that increase parent and child connections.

 

Our Work Is Never Finished

We are a business that is built upon providing the best resources. Our mission is to improve early childhood education by empowering parents with the tools to be better teachers. In order to maintain the highest of standards we understand that:

 

  • As each “KinderTown Approved” app continually changes through new versions, we need to go back and remove apps that are no longer meeting our standards.
  • We are lifetime learners. The way we review today will evolve through experience. To be responsible reviewers we will modify our standards as we read new research, work with children, and obtain feedback from parents.

 

Hopefully this helps you better understand what we’re trying to achieve with KinderTown and how we go about providing the resources and information that make a parent’s job of finding the best educational apps for their little ones easier.

 

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Noodle Words HD – Action Set 1 | App Review & Activities

Noodle Words is one of our favorite apps ever! Watching the joy and giggles when new discoveries are made = Priceless!

Noodle Words HD – Action Set 1

Noodle Words is one of our favorite apps ever! Noodle Words is the first in a series of animated Word Toys. We never get tired of testing this app with children. Watching the joy and giggles when new discoveries are made = Priceless!

 

Read KinderTown's review of Noodle Words HD – Action Set 1.

Designed for both readers and non-readers to play with words, Noodle Words supports learning vocabulary and comprehension through motivational wordplay. There are 18 words that the Noodle Bugs illustrate with highly interactive antics. Children literally play with words to make DANCE dance, SPIN spin and JUMP jump as you tap, tilt, turn and blow.

 

Make sure you read through the menu tabs for helpful game tips for parents. Our kids come back to this app often, but with only 18 action words it leaves us wanting more. The time you spend with Noodle Words will be some of the most fun you will have learning vocabulary with your family!

 

Activity 1: Happy Valentine’s Day!

Get ready for Valentine’s Day with these silly wordplay Valentines.

 

Have you picked up your classroom Valentines yet? Are you planning to make your own Valentines this year? The Crafty Crow blog has gathered some funny, “pun”-y Valentines ideas from around the web.

 

Check out all the activities here: The Craft Crow WordPlay Valentine Card Ideas for Kids.

 

How to choose from all the great ideas? Here are my top picks:

 

• For a last minute, quick make: You Color My Heart Valentines!

• For a funny treat: Hog’s and Kisses Valentine

• For a kid favorite: “Doh” you want to be my Valentine?

 

Activity 2: Go Fishing for Verbs

Make a fishing game to practice reading nouns and verbs!

 

What You’ll Need:

 

• Two bowls.
• Index cards.
• Paper clips.
• String.
• A magnet.

 

Start by creating a list of nouns and verbs with your child. Choose about 5 nouns and 5 verbs to start. Write one word on each index card, making sure to keep the piles separate. Add a paperclip to each card and put each set into a bowl.

 

Pull out a magnet fishing pole from an old game or make your own. All you need is to tie string around a magnet. Go ahead and just grab a magnet from the fridge! Get inspired by adding a stick from outside as a pole. Now you are ready to start fishing.

 

Fish for one noun card and one verb card. Put the cards together and read each word. You might have some very silly sentences! Extend the activity by thinking up endings to your sentences or writing out the noun and verb and adding a picture of what the sentence looks like. Your child will never realize they are doing “school work” with this game.

 

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Toca Store | App Review & Activities

Toca Store uses your child's natural exploration and triggers your child's imagination to help them to develop social and mathematical skills.

Toca Store

Toca Store encompasses all the creativity and complexity of play that Toca Boca is becoming known for.

Toca Store triggers your child’s imagination and inspires role-playing. This app takes advantage of your child’s natural exploration of everyday life to help them to develop social and mathematical skills.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Toca Store.

Toca Store provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss money and your family values. Your child’s job is to run a store acting as either the storekeeper or shopper. Your child will learn about making choices, counting and money. The storekeepers job is to stock the shelves, tend the register and set prices. The shopper gets to shop with a bag full of coins.  We recommend using it with two children but it easily engages one child playing both roles. It’s really fun for you to play along or to use when a friend comes over.

 

Several of the children we tested this app with quickly started negotiating and discussing the value of the products while deciding if it was worth paying the storekeepers prices. They were also thinking about how much they really wanted the item. It was interesting and I must tell you I had difficulty keeping a straight face.

 

Activity 1: Mega Game Board

Enlarge your favorite board games with these simple tips! Life-sized fun that the whole family can create and play together.

 

What You’ll Need:

• Small cardboard boxes.
• Construction paper.
• Mural paper.
• Tape.
• Markers.

 

This is not a simple pick up and play project, but one that will create hours of joy! Pull out a favorite board game. Lay out all the pieces and brainstorm how to recreate the game using the objects listed above.

 

Tape the mural paper down on a flat surface to make the perfect game board. Cardboard boxes can be transformed with construction paper to make life-sized dice. Small toys your child has can make fun game pieces.

 

Feeling really creative? Make your own game by creating “chance” cards. Cut out rectangles of construction paper. Write out favorable and negative things that are meaningful to your child with a reward or consequence for each. Ideas: “Helping walk the dog. Move ahead 2 spaces”, “Didn’t do your homework. Go back 2 spaces”.  Add in “tasks” cards for even more fun! Ideas: “Give everyone in the room a hug. Move ahead 1 space for every hug”, “Tell a funny joke. Move ahead 3 spaces”.

 

Activity 2: Build a Fort

I read an article from Scholastic titled: Why All Kids Should Build Forts. As an adult who still loves fort building, it seemed like the perfect article to share.

 

All you need are some blankets and a designated spot in the house for safe building. Chairs, couches, pillows, beds, tables…the fun is endless! When it looks like the fort is almost complete drop off some flashlights, books, toys, or a snack and lots of praise for all the hard work your children just did.

 

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Faces iMake | App Review & Activities

Faces iMake is an extraordinary tool for developing right brain creativity and expanding awareness in a really fun way.

Faces iMake

After reviewing Faces iMake with other educators and playing with children it is clear that this is an extraordinary tool for developing right brain creativity and expanding awareness in a really fun way.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Faces iMake.

Faces iMake is a modern day take on Mr. Potato Head: a past generations’s mainstay toy for creative play. Yet, Faces iMake is much more fun. This app uses images of everyday objects which you manipulate to create colorful and silly pictures. Each picture created can be easily saved and shared.

 

Faces iMake was developed with artist, children’s book author and educator Hanoch Piven. It is based on the highly acclaimed creative workshops he has conducted in schools and kindergartens all around the world. Priven thoughtfully added short and entertaining lessons in the app to help children learn how to use each tool and get lots of ideas.

 

Activity 1: Edible Paint

 

There are lots of ways to make edible paint, here are a few easy recipes to try:

 

• Instant pudding + food coloring
• Light corn syrup + food coloring
• Sweetened condensed milk + food coloring

 
All you need to do is put a small amount of each liquid into a small bowl and mix in as much food coloring as you want. Natural food coloring works well too. Make sure to have lots of paper or a easy to clean surface ready!

 

Finger painting with edible paint is a wonderful sensory experience. Well cleaned paintbrushes or stamps work well too. Be careful with the food coloring as it can stain. Enjoy creating pictures, watching the colors change and the best part – licking your fingers!

 

Check out Play At Home Mom to see some great pictures to inspire you to make and use edible paint. You will also find many more hands-on, sensory activities.

 

Activity 2: Stories iMake

 

Take your creative faces and turn them into starring characters for your child’s stories.

 

What You’ll Need:

 

• Your device
• Printer
• Folder

 

As you complete each face in Faces iMake, save it to photos or email it to yourself. Print out your picture and add it to a “faces binder” or put it in a folder your child can easily access. By creating a collection of faces your child has a set of their work to play with and tell stories about.

 

Use smaller pictures to make magnets for the fridge. Print them out on card stock and add a body outline to create personalized playhouse characters. We love how the work your child does on Faces iMake can be included into free play time at home!

 

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My Word Wall | App Review & Activities

My Word Wall is a first-rate phonics apps that contains four well-designed games with over 75 sight words and 12 word families.

My Word Wall

My Word Wall is a first-rate phonics apps. It contains four well-designed games with over 75 sight words and 12 word families. Your beginning reader will have a great time practicing spelling, phonics and overall wordplay.

 

Read KinderTown's review of My Word Wall.

Your child will work on identifying beginning sounds, word puzzles, word families, matching words to pictures and general vocabulary building. Short, concise directions are given in each game and there are no hints as the games are designed for your child to discover the answers with out “buzzing” every error made. We love how My Word Wall caters to multiple learning styles.

 

Activity 1: Write it – Roll it – Read it

Get ready parents…it’s time to bring out the playdough!

 

What You’ll Need:

 

• Playdough. Try out this recipe for more fun.
• Writing Paper.
• Wax Paper.
• Permanent Marker.

 

Playdough activities are excellent for young children because they create the perfect opportunity for fine-motor development and creativity. Parents all you need to do for this activity is be the writer for your child.

 

Lay out the writing paper and ask your child to think of some words they want to create. Choose words they just finished in My Word Wall or a favorite book to spark some ideas. Write the words out on the paper with dark thick lines.

 

Let your child create a little drawing next to the words to help them remember each word. Lay the wax paper on top of your writing paper. Create each word by rolling out “snakes” of playdough. Sit next to your child and help them think about each sound. Make the sounds for each letter often and encourage them to try too. Don’t forget to save your word sheet so your child can get it out to work on independently.

 

Activity 2: Games for Flashcards

Support your classroom teacher by knowing what letters and word families (or spelling patterns) your child is working on at school. Use these fun games to play and learn more at home.

 

Children are learning new words and making connections about language and reading patterns every day. The more you can do to support vocabulary and language learning at home, the more successful your child will be at transferring these positive experiences to school. Parents are the first and best teachers their children have.

 

What You’ll Need:
• Letter or word family flashcards (and index cards and markers work too).

 

One great way to use the flashcards you have sitting around the house is to take a few with you on a trip to the store or in the car. Pull out the flashcards and instead of just asking your child what is on it, play 20 questions or any other describing game. Get creative, let the game evolve based on the moods, energy or creativity of your family.

 

My favorite game starter questions are:

 

• I am thinking of a word that has the letter/word family ____.
• I have a letter (don’t tell but it’s: G) in my hand that is in the words pig, plug, game…
• Can you guess my letter? no peeking…
• Let’s think of words that are in this word family. (Go around the car and the last one to name a word wins!)
• Jump when you see the letter ____.

 

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My First Tangrams | App Review & Activity

My First Tangrams is proof that you CAN have fun while learning geometry.

My First Tangrams

We have selected My First Tangrams to show how families can have fun while learning geometry. Your entire family will delight in using this ancient Chinese logic game on a 21st century device.

 

Read KinderTown's review of My First Tangrams.

What is a tangram? A Tangram begins with a square which is then cut into seven standard pieces. Each is called a tan. In creating a picture, all seven tans must touch but not overlap.

 

The first reference to tangrams are from ancient China when tangrams were used in storytelling. The storyteller placed the tans in the shape of the characters. As the story unfolded and new characters or story elements were introduced, the puzzle pieces were rearranged.

 

This app is an adaptation. Rules have been simplified to allow every child to solve all 36 increasingly challenging Tangrams. Each picture comes to life as the shapes are placed on top, similar to a puzzle.

 

In the first game you drag and place colored shapes from the bottom of the screen to identical non-colored shapes to make a complete picture. The next challenge is to create the picture without the shape hints. Looking at a small completed Tangram, build the picture by dragging and placing each colored shape onto a blank space.

 

Enjoy the “creation mode” where children have fun creating and sharing their own pictures. Tangrams are a great way for young children to learn about shapes, colors and build spatial reasoning skills.

 

Activity: Make Your Own Tangram Story

 

Make a set of your own tangrams and start storytelling. A great activity for cold winter days when you can’t be outside building snow castles.

 

What You’ll Need:

 

• Three copies of this home set of tangrams
• Scissors, crayons or markers
• Lots of imagination!

 

After playing with My first Tangrams, encourage the storyteller in your family to create their own picture and story. Have the tangram pattern printed and ready for cutting and coloring. Cut out each shape and let your child start coloring. Try to use a new color for each of the seven tans. Spread out all seven tans and start storytelling.

 

Young children might start by creating pictures to retell familiar stories. They need much more support streaming a story together but do enjoy playfully creating silly pictures with their family. Have them build a tangram, glue it onto paper and write out their story with the help from the whole family.

 

Older children will be much more independent in their storytelling. New story ideas can be inspired by other tangram stories found in books.

 

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