Develop Phonemic Awareness with These Educational Apps
As parents, we all want our children to be successful in the process of learning to read. There are many things parents can do prior to that point in order to set their children up for success. One of the most important is to develop your child’s phonemic awareness. Research shows that phonemic awareness is the number one predictor of a child’s success at reading. It makes sense to approach the development of this skill in many different ways, including apps! Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in words. This is done through activities that help the child break those sounds apart, identify the individual sounds, and then change a sound in a word (cat to bat). Check out these apps that help your child develop phonemic awareness.
This app was designed by a speech language pathologist and covers the different parts of phonemic awareness through activities in a room that looks like a science lab. The activities cover skills such as rhyming, blending sounds, and counting syllables; however, the app does not provide any type of reward or entertainment value. Even when children successfully complete the activities, there are no rewards or free play. The app would be great as an assessment tool for parents or teachers, and the app does record your child’s scores and progress. The app also allows for tracking of multiple students. The app costs $19.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6.
Dora ABCs Vol 3 takes your child to a frog fiesta while helping them blend and change sounds to make words. The phonics games have your child blend simple three-letter words together by themselves or with the support of tapping the letters to hear the sounds. Drag and drop the matching picture next to the word. Then the app gives you a new word, and you have to change the initial sound to build the new word; for example, change car to jar. The frog games that your child can play after the phonics practice keep children interested in the app. This app is not very long but practices important early pre-reading skills. The app costs $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-6.
Monkey Word School Adventure uses mini-games to help kids get started on the road to reading. Games include spelling, letter identification, rhyming, and much more. Kids love the fast-paced and engaging activities. Children are rewarded with special pieces to add to their own terrarium. Parents get so much value out of the descriptive settings page that break down the learning in each mini-game. The app auto-adjusts based on your child’s play or gives the controls to the adults for customizing the app. Either way, you will know what your child is working on! The app costs $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-6.
If you are looking for more apps to support your child in pre-reading, check these ones out.
Tags: activities, assessment, blending, games, matching, phonemic awareness, Reading, rhyming, tracking
New Year, New Apps
Whether you have had an iPad for a while or you are just starting out with a brand new iPad, check out these apps for some educational enjoyment!
Sago Mini Puppy Preschool is an engaging app that balances play and educational value for the youngest learners. The app is very easy to use and is appropriate for children ages 2-3. The app has friendly, happy characters who appeal to boys and girls alike. The characters invite your child to learn about numbers one through 10, matching, shape recognition, and musical play. Pile all the different types of dogs into the bathtub as the app counts up to 10, or take them out of the bathtub and see and hear the number decrease. Match shapes and colors to make the animals happy with their toys and food. Sago Mini Puppy Preschool costs $2.99.
Easy Music is an easy introduction to the theory of music that is educational while still being playful. I appreciate that the app gives children direction in learning the concepts of rhythm and beat while still providing opportunities for open-ended creation of musical sounds. Other musical concepts that are covered through playful interaction are recognizing notes, pitch, and melody. This app does rely on the sound of the iPad, so you may want to have your child enjoy it with headphones or be prepared to enjoy the added noise. Easy Music provides a unique approach to music development that I haven’t seen in other apps– a delightful experience! The app costs $3.99 and appropriate for children ages 4-6.
If your child has ever spent time with a grandfather in a garage or working with tools, they are sure to love Grandpa’s Workshop. The characters developed in the Fairlady Media apps are welcoming and certainly do feel like you are interacting with your own grandparents. In this app, the focus is on working with tools, but the app creatively weaves in educational elements such as cutting a board into quarters, putting puzzle pieces back together, and watching educational videos about a specific tool (such as a chisel) and how it is used in woodworking. The app costs $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5.
Tags: matching, music, numbers, preschool, puzzle, rhythm, shape recognition, tools
Quality Educational Apps with a Nature Theme
Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy nature. Enjoy these Nature Themed Apps.
Educational Apps with a Nature Theme
Domi Domi Nature Shapes – Matching and Sorting for Toddlers works to develop early childhood skills in a calming nature environment. Children must match the outlines of the creatures to the fully colored animals including crabs, owls, sea turtles, and sea horses. As your child progresses throughout the five different areas, the difficulty level increases from marching shapes to sorting the objects by color, type, and size. Sorting objects is a key skill for early childhood development. The app only has five games areas, and children may progress through them quickly. Many children would enjoy repeating the games again and again. The app has wonderful graphics and a soothing quality to the music and nature scenes. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 2-4.
Grandma Loves Bugs is an app that practices different types of skills that are appropriate for children ages 3-5. The app includes 10 mini-games and 8 educational videos for children to enjoy. The app works on skills such as matching letters, memory skills, identifying groups, and looking for differences. Grandma is charming as always and needs help finding the bugs in her hair. This app offers great basic skills practice for the summer. Children can also catch fireflies, draw a spider web, and eat caterpillar leaves with Grandma. The app costs $1.99.
WWF Together is beautifully created with stunning pictures of endangered animals. It would be valuable to sit with your child and discuss “endangered species” while looking at the pictures on the app. Each endangered animal is displayed through origami and includes information on creating your own origami creatures. You can even pose with the origami creature for a unique selfie! The app also provides a few interactive activities that coordinate with some of the animals featured in the app, including racing a jaguar and outjumping a snow leopard. The app includes facts about the animals, but these are not read aloud. There is a 3-D interactive globe which pinpoints exactly where endangered species exist, and children can calculate their distance from the species. Our child testers loved discovering the videos embedded within the app of endangered animals. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-8 and is a wonderful learning experience for the whole family.
Tags: childhood, differences, early, matching, memory, nature, outdoors, Shapes, sorting
Write, Swipe, and Tap Math Apps
Be Quick, Be accurate! QuickMath works to improve math fact fluency by offering the challenge of speed and accuracy. Math facts are presented to children and they write their answer on the screen with a finger or stylus. The app has handwriting identification mechanisms that allow the child to write their answer anywhere on the screen. The app offers practice of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. There is even a mixed operation mode. Quick Math allows for multiple users, so brothers and sisters, or classmates can use the app together. The app tracks progress and parents can see how much time children have spent using it. The app encourages children to beat their scores from past sessions in order to improve. The app does adjust to children’s levels, and increases the difficulty of the facts as they progress. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for students ages 6-12.
Winky Think Logic Puzzles
Slide and move shapes, and explore cause and effect in Winky Think. Children are introduced to the concepts of each puzzle slowly, and they must drag and move shapes around the screen to solve the puzzles. Creative obstacles are introduced, such as pins, ice, bars, and lines. The game offers three different skill levels with 180 games in each level. Winky Think is designed so players can progress at their own pace. Children can use multiple fingers to slide the shapes on the screen, but parents will want to be sure to disable Multitasking Gestures in your settings to prevent the ability to use multiple fingers to accidentally send you out of the app. Parents, you will enjoy these puzzles, too, and can watch your child’s problem-solving skills as they play or make suggestions in order for them to advance to the next level. A user-friendly replay button is located in the bottom right hand corner to reset the puzzle if needed. As each level progresses, additional obstacles are presented and children earn different tools to solve the problems. Winky Think Logic Puzzles is $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad and appropriate for children ages 3-8.
Montessori 1st Operations
Montessori 1st Operations uses pictures to represent math problems. For example, to solve the addition equations, children can use the blue and red number rods to assist them in solving the problem. For subtraction, children can use the number rods to show the answer. The app uses counters to demonstrate the concepts of halves, doubles, odd and even. There are two games offered inside the app, as well: Monsters Addition and Subtraction, and Bubble Games. The monsters help the game come to life as children practice the addition and subtraction facts. The app also introduces division by having children place counters on either side of a line. The app includes a toolbox section where children can explore addition and subtraction tables and take a quiz. This app is appropriate for children who can successfully count and recognize numbers up to ten and benefit from the use of a picture to solve math problems. Create multiple user profiles in order to customize the experience for each child. Parents or teachers can specify how high you would like the numbers to progress, for example 10, 20, 50 or 99. In addition, individual operations can be turned on and off. As children are successful in the app, they earn points in order to make their own customized monster. Montessori Operations is $3.99 and available for iPhone and iPad.
Pet Bingo is an excellent app to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication or division facts. If you have multiple children in your household learning their math facts, this app can be used by several different children by setting up multiple profiles. Children answer math problems correctly by identifying the correct answers on the bingo board. Children continue to play until they earn five in a row on their bingo board. Children are motivated by the prizes, which include pets, pet toys and accessories. Parents, you can check the report card section for each user to see how they are progressing in learning different types of facts such as adding 0 to a number, or adding doubles. Each math fact has the option to access a hint to solve the problem. Pet Bingo is $1.99 and appropriate for children who are working to learn their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts, usually in grades 1-4 or ages 6-10.
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Tags: arithmetic, colors, division, kids, logic, matching, math, multiplication, parenting, Shapes, spinlight studio, subtraction
Stuck Inside: There’s an App For That!
Snowy, Rainy, Cold… Stuck Inside? Try these apps for those kinds of days.
Stuck Inside Apps
Color Zen Kids is a puzzle game based on a very bright and colorful animal theme. This app will keep your child thinking and problem solving in order to arrange the colors to pass each level. The way it works: each screen presents colors and shapes. Your child’s job is to rearrange the colors and shapes so they combine and disappear to leave only the color on the outside. If you make a mistake, the game resets. There are no points earned and no score, which makes the app child-friendly. The motivation and challenge of the games is solving the puzzles in order to gain a new puzzle. There are 100 levels of gameplay, so there are plenty of puzzles for the $2.99 price. Color Zen Kids is appropriate for children ages 4-8. Adults, you may love it too! Color Zen Kids is made for iPhone and iPad.
Create your own pottery with the virtual lathe. Then fire it and paint it. Fold origami paper to make a virtual pinwheel to play with in the wind. Design a virtual kite to sail through the sky. Put colored pegs on a board to create a design. There are six different virtual art activities for your child to experiment with in Art Class with Dr. Panda. The best part is that they can experience the process over and over again, and play with their finished creations.
Jelly Jumble! is a clever game that is based on a story about a young boy who is sent away to stay with his Aunt. He makes friends with a blue monster named Soran, and they work their way through the forest having different kinds of adventures, which present the challenges for the puzzle game. The app is a multi-faceted matching game for kids. Each level has a new task or way children need to match the items presented on the grid. For example, collect as many strawberries as you can. Along the way, children can collect stickers for passing levels. While kids play this game they are strengthening their logical thinking skills. The app is appropriate for children ages 3-8, and is $1.99.
Tags: creative, kids, matching, parenting, puzzle
Tiggly Christmas Review
I’m excited to share Tiggly Christmas with our fans. KinderTown loved Tiggly Shapes this year, and the Tiggly Christmas app is equally exciting. Thanks Tiggly! In order to use Tiggly Christmas, KinderTown recommends that you purchase the Tiggly Shapes. They are rubbery 3-D shapes that interact with the iPad, perfect for toddlers. Tiggly Shapes are appropriate for children ages 2-4. They make a unique gift for the techy toddler. The shapes are made to interact with iPad and the iPad mini. Tiggly Shapes also work with the free apps, Tiggly Safari, Tiggly Draw, and Tiggly Stamp.
Decorate your very own tree using the Tiggly Shapes. The app prompts your child to match the Tiggly Shape with the outline on the screen. Once the correct shape is placed on the outline, the app says the name of the shape and shows the word as well. Voilà! It becomes an ornament on your tree. Next, presents are shown and children must match their handheld shapes to those of the presents. Many of the shapes combine to make a toy that children can play with in the Christmas scene. Children can send their creations to friends with the assistance of an adult. Children are developing their spatial understanding using circles, squares, triangles, and stars as they play. Tiggly Christmas is $1.99 and available for iPhone and iPad. The app can be played without the Tiggly shapes, as in the iPhone version, but KinderTown recommends the use of the manipulatives to maximize your child’s learning experience. KinderTown also really enjoys the Tiggly blog. The blog includes educational math activities to complete with your child offline.
Tags: christmas, decorate, holidays, matching, Shapes, tiggly
KinderTown Flips Over Osmo!
My Osmo product arrived this week, and KinderTown was giddy with excitement! Osmo is a unique game system for iPad. Osmo comes with a stand and a mirror that attaches to the iPad and allows for the integration of real objects into the play associated with the iPad. There are 3 apps that can be used with the Osmo system. When you open your Osmo system, assemble the red mirror device onto the iPad, and the iPad on to the stand. Download the free apps and you are ready to begin.
The Osmo Tangram kit comes with tangram pieces that interact with the iPad. Download the free Osmo Tangram app to get started. Osmo offers a nice “getting started” section to familiarize your child with the use of the pieces and their interaction with the screen. The child must arrange the tangram pieces to match the on screen arrangement. While constructing the pictures, your child is developing important visual spatial skills. After your child completes the “getting started” section, the app offers different pictures for your child to choose from to construct with the tangram pieces. The app also indicates the level of the pictures from easiest to hardest by color coding them yellow, orange and red. The yellow puzzles offer color clues and the orange puzzles offer black and white shapes. The app does offer a hint button if needed to complete the puzzles. The hardest level offers just one solid black outside line. Arranging the tangram pieces was challenging, engaging and also fun to complete with a friend.
Osmo Words is played with the letter tiles. One set of letter tiles is blue and the other is red. To play, you can either play alone or with a friend. To compete with a friend was challenging and loads of fun! Osmo Words shows you a picture and the number of coordinating letter tiles. For example, a picture of a tree and 4 blank tiles. You must race your competitor to see who can throw the correct word tiles out first. The letters can be tossed into the playing space in any order. KinderTown really likes how more than one child can play with the tiles and the iPad to develop cooperative play skills. One suggestion KinderTown has is that the letter tiles are all in capital letters. Most words when written in text are lowercase. It would be great to see both upper and lowercase forms of a letter on a tile, maybe one on the front and one on the back. Children need exposure to both forms of the letters, especially when learning to read.
Osmo Newton uses the Osmo system to reflect the space, and the players choose which objects they use from around the house to affect the space. Osmo Newton drops balls from the top and supplies targeted areas that the balls should reach. KinderTown used blocks, paper clips, pencils and drawing lines on the paper in the space to change the movement of the balls to reach the targeted areas. Osmo Newton was challenging and does require persistence on the part of the player to solve the puzzles. As you continue to play, the number of targets increases and objects around the targets are added to increase the challenge. KinderTown recommends using 3D objects to affect the space. The drawing of lines was helpful but more difficult to change (erasing) when we wanted to change the direction of the moving balls. This app uses your child’s thinking and problem solving skills to interact with the screen in a challenging way!
Tags: games, interactive, ipad, language arts, letters, matching, osmo, problem-solving, Shapes, spelling, words
It’s all About Numbers!
Numbers Here, Numbers Everywhere…10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Numbers are viewed by children everywhere in our environment. Check out the best number apps!
Drive About: Number Neighborhood
Drive About Numbers incorporates many different types of games that practice number concepts. When the app opens a child friendly map is shown and includes 9 different mini-games that practice different math concepts such as shapes, writing numbers, counting groups of objects, matching and collecting numbers in order. Our child tester favorite was using the slingshot to put the correct number of balls into the monster’s mouth. The app is $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6. This app would be a perfect fit for a child entering pre-kindergarten or kindergarten this school year. Throughout the year as the math concepts are presented in school, your child could return again and again to the app to practice them.
Todo Math is a free app designed to practice early childhood math skills. Todo in spanish means “all” and is designed to inspire play with all the early childhood math concepts. It includes 18 multi-level games. It has two different types of play; free choice and mission. In mission mode, the app gives a brief overview of each game and guides your child through each game one at a time. In free choice mode, all games are presented and your child chooses which one they would like to play. It includes multiple levels of math games and includes adaptive play, which means the games automatically adapt to your child’s skill level. Parents, you can sign up for a parent account which will provide you with a more detailed look at how your child is progressing through the app. Compared to most apps, Todo Math does contain a worthwhile amount of free content practicing many different areas of math for children ages 3-6.
Counting Caterpillar is appropriate for children ages 3-6. The app has three levels: easy, medium and hard. In easy mode, the child counts by ones to add segments to the caterpillar. In medium mode, the child practices in the same way by counting by 2’s, 5’s or 10’s. In hard mode, children are presented with a random number to begin counting from. In the app, your child must feed the aphids to the hungry caterpillar. After the correct number is fed to the caterpillar it is added as a segment to the caterpillar.The app rewards children with a butterfly after an exercise is completed correctly. This is a simple app designed to practice basic number concepts.
Tags: counting, early, games, matching, math, numbers, Shapes, writing
Just Plain Fun! Educational Apps for the Summer
Busy Shapes encourages children to use their logic and problem solving skills to maneuver shapes and objects into the correct holes in order to advance to the next screen. Busy Shapes is an app inspired by the work of Jean Piaget who proposed that children construct their own knowledge through play, in this case digital play. Busy shapes has 38 levels of play and continues to advance and challenge children as it adapts to their level of learning. It includes an area to set up multiple logins per household. The app does not teach the names of the shapes but encourages free play and cognitive development through experimenting with the shapes. Busy Shapes is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 2-6. The app is colorfully made and includes basic tools along the way to help children explore the effects of the tools on the shapes. As the levels become more difficult, multiple tools are presented. The app is very intuitive for children who are familiar with the iPad. They start dragging the shapes and they are off to solve the problems presented. Parents, you may need to assist when your child reaches a challenging area they can not solve on their own, but generally this app is one your child will be able to navigate independently.
Care Bears Love to Learn
Care Bears Love to Learn grabbed my attention, because I can distinctively remember my purple Care Bear that I loved! The Care Bears are back because, we grew up with them and they remind of us of our own childhood. I like this app a lot because it is simple, yet presents easy to understand questions in a randomized fashion which kept the attention of our youngest child testers. The app works on a mix of basic Preschool skills such as colors, shapes, letters, memory skills and counting. The app also rewards children with digital stickers when they answer the questions correctly. The app is free and appropriate for children ages 2-4.
Grandma Loves Bugs
Grandma Loves Bugs is an app that practices different types of skills that are appropriate for children ages 3-5. The app includes 10 mini-games and 8 educational videos for children to enjoy. The app works on skills such as matching letters, memory skills, identifying groups and looking for differences. Grandma is charming as always and dances, and needs help finding the bugs in her hair. This app offers great basic skills practice for the summer. Children can also catch fireflies, draw a spider web and eat caterpillar leaves with Grandma. The app is $1.99.
How I Became a Pirate!
This app by OceanHouse Media is a digital book sure to be loved by your kids. I know many boys who love to pretend to be pirates, and I often observe large playground toys, or backyard tree-houses imagined into pirate ships. The How I became a Pirate book was a New York Times bestseller and is sure to be a favorite digital book as well. It has two options for reading: Read to Me, and Read by Myself. The book has several different interactive options. When reading, your child can have the words read again by tapping them or tap the wrapping on one of the pirates heads and hear the word bandanna. This story is perfect for summer because the story begins with a boy using his imagination at the beach spying a pirate ship in the ocean. The pirates come upon the shore and interact with the boy. The boy in the story board the pirate ship and has an adventure. I really like the recording feature on each page. Beginning readers can read and record their voice. Save the recording and your child can listen to themselves read the story. This is a great learning activity for children ages 6-8. It develops fluency and expression while reading and will become a parent favorite as well. The app is $3.99 and appropriate to read with children ages 3-8.
Tags: bugs, colors, counting, ebook, interactive, logic, matching, memory, preschool, problem-solving, Shapes, summer
Multi-Player Educational Apps
App developers are discovering the possibilities of group learning games on the iPad. There are not a lot of multi-player education apps out there, but there are a few worth noting. Have fun with your children by playing one of these multi-player educational games
If you don’t have this free app for your kids, you must download it and play Match Blitz with them this summer! I was instantly drawn to the easy interface and competition that this app offers. The object of the game is to tap the same object in all of the sectioned areas of the game board. For example, in two-player mode, tap the object that appears on each half of the screen. Be the first to tap the object and earn points. Be careful, because an incorrectly tapped object will cause you to lose points. There are options for 3 and 4 players as well within the app. This app develops visual perception, memory, and concentration skills in children and helps them learn social skills while playing with others. Match Blitz offers a practice area where children can get a feel for how the game works before actually playing. Match Blitz was created by the developer, Shiny Things, and incorporates the characters and objects from their other apps into Match Blitz. Even though this app is free, it does not include any ads– a win-win for parents and children. This app is appropriate for kids ages 4-8 and lots of fun for adults, too!
Futaba – Classroom Games for Kids
Futaba Classroom Games for Kids allows up to 4 kids to sit around the iPad, answering questions to win points. This app is useful for reviewing vocabulary and facts already in the app and includes settings to create and add your own content. There is even a single-player mode, which is perfect for independent play or homework time. With the number of customization options, it is really an exciting app for teachers and parents. This app would be great for your child to review content already learned during the school year. The app costs $6.99 and offers content in multiple subject areas. There is a free version you can try called Word Games for Kids–Futaba, but there are ads in the app. Futaba Classroom Games for Kids is appropriate for children ages 5-8.
Operation Math Code Squad
Operation Math Code Squad gets up to 4 kids together to take math operation challenges. Using the same theme as the well-loved Operation Math app from Spinlight Studios, the teams of kids playing are challenged to answer math problems in order to complete missions. The app does rank players, but is thoughtfully designed to get kids supporting each other instead of pitting them against each other. If you want to keep playing, all players need to answer questions correctly. Game play includes all operations and is easy to customize for the unique level of multiple players. The app is easy to use and fun for group play. One struggle we had was telling the difference between the numbers 9 and 6, which you often have to read upside down; this it was hard to do quickly because the numbers were spinning in the middle of the screen. This would be a great multi-player app to use to practice math facts. Operation Math Code Squad costs$2.99 and is available for iPad.
Tags: games, matching, math, memory, multiplayer, social, vocabulary