5 Sweet (e)Books to Read for Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it is a fun time to enjoy some books related to the holiday. These books make great Valentine’s Day gifts for your special Valentine.
First Words Valentine is a sweet app that reviews common words associated with Valentine’s Day. The words are presented, and the letters are scrambled for the kids to arrange correctly. A picture accompanies each word to help children understand the meaning of the word. There are options for parents to turn off the letter clues, to turn off the sound, to change from lowercase to capital letters, or to change the font. The app is fairly simple but a fun way to enjoy Valentine’s Day. The best part is that the app is free! The app is appropriate for children ages 3-6. If you enjoy this style of app, the creator has several others designed in a similar way, such as First Words Animals and FirstWords: At Home.
Valentine’s Day is a great time to enjoy stories about love and kindness. This story is about the beloved character Biscuit and how he celebrates Valentine’s Day. The e-book has options for Auto Play, Read to Me, or Read by Myself. The app also includes a coloring book, sticker book, memory book, and puzzle section. The app costs $2.99 and is appropriate for children ages 3-5.
For additional book ideas for Valentine’s Day, check out these books at your local library.
Valentine’s Day Thematic Read-Alouds
George and his friends celebrate Valentine’s Day and, in his traditional mischievous style, causes trouble with balloons, glitter, and frosting.
Little Critter’s class is celebrating Valentine’s Day. Pull back the flaps and discover all the fun Valentine’s Day surprises.
Cornelia Augusta couldn’t believe her eyes as this unusual downpour began. Each heart was special, and she knew just what she wanted to do with each and every one of them. The simple and gentle text is kept to a minimum.
Enjoy these books with your little Valentine and check out our other ideas for celebrating the holiday here.
Tags: Reading, reading aloud, valentine's day, words
Best Apps for Handwriting
Handwriting is an essential skill for early childhood development. Learning to hold a pencil or marker and then construct meaningful lines is a process that leads to learning letter and number formation.
Many of the following apps work not only for handwriting, but also for other skills associated with reading development. Learning to name letters, form them correctly, and associate the correct sound with the letter are all processes developed during the pre-reading stage of development. Try out these apps to develop early handwriting skills. If your child is able to hold a pencil, try a stylus for easier transfer of the skill from the iPad to paper.
abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words brings several 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, control the font and letter types, choose the letters their child will work on, and determine how skillful the writing needs to be. The app introduces letters in small groups and works on each individual letter before moving on to the next group of letters. As each letter is introduced, the app gives the letter sound and tells your child to repeat it. Encourage your child to say the sound out loud as they play the app. Parents can opt into a weekly email that provides an update on your child’s progress. The app tracks the user’s answers and does not advance them without first demonstrating mastery of the basics. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and costs $6.99.
LetterSchool learn to write letters and numbers is another best app to add to your child’s collection of letter and number writing experiences. Letter School clearly introduces each letter, sound, or number (1-9) with an additional 3 levels of interaction that supports your child from tracing a line to forming the letter all on their own. A variety of animations keep the content fresh and interesting for kids. Use bubbles or railroad tracks to trace over the lines. The positive, motivational feedback encourages your child and will keep them wanting to use this app! Check out the lite version to try out some of the content for free. The app is appropriate for children starting to use crayons and markers for the tracing portion of the app and should last up through mastery of the letters, approximately ages 3-5. The app costs $4.99.
iTrace – handwriting for kids provides a simple approach to practicing handwriting. The main menu offers clean choices of practice with uppercase letters, lowercase letters, or numbers. In addition, there is word section that has an area to practice writing your child’s name, thematic words, or a customizable word list. The app has a few distinctive features, such as left-hand friendly modeling and individual tracking, and it supports multiple users.
Related Blog Post:
Does My Child Still Need to Learn Handwriting? (Demme Learning)
Tags: development, early childhood, handwriting, language arts, letter sounds, letters, pencil grip, practice, Reading, tracing, words
Back to School: Spelling Apps
Now that school is back in full swing, you may find yourself practicing spelling words at home as part of your child’s weekly homework. Check out these spelling apps to spice up that time.
If you are looking for a spelling curriculum to use in your home school environment, or supplement another educational experience, check out our Spelling You See
Enter a real cowboy town set up with a sheriff, school, general store, post office, and bank. Each area of the app, has letters hidden like gold around the scene. Children tap the letters to add letters to their bank. Then to progress through the scene children are prompted to practice a spelling word, and when completed correctly, they advance to the next part of the scene. The app has very interesting graphics and makes practicing the spelling words feel like a game. Children will forget they are practicing spelling. Download KinderTown to read the full review.
Word Wizard – Talking Movable Alphabet, uses app technology to enhance traditional writing and spelling activities. Children write sentences and spelling words while Word Wizard helps by saying the sounds of each letter as they are dragged onto the page. After each word is built, Word Wizard speaks the word as it is spelled and highlights it in red if it is spelled in a non-traditional way, or in white if it has the correct spelling. Download KinderTown to read the full review.
SpellingCity has created one app for parents and teachers to access spelling practice activities for multiple kids in kindergarten through grade 12. Seven spelling activities support kids learning new words, in playfully practicing spelling lists and working through spelling tests all right in the app. Download KinderTown to read the full review.
Follow KinderTown’s board Spelling Activities on Pinterest.
Tags: alphabet, back to school, letters, spelling, spelling you see, words, writing
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!
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 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.
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.
Tags: language arts, Reading, rhyming, spelling, vocabulary, words
KinderTown Flips Over Osmo!
My Osmo product arrived this week, and KinderTown was giddy with excitement! Osmo is a unique game system for iPad. Osmo comes with a stand and a mirror that attaches to the iPad and allows for the integration of real objects into the play associated with the iPad. There are 3 apps that can be used with the Osmo system. When you open your Osmo system, assemble the red mirror device onto the iPad, and the iPad on to the stand. Download the free apps and you are ready to begin.
The Osmo Tangram kit comes with tangram pieces that interact with the iPad. Download the free Osmo Tangram app to get started. Osmo offers a nice “getting started” section to familiarize your child with the use of the pieces and their interaction with the screen. The child must arrange the tangram pieces to match the on screen arrangement. While constructing the pictures, your child is developing important visual spatial skills. After your child completes the “getting started” section, the app offers different pictures for your child to choose from to construct with the tangram pieces. The app also indicates the level of the pictures from easiest to hardest by color coding them yellow, orange and red. The yellow puzzles offer color clues and the orange puzzles offer black and white shapes. The app does offer a hint button if needed to complete the puzzles. The hardest level offers just one solid black outside line. Arranging the tangram pieces was challenging, engaging and also fun to complete with a friend.
Osmo Words is played with the letter tiles. One set of letter tiles is blue and the other is red. To play, you can either play alone or with a friend. To compete with a friend was challenging and loads of fun! Osmo Words shows you a picture and the number of coordinating letter tiles. For example, a picture of a tree and 4 blank tiles. You must race your competitor to see who can throw the correct word tiles out first. The letters can be tossed into the playing space in any order. KinderTown really likes how more than one child can play with the tiles and the iPad to develop cooperative play skills. One suggestion KinderTown has is that the letter tiles are all in capital letters. Most words when written in text are lowercase. It would be great to see both upper and lowercase forms of a letter on a tile, maybe one on the front and one on the back. Children need exposure to both forms of the letters, especially when learning to read.
Osmo Newton uses the Osmo system to reflect the space, and the players choose which objects they use from around the house to affect the space. Osmo Newton drops balls from the top and supplies targeted areas that the balls should reach. KinderTown used blocks, paper clips, pencils and drawing lines on the paper in the space to change the movement of the balls to reach the targeted areas. Osmo Newton was challenging and does require persistence on the part of the player to solve the puzzles. As you continue to play, the number of targets increases and objects around the targets are added to increase the challenge. KinderTown recommends using 3D objects to affect the space. The drawing of lines was helpful but more difficult to change (erasing) when we wanted to change the direction of the moving balls. This app uses your child’s thinking and problem solving skills to interact with the screen in a challenging way!
Tags: games, interactive, ipad, language arts, letters, matching, osmo, problem-solving, Shapes, spelling, words
Super Spelling Apps
Rocket Speller Plus
Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene to practice spelling. The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. In addition, each word is presented with a picture to reinforce vocabulary development. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints) so students are reconstructing the word in order to continually practice spelling the word and build visual memory of the letters. Children like how getting a few correct answers leads to different choices for designing their own rocket ship and eventually blasting it off into space. From an educational perspective, Rocket Speller combines naturally occurring letter sounds together such as ck, ee, ea, and or. Rocket Speller offers some nice options for parents. There are several different categories of words to choose from or mix them all together. Parents can choose to have the narrator say the letter name or sound. KinderTown recommends choosing the “sound” option when working on spelling words. Parents can choose between capital or lowercase letters to form the words. KinderTown recommends choosing lowercase for activities involving common words that mostly appear in lowercase print. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual hints, audible hints and smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty and provide assistance called Adaptive Assistance. Rocket Speller is $2.99 and available for iPhone and iPad. Rocket Speller would be appropriate for children ages 4-8.
Spelling City app coordinates with the website www.spellingcity.com. The app draws on all the lists created in Spelling City and has seven free games that your child can play within the app. Student favorites are HangMouse, Unscramble and Missing Letter. In addition, parents can set up a free account with Spelling City and create their own list of spelling or vocabulary words for your child to practice. Once you have created your own account with Spelling City and created your own lists, you can login on the app and they will appear for your child to practice. This app would be appropriate for students ages 5-12 and is available for iPhone and iPad for free.
Word Wagon by Duck Duck Moose
Word Wagon is an app that progresses from learning letter sounds to the beginning stages of spelling. Word Wagon includes 103 words, and children will learn how to spell many common 4-6 letter words. As the wagon moves along, common objects fall into the scene and children can tap on them to practice spelling the word. Word Wagon includes stickers and free play activities that break up the spelling and letter practice. Students earn a sticker for each correctly spelled word and a game for every three words spelled correctly. For students ages 4-7, the stickers and game play help to keep them interested and motivated to return to this spelling app. As with other Duck Duck Moose apps, Word Wagon has appealing music and delightful characters. Word Wagon is available for iPad, and iPhone and is $1.99. Parents can change the four levels of play easily and have the option for upper or lowercase letters. It is really important to use the lowercase letters for words most commonly seen in lowercase print. This will make the transfer to reading, writing and spelling easier for children. If you have a beginning speller, this app is a perfect fit!
Tags: language arts, spelling, vocabulary, words
Artistic Apps by Avokiddo
I love the artistic quality of the Avokiddo apps so much that I would like to highlight both Avokiddo ABC Ride and Avokiddo Emotions. These apps are so beautifully created that you will wonder whether your child is playing and learning with art or an iPad. (Really it’s both!)
Avokiddo ABC Ride blends the great artistic qualities of cut-paper art design with learning letters. The characters, Beck and Bo, appear in the park, and your child can begin to play with them as he chooses a bike to ride through the park. Along the way, activities included in the scenery prompt your child to play a learning game that is associated with a letter. Once the activity is completed, students must reconstruct a word that starts with that letter. Another way to navigate the app is to use the ABC icon in the corner to choose a specific letter. In the parent section, choose uppercase or lowercase letters, whether to have the app state the letter name or the phonics sound, and other options, such as music and narration check boxes. Avokiddo ABC Ride combines artistic characters and scenes with a healthy dose of play while your child learns letter names and sounds. Avokiddo ABC Ride costs $2.99, is appropriate for children ages 3-5, and is available on iPhone and iPad.
Avokiddo Emotions opens with Avokiddo’s signature artistically created characters. Tap on the zebra, sheep, or giraffe to play with the character. Next, objects fall onto the screen, and your child gets to choose which ones to attach to the character. For example, a big straw hat turns the character into a beach-loving animal. With each object and scene, the characters display emotions associated with the scene and objects. Decide which foods to feed the characters to see how they will react. (Do they like pumpkin, watermelon, or a sandwich?) You can save your picture to your camera roll while playing or pull the lever to have all new objects come into the scene. Through this type of play, young children are learning about emotions, cause and effect, and body language. Avokiddo Emotions is available for $2.99,is appropriate for children ages 3-5, and is available for iPhone and iPad. Enjoy the artistic characters and explore their emotions as you add fun props.
Show What You Know: Cut Paper Art
The app, Beck and Bo is designed in a cut paper style. Grab all your paper scraps around the house and have fun creating a cut paper masterpiece and incorporate letter-sound associations, too.
-scraps of paper or full sized pieces of paper
-1 larger piece of paper to use as a construction base
Have your child begin to cut paper to design a picture. For example, cut out a circular shape for a ship, circles and squares for windows, and long rectangles for the mast. Arrange the cut pieces on the larger piece to create a picture. While creating this with your child, attach the beginning letter or word to objects. For example, write the letters “Sh” on the ship, and “M” on the mast. Talk about the beginning sounds with your child. Provide the letters and sounds if your child is at the beginning stages of learning their letters. If your child knows most of their letter sounds, write the word and ask “What else begins like the word sun?” This activity can be tailored to many different levels. Also, allow your child to experiment and explore with different abstract shapes that may not have a direct letter or word correlation.
We would love to hear from you…. Does your child love one of our apps? Did you try the “Show What You Know” activity? Let us know what you thought at email@example.com.
Tags: activity, art, emotions, feelings, games, interactive, language arts, letters, spelling, words