Friday, 31 January 2014

Back to School: Digital Passport Review

As a teacher and a parent I have learned that cybersafety and cyber citizenship are a big deal as children start to use their own devices and online research. This landscape is constantly changing and I believe it's vital to start the practice of modelling and discussing appropriate ways to behave and interact online from the time kids begin to use digital devices and computers. It's right up there with teaching manners, stranger awareness and crossing the street.

The great thing is that there are a LOT of FREE resources out there now to help parents and educators to support children as they enter online and digital spaces.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Australia Day Special Part 2: Australian Geography for kids

It's important to know the geography of our country. So it doesn't hurt to get started at home, especially if you have headed off or are about to head off on holiday to an Australian destination.

In this post I am looking at two Apps that focus on this: Map Me Australia and Australia Puzzle Map. They could be used for fun or as a homework/home learning activity, especially as children in Australian Schools are expected to have an understanding of this in the middle years of primary school.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Australia Day Special - Part 1 Lulu in Australia

Name: Lulu in Australia
Format: iOS for iPad and iPod/iPhone
Publisher: Zanzibook
Price in AUD (at time of review): $2.99
In app purchases enabled? No
Age suitable for: 3 - 7
Curriculum links: Geography/SoSE
Ausvels/Australian Curriculum: The Humanities (History and Geography) and English

Lulu in Australia is an interactive storybook. It follows the story of Lulu and Zazou as they travel around Australia. It introduces native animals like koalas and emus, as well as some of the major cities in Australia.
iPhone Screenshot 2

Friday, 24 January 2014

Fun and Creative thinking opportunties

We love technology at our house. My son, Little Tacker (LT) is nearly 8 years old, and has been using technology (computers, smart phones and devices) since he was 1. We love playing games together, and at the moment LT's favourite game is Minecraft. He mostly plays this with his Dad, as it makes me very dizzy :)

I like the opportunities that all games provide for learning in a fun environment. Many of the games we play as a family require creative thinking to problem solve in order progress in the game. As we are on school holidays,  here are 2 apps we are enjoying at the moment. The first is Jigty Puzzles, which allows us to import screen shots and photos of our own to make into jigsaws, as well as having a good range of free jigsaws to try.

Skylanders Lost Islands in the other game we play almost daily, which uses the codes we have for our existing collection of Skylanders to use the characters in this app. It is free to have, but does ask for in app purchases which we don't opt into. The game has it's own currency that you collect through completing tasks and challenges on the islands to collect coins, gems and wish stones. As it is designed for the under 12 market, there are some good features included, like crops do not wither if not harvested.

So that is a quick snapshot of two apps getting a workout at our house at the moment.
Now, for the reviews!
Fiona T

Where's My Perry? Review

Name: Where’s my Perry?
Format: Both iOS  & Android
Publisher: Disney
Price in AUD (at time of review): Free version reviewed.
In app purchases enabled? Yes-  it does ask you to buy things, but you don’t need to in order to enjoy multiple levels of the game. (Thanks little tacker)
Age suitable for: pre-school - adult
How can it support learning? This puzzle game can support problem solving skills and understanding of states of matter.
Curriculum links? AUSVELS: Chemical Sciences foundation-level 6 (pre-school to grade 6)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Apps that help to make learning fun - Liz

I've been using iPads at school and home since they were first released. I think the biggest challenge I've faced is figuring out whether the Apps I'm using are for learning or entertainment, which is a much bigger challenge than it used to be with all of the Apps that are available these days! I can get lost on the App store for hours sometimes!

It's important to think about what your purpose is and what you hope to get out of an App before you use it. It's so easy to get sidetracked and caught up in gaming Apps and forget about the huge potential that hand held devices have for promoting thinking and learning.

Keep in mind that deep learning doesn't magically happen on it's own, by talking with your kids, giving them feedback about what they are doing and asking questions, you can help them to think about what they are doing and why and how they can troubleshoot their way around challenges. This will help the deeper thinking and learning to occur.

Here are a few of my favourites, which I have used at school and at home:

My favourite kids' apps - Nicole

We have a lot of technology in our house and it all gets a lot of use from the children. They have their favourites, and these often change daily.

Here is a quick look at a couple of my current favourites. These aren't detailed reviews, just a snapshot of what we're liking in my house at the moment.

About us

Liz, Fiona and Nicole are educators and mums based in Melbourne, Australia.

With this blog we aim to review apps with an educational focus so that parents and kids can make informed decisions about the apps they download or purchase.

Do you have a favourite app? Or would you like to know whether it's worth spending money on an app you've seen? Leave us a comment and we'll get back to you!