We finally found some good headphones!

we got headphones

The headphones we ordered from Zulily finally arrived yesterday. I couldn’t be more pleased! They fit all of the children nicely regardless of head size and are so much easier for them to use than the walkman style ones we were borrowing from the older grades. Having our own headphones that go on easily is such a time saver!

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The cord is actually covered with woven fabric rather than plastic. It’s plenty long and the headphones themselves seem sturdy.

The only downside is the exercise I’m missing out on by running up and down the stairs twice a day to borrow headphones from other classrooms!

5 Best Apps for Math and Counting

Best Math Apps for Pre-K & K

As a follow up to my post about writing apps (which you can click here to see) I thought I’d share some of the math and counting apps we’ve discovered. Again, it’s been challenging to find the few jewels among the plain old rocks. I really hadn’t realized how many apps were out there, nor how terrible some of them could be! The ones I list below (in no particular order) are the ones that I like because of their educational value, and that kids like for their entertainment value. Each of these apps (except for Count Sort Match) offers a free “lite” version and a full price version. Click on the title or the picture to see the app in the app store.

Count Sort Match

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This app showed up on Free App Friday last week. It’s been a big hit with my class. They find it very engaging. I like that in the “count” area of the game, they ask children to count¬†objects and then teach the numeral (1) as well as the written number (one). (Small pet peeve: I think the way they ask children to write the lower case ‘e’ is off, but since this is a math app, I won’t hold it against them. ūüėČ ) My students don’t find the “Sort” game particularly compelling, but they do like the “Match” game. It offers an opportunity for them to match a collection of items to the numeral represented. Great for reinforcing accurate counting.

Hungry Fish

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This app is particularly popular with the boys. A fish comes into the coral reef “hungry” for¬†a particular number. It’s the job of the player to feed that number to the fish. This in itself is plenty of challenge (and entertainment) for some of my students. They love watching the fish grow as he eats each number. What takes the app up a notch is the fact that you can combine two numbers to get the target number and then feed that number to the fish. That concept is a little above some of my students, but they still love the app.

Math is Fun Ages 4-5

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I review this app here, and it’s still a favorite among my students. As I was trying to encourage them to try out some of the new math apps I’d downloaded, they still kept gravitating back to this one. There are a variety of activities which teach a variety of skills. My students enjoy all of the activities.

Butterfly Math

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The kids drag a target number of butterflies into a bamboo cage. They check their work and adjust it if need be. I like that this app allows children to make mistakes, and then fix¬†them. A lot of the counting apps I’ve downloaded only offer the correct number of items to be counted. Often I’ve watched children simply touch all the elements to be counted but not actually count them.

Park Math

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It took me awhile to discover the depth of this app. Actually, it took one of my students to show me where all the “good stuff” was. I love how their young brains often see so much more than mine does. There are seven different activities for the child to explore. Those activities focus on counting, sorting, patterning, addition and subtraction. The counting activities were a little too simplistic for my children, but they enjoyed most of the rest of them.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite math apps for the Pre-K crowd are! If¬†you’d like to read about my five favorite writing apps for Pre-K and Kindergarten click the¬†picture below to see that list.

best writing apps

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QR Codes for Counting

Counting with QR Codes
I linked up to Manic Monday at Classroom Freebies. Scroll to the bottom of the post to download your own set of QR code activity sheets.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Ever since I discovered how teachers in upper elementary grades were using QR codes in their lessons, I was desperate to find a way to make it work in our classroom. ¬†I think QR codes are just so much fun! I mean really, what kid doesn’t like to scan things? I still get excited when I go through the self check line in the grocery store and get to scan my own groceries. ¬†In case you’re not sure what a QR code (quick response code) ¬†is, here’s a picture:

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You can scan that image with a barcode scanner and the image will give you information. Sometimes it will give you text, sometimes it will link to a website. There are a number of other ways that a QR code can connect you to the internet, but I haven’t figure out all of those ways yet. The QR code above links to text. You can scan it to find out what it says. ūüôā ¬†All you need to read a QR code is a smartphone. There are a number of free apps that you can download that will allow your smartphone camera to scan a QR code, and also “old fashioned” bar codes. ¬†Search “barcode scanner” or “QR scanner” in your app store to find one. The one that I liked for our ipads was this one. ¬†It was really simple to use and seemed to be pretty reliable.

There are also websites that will allow you to *create* your own QR codes. ¬†That’s when I think things start to get really fun.¬†Here’s a link¬†to the website I used to create the QR codes for this activity.¬†Many teachers have been creating activities where students complete a task and then scan a QR code to check their work. ¬†I knew my preschoolers would love an activity like this but I struggled to find one that didn’t require any reading, adding, or complex math skills. (My students aren’t able to do any of those things.) ¬†Finally I thought of a way to make an activity that would use QR codes and be appropriate for their level.¬†

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we’ve been working on learning the teen numbers in our class. It takes us pretty much all of the Spring semester to master this, so we’re always on the lookout for ways to spice things up. ¬†I decided that I could making a counting activity that allows the children to check their counting by scanning a QR code. ¬†Here’s an example:

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The child must count the kitty cats. Then they write their answer in the space that says “How many?” ¬†Then they scan the QR code to see if their answer matches the one that comes up after scanning.¬†If you scan the code above, it will tell you how many kitties there are.¬†I made cards for numbers 11-20. ¬†You’re welcome to download them for your own use. They are shared here using Google drive.¬†

One of the tricky aspects of this plan was figuring out which tools the students would use to scan the QR codes. We knew that we could put a scanner app on the ipads, but we were worried that the size of the ipad might make it a bit¬†unwieldy. Turning over our cellphones to preschoolers wasn’t our first choice. ¬†Finally we also had our underutilized ipod. We decided to start out with ipads and the ipod, but be prepared to switch to our phones if the ipads just weren’t working. In the end, there really wasn’t much difference between using the ipads and the ipod. ¬†It was easy to scan with either device, once they got the hang of it. If anything, scanning with the ipads was easier.

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What did turn out to be challenging was the multi-step process that this activity required.  When you break the activity apart, it really is a lot for a preschooler to handle.

  1. First they had to count the items correctly.
  2. Then they had to figure out which written number matched the spoken number they had used when they counted. (They used the number line to help with this. Boy Mama Teacher Mama is offering a free number line on her website¬†if you’re looking for one.)
  3. Then they had to write the number correctly.
  4. Finally they had to scan the number to check their answer. 

Most of our kids could do it, but a few struggled, particularly the ones that are still forgetting 11 & 12. They would get bogged down on step 1. Our HeidiSongs helped with step 2. For example if the child counted “sixteen” but couldn’t remember what a “sixteen” looked like, we’d just start singing. ūüôā “A one and six is a sixteen…” ¬†There were also a few kids getting bogged down on step 3. We realized that we need to review number formation with a some of our kids. Happily, scanning proved to be the least challenging of all the steps, so hopefully they saw it as a reward. We’re thinking we may go another round with QR codes to see if the multi-step process gets easier with practice!

Click on the picture below to download your own set of QR Code activity sheets:

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Update: I’ve made another set of QR code activity sheets. ¬†Click the image below to see them and download your own set.

QR Codes for counting

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These headphones aren’t gonna be the ones.

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So today before we started centers I remembered that I’d seen some of our older students using headphones when they used laptops. Turns out the upper grades have a whole container of headphones that they use. They are what I call “Walkman style” and were all the rage in the 80’s when the Sony Walkman revolutionized the way we listen to music. ¬†I ¬†borrowed 3 pairs from third grade for our preschoolers to try out¬†today with the ipads.

While good in theory, these headphones just weren’t a good fit for such young kids. ¬†They struggled to get them on, and then struggled to get them to fit properly. ¬†¬†Adjusting each set of headphones for each student took away from learning time, and truth be told, a couple of the kids still found them uncomfortable and hard to wear even after we adjusted them. It was definitely better than last week when we had all 3 ipads “talking” at once, ¬†but I think it’d be even better still if we we’re able to track down the kind of headphones that a lot of teachers use at listening centers.

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The kids were just happy to be using the ipads again and weren’t too concerned with the headphones. Engagement was as high as it had been before and boy, were these ipads a motivator! ¬†Each child had to complete a short journal entry before they could use the ipad. ¬†Children who had before taken 25 minutes to finish their work were completing high quality journal work in 15 minutes.

Today we tried out new headphones.

I’ll keep you posted on the headphones. ¬†The yellow pair in the picture above belong to my son and I was able to find them for just a few dollars. ¬†I’m hoping we might be able to find something similar for our classroom.

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Using the Kindle App for a Lesson: Put Me In The Zoo


Using the Kindle app ipad and document cameraPut Me in The Zoo Stacked Collage2

                                                                                                                             

My teaching partner is incredibly organized.¬†She’s almost always planned and prepped at least two weeks out. It’s a rare day when we have to scramble to come up with an activity at the last minute. ¬†For whatever reason (perhaps the holiday weekend threw us off) that happened this morning. ¬†We’d seen this idea on Pinterest yesterday.

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When we clicked on the pin it took us to Kangarooboo. ¬†(They give the detailed instructions for this project on the blog part of the website, but also have an online toy store. I haven’t shopped at their toy store.) We loved the idea of doing this lesson based on the book Put Me In The Zoo by Robert Lopshire and knew it would be the perfect activity to fill the empty spot in our schedule. ¬†There was just one problem: We couldn’t find a copy of the book anywhere! We checked our school library and checked with all of the primary teachers in our school and no one had it!

That’s when we decided that we could solve this dilemma with our ipads. I’ll confess that I am not native to Apple products. ¬†I was “raised” on PCs and my smartphones have always been Android based. So when I started looking for a way to put the book on our ipad, my first thought was to use the Kindle app. We could have gotten the book through itunes, but Kindle was easier because I knew the system, and we were in a hurry.

We quickly downloaded the app to one of our ipads and synced it with our existing Amazon account. We then purchased a Kindle version of Put Me In A Zoo.  We connected our ipad to our document camera with the ever versatile dongle, and we were ready to roll!

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The children settled in on the rug for the story.  We projected the book onto the big screen and the kids loved it. The pictures were far bigger than they would have been had we simply been sharing a traditional book. We were also able to double tap on the pictures to eliminate the text and make the pictures fill the screen.

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After the story, we did the activity in a traditional classroom manner. We provided each student with a tray of supplies.Talented teaching partner had quickly sketched up a template first thing in the morning.¬†We were also incredibly lucky to have 2 high school volunteers in our class today who quickly punched out all of the colored spots for us with a paper punch. I’m not sure we could have pulled it off without them! We added eyes and a pom pom nose to each tray, along with brads for the legs, and the usual paste and scissors.

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We ended up with an adorable collection of animals.

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While I know many of you could sketch up your own pattern in a flash, I absolutely could not. For those of you like me, ¬†talented teaching partner generously offered to let me upload her template. ¬†You’re welcome to download it. I put it on Google Drive and shared it.¬†Click here to see my post about how to share something with Google Drive and¬†Click here to download your own template.

So what do you use to share digital books with your students? Kindle? Ipad? Something else? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for ideas!

I’m linking up to Technology Tailgate again. Lots of great techie posts over there. ¬†Click the picture below to check them out.

Tech Tuesday

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Is It Really OK to put Technology in an Early Childhood Classroom?

Is Technology In Early Childhood OK

That’s the unspoken question I’m¬†sensing from other Early Childhood¬†educators. Is it really OK to give ipads to four and five year olds? When you’ve got the American Academy of Pediatrics making fairly strict¬†recommendations about screen time for children under two, it makes sense to consider the question for young children as well. It’s definitely a¬†question I considered before writing a proposal to request the ipads that we received.

I remember a teacher I met early in my teaching career.  She taught kindergarten and was adamant that no technology would cross her threshold. There was no TV in her room and computers were relegated to the hallway. I admired her for taking that stand. Even in those days, so many children were spending far too much time in front of  television, computers and video games. She wanted to make sure her students were doing the things that are so important for development: playing outside, interacting with peers, building sand castles and climbing jungle gyms.

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I don’t think the situation has improved in the last 15 years. Children of all ages in this country are still spending far too much time in front of screens. At the same time, I do believe that our country has evolved. Like it or not, we live in a digital age. ¬†It is almost impossible to exist without at least a computer, if not also a smartphone, laptop and tablet. There comes a time when it is foolish to pretend that the world has not changed. The children that enter our classroom today have had their mom or dad’s smartphone at their disposal to entertain them during downtime probably since birth. They were practically born into an ipad age. Technology is a language that some of them speak quite fluently. ¬†If we really want to reach them and meet their needs, we may need to start speaking their language, and that means using technology in their classrooms.

As I started to consider ipads in our classroom, I was pleased to find that the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) had examined the issue of using technology with young children. ¬†I was even more pleased to discover that they saw a place for technology in early childhood classrooms. ¬†In January 2012, NAEYC, in conjunction with¬†¬†Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College issued this position statement on the role of¬†Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs.¬† This position statement makes a couple of points that I think are essential to keep in mind whenever one is using technology in an early childhood classroom.¬†

One of the first points they make is with regard to intentionality. Teachers who plan to include technology in their classrooms must be thoughtful and deliberate in the ways that they invite children to engage with these digital devices. Open access to ipads, while fun and exciting, will not necessarily benefit our students any more than their ability to pick up their Nintendo DS, Nook or ipod touch at home and start playing. ¬†As I stated earlier, children in this day and age are already getting plenty of screen time. If we’re going to invite technology into our classrooms, ¬†we need to consider how we are going to ensure that this is not just more of what our students are already spending far too much time doing at home.

NAEYC also addresses the fact that limits should be put into place with technology in early childhood classrooms. Currently our students have an opportunity to use the ipad twice a week, for up to 20 minutes at a time. It is one of our stations for our learning centers. Those 20 minutes have so far proven to be very rich in learning for the children. They are working at a “just right” level for each of them and getting very targeted instruction. While we may increase the amount of time children are spending with the ipad, we in no way intend to replace our entire curriculum and rely only on digital sources. Our children are still spending the majority of their time at school each week engaged in meaningful, hands-on play and learning. They’re still building those sand castles and climbing those jungle gyms that my colleague believed in so many years ago.

So is it OK to put technology in an Early Childhood classroom? I think that it is, so long as we’re taking the time to make sure that we’re using technology in a way that will actually be helpful for our students. I recommend that anyone planning to use technology with young children consider giving the NAEYC document a quick look, if not a thorough read. It’s tempting to simply grab a few educational apps and throw these amazing, engaging devices at our eager students. They’d certainly be willing to use them, and probably be quite entertained. ¬†But it’s not entertainment we’re looking for. ¬†It’s learning, and learning in a classroom takes careful planning. Whether we’re planning lessons from textbooks or from technology we need to devote some energy to making sure we’re doing it right.

5 Best Writing Apps for Pre-School and Kindergarten

best writing apps

Update: I’ve added a new post to this series about math apps. ¬†Click here to see it.

It’s been about a month now since we received our ipads. In that time I’ve downloaded close to 100 apps. Probably 90% of those are directly related to teaching young children. I’ve been particularly looking for an app to help cement our students’ writing skills. Many of them are still working on letter formation. I’ve honestly been shocked by how hard it is to come by good teaching apps! Some of the apps I downloaded were truly awful. More than a couple were actually saying letter sounds incorrectly. Not just a little off so that a teacher trained in phonics would notice, but really off. One or two were bad enough that my eight year old complained that the app wasn’t making the sound right! Then there were the apps that had students writing letters incorrectly. And finally the there were the ones that turned out to be in another language! (I actually like the Japanese app I downloaded quite a bit. You could switch it to English in the settings, but then I ran into the trouble of letter pronunciation…) So now that I’ve waded through quite a number of letter writing apps, I’m ready to offer up my top five choices. So in no particular order, here are the five apps for practice with writing letters that I like the best so far:

abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words

There’s a free version with some of the letters so that you can try it out and then a paid version to download if you like it. Educationally speaking, I like that the app teaches the formation of the letter with the sound of the letter. I always like instruction to be as multisensory as possible. After the student has traced enough letters, the app guides students into the process of blending and segmenting words. The interface is clean and simple, offering gentle redirection if the student makes mistakes. Finally, I like the fact that there is a locked parent control panel that lets you adjust the settings. My daughter likes the fact that you shake the ipad to clear the screen.

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ABC Circus

This app has lots of sound and lots of visual stimulation. Great for some students, not so great for others. Each letter is presented with one of the sounds that it makes. This app takes it a step further by creating an icon to trace which corresponds with the sound of the letter that you are tracing. For example when you trace ‘a’ the icon is an ant and you trace the ants with the finger in the shape of an a. (See the picture below.) For ‘b’ the icon is a¬†bear, etc. These visual cues paired up with both the letter and the sound can be really helpful for some students. Again, there is a free version to try it out and then a paid version. The only thing I don’t like is the line on the left hand side of “other games” available for purchase, even in the paid version. I’ve already had students end up in the app store instead of playing the game.

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Crabby Writer: Phonics Read & Write (free!)

This app links up letter writing practice with three and four letter words. It teaches sounds in combination with writing. One unique thing about this app is that it requires the student to trace the letter with the thumb and index finger pinched together. Apparently this helps in building skills that will be needed for proper pencil grip. I’m not sure I buy that, but the app is a useful teaching tool regardless. I actually found myself using two fingers rather than a¬†finger thumb combination. There are rewards offered after a certain number of words have¬†been written. The game is not as intuitive as some, but that’s also because it’s a bit more complex, and more entertaining as a result.

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Letter School

Letter school teaches handwriting in conjunction with letter sounds. It presents the letter three times and on the third time, the model disappears and the child has to actually write the letter without tracing, but from memory. Also, I like the fact that this app puts dots on the distinguishing characteristics of the letter. I think that creates strong visual cues that will actually help the children recall the shape of the letter and be able to draw it on their own. There is both a light and free version.

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Letter Quiz

Letter quiz is a tracing app that puts each letter on a blackboard just as you’ve written it.¬†After you write all of the letters, you get to put on a little digital fireworks show. The kids thought that was fun. This app also teaches letter identification matching upper and lower¬†case letters. It’s not fancy, but reasonably intuitive and fun. Again there is a light version and a free version.

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So that’s pretty much the best of what I’ve found so far. ¬†I know there have got to be some more great writing apps out there for young children. ¬†Tell me about the ones you’ve discovered in the comments.

Update: I’ve written a companion post about the five best math apps that I’ve found so far. Click the picture below to check it out.

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Today I’m linking up with Technology Tailgate for Technology Tuesday. Click on the picture below to head over there to check out some other posts about technology.

Enjoying our 5 Best Apps series? Like us on Facebook or follow this blog to make sure you see the next installment!

Tech Tuesday

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Review of Teach Me Toddler

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Teach Me Toddler, while not perfect, is easily the best educational app I’ve discovered so far. Here are the reasons why I like it:

Teach Me Toddler was clearly designed with the educator in mind and is extremely customizable. It allows a whole classroom of students to use a single ipad, and tracks each student’s individual progress. It also has leveled instruction. Each student progresses through the activities, moving forward only when mastery has been achieved. The teacher is also allowed to define what mastery looks like for each student. One of my students really should be using Teach Me Kindergarten or First Grade, but before I moved him on to those levels, I wanted to make sure that he really had mastered the preschool concepts. I didn’t however, want him to have to identify a circle 3 different times just to prove that he really knew it. I went into his profile and adjusted the “#number to learn questions” field to one instead of three. So now he only needs to answer each question correctly once to move to the next level. I also wanted him to be able to move through the material quickly, so I was also able to adjust “number correct to earn reward” field from 3 to 10 so that he could quickly show mastery of the entire program. I have yet to run across another app which allows this kind of customization.

What’s even better is that this app includes “parent controls” (or rather teacher controls. ) Each child’s profile is lockable so that they cannot adjust their own settings. Nor can they go in and play on another child’s profile.

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Another thing I love about Teach Me Toddler is its usability. There are verbal instructions which tell the students (and the teachers, for that matter) exactly what to do. There’s also an mouse icon that the children can touch if they’ve forgotten the instructions. Additionally, if the children aren’t yet able to recognize their own name, the profiles contain a space for avatars of each child. They simply need to click on their own face to begin play. Once I had each of my students set up with a profile, they required almost no assistance to complete the tasks set before them. All of this verbal instruction is so important for young children, but it did remind us that we were likely going to need to consider purchasing headphones, as I wrote about a few days ago.

I’ve been shocked by how many apps I’ve downloaded which are supposed to be “educational” but don’t actually teach anything. Teach Me Toddler is not like that. The activities actually do encourage learning, and offer support where the children need it. One of my favorite things is the way that children can touch the objects that they are counting and see the corresponding numbers on the screen. Here they are counting the treasure chests and then choosing the correct number from the choices at the bottom of the screen.

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There’s also built in, adjustable, motivation. The child is offered the chance to “choose a sticker” after getting a certain number of questions right. The default number is three, but as I mention above, that can be adjusted. I was surprised by just how key this motivational piece turned out to be for some of my students. They were really excited to earn stickers and place the stickers in a variety of scenes. What was particularly nice was the fact that the sticker/scene reward was just enough to get them excited, but not enough to completely distract them from the learning activities.

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Finally, there’s a report page for each student. As a teacher, I can look at the individual progress of each student at any time. This allows me to check in later in the day, when the chaos of the classroom has settled a bit. The picture below shows my “teacher” profile that I used to experiment with the app. When you’re looking at students progress, you actually see the name of an individual student with the¬†progress they’ve¬†made.

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It could perhaps be said that the interface for Teach Me Toddler is not as colorful or animated as some. However, I think all of the other features make up for this, and that in fact, a bigger and louder interface just might be too much distraction for some students. We’ve only actually used this app a couple of times, but it was instantly a big hit. The only other drawback seems to be that I may be incurring the wrath of a few parents because their young preschoolers are coming home asking for ipads.

*Teach Me Toddler does not know me and did not have anything to do with the opinions expressed in this review.  The words are my own and are based on my own opinions. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post.

We’re gonna need headphones.

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So here’s the thing about working with young children: you can’t depend on them being able to read directions to complete a task, even with a fancy schmancy device like an ipad. The majority of four and five year olds need verbal instruction to succeed. One of the things I’ve been looking for is an app that will offer that verbal guidance and instruction. Another of our hopes in using ipads in the classroom was that it would help us individualize our instruction so that we could better meet each students specific learning needs. We used an app today that I think will really help us meet both goals. Teach Me Toddler allows each kid to progress at their own pace, which is fantastic. Additionally, it is really good at giving verbal instruction to students, also fantastic. Where we ran into trouble was when we had 3 different ipads talking to three different students about three different tasks. No one could hear a thing. I turned around to find one student with both his hands over his ears. Another student had his eyes glued to his neighbor’s ipad, not his own. Unless we made some quick changes, the ipads were not going to be the engaging instructional tool that they had been yesterday.

As a quick fix for today, we moved one of the three students to an empty table across the room and moved the other two to opposite ends of the table. Honestly, they were still sometimes distracted, but they were better able to maintain their focus. As we move forward in this ipad project, we’re going to have to think about what kind of headphones will be most practical as well as whether we want kids to use headphones all of the time, or just some of the time. ¬†Despite the fact that there were three ipads going at once, I was getting useful information from listening. I could tell when a student got off track and found his way to the app store and I could hear when another student was struggling with the content.

Review of Math is Fun 4/5

math is fun

Math is Fun for Ages 4 & 5 has a lot going for it. ¬†After trying the “free” version, I upgraded to the full version to use it with the kids. There are a variety of games to choose from, and all of them require just a bit more skill than number identification. It required more complex thinking.

It was also easy for my young students to navigate. ¬†They quickly learned to use the “house” button to go back to the main screen if they wanted to change games. It did not however, offer any verbal instructions. ¬†This meant I had to sit with each student to explain how each game worked. ¬†It was a little time consuming, but do-able because the games were not complicated, and only needed to be explained once.

While there are no overt, obnoxious ads, there is a small bar at the bottom of the home screen (see above) that offers links to the developer’s other apps. ¬†As a teacher, I liked being able to find other apps by this developer, but I know this will be distracting for some of my students.

There was not much redirection when children made mistakes. ¬†Objects will “bounce” back when they are incorrect but I watched one child try to drag the same object to the same wrong square at least 10 times, and then become frustrated.

I do think we will continue to use this app in our learning centers. ¬†It is one of the better apps we’ve found for this age group.

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Using the ipad at Centers for the First Time

DSCN6909Today we officially used our ipads as a part of our Learning Centers. I chose two math apps that I thought would be challenging, but not too hard.  I picked Hungry Fish and Math Is Fun 4-5.  I had noticed that a lot of the apps were full of ads or opportunities to upgrade. These two seemed free of ads and the material seemed appropriate.  Math is Fun was perfect for my pre-k kids. I plan to review both apps in a later post.

I tried to think ahead a little in how I was going to manage the ipads. Last time we’d used them informally, I’d had a student ready to download Angry Birds from the app store within 30 seconds. He was just waiting for my password! I wanted to avoid that this time so I put the two apps I wanted to use into a separate folder and told the children that they could only use the apps that were in that folder. My Angry Birds fan still managed to find his way to the app store, but I think it was a function of pushing the home button too many times. (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt! ūüėČ ¬†) I’m realizing that for children this young, I’m going to need to find a way to either limit their access to parts of the ipad, or teach them to only use certain parts of the device at certain times. I’m wondering if I can dedicate one of the home screens to apps we use in the classroom and keep the rest of the apps on another page to help simplify things a little.

We had two ipads in our center groups today. ¬†Right now, we have 2-3 kids in each group so it was perfect for one group, but for the second group, a couple of children had to take turns. A 1:1 ipad ratio definitely works better. ¬†The children who were working independently were able to get more practice time in. I had the children who were sharing an ipad take turns. One would play the game while the other watched. ¬†After one “round” they would switch. ¬†This really wasn’t ideal. The two boys working together had different skill levels, both in terms of math and technology. One boy was feeding math answers to the other. At the same time, the boy with the ¬†technology skills (my angry bird fan) was able to help his friend navigate the app when it was time to change games. I am looking forward to next year when we’ll have one ipad for each child.

Over all, I think the ipads were a success. The was lots of individualized learning and the children were really motivated by the opportunity to work on the ipad.

New ipads

In January, our school’s technology coordinator knocked on our door with two brand new ipads. ¬†The idea was for my teaching partner and I to become comfortable with them so that we could find the best way to integrate them into our Junior Kindergarten curriculum. ¬†Honestly, while I have always loved technology, I’m not an Apple person, ¬†so I knew that learning to use this new system would involve a bit of a learning curve for me. ¬†I decided to start this blog to record my experiences as I unlock the mysteries of Apple and its ipad, explore new apps and figure out how to introduce them to my four and five year old students.Image