Since my original iSchool post, we have found many more great learning apps on the iPad/iPhone. Whether you’re homeschooling or not, if you have an iDevice of some sort and you allow your kids to play on it, you won’t ever regret downloading good edutainment – the games are just as fun as Angry Birds, but can teach your kids crazy-quicker than any textbook ever will.
With that in mind, here are the latest apps that we’ve been loving on. The following are my own opinions and my discoveries – no one is paying me to review any of these apps.
TeachMe: Second Grade – the TeachMe series is still by far my favorite all-time app collection. They are fabulous. The Kindergarten app quickly prepared Ali for the first grade app, and the first grade app quickly prepared Ali for the second grade app. Second Grade has all of the great rewards, parental reports, customization, and entertainment that the previous apps do, but it’s added more sections of learning. It rotates between spelling, sight words, long addition, long subtraction, fast addition, and fast subtraction. It has a great method for making the long addition and long subtraction easy to understand, and the timer and extra coin incentive on the fast addition and subtraction are great – it has really brought out Ali’s competitive side, and has significantly increased the speed of her math skills.
Reading / Spelling / Writing:
Tab Tales – Last time I wrote about apps, I was very sad that I hadn’t been able to find any good reading apps. I’ve recently discovered Tab Tales, and am on a geekish high of grand proportions. They’re classic stories in poem form, written in mostly simple, readable words. There’s a “read to me” and a “read by myself” option. We choose “read by myself”, and I have Ali read it, then at the end of the page I press the Play button and have it read aloud, further cementing the storyline into Ali’s head. But what I really love about these apps are the interactive pages. The pictures all move and do cute things, and many of them have puzzles, as well. This is just the type of reward I need to get Ali excited about reading – because she knows that once she’s read the page, she gets to play on the page. These books have been the first reading exercise that Ali has ever done where when I ask “do you want to quit now?”, she actually says no. The books are free, but they do have ads on them, but you can pay .99 per book to get rid of the ads, which I think is well worth it for these wonderfully designed books.
Word Wizard – This app has spelling quizzes, but our favorite feature is it’s movable alphabet, where you can drag the letters to create words and sentences, and it will repeat them back aloud. Ali finds it to be great fun to teach the app to say things and surprise people when her iPad reads it aloud, such as the day we took Noah to the doctor, and when the Doctor walked in, Ali had her iPad say, “Noah is sick. Can you help him?” It’s a great way for kids to practice spelling and sentence structure composition in a fun setting.
Montessori Crosswords – Made by the same company as the prior app, this one has spelling practice disguised as crossword fun. It’s cute and entertaining, but Ali prefers Word Wizard most of the time.
Zaner-Bloser Handwriting – This is a simple app to practice writing letters and numbers. You can get manuscript or cursive, and it allows you to practice capital or lowercase letters. It either guides you or allows freeform writing. It’s perfect to work on the coordination of writing, but doesn’t have much edutainment value.
Grammar Jammers – This is a fairly silly app that sings songs about grammar. But Ali loves it, and it makes us giggle, so perhaps she’s learning something?
Math Ninja – I think this game could be THE hit game for a boy who needs math practice. It’s got a delightfully fun dialogue, adventure setting, and the ability to earn more weapons and buy things. It feels very original-Nintendo-RPG-Style, so it brought back fond memories of Dragon Warrior and the like. In the game, you’re a Math Ninja fighting off RobotDogs and RobotCats. You solve a few math problems, then you shoot ‘em up with the various weapons you’ve bought with your winnings. Very well done, very game-like interaction, but still getting significant learning in there. It has addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division levels. Ali loves it even though she doesn’t totally “get” the shoot ‘em up part, but if you have boys, I would recommend downloading this one immediately.
Motion Math: Hungry Fish – This is a cute, simple app for solidifying addition configurations. You choose the “level” you want to play – say, “8”, and then you combine bubbles of numbers to add up to 8 to feed your fish. It’s been good to help speed up the idea that 1 + 7 = 8, 2 = 6 = 8, or 3 + 5 = 8. It has in-app purchase options to get subtraction, multiplication, or division.
Kiddy Art – This is a wonderful free app that gives simple step by step visual instructions on how to draw animals and scenes. It’s exactly what I was looking for to help Ali develop her artistic skills. You can also color the pictures as well.
DoodleCast – This is a cute art program that gives the kids a scene and a concept – “What do you do at the playground?” It then records the drawing AND the audio while drawing, and they can play it back and watch. This can be humorous when a parent doesn’t know they’re playing this app, then then they hear their side of a phone conversation played back over the iPad. Use caution.
Presidents Vs. Aliens – This app is made by the same developer that made Stack the States and Stack the Countries (of which I reviewed last post.) It’s a great game to familiarize your kids with the presidents, and definitely has difficulty levels beyond what we’re ready to do. It has a cute interface where you shoot aliens with the president’s heads, which is entertaining on many levels. This isn’t one a non or slow-reader can play alone, as you have to read the questions, such as “Which one of these presidents is George Washington?”, but it’s fun to play together.
Analogies 4 Kids – I got this app for Ali because my ACT weakness was always the analogies section (ironic, since I ended up marrying the King of Analogies). It’s a simple app, but definitely conveys the idea without using too many words.
Here’s my updated app summary in order of my rankings, with the ones reviewed in this post highlighted.
Printable Version Available Here.
Apps I’m Still Looking for:
- I would LOVE to see someone create a Phonics Rules app – especially if they incorporated it into a game. How awesome would that be?
- I want to find more reading apps. I’m thrilled about discovering Tab Tales, but we’re going to run out of books pretty quickly. The more, the better.
- I have yet to discover any good early-grade science or history apps.
Do you know of any apps that fit into the above criteria?
What great apps have you discovered lately, kid or non-kid related?