Our team of educators and parents spend their days managing devices, apps and kids. They have come across many of their own struggles and often field questions about apps and devices from the greater KinderTown community. This series of blog posts contains their answers to frequently asked questions, plus tips for maximizing time and limiting issues when dealing with apps and devices.
How can I better organize all of my apps? I have a lot and it’s starting to get messy.
How do I prevent my child from making unintended purchases?
How do I turn off or adjust my notification settings?
How do I permanently delete an app?
How can I better organize all of my apps? I have a lot and it’s starting to get messy.
Few people know better how to organize apps than our education experts, Carolina Nugent and Kay Welch. In order to find the 600+ apps in KinderTown, they’ve had to download thousands more (that’s because most apps don’t get approved.)
Here’s what they suggest for making it easy for you and your kids to find the app you’re looking for.
Don’t keep all of your apps on your device – Apple knows what apps you own, even if they’re not on your device. What this means is, you can delete apps you’re not using from your iPad, and download them again if you happen to need it later. To re-download an app, just search for it again in the App Store.
If you just want to browse all of the apps you’ve ever purchased, there’s a way to do that too. Launch the App Store. On the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen you will see “Purchased.” On iPhone or iPod touch, tap “Updates” from the bottom navigation bar, then tap “Purchased.” If you’ve downloaded a lot of apps, it might take awhile for your Purchased apps to load.
Connect to your computer for faster organizing - Connect your device to your computer and launch iTunes. (These directions are for users of iTunes 11, the latest version of iTunes. You can do this on other versions too but the directions might be slightly different). In the upper right-hand corner, just beneath the search bar you will see “iPhone” or “iPad” depending on what device you plugged in. Click this button.
In the next screen, you will see “Apps” across the top. Click on it. In this screen, you should see the different pages on your device and the apps on each page. You can click and drag the apps around to move them. When you’re done, click “Sync” at the bottom and your device will now reflect your new organization.
Create folders and organize apps by subject or category – You create folders by dragging one app on top of another. Folders can hold up to 12 apps. You can name your folders after subjects like “Math” or “Letters.” You might also try unique labels such as “In the Car,” “Quiet Time,” or “Group Play.”
Create a folder for each child - Unless you have multiple children using the same app, you might also organize your folders by child.
Group related apps on the same page – Instead of creating folders, you can also designate a specific page for different categories. Again, maybe page 2 has all your “Language” apps and Page 3 has all your Science apps. Each page holds 16 apps and folders.
Use “Search,”also known as “Spotlight” – The fastest way to find any app that’s not on the first page of your device, is to go to the home screen and swipe from left to right (like you would to go to a page to the left). A search bar will appear. Type in the name of the app you’re looking for and watch it show up.
How do I prevent my child from making unintended purchases?
Apple has become much more thoughtful about giving you the power to prevent unintended purchases (maybe because they were recently sued by a group of parents for accidental purchases made by their children.)
Here are the steps you can take:
Change the time limit for “Require Password” – You can make it so you must enter a password every time an app is downloaded or updated or an in-app purchase is made. Go to Settings > Restrictions. Tap “Enable Restrictions.” Scroll down and tap “Require Password.” Select the option “Immediately.”
Now you just need to keep your password from your child. They seem to be great at watching and memorizing the buttons you tap…
Turn off in-app purchases – Similarly, you can turn off in-app purchases altogether. Again, go to Settings > Restrictions. Tap “Enable Restrictions.” Scroll down to “In-App Purchases” tap the toggle so it switches to “OFF”
Getting a refund – What if your child makes an accidental purchase anyway? Unfortunately, getting a refund is difficult. The iTunes App Store sales policy explicitly prohibits refunds, but sometimes they make an exception. What you need to do is locate your email receipt with the purchase and click the “Report Problem” link. Follow the directions to report the problem of “I inadvertently purchased this application.”
How do I turn off or adjust my notification settings?
Notifications are the messages, sounds, and red circles that appear on your device from time to time. Developers love notifications because they are the best way to send a message to a user. Users love them too when they’re useful; however, they can often be annoying. A developer can’t tell who wants them and who doesn’t, so it’s up to the user to turn notifications off if they don’t want them. Here’s how you can do that:
1. Don’t turn them on in the first place – an app must ask your permission to send you notifications. Usually, you’re asked the first time you open an app. You might want to get in the habit of saying no every time and then turning them on later if you want them.
2. Turn off notifications for each individual app – Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t offer a central “kill switch” for turning off all notifications, but you can turn them off for individual apps. Go to your “Settings” app and then tap “Notifications.” Here, you will see 2 lists of apps broken up by those “In Notification Center” and those “Not In Notification Center.”
When you select an app you’ll be shown a lot of options (again, it’d be nice if it were simpler.) Here’s what those options mean:
Notification Center – The Notification Center is what you see when you pull down the top menu bar on your phone. All notifications are stored here until you read or delete them or until they expire. Do you want to see messages from the selected app here? If not, turn the slide to “Off”
Alert Style – This controls what happens when an app tries to send you a message while you’re using your phone. Selecting “Banners” means they’ll appear at the top of your device. Selecting “Alerts” means they’ll appear as a rectangular box in the middle of your device’s screen. If you don’t want to see anything, select “None.”
Badge App Icon – A Badge App Icon is the red circle with a number that appears on the corner of an app icon. You’re probably accustomed to seeing these on your App Store app when you have updates to download. Turn this to “Off” to hide them.
Sounds – Perhaps you’re okay with the above messages but you don’t want to receive any sounds that may wake you up in the middle of a nap or interrupt a conversation. If that’s true, turn this to “Off.”
View in Lock Screen – Maybe you just don’t want to see the messages in your Lock Screen. That’s the screen you see first when you’re phone is in sleep mode. Again, turn this to “Off” to prevent notifications appearing here.
Turn all of these options to “Off” or “None” to completely turn off notifications for an app. And remember, you must do this for each app to truly turn off notifications altogether.
How do I permanently delete an app?
We get it. You’re one of those people. You just can’t stand the thought of extra clutter in your life. There’s no such thing as “out of sight, out of mind” as far as you’re concerned. In other words, just deleting the app from your device is not enough. You want that app GONE.
(In case you didn’t know – deleting an app from your device doesn’t delete it from your account. That means the app can show up again if you sync your device to iTunes or it can show up on another device.)
Here are the steps:
1. Open iTunes on your desktop. Make sure you’re connected to the internet so that your account is populated with any apps you may have downloaded recently that you may want to remove.
2. (Assuming you’re in iTunes 11) Near the upper left hand corner you will see a small drop down button. Select “Apps”
3. Now you’ll see all of the apps you have downloaded for this iTunes account across all of your devices. Find an app you want to delete and right click on it (hold “control” + click). Select “Delete”
4. When prompted, choose “Move to Trash”
The app is now gone from your account. If the app is on your device, it will automatically be deleted the next time you sync your device to iTunes.
What You Need to Know: A fantastic learning game for the whole family to play together. Your child will need to be a reader to use this app independently, but it is a great one for the family to use together.
What You Need to Know: The story is presented with a simple picture that is not animated but develops as you swipe the screen or penny at the bottom of the page. If your child is not yet a developed reader the app has a speaker icon you tap to have the page read to you.
What You Need to Know: The app looks at the history of how people learned what a president looked like, which is a very approachable topic for kids. The app requires reading, so download for kids who are strong readers, or use the app alongside your child.
What You Need to Know: Holiday Coloring Pages has over 100 free coloring pages sorted into 40 different holiday categories. Know that there is a lot of free content but some pictures are locked and must be purchased with an in-app purchase.
There is tons to explore on kids.gov! A fun way to start talking about presidents is to research where they were born. Gather up a map, some post-its and be ready with some prepared answers. Discover the different places the presidents were born. Point out those places on your map. Attach post-its to the appropriate state on the map. You might be lucky enough to be from a state where are president was born.
We recommend starting the journey of learning about the Presidents with a talk about the jobs that people do and the important things that presidents do in their jobs. Scholastic has an excellent short fact book with pictures for learning about what Presidents do. You can read to your child or have read aloud. It’s called: What Does the President Do?After reading, listening and talking about some of the new words in the short story reinforce that our president’s job is to keep our country safe.
After learning about Abe Lincoln, engage in some free play with the materials of Abe Lincoln’s home: Logs! Gather materials like: Lincoln Logs, sticks or pretzels and build your own log cabin replica. Use the building activity to encourage questions and take time to find the answers together. For example you can discuss about what it would be like to live in a log cabin. Would air get between the logs? Was there plumbing for sinks and toilets? Who would build the log cabins? Follow your child lead! You never know what new learning there may be for you to discover too.
Playing presidential dress-up is a great way for young kids to start identifying with the US founding fathers. Besides making these adorable powdered wigs for your kids, try this “What’s Under the Hat” activity.
Materials Needed: Tall “top” hat (can be found at dollar stores) Have your child find several toys to put in the hat. (crayon, block, marker, etc.). Hide one under the hat when they close their eyes. Then open their eyes and ask them which item is now under the hat? They are able to see the ones left out and must remember which is hidden under the hat.
Get kids thinking about the decisions they would make if they become president by asking, “If you were president for one day, what would you do?” Write, draw and think about all the things that you child would want to make into a law. You’ll end up with some wacky ideas! Take a few moments to think through what would happen if everyone had to follow that law? Would it keep people safe and healthy? Then visit the Scholastic website and encourage kids to think through which advisors they would choose, what areas they would spend the budget and other decisions that presidents make.
Whether your child has never flown or is an experienced world traveler, the 2BME Aviator app offers a plethora of information about aviation and flying.
Kids explore each page by tapping on hotspots that are clearly labeled and listen to a short narrative. No reading is required. There are also interactive activities integrated into the lessons. Kids can test their knowledge at any time, with a multiple choice quiz.
This is a great app for the child who has an intense interest in planes and helicopters or a parent who wants to share a love of aviation with her youngster. Our only note is that there are long load screens when you first start the app. You’ll may need to tell your child that the app is not broken, just launching.
Show What You Know: All About Paper Airplanes!
Build Paper Airplanes: Making paper airplanes doesn’t feel like science. And it’s not quite art. Near as I can figure, launching a regular old piece of paper into the sky so that it soars is pure magic. Put your best paper airplane to the test with the paper plane playoff activity. Most of us love building paper airplanes. Most of us have our own favorite designs. Why not go head-to-head and test it out?
What You’ll Need:
Long play area (park or playground)
How to play the paper plane playoff activity
Step 1: Build your best paper plane.
Step 2: Stand side-to-side with your child. Let the planes FLY!
Step 3: Make the exact same alteration to each plane such as adding a paper clip to the nose of the plane, tear a tiny notch in the tail, or even add a small leaf to each wing.
Step 4: Fly the planes again. Repeat the process until one plane is disabled. The plane that endures the most changes, wins.
More on the web for learning basic paper airplane design:
It has pull-out pages with 30 starfighter designs. There are 5 copies of each authentic design. Your child will end up with a fleet of Y-wings and X-wings. Each one has a few information pages about the specific ship, the pilot and the ship, weapons and defense, and how it does in battle. Then there is a series of pages showing how to create the ship. Recommended for 6+
This is for beginning enthusiasts. The planes are simple with step by step instructions and hints. There 20 sheets of airplane paper and 50 stickers for decoration. If your child is a reader it great for reading comprehension practice.
Award winning educational software startup Les 3 Elles announces the release of Easy Studio – animate with shapes, a wonderfully creative learning app for the iPad that will set children’s imagination free!
Designed by teachers, Easy Studio’s simple interface and step-by-step approach will allow the whole family to understand the magic of animation. The predesigned templates, numerous geometric shapes and colors will spark everyone’s imagination and encourage the development of creativity.
More than just a drawing app, Easy Studio enables children to create and animate their creation, ensuring endless hours of digital expression and entertainment.
An “Easy” mode with a tutorial and pre-defined patterns
An “Expert” mode with more sophisticated options for unlimited design
A library to store, view and edit saved animations
A file format that takes up virtually no memory space
Fun templates for younger users
11 languages on the way: English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Korean (7 available now)
Recommended ages: From 6 to 106
Les 3 Elles has designed and published 4 educational apps, all of which have been featured in both the App and KinderTown AppStores:
Montessori Numberland – Parents’ Choice Gold Award
Montessori Letter Sounds – Parents’ Choice Gold Award
Montessori Letter Sounds learn French
Montessori Geometry (shapes in 2D and 3D)
Available on February 14th on the AppStore @ $3.99.
If you would like more information or if you would like to try Easy Studio, contact us: email@example.com.
This weeks video review showcases the games and parent features in the well-loved SpellingCity app. You’ll find plenty of entertaining spelling practice activities in this free app. Parents and teachers also can purchase a subscription for more games, extra customization and access to the large and active community. Take two minutes to see for yourself.
SpellingCity has created one app for parents and teachers to access spelling practice activities for multiple kids in grade K through 12. 7 spelling activities support kids learning new words, in playfully practicing spelling lists and working through spelling tests all right in the app. SpellingCity app connects to the popular spellingcity.com website. Adults can log in, create accounts for individual kids, make custom spelling lists and keep track of the progress their children are making in learning their spelling words from the website. For young children parents need to play alongside, as much of the text is not read aloud. Ideal for kids on the path to reading, and are actively working on spelling lists in school. There are variety of options with the SpellingCity app and website which is why we recommend you check it out today.
Oh No Fractions! doesn’t have kids running in terror when you ask them to work on fractions. Simply compare two given fractions to solve for greater and less than. The app shares if you are “correct” or “wrong” and provides a tool to “prove” the answer. The prove it tool is excellent for giving kids visual support in comparing two fractions. The only settings you need to control is setting the max denominator from 2 to 99. An excellent app for kids to think through fractions.
Fizzy’s Lunch Lab Fresh Pick engages kids to be problem solvers and math thinkers while completing 8 games. Games focus on mapping skills, money, positional words and basic logic. Amusing videos move the storyline along. You can skip the videos and tutorials, but because they always show up the flow of the app can get a little slow. We love the content PBS covers in the app as we don’t see these kinds of games very often in the app store.
Hugless Douglas just needs a hug. Join him on a journey to find the best hug that only a special loved one can give. The app provides a “read to me” video storytelling or you can read it yourself with light interactivity and vocabulary words highlighted on each page. We really love the extras in the app. Join in a game of tic-tac-toe or peruse the “hug gallery” and email a loved one a special hug.
Faces iMake ABC is a delightful ABC and puzzle app for young children. Kids choose a letter and see a creative “Faces iMake – style” illustration (pictures made up of random objects you can find around the house) that starts with that letter. This illustration then falls apart and your child needs to put it back together. Many of the puzzles are challenging but we appreciate the creative use of materials in each one. The narration in the app is quite funny and you’ll find your child giggling along. The narrator doesn’t have a traditional US English accent, but it doesn’t take away from the language learning.
First Words Valentine has 8 free words for your beginning reader to build sound by sound. Parents can set up the appropriate environment for their child by adjusting the variety of settings. Thematic words paired with colorful pictures for young children and options for parent customization are what make this app perfect for Valentine’s Day.
The KinderTown review team of early childhood education experts, parents, and kids spent the last month reviewing their favorite educational apps for everyone in the family. They’ve narrowed it down to their favorite seven apps. The full list is below.
Math should be fun and playing Marble Math is. Problems are shared with kids. Solutions can be found on the on-screen maze. Roll your marble over the correct answers while avoiding obstacles. Math practice kids actually beg to do!
Make your own puzzles and try to solve them in three moves. Your pictures are added to the app to create custom puzzles. The picture is not broken up into traditional puzzle pieces but cut into a variety of squares. These squares need to be turned back into place to solve the puzzle.
The ABC Apps let your kids search in a variety of ways to learn about interesting topics like: animals, home, play or movement. Videos, interactive swipe to reveal, striking pictures and fact pages are what keep kids swiping, searching and learning.
BrainPop has long been a favorite for use in the classroom and home. With the BrainPop app and subscription kids have a complete digital video library to work through an endless amount of knowledge, quizzes and fact pages that engage kids.
Make stories, cartoons and direct your own scenes with Toontastic. Use any of the variety of characters and settings from the app or create your own. A completely open-ended and educative app for kids.
Get making. Kids (and adults) create accounts, get inspiration, record and share all the inventions they are making. A little bit like Pinterest for kids and an online photo journal, DIY.org is free and something you should check out today.
Draw while recording. Simple design lends itself to so many possibilities. Hear kids’ thoughts and stories that they share while drawing. Encourage your child to share their thinking while solving a math or language problem. It’s amazing how powerful a recording tool that captures voice while kids are drawing can be.
Are you geared up and ready? I’ll bet your child is! People all over the world profess their love on Valentines Day, however customs vary slightly. Our family has a tradition of making chocolates together.
Valentines Day Thematic Activities
Activity 1: Valentine Sayings
What you will need: Heart shaped Valentine Day candies with words on them
When sitting quietly with your child each choose (eyes closed) 3 candies to start. Using the ones you have chosen make up a short story. You go first modeling the procedure. The older the child, the more candies to tie together into a storyline.
Think what a great story she can make with:
Activity 2: Graphing Activity
CEOs use them. City planners rely on them. And entire board room walls are devoted to their presence. And no, we aren’t talking about Candy Hearts! Let’s get our kids graphing early and often. Here is an activity to help your child get a leg up and dive into the sophisticated world of graphs.
What you will need:
1” graph paper works well
Randomly take a handful of candies and sort using graphing paper. Sort by: color, broken or unbroken, how many letters on the printed word.
Questions you might ask: Why do you think there are more of those? Which has the least? If you do this activity again, will the results be the same?
Activity 3: Fact Games
We have put together 12 interesting facts to share that will make you look like the smartest parent EVER! Play a game? Perhaps make it into a family Jeopardy challenge or design your own family game.
In Japan and Korea they observe on February 14 but ends on March 14 known as “White Day”. On the first day women present chocolate or gifts to the man to express feelings. In Korea however, they also have set aside “Black Day” for those young people who have no particular romantic partners.
In Denmark white flowers called snowdrops are sent to friends.
The earliest written valentine was 1415 years ago. Have the older child
figure out how many years ago?
Many believe the ‘X’ symbol became synonymous with the kiss in medieval times. People who couldn’t write their names signed in front of a witness with an ‘X.’ The ‘X’ was then kissed to show their sincerity.
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would wear this name pinned onto their sleeves for one week for everyone to see. This was the origin of the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve.”
Physicians of the 1800′s commonly advised their patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining for lost love.
Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day in the late 1800′s.
Red roses are considered the flower of love because the color red stands for strong romantic feelings.
Teachers will receive the most Valentine’s Day cards, followed by children, mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets.
The most fantastic gift of love is the Taj Mahal in India. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a memorial to his wife. Find it on the map and find pictures.
Every Valentine’s Day, the Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet.
Cornelia Augusta couldn’t believe her eyes as this unusual downpour began. Each heart was special and she knew just what she wanted to do with each and every one of them. The simple and gentle text is kept to a minimum.
We’ve spent the last few weeks raving about this new app. Not only are we excited, but our large parent community is all a buzz about iTrace. They are noticing gains in their child’s ability to form letters on and off the app.
Today we are providing a video review for iTrace so you can see first hand how the app works. If you want to read our complete review, you can find it here.
Show What You Know
Just as infants and toddlers moved through many large motor developmental milestones. A similar progression occurs for fine motor development. Right through to the finest movements in the hand.
All too often, the fine motor skills get less attention due to the rush to tackle more “seemingly” academic skills. For my kids, there are attention was on running around, much to my distress. We eventually got to mastering the scissors (including the necessary concentration and perseverance that goes along with learning to cut). It just took some activities that were interesting and fun for my pack of boys.
Here are two of my favorites:
Activity 1: Sewing
Wire cookie cooling rack
Assorted colors of yarn, string, or ribbon
Lay out the wire racks and a variety of yarn, string and ribbon. Share that they can do anything they want with the materials. Work alongside them weaving through the racks. When they are interested, show the kids how to go over and above the racks to make interesting patterns and designs.
Activity 2: Tweezer Play
Small assorted items around the house to pick up (pom poms, cotton balls, pasta, paper clips)
Cup or Jar
Fold the straw in half and attach tape around the folded section to make a set of child-safe tweezers. You can also find plastic tweezers at the craft stores. Many children are able to safely use adult tweezers at a young age. We just wanted you to have options.
Put out the objects you want your child to pick up out on the floor or table. Change the position your child works in each time. Laying on the belly uses a different set of fine motor muscles than tweezing while standing.
Have your child move the objects from the table to the cup. Add challenge by having your child move the objects from inside one cup to another.
Additional places online for more materials and ideas:
KinderTown’s Education Director, Carolina, has written a guest post on parenting and technology for Reading Rainbow. Find her complete post including 5 simple tips for empowering the iPad as a parenting sidekick on the Reading Rainbow blog.
Parenting in the age of the iPad – Super Heros and Sidekicks
Kids around the country raised a collective voice in favor of tablets this holiday season. As the most asked for present of 2012, tablets and mobile technology are undoubtedly an important and big part of our kids lives.
Fortunately, as demand for tablets rises, we are also witnessing a rise in inventive and engaged parenting. Not only are many parents rejecting the idea that technology is merely a babysitter, they’re getting involved and taking more responsibility in their children’s education than ever before. The technology itself has become a catalyst for being more thoughtful about creating a home environment that is as intellectually enriching as the classroom.
Whether mobile devices are a new part of your child’s playtime or you’ve been downloading educational apps since the first iPad “changed everything,” these five simple tips will transform your mobile device from a babysitter to a sidekick, where you, the parent, are the super hero.