Best Travel Apps for Children Ages 6-8

Here are a few travel apps to keep your children engaged while you are in the car, airport, or enjoying some down time.

Traveling with children ages 6-8 is an enjoyable experience, and there are so many different ways to enjoy your time together. Here are a few travel apps to keep them engaged while you are in the car, airport, or enjoying some down time.

 

MebyTinybop

Me by Tinybop

This exploration app focuses on your child and everything that makes them unique. This app is perfect for children ages 6-8 because they enjoy expressing their interests, talents, and abilities. Children can record their likes and dislikes, make their own symbols, and answer hundreds of different questions about themselves represented by small bubbles floating on the screen by different categories. Some examples of the prompts presented in the app include: “This color makes me feel sad,” “When I grow up, I would like to be,” “My family includes,” “When I’m scared, I.” The app is easy and intuitive for kids to use; tap the floating bubbles and create an answer. They can draw their answers, record themselves with the microphone, or make a video. Parents, make your own avatar and answer the same questions as your children. A fun way to share and connect with your child for $2.99.

 

Read KinderTown's reviews of top math apps.

Winky Think Logic Puzzles

Slide and move shapes and explore cause and effect in Winky Think Logic Puzzles. 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. The app 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 the 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 you 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 4-8.

 

pettesonsinventions3

Pettson’s Inventions 3

Pettson’s Inventions 3 guides young children through physics challenges. 36 invention challenges are presented on a map, and each section contains several related inventions. This app is a delightful experience for exposing young children to problem solving and basic contraption play. If the app is too hard for your child at the beginning, go to the settings page and turn off the “fake” objects which add more challenge. Each invention challenge involves the use of simple machines. Students must match the pieces up into the correct order to make the machine move and complete a task such as helping the bunny reach the carrots. Each challenge slowly becomes more complex as children understand how each machine part works. A bike part is earned for every invention section that is completed correctly to help the character, Pettson fix his bike. Pettson’s Inventions 3 is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 6-8.

 

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Improve Your Kid’s Spatial Reasoning Skills with These 4 Apps

Spatial reasoning is an often overlooked skill that’s vital to develop in kids; we found some quality apps that can help.

Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize shapes and objects in different ways and draw conclusions about those shapes. It’s this strong ability that architects use when designing a building or that a sculptor uses when planning a design. This skill is often overlooked in traditional schooling but is a vital skill to develop. Children with well-developed spatial reasoning skills often perform better at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) tasks. The following apps  help develop these skills, but it is equally important for early learners to play with hands-on objects such as blocks, puzzles, tangrams, or pattern blocks to develop these skills.

 

Spatial Reasoning App Reviews

 

Dragon Shapes Lumio Geometry Challenge (iOS only)

lumio

 

This app walks children through an introduction to shapes through tangram puzzles. As they are presented with a puzzle, a sidebar introduces them to the shape and distinguishing features about the shape.  The shapes include triangles, squares, rectangles, hexagons, trapezoids, pentagons, and rhombi. As children solve the puzzles, the ideas that shapes can form larger composite shapes or designs is reinforced. The shapes in the app are able to be manipulated and turned fairly easily. There are four levels of game play in the app, and there is a storyline involving the rescue of the village dragon that is developed through completion of each level. The app costs $2.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Montessori Geometry – Recognize and learn shapes (iOS only)

Montessori Geometry

 

Montessori Geometry is filled with games, free exploration activities, and other learning gems in the traditional teaching style of Maria Montessori. There are games for playing with shapes, learning activities that connect kids to seeing shapes in the “real world,” and a dynamic 3D exploration activity for kids to rotate and interact with every side of the shape. The app presents the formal language for all of the shapes so you won’t just hear the words circle and triangle but also the specific technical terms, such as scalene triangle. The games are in the classic Montessori style, so kids are able to use self-correction and move from activity to activity. There is also a point tracking feature where kids can earn medals while they are playing. The app costs $3.99 and is available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Cyberchase 3D Builder (iOS, Android, and Kindle)

Cyberchase 3D Builder

 

In Cyberchase 3D Builder, encourages kids use flat 2D shapes to build 3D structures. There are eight levels of play to keep kids interested and really amp up the difficulty. The app strength is in developing the relationship between flat and 3D shapes. The app does provide prompts as the levels increase in difficulty for children who may need assistance. Overall the app is a fun experience where kids won’t even realize they are learning. The app is free and appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

Tangram for Osmo (iOS only)

osmo tangram

 

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. The Osmo system detects the tangram pieces to check to see if they match the shapes on the screen. 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 and 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 outline. Arranging the tangram pieces is challenging, engaging, and also fun to complete with a friend.

 

Check out more apps that develop spatial reasoning skills here.

 

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The 7 Types of Educational Apps

Many educators and parents are searching for educational apps that provide the best virtual environment for learning to take place. Generally, this means apps that deliver meaningful content with an in-depth experience incorporating discovery and challenge.

 

Many educators and parents are searching for educational apps that provide the best virtual environment for learning to take place.

These apps are often “free-play” or “choice-filled” games that encourage kids to engage in their own learning. Apps that integrate depth of content and choice empower learners and construct understanding. These apps have activities designed to support the child as they progress and master tasks. This keeps your child in the ideal zone for learning , building on past concepts and challenging them to try something new. Feedback is often provided for parents or teachers through email to let you know how your child is progressing.

 

However, a lot of educational apps don’t fit this ideal or only offer one of the types of learning experiences listed above. Often they don’t offer children independent choices, and they stay on the surface of educational subjects instead of diving into deep thinking. Is there value in these types of apps, or should parents and teachers not use them? Just because an app doesn’t meet the ideal doesn’t mean there isn’t value in the other experiences. Completing math drills, reviewing grammar skills, or playing puzzle games can support your child’s overall development, too.

 

To help me make sense of the different types of educational apps and the learning experiences they provide, I have created 7 overlapping categories. Sounds like a lot? It is. Keep in mind that many apps fit into two or three different categories because each provides something a little different to a child’s learning experience.

 

Breaking Down the 7 Categories

 

1. Playful Learning

These are the apps that I tend to enjoy the most. They are silly, funny, and open-ended. Just because the educational content doesn’t take the center stage doesn’t mean that your child isn’t learning through play. Play is primary mode of learning for most young children. These apps mirror the free play your child enjoys at home, such as pretending in the kitchen, driving trucks, building with blocks, or playing dress-up. You want these educational apps for your kids because they encourage creativity and lead to more creative, playful experiences away from the app. For example, after playing with a virtual science lab for kids, my daughter asked if she could freeze soap bubbles to see what would happen to the solution. Good examples of this type of app would be the apps made by Toca Boca and Dr. Panda. Try out Toca Lab for a playful science lab your children will love!

 

2. eBooks

When reviewing an eBook for educational content, not just a good read, I look for the experience to encourage learning through listening and observation. eBooks that use meaningful interactivity (not just tap to see what happens) for extra practice and play also fall into this category. It is always exciting to find stories that use interactivity to connect learning experiences and vocabulary to real life. Your child benefits from hearing stories read aloud in order to develop vocabulary, an understanding of story lines, and a love of books, especially during the pre-reading years. Auryn HD- Teddy’s Day, Cinderella by Nosy Crow, and Goodnight Moon are some of my family’s favorites.

 

3. Workbooks/Worksheet

These apps usually generate a question and ask the child to choose between three or four choices. I wouldn’t encourage this kind of app for play time, but why not use them for homework and extra practice? Especially if you are replacing the time your child is spending with sheets of paper and pencils, the use of these apps can have many more benefits. They’re great for fluency, test prep, and direct one-step content practice. Be present when your child uses this type of app because often they can choose the wrong answer several times, which creates a less beneficial learning experience. Try out Todo Math and Bluster! Deluxe as examples of workbook/worksheet types of educational apps.

 

4. Puzzles and Traditional Games

There are now many puzzle, memory, matching, and other classic early learning games available in app form. These apps have the potential to support cognitive development in the same way as traditional games, such as encouraging reasoning skills through a game of Go Fish or developing spatial skills through a classic puzzle. I still believe it is beneficial to dust off the traditional puzzles once in a while, but these apps are really fun for kids, too. There are extra benefits of developing social skills when they include multiple children. Try these apps made for more than one child.

 

5. Theme Experiences

These apps let your child delve into themes that really interest them. If your child can’t get enough of dinosaurs, why not grab a few dinosaur apps and let them explore? This is similar to going to the library and grabbing a few books. Your child is absorbing so much of their passion that it is hard to keep up, so include iPad apps in their quest for new knowledge. Check out the Science and Social Studies categories in KinderTown to find apps that correlate to your child’s current interests. Barefoot World Atlas, appropriate for ages 4-8, and Geography Drive USA, ages 6-8, are favorites in my house.

 

6. Interactive Encyclopedias

This one is easy – you get to see videos and images and even play games right in the app. Do I need to say more? These are beneficial because your child is exploring topics of interest. For example, if your child is struggling with understanding the life cycle of plants, an app like this might be the way to make the connections to the content they need. ABC Aquarium is an excellent example of this type of app, appropriate for the youngest learners.

 

7. BYOC for Kids – Build Your Own Content

These apps are less game-like in structure and have more of an open design that allow kids to create their own unique activities from scratch. The benefit of these apps is building what you want instead of only using pre-made offerings. Create your own machine, design your own work of art, or build a virtual world. These apps are beneficial for parents who want to create a special experience for their child above and beyond traditional learning. Try out Pettson’s Inventions Deluxe, Faces iMake – Premium!, and Toca Builders for engaging experiences that are sure to tempt you to jump in and create alongside your child.

A variety of app options provide an opportunity to search for what is going to suit each child best. There is much more out there than the “gold standard” that gives a valuable learning experience for your child. KinderTown can help you discover the latest and best educational apps for your child.

 

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Math+iPad=Fun!

Add some fun to your math learning time on the iPad with these math apps!

Add some fun to your math learning time on the iPad with these math apps!

 

Dragon Shapes

Dragon Shapes is an app based on the traditional tangram shapes. Read KinderTown's review.

Dragon Shapes is an app based on the traditional tangram shapes. The puzzles are presented in a sequential order in order to introduce the shapes and teach children how to rotate each shape to create a match in the puzzle. It also develops relationships between the shapes: for example, how two triangles can be made into a square. KinderTown also likes the light bulb feature in the corner that children can tap when they are stuck to get a hint. The puzzles progressively get harder and the shape outlines are dropped as children advance through the four levels. Use the hint button to see the outlines as needed. This app is developing visual-spatial skills, as well as concepts about shapes. There are 50 puzzles to play, so the app is sure to grow with your child. This app is appropriate for children ages 6-9, is free to download, and includes the level 1 puzzles for free. The additional content of 50 puzzles is available as an in-app purchase for $2.99.

 

Shape Arts

Puzzles are presented, and children must match the shapes to solve the puzzles using the tangram pieces. Read KinderTown's review.

Shape Arts comes from the same developer as Dragon Shapes, and has many of the same characteristics, though its age range is somewhat broader: 5-10. Puzzles are presented, and children must match the shapes to solve the puzzles using the tangram pieces. KinderTown likes how Shape Arts is different from other tangram apps because it requires the children to rotate the pieces to correctly place them in the puzzles. This challenges children and develops their visualization skills more than if the shapes do not have to be rotated, and more closely matches the traditional tangram puzzle play with the hands on blocks. When the hands on blocks are used, they are not aligned for children to complete the puzzle, and they must use problem solving skills to complete the puzzles, rotating the pieces . This app also includes a free play area, a popular activity for younger children. After children create a picture in the free play area, they can submit their picture to the library for others to solve. As children progress through the app they are able to collect marbles as prizes. The app is $2.99 and does not include any in-app purchases.

 

Todo Telling Time

Todo Telling Time is an app that includes six games that develop time-telling skills. Read KinderTown's review.

Todo Telling Time is an app that includes six games that develop time-telling skills. There are three levels of game play included in each of the games. KinderTown likes how the concepts about the clock are developed in several of the games, such as counting by 5’s and arranging the numbers on the clock. Todo Telling Time also includes games about time that include understanding the days of the week, months of the year and understanding the calendar. The app also includes a fun quiz section that parents could use to inform them of their child’s progress. The app is priced at $4.99, and contains three levels of content that should last from approximately Kindergarten through second grade. This is the best telling time app KinderTown has reviewed!

 

 

Teachley: Addimal Adventure

Addimal Adventure is an app that teaches addition strategies to children and provides practice using the strategies. Read KinderTown's reviews.

Addimal Adventure is an app that teaches addition strategies to children and provides practice using the strategies. The app introduces the strategies through character interactions and clever animations. The animals teach the addition strategies to children, then allow time to practice the strategy through a hands-on numberline and blocks. The addition strategies introduced are: Count All, Count On, Near Doubles, Tens, Memory, Memory with Hint. This app focuses on one very specific math skill usually learned between the ages of 4-5. The app is free to download and available for iPad only.

 

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Apps That Promote Problem Solving

Problem Solving apps are perfect for your children to explore on a rainy day, a long car ride, or a day off from school.

Problem Solving apps are perfect for your children to explore on a rainy day, a long car ride, or a day off from school. Check our KinderTown’s top picks for developing problem solving skills.

 

Thinkrolls

In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. Read KinderTown's review.

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. Many different players’ games are stored within the app by the labels “Player 1″ ,”Player 2.” Change the “Player 1” to your own child’s name by double tapping to store different games for multiple children within the app. 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 so the app is long lasting! Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7.

 

Twelve a Dozen

Twelve a Dozen is a game based in the town of Dozenopolis in which the number 12 must solve puzzles in order to save the town. Read KinderTown's review.

Twelve a Dozen is a game based in the town of Dozenopolis in which the number 12 must solve puzzles in order to save the town. The fictitious town is buried beneath a broken pixel on a calculator. Twelve, the main character, must progress through the world in order to save Dozenopolis by solving problems and math number sentences. Twelve is accompanied by her friend “Dot,” a helpful decimal point. The app does have a creative story line and dark graphics. Your child should have a solid understanding of addition and subtraction to use the app effectively.

 

As the levels progress, concepts about multiplication and division are presented and must be solved. Twelve a Dozen uses creative numblings, which are number characters that you use to solve problems. Twelve is the main character but her number screen changes when other numblings are added or subtracted from her. KinderTown likes how the app allows you to rewind or use hints, and includes checkpoints along the way. This app would be well-suited for children who are typically at the end of first grade, or at a second grade level, or ages 6-8.

 

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Famous Children’s Authors Apps

Check out these literature apps, to get your children back into reading before school starts.

KinderTown can’t think of a better way to prepare for school than to dive back into reading books. Books are always a favorite experience at my house. My children love to sit on my lap and enjoy a story – I’m sure your children to do too! Take a beach towel outside and find a shade tree; you and your children are sure to enjoy the last moments of summer together. Check out these literature apps, to get your children back into reading before school starts.

 

Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App

Don't Let the Pigeon Run this App!

Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App, is a personal favorite of mine. The app is based on the famous book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” By Mo Willems. The app is cleverly titled “Don’t let the Pigeon Run this App”, which plays on Mo Willems famous books Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late and many more. Check them out at your local library. In this app,appropriate for children ages 3-6, your child brings a new Pigeon story to life when the bus driver asks for ideas. The app is narrated by the author Mo Willems, as himself and the Pigeon. When opened, the app awakens with the happy cheering voices of children. Choose Create Your Own Story to begin. This app offers three different options for creating your own pigeon story depending on your child’s level; egg, chick or big pigeon. The egg level creates a new pigeon story for your child to listen to and invites them to read along. We recommend leaving the reading tab open so your child can see the words as the story is told. The chick level gives your child picture choices in order to customize the story. In the Big Pigeon level, your child then uses their own voice to add their ideas…a definite parent favorite. Once you make choices for the story you must shake the pigeon in order for the story to be created. Finally, listen to your story and laugh with your child and enjoy literature, storytelling and the experience of loving a book character. The app saves all your child’s creations under Favorite Stories and includes an area where your child can learn to draw the pigeon himself. This is an app to be enjoyed alongside your child and is sure to be loved by children of all ages. Pair this app with Mo Williams’ books from your local library for a rich learning experience. The app is $5.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-6.

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Friends Play and Explore

The Very

This app is based on Eric Carle’s famous book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The app opens with Eric Carle’s famous artwork and a book to open. Inside the book, the narrator explains non-fiction concepts about caterpillars, butterflies and other informational topics that coordinate with The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. After listening to brief age appropriate explanations about nature, children are given a goal. For example, one goal is to win a Healthy Eater Badge and try to avoid all the sweet treats. After each activity, another brief informational text is read with a new goal given. From the main home page, children can also choose to complete puzzles, spot the differences or create a sticker scene with Eric Carle’s artwork. Parents please be aware that the app does include additional in-app purchases to unlock all the content in the Spot the Difference, Jigsaw and 3D Sticker book areas. The app is $3.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5. This app would best be paired with an author study on Eric Carle. An author study is simply a detailed look at an author and noticing their style and craft of writing. Your local library would be a great place to discover all of Eric Carle’s books.

 

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Best Coding Apps for Young Children

Check out these top coding apps for young children.

Coding. It’s the latest, most popular, and slightly geeky topic to be teaching your children right now. A recent New York Times article called Reading, Writing, Arithmetic…and Lately Coding, talks about the trend and it’s significance. I like this trend and feel that teaching coding is teaching problem solving, strategic thinking, visual/spacial concepts and math. It’s all of these skills wrapped up into one area, and usually weaved with game-like qualities that make it fun for kids to learn. That’s why coding is a great addition to your summer learning. Check out these top coding apps for young children.

 

Kodable

Kodable

Kodable is an introduction to coding for young children. The Kodable website uses the tag line “Learn to code before you know how to read.” This is an interesting thought in our digital age. When children use the app they are coding fuzz balls to move around the screen. The app starts off with very simple mazes for the “fuzz” balls to complete, and progress as your child completes the puzzles.The children we tested this app on loved the option to change the puff ball’s color as they earn additional colors when they successfully complete the puzzles. Kodable is for kids ages 5 and up and is free but does include in-app purchases to unlock additional levels. With the free version there are 45 levels with interactive tutorials. Kodable Pro offers all of the in-app purchases into one app for 6.99 and includes interactive tutorials and learning guides. Check out their website  for more information on their line of apps. Kodable also offers another feature called Kodable Sync, which is designed for classrooms in order to accommodate multiple students.

 

Daisy the Dinosaur

Daisy the Dinosaur

Children can program Daisy the Dinosaur and learn some basic rules of programming in the process. Daisy the Dinosaur has two sections for your child to explore, free-play mode and challenge mode. In the free-play section, children can experiment with commands and see how Daisy moves as a result of their program. In challenge mode, children are presented with a problem to solve. They must use the commands given to complete the challenge. Use the easy drag and drop icons to make Daisy move. Daisy the Dinosaur lays the very basic foundation for learning programming in the future. The amount of content in the app is not expansive, but a good amount for a free app. This app would serve as a great introduction to programming or to test your child’s interest in the topic. Daisy the Dinosaur is appropriate for children ages 5-8 and is free.

 

Move the Turtle

move the turtle

Move the Turtle is reminiscent of the turtle that I used to program on the Apple II e. Move the Turtle is a much more updated version of the basic programming I learned as a child. It offers three areas to explore; Play, Compose and Projects. In the Play area there are nine different chapters with directions to instruct your child on how to program the turtle to accomplish a basic goal such as moving to a diamond or drawing a line with a pen. Children earn diamonds, trophies and stars along the way. In the Compose area your child can apply what they have learned in the Play area in order to create their own project or experiment with commands. In the Projects section, your child can explore what other children have created. Move the Turtle also offers the option to create multiple accounts for children in your house or in a school setting. Move the Turtle is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8.

 

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