Like Hopscotch, Scratch Jr. is an excellent app for introducing younger students to the world of basic coding/programming.
The interface is organized quite well – with the stage taking up the bulk of the space, followed by the area for the programming script.
The coding blocks are separated into the following categories: Triggering, Motion, Looks, Sound, Control, and End.
Each activity has the ability to be saved, for easy access the next time the app is opened.
This app falls into the ‘Brain Training’ category that’s quickly emerging. It’s quite simple, yet surprisingly addictive. The only objective is to tap the numbers on the screen in ascending order as quickly as possible.
Blitz = Tap through numbers until the time runs out
Zen = Tap all of the numbers as fast as you can
The app keeps track of personal statistics. It also has the option to connect to Facebook and Twitter.
Catch this app if you can find it when it’s free.
Young children will certainly enjoy the alphabet-based music videos found within this app. However, only three videos are unlocked after initially downloading the app. The other videos can be unlocked by redeeming tickets. 100 tickets come with the app and a few more are earned each time a music video is watched. Beware of in-app purchases that allow you to purchase additional tickets. The lyrics to each song can be found by tapping the Menu button.
Parent Tip (copied directly from the app)
These music videos offer many features that will help to develop essential reading knowledge and skills for young children. Their main purpose is to teach letter recognition, helping your child learn to correctly identify both the lowercase and uppercase versions of every letter of the alphabet. They also provide many examples of the sound or sounds that are represented by each letter, in words that are fun and interesting.
This app is ideal for English Language Learners. I wouldn’t recommend it, however, for native English speakers interested in improving or initially learning basic grammar skills.
Each topic – or chapter – consists of a brief lesson, followed by four mini quizzes and a chapter quiz. There’s also a final quiz that covers all of the chapters. The app recommends that the user score a 75% or higher on each mini quiz before proceeding to the chapter quiz. But it is possible to move on without obtaining a certain score. It is also possible to complete the chapters out of order. Each quiz consists of a series of sentences with a word missing; the user has to choose the correct word from three choices. On the mini quizzes, options are present to skip the question or to receive a hint. All quizzes have the option of accessing the study lesson.
- Count, Non-Count Nouns
- Possessive Adjectives
- Question Tags
- Reported Speech
The settings tab allows you to turn sound effects on or off, reset the progress meter, and adjust the amount of time the user has to answer each quiz question. The developer – Golden Academy – has also created over ten more grammar and writing related apps.
There are many art apps available and this is a decent option from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) due to its connection to the Museum and included activities.
A description from the app itself: “The MoMA Art Lab app explores how artists use shape and line in art through creative explorations of the Museum collection, interactive learning activities, and prompts for creativity. Using the Art Lab at home or in the Museum, children, artists, and designers can find inspiration and new ways of connecting with MoMA’s collection.”
Of course students are easily able to use shapes, colors, and other tools to create a masterpiece. However, the app also comes with a bank of ideas such as, “Design a house or building using shapes. Can you create a whole city?” Another is, “Draw for ten seconds without lifting your finger. Color in any shapes that were created.” Little learners can even press the speaker button to have the idea (and the activities listed below) read to them!
Nine activities are also included within the app. Each is based on the work of a MoMA artist.
- Create a mobile (Alexander Calder)
- Experiment with paint (Arshile Gorky)
- Draw from instructions (Sol LeWitt)
- Create a sound composition (Elizabeth Murray)
- Create a chance collage (Jean (Hans) Arp)
- Draw with scissors (Henri Matisse)
- Create a line design (Jim Lambie)
- Create an “exquisite corpse” (Breton, Morise, Tanguy, Naville, Peret, Tanguy, Prevert)
- Create a shape poem (Brice Marden)
Once a piece of artwork is complete, your child must use the camera tool to take a picture of it and then it will be stored in the included gallery. From there, artwork can be saved to the device’s photo album, sent to MoMA, or shared with others via email or Twitter. Note: These sharing options must be enabled via the tablet’s main setting menu.
Apps that focus on sight words are extremely important for beginning readers. This one has a simple game-like format that will appeal to young students.
The free version offers just the following two activities:
Word Machine – The machine verbally announces a sight word. Choices appear and the child has to tap the correct one. Points are earned for each correct answer. More points are earned if students select the correct sight word on the first attempt. Words increase in difficulty as students work through the levels. With each new level, more answer choices appear. The machine repeats each round’s word every few seconds.
Gears – Tap a spot on the screen to hear a sight word. Then students need to drag the written sight word (and its gear) to that spot. Correct answers will make the gear spin.
The paid version opens up all of the grade levels (Pre-K to 3rd) and all of the activities. The others are: BINGO, Memory Games, Spelling, and Flash Cards.
Download the free version to see if it fits the needs of your child, then upgrade to the paid version.
This app provides even young students with an introduction to coding – or computer programming. The Hopscotch computer programming language is derived from Scratch by those at MIT. It provides students with a choice of building blocks in 6 categories. The blocks control the movement and actions of chosen characters. Not only do students learn the fundamentals of coding, but they also have the opportunity to hone their critical thinking and problem solving skills.
The Hopscotch website has a link to their ‘Hour of Code’ tutorial and to 7 lessons that can be used in a classroom or small group setting. The app itself has links to existing projects and a community section where projects can be shared and remixed.
- Movement: move, rotate, change y by, change x by, set rotation, set position, set speed
- Drawing: move with trail, set line width, set line color, clear
- Control Flow: repeat/end, wait
- Appearance: grow, shrink, set invisibility, change pose, bring to front, send to back
- Values: set value, change value
- Calculator: random