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
4 Excellent STEM Apps for the Summer
Help! Someone recorded a birthday on the calendar but didn’t include the name with the date. Whose birthday is it? Goldie has a solution. She’ll make cupcakes for everyone in the town. In order to do that, she needs help from Ruby Rails to solve the puzzles and make the cupcakes fast and efficiently. As your child solves the puzzles, they are learning beginning coding skills. Along the way, take a break and enjoy a mini-game or play with the stickers you have earned in your room. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 5-8.
Monster Physics™ helps your child learn physics and so much more. Spend time on the “learn” page, where parents and kids learn physics vocabulary together. Move through the missions, starting with the “tutorial” level that introduces necessary strategies and tools. There are 50 different missions that can be accessed at any time with enough content available for a long shelf life. “Free build” is a personal favorite for watching kids invent to learn. In addition to all the physics, this app cultivates innovation, strategy, and persistence, which are not skills to be neglected. The full version costs $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 6-8.
Toca Lab is the chemistry lab for young kids, and it is the perfect place for exploring how different materials interact. The app is designed around the world of a science lab. The incredible part is that children do not have to be able to read or understand all there is to know about chemistry in order to engage in tinkering in the lab. As children tinker with the “elements”, they create new “elements” for their own periodic table. Please note that the “elements” and periodic table are not based on actual scientific reactions but rather give children the understanding that, when elements are placed under certain conditions, a new element can be created. Be sure to provide lots of vocabulary and ask your child lots of questions while using the app. For example: What do you think is happening? How can you change the current state? What happens if you add water? Encourage them to ask questions, too. This app will make your child feel like they have all the tools of a mad scientist! The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Science experimentation without the mess! Thank you, Piiig Labs, for this inquisitive app that brings science-friendly activities to preschoolers. The budding scientist in your house will love making a volcano erupt, building a light bulb, and tinkering with a radio. The app does touch on themes such as electricity, chemical reactions, and cause and effect, but the app is designed for children ages 3-6, so the activities are age-appropriate. Each experiment is accompanied by a short science fact for kids. The app costs $2.99 and is available for iPad only.
Tags: chemistry, coding, physics, puzzle, science, steam, vocabulary
Top 10 Must-Have Math Apps
Must-Have Math Apps
Motion Math: Pizza! (iOS only) teaches children beginning economics by simulating a pizza shop. While using the app, children are learning about economics, setting prices, and serving customers through simulation. Parents, follow up the use of this app with conversations about why certain things cost more money than others and how your family makes purchasing decisions.
Bugs and Bubbles (iOS only) is an engaging app for younger children. The randomized practice offers multiple ways to practice beginning math skills in a visually rich environment. Counting, upper- and lowercase letters, and sorting are all presented with a fun garden theme.
Pet Bingo – by Duck Duck Moose (iOS only) is a math fact practice app that includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, anddivision. This app can be replayed for a long time and could be used with multiple children in your house. Children earn rewards for completing math facts correctly in order to care for their virtual pet.
Quick Math – Multiplication Table & Arithmetic Game (iOS only) offers basic math fact practice with a simple, clean interface. KinderTown’s favorite feature about Quick Math is that you can write on the screen with your finger and it will recognize the answer. Quick Math has also developed the apps Quick Fractions and QuickClocks that provide similar practice of the concepts.
Dragon Box Algebra 5+ (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone) is an app that develops algebra skills with approachable problems for children starting at age 5. (There is a second Dragon Box app for more advanced students, called Dragon Box Algebra 12+.) Both apps create problems that must be solved visually in order to make the quantities on both sides of the screen equal. This app is excellent for preparing students for algebraic thinking.
Splash Math (iOS, Kindle, Android) is a series of apps that are made for each grade level. The Splash Math apps cover an entire year’s worth of math skills. Through the app, randomized practice is presented to your child. The app also offers parent features such as progress reports and the ability to customize the skills your child is practicing. This app serves as a great reinforcement of concepts your child has already learned in math.
Math Doodles (iOS only) is a puzzle app that brings a visual perspective to math thinking. This app contains many complex concepts and spans a wide range of skills. Your six-year-old child could use this app as well as a high school student because of the ability to change the type of puzzle pieces presented from simple dice to Roman numerals.
Operation Math (iOS, Android) has created two apps, Operation Math and Operation Math Code Squad. Operation Math simulates high-tech, intense math missions for children to undertake. Operation Math Code Squad follows the same ideas, but up to 4 players can play at the same time. There is a timer feature in this app, and if your child does not like the feeling of being rushed or timed, this would not be a good match. Operation Math Code Squad is an example of how apps can involve multiple players in order to practice math facts.
Motion Math: Zoom (iOS only) moves your child along the path of learning numbers, place value, and number relationships with this thoughtful app. By the use of analytics, the app guides your child at his own pace through a variety of number quantities with the goal of helping him manipulate a number line and make connections between 1’s, 10’s, 100’s, and eventually decimals. The game appears simple as numbered balloons float on the screen, but the swiping, pinching, and tapping will keep your kids on their toes.
Cash Cow Deluxe (iOS only) uses gameplay to help kids become proficient at manipulating money. Tap small coins to make quantities of 5, 10, 25, or 100 cents. The more coins you make, the more the cash cow earns to save the duck’s farm. The app offers several modes of play including arcade, relaxed, endless, practice, or story modes.
Related Blog Post:
3 Problem-Solving Math Activities for Kids (Demme Learning)
Tags: counting, math, money, practice, puzzle, skills, sorting
Coding Gift Guide for Kids
We’ve recently talked about apps that promote coding skills, so here are some less techy gifts that will inspire that same higher-level thinking and problem-solving required for programming.
Hello Ruby is a captivating story about a little girl named Ruby who has to solve a puzzle. She is spunky and bold. She is given a map to solve the problem and must travel to different locations in an adventure world. Along the way she is solving different clues in order to gain the rubies she needs. The book is organized into chapters and each chapter includes a problem to solve and introduces a special character. In the back of the book, there are activities to complete with your child that go along with each chapter and use the type of thinking skills presented in the chapter. For example, Ruby learns how to repeat the task of connecting sticks with rope to create a ladder, and uses that skill to solve the problem of reaching the ruby. Overall, the storybook is delightfully crafted and appeals to children ages 6-9, with parents interested in facilitating learning activities.
Robot Turtles is a board game for kids that revolves around the concepts of the Logo programming language. Players as young as 4 can dictate the movement of their turtle on the board by using cards that give commands to the turtle. The commands tell the turtle to turn, move forward, or side to side. The goal is for your turtle to reach its own jewel. The game has other components that can be introduced gradually once your child has a basic understanding of how the game works, such as obstacles, repeat cards, and lasers. These additional components make the game interesting and challenging for older children. Lastly, Robot Turtle has done a great job of making programming understandable for parents, and providing clear directions in the booklet that accompany the game. I especially appreciated the Quick Start Guide and the additional resources provided online. The game is well developed for parents as well as children.
Tags: coding, problem-solving, puzzle, skills
5 Must-Have Apps for 6- and 7-year-olds
Six- and seven-year-old children are a sponge for learning. Their academic growth is exciting to watch. Use these apps to encourage and challenge them!
Spelling skills are emerging as children are learning to read and write more complex words and sentences at this age. Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. In addition, each word is presented with a picture to reinforce vocabulary development. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints), so students are reconstructing the word in order to build visual memory of the letters. Children like how getting a few correct answers leads to different choices for designing their own rocket ship and eventually blasting it off into space. From an educational perspective, Rocket Speller combines naturally occurring letter sounds together such as ck, ee, ea, and or. Rocket Speller offers some nice options for parents. There are several different categories of words to choose from, or you can mix them all together. Parents can choose to have the narrator say the letter name or sound. KinderTown recommends choosing the “sound” option when working on spelling words. Parents can choose between capital or lowercase letters to form the words. KinderTown recommends choosing lowercase for activities involving common words that mostly appear in lowercase print. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual and audible hints, and smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty and provide assistance called Adaptive Assistance. Rocket Speller is $2.99 and available for iPhone and iPad.
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 20+ 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 adaptive play, where the games automatically adapt to your child’s skill level. Other options for children are the Mathematical Missions, designed to motivate children to engage longer with the mathematical concepts. 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. There are additional in-app purchases to access more content.
As children learn to read, they begin to notice patterns in words and how words relate to one another. Endless Wordplay practices this skill in a fun way! The lovable monsters are back! This time, with a focus on reading rhyming words. The monsters travel around a map with stops along the way. Once the monster stops, his mouth opens with a rhyming word. The word is sneezed out and the letters are scattered. Your child must reconstruct the word. The letter sounds are made when the letters are touched, and the word is read when the word is reconstructed. The app does require the child to reconstruct the word in letter order. The words continue to be presented and all relate to a rhyming family: ran, can, pan, tan. Once a series is complete, a sentence is presented with the rhyming words in context and the monsters act it out. The app is free and does have in-app purchases ($4.99) to buy more rhyming families once you complete the 3 free rhyme families. A great app for the beginning reader in your family.
Scribble Press is a must-have app for the family who loves to read, story-tell, and create books together. Like other book creation apps, you can easily add your own photos, your child’s picture, a title and text to create a book. Scribble Press walks you through creating a story by providing lots of ideas from the start, and supports your child until you are ready to add your finished book to an eBook reader, or my favorite–printing your very own book! Choose from book templates, or create your own book from scratch. Your child is sure to love the rainbow pen, stamps and stickers included in Scribble Press. If your child needs inspiration, there are over 50 story templates. The app encourages younger learners by providing complete stories where they only need to fill in the important details. Endless possibilities – endless fun! For the parents of young children, you will need to work with your child while using this app, since reading and typing skills are needed. Scribble Press is $3.99, and if you would like to have your child’s book published and mailed to you, there is a fee for that service. Scribble Press is appropriate for children ages 4-8.
In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. There are two levels of game play, easy and hard. Easy is recommended for children 3-5, and hard for children ages 5-8. KinderTown recommends that all children begin at the easy level to understand the goals of the puzzles. Your child does not have to spend a long time at this level to be ready to move to the harder levels, but this will set them up for success. A blinking “redo” symbol flashes in the corner to assist your child when they are stuck and unable to complete the challenge. The challenge is then reset with the maze. The challenges in the mazes come in the form of obstacles. Some unique obstacles include fire blocks, ice blocks, balloons, and KinderTown’s favorite, the jelly block. The jelly block allows your character to jump up from one area to another. Another child tester favorite was the fire block. Watch out! If your character rolls into the fire block, it will turn black and burnt, which our child testers loved! However, the goal is to not become burnt. Children eventually solved the puzzles after experiencing the burnt characters. As the levels progress, children have to use visualization skills to predict the cause and effect of several “moves” in the puzzle. Concepts about physics and chemistry are sprinkled along the way when children must make decisions about the moving gear box, figure out how to make the balloon pop and move the ice to squelch the fire. The app offers an amazing amount of content in the 90 levels of easy game play and 90 levels of hard game play. Be sure to read the Chapter descriptions in the settings section for parents in order to have a complete understanding of all the challenges presented in each level or chapter. There are nine levels of game play included. Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7.
Tags: creative, free, kids, Kindergarten, math, parenting, phonics, puzzle, spelling, writing
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