Tag Archives: App Store

App Share! A Few Favorites.

I was recently sharing a few of my favorite apps with some of my colleagues and I thought it would be fun to share them with my PLN too (and hear what your favorites are!).

App: Evernote (Free!)

Favorite Feature:  I love the web clipper because I’m constantly grabbing pieces of blog posts and articles to remember new tech tools I want to try or to save new recipe ideas.

Description: Evernote is definitely at the top of my list, especially now that I jump so frequently between multiple devices. It’s a great app that, as they say, helps you to “remember everything” by making notes and lists easy to create, share, and access. Since my account syncs between my devices, I can quickly start a note on my iPad and then finish it on my computer. Then later, I can access it on-the-go via my phone. I like how quickly Evernote opens up on the iPad so I can start jotting down notes when I’m in a meeting and then I can add in additional details and formatting when have more time on my computer. I also started using Evernote’s Clearly recently to remove ads and extra text from webpages when I’m using the Web Clipper which makes it simpler to grab information cleanly from the web. Evernote also allows you to create Notebooks, where you can keep multiple notes and then you can create “Stacks” or groups of notebooks, so you can keep everything organized in a file system. This works great if you’re working in the classroom and want to have multiple notes for a child and then a notebook for each child that you keep within one stack. Of course one of the best parts about Evernote is that it’s free! There’s also a reasonably priced Premium version which allows you to share editing capabilities to your notebooks with other people and increases your storage capacity. What’s your favorite thing to do with Evernote?

App: MindSnacks (Free, Full Access $4.99)

Favorite Feature:  I love the Word Birds game because it helps me learn the spelling in addition to the meaning and pronunciation of the word.

Description: MindSnacks is a fun, affordable way to learn, practice, and review a foreign language. There are currently 7 different languages, including English, that you can learn and each one includes over 1400 words. I like the fact that you can hear each word or phrase spoken by a native speaker and that there are pictures associated with each one. Although some of the pictures are not as representative of the vocabulary as I would like, the visuals really help me to associate the new words with things I already know. After you are exposed to each new set of words and phrases (there are 50 sets/lessons in each app), you can play six different games (that you unlock over time) to practice your new knowledge. You have to reach a certain level of mastery of each new word or phrase before you can move on to the next lesson.

: Cue: Know what’s next (Free!)

Favorite Feature: If you receive a shipping notification in your email, it will put a link to the tracking number at the bottom of your day so you can quickly check in on where your package is and Cue will let you know when it’s scheduled to arrive.

Description: This is a really useful iPhone app (also works on the iPad) that helps you keep track of your to-do’s and appointments by pulling them from various other apps/programs into a quick daily snapshot. You can sync your calendar, mail, contacts and tasks from multiple accounts and Cue will order them chronologically each day, giving you notifications of your next appointment. It also lets you know the current weather and when the sun will rise/set so you can quickly tell whether your events will occur after dark. It’s a great app if you keep separate personal and professional calendars and email accounts but want to be able to view them together in one app to make sure you don’t miss a birthday, personal appointment, or work meeting.

App: Apps Gone Free (Free!)

Favorite Feature: I like the clean interface that makes it easy to learn more about each app.

Description: This app will notify you each day with apps that have “gone free” and it will let you know which device they will work on, as well as a short description. Although there are other apps like this, I like the clean interface of the app and the fact that it doesn’t present an overwhelming amount of information so you can quickly scan and see if there’s a good app for you. As they say, “it’s an honest to goodness human-curated list of the best free apps each day.”

App: Buddhify ($2.99)

Favorite Feature: The ability to choose between home, travel, gym, and walking when selecting a meditation.

Description: This is a great app if you want to relax or keep up a meditation routine but you’re always on-the-go. The app is built for the iPhone (iPad compatible) and is made to be used at home, at the gym, while commuting, or walking. Within each of these four locations you can choose a “bitesize” or longer meditation to practice mindfulness. I like that the meditations are short and also allow you to choose four different focus areas: clarity, stability, embodiment, or connection, depending on your mood and the type of mindfulness you want to build. I like to use the app when I’m riding the train or at the gym to just take a few minutes to pause and be mindful without having to dedicate a huge chunk of time to it in my busy schedule.

App: Toca Boca Store ($1.99)

Favorite Feature: The social aspect of that app which invites multiple children to engage in play.

Description: I couldn’t talk about apps without sharing at least one of my favorite early childhood apps! Toca Boca Store is wonderful for young children who are learning how to share and take turns and who are looking for creative ways to play. The app allows one child to be the cashier and one or more children to be customers who are shopping in the store. Once children choose the 5 items that will be in their store (a great discussion prompter), they can select items one at a time to bring to the front counter and purchase. Buying an item requires the cashier to select a price and the customer to count out the correct number of coins to pay for their item. Then children must take their item and put it in their bag, which allows for additional fine motor skills practice. I also like that at the end of the shopping trip (after 5 items have been bought) a receipt is printed and enlarged on the screen so you can review with children how much each item cost and how that adds up to the total amount on the receipt. Since many classrooms have a dramatic play area with items to play “store” this app allow teachers and children to make new and interesting connections between what they can and cannot do digitally and with classroom materials.


Apps in Early Education – The Big Questions

With the start of the school year right around the corner, I wanted to take some time to explore the use of apps in PreK through 2nd grade. I realized that a number of my thoughts about apps for this age level focused on questions. Such as:

  • How are educators currently using apps?
  • How are young learners using apps (at home and/or school)?
  • What are the best review sites for educational apps?
  • What rubrics exist for evaluating apps for this age group?
  • How can app devices (e.g., tablets & smartphones) be used to connect with other tech tools (e.g., interactive whiteboards)?
  • What type of teacher PD resources exist for new app users?
  • What resources exist for young children learning how to use apps?
  • How can apps best be used when you only have one device?

Clearly, there is a lot to consider when examining how and why to use apps with young learners. I decided to start with some of the key questions above and did some web searching. Here’s what I found:

How are educators currently using apps?

out a bout app

Out-A-Bout App by Fred Rogers Center

To start, I reviewed the initial survey results from the Early Childhood Technology Collaborative, which show that only 35% of surveyed teachers of young children are even using tablets. So I realized I needed to narrow my focus to my #ECETech PLN to get information about how teachers who are actually using these tools in their practice work with apps. From there, I discovered a great post by @mattgomez detailing the apps he uses with his kindergarteners and links to how he uses many of them. I also checked out the Fred Rogers apps, which provide suggestions for how to use them and reviewed some other app collections, such as these two pinboards, iPad Apps for Early Childhood and Early Childhood/Preschool Apps, with suggestions for how to use each app. I also found a helpful post of how apps are being used in a 1st grade class and overall,  teacher blog posts seemed to be the most informative to learn not just what, but how teachers are using apps with this age range.  How are you using apps for education? 

How are young learners using apps (at home and/or school)?

Aside from teacher blog posts about how they are using apps with their students, this question was hard to answer through general online research. I did find a very cute video of kindergarten children talking about how they used iPads in a butterfly study in their classrooms. I would love to see more of these types of active examples of technology used as a tool to support or enhance a project/learning from the child’s perspective. How are your young learners using apps? 

What are the best review sites for educational apps?

My go-to sites (in no particular order) are:

kindertown logo

Where do you go for trusted reviews of apps to use in school with early learners?

What rubrics exist for evaluating apps for this age group?

Some rubrics that I’ve found recently (and I hope more and more will be created to meet different needs!):

Do you have other ways of assessing educational apps? What criteria do you use?

How can app devices (e.g., tablets & smartphones) be used to connect with other tech tools (e.g., smartboards)

Apple VGA Adapter

Apple VGA Adapter

It can be helpful to display apps on a larger screen, such as a SMART Board, so large groups can share ideas and see content at the same time. To display your iPad/iPhone screen on a SMART Board or other large screen, you need either a VGA adapter or an HDMI /Digital AV Adapter if you want to connect to an Apple TV/HD TV.

If you want to actually control what’s displayed on your screen from your iPad instead of just mirroring the image on your mobile device, then you’ll need an additional application, such as Doceri or Splashtop. These are helpful if you want to access your computer programs on your iPad.

I want to continue investigating these options because it seems like one of the best uses of the an interactive whiteboard (IWB) and a mobile device  – using the IWB to control your device (e.g., interact with an iPad app on a SMART Board) – isn’t currently possible. This combo could be especially helpful for early learner’s fine motor skills and large group collaboration so hopefully it will be available in the future.

What tips do you have for connecting app devices to other tech tools?

What type of teacher PD resources exist for new app users?

This is one area where the Internet provides a rich treasure trove of resources! In addition to Twitter and a PLN full of other educators who are experimenting and playing with various apps and sharing their tips and tricks, there are numerous articles written on this topic. For example, this site is full of professional development resources  for teaching using iPads in the Classroom. Apple provides a page of resources, as well as ongoing webinars for educators using their mobile products and Android4Schools is a good resource for those with Android devices. 

Successfully finding professional development resources is connected to creativity. Be creative in selecting platforms to search. When looking for resources, include wikis, Pinterest boards, LiveBinders, Twitter, and other networks, as well as news sites, video-tutorials, and of course, colleagues!

What resources exist for young children learning how to use apps?

Although I feel like any technology should be used as a tool to enhance learning and simply another language kids can use to express their creativity, there are still some basics that can be helpful to review before handing a mobile device to a child. For example, how to: turn it on, control the sound, understand when it needs to be plugged in, swipe, click, and so forth.

It was tough to find resources to help with this but I do like the suggestions in the book Teaching in the Digital Age, by Brian Puerling, about how to introduce an iPad to young learners.

I also found these colorful posters about acceptable use, which could be helpful reminders for older children who can read and serve as a good reminder about building in time to discuss digital citizenship and acceptable use with even very young learners.

How do you introduce apps to early learners? What resources have you found?

How can apps best be used when you only have one device?

Finally, working in an environment where children may have access to app-filled devices at home and teachers often have them for personal use but there are no classrooms full of mobile devices, I wanted to consider this question. Luckily, this  has been a popular topic lately and there are many resources online for working in a “one tablet/iPad classroom.” Some only include app suggestions, others take the form of podcasts, blog posts, articles or collections of project ideas and links to explore in more depth.

Do you have suggestions for using only one mobile device in the classroom? 

My head is filled with many additional questions, such as how to use mobile devices to facilitate global collaboration, creative expression, and documentation but those might have to wait for later in the year. I’m excited to keep exploring and to hear from others about their experiences and ideas!