Here are a couple of the direct links to my Pinterest Boards for:
1) iPad Apps
***the iPad board has been broken out into 3 boards due to number of pins:
*** also multiple boards now for technology resources.
It’s been a few years now of following other educators using iPads in their classroom and exploring a variety of apps across my mixed ages group (primarily used by preschools). Others have shared their “Technology Evaluation Toolkits”, so of course I have grabbed bits and pieces that work for my purpose of having iPads in my program.
I started here:
Here is what I have added:
I have found having a core group of apps always loaded on the iPads and then rotating others in depending on interests and academic areas working on at the time works best for me.
Core Apps: These cover math, science, literacy, social-emotional, creativity across the ages
Phonetic Birds $1.99/ Marc Sockel ~ This apps is all about recognizing and comparing sounds. It has been reviewed by many for developing auditory skills and by others for music. I think of it as an auditory training app. The game play helps children to really listen for changes in sound patterns. What was confusing at first was figuring out what one had to do in ordering or grouping the birds. This encouraged group cooperation. There are three different ways to use the app: Adventure Play, Quick Play, and Random Play. We are using in Adventure Play.
Rocket Speller Free/ Little Big Thinkers ~ This app is described as a spelling app for 3-7 yr. olds. It is a spelling app that shows an image and the word spelled out like many other apps. The difference for my group is they have to place a second set of letters over the first spelling out the word. The reward is making your own rocket once enough words are completes. For me I appreciate that my youngest are using this and building letter awareness. When you click on a letter the name is provided. They are also getting awareness of lower case letter forms. My older school-age are using this app while covering up where the word appears and trying to spell themselves and then self checking.
ChatterPix Kids Free/ Duck Duck Moose ~ This app has totally opened the creative doors for all ages here. Take a photo of whatever you wish + Place a line somewhere on the photo + Record up to 30 seconds = You get a digital story with the line turning into a moving mouth while your recording plays. We’ve been exporting to the iPad camera roll and going from there. For my youngest it’s about taking photos and just saying silly words. Hearing themselves back is such an experience. My older are drawing pictures and recording stories about them. The biggest project was taking 1 photo and reusing it for each character to record separately. Once exported they edited in iMovie and ended up with a 2 minute pieces. I’m planning on using for assessments by mouthing the children when pictured with a project they have completed as they expound on their project.
There are also always 2 ebooks or interactive stories on the page.
The development of quality apps continues to increase, but that leaves me with a problem – What to do with the increasing number of apps I have? Others have stopped adding apps, or deleted past apps, I decided I needed to find a way to maintain apps for easy access, but without filling up the iPad with unused material.
From the start I have only acquired apps that I felt would meet developmental and academic needs of the children in my care. I have also always been looking for apps across a wide range of age points. As we have been using our iPads I have been acquiring more apps having to do with the production of a project/product. These types of apps also support assessment for my preschool age children. I have over 100 apps now, but they all have a purpose or use, and I know there will be others still to come.
The other consideration is having a set-up on the iPads for easy access while controlling access. I use guided access, but also have found having only one page of apps the children can use at any given time to work best. Now it’s about what apps are to be found on that page and where do the others go.
With only 2 iPads and a personal laptop I have found it easiest to access all the apps on the laptop and download new apps directly to the correct iPad from there. I can also directly place the new app where I want it from the laptop. I delete the apps no longer wanted directly on the iPad. I can also quickly add an app if a child requests one that has been removed for a special purpose.
Our current (4/14) apps:
There’s A Monster at the End of the Book remains the #1 interactive ebook – well worth it’s cost.
I don’t think CookieDoodle has ever been removed. I like seeing that most children are now doing the puzzle option before eating their designed cookies.
LetterSchool remains the favorite for practicing the formation of letters and numbers.
Math Bingo provides the drill practice for the elementary ages, while Kindergarten Bingo offers the same bing activity for my toddlers and preschoolers with concepts like shapes, and letter recognition.
Soundrop was the surprise app. It provides work with math and science in a unique way and I was not sure if my young children would catch on to the exploration. I should have known better. We have developed race ways, boxes that gather and then suddenly open, changes in speed, number of bounces affecting sound…… Be warned if you do not like noise this app could quickly drive you crazy.
Our newest addition is Bug Art. Developed by the same group that did the Bugs&Buttons apps we continue to use, this apps provides a more creative environment. The coloring and animation of bugs from scientifically correct drawing has really grabbed the children’s interests. I have left them with the challenge to figure out a way to share their bugs outside the app. We’ll see what they come up with.
As tablets are finding their way into more and more classrooms/programs the discussions are flying about what is appropriate practice, especially for really young learners. In addition to the whole “screen time” discussion we now have discussion around purpose and best practice.
My belief is all technology should be seen as another tool in a teacher’s bag.
Since I believe one of my most important jobs in teaching is to support the development of a child’s imagination and the skill set to solve problems, I can also feel that a big goal with the use of technology is about:
I love how this creative infographic published by Jennifer Dornseif points out the creative side of devices and apps and the responsibility of a teacher to use them for that purpose.
This clip from the end says it all for me:
I have long been an advocate that there is a difference between sitting in front of a screen and being involved with what is on the screen. I was not one that bought into the idea of limited screen time, but rather quality screen time. I would rather have a child watch a few hours of quality programing than meet a minimum screen time limit and have that all junk programing. In my mind there was a difference between a PBS show like Super Why and Nick’s SpongeBob Squarepants, but even more with programing like WWF, reality TV shows, home shopping network, or even news programs.
This article brings some interesting thought to this discussion that has been seeing some change in the last few years - http://digitalmediadiet.com/?p=2650
To best serve our children, especially with all the changes to technology it is important for all of us as their teachers to be aware of the issues and current research on impacts and practices.
As we see changes in skill set and interests I will continue to change out the apps in use. The 2 classroom iPads are set up in the same manner with the same apps. This has proven to make it easier to use them as a group and for the youngest users to be able to use either iPad.
This is what November’s apps screen looks like:
The folders of apps for Books, Math and Infant hold apps that I can pull for special use with lessons. They can also be accessed by the children, but usually are not.
Having all the apps I have purchased/ downloaded on my laptop makes it is easy to replace apps as appropriate (saving space on the iPads). All I do is delete from the iPad directly and then connect to the laptop and drag to add.
I maintain variety across ages and subject material while keeping everything to 1 page.
Review of a few favorite apps in use now:
Leo’s Pad (Free)
• A free series of interactive animated stories for preschoolers
• Designed by Stanford University researchers and Emmy award-winning animators
• Early-learning curriculum based on latest research
Additional appisodes have a cost of $2.99 each.
This app is enjoyed here by ages 2 through 5. It is one that used almost daily with activities being used over and over. The graphics are appropriate for this age point. The audio holds attention without interfering. There is a good mixture of activity and learning.
A really good review can be found at Picky Kid App Guide. Found it to reflect our experiences.
There is now a children’s version for $2.99, but we love this version and all ages are using it.
This group enjoys puzzles whether traditional hands-on puzzles, puzzles pages or iPad apps. What has been really nice about this app is how it truly has a quieting affect. It isn’t about speeding through. The children just naturally seem to have slowed down while processing the solutions. Thinking both the audio and graphics supports this. When they miss they are more open to trying again, and again and again, until solved. I have also found them to be going back to repeat puzzles. It has not all been about progressing through the levels.
As the description on iTunes says: “Driving the colourful LEGO® DUPLO® Train from station to station is a toddler’s dream. Your child will play the role of the train driver – choosing and loading wagons, building bridges, stopping at crossings, refueling and laying new tracks around pesky rocks.”
This app has been a total hit with my toddler and preschoolers. The toddler needs a little support, but each time uses is able to do more themselves. I have found it interesting to see which activities within the app different children are drawn to. I like apps that allow variety in the experience.
Lego Duplo have been providing a large number of apps for free. This is our first one and chosen because of the interest in trains and cars.
For most adults they will recognize a Memory Activity as being a game where a selection of flash cards are placed face down in rows (or a pattern) on the floor. Then you turn 2 over at a time trying to match them, remembering what previous turnovers showed.
Another way is to have a small group of cards on the floor face up with time to observe (memorize). Then they are all turned over. Matches are made by turning over 2 at a time.
This second version is basically how this app is built. The barnyard-themed cards are all displayed for a set time then flipped over. The child then taps 2 cards, if a match is made points are earned and 1 earned “strike” is removed. Several matches in a row earn “bonus points”. If not a match they turn red and flip back over. No match earns a “Strike”. 5 Strikes ends a game.
As you succeed the game progresses in difficulty.
A Level Select screen will be unlocked on rounds 7, 14 and 21.
There are some levels that the pictures will rotate for more difficulty. It’s all about the need to focus, memorize.
I started off our iPad usage focusing on ebooks and interactive educational games. I knew the kids would enjoy using the iPads in this way as part of their practice times. As I explored the large variety of apps available I started to follow some technology teacher blogs. This opened up a view into the world of creating/production with the iPad. The iPad is portable, powerful, and users have the option to create, save, and share all in one compact device. As I intergret the iPad into our program on a larger scale, my focus will be on the production of creative projects that support both the learning and assessment of what has been learned.
The Educreations app is a fairly simple app that turns the iPad into a recordable, interactive and mobile whiteboard. The possibilities for use in my program are only limited by my creativity and knowledge base.
What does Educreations provide me?
Although Educreations lacks a “help” section there are many educators using and sharing tips and techniques online.
The simpleness of this app makes it an easier one for using with my preschoolers. They do not need lots of pen colors and thicknesses for the work they will be doing here. We have our drawing apps for drawing.
We will be exploring:
Have read that Explain Everything is a more robust version of Educreations in regards to editing. It also leaves you with full ownership of whatever you create, so you can download and will not lose material if the site closings up overnight. There are also “help” guides readily available. Cost of about $3 is fair if as robust as reviewed to be.
On first look seems really simple. Writing over photos and recording. This might be just what I need for my youngest learners. It’s Free.
We had the trial for Voice Thread for a month. We found it offered some very interesting possibilities for creative production on the iPad for the school-age, but at $15 a month it does not fit the budget. We have a large number of other apps to explore that we are quite sure will allow for similar creative productions at basically a free cost point.
VT app has been removed from the iPad for the time being.
A snowstorm means less kids here and a chance to explore resources that have been bookmarked. Started off checking out TypeDrawing. There is a cost of $2.99, but with the initial interest the kids are showing and what I can image expanding it’s use to for lessons it was a quick buy for me.
Then I expanded by importing the creations into Voice Thread. We’re doing a one month $15 trial there to see if there is value for the cost. There is a free option, but you have a limited number of threads available. We used them up just this morning.
I have wanted to find ways to produce creative products, not just game play or skill practice, with our iPad usage. This is a good start.
Now they can take their creations to another place with voiceovers. Could not get the VT to work embedded here, but they are up on the FaceBook page.
Cannot wait to see where the creativity leads us.