Summer-Themed Apps

Anticipating summer? Get in the mood with these summer-themed apps.


Anticipating summer? Get in the mood with these summer-themed apps.


Summer-Themed Apps

Camping with Grandpa iOS only

Camping with Grandpa app review.

This app features a theme of camping and has nature and adventure lovers in mind. KinderTown loves the Grandma and Grandpa characters created by Fairlady media; this app focuses particularly on lovable Grandpa. Grandpa invites your children on a hike through the woods where they choose a trail and identify plant and tree species with his help. In the app, children have to drag forest animals to the food they eat and identify coordinating shapes of common tools used when camping, such a pocket knife or hatchet. Another feature of the app is a word find, which may be more challenging for beginning readers interested in the app and who may need the assistance of a parent. Kids love going on a hike with Grandpa, picking special stuffed animals to sleep with, and roasting marshmallows and hot dogs over the virtual campfire. As with other Grandpa apps, when children get the answers correct, Grandpa offers a high five that children get to slap (gently). Camping with Grandpa is a great way to get in the mood for summer camping. Camping with Grandpa costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-8.


Related Blog Post:
Top 4 Childhood Adventure Apps


Bug Art iOS only

Bug Art app review.

Bug Art provides an informal environment for children to learn and play with bugs. The free paint area allows children to paint and use stickers to depict a bug scene. The bug designer area allows children to choose a basic stencil and then design a unique bug around the stencil. Pictures can be saved in the app and shared with friends. The app also has free play areas where children can race bugs or use the iPad to make them fly through pathways. This app is a fun creative experience with bugs. Bug Art costs $2.49 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5.


Related Blog Post:
Creepy Crawly Apps


Park Math HD iOS only

Park Math HD app review.

Park Math HD by Duck Duck Moose works on a variety of math concepts. Park Math HD is a thoughtful app that moves users seamlessly through counting, addition, subtraction, sequencing, patterning, and comparing while being developmentally appropriate for early learners. Unlike many of the math apps in the app store, Park Math HD does not simply have children answering questions or tapping on objects; Park Math HD integrates three levels of learning into a park concept to practice and investigate math concepts in a meaningful way. Addition and subtraction are practiced in a story problem format. Park Math HD costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-6.


Related Blog Post:
Spring Math Activities & Apps (Demme Learning)


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10 Items from the Dollar Store for the Sandbox

The weather has gotten warmer, so it’s time to get into the sandbox.


The weather has gotten warmer, so it’s time to get into the sandbox. Read this post for fun ideas of what to include.


For this post, I’ve used a container instead of a traditional, full-sized sandbox, which lengthens the season during which the sandbox can be used. In addition, you can use it in different locations. Carry the container to a covered porch or garage on a rainy day or use it inside when the weather is cold. I also chose colored sand for our makeshift sandbox; it’s available at big box stores and LOVED by kids. These smaller sandboxes are also great for smaller houses or apartments that might not have room for a traditional sandbox.


Sandbox Items Found at the Dollar Store


Here are 10 items we found at the dollar store to use in the sandbox:


  1. Paintbrush – My son likes smoothing out the sand with the paintbrush, as well as making roads for the cars and trucks. Also, it’s a nice tool to practice writing letters and numbers in the sand.
  2. Measuring cups – My daughter likes to fill these up and dump them out over and over, and I like using the real measurements with her. (For example, if we call  them the 1/2 cup, ¼, etc., I feel she is gaining an understanding of what these actual measurements look and feel like and hope she will be able to transfer that knowledge to other areas later.)
  3. Imitation gems – The dollar store generally has lots of different colors, shapes, and sizes. My kids enjoyed “hiding” them from their sibling and then having them find them later.
  4. Mini dustpan and brush – Brushing sand into the dustpan is great practice for developing motor skills, but it’s also handy for cleaning up sand that ends up outside the “box.”
  5. Kitchen strainer or serving spoon – This can be used as a sifter in the sandbox and as a tool to find the gems. They are also great for moving sand or just watching the sand fall through the holes.
  6. Mini watering can – The sand will fall out of the can as it is poured, but it is also great if you choose to add a little water to your sandbox.
  7. Pie pans – My children used these to make pretend blueberry pies, mud pies, etc.
  8. Kitchen spatulas – These are fun for stirring the sand around and around.
  9. Paint holder – These worked nicely for moving large amounts of sand because of the nice handle. (You can see a red one pictured in the photo at the top of this post.)
  10. Cars, trucks, tanks – The dollar store is a great place to get toy vehicles for the sandbox. Ours stay in the sandbox for use only in this location. This makes them novel when the sandbox is out and keeps the sand from being relocated to the house.Sandbox play is great fun in the summer. Learn about some items you can pick up at the Dollar Store to stock it.


Now, while your kids are playing, be sure to join them. Here are 3 questions you can ask your child as they play:


  1. What are you making?
  2. Where did you come up with that great idea?
  3. How can we play together?


There are also lots of free things around your house that work well in the sand, too. Any container recently recycled after being cleaned out, paper towel rolls, plastic silverware, plastic cups, or old plastic containers without lids all can be used for sand play. You can easily and inexpensively round up an afternoon of fun in the sandbox.


Related Blog Post:
Just Plain Fun! Educational Apps for the Summer


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Summer Learning Apps for Your Preschooler

Check out these great apps to keep your preschooler’s skills alive this summer.


Check out these great apps to keep your preschooler's skills alive this summer.

Summer Learning Apps

Writing Wizard

Writing wizard

Use this app with children who have been introduced to their letters this school year. It will solidify their knowledge of letter names and formations. Writing Wizard offers 5 different fonts to choose from. Choose the one your child is most familiar with. Next, the app has 5 different areas for learning and engaging with writing. The first area involves tracing familiar shapes such as circles, crescents, and crosses. This area is a great place to start for children who are just beginning to write and use a pencil or crayon, usually around the age of 3. The areas include upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and a “My Words” section. All of the different learning areas have many different options for parents to customize the experience for their children, including changing the size, difficulty, and whether to show or hide the model. There is even a setting for left-handed writers.


Children love the different types of markers used to trace the letters such as rainbow, tiger, and bugs! After the letter is correctly formed, children love playing with the pictures that fly off the letters before the next letter appears. This feature keeps children engaged and offers a change to “play” while learning. KinderTown especially likes the “My Words” section for children as they advance their writing skills. Parents, customize the words in this section to include your child’s name, their favorite food, their siblings’ names, and other important beginning words your child is motivated to practice over and over. Another wonderful feature within the app is the ability to print off practice sheets for your child. A great way to make the connection between the app and paper and pencil. The app is $4.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-6. An app that will grow with your early learner!


TeachMe Toddler

teach me toddler

TeachMe Toddler is a mixed-practice review app that presents questions in a multiple choice format. The app reviews concepts such as shapes, letters, letter sounds, colors, and vowel sounds. The app has a nice progress reporting area where you can check how your child is progressing through the skills. For every 4 questions answered correctly, the child earns a sticker. This feature excites children and motivates them to continue answering the questions. KinderTown likes how if children choose the wrong answer, the little mouse tells them why the answer is incorrect. Children must continue until they select the correct answer and do not earn a checkmark towards a sticker when they incorrectly answer the question. In addition the app allows for multiple children to have an account so it can be used in preschools or for multiple children in one home. TeachMe Toddler is $0.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-4.


Kindergarten Bingo


Kindergarten Bingo practices three different skills: shapes, letters, and numbers, through an interactive Bingo board. The app allows for up to 5 players to play the game together. Children must listen closely to the narration, as it tells what to identify in the app, like a “green crescent,” or the letter “M.” This is a great way to help your child prepare for following directions, and improve their listening skills. Parents, visit the settings to change the default letters from capital to lowercase, and choose how high you would like your child to practice their numbers (up to 100). Also, parents, you can choose to practice the letter names or the letter sounds. Both are valuable skills for children. The app also has a nice practice area with flashcards that need to be used with an adult because the app does not provide feedback for the child. The app does say the correct answer aloud when tapped, but a parent will need to help their child correctly identify what is pictured on the flashcard.


Learning Wand

Craft stick or Paper Towel tube


Construction Paper

Construct a special wand. Decorate the paper towel tube or craft stick. Make a special star for the top. Let your child lead in how they would like to decorate their special learning wand.


Tell your child that they are going to use their special wand to find letters around your home. Ask your child “Can you find a letter in the kitchen?” Children should use their special wand to search for a letter. If they can’t identify all the letters, don’t worry. Tell your child the correct letter name once they have found a letter. If they need assistance, give them clues. After finding a few letters in the kitchen, switch to another area of your home. By doing this you are raising your child’s print awareness. They are discovering where letters exist within their environment. For older students, you could ask the question “Can you find a word in the kitchen?” You can also repeat with numbers. “Can you find a number in your bedroom?” Use your special learning wand throughout the summer to continue to identify letters, words and numbers in their environment.


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TenMarks: Online Summer Learning

I learned about TenMarks and I wanted to share this valuable resource with you.


I learned about TenMarks and I wanted to share this valuable resource with you.

Summer is just around the corner. I know that I am planning some of the yearly activities that my kids enjoy. I’m also looking into new opportunities that might be a good fit for my children.


TenMarks Education

TenMarks is an innovative online education company run by Amazon. The amount of content that they provide for free is impressive. The program is marketed as a supplement for schools and homeschoolers. They offer both free and premium web-based packages. It can be utilized for homework, after school programs, remediation, enrichment, or practice during the traditional school year. In addition, they offer a free summer learning program for students to keep their skills sharp or to address areas of remediation. I am planning on using the program because my son enjoys math and I think he’ll enjoy the online practice.


As a teacher, there are a few features that stand out that I think make this program attractive. TenMarks’ interactive platform connects teachers, students, and families in order to individualize math instruction for the student. Allowing students to work at their own level and pace increases student engagement and learning outcomes. The adaptive program provides extra support for students who need to spend more time on a concept, while those who are ready for more challenging work can move ahead. The immediate feedback helps students track their progress and keeps them actively involved in the learning process.


The online program offers videos, hints, and interactive worksheets. Concepts are broken down so they can be read and dealt with more easily. The work flow is easy to read and audio is available for students who benefit from both visual and auditory instruction. As tasks are completed students gain access to the Reward Zone where they can play games and print certificates, an incentive I know my son will love.


What’s your favorite resource for summer learning?


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Just Plain Fun! Educational Apps for the Summer

Read KinderTown's reviews of these fun summer apps.

Busy Shapes

Busy Shapes

Busy Shapes encourages children to use their logic and problem solving skills to maneuver shapes and objects into the correct holes in order to advance to the next screen. Busy Shapes is an app inspired by the work of Jean Piaget who proposed that children construct their own knowledge through play, in this case digital play. Busy shapes has 38 levels of play and continues to advance and challenge children as it adapts to their level of learning. It includes an area to set up multiple logins per household. The app does not teach the names of the shapes but encourages free play and cognitive development through experimenting with the shapes. Busy Shapes is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 2-6. The app is colorfully made and includes basic tools along the way to help  children explore the effects of the tools on the shapes.  As the levels become more difficult, multiple tools are presented.  The app is very intuitive for children who are familiar with the iPad. They start dragging the shapes and they are off to solve the problems presented. Parents, you may need to assist when your child reaches a challenging area they can not solve on their own, but generally this app is one your child will be able to navigate independently.


Grandma Loves Bugs

Grandma Loves Bugs

Grandma Loves Bugs is an app that practices different types of skills that are appropriate for children ages 3-5.  The app includes 10 mini-games and 8 educational videos for children to enjoy.  The app works on skills such as matching letters, memory skills, identifying groups and looking for differences. Grandma is charming as always and dances, and needs help finding the bugs in her hair.  This app offers great basic skills practice for the summer. Children can also catch fireflies, draw a spider web and eat caterpillar leaves with Grandma. The app is $1.99.


How I Became a Pirate!

How I Became a Pirate!

This app by OceanHouse Media is a digital book sure to be loved by your kids.  I know many boys who love to pretend to be pirates, and I often observe large playground toys, or backyard tree-houses imagined into pirate ships. The How I became a Pirate book was a New York Times bestseller and is sure to be a favorite digital book as well. It has two options for reading: Read to Me, and Read by Myself.  The book has several different interactive options. When reading, your child can have the words read again by tapping them or tap the wrapping on one of the pirates heads and hear the word bandanna. This story is perfect for summer because the story begins with a boy using his imagination at the beach spying a pirate ship in the ocean. The pirates come upon the shore and interact with the boy. The boy in the story board the pirate ship and has an adventure. I really like the recording feature on each page.  Beginning readers can read and record their voice. Save the recording and your child can listen to themselves read the story.  This is a great learning activity for children ages 6-8.  It develops fluency and expression while reading and will become a parent favorite as well. The app is $3.99 and appropriate to read with children ages 3-8.


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