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:

screen shot from App on iPad
A+ Writing Prompts:

This App is for older children (9+) but for around $2 your kids can get some awesome writing inspiration. You shake to the iPad to reveal a theme, mood, setting & style. You can save your favourite combinations. 

This is terrific for storytelling games or 'snapshot writing' and prompts kids to think outside the box. Kids can draft their story and email it to others. Kids who might not want to pick up a pen or pencil may find the option of typing more appealing as well. Could be a great vehicle for practicing and developing writing at home.

screen shot from App on iPad


This is another App for middle/upper primary kids that has great potential to support learning at home. It could be very appealing to boys and girls who are into Minecraft or Papercrafting. Foldify is an App full of templates for all sorts of objects that kids can make from paper. Superheroes, cars and prisms are included. All templates can be decorated & personalised opening up opportunities for children to create their own characters, landscapes, cities and buildings. Creations can be printed out and actually made! What I love is that as your child is drawing on the template, they can see and manipulate an image of what their finished model will look like. This could help your child to develop an intuitive understanding of how 3 dimensional and 2 dimensional shapes relate to each other.

If you wanted to develop their mathematical thinking you could ask your child to identify how many faces and vertices (that's what we say instead of corners when talking 3 dimensional shapes) and to find out the technical or mathematical names of each shape they have created. You can also measure each creation, compare one model to another and draw the same model from different points of view or perspectives. Maths and Art all rolled into one! 

Is it free? No, but at the moment is around $1 so given the features of this App, it's excellent value for money.

screen shot from App on iPad
Puppet Pals: 

I must say I love this App! There are a few free and a paid versions and it has been around since I first started using iPads. Puppet Pals is an App that makes creating movies easy. It's rated 4+ and is really simple to use. 

Users can select from a collection of backgrounds and 'puppet' characters. After this step all that's left to do is make the characters come to life by moving them around the screen and recording an audio track. Shows can be saved in the App and sent to Camera Roll for sharing. Imagine sending grandparents an animated happy birthday movie or greeting. In the paid version you can out yourself in the movie by using your own photos. It's easy for kids to be successful with this App and I've seen kids produce some great things with this. Parents can have a lot of fun with this one too!

What do your kids use technology for at your house? Is it primarily for learning or entertainment or both? 

1 comment:

  1. Miss Six would love Puppet Pals and Foldify. I'm going to look them up :)


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