Jungle Fractions | App Review & Activities

Jungle Fractions is an outstanding app that makes learning about fractions so much fun!

Jungle Fractions

Jungle Fractions is an outstanding app that makes learning about fractions so much fun! Learning about fractions is often frustrating for young children. It is a tough concept with a lot of new vocabulary for kids to tackle at a young age. Thankfully, developer Andrew Short created this app.

 

Read KinderTown's review of Jungle Fractions.

We recommend this app for 5 and 6 year olds, however children up through fifth grade can use it. The latest release added multiplication of fractions which extends the life of this app in your home. The only issue may be older children thinking the cartoon jungle animals and their sounds a bit childish.

 

The activities in the app address key areas of understanding and manipulation of fractions. There are five sections (name, compare, convert, add, and multiply) and five levels. The parent learning page is helpful for parents who have forgotten their elementary school lessons. This parent section helps adults and children make sense of the vocabulary and strategies for working with fractions.

 

In the setting section you can keep track of your child’s progress. You can also turn on and off the animals sounds and the background sounds. This may not sound like a big deal but believe me you WILL love this feature. The testers enjoyed spiking the volume. Earplugs will work, whether you wear them or your child does.

 

There are so many opportunities every day to prepare your child for the difficult concept of fractions. Remember that every time you break a cookie in half and share it you are modeling fractions.

 

Activity 1: A Look at Fractions For 1st Graders

 

By the end of first grade your child should:

 

• Be comfortable dividing circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares.

 

• Describe the shares using the appropriate terms – halves, fourths, and quarters & “half of…”, “fourth of…”, and “quarter of…”

 

• Understand 2 halves are equal to one whole & 4 fourths (or 4 quarters) are also equal to one whole.

 

• Understand that the greater number of shares you divide a whole by, the smaller each of those shares becomes. In other words, one fourth is smaller than one half when talking about the same whole.

 

Activity 2: Ways to Get Ready to Learn Fractions

 

The big idea around fractions is that you can break apart one whole object into smaller equal parts. Those parts have names and can vary in size and amount. That is a big concept for our little ones. Thankfully there are lots of things parents can do for kids to prepare them for learning about fractions.

 

1. Talk – talk – talk. Vocabulary is half the battle with fractions. Describe things around your world with words like “whole,” “half,” “equal,” and “not equal.” While packing your child’s lunch explain that you are cutting the sandwich in “half.” Have your child give “equal” amounts of crayons when sharing with friends. When your child is ready, introduce the words “divide” and “remainder” – graham crackers work well for modeling these two words.

 

2. Use apps. Fractions are challenging to model with children because we eventually run out of interesting, meaningful things we can cut into parts. From experience – practicing with paper gets boring really fast. Apps like Jungle Fractions are an excellent way for your child to play with fractions in a safe and supportive way. You will be glad to leave the things in your house “whole” too.

 

3. Playing with your food is a great way to learn fractions. Next time you have a dish that can be evenly divided (pizza is great for this), have your student divide it in half, and then into quarters.

 

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Handwriting Apps for Young Writers

Handwriting is quite the loaded topic right now; learn how handwriting apps can help you teach this skill to your child.

Handwriting is quite the loaded topic right now. In the news you read about how schools are focusing less on “composition” and moving towards making sure that children can meet the demands of keyboarding. The discussion right now if focused on cursive handwriting instruction, but with ever increasing academic demands as early as kindergarten, print instruction may also be affected.

 

Parents and teachers express concerns that without direct handwriting instruction children will miss out on learning a necessary skill. No matter where you stand on the subject it sounds like handwriting, especially cursive instruction, could be phased out of many schools – if your school hasn’t done so already.

 

What we do know is that children will be writing in school. It just sounds like whether or not that includes specific handwriting practice is going to be a parents option to do at home.

 

Luckily, parents now have some of the highest quality handwriting resources at their fingertips. Literally – fingertips! I mean the iPhone and iPad. If your school is getting rid of handwriting lessons, you now have the ability to teach your child this skill yourself, with much less complaining, than ever before.

 

iWriteWords

I have seen iWriteWords used at restaurants more than any other! A beautiful and entertaining app that children can use long before they can handle a pencil makes this a great purchase. We love how your child can easily use the playback feature to watch how they made their letters and numbers.

 

Read KinderTown's review of iWriteWords.

 

Write My Name

With Write My Name you start by tracing and writing your name. Move on to working on uppercase and lowercase letters where children hear the letter name and are guided through how to form each letter. Finally practice writing over 100 commonly used words and watch a quick animation that models the words’ meanings. Bonus: Option to create name tags for multiple children!

 

Read KinderTown's review of Write My Name.

 

LetterSchool

LetterSchool has an impressive three levels of interaction supports your child from tracing over a line to forming the letter all on their own. A variety of animations and the positive motivational feedback encourages your child and will keep them wanting to use this app. Check out the lite version to try out some of the content for free.

 

Read KinderTown's review of LetterSchool.

 

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New Apps in KinderTown – 8 Amazing Apps include Awesome Eats, Meet the Orchestra, The Land of Me and more

New apps in KinderTown this week feature sorting fruits and veggies with Awesome Eats, learning about musical instruments with Meet the Orchestra or joining your child in listening to custom stories with The Land of Me.

Felt Board for iPad

Subject: Art, Language

Category: Creativity, Pre-Reading

Concept: Storytelling

Age: 3,4,5,6

Price: 1.99

Device: iPad

Felt Board for iPad uses life-like felt cut-outs to encourage storytelling without all the mess. Drag and drop people, clothing and objects to create a tale of your own. We love the open-ended nature of the app with plenty of backgrounds and pieces to keep your child engaged. An excellent app for sharing stories both in the classroom and at home! We really hope to see an in-app recording feature added so parents and kids can enjoy the stories again and again.

Meet The Orchestra

Subject: Art

Category: Music

Age: 3,4,5,6

Price: 1.99

Device: iPad

Meet The Orchestra is an excellent app for learning to identify the common instruments found in the orchestra. In the learn section you tap to hear and see different instruments. The images and sound quality shine but we wish we had heard more common melodies. The quiz section stands out with 4 different activities. Identify instruments by both appearance or sound and there even is a memory game for the little ones. A stand-out activity is called “define order” where you listen to instruments and identify the order that they were played. We encourage the developer to add video clips of people playing the instruments and how they are used within an orchestra. Use as an informative introductory app before taking your child to the symphony.

LetterSchool

LetterSchool Lite

Subject: Language, Math

Category: Writing, Number Sense

Concept: Letter Writing, Number Writing

Age: 3,4,5

Price: 2.99, Free

Device: Universal

LetterSchool is another best app to add to your child’s collection of letter and number writing experiences. Letter School clearly introduces each letter, sound and numbers 1-9 with an additional 3 levels of interaction that supports your child from tracing over a line to forming the letter all on their own. A variety of animations keep the content fresh. The positive, motivational feedback encourages your child and will keep them wanting to use this app! Check out the lite version to try out some of the content for free.

Bugsy Kindergarten Reading

Subject: Language

Category: Pre-Reading, Reading

Concept: Letter and Sound Recognition, Phonics, Reading, Sight Words

Age: 4,5,6

Price: 2.99

Device: Universal

Bugsy Kindergarten reading is a simple ask and answer app that provides a lot of external motivation for young learners. Children collect stars which build up to earning coins which can be used to buy fun stuff to use in the app. This is a good app for the child who needs extra practice with phonics and will work longer and harder with this kind of app. Peapod Labs does a great job of informing parents of the child’s progress. The in-app tailored learning and tremendous amount of content makes this app well worth the price!

Awesome Eats

Subject: Math

Category: Measurement

Concept: Phonics, Spelling

Age: 3,4,5,6

Price: 2.99

Device: Universal

Awesome Eats brings sorting fruits and vegetables in an interactive, exciting game. Reinforcing healthy eating is a benefit of this app but the sorting experience is really the star here. Slide fruits and veggies to the correct belt to make sure they end up in the correct crate. You will know how well you are doing by watching the faces of the produce. There are plenty of levels and you can keep improving your score in this entertaining sorting app.

Wee Sing & Learn ABC

Subject: Language, Art

Category: Pre-Reading, Music

Concept: Letter and Sound Recognition

Age: 3,4,5,6

Price: 2.99

Device: Universal

Wee Sing & Learn ABC has a tremendous amount of content for the price. Excellent music quality, parent settings, and well paced content are a few of the best features. ABC activities are controlled by your child with read to me and read by myself settings. The auto play feels like a bonus feature for those times when you want less interaction and more calm play. Learn your ABCs, animals and instruments all in this fantastic early learning app!

The Land of Me: Story Time

Subject: Language

Category: Pre-Reading, Comprehension

Concept: Storytelling

Age: 5,6

Price: Free

Device: iPad

The Land of Me is unlike any other story apps we have on KinderTown. This story develops and changes based on the choices you make. The short tales told in rhyme are ideal for your child to learn and retell. Questions are provided in the upper right corner so parents can easily engage with their child. Beware that many of them are taken from the computer version of the book and don’t apply to the iPad version. Go to www.landofme.com to learn more.

ABC MAGIC READING 2 Consonant Blends

Subject: Language

Category: Pre-Reading, Reading

Concept: Letter & Sound Recognition, Phonics, Rading, Spelling

Age: 6

Price: Free

Device: iPad

ABC Magic Reading reinforces the phonics concepts of blending, segmenting and isolated word reading. Parents, take the time to watch the videos that model how each of the three activities are to be used. Each of the activities have a variety of themes and even specify specific phonetic groups. There are no rewards and the child self-corrects in each of the activities. Each activity is streamlined with clear speech, images and no distracting elements. This app closely supports the phonics experiences your child has in the classroom.

 

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7 Tips on How to Write an App Review on iTunes

7 Tips on How to Write an App Review on iTunes

Have you read many iTunes app reviews lately? If you’re like me, you generally skim over the reviews because you’re interested, but don’t feel like they help you make a better choice. It’s no surprise that we don’t have helpful app reviews; how many of you really have the time to write one? Or even know what people want to know in a review?

 

Well, I can share what I want from app reviews. Reviews should help us find out if an app is worth the money. If the app really teaches what it says it is teaching. Reviews, ideally, are short, to the point and most importantly – helpful! So, how can you write a “richer” review?

 

How to Write a Children’s Educational App Review

 

Share the Age of Your Child and What They’re Learning

 

Screenshots don’t give all the details and often the iTunes descriptions do not paint a clear picture. You bought the app and played it. The information you have is really important to help others make good choices about if the app fits their child’s needs.

 

Examples:

 

My 4-year-old learns all about colors while using this flashcard app.
My 3-year-old learns about writing letters while playing games on the app.
This app is fantastic for my 3 and 6-year-old because it has lots of different games that help them be better readers.

 

Share Your Favorite Things About the App

 

Every app does something well. Choose one part you think it really great and share it.

 

Examples:

 

We love that the app lets multiple children log on and save their work.
I think the music and design is amazing.
This app uses really detailed pictures to teach the alphabet.

 

Share What You Wish Was Better in the App

 

We all need feedback to improve. If the app is AMAZING – say that and then give a tip on what you would want to see to make it even better. If it is not amazing then we need to know that too.

 

Examples:

 

I love everything about this app but wish I could lock the links in the app.
This app could be improved by using a clearer voice when asking the questions.
The app is a lot of fun but my child gets lost between the multiple pages and games.

 

Steps to Take When Leaving Negative Feedback

 

Email the Developer First

 

If you email the developer you get A LOT farther than leaving comments in the reviews where they can’t contact you. If you have a serious problem – EMAIL FIRST. Enter a comment later if you don’t hear back or no solution is given.

 

Don’t Make It Personal

 

Developers work long and hard on these apps and appreciate feedback. Using the comments to ask for money back, sharing that the app is “boring” or just complaining does not help the app get better. Share only what you think other parents need to know before buying.

 

Be Specific

 

I want to know if there are not enough activities to justify the price. I want to know if the content is not appropriate for the age of the children it says it is for. I want to know if you have contacted the developer and haven’t heard back after 48 hours. I really want to know if the app says it’s educational and clearly it’s not when you are playing it.

 

Most Importantly – Leave a Review!

 

It helps the developers of these apps know what is loved about their apps and what features you want them to add. It also helps parents make a better choice about the apps they buy for their children.

 

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Musical Me! | App Review & Activities

Musical Me! provides children with great educational value, while also being enjoyable.

Musical Me!

We had different reactions when reviewing Musical Me! The music person on our team was excited to see a children’s app that so thoughtfully included solfege for kids (I told you she was a music person) while those of us with a tin ear were thrilled to be able to master well chosen favorite childhood songs.

 

We ALL saw the educational value for young children. One of our child testers astutely pointed out that it helped him with his memory and concentration (six year old’s can be very reflective). The children enjoyed playing the songs that they knew and really loved to sing along with their parents!

 

Read KinderTown's review of Musical Me!

Five activities work with your child on dance, rhythm, memory, instruments and notes. You will find both free play activities and challenging levels that will test even the parents. Very little direction is needed. A wonderful “learn by discovery” app.

 

Oh my, do kids change quickly in their early years. Here are two examples of ways to weave this app into your child’s playtime.

 

Activity 1: Music With Your 6-Year-Old

Your 6-year-old has changed a lot since age 4. They now enjoy more structured activities. They still might have a strong independent streak but often enjoy working with friends and family on projects. They also have the capacity to learn and repeat specific melody lines as are presented in Musical Me!

 

Many schools with music programs start children on recorders at about 2nd or 3rd grade. Your ears may not enjoy it, but if you haven’t started your child on an instrument yet – the recorder is a great place to start. Now I highly suggest taking a trip to a nearby music store. If you are short on time there is always Amazon where you can get a recorder and instruction book for under $20.

 

Even if you don’t play an instrument, the recorder is easy to learn. Help your child get started and then let them explore different notes and sounds on the instrument. Suggest they try to play along with the songs in Musical Me! and other music apps you have. Often time the first songs in beginner music books are children’s music!

 

Activity 2: Music With Your 4-Year-Old

Generally children around age four are rapidly expanding how they communicate and express themselves, and they really want to try out all kinds of new experiences. Children at this age also start to develop an independent streak – they want less help from others, even when they need it. This is a great age to have your child start exploring with musical instruments and sounds.

 

While playing Musical Me! inspire your child to think about what instruments they can make from stuff around the house. Need inspiration? The app includes a variety of percussion instruments. See if your child has any ideas on how to make their own percussion instruments to use while the app is playing. Let them get creative and problem solve to make their instruments. No going on google to look up specific instructions!

 

Okay I’ll give you some hints: Make sure you have some rice, beans or pasta on hand for the shakers. Also chopsticks, spoons and twigs work for drum sticks. A favorite is to make a home guitar: shoe box & rubber bands!

 

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Making the Invisible – Visible

The hardest lessons to teach young children are the ones they cannot see, touch, or experience in some tactile way. In the classroom, it is the lessons about important historical figures, vocabulary like today – yesterday – tomorrow, or time. In homes, it is often the life lessons like sharing or how words can hurt others.

Parents and teachers have turned to books to help children understand these “invisible” topics. Books take your child to the farm when you live in the middle of a city. Books let you see what life was like in ages past. For our youngest learners, who only see the world through their perspective, a book can help them understand how other people are feeling. One of my favorite teaching resources has always been books because of how they can completely engage your mind.

Just like books spark our imaginations, apps let us play in experiences that have once been “invisible” to us. When reviewing educational apps, I am thrilled when I stumble on an app that understands the power of the technology. Apps can take your child into a different world, an abstract “invisible” space, and shine a light on it.

5 apps that make the invisible – visible

Toca Doctor by Toca Boca

Interact with the human body in a playful, stress-free way. From cleaning off little plaque monsters on a set of teeth to mending broken bones.

ABC Wildlife from PeaPod Labs

Each app introduces you to new words and experiences. When is the last time you saw and heard an aardvark?

A Little Book About Feelings by PicPocket Books

Get an inside look into your feelings. Learn about what they mean, how to express them, and most importantly how to share your feelings with others.

GazziliWords by GazziliWorld

Play and discover new vocabulary through interacting with abstract words like balance, patience and electricity.

Park Math by Duck Duck Moose

Math is full of symbols that are hard for children to make sense of. See what numbers, quantities, more and less, adding and taking away look like while playing in the park.

Carolina Nugent | Education Director | KinderTown

 

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New Apps in KinderTown – Play123, Whose Toes are Those, Kids Crosswords and more

New apps in KinderTown this week feature apps that encourage learning through creativity & free play plus apps to make your classroom teacher’s job a little easier.

Visit the education blog every Tuesday to see the new apps approved by KinderTown!

Every Tuesday we update the KinderTown app with the new apps we have reviewed and KinderTown approved. Go to the KinderTown app to search and find more apps you have not downloaded yet. View the KinderTown blog for a quick look at our featured apps with complete reviews.

Creative & Free Play Apps

Draw and Tell – by Duck Duck Moose (iPhone)

Draw and Tell HD – by Duck Duck Moose (iPad)

Subject: Art, Language

Category: Drawing, Creativity, Pre-Reading

Concept: Storytelling

Age: 3,4,5,6

Price: 1.99

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 apps backgrounds and start creating. Tools like crayons, stickers, paint and erasers are used while this app records your child singing, talking and doodling 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. This is another top-app from Duck Duck Moose.

PLAY123 for iPhone: Fun and interactive learning activities for kids! 

PLAY123: Fun and interactive learning activities for kids! (iPad)

Subject: Math, Art, Science

Category: Number Sense, Geometry, Logic, Colors, Investigation

Concept: Counting, Shapes, Logic Games,

Age: 3,4,5,6

Price: Free

PLAY123 – Add this app to your device TODAY! This free app does an amazing job of encouraging creativity, imagination and exploration while modeling colors, shapes, numbers and even physics for children. The structure of the app is straight-forward with a brief instructional page where your child completes a simple one or two step activity which unlocks a page with endless free-exploration reinforcing the first activity. Family friendly music, bright colors and an endless amount of play perfectly suited for your young child.

Dr. Seuss Band

Subject: Art

Category: Music

Age: 5,6

Price: Free

Device: Universal

Dr. Seuss Band is a highly motivating, learn without even knowing it app for kids. A scale of circles is found at the bottom of the screen which extends to three octaves of notes by a quick tap of well placed arrows. A goofy horn that with a swipe can take on a new look and a new sound fills the top of the screen. Follow the colorful “Guitar Hero” style cues to play along with an seemingly endless amount of “Seussical” melodies with three levels of difficulty. Unlock more songs or instruments parts by reaching set scores or through in-app purchase.

Whose Toes are Those

Subject: Science

Category: Investigation

Age: 3,4,5

Price: 1.99

Device: Universal

Whose Toes are Those is one of the quirkiest apps we have reviewed so far. This simple app keeps children laughing while learning to match toes to the correct animal. There are no distractions in this app – no adds and no links. Just “game-show” style play filled with music, dancing and overall silliness. Add this app to your device to use as rewards, motivation or to give your child a fun mind-break.

Classroom Supportive Apps

Kids Crosswords

Subject: Language

Category: Reading

Concept: Phonics, Spelling

Age: 3,4,5,6

Price: 2.99

Device: Universal

Kids Crosswords is a fun app that will help your child practice spelling simple words and sight words.  10 levels integrate over 100 words and pictures. We love how the app understands that reaching goals motivates kids and shows the complete progression from the easiest to hardest levels. Parents are able see how many puzzles are completed on the main screens simple tracking feature. This supportive app gives good hints, options and just enough challenge in each level. Perfect for the puzzle-loving child.

Everyday Mathematics Monster Squeeze

Subject: Math

Category: Number Sense

Concept: Number Recognition

Age: 4,5,6

Price: 1.99

Device: Universal

Monster Squeeze is a two-player math game that challenges your child to find a secret number while learning about the number line. Start with numbers 0-10 and work all the way up to number 30 with 6 different levels of play. A good app for reinforcing numbers on the number line, taking turns, and basic math vocabulary. We hope that in future upgrades this app uses more variety in the math language instead of just referring to numbers as larger and smaller.

Letter Muncher

Subject: Language

Category: Reading

Concept: Phonics

Age: 4,5,6

Price: 1.99

Device: Universal

Letter Muncher is an app for learning to hear and identify the beginning sounds in words. This simple game has your child identify pictures that start with a given letter and feed them to the number muncher. There are no prizes or built in levels but there are plenty of options for parents. When launching this app you can add multiple children as players and sign up for a report of their progress. Parents are able to customize the settings so their child has the right amount of difficulty. Not a highly motivating app for the child, but a good skills practice tool with excellent parent feedback.

 

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The Giant Turnip | App Review & Activities

The Great Turnip features master storyteller Katrice Horsley telling a story directly to your child - no gimmicks, no sound effects, just the storyteller.

The Great Turnip

 

Day Two Productions has yet another story from around the world. The Great Turnip features master storyteller Katrice Horsley telling a story directly to your child – no gimmicks, no sound effects, just the storyteller enrapturing your child through the expressive use of words, gestures, facial expressions and direct eye contact. It is a tale about a farmer who plants a turnip that grows too large to pick and how the problem is resolved. These types of ‘progressive’ stories increase memory development and good listening skills.

 

Read KinderTown's review of The Giant Turnip.

Each activity for this app was developed by teachers and should match what your child is already familiar with from their classroom. One of our favorite parts is being able to record the story in your own words with support from picture clues. Confidence is built while mimicking and re-telling parts, or for experienced storytellers, all of a story in their own creative way.

 

Successful reading and writing depend on the child being able to speak and listen well first – this app offers the perfect opportunity to practice both!

 

Activity 1: String Together a Tall Tale

 

One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting around the dinner table and listening to my Dad tell us stories about his day. He was a high school math teacher and amazing at keeping us hanging on every word.

 

One day whales would be swimming down the hallway after a leak in the roof flooded the building. Then there was the time when bees where flying around the gym, which he turned into a tale about playing badminton with bumblebees as the birdies. A really long tale emerged when we started questioning him about the day the teachers turned into the knights of the round table. Never a dull moment.

 

Storytelling can be as simple as talking about your day or retelling a favorite book at bedtime. What is important is that your children hear you tell and retell stories. After listening to you they will naturally start to engage in storytelling themselves. Being a good storyteller builds confidence, language, and transfers into strong writing skills.

 

Activity 2: Great Books for Storytelling

 

Start with the classics, the stories you already know by heart. If your parents told them to you then they are excellent for your children to hear too.

 

Some other familiar tales:

 

The Little Red Hen
Cinderella
Where the Wild Things Are

 

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Join our Parent Review Team

Parents and Teachers!

  • Do you have a child between the ages of 3 to 8 at your house?
  • Do you have an iPad or an iPhone?
  • Does your child use educational apps on your iPhone or iPad?

Did you answer “yes” to all three questions?  

Then we hope you will consider joining the KinderTown Parent Review Team

We are searching for parents and teachers of children ages 3-8 who use educational apps on their iPhone and/or iPads. We need parents that have a few hours each week to use and evaluate educational apps with their child. We are looking specifically for parents that are already using educational apps at home with their child.

What is it like being on a review team?

  • You will need to review three apps every two weeks
  • We will give you two apps to review and you get to help us find new educational apps by choosing one app that you think will fit in KinderTown
  • All reviews will be online in a survey form
  • Of course, we buy these apps as compensation for your efforts in evaluating
  • After a two week trial period we will ask for a three month commitment

Our kid testers!

Interested?

So glad you are! We get more interest than space for reviewers so please let us know you are serious by completing a short parent interest form. This form helps us make sure that each reviewer is as committed to high quality educational apps as we are. It also helps us to learn a little bit about you, your children and what apps would best suit your family.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Read our review blogs to learn more about how we review
  • Choose two of your favorite educational apps for your child. Remember we only recommend apps for children under 8.
  • Complete the interest form to tell us about your self, a little bit about your children, and rate your apps using the parent review form.

Click here to complete the Parent Review Team interest form

 

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Kids and iPads: What’s Working

We hand iPads to 4-year-olds and they can navigate between multiple apps and the games within the apps and describe what they're doing. Unbelievable!

We hand the iPad to 4-year-olds and they can navigate between multiple apps and the games within the apps and then proceed to tell us all about what they are doing to “win” the games. Unbelievable! These little people don’t even blow their noses by themselves but can handle the sophistication of our iPads. It is no wonder why the number of children’s apps have grown exponentially over the last few years.

 

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After using over 600 children’s educational apps I want to point out some of the characteristics of apps that really connect with our children.

 

First: Apps are entertaining. Bright colors, cute characters, music, voices in the app that talk to us, cheer us on, tell us to keep trying = entertaining. When I was a kid it was Math Blaster, Reader Rabbit and Oregon Trail. The sophistication has changed but what makes kids return again and again has stayed the same.

 

Second: The apps and devices are intuitive. The apps that are the easiest to use seem to know what our next thought is going to be. They propel us into the activity we want or answer the question we just formed. The great apps know when a task is too long and change it up to do something different.

 

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Third: The apps kids repeatedly choose keeps them thinking and moving along a path that is engaging. The look in kids eyes show that they are completely enthralled in the activity. It’s the same look you get when lost in a good book, a video game, listening to music, watching your favorite sports team or on a long walk. The great apps are designed in a way that creates a world or a path that the child is so completely focused on that all sense of time is lost.

 

Fourth: The apps have unlimited patience. Parents – please do not get mad at me here. I am just admitting the fact that there are times we do not have the time or energy to do one more math problem, practice one more spelling word or explain one more time whatever the child is most interested in. Lucky for us, these apps can! The apps that patiently explain how to sound out “cat” for the 200th time are priceless.

 

The experience children have with apps is not so different than what any fantastic activity or toy provides. What is exciting is that we have app developers who know about how kids learn and are creating media that is showing signs of being as beneficial as Sesame Street has been.

 

Apps are really showing themselves to be a great teaching tool – yet, we all know there is room for improvement and further development. What I want to see next is how parents balance apps with play. I want to see how developers get children to problem solve, think critically and create something new in their apps. I want to see how teachers tie in apps to help children make amazing connections in the classroom.

 

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