Whether you’re sitting around nursing twins and need entertainment for a “big” kid (or is that just me?), embarking on holiday travel and want to keep the kids entertained or could just use a minute to yourself, Breezy Mama app guru Maya – who tests them out on her three boys as well as her elementary school class — has her reviews of the latest and greatest phone and iPad apps for the kids!
When Breezy Mama asked me to preview apps for Apple’s iPad and iPhone, I could not resist. This was a perfect assignment for me because I love my iPad. Yes, I was one of the first ones to order an iPad because I knew that this was an amazing technological tool that I could use in my classroom and with my children at home.
As a parent, my three sons and I use the iPad for homework, research for papers, and we use numerous apps to help develop their math and reading skills.
In my first grade classroom, the iPad is an integral part of my students learning as the students use the educational apps to help them reinforce the skills that we are focusing in class.
Throughout the past few weeks, I have been receiving information about new apps that are being released for the iPad and the iPhone. After reviewing and testing the apps at home and in my classroom, I have compiled a list of my favorite apps and a brief description of each one.
Breezy Mama’s Favorite iPad/iPhone Apps:
1. Interactive Books from Ruckus Mobile Media
Tom Thumb, narrated by John Cleese, $3.99
Velveteen Rabbit, narrated by Meryl Streep, $3.99
Present for Milo written and illustrated by Mike Austin$1.99
2. Xmas Wish by Tinydesires.com, $0.99
3. Puss in Boots by Magic Books for Kids Company, $3.99
4. “1-10 Balloons” by Oscar’s Apps, $0.99
5. “Where is Fun” by Quu Entertainment, $0.99
1. Ruckus Mobile Media Digital Apps– I absolutely love these interactive books. They are perfect for readers of all ages. These series of books appeal to the visual and tactile learners as the reader is entranced by the beautiful illustrations, the narration that holds the reader’s attention and the clever details that inspire the reader to learn more.
The first interactive book that I previewed was Tom Thumb with Emmy Award Winner John Cleese as the narrator. This is a classroom favorite and a favorite with my sons because of the action in the story.
This app has three options for the story, the reader can watch the illustrated video and listen to the narrator tell the story, the reader can simply follow along with the highlighted text, or the reader can record their voice as they read the text aloud. I used this as a center in my classroom as my first graders recorded their voices reading the text. The text is recommended for third grade level or above but if you have a child who is reading at this level, this would be a great way for your child to hear their voice as they are reading. This skill helps your child’s fluency and expression as they hear themselves read.
Ruckus Mobile Media also has an interactive book for The Velveteen Rabbit narrated by Meryl Streep. Meryl Streep’s voice set the tone for this cherished story. Although my sons told me they loved Tom Thumb the best, it was The Velveteen Rabbit that brought all three of my sons together and settled in for a cozy cuddle as we listened to this story. It was a beautiful moment to share with my boys that are growing so fast.
Finally, I just LOVED the new story, Present for Milo written and illustrated by Mike Austin. I used this story with my reading groups in class today and we had so much fun with the story as we read and re-read the simple text together. Also the tap-interactive objects kept my first graders entertained as we created sentences about each new sound that we heard. This is a wonderful story for young readers!
According to Ruckus Mobile Media, “A Present for Milo is designed as a fun, engaging reading experience. It is educational and encourages literacy with simple vocabulary, rhythm and patterns.”
Ruckus Mobile Media has opened a new door to early literacy learning that reaches all learners. Check out their website and all the digital interactive apps that they offer at www.ruckusmediagroup.com.
2. Xmas Wish- This is a fun holiday app for all ages. Although my children are 12, 10 and 8 years old, they loved the idea that they could email their Christmas list to Santa Claus. After they sent their lists to Santa, two things instantly occurred. The lists were sent to the email they entered at the beginning of the app and the boys got a very cute message from Santa confirming that he got the letter and to please leave some cookies and milk near the Christmas tree. This is a very cute app and fun for the holidays. According to founder, Preety Agarwal,
* XmasWish is inspired by children’s tiny Christmas wishes
* XmasWish app is suitable not only for children but also for their parents, grandparents and relatives who want to get a clue of what the kids really want for Christmas.
You can preview this app at the Apple store:
3. The classic story, Puss in Boots is another interactive app that can be read on the iPad. According to the developer, Magic Books for Kids, “Parents are now able to read a children’s storybook to their kids that will allow them to interact and be part of the story.”
In my opinion, this was an entertaining story. However, I found it difficult to return to the beginning of the story and the text box seemed to be not responding very effectively. Overall, the illustrations were beautiful and my students enjoyed the interactive characters throughout the story.
The YouTube link for Puss in Boots http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsv8Uk5kksE
My last two reviews are with the interactive games for the iPad and the iPhone: “1-10 App” and “Where is Fun” At my school site we have a preschool and I decided to test these new apps with our 3-4 year old students.
4. The preschoolers loved the “1-10 App” by OscarApps. While I was explaining to the preschool teachers how to use my iPad, a preschooler opened up this app and began playing and interacting with it immediately. We were amazed! It is a simple game for children to practice their numbers and counting but it held the preschoolers attention.
According to Andrew Sharpe, the founder of Oscar’s Apps:
Oscar’s Apps has been developed by parents and educators to ensure the highest standards of education are met while still making the apps fun for children. Here are two brief videos which showcase children interacting with our software: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FLYPMolDrk and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDCmHg9Fhoc.
They did a great job and really know how to keep a preschooler’s attention…yes there is an app for that!!!
5. Also, I previewed the “Where is fun” iPad app for kids from Quu Entertainment. The students needed help to initiate and to understand the directions to each game. However, once we figured out the purpose for each interactive game, the students loved the games. According to Quu Entertainment, “Where is Fun” iPad application is designed to focus on developing kids’ sense of direction, spatial relationship, and brain skills in an entertaining manner.
YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkC27HzHIgo
This is a creative app that allows the children to discover new ways in which to solve problems. This app will challenge your child and encourage them to use their critical thinking skills to solve each game.
I hope these recommendations are helpful. If you have a chance to preview these apps please tell me what you think as well. Reading to our children and practicing the core skills have never been so entertaining. Enjoy and Happy Holidays
Maya Ramirez Drake lives in Carlsbad with her husband Todd and their three reading sons, Noah (12), Lucas (10) and Joshua (08). She is a first grade teacher at Buena Vista Elementary School. Maya graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Major in English and a Minor in Spanish. She recieved her Teaching Credential from the California State University, San Marcos. Her teaching experiences include ESL/Citizenship instructor, EL and Reading tutor as well as first and second grade teacher. Maya grew up in a family of educators and values all that she has learned from her family and from her own teachers throughout her educational career. Her teaching philosophy is to value each child and to instill a love of learning in all her students. Maya and her family enjoy surfing, paddle boarding, soccer and camping in Northern California. If you would like more information, please visit Maya Ramirez Drake’s website at Buena Vista Elementary School:
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