Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wordventure!



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 3rd - 5th
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Vocabulary
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Remember mad libs?! Well, this app is full of them, but they're called 'Wordventures'! Unfortunately only 3 Wordventures come with the free version. Those are 'Rules for Riding on the Subway', 'Summer Blockbuster', and 'What Happened One Morning'. Additional Wordventures can be purchased for 99 cents each.

After selecting a Wordventure, students have to blindly insert various parts of speech - anything from an adjective to an adverb. I appreciate how the app gives the definition for and examples of each part of speech.

After tapping 'Done', their inserted words are placed into the Wordventure. Their words appear in red. They'll get a kick of out reading their funny story. But they're also able to edit their Wordventure. Saved stories are stored in the app until they are manually deleted.

Even if you just take advantage of the 3 free Wordventures, this app provides a fun way for students to explore the various parts of speech.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bluster!



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 2nd - 4th
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Vocabulary
Levels: 3
Players: Single or team
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

This is yet another wonderful app developed by McGraw-Hill. It's definitely a must-have!

Here's what the user(s) must choose before playing:

A) Number of Players - Single, Team, or Versus. The last two choices are so cool! All players play at the exact same time; the iPad splits into two.

B) Grade Level - Choose between Grade 2, Grade 3, or Grade 4. Although certainly students from other grade levels may find this app developmentally appropriate too.

C) Match Type
Grade 2 = prefixes, synonyms, rhyming words
Grade 3 = prefixes and suffixes, root words, homophones
Grade 4 = prefixes and suffixes, adjectives, rhyming words

Once the 'game' begins, the student(s) have to swipe through the word list to find three words that match according to the selected type. Unfortunately, the app does not display which type they selected; they have to remember. They need to drag each matching word to the scoring area. Ten correct matches clears each round.

In the 'Team' and 'Versus' modes, weather-related "disruptors" can be used to slow down the opponent.

The app claims to feature over 800 vocabulary words. This free app is definitely worth having on iPads in elementary classrooms.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Puppet Pals HD



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: All
Subject: All
Specific Skill: Storytelling
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Please note that the free version of this app only unlocks the 'Fairytale' theme. Additional themes can be purchased in-app for 99 cents each. But the best deal is to spend $2.99 on the Director's Pass, which makes all of the other themes available.

What a fun app! Students use up to 8 'actors' (characters) and up to 5 backdrops to tell an original or recreated story. They use their fingers to make the characters 'move' and record the story using their own voices! The app is quite customizable! Photos taken with or saved on the iOS device may be used as an actor/character or as the backdrop.

The Director's Pass includes the following themes: Arthropod Armada, Christmas, Entertainers, Fair Weather Friends, Fairytale, Monsters, On the Farm, Pirates, Political Par-tay, Space, Talk Shows, Thanksgiving, Wild West, and Zombie Attack.

Saved shows are initially saved to the camera roll. From there, they can be exported via text message or email, uploaded to YouTube, or transferred to a computer.

The possibilities for using this app are endless. Spend the $2.99 for the Director's Pass and watch your students' creativity bloom!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Flashcards*



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 2nd and up
Subject: All
Specific Skill: All
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

The real name of this app is 'Flashcardlet'; it compliments www.quizlet.com. Both the app and the website are free! Despite the lack of a price, they are excellent alternatives to traditional flashcards created with index cards!

From the 'About' section of the app - "Flashcardlet is designed to bring the age-old practice of studying flashcards to iOS devices in an intuitive and convenient way."

Users can create their own flashcards (front and back) or browse www.quizlet.com through the app to locate and edit (if need be) flashcard decks created by others.

Please note that flashcards containing images must first be created on the website. But they can then be accessed from the app.

Easy to create, edit, and use - Flashcardlet is a must have!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Google Earth



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: All
Subject: Science
Specific Skill: Geography
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is the app-version of the desktop version of Google Earth and it's just as stunning!

Students can use the search bar to input a street address or the name of something specific (try 'Eiffel Tower' - it's so cool!). They can then use one or two fingers to pan, tilt, zoom in/out and rotate the view.

The following layers can be added: places, businesses, Panoramio photos, Wikipedia, borders and labels, roads, and oceans.

This free app should definitely be on all iPads and iPod Touches found in today's classrooms.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pages



Price: $9.99
Grade Recommendation: 2nd and up
Subject: All
Specific Skill: Word processing
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

While pricey, a powerful word processor is quite necessary on iPads in particular. (I'd probably skip this one for use strictly on iPod Touches.) Think of this app as Microsoft Word for Apple's mobile devices.

The app comes loaded with the following templates: modern photo letter, classic letter, formal letter, personal photo letter, modern photo resume, classic resume, project proposal, term paper, visual report, poster, syllabus, party invite, thank you card, recipe, and flyer. Of course, you may also choose to begin with a blank page.

Users unfamiliar with Pages can tap and scroll through the handy and comprehensive 'Getting Started' document.

Text, photos, shapes, tables, and charts can be added, deleted, and edited with ease. Students as young as second grade will be able to create fun and creative documents!

There are several options to share created documents or to save them for access elsewhere.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

SimpleMind +



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 2nd and up
Subject: All
Specific Skill: Graphic organizer
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app enables students to organize information and ideas by creating "mind maps", sometimes called graphic organizers. They start with adding text to a center oval. Thoughts and ideas can be mapped out from there. This version allows them to change the style and color of the text.

This is one of those rare apps where the free version is more than adequate for a classroom setting. But feel free to upgrade to the full version ($6.99) to obtain more functionality.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Word Wagon



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 2nd
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Phonics
Levels: 4
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

If you're looking for a phonics app for early readers, this is an acceptable choice! Users join a mouse and his bird friend on a conveyor belt adventure. There are several categories to choose from: animals, numbers and colors, vehicles, food, and Mozz and Coco (the mouse and bird); you may also choose to get words from all the categories at the same time. After touching an object that passes by, the user must perform a task - according to the selected level.

The app consists of 4 levels:

1 - Letters
The letters that make up the word are scrambled on the screen. The word is also written. The user has to drag the letter onto its matching spot. The device says each letter when they are touched.

2 - Phonics
Quite similar to Level 1 - Letters. However, the app phonetically pronounces each word after the user is done dragging the letters to the matching spot in the word.

3 - Spelling 1
Similar to Level 2 - Phonics. But, students have to figure out the correct order of the letters in order to spell the word.

4 - Spelling 2
It's just like Level 3 - Spelling 1; but the words are slightly more difficult.

You can change the settings for each level to use capital or lowercase letters. A cute little animation occurs after each task is correctly completed.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sound Sorting: Beginning Sounds



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 2nd
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Phonics
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app is developed by Lakeshore Learning - one of my favorite education stores. It's quite simple, yet effective. Students sort pictures of objects according to their beginning sounds.

Here are the objectives it's designed to meet:
- Building phonemic awareness
- Identifying words by beginning sounds
- Matching words by sound

Students can either choose 3 beginning sounds or have the mobile device randomly choose 3 sounds for them. Nine balls with pictures appear on the side. Students must drag each ball under the picture that has that same beginning sound.

I appreciate how the app verbally states both the names of the pictures on the balls and the names of the pictures atop each column.

Incorrect placements cause the picture balls to return to the area where the remaining balls are, giving students another chance to correctly place it.

It would be nice if this app also addressed middle and/or ending sounds. However, that's not its purpose. Despite this, it's still worth retrieving from the App Store.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dino Digger



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 2nd - 4th
Subject: Science
Specific Skill: Paleontology and dinosaurs
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Your budding paleontologist will love this app! By swiping a finger across the screen, they can 'dig' up 6 different dinosaurs. The six dinosaurs are parasaurolophus, brachiosaurus, compsognathus, stegosaurus, triceratops, and tyrannosaurus rex.

After 'digging' up all of the bones, the app automatically builds them into a 3D skeleton. The skeleton then comes to life, turning into an animated dinosaur. The dinosaur, background graphics, and sound are stunning.

I wish the app included even more graphics and especially text about the dinosaurs. Nonetheless, it's a great interactive app to have.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Life Cycle App



Price: 99 cents
Grade Recommendation: 2nd and up
Subject: Science
Specific Skill: Life Cycles
Levels: n/a
Players: n/a
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

The cycle of life is covered in state and national science standards at almost every grade level.

This app covers the following life cycles:
- Life Cycle of a Frog
- Phases of the Moon
- Life Cycle of a Butterfly
- Plant Life Cycle
- Pollination and Fertilization
- Rock Cycle
- Water Cycle
- Photosynthesis
- Nitrogen Cycle
- Oxygen Cycle
- Life Cycle of a Ladybug

Each cycle of life is illustrated in a kid-friendly manner. In addition, each step in each cycle is accompanied by explanatory text and a narrator is available to read the text too. Both of those options can be turned off - making the app customizable to meet your needs.

At this price point, this app should be on all iPod Touches and iPads that are used in science classrooms.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Presidents vs. Aliens



Price: 99 cents (free Lite version)
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Social Studies
Specific Skill: U. S. Presidents
Levels: Multiple
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app's developer also brought us the apps 'Stack the States' and 'Stack the Countries'. It's one of my favorite kinds because it mixes a fun and addictive game format with learning.

Those unfamiliar (or who need a refresher) with our country's 44 Presidents can first 'study' the included flash cards. Each gives the following information about each President: number, name, dates in office, political party, Vice President, nickname, events, quotes, and facts.

There are plenty of customization options and the app stores information for up to six players. Users can choose which types of questions they are asked from the following choices: Identify President, Political Party, Before and After, Historical Events, Nicknames, Quotes, and Facts.

After correctly answering a question, the user gets to fling a President towards a group of aliens. The goal is to remove all aliens from the screen. Correctly answering 3 questions in a row allows the user to power up to a new level.

Moving to higher levels also unlocks two bonus games - Head of State and Executive Order.

Some adults may find the premise (flinging Presidents at aliens!) kind of lame/juvenile. However, any app that 'sneaks' in learning is an app I recommend! Students will love it and will benefit from the information they are learning.

Monday, December 19, 2011

ABC 123 Word App HD - English Spanish Edition



Price: $4.99
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 2nd
Subject: Reading, Spanish
Specific Skill: Vocabulary
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

This robust app is great for the bilingual learner! It features 4 different activities.

- Alphabet and words
After clicking on a letter, the iPad states the letter and says the picture that accompanies it in both English and Spanish. The user can then trace a capital and lowercase letter. Or you can hide the printed letters and they can write the letter on their own.

- Numbers and counting
After clicking on pictures depicting the numbers 1 - 10, the iPad states the number in both English and Spanish. It then counts that number of objects and announces the results in both languages. Again, the user can trace the number or write it independently on the lines provided.

- Shape blocks and matching

A shape is shown in the middle of the screen. Students drag the matching shape around the perimeter of the screen to the one in the middle. Incorrect shapes bounce back. But correct ones are met with the name of the shape announced in both languages.

- Colors and painting
An easel appears where students can use the brush to paint a picture. Each time the color is changed (by clicking on the palette), the name of the color is announced in both languages. This activity comes with the option to take a screen shot (or picture) of the completed masterpiece.

This app is quite pricey. The 4 activities are definitely beneficial, however. The use of this app is an easy way to expose younger students to Spanish vocabulary.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Spanish Adventures for Kids



Price: $3.99
Grade Recommendation: K - 2nd
Subject: Spanish
Specific Skill: Vocabulary
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

Students accompany Lucy and Max on ten adventures in order to learn Spanish vocabulary. The adventures are: ocean, carnival, space, garden, zoo, farm, classroom, beach, rainforest, and city.

Each adventure provides them with 10 words to find. The app shows the picture of an item and says its name in Spanish (the Spanish word also appears on the screen). After clicking the 'Find It' button, the whole adventure picture appears. The user must then find and click on the picture of the object.

While it's nice to hear and see the Spanish words, I'm not sure how much learning is actually taking place in this app. Students can simply ignore the Spanish vocabulary altogether and just search for the matching object. At this price point, I'd skip this app. But feel free to obtain it if you have the money to spare. The graphics are appealing and students will enjoy selecting different adventures to embark upon.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pebble Jump HD



Price: 99 cents (free version too)
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Game
Specific Skill: Logic
Levels: 3
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This challenging game is a cross between checkers and peg solitaire. The object is to clear the board by jumping over the pieces. In order to do so, the last jump must land in the home space.

The app gives the option to receive hints, to reset the game board, and to undo a move. All of these options will definitely come in handy!

The higher levels (medium and hard) are unlocked after the easy puzzles (40 in all) are completed. This app will make a great addition to devices where students enjoy logic games.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rainy Days: A Stella and Sam Adventure



Price: $2.99
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 2nd
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Listening to a story
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

What a cute little adventure! Students follow Stella and Sam as they entertain themselves on a rainy day. The adventure is fully animated and narrated.

Every so often the adventure pauses to allow students to complete 3 brief, interactive activities:
- Paw Prints
- Autumn Treasures
- Pinecone Race

Four chapters are included; the user can jump to any chapter or activity - they do not have to experience them in order (although it makes more sense to).

This app plays more like a short television program. I wish the words to the adventure were printed on the screen. Nonetheless, it's still fun and young children will love it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Freefall Time



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 2nd - 4th
Subject: Mathematics
Specific Skill: Time
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app is acceptable for building skills related to telling time. One, two, or three (depending on your settings) clocks fall from the top of the device. Students have to drag the clock(s) to their digital match before the clock(s) reach the bottom. You can customize the minute increments: 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes.

Another activity is for students to match a digital time in clouds to the clock shown before the clouds reach the bottom of the device.

After accurately matching digital and analog times, students must also set the hands of a clock to the time given.

Overall, this is a sufficient time telling app to have. There are others out there (Telling Time HD and Jungle Time) that do more, however.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Little Speller First Words



Price: $0.99
Grade Recommendation: K - 3rd
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Spelling
Levels: N/A
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Wow! I am quite impressed with how much this spelling app can be customized to meet students' needs. It features over 1,000 words already, but you can even add (and delete) words too.

Once the app begins, a picture is shown along with the letters needed to spell the word. The app also states the intended word. Students then have to drag the letters in the correct order to spell it. Immediate feedback is given.

That's the gist of the app, but there are so many ways to customize it - making it easier or more challenging. You can turn on/off the following: sound, word hints, visual hints, letter hints, and letter repeat. Also, the order of the words can be alphabetical or random. The letter order can be left to right or in any order. You can even use all lowercase, all uppercase, or capitalized letters. Also, you can customize the length of the words. But perhaps the most beneficial customization option is the ability to control the word library.

This app is a must-have for classrooms with younger students in it. At this price point, it's a steal!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Times Tables



Price: $0.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd - 5th
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Multiplication
Levels: Multi
Players: 1+
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is the kind of app that's meant to be used over time. It tracks the progress of students as they master multiplication facts. It will save information for more than one student.

After selecting their name (or adding a new player), the app gives 4 choices:

Single Table Quiz
- Choose between tables 1 - 12. All start at level 0, where the questions are asked in order (1x1, 1x2, 1x3, etc.) and students can make up to 4 mistakes. New levels are reached according to accuracy and speed.

Quick Quiz
- It is unlocked only after higher levels are reached on the single table quizzes. Once it's unlocked, users can choose between the following quizzes: 30 questions, 100 questions, 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 1 mistake.

Competition
- This mode is also unlocked only after higher levels are reached on the single table quizzes. Once it's unlocked, users can choose between the following quizzes: 30 questions, 100 questions, 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 1 mistake. These quizzes are meant for 2 - 5 players and can have between 1 - 3 rounds.

Custom Quiz

- Choose between tables 1 - 12 (or a combination) and between 30 questions, 100 questions, 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 1 mistake.

Although this app only focuses on one skill (multiplication), it comes highly recommended. It's customization and ability to track progress make it well worth the small price tag. I also appreciate how it provides instant and ongoing feedback to students.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Word Topple



Price: Free! (99 cents for ad-free version)
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Spelling and vocabulary
Levels: 12
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

The object of the game is to form words in order to topple buildings and other structures. Words can be formed by swiping a finger across letter blocks or tapping each letter individually. The final letter in each word needs to be double-tapped to 'play' that word.

The letter tiles used to form an acceptable word 'fall', disrupting the building or structure. Longer words cause more damage than shorter ones. The user clears a level by getting all of the blocks below the checkered line (after causing damage) - so strategy comes into play as well as word sense.

I like how the app provides the definition for all acceptable words.

Even the ad version is recommended; this is a fun little word game that students will enjoy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ABC Spelling Magic 2 - Consonant Blends



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: K - 2nd
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Spelling and phonics
Levels: 2
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

I'm quite impressed with this free app. It focuses on consonant blends and is the perfect way to tackle spelling and phonics instruction.

Children have a choice between 2 levels/activities:

Word Jumble: They're shown a picture and the letters (out of order) that spell the picture. They must arrange the letters to correctly spell the word. When a letter is selected, the device says its sound. The app is self-correcting; letters put in an incorrect spot will automatically 'bounce' out of that spot. There are 7 categories of single consonant blends (animals, outdoors, actions, people, home, work, and items). But you can also choose between double or even triple blends!

Moveable Alphabet: This level/activity is more challenging because the needed letters are not provided for the user. Rather, the entire alphabet is presented. The consonants appear in red and the vowels are in blue. The categories and choice of double or even triple blends remain.

The app can be customized even more by turning the following features on or off: letter sounds, letter hints, and double letter helper.

This is an excellent free app; it should be on every iPad or iPod Touch that will be used with early learners.

Friday, December 9, 2011

FLUP



Price: $1.99 (Free version also available)
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Challenge Puzzle
Specific Skill: N/A
Levels: Many!
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app is meant for your visual-spatial learners who are ready for a challenge! This app is visually-appealing and simply complex! It's a 3-D puzzle that requires swiping and tapping to solve. It comes with more than enough levels that are unlocked based on performance.

The app gives the user a small picture of the completed puzzle. S/he will then need to slide and/or tap the individual cubes to correctly replicate the shown solution.

I highly recommend this app for use in classrooms where the occasional challenge is greeted with open arms!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trace Right!



Price: $0.99
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 2nd
Subject: Writing
Specific Skill: Letters and numbers
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

In this simple app, young children can trace numbers and letters with a finger. They can begin by watching an animation of the tracing of the letter or number while the app also verbally says the letter or number. After tracing the letter, students can press a button to receive instant feedback. The letters and numbers can be traced consecutively or in any order. Children may choose between upper and lowercase letters and the numbers 1 - 10.

In addition, users can click on alphabet pals that accompany each letter. For example clicking on the pal beside the letter A causes the device to say, "Aloha, my name is Ally and I am an alligator."

Get this app if you have the need for children to practice forming letters and numbers the correct way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baseball Multiplication 1 - 6



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd - 5th
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Multiplication
Levels: 1
Players: 2
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is yet another app developed by the McGraw-Hill Companies. It compliments their Everyday Mathematics series; some students may find it quite familiar.

This particular version of the app multiplies numbers 1 - 6. A separate version exists for numbers 1 - 12.

The object is to correctly multiply number pairs in order to score points. The app is set up as a 3-inning baseball game. The player with the highest score at the end of the game is the winner.

After choosing a representative color, the first player touches the pitcher. The pitcher 'throws' a multiplication problem. The batter then uses the keypad to input the product. With a correct answer, the batter's 'hit' is based on the product.

1 - 10 = Single
12 - 16 = Double
18 - 20 = Triple
24 - 36 = Home run


An incorrect answer garners a strike; 3 strikes and you're out! But the umpire may also call a batter out or the ball may be caught, also resulting in an out. It's then the next player's turn.

A comprehensive tutorial is included. Students can also choose to turn on the 'Guided Play' option.

In general, I'm not a big fan of the Everyday Mathematics apps. But due to the two-player format and fun task, I do recommend this one.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Name That Number



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd - 5th
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

The McGraw-Hill Companies developed this app in conjunction with their Everyday Mathematics program. Students in classrooms where this series is used may find the app familiar.

The object is to make the target number using the 4 operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division) and the given number cards. Students do so by making a numerical expression. They also must keep the order of operations in mind as they make the expression.

Points are earned for making an expression that equals the target number. More points are earned for using more numbers in the expression.

Using 2 cards = 2 points
Using 3 cards = 4 points
Using 4 cards = 8 points
Using 5 cards = 16 points


A comprehensive tutorial is included. Also, students can turn on the 'Guided Play' mode where the app guides them through the task.

This is one of my most recommended apps from the Everyday Mathematics series. Although only one level is available, it lends itself to differentiation because of the choices of operations and the number of cards used to make the target number.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Perfect Captions




Price: $1.99 (free version also available)
Grade Recommendation: 1st and up
Subject: Photography
Specific Skill: Editing
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app makes a great companion to your iPad or iPod Touch's built-in camera. It allows students (or you) to add captions to pictures. But unlike traditional captions that appear under the photo, captions created with this app can appear anywhere.

The app is highly customizable - from the font (type, color, size), background of the caption's text box (color, opacity), and the actual shape of the text box.

The finished product can be exported via email. But it can also be sent to social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr) and back to your photo library.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Monster Squeeze



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 1st
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Number sense
Levels: 1
Players: 2
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app was developed by The McGraw-Hill Companies in order to compliment their Everyday Mathematics curriculum series. Students in classrooms where the series is used may find the app quite familiar.

The object of the game is to guess the secret number that is being represented on the number line. To begin, the first player clicks any number on the number line. At that point, the iPad will say whether that number is too small or too large - making the octopus's arms squeeze the number line to make it smaller. The next player then chooses from the numbers that are left. Play continues until one player guesses the secret number. That player wins the round and receives a point. There are 5 rounds in each game.

The Options tab allows for customization. The number line can be 0 to 10, 5 to 15, 10 to 20, 15 to 25, 20 to 30, or all of the above. This feature increases the difficulty level of the app.

A comprehensive tutorial is also included.

It's my general opinion that the Everyday Mathematics apps are too pricey for the few tasks they contain. But this would make a good addition to iPads that are going to be used with students just learning number sense.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tric-Trac



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 2nd - 4th
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Addition
Levels: 1
Players: 2
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app is yet another developed by The McGraw-Hill Companies; it's meant to compliment their Everyday Mathematics curriculum series. Children in classrooms where the series is used may find this app quite familiar.

This is a sum-matching game that can be quite confusing at first. The object of the game is to be the player with the lowest score by leaving the smaller sum of numbers uncovered. To begin, the first player clicks the dice to 'roll' them. They'll need to add them together to get the sum. They'll then click one or more numbers (1 - 10) to make that sum. For example, if their dice add up to 7, they can click the 5 and the 3 OR the 7 OR the 6 and 1, etc. If their sum is correct, that amount will be subtracted from their score. It's then the next player's turn. Play continues until one player rolls a sum in which no matching sum can be made. The player with the lowest score wins the game.

Players can use the 'Add 1', 'Add 2', or 'Add 3' buttons to increase the sum of the dots on their dice. So an initial roll of a sum of 7 can increase to 8, 9, or 10.

A comprehensive tutorial is included. Also, students can select the 'Guided Play' option for additional support.

This is one of Everyday Mathematics' more challenging and strategy-based apps. Even at this price point, it's still recommended.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Subtraction Top-It



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 2nd - 5th
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Subtraction
Levels: 1
Players: 2
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app, like several others I've reviewed, was developed by McGraw-Hill as a companion to their Everyday Mathematics curriculum series. Students in classrooms where the series is used may thrive on the familiarity this app brings.

The object of the game is to score more points than the other player by comparing differences of two cards. After being dealt two cards (each with a 2-digit number on it), the first player enters the difference of the two cards. Player 2 does the same. Next, the highlighted player clicks the arrow that points to the largest of the two differences or hits the tie button (if the differences are equal).

A game consists of eight rounds. Players earn 10 points each time they: correctly enter a difference, correctly compare the differences, and/or have the higher difference.

I like how the cards that are dealt automatically rearrange themselves to put the larger number first (always making 93 - 10, never 10 - 93).

A comprehensive tutorial is included. But players will most likely need to use a slate and/or paper and pencil to compute the differences.

This is one of Everyday Mathematics' better apps. Although you can't control the level, students can definitely practice their 2-digit subtraction skills (with and without regrouping) through this app.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Art HD



Price: Free
Grade Recommendation: 4th and up
Subject: Art
Specific Skill: Painting
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

The complimentary version of this app features the following great artists: Bouguereau, Cezanne, Da Vinci, Degas, Gauguin, Homer, Kahlo, Klimt, Marc, Monet, Rembrandt, Rivera, Sargent, Turner, and Van Gogh.

For each one, students can read a biography and view replications and descriptions of the artist's paintings.

A quiz is also included where students guess "Who is the artist?". You can select to have 10, 25, or 50 questions in the quiz.

Please note that some of the paintings feature nude women and men.

This app seems to crash more than others; but it's free so you can't complain too much.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mickey's Spooky Night Puzzle Book



Price: $0.99
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 2nd
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: N/A
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

What a cute story! Although it has a Halloween theme, children will probably enjoy the story year round. Mickey is throwing a Halloween party, but his friends are scared of noises and sights in his house. No worries - the mystery is solved and everyone winds up happy and ready to party!

"Puzzle" is in the title because some of the illustrations encourage students to put puzzle pieces in place. Other interactive elements are also included.

The book is highly customizable. You can use the 'Read to Me' option, read it yourself, or record someone's voice to read the story! You can also turn the 'Auto-turn Pages' on or off. An index is also included, making it easy to turn directly to a favorite page.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Beat the Computer - Multiplication



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd - 5th
Subject: Mathematics
Specific Skill: Multiplication
Levels: 3
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

McGraw-Hill developed this app as a companion to its Everyday Mathematics curriculum series. In this app, students need to compute a multiplication fact (0 - 10) before the time runs out (20 seconds). The seconds left on the timer are added to the user's score. There are 20 rounds in each game.

Feedback is given for correct and incorrect answers. A complete tutorial is also included in the app.

This is a very basic app. Students will enjoy the multiplication practice it provides. But parents and teachers will long for more customization options. Skip it (especially at this price point) and instead look for an app that's much more robust.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rock Hound



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Earth Science
Specific Skill: Rocks, gems, minerals
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is a must-have app for classrooms that study rocks, gems, and/or minerals. It's filled with many resources for rock hounds.

Sites:
Choose from two options - a map view or a list of places organized by the state they're in. The sites list the exact location - longitude, latitude, city, and state. It also lists sample rocks, gems, and/or minerals that are found there and a short description of the site. A small picture is also present.

Rocks:
Rocks, minerals, and gems are listed in alphabetical order beside their picture. Clicking on one brings up more pictures and a substantial description.

Favorites: Users can save favorite sites to this tab.

Tips:
General Info - Cleaning rocks, Tools for digging, Rock tumblers, and Permits and closures
Program Info - Using favorites, Adding your own sites, Adding your own rocks, Change map detail, and Toggle sounds
Submit Data - Submit your rocks and Submit your sites

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe Interactive Game



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: K - 2nd
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Phonics
Levels: N/A
Players: 2
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Lakeshore Learning developed this impressive phonics app. Two players (or even two teams) play a tic-tac-toe game. Of course, the 'winner' is the first to get three Xs or Os in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

The game board shows 9 questions. The player (or team) taps on a question, it immediately enlarges on the screen. The player/team then taps an answer.

The included 'Teacher's Notes' says the app is designed to meet the following objectives:
- Identifying blends and digraphs
- Recognizing words with the same beginning sounds
- Counting syllables in words
- Recognizing words with the same ending sounds
- Identifying sounds in words

The only downside is that the app does not read the questions (and answer choices) to the students. That's disappointing for a phonics app. But I still recommend this app be added to iPads and iPod Touches in early elementary classrooms.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Word Domino




Price: $0.99
Grade Recommendation: 2nd and up
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Spelling/vocabulary
Levels: 3
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

The goal is quite simple - build words (from a specific category - like sports) from the syllables shown. In 'classic' mode, syllables are shown on stationary dominoes. But in 'bubbles' mode, the same syllables are shown on floating bubbles - adding a little complexity to the task of making words.

Users can choose between 3 difficulty levels (1, 2, or 3 stars). In addition, you can play a 'Full Game' where categories change during the game. Or you can play a 'Training' round and pick a specific category.

Categories: wild animals, farm animals, musical instruments, the house, furniture, weather, colors, fruits, vegetables, trees, flowers, seaside, clothes, transport, DIY, sports, food and drinks, fishes, verbs, and the human body.

Users may even choose the preferred language - from English, French, Spanish, or German. The app also keeps track of high scores in both game modes.

This is one of the rare apps that's appropriate for an elementary, middle, or high school classroom. At this price point, it's highly recommended!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Divisibility Dash



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd - 5th
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Divisibility
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app is developed by McGraw-Hill and is meant to compliment their Everyday Mathematics series.

This app tackles the skill of divisibility - or multiples of numbers. A divisor (up to 10) is given. Students then have to click on two number globes that will make a multiple of that divisor. For example, for a divisor of 2 they can click on 1 then 8 to make 18.

If students make a number that's not a multiple, the globes they used will lock. Once all the globes reach the top of the box, the game is over.

A comprehensive and helpful 'How to play' component is included.

Overall, I'm disappointed with McGraw-Hill's series of Everyday Mathematics-based apps. At this price point, I'd like to see the apps cover more than one particular skill or even cover one specific skill at multiple levels.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Equivalent Fractions




Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd - 5th
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Fractions
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is another app developed by McGraw-Hill that compliments its Everyday Mathematics series. Students in classrooms that utilize this curriculum will find the fraction cards quite familiar.

Students should already be familiar with basic fractions before attempting the activity found in this app. The object is to match cards that show equivalent fractions - for example, 2/3 and 6/9. The fraction cards use horizontal bars and shading to 'show' the fraction. The numerator and denominator are also written on each card. Students can use a finger to temporarily move the cards in order to compare them side by side.

Points are earned by making a match; users earn even more points by making two or matches in a row (without clicking the Draw Pile to reveal more cards).

This is one of my least favorite types of paid app - one that only addresses one specific skill. However, it's still recommended - especially for classrooms that utilize the Everyday Mathematics series.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Word Seek HD




Price: 99 cents
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Language Arts
Specific Skill: Spelling, vocabulary
Levels: 1
Players: 1 - 2
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both (called Word Seek Social for iPod)

Please note that this game is tied to Apple's Game Center. One person can play without signing in, but that needs to be done if two people play against each other (via the 'Challenge' option on the main menu). (I assume you have to sign in to the Game Center for the iPod Touch version.)

This app is quite appropriately titled - users seek for words amongst given letters. The letters can either be arranged in a 4x4 or 5x5 array. When users find a word, they drag the letters in order (horizontally, vertically, and/or diagonally) and release to 'make' it. The letters do not change at all during the course of a game. Each found word earns points based on the letters it's comprised of. Besides customizing the board size, users can also select a 3, 4, or 5 minute time limit or get rid of the time constraint altogether.

After each game, the app displays your total score and your personal best. But it also displays the number and percent of words found out of the total that were possible for that game. It also displays the lengthy list of all possible words.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Addition Top It



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: K - 2nd
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Addition
Levels: 1
Players: 2
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app is developed by McGraw-Hill and is related to its Everyday Mathematics curriculum series. Students in classrooms that utilize Everyday Mathematics will find this app quite familiar.

Students 'deal' each player two cards from the deck. Then each player adds the two numbers together and compares their sum to the other player's sum by taking turns clicking on the arrow that points to the greater sum (or clicking the 'tie' button). Points are earned for entering correct sums, correctly comparing sums, and having the higher sum.

I find this app too simple to warrant the price tag. It's unusual for an app at this price point to only offer one operation - addition. Also, the highest equation students will encounter is 9 + 9, since they are only adding a one-digit number to a one-digit number. There are many more apps available that do a lot more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Letter of the Day Interactive Activities



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 1st
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Letter recognition
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app was developed by one of my favorite 'teacher stores' - Lakeshore Learning. Its colorful and simple format is quite appealing. Users start by choosing any letter of the alphabet to complete the 'All About ______' sentence at the top of the screen. Students can began exploring the chosen letter by reading and/or listening to the provided chant.

"Kim does karate kicks at the Kansas Zoo. /k/ /k/ /k/ Keep kicking, Kim!"

Around the chant box are four mystery boxes. In each one, students have to touch the picture that shows an object that starts with the chosen letter. The pictures have the words written on them and the device reads the name of the object when the picture is touched.

Selecting the 'more' arrow at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen provides students with the opportunity to trace the letter several times. A virtual eraser is included with the activity.

This app is a fantastic choice for use with students working on recognizing and writing letters.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pictorial HD



Price: Free
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Art
Specific Skill: Spatial reasoning
Levels: 2
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This beautiful and soothing app is simply complex! Each scene requires the user to use a finger to turn a seemingly random group of dots different ways. Eventually, light lines appear to connect the dots; the lines become darker the closer you get to revealing the picture. Soon after, the dots and lines arrange themselves into a clear picture.

New levels and scenes are unlocked as you move forward. Also, points scored depends on how quickly you reveal the picture.

This app may be frustrating for some students. But those who enjoy the challenge spatial reasoning activities bring will appreciate this one!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Toontastic



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: K - 5th
Subject: Storytelling
Specific Skill: Writing
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

Think of this fun app as a digital puppet show! It's quite easy for students to turn a story into a cartoon by capturing their voice and animation. The free original version comes with an acceptable number of characters, background music, and scenes. However in-app purchases add additional elements. Finished cartoons can be shared via ToonTube (http://toontube.launchpadtoys.com/).

I suggest encouraging users to plan out their story before beginning the animation process in this app. It's best if they use the Story Arc already embedded in the app. However, the app also allows for scenes to be deleted and added to the Story Arc.

Setup - Introduce the characters and story setting
Conflict - Create a problem for your main character
Challenge - Make the problem even more difficult
Climax - Help the main character solve the problem
Resolution - Show that the problem has been settled

Once they are ready to create their cartoon, they'll first need to choose a setting or draw their own. They'll do the same thing for characters. Next, they'll start recording animation by using their fingers to move the characters and record the oral version of the story. They'll then select background music from the choices given. The process continues for each scene that's part of their Story Arc.

This app is highly recommended, even if you don't supplement it with any in-app purchases. It's a treat to witness the creativity and imagination that goes into turning stories into digital cartoons!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

MathBlaster HyperBlast



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 1st and up
Subject: Math
Specific Skill: Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
Levels: 3
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app provides the best of both worlds for children - playing a fun and interactive game while also learning! Students travel through a simulated tunnel, blasting targets and dodging obstacles along the way. Every so often, they have to stop to solve a series of mathematical equations in order to continue.

There are 6 mathematical topics to choose from for each game:
- Addition
- Subtraction
- Addition/subtraction
- Multiplication
- Division
- Multiplication/division

The game is aesthetically-pleasing; the graphics are quite impressive (so is the audio). Users tilt the iPad (or iPod Touch) to steer through the tunnel - making it excellent for the kinesthetic learner. This game is highly recommended!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Compass for iPad




Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 2nd and up
Subject: Science
Specific Skill: Navigation
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

This compass app is quite useful if you plan to do any navigation work with your students. The north and south markers are most clear. But the rest of the marks on a traditional compass rose also appear. Longitude and latitude information appears as well.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Show Me



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: All
Subject: All
Specific Skill: N/A
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

I love this app! It's quite similar to Screen Chomp. Simply put, it's a recordable whiteboard app (sometimes called a slate).

It only comes with a choice of 7 colors of ink. But I actually find that sometimes less is more when it comes to customizing something like that. Users can choose to use the eraser tool or clear the entire slate. An 'undo' option is also present. The background can either be white or a picture you either take on the spot or import from your photo album.

You don't have to use the recording (audio and visual) option, but the button to start/stop recording is conveniently located on the bottom right corner of the app. Recorded work can then be uploaded to www.showme.com. At this point you have two options.

1. "Personal - Can be shared with anyone who you give a link to."
2. "Public - Share your ShowMe with the community and teach the world!"

It's quite easy to create an account on www.showme.com; a step you'll need to do no matter what option above you choose.

This app comes highly recommended. Grab it today from the App Store, you have nothing to lose and everything to show!

Media Slate Pro



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: All
Subject: All
Specific Skill: N/A
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

This app's developers tout it as a way to turn an iPad into an interactive whiteboard. This is true ONLY if you are the type of educator who views the expensive interactive whiteboard as simply a glorified dry erase board.

Simply put, this app is just a slate.

Users can choose between a regular, dotted, or straight line to draw and/or write. They can change the line's thickness and color. I am impressed with the color choices; the entire palette is available, not just a few select colors. They can also change the background color or even use a saved photo as the background.

The final product can be saved to the photo album or the iPad's clipboard (for pasting later elsewhere). It can also be shared via email (or Facebook and Twitter).

If money is a factor, skip this slate app. I'm aware of two others - Show Me and Screen Chomp - that not only work as a slate, but are recordable too! I can't believe a paid app claiming to be an interactive whiteboard substitute does not have that option.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Calculator



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 2nd and up
Subject: Mathematics
Specific Skill: Computation
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

Surprisingly, iPads do not ship with a calculator app installed. Luckily, there are a few free options available in the App Store. This option works well for use in my early elementary classroom. I love how the numbers are big; easy for small fingers to touch. It's nothing fancy, but it gets the job of performing simple operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) done. Beware that ads (complete with the temptation to "visit site" or "try it free") run across the top of the screen. For that reason, you may want to select a paid/non-ads calculator app. In fact, there's a premium version of this app available for 99 cents that will eliminate the ads.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quick Record



Price: 99 cents
Grade Recommendation: All
Subject: All
Specific Skill: N/A
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app's title says it all; it's a quick way to record an audio file. Once you open the app, you simply press the large, green button in the middle of the screen to begin recording. When you're done, you press the same button (now red) to stop. That's it. You do not have the option to pause and continue recording within the same file.

The following message then appears, "Sound recording converted and stored successfully." It then directs you to go to the native Photos app to listen to it. That's right, audio files recorded with this app are stored in the same location as photos and video files.

Once you access the file via the Photos app, you have the choice of emailing or copying it or sending it to YouTube.

I'm disappointed that it's not free. It's almost too simple to be worth a price tag - no matter how small it is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eric Carle's My Very First App



Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: PreK - 1st
Subject: Vocabulary
Specific Skill: Matching
Levels: 3
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

With this type of title, my guess is that the developers intended to make an app that would introduce young children to the iPad (or iPod Touch or iPhone) and how to swipe and press items on it. Problem is, that could be done with many other apps - especially free ones.

It's hard to even classify this app. I guess I would say it's a vocabulary matching game. Here's an explanation of the 3 levels, in the app's own words.

Easy - Swipe the images left or right. Match the top image with an image on the bottom.
Medium - Tap on cards to flip them over. Find the two cards with the exact same image.
Hard - Tap on cards to flip them over. Find the two cards that go together, like black and an umbrella.

Unfortunately, the app initially only comes with two 'sets' in which to perform those activities - colors and animal homes. You have the in-app option of purchasing four additional sets - shapes, numbers, food, and animal sounds. Each one is an additional 99 cents.

The illustrations are beautiful and in true Eric Carle style. But skip this app if money is a selling point for you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kindle



Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: All
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Books
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Amazon is brilliant for developing an app to access its Kindle services on other devices. Adding this app gives you an alternative to iBooks. Once logging into your Amazon account, you have the ability to connect to the Kindle store. Of course you can purchase a copy of a book, but a free section also exists.

Once a book is wirelessly downloaded to your device, it remains on the app's built-in bookshelf. The reader has the ability to bookmark pages, and change the page color, layout, and text size. One can also search for a word or phrase that's within the book.

In my opinion, no device should be without this app.