Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 5 Apps From a 9 Year Old's Perspective

So of course because I asked my 6 year old, I had to ask my nine year old for his favorite apps.  His picks are even LESS educational.... must be all that Christmas sugar corrupting his brain!

Clash Of Clans - Clash of Clans is an epic combat strategy game.  In this game you build a village by collecting money and elixer.  The game has the ability to play online, however, my son uses it himself and does not join with others players.
iPhone Screenshot 1

Hay Day - You start by building a farm.  You then raise your animals and buy and sell the products you need to run a farm!
iPhone Screenshot 1

Minecraft -  I honestly have no idea what this game is even about, when I asked my son he replied by saying "I don't really know how to explain it mom!"  When you read the reviews it says Minecraft is about placing blocks to build things and going on adventures. hmmmm..... still leaves me wondering!  So when I googled it, the response I got was "Minecraft is a sandbox game which allows players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world.  At night monsters come out, make sure to build a shelter before that happens."  It is an expensive app $6.99, but my son spends hours in this virtual sandbox!

iPhone Screenshot 1

Monster Life - Raise, train and fight along with the cutest and fiercest monsters ever and embark on a thrilling adventure to save the world of Numa! 

iPhone Screenshot 2

Skylanders Battlegrounds - Skylanders is a video game craze that has now found its place in the iworld!  Skylanders Battlegrounds is an action packed adventure where you can play with two Skylanders at the same time. Unlock new powers and weapons to help you in the battle against Kaos and his warlords.  You can connect a portal using bluetooth technology or use the codes that come with your skylander's characters and enter them to unlock your skylander collection.  This is also a $6.99 app that has been on sale for $4.99 for the last month.

iPhone Screenshot 3

So after all this battling and creating fictional worlds I pushed him to tell me something educational, he came up with Waldo... lol!

Waldo - Like the famous book.... you search for Waldo through the app.  There is a free lite version and the full version that my son loves is $1.99!

Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey is the ultimate search and find adventure for all ages, as players scour the virtual globe in search of Waldo and his friends Wizard Whitebeard, Wenda and Woof, and Waldo foe, Odlaw. In addition, there are hundreds of cleverly camouflaged items to find within the 12 different magical worlds. 

iPhone Screenshot 5

I guess when vacation is over and we are all back in "school mode", I'll have to ask "my firsties" what their top 5 apps are!

Top 5 of 2012 From a 6 Year old's Perspective

So I asked my own 6 year old what her favorite apps of 2012 were.  Keep in mind we are on Christmas vacation and her brain is trapped in a sugar fog with visions of academic apps far from her head!

This was her response:

1. Perfect Tree - We love to play this one in chain mode, always striving for the longest chain.  I think we got 26 as our highest.  It is a bit of a mindless game but I must admit I am addicted too! I justify it by thinking you also have to think while you play and we take turns back and forth.  There is a free version that gets you 15 levels, by then you are hooked though and want the $2.99 upgrade for all 200 levels.  I know we did!  There are also many games just like this one with other themes... Fishdom being one of them.
iPad Screenshot 1

2.  Curious Zoo - We got his one for free on one of those free app days!  Then we purchased the other zoo areas for 99 cents each which ends up costing about $5.  George gets the keys to a zoo.  He goes in and feeds and washes the animals.  You learn a bit about animals and have a little fun.  I like the game, not sure if its worth the money in my opinion, maybe for preschoolers it is!  Keep your eyes peeled for freebies with this one.
iPad Screenshot 2

Pet Hotel - This is one of those apps like farmville on Facebook.  You build a hotel and look after the animals that come to stay in it. You raise the babies, party with the pets and learn about animal breeds.  It's free but there are in app purchases of coins and food etc.  I just shut off the option of in app purchases and she has to wait to get the coins by performing tasks etc in the hotel.
 iPhone Screenshot 2

Cookie Doodle - This fun educational app allows you to make cookies without the mess.  There are tons of options and its excellent fine motor practice.  The app is 99 cents and was rated 2011 parents choice of the year app!  You follow recipes, bakes and decorate.  There are over 200 cookie cutters - hours of fun!
iPhone Screenshot 5

Magnetic ABC - This app comes with about 10 other in app purchases allowing you to buy other magnet themes to create stories etc.  There is also a lite version if you want to check it out.  The app is on sale today for 1.99.  We use it to practice spelling words and just to have some fun!
iPad Screenshot 3

So these were "my girls" picks!   Wishing you and "Appy New Year" !

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pros and Cons of a Pod????

Okay so I have had a pod of Ipads in my classroom now since September.  The pod consists of 2 ipads which are mine and stay in my room and 3 ipads that are the "actual school pod" that I share with a grade two classroom.  I get the ipads in the afternoons and she gets them in the morning.  They stay in my class charging overnight and students deliver of pick up the ipads each day.


  • 5 ipads allows for a literacy or math center - I use them during my guided reading time.
  • I teach how to use all the new apps in my monthly folder at the beginning of the month so when kids are working and I allow for free app choice, they know how to use them.
  • I set them all up the same and I generally dictate which app they are allowed to use.
  • It makes a great free time tool especially at the end of the day - free time playing math or spelling:)
  • I have set up profiles for each child, the ipads are color coded and they know which color to fin their profile on.  I can track their progress in some of the apps we use.
  • We've had the opportunity to read app books during guided reading time because we have enough ipads for each child - cool!

  • It is a lot of work!  
  • It takes time to update the folders each month and to keep the ipads all looking the same especially when the ipads are shared between 2 rooms.  Sharing between even more rooms could be a nightmare in my opinion.  I never seem to have the ipads when I have a spare so I am generally setting them up after school.  I must confess, its December 9 and the black ipad  STILL does not have a December folder on it:(
  • Getting all the same apps on the ipads also takes time.  I know there are setting to download onto all etc, but we have multiple ipads linked and if you turn that on, you never know what you will get (apparently that is changing in the near future anyway)
  •  Cleaning them
  • Keeping the them charged
Now some of those things might sound silly, and maybe they are but they certainly are some of the cons.  Do I still want a pod - you bet!  However, I am an apple user comfortable with the technology.  I began with just one ipad and learned the tricks.  I used it in my classroom and did a few cool interactive projects and taught the kids some skills.  Then I set up a schedule so they could each get a turn to "play" themselves.  After a year of that I felt ready for the pod.  My pod time is coming to an end in January.  And so now another con is clearing it all off.  Off  go the photos, the pictello books and projects, off go the drawings and likely even some of my primary apps (depends who gets it next).

My suggestions to the new pod users:
  • You have to teach how to use and respect the pod.  You are not wasting time if you take the time to do this.  Kids need to know how to carry them, how to turn them on and off, how to store them and put them back on a charger.  They need to know how to find the apps and to not bang on the screen. All of these things we take for granted, they must be taught.
  • Choose a time that you are going to use the pod and figure out a rotation so everyone eventually gets a turn.  Not all of mine used it everyday.
  • Choose one or two apps to focus on, teach them and go from there.  Use these apps to reinforce basic skills while having some fun (spelling city, math bingo, mathletics, monkey word school, monkey math, jungle bingo, letter school etc.)
  • Find a cool project that the whole class can do so they can collaborate and offer each other feed back.  there are some great ideas in some of my other posts and some of the blogs I link to.  (Pictello books, Story Creater, Image Chef, Voice Thread, Toontastic, Strip Designer, iMovie... to name a few) 
  • HAVE FUN!!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

My December Apps!

Seven days into December and I finally have my app folders ready on 4 of the 5 ipads in the pod!
Yup, a pod is a lot of work!

What have I got going on in December?  Some old faves hung around for another month and now that we finally know how to add I threw in a few exciting math newbies!

What's hung around?

Letter School
Teach Me Grade One
Teach Me Kindergarten
Spelling City

What's new?????

Monkey Word
iPhone Screenshot 2

I posted about this great find in early November I believe.  The kids were so excited to see it in the December work folder.  It works on Spelling and High Frequency words in all kinds of fun ways.  Definitely worth the $1.99 in my opinion!

Hungry Guppy
iPhone Screenshot 1

I have used the Hungry Fish app in the past which is for kids who know their addition facts.  This game is the precursor to that introducing numbers and joining sets of numbers.  It's $3.99.... a little pricey in the app world, but if your kiddos are into math they'll love it, especially when the fish gets bigger and bigger!

Meet Biscuit Book App
iPhone Screenshot 1

By December in Grade One most of my kiddos really see themselves as readers and are excited to read "other books" instead of our classroom pm book collection.  I always introduce them to Biscuit, they love this puppy and they love to take home my extensive collection of Biscuit books.  When I discovered there were all kinds of Biscuit book apps I was thrilled!  I was lucky enough to get this book for free, but it is now $2.99.  There are many more Biscuit titles ranging from 99 cents to $2.99.  You can see not only is it a book, it has coloring pages, a sticker collection, memory games and a puzzle!

Math Invaders Kindergarten

iPhone Screenshot 2

This app is loads of fun... well worth the $1.99!  It's like the old school video game where you are shooting at alien spaceships before they get to the ground.  I have the kindergarten and grade one versions of this app and find the kindergarten to be at a more appropriate level based on our Manitoba curriculum.  It begins with counting forward, then backwards and then basic addition.

Max Doodle
iPad Screenshot 1

We use Max Doodle to practice our spelling words.  It's an alternative to Doodle Buddy and is a fun interactive way to spell.  I have posted about both of these apps in the past, but have just put Max Doodle in our folder for the first time and the kids are THRILLED!

And since it is December I decided we needed some Christmas Apps too, but I made a special Christmas folder instead.......

Toca Christmas Hair
iPhone Screenshot 1
There is absolutely nothing educational about this at all but the kids think it is hilarious to give Santa a new style.  Last year I had a special needs child and this app was EXTREMELY calming for him.  Toca apps are a favorite in my house, unfortunately we have almost outgrown these preschool apps.

Talking Gingerbread

iPhone Screenshot 2
Again nothing educational, but you can dance and play music with the Gingerbread man and record your voice.  It's another freebie for a little Christmas fun!

Draw Santa
iPhone Screenshot 4

Learn to draw all sorts of Christmas characters, then color and select backgrounds!

How The Grinch Stole Christmas - app book

I blogged about this one already!

Jolly Jingle
iPhone Screenshot 1
This festive sing a long app is great for learning Christmas Carols.  We have yet to use this in our classroom but look forward to it:)

And that is all..... I am sure there are many more Christmas apps out there, let me know what you find that's worth while!

December is my last month with the pod, but guess what I am getting for my classroom....... 1 more ipad!  I almost have a pod of my own:)

Monday, December 3, 2012

How To Keep Kids On The App You Have Chosen!

How ironic that I would receive a text sending me to a blog post about using Guided Access on my ipad since just today we were talking about locking folders to keep kids where we want them to be!

I have not tried using Guided Access because in my class I have very little trouble keeping my kiddos on the app I have told them to use; however, last year I would have loved this option!

This blogger did a great job of explaining the option so I will just link you to her post and let you see for yourself.

If you try it out, let me know!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

I got a "Wonderful Awful Idea"

The Grinch is a favorite in our house this year.  My 6 year old has watched the 30 minute cartoon at least 9 times since it's saved on our pvr, we've watched the full length movie and now we own the app!

For $4.99 you can own the electronic version on Dr. Seuss's classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  The app offers a few pretty cool features.

The coolest in my opinion is being able to set yourself as the narrator.  You can then read the book aloud and it will record your reading so next time you choose Read It To Me....... you can choose to listen to your version!  How cool would that be to have grandpa read the book for you!

The app also allows you to click on the pictures and it tells you the vocabulary of the objects in the picture.  You can turn sound effects on or off, and we all know how much Seuss loves his sound effects!  Of course like most book apps, you can choose autoplay, read it to me or read it myself.

iPhone Screenshot 1

For a little fun we also bought the Grinchmas app.  It is totally just for fun!  You get to be a mean Grinch or a merry Grinch and you fling snowballs or presents into chimneys.  It's a little tricky but it added to our love of the Grinch!

iPhone Screenshot 4