Name: Kids Dental Health
Fee or Free: 1.99 at time of review
Rating: 4.5 stars
For most of us going to the dentist is just a have-to. My parents or my teachers never explained to me why brushing my teeth or a visit to the dentist was important. I just did it. This app is built to change that. Children begin by choosing an avatar who will guide them through the story. The app is part storybook, part activity center, and explains why people need to take care of their teeth. Four interactive games built into the app engage young readers and help them understand the ins and outs of dental hygiene. In the first game children move a toothbrush to catch the proper amount of falling toothpaste to brush with. Next the user moves a toothbrush to wipe out bacteria attacking the teeth followed by a game where you use dental floss to remove food. Finally children can play a matching game called Healthy Foods Game that resets each time they play.
Charming illustrations accompany the narration which is the same voice no matter which avatar the user chooses. Though the voice is pleasant, I'd like to see a boys voice accompany the male avatars. My only other constructive comment is that though the matching game is called Healthy Food Game there are unhealthy foods like ice cream, chips and chocolate included. I think children will find this confusing. Though the app does not say these foods are unhealthy, it does encourage children to eat less of them. By including them in a game called a Healthy Food Game the message being sent is that they are healthy foods. A wonderful surprise is that the book has some Easter eggs. If the child touches some of the illustrations the label of the illustration pops up and is read aloud.
All in all this is a great app to use just before a child has to visit the dentist to remind them of why we need to take care of our teeth. I give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
I Education Apps Review - App Reviews and Educational Commentary
Entries in Reading (22)
Murky Reef Lite
As the instructional technology specialist for my building, grades 3-5, I am constantly questioning myself and those that I collaborate with. A common question that I find myself asking, “is the approach or unit/lesson “true” technology integration which will meet a variety of curriculum standards?” Good integration can occur in a variety of ways, the latest being the impact that the mobile market as on education. Through our PLN (professional learning network) via Twitter, Murky Reef Lite by developers Frolyc came highly recommended and Applicable2U needed to know if in fact it was applicable to you. Designed for those with an iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later, downloaders (parents/educators) and aquatic learners will find this cross-curricular app very engaging as it enhances ones thinking skills and implements a variety of 21st century skills. Without even realizing it, this educational app has seamlessly incorporated a multitude of age appropriate skills and academic areas into one.
Frolyc is a proud member of Moms with Apps, a collaborative group of family-friendly developers. As stated on their website, Frolyc aimes to create apps that will put users to the test as they learn through questioning, exploring and yes, even frolicking in unusual places. Murky Reef was built with Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind, which means as your child or students use this application, they will be building their knowledge of the ocean, supported for comprehension, encouraged to analyze and to apply their knowledge through a number of activities. We were very impressed with their informative website and the process that was put in place when creating Murky Reef – both versions: lite and the in-app upgrade for $3.99. With so many states moving towards a new set of standards, the Common Core Standards, educators will be pleased to see that their children’s “gaming” will in fact meet some of the math and language arts standards for children ages 4-10.
Put your scuba gear on as your elementary student will be introduced to a various sea life creatures in the imaginary waters of Murky Reef. Through the use of very clear and concise tutorials, pictorial supports, pleasurable characters, animation and sound effects, ones curiosity will be sparked. Unlike most “lite” versions, Murky Reef does in fact provide users with a good amount of content. The lite version will give users access to 6 cross curricular areas: Number Sense, Spot Rhyming Words, Greater Than, “Not In” Letter, Addition 1-10 and a comprehension quiz. However, in the full upgrade, users will be given a total of 22 games as it builds on vocabulary, sight words, word synthesis, number patterns and sentence structure/composition to name just a few. Regardless of which version is downloaded to your mobile device, along with interactive graphics and audio, users will also have access to informative text and safe videos as they explore such science topics as: the coral reef ecosystem, habitat and prey/predator relationships, and an introduction to sharks, pufferfish, cleaner fish and many more.
While scouring the murky seas, your objective is to stop Ogee, the unfriendly Shark. With each level completed, players will earn fish rewards that can be manipulated in “creature play” mode. With 18 different sea creatures to collect, their fish tank will be filled with the schools of fish that they have saved. To learn more about those schools saved, drag them over your submarine and a pop up textbox will appear. A note to the developers – since this is an educational app for children as young as 4, might it be possible to include a reading option of this informational text if the application is being used independently. As the “Attack” and “Creature” modes are designed for the players, developers have also included a little something for parents and/or educators. With a simple tap of our four-eyed turtle friend in the lower right hand corner, parents and educators will have access to a very detailed report of how a user is doing. Reports will share the number of attempts made in each “Attack” mode and the percentage of correct answers. In addition, it will provide a break down of skills based on: comprehension, logical reasoning, language arts and math. Another suggestion for a future update might be to put a lock mode on our turtle friend as this information is most important to the parents and/or educator as it can guide them for future instruction and support.
Applicable2U was very impressed with our Twitter find and would definitely give it a five star rating. Making cross curricular connections in multiple platforms and educational environments is critical. Those questioning whether to implement a 1:1 iPad pilot program or even to purchase for personal home usage need to see the educational connections that developers like Frolyc are making. If you would like to learn more about Frolyc, please visit theirwebsite here. To begin exploring Murky Reef Lite, simply click here to access via your iTunes library. However, if interested in the full version, simply click here.
Reviewers website: www.applicable2u.wordpress.com
Simplex Spelling Phonics 1
By Pyxwise Software Inc.
Pyxwise Software Inc. has recently launched Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 and it could not have come at a more appropriate time for Applicable2U. It is now the second trimester of our school year and my son, although he is 5, is beginning to dig deeper into the mechanics of spelling and reading in his kindergarten class. We have reviewed educational apps by Pyxwise Software in the past, so we were immediately intrigued when we read in their iTunes library description, “Simplex Spelling improves English spelling and reading skills by using a powerful combination of phonics lessons, spelling/word patterns, our unique “reverse phonics” approach and contextually relevant spelling rules.” Amazingly, within days of its launch, Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 was already on the Apple’s New and Noteworthy apps under the Education category. Through our exploration, we now know why! According to research, readers who use this approach will find learners succeeding at a higher rate than those using typical flashcards. As a child embarks on the road to spelling and reading there are five key areas that a child should focus on: vocabulary, phonemic awareness, sight words, phonics and comprehension. As you explore with this educational app, teachers and parents will quickly see how these five concepts have been integrated fluidly. Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 is accessible via most Apple devices running iOS 4.0 or later. Your spelling lists can now go where you go! With a year full of spelling curriculum which has over 450 high frequency words divided into 42 lessons, your child will be building their confidence as their base foundation of literacy is being established.
Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 can seamlessly be integrated into any homeschool, classroom or home environment. With the ability to create what appears to be an unlimited amount of user accounts, parents of multiple children will be thrilled that their child’s learning needs will individually be met. In addition, teachers will be pleased to see that a mobile device can now be a part of a learning center for their students. Whether using this application individually or with a teacher or parent, young readers will find a number of support systems in place along the way. Within the settings tab, users can work with either upper or lower case letters. Developmentally, this is very appropriate to focus on one or the other, however, still having experience with both. In addition, the keyboard layout can be changed to letters appearing alphabetically or like a real world keyboard. Regardless of which keyboard type you choose, letters will appear color coded, vowels will appear bluish/white in color and consonants will be red. Visually this is very effective for learners. When beginning a word list, your virtual teacher will briefly explain that sound or letter combination. Proceeding this explanation, the user will be required to spell words falling under that category. Along the way, additional supports are provided such as: a hint button, the teacher saying the desired word in a sentence and various visuals clues for right and wrong answers. If a user is unsure what a colored button will do, simply click the question mark at the bottom of your window and the Simple Spelling teacher will verbally explain. With a simple tap of their finger onto any user friendly tool, letters can be: viewed with a green checkmark, dragged from left to right, provided hints and deleted if necessary. Their finger is now a virtual pencil and an eraser.
So that learning is held accountable and parents and teachers can further instruct in an appropriate way, reports can be generated indicating words mastered and the number of attempts made within each word list. Strategically, word lists are organized very clearly as it starts with the basic sounds each vowel makes both short and long. Some might say that the English language is a bit tricky when it comes to those letter combination words (ie. “ai” or “ay”). As you progress from individual vowel sounds into the next lessons, users will begin to explore the complexities of these letter combinations. From there, lessons will touch on the blended sounds letter make. The overall purpose of this educational app is not to memorize, but to rather transfer this learning to become efficient readers and spellers with a solid comprehension of the phonics approach.
Applicable2U is truly excited with the updates that have been made from their other spelling application, Simplex Spelling HD. Whether you have a 4-10 year old, this application is applicable to you. For a simple .99¢ download, your child or student will be gaining a lifetime of academic skills that will be applied throughout their early stages of life. To learn more about Pyxwise Software Inc., please visit their website here. It’s time that you take the anxiety that can be built up in a child when reading and spelling with a simple download of Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 to youriTunes library here.
Reviewers website: www.applicable2u.wordpress.com
App Title: My Word Wall
Grade Level: Pre-K - 1
Purpose: A The app allows children to practice alphabet and basic words.
Program Functionality: A I love the way this app is designed. The main home screen has an uncomplicated layout with ABC and word writing right in the center. The 4 games are on the bottom and have cheerful graphics to entice you to explore. The home screen is easily referenced by the house icon at any time during game play.
Overall Educational Value: A This game allows children to see, hear, say, and write alphabet and basic words. The four games offer a variety of activities for a variety of skills. See & Find is a picture to word matching game. It has two levels: 6 cards or 8 cards. When you make a match, the word is read. Hide a Word sports a darkened screen, with a spotlight to swipe around to look for a word. This is fun for my first graders - they don’t get tired of finally spying that word! Bubble Words is perhaps my favorite. It is a spelling game that features a mix of words: cvc, cvce, and words with other vowel and consonant combinations such as ou, oy, or, ar, and st. It would have been great to have a way to set this to practice developmentally... cvc words only, cvce words, then other vowel patterns, etc. The last game is Jigsaw Words - simple puzzles to put together to build words.
Cost: $ .99 for iPhone, iPod app. iPad HD version call Word Wall for $. 99.
Recommendation: Pre-school through 7 years will enjoy and benefit from this game.
Classroom Use Examples / Ideas: We use this 2-3 times a week in word study time in first grade. The students return to this app for the fun and I keep it on their iPods for the learning impact.
Developer Website: Punflay, Emantras
iTunes Link: My Word Wall
Reviewer Name: Carolyn Wojtera
Reviewer Blog: Teach with Tech
by Maplekey Company, LLC
Does your little one love to tell stories? As an adult we always love to share all kind of stories. Well now it is possible to tell those stories with the help of Maplekey Company and their recent launch of Picturebook applications for your iPad device. It is an educational app that will spark ones imagination and creativity as it develops a users writing skills. Reading is such a critical part of ones home and school life. Now with the help of this mobile application, readers can put their imagination to work and become an author of their own creation(s). Picturebook app provides the user a very simple and easy to navigate design. At no cost, developers have offered the user(s) with three preloaded stories, a “how to” book on making your own story, a small library of images and two options for book covers. With these few tools, writers can begin setting the stage as they add in characters and tell a story along the way. As your little author gets older, you will be amazed at how their stories will change as they incorporate various characters, a setting, a conflict and resolution. The added bonus, stories can then be saved to your device and viewed multiple times. In addition, stories can also be shared with friends and family.
While exploring with this application, a variety of experiences were coming to mind for children and adults of all ages. For those just learning to explore books, Picturebook would be an excellent addition to your iPad device. Their first creation could simply be a book of their favorite clipart. With the help of a parent, you could add a text box under each item. This opportunity would provide your little one the feeling of flipping their virtual book and a wonderful experience of developing vocabulary as they bond with you. With what appears to be an unlimited amount of pages, your child’s story can be as small as 2 pages or similar to the length of a novel. Interactively, clipart can be manipulated with a twist, pinch or double tap. Very quickly images can extend from one page onto the next. As you or your child’s story develops, images can be layered to give the feel of a 2 dimensional story. For a small in app purchase, additional images and/or covers can be added to your device which is then stored in “My Stuff”. For those developing a more complex or detailed story, a variety of genres could be incorporated as this application is used within a classroom setting. At this time, there is no recording option or sound, however, this would be an excellent addition for a future update. Such an experience would guide those struggling to read, a way for a far away friend or family to hear academic progress and a basic reinforcement of reading skills.
From the parents point of view, I would love to use Picturebook as a way to scrapbook my child’s life while we are on the go. It would be wonderful if the application had a connection or ability to choose from my photos library. By having this application at the palm of my hands, all kinds of stories would never be missed. The possibilities are endless with this creative application. Applicable2U feels that this storybook application is applicable to you and should be added to your iTunes library. To learn more about Maplekey Company, please visit their website here. Or to begin telling your story today, simply click here to add Picturebook to your iTunes library.
Reviewers website: www.applicable2u.wordpress.com
Name of App: Introducing Planet Earth (LAZ Reader)
Free or Fee: Free!
Rating: 4/5 stars
Why I like it: Introducing Planet Earth is reading and science wrapped into one. LAZ uses this reader to help students connect to prior knowledge about planet Earth as well as a lesson on main idea and details (www.learninga-z.com). However, this app could also be used as a science lesson. The nonfiction book offers information about seasons, day and night, longitude and latitude, axis, tilt and the equator with the planet Earth as the narrator. Students can use this book to begin investigating the characteristics of planet Earth. After learning about Earth, students could then learn about another planet (in groups) then compare and contrast Earth to the other planets. The artwork is fun and the facts are presented in a way that makes it easy to understand. I also love the “Try This!” page that gets students up and moving around! There is a lot of information provided in this book so may be best to break it up into chunks instead of reading it all at once. Introducing Planet Earth can become part of a unit or can stand on its own. This app is brimming with options for the classroom!
Visit Kathy's website for more tips on using apps in the classroom!
by BrainBeanz, Ltd.
What sounds do you hear? Whether you are a parent or a teacher of preschoolers or kindergarteners, this early to learn sounds application is worth the download. An added bonus, currently it is being offered at a discounted rate for the up and coming return of school. BrainBeanz Ltd. is a development group made up of teachers looking to support both parents and other educators. Having an educational background, BrainBeanz Ltd. fulfills one of the necessary requirements that Applicable2U looks for, gaming for a reason. Through a great deal of repetition, auditory clues, easy to follow directions and eye catching graphics, Sound Seeker will put your student or child on the road to the early stages of reading. To avoid confusion, small groups of letters are learned, in turn, leading users towards a better rate of success over time. What child doesn’t love stickers and rewards?
Prior to beginning, parents might find it helpful to check out the “p” shaped cog in the lower right hand corner. Here parents and/or educators will find the “parental controls” of the game. Various letter selections can be made. At any point in the game, parents can change which mode to encourage or reinforce. The SATPIN mode is for those just getting started. This is the default mode and is the only option that generates rewards. Such rewards are stickers representing each letter of the alphabet. The RANDOM mode will select letters arbitrarily for those using so as to practice both sounds and letter recognition. If vowels are an area of concern or need of introduction, then set the mode to AEIOU. The final letter selection is a users choice option. Here players can choose any six letters that they would like. To extend the learning opportunities, both upper and lower case letters are reinforced. In addition, at the completion of each mode, parents have the option to reset the game so the learning continues for another go around. Once these options have been set, let the learning and fun begin!
So how does one play Sound Seeker? In the four corners of the playing window are letters and in the middle are bean shaped graphics. The object of the game is to drag the graphics on top of the matching sound that it makes. It is important to note that users should be familiar with the letters of the alphabet prior to playing. If players should struggle though, BrainBeanz has come up with a solution by providing users auditory support. With a few simple taps, a narrator will very clearly state each letters sound. As an added support, when graphics are tapped that same narrator will indicate what those images are in case of confusion. With the help of good listening ears, users should start to hear similarities as the sound attaches itself to a word/image. Through both positive and negative reinforcement users will know if their matches are done correctly. If a user is unsuccessful they are not penalized for their mistakes, it just means more practice is required.
Applicable2U explored each letter mode, but was pleasantly surprised at our findings when we were rewarded with a sticker in the SATPIN mode. We were under the impression that the sticker was the only reward and boy were we wrong. In order to earn a reward, users must progress through with a certain success rate. Once that rate has been met, a twinkling star will appear stating that we earned a sticker! At this point, users should click the star button in the bottom right corner. It is here that players will be able to view those stickers collected. Without giving too much away, be sure to have your little one click on those stickers as it will bring them to additional games, interactivity and enjoyment. As 10 and 20 stickers are collected, it appears a certificate is earned. We do wonder, is this certificate printable? In looking at those follow up games, Applicable2U does wonder if it might be possible to set the challenge a bit higher as more stickers are collected, thus indicating a user that is building their letter sound confidence. It might be interesting to see a match of a graphic and its letter, or two graphics that have the same letter sound. Applicable2U feels that this would be an even better indicator of awareness for both parents and educators.
Overall, Applicable2U gives Sound Seeker a thumbs up! Certainly worth the download for our soon to be kindergartener! As a user completes the sounds of the alphabet or is looking to move on in the development of reading, parents might be interested in also looking at the next reading series, Blend Seeker. If you would like to learn more about BrainBeanz, Ltd. please visit their website here. Don’t forget these educational apps are still on sale as of today, August 23, just click here to begin downloading Sound Seeker and Blend Seeker to your iTunes library today!
Reviewers website: www.applicable2u.wordpress.com