Enrich Your Child’s Language Experience with Power Pack Ideas!

Check out our latest Power Pack, Experiencing Language PreK, for ages 4-5.

 

This Power Pack will help your preschooler prepare to read well by encouraging critical thinking and reflective questioning.

This Power Pack will help your preschooler prepare to read well by encouraging critical thinking and reflective questioning. These are the building blocks for reading comprehension.

 

Apps in the Power Pack include:

 

The Land of Me – Story Time

Read KinderTown's review of The Land of Me

 

Stella and Sam Story Pack

Read KinderTown's review of Stella and Sam

 

Pixel and Parker

Read KinderTown's review of Pixel and Parker

To find the Power Pack, download KinderTown onto your iOS device. Then:

-Select the Power Pack icon from the menu at the bottom

-At the top left, select the level PreK

-Choose “Experiencing Language” from the list of skills.

-Login and View the Power Pack

 

We think this is a great opportunity for the world to see the power of the iPad for early childhood learning. Access the Power Pack through the KinderTown app (remember, you must be signed in),  and select the Power Packs icon from the bottom menu to check them out!











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Learn to Read with uKloo!

We received uKloo for Christmas, and my children have been enjoying the game together.

 

We received uKloo for Christmas and my children have been enjoying the game together.

Children love scavenger hunts, and my children are no different. I have a 7-year-old reader, and a three-year-old non-reader. They work together to solve the scavenger hunt in this game, and a spirit of cooperation is needed to be successful with the game.

 

uKloo Review

Read KinderTown's review of uKloo

The game and app uKloo was made by a mom who was challenged by her son’s reluctance to read. He would  hide from her whenever it was time to read. She thought perhaps hiding the “reading” or words would work for his learning style, and uKloo was born. As a teacher, the key to the game is the picture word chart that helps children link a visual picture to common words. Through repetition and their experience playing the game, the words start to stick. This game also serves as a great reinforcement of common words your child may already have learned to read. With summer right around the corner this would be an excellent game for your beginning reader to play, to keep their reading skills strong without them realizing that they are practicing those skills. The hook for kids with uKloo is finding the cards. Marching all over the house finding the clues and reading them was the big attraction for my kids. Use the Picture Helper chart for assistance in reading the words when your child gets stuck. This game has also received rave reviews from parents of special needs children who are learning to read because of its unique approach.

 

Read KinderTown's review of uKloo.

Now, there is an app to pair with the early learning reading game. uKloo the app works like the hands-on game. The app works to build familiarity with basic sentence structure and high frequency words. The app invites children to find the uKloo card hidden in the scene by reading the short and simple clue. Two different scenes are provided, a farm scene and a market scene. Prompt your child to use the picture clues for what word might be in the sentences that they need to read, or use the helpful book icon to display the visual picture prompt chart. Parents, you can adjust the level for your child  (1-10) and the amount of correct answers needed before receiving positive reinforcement. As the levels increase, the sentence structure becomes more difficult and the words are less repetitive. Your child will feel successful learning to read because of the repeated phrases and words on the clues. Unlock surprises along the way for reinforcement for your child.   Use the ? button to find helpful hints. uKloo is free and appropriate for beginning readers ages 4-6.

 

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KinderTown’s Top 14 of 2014

KinderTown transforms mobile devices into powerful teaching tools by finding and organizing the best educational apps for kids ages 3-8 years old.

 

Read KinderTown's reviews of their favorite educational apps from 2014.

Our mission is to improve early childhood education by empowering parents with the tools to be better teachers. We work hard to find the best educational apps for children. Each app we select for KinderTown has been tested and reviewed by educators, parents, and most importantly, children. Not all (or even most) of the apps meet our high standards. We take many factors into account including educational value, ease of use, engagement value, design features, artwork, cost, and shelf life. It’s through this process that we believe we can help parents use their iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches to teach their children anything.

Read KinderTown's reviews of their favorite educational apps from 2014.

1. Reading – Learn with Homer

Learn with Homer is a full “Learn to Read” series of lessons for kids. The app features letter sound instruction, sight word introduction, read aloud stories, and a mixed review of concepts presented. The app does a nice job of mixing reading instruction, a review of previously-taught concepts and the reading aloud of real books, which are all key components to learning to read. The developers of Learn with Homer conducted research using their app on children who were beginning to read, and showed that the use of the app 15 minutes a day led to an increase in their beginning reading skills. Learn with Homer is free to download but does include in-app purchases to buy additional lesson content.

2. Math – Marble Math Jr.

Marble Math Junior is an excellent example of how to merge quality game design with significant educational value. This app moves kids through the sequence of understanding the question, tapping into knowledge to form an answer, and creating a strategy for navigating the gameplay maze. Getting answers wrong is not an issue here, where it’s highly motivating to learn through trial and error, too. Take time to read the information pages to learn about all the features and customize the problems and levels. One of the most engaging, educational math apps we have played to date.

3. Spelling – Rocket Speller Plus

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. To reinforce vocabulary development, each word is presented with a picture. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints) so students are reconstructing the word in order to continually practice spelling it, building 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. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual hints and audible hints, as well as smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty in order to provide what is called Adaptive Assistance.

4. Social Studies – Barefoot World Atlas

Barefoot World Atlas will completely mesmerize all members of your family. Open to a globe dotted with images that just beg to be tapped. Read and listen to fun facts by touching the images on the screen. Looking for more depth? Search by country and region to learn facts that give you a look into the lives of people and places around the world. This app is completely worth the price of $4.99 and will be appreciated by both the adults and children ages 4-8. Find a time to sit with your child and enjoy Barefoot World Atlas together.

5. Science – Human Body

The Human Body is an app made for exploring and asking questions. There is animation to accompany the six different body systems. Encourage and answer your child’s questions while exploring, and they will direct their own learning. Tap different parts of the brain, and an animation pops up depicting what that area of the brain controls. The app is not narrated, so parents need to provide the support for learning. In addition, the app offers a parent section and an option to set up multiple profiles for different children. Children can record questions while using the app, and parents can respond to them. Tinybop has even made a helpful parent guide to accompany the app. We highly recommend downloading it and using it with your child. It’s perfect for answering the tough questions your child may ask about their body. This app is brilliantly designed for scientific discovery.

6. Logic – 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. 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 quench 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. Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7

7. Story Creation – Draw and Tell

Draw and Tell brings the best features of drawing apps into one fabulous art experience. Choose from a blank page, your photos, or one of the app’s backgrounds, and start creating. Tools like crayons, stickers, paint and erasers are used while this app records your child singing, talking, and moving stickers all over the screen. Not feeling up to creating your own picture? Try out the variety of coloring pages where you get to drop paint into the lines to create a vibrant scene. The real gem is the final product where your child’s voice and artistic creation are made into a personal movie.

8. Coding – Kodable

Kodable is an introduction to coding for young children. 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 to earn color changes for the puff ball by successfully completing puzzles. Kodable is for kids ages 5-8 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 in 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.

9. Visual Memory – Dexteria Dots 2

KinderTown loves the creative approach to numbers that Dexteria Dots provides. Dexteria Dots designed a game in which players are developing visual tracking, visual memory and visual motor planning skills through manipulating different sized dots within the app. While playing with the dots, children are learning math concepts such as comparing numbers, counting, adding and subtracting. In addition, fine motor skills are used to slice and connect the dots on the screen. The unique design relates the size of the dots to the numeric value. For example, a 4-dot has twice the diameter of a 2-dot. There are two different games inside Dexteria Dots 2, Make Equal Dots and Compare Dots. In the Make Equal Dots Game, children are challenged to use all the dots to make two equal dots. In the Compare Dots game children combine dots to see which side of the screen is larger. As the games advance, the numeric representation on the dots disappears, developing visual memory and discrepancy. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children learning addition and subtraction concepts who are approximately 4-8.

10. Social Emotional – Daniel Tiger Grr-ific Feelings

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings provides an app in which kids can learn about different types of feelings while playing and singing with Daniel Tiger. Our kid testers loved the trolley game in which children navigate the trolley to 12 different games. Each game has a specific feeling to complete an activity, such as feeling frustrated and having to find a lost toy, or feeling happy and making Daniel Tiger dance. There is also a sing-along section where kids can sing about feelings with Daniel Tiger, as well as a drawing area that includes paint, crayons and stickers. This app provides an age-appropriate way to explore different types of feelings with children ages 3-5, and is a great way to start conversations with your children about feelings. The app is $2.99 and available for iPad.

11. Letter Sounds – Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet is a super silly, wacky, hilarious vocabulary learning app for kids. Scroll through words inside a friendly blue monster’s mouth. Tap on one that looks especially interesting, and learn what the word means. Kids need to build the word, letter by letter first, then watch, listen and learn about the meaning of each word. Wacky, weird letters and colorful, interesting (non-scary) monster characters play the starring role in the app. You won’t find any high scores or multiple levels in Endless Alphabet. This app is just about learning new words in a playful, discovery-focused way.


12. Multiple Skills – Grandma’s Kitchen

Grandma’s Kitchen is sure to delight your youngest chef while practicing a variety of skills including patterning, counting tens and ones, visual discrepancy, telling time, and ABC order. Grandma’s Kitchen has a nice balance of creative play, skill-based practice and informational videos to build vocabulary. Grandma will even give your child prompts if they are having difficulty answering the question. After your child answers the question, they are rewarded with an activity with grandma such as adding ingredients to the mixer to make a cake, watching an informational cooking video, dancing with Grandma, or our favorite, giving Grandma a kiss! Parents, be sure to check out the settings area where you can decide which skills your child is practicing. Check out the fun facts section for tidbits about food, nutrition and cooking. The app is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-7.

13. Best Non-fiction Reading – Kids Discover Apps

Kids Discover is a jam-packed, non-fiction learning experience for kids. Kids Discover has a variety of topics that they offer in magazine/book-styled apps. Each topic contains pages with information and interactive elements. The app does contain a large amount of text, which is not read aloud. Parents read aloud the text to your child, or help define the topic-specific vocabulary words your child may not be able to read themselves. The apps contain great real pictures, drawings, diagrams, and areas to learn more. At the end of each app there are activities that relate to the topic of the magazine, and multiple choice quizzes with an answer key. Check out their website for excellent parent guides. They also have a teacher area with free lesson plans to accompany each of the apps. Visit their webpage to see all of the app magazine topics like electricity, the Incas, geology, the Civil War, galaxies and much more. Each one is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 6-8.

 

14.  Handwriting – abc PocketPhonics

ABC PocketPhonics brings three important language skills together into one app. In abc PocketPhonics, children learn to recognize letters, hear letter sounds, form letters by tracing, and use the letter sounds to build words. Parents are able to create multiple users, have control over the font and letter types, what letters their child can work on, and how flawless the writing needs to be. ABC PocketPhonics tracks each user’s answer and will not advance a user unless they first demonstrate mastery of the basics. The app is $6.99 and is appropriate for children who are learning their letters and their sounds ages 4-6. Try the Lite version first to see if it is a good match for your child.

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Winning Word Apps

Playing with words is an excellent way to develop vocabulary, develop spelling skills and learn new words along the way. Check out these winning word apps!

 

Playing with words is an excellent way to develop vocabulary, develop spelling skills and learn new words along the way. Check out these winning word apps!

Word Apps

Curious Words

Curious Words is an exploratory app that inspires children to make connections between words and their personal surroundings. Read KinderTown's review.

Curious Words is an exploratory app that inspires children to make connections between words and their personal surroundings. My children love to create videos on their iPad. This app works to direct a child’s learning while making videos. The app prompts children with words, and then they are to take a picture that coordinates with the word. Children can swipe to the left or the right to choose new words. The app then combines the words and pictures into a unique video for the child.  If the child does not like the video they can easily deleted the video and rerecord. For young readers, the words are read aloud, so the focus of the app is word associations not learning to read the words and developing creativity and curiosity. Curious Words is $1.49 at the time of this review and is appropriate for children ages 4-7.

 

Word Sundae

Word Sundae is a smart spelling game for kids and their parents or peers. Read KinderTown's review.

Word Sundae is a smart spelling game for kids and their parents or peers. Word Sundae can be played in different ways, but always involves 2 players. Play against the computer, a parent, a friend or sibling. Children are presented with Scrabble-like tiles that they must combine to make a word in their sundae bowl. KinderTown likes how scoring is different for kids and parents to level the playing field for friendly competition. A child friendly dictionary is automated within the app, so children must submit real words not nonsense words. Children earn rewards along the way such as extra turns, bonus tiles and extra points. Word Sundae is .99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8.

 

Endless Wordplay

The lovable monsters are back! This time with a focus on reading rhyming words. Read KinderTown's review.

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 once 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.

 

 

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Buy This, Not That: Word Games

KinderTown reviews lots of apps for kids that never make it to the KinderTown store. This week I thought that I would share an app I didn’t choose, and why, and recommend a better replacement that exists, but may not be on a banner ad in the iTunes store right now. This will be the first in a series of posts called “Buy This, Not That App.”

 

Futaba Classroom Games for Kids comes highly recommended as a multifaceted game to use with your family or in your classroom.

This week: Word Games

Buy This…Futaba: Word Games for Kids

Futaba Classroom Games for Kids comes highly recommended as a multifaceted game to use with your family or in your classroom. Read KinderTown's review.

Futaba Classroom Games for Kids comes highly recommended as a multifaceted game to use with your family or in your classroom. The app is completely customizable for what you want kids to learn and play. This is one of the few apps designed completely for social play. Either play with the provided content or create your own. Up to four players can sit around the iPad. Tap “start” and the game begins. One game might have the center showing a picture of a pig. The first player to tap the word “pig”  on their panel scores a point. After winning three rounds, the child is awarded a Futaba which is a small seedling. Futaba comes with several learning sets, but what makes this app exceptional is the fact that you have complete control of the content. Design your games by using the camera on your device or add your own text. The latest update provides an option to use Dropbox to upload images. The amount of customization allows both parents and teachers to get creative. The options seem limitless. Futaba is free, but KinderTown recommends the in-app purchase for $2.99 to unlock all the features.

 

Not That…Mad Libs

madlibs

At first glance, Mad Libs appears to be an educational app for kids. I remember playing Mad Libs as a kid, so I assumed that today’s digital version would be even better. I assumed the app would read aloud directions to children, give them feedback on the words inputted, make suggestions for nouns, and detect whether the words inputted fit the grammatical category. These are all the things my mother did for me as a child to create a learning experience. I was disappointed to learn that it did not include these features, and appeared as sadly lacking in interaction as it was when I was a kid. When the app opens, the words and graphics appeared fuzzy on the iPad.  To get started, children choose a theme for their story, for example, bowling. The app assumes children know what to do, and can easily begin adding nouns, adjectives, etc. in the appropriate blanks. The app also accepted non-words typed in by children (tlsdjgs), and the app does not evaluate if the word is actually a noun or not. The app does provide a sliding bar at the top to define what a plural noun is, and give examples. This was the best feature I encountered.

 

Once the story was finished, the children had to read the story themselves, and most of the time the story didn’t make any sense based on the words that children picked. The app congratulated the child for their work with the words, “Word, Playa!” regardless of the quality of words inputted. This is not how I think children should be given feedback. The bottom line is that Mad Libs does not aid in a child’s comprehension and understanding of language skills, so why not spend your money on an app that does? Don’t fall for the nostalgia you associate with the name Mad Libs.

 

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Apps for Thanksgiving

I’m sure your family is preparing for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Why not download a few apps to get you in the spirit as well?

 

I'm sure your family is preparing for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Why not download a few apps to get you in the spirit as well?

Thanksgiving Apps

Blue Hat, Green Hat – Boynton

This digital book app by Sandra Boynton is a classic story to be enjoyed again and again by your youngest child. Read KinderTown's review.

This digital book app by Sandra Boynton is a classic story to be enjoyed again and again by your young child. The story is about animals getting dressed in human clothes. The turkey in the story can’t quite put the clothes on the right part of his body, indicated by the word “oops” each time. Your toddler is sure to giggle over his mistakes! The story has two options: I want to read it myself, or The big guy reads it. There is delightful background music that can be turned off from the Home screen if desired. This book is appropriate for children ages 2 and 3 and is the most fun when you read it with your child and prompt them to join in on the simple story after multiple readings. Another great way to enjoy the book with your child is by trying echo reading. Choose the option “I want to read it myself.” Then read the text yourself and have your child repeat the text read back to you. Blue Hat, Green Hat fits this activity well because of the short phrases and repeated words. The app is narrated by a calm voice and highlights the words as they are read. This is a great story to enjoy before nap time! Check out the other digital books by the author Sandra Boynton; again, they are a perfect fit for 2-3 year olds. The app costs $3.99.

 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – A Peanuts Interactive Classic for All Ages

The app opens with the classic “Peanuts” music and each page has a hidden leaf for children to discover. Read KinderTown's review.

The app opens with the classic Peanuts music, and each page has a hidden leaf for children to discover. The story has the options “Read to me” and “Read myself.” The words are highlighted as the narrator reads, and the characters on the page are animated like the classic Peanuts shows. In the story, Charlie Brown is not feeling thankful. His friends invite themselves over for Thanksgiving, and Charlie Brown is upset about preparing a Thanksgiving meal. Woodstock and Snoopy save the day by helping Charlie Brown prepare a Thanksgiving meal. The story does include nice interactive features on each page, but it is quite long and feels almost like you are watching a Peanuts movie while reading the story and turning the pages. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and costs $5.99.

 

The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks

The Berenstain Bears are a beloved family in my house; my children often select Berenstain Bear books at the library, and to read before bed. Read KinderTown's review.

The Berenstain Bears are a beloved family in my house; my children often select Berenstain Bear books at the library and to read before bed. As a parent, I really like how they have a message and often give me a chance to talk to my kids about experiences we share in our life. I think the characters are easy to relate to, and that’s what has made them so popular for so long. The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks is about the time leading up to Thanksgiving Day and includes the bear children learning about the first Thanksgiving Day. The book does talk about being thankful and includes a coordinating Bible verse at the end. The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks is a part of the Living Light Series by Oceanhouse Media. Check it out here and be sure to download the free book The Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule. The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks costs $1.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-7.

 

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Curl up with a Digital Book App

Reading a book is a great way to spend that “in between” time while waiting to pick up a sibling, sitting in the Doctor’s office, waiting at the bus stop, or at home before bed.

Reading Aloud to your child is one of the many things that you as a parent can do to prepare your child for kindergarten and beyond. Many experts recommend reading 1,000 books prior to kindergarten. Why not use some of these digital book apps to read to your child? The app can read to them, or you can turn the narration off, and read the story aloud to your child. Store a few away on your phone and you will always have a book with you to read to your child during those “in between” moments. Reading a book is a great way to spend that “in between” time while waiting to pick up a sibling, sitting in the Doctor’s office, waiting at the bus stop, or at home before bed.

 

iStoryTime

iStoryTime is a digital library full of books you can purchase. Read KinderTown's review.

iStoryTime is a digital library full of books you can purchase. This digital library specializes in popular cartoon character stories such as Wubbzy, Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, Strawberry Shortcake, VeggieTales, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Animal Planet, The Smurfs, Sid the Science Kid, Barney, Mike the Knight, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Puss n’ Boots, How To Train Your Dragon, Madagascar, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and others. If your child likes many of these characters, iStoryTime would be a good match for you. Also included in iStoryTime’s library are classic stories such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Jack and the Beanstalk. New stories are added each week, and there is a locked parent section to view the store. A handy “My Books” area holds your purchased books. The stories do not contain much interactivity, but provide animated narration, and some of the books highlight the words as they are read. The app also includes four free books to try before purchasing additional titles as in-app purchases. iStoryTime is a handy addition to your on-the-go reading time.

 

Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella by Nosy Crow

Read KinderTown's reviews of Nosy Crow's apps.

KinderTown adores these recreated fairy tale classics! The stories include wonderful graphics, moving characters and scenes, speech bubbles, puzzles to solve along the way, and child-centered story development. For example, in the Little Red Riding Hood, there is a slide-out map for children to determine the direction in which they advance through the story. Each area contains information about the story and a puzzle or activity to increase engagement, such as imitating a tune with musical instruments (with a monkey!), or helping a lost spider out of her web. The stories are based on the classic fairy tales, but updated and adapted to engage young, 21st-century readers. Kudos to the developer for reinventing timeless classics for the next generation. Each fairy tale is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-7.

 

Polar Bear Horizon by Oceanhouse Media

Polar Bear Horizon is a non-fiction book app for children to learn about polar bears. Read KinderTown's review.

Polar Bear Horizon is a non-fiction book app for children to learn about polar bears. This app has a lot of strengths: great narration, rich vocabulary, colorful pictures, tappable picture labels and highlighted words. Older children could also personalize the app by rerecording the narration, or parents can rerecord the story for children. Compiled with the help of the Smithsonian Institute, the information is sure to fascinate children and provide new facts to learn. Oceanhouse Media provides many fascinating educational topics for their e-book apps, check out the full Smithsonian collection. Each ebook app is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 5-8.

 

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Top “Learn to Read” Apps

Check out KinderTown’s top rated reading apps!

Learning to read is a skill that evolves over a long period of time. Watching kids develop their reading skills is especially fun as they grow in confidence and become excited about books they can read by themselves. Remember that learning to read is a journey and not a race, so enjoy your child’s development along the way. These apps work best as one of a few approaches to reading, including reading aloud to your children, and listening as they read aloud: a perfect recipe for success! Check out KinderTown’s top rated Reading Apps!

 

Learn with Homer

Learn with Homer is a full Learn to Read series of lessons for kids. Read KidnerTown's review.

Learn with Homer is a full “Learn to Read” series of lessons for kids. The app features letter-sound instruction, sight word introduction, read-aloud stories, and a mixed review of concepts. The app introduces a letter and through game play children must identify the sound in the beginning, middle and end of words. This is a essential skill for developing phonemic awareness in preparation for learning to read. Also included in the progression through the lessons is the introduction of sight words. Sight words are words that can not be “sounded out” but rely on more instant recognition to develop fluent reading skills.

 

The app does a nice job of mixing instruction with a review of previously-taught concepts and the reading aloud of real books, which are all key components of learning to read. This app would be appropriate for children who are learning their letter sounds and are just beginning to read, or who need a review of the letter sounds. In addition, the app encourages children to record their voice saying the letter sounds, and reading the books and words included in the app. Children are most often at this developmental level during kindergarten and first grade. In addition, the developers of Learn with Homer conducted research using their app on children who were beginning to read and showed that the use of the app 15 minutes a day led to an increase in their beginning reading skills. KinderTown agrees that working 10-15 minutes on apps focused on reading skills into your beginning readers’ routine will encourage their development in this crucial area. Check out their website for a free 1 month trial. Read with Homer is free to download but does include in-app purchases to buy additional lesson content.

 

Reading Raven

Reading Raven is a self-paced, phonics-based reading instructional app for emergent (beginning) readers. Read KinderTown's review.

Reading Raven is a self-paced, phonics-based reading instructional app for emergent (beginning) readers. This app does a wonderful job of creating a variety of phonics instruction activities that will keep children interested. Parents and teachers are thoughtfully given in-app tools for customizing their children’s learning experience. Throughout the app, children are learning about letter sounds and word parts. Make sure to read the parent & teacher guide in the app and visit their website at www.readingraven.com for videos and more information. Reading Raven Vol. 2 expands on the content learned in Reading Raven such as long vowel patterns and blends. Reading Raven is appropriate for children beginning to learn their letter sounds, and Reading Raven 2 is appropriate for children who have learned most of their letter sounds and are ready to identify patterns in words. Most children are at this level when they are ages 4-7. Reading Raven is $3.99 and Reading Raven Vol. 2 is $2.99.

 

Montessori Crosswords

Montessori Crosswords creates a valuable learning environment for children to practice identifying individual sounds in words. Read KinderTown's review.

Montessori Crosswords creates a valuable learning environment for children to practice identifying individual sounds in words. The activities are leveled and the app will grow with your child who is just starting to identify letters, to when they are reading and writing words at a first/second grade level. The app uses color coding and chunking to reinforce spelling concepts. Families will find interacting together with the movable alphabet to be quite enjoyable. In addition, the movable alphabet could be used with children to practice spelling words or sight words they are learning. Check the settings to set a time limit for the beautiful and fun sensory rewards. They can be distracting to the overall learning if not limited, but our child testers loved playing with them as a quick reward. Montessori Crosswords is appropriate for children ages 4-7 and is $2.99.

 

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Unique eBook Apps

eBooks are wonderful types of apps to have on your iPad or iPhone to read with your child on the go or at home.

eBooks are wonderful types of apps to have on your iPad or iPhone to read with your child on the go or at home. Reading books with your child builds vocabulary, comprehension and fluency skills that will grow and develop even more as your child learns to read themselves.

 

Kids Discover

Kids Discover is a jammed packed non-fiction learning experience for kids. Read KinderTown's review.

Kids Discover is a jammed packed non-fiction learning experience for kids. Kids Discover has a variety of topics that they offer in magazine/book styled apps. Each topic contains pages with information and interactive elements. The app does contain a large amount of text, which is not read aloud. Parents read aloud the text to your child, or help define the topic specific vocabulary words your child may not be able to read themselves. The apps contain great real pictures, drawings, diagrams, and areas to learn more. At the end of each app there are activities that relate to the topic of the magazine, and multiple choice quizzes with an answer key. Check out their website for excellent parent guides. They also have a teacher area with free lesson plans to accompany each of the apps. Choose from interesting topics such as Cells, Plants, Incas, Simple Machines, Extreme Weather, Antarctica, or Washington D.C. Visit their webpage to see all of the app magazine topics. Each one is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 6-8.

 

Me Books

Me Books is a children's library app. Read KinderTown's review.

Me Books is a children’s library app. The app has a nice selection of books. In the Me Books app, when the books are read aloud, the words are not highlighted and the books are not interactive as created. However, children can create their own interactive components in the story. Children can highlight a character and make a recording to be read when tapped during the story. Me Books offers a variety of books to choose from to download into your Me Books library. Each book ranges in price from $.99 to $4.99. Me Books does offer a variety of comics as well which can be motivating for some reluctant readers through a separate app called Me Comics. Also, be sure to visit their website and sign up for their newsletter to receive a 10 offer to jumpstart your library.

 

Boombons

Boombons is an interactive children's magazine made for Preschoolers. Read KinderTown's review.

Boombons is an interactive children’s magazine made for Preschoolers. Max, Lola and Oscar are the character’s that lead the learning in the interactive magazine. KinderTown loves the 60 interactive scenes that provide different learning activities that address different early learning skills such as noticing differences, sorting and matching objects, spatial awareness, numbers and colors. The change in scenes and virtual pages of the magazines keeps young learners interested in the app. Boombons comes with one free interactive magazine. An additional issue is available for purchase for $.99.

 

The Terrifying Building in Eyeville

This unique e-book attempts to explain cancer to children. Read KinderTown's review.

This unique e-book attempts to explain cancer to children. This book would be a good way to start a conversation with a child about cancer. The book does not have a lot of interactivity, but the graphics are engaging for children. The story is a bit lengthy about a destructive builder named “Kanser” that comes to town. “Kanser” eventually ruins the town and the town people leave to a new town and are able to start over again.  The author wrote the e-book after having a child with a form of cancer as a way to help kids connect with the concept of cancer.

 

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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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