My sister and her family came home with an iPad this weekend. So, when she mentioned that my 9 month old nephew loved playing the piano app, I had to see how little Brody interacted with it. Today when he came to visit, we handed him the iPad and he started playing and singing. I think it is pretty amazing after having interacted with it for just a day.
This had me thinking about adding apps to my iPad and iTouch for my kids at school. My students have different needs and interests so I have found a few that I am thinking will help kids with specifics they need to practice. I have also found some universal apps that work for young kids in general.
Fine Motor Needs: I have a few students who are still mastering the fine motor capabilities needed to form letters correctly. I like the app iwritewords. It is an app that truly focuses on letter formation (handwriting). It has uppercase letters, lowercase letters, number or word options for kids to practice. Once an option is chosen, a small crab appears on the screen with a series of bubbles following that prompt the student to touch the screen and follow the path of the letter. The letter name is announced and some type of praise (not a huge fan b/c gets a little annoying hearing "good job" and "that's great" over and over again) After tracing the path of the letter, it becomes a little square that you can help dance to the bottom right of the screen before another letter appears. Here is a video of a kiddo playing with the word option. I think teaching kids to draw and write about things that happen to them is best practice for emergent writers, this app is an option for my kids who need fine motor practice.
Word Practice: ABC Magnetic Alphabet: This app is like a small blackboard that you can drag magnetic looking letters onto. My fifth grader can't get enough of it as I am typing. He has written silly notes to his brothers and is using the picture icons to write silly sentences. I am thinking of using this as an option for practicing the high frequency words we have in our study.
Letter Play and Learning: Interactive Alphabet I think is my favorite. It has entertained everyone in my family (young and old). My first impression was that it was just a bunch of abc flash cards but to me it feels more like a game. You can begin with any letter and each letter has something for you to play with on the screen. The music is upbeat and inviting and each page is read to you. For example: "N is for Noodles, /N/ Noodles."
Then, you can touch the chopsticks on the screen and move the noodles up and down. Once you play with one letter, you want to know what you will find with the next one.
Really, great stories (at a good price) would be the most universal and loved app for young readers in the classroom. Stories with pictures and narration support the literacy needs of all our kids. Here are a few options I have found...
Tales2Go: This app allows kids access to many categories of audiobooks. It is filled with classics including The Gingerbread Man, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and Caps for Sale. I am using it as an option for my students as they come in to read in the morning. Having the fairytales at their fingertips has been a great as small groups of my students are performing fairytale plays for one another this month. They can re-listen to the tales their friends have performed .
Josh and Emma Go To the Beach: This app is the story of two kids who spend time finding treasures at the beach. The story is filled with questions that guide the reader to play with the pictures on the pages. At the end of the story, the reader can touch the treasures and count them back into the bucket. The book has an auto-play and speech option.
Wheels on the Bus: This app has probably been the most popular with the kids who have picked up the iPad this week. It can be sung to you in many languages and also has the option for you to record yourself singing or reading it. I think the interactive part of this app is most inviting. You actually use your finger to make the bus move, open the doors, move the wipers an touch the people to move up and down.
Kids are interested in new, fun and interactive learning. The iPad is all that and more. I have been bringing my family iPad in to share with my students and they are loving it. Wouldn't it be nice if every classroom could own at least one?