Friday, May 20, 2016

App Recommendations and Tips

I get so many questions about apps. I intend to do some more in depth posts about how I use apps in storytime and at preschool. For now, I am sharing a tips sheet I shared with parents at my preschool. More to come!

App Recommendations and Tips

I use these apps during storytime each week:

  • Drawnimal by Yatatoy--letter recognition and animal fun. Can be purchased alone or bundled with Miximal which is also fun and helps break down syllables in words.
  • LetterSchool--A little pricey for an app (I think it’s 4.99), but hands down the best handwriting app I have seen. Brief but fun videos. Appropriate feedback and fun effects. Options for uppercase, lowercase, and numbers.
  • Endless ABC--Features unique words for great vocabulary building. Helps build letter recognition and provides a super silly way to learn letter sounds. Not to be confused with Endless Reader--Endless Reader features shorter words for kids who are learning to read. (The developer also created Endless Numbers and Endless Spanish.)

Math and Counting

  • I like Star Gurus for counting. In the settings you can choose/limit the number range (1-10, 1-20) or select skip counting (count by 2’s, 5’s). There is also an option for offering a hint or not. An important sign of a good app is flexible settings (like turning off that annoying music, as well as privacy options).
  • Animal Pre-K by EggRoll games--practice a wide range of early math skills in a variety of ways. Great feedback with bright, bold illustration. Advanced versions available to grow with your child.

Music--We have used Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose here in class.  Duck Duck Moose makes other music apps that are really fun as well.

Emotional Development--Sesame Street has an outstanding app called Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame. Scenarios are presented that every young child can relate to. The app helps them learn to stop, breathe and think of possible solutions. Sounds too good to be true, I know. It is a skill that needs to be practiced, and this app provides the opportunity to do that in a fun, relaxed way. Lots of opportunities for discussion.

When searching for new apps, look for respected app developers. Certain companies just crank out consistently quality apps. Two developers that create a lot of play apps (offer opportunities to explore--not just abc’s and 123’s) are Toca Boca and Sago Mini. 

YouTube is a good source for researching apps. If you are considering an app, check YouTube for videos that show the app in action.

Want to limit your child to the app you have chosen and keep them off the internet? Guided access lets you lock the app and volume. You can even select areas of the screen that you don’t want your child to touch (ads, in-app purchases, etc.). Google “turn on ipad guided access” for detailed instruction.

Happy Apping!

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