Category Archives: Language Arts

Endless Alphabet

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 2.51.56 PMThis delightfully fun app introduces young students to more challenging vocabulary words such as ‘tangle’, ‘alarm’, and ‘handy’.  After selecting a vocabulary word, the app states and displays it on the screen.  It then spreads the letters across the screen, but keeps the word displayed in the middle. Students then have to drag each letter to the correct spot in the word.  As they tap and hold down each letter, it says a sound that the letter can make.  Although, the app does not account for the fact that some letters make more than one sound depending on where it falls within a word.  As they let go after dragging it to its proper place, it says the letter’s name.  After all of the letters are in the correct place, the app presents a short and cute animation of the word’s meaning.  Finally, it states a kid-friendly definition of the word.  This feature is arguably the app’s greatest strength.  The animation combined with the kid-friendly definition allows students to better comprehend the meaning of each presented vocabulary word.

Unlike many apps, this one does not require students to earn points or experience time constraints.  This allows for them to work through the vocabulary words in any order and at their own pace.  Words can be revisited at any time and you also have the option to only access new words that have been recently added to the app.

Posted in 1st - 2nd, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, Paid, PreK - Kindergarten | Comments Off on Endless Alphabet

Kids Puzzle Play – Elementary

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 9.15.20 AMThis is a very simple matching/puzzle app for young learners.  After choosing one of eight categories (see list below), students listen as the app says an object – like “circle” – then drag the correct puzzle piece to the top in order to make a match.  Incorrect responses are met with a ‘ding’, then bounce back down to join the other remaining pieces.  Correct responses are given verbal feedback.  The pieces are large enough for small fingers to be able to tap with ease.

Categories: Alphabets, Fruits, Vehicles, Shapes, Numbers, Vegetables, Animals, and Colors

Unfortunately there is not an option to turn ‘off’ the audio portion of the app.  Doing so would make the app more challenging for those that are ready.  Of course you could always just mute the sound of your mobile device.

The option does exist for you to record your own voice for each of the objects.  This seems very time consuming and unnecessary, but make a note that the option is there.  The settings tab also allows you to activate a ‘Learning Mode’, randomize the puzzle sequence, and reset the saved scores and earned stars.

A free ‘Lite’ version exists; use it to preview the app to see if it would make a good fit for your learner.

Posted in iPad, Language Arts, Paid, PreK - Kindergarten | Comments Off on Kids Puzzle Play – Elementary


Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 4.48.44 PMThere are a plethora of word/vocabulary apps out there.  This is one of the better ones for two reasons.  One, it has a very simple (yet attractive) user interface.  There aren’t any constraints such as grids or spaces.  Two, it’s appropriate for users of many ability levels.  All words earn points; of course longer words and more complex words earn a higher number of points.

You can choose from 3 game modes: Classic, Daily Words, and Word Jam.

Classic – The app’s description, “The one and only original set of puzzles.  Battle your way through 60 random levels as they increase in difficulty.”  In this mode, you can also select a theme of puzzles (such as Food and Jobs).  Additional theme puzzles can be obtained via in-app purchases.

Daily Words – The app’s description, “Compete with players around the world, each day you are given a new set of letters to test your skills.”

Word Jam – The app’s description, “Obtain the required number of points without running out of time to advance to the next round.”

After selecting a game mode, it’s quite simple to begin making words and earning points.  The user interface resembles a white slate with letters that resemble refrigerator magnets.  Just slide the letters together to make words and watch your points rack up.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, Paid | Tagged | Comments Off on Wooords

Magic Spell

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 4.08.14 PMThis is a very basic spelling app.  The full/paid version (obtained via in-app purchase/upgrade) contains over 300 words for young students to spell; it’s not clear how many words are included in the free version.  Also note that the free version includes an advertisement that runs across the top of the screen. Nine word categories are included: Animals, Instruments, Colors, Feelings, Objects Around Us, Fruits & Vegetables, Numbers, Shapes, and All.

After selecting a category, a picture of an object appears.  The app then states the object’s name and displays the correct spelling.  The letters immediately then scramble and fall to the bottom of the screen.  The user then has to drag the letters back into their correct positions.  A ‘magic wand’ appears in the top right of the screen to assist when students run into trouble coming up with the next letter in the word.

You’ll find numerous ways to customize this app under Settings.  You can turn on or off the following:

  • Background Music
  • Sound Effects
  • Voice Over
  • Random Words Order
  • Capital Letters
  • Show Letter Hints
  • Spell Completed Words
  • Show Magic Wand
  • Sort Words by Length

Unfortunately, an option does not exist to prevent the app from initially spelling the word for the student.  Although it’s only shown briefly, it’s possible for students to just recall how to spell the word and then quickly drag the letters back into place.  For this reason, I encourage you to select another spelling app for the wee one in your life.

Posted in 1st - 2nd, Free, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, PreK - Kindergarten | Tagged | Comments Off on Magic Spell


Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 8.12.34 AMOther options may exist, but I think the process of editing video footage into a ‘movie’ is quite simple using this app.  This is especially true if you’re already familiar with the computer software version of iMovie.  Make a note that more editing features and tools are made available when the device is in landscape (rather than portrait) mode.

When you begin a new project, you’ll have to decide if you want to create a new ‘movie’ or a new trailer.  Think of a trailer as a preview to an upcoming movie you may see at a theatre.  You can choose between the following trailer genres: Adrenaline, Bollywood, Coming of Age, Expedition, Fairy Tale, Narrative, Retro, Romance, Scary, Superhero, Swashbuckler and Teen.

iMovie will prove to be quite intuitive for most users.  In true Apple style, many onscreen tips and prompts can be accessed with a simple tap of the question mark towards the top of the screen.  It’s easy to import video clips, pictures, and audio files that are already on your mobile device.  But you can also record audio or additional take pictures and videos from directly in the app.  In addition to songs and other audio files you may already have, the app comes with an assortment of theme music and sound effects.  The processes of trimming, splitting, and deleting clips are also quite simple.

An array of options exist to complement your ‘movie’.  For example, you can select from one of eight themes: Modern, Bright, Playful, Neon, Travel, Simple, News, or CNN iReport.  Theme music can also be turned on or off.  Continue to customize your ‘movie’ by adding transitions and adjusting the audio.

A built-in ‘Help’ section extensively covers the following topics: Create a project; Create a trailer; Share projects, trailers, and media; and Use AirPlay to stream videos to your HDTV.

Once you’re satisfied with your new ‘movie’, you can share it to the camera roll, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, or CNN iReport.  You can also send it to iTunes.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Fine Arts, Foreign Language, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, Math, Paid, Science, Social Studies | Comments Off on iMovie

Explain Everything

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 8.39.26 PMThe name says it all – Explain Everything.  This app is used for screencasting (screen recording).  It’s similar to recordable interactive whiteboard apps such as Show Me and Screen Chomp.  However, it’s much more complex.  I think it’s more like a recordable version of PowerPoint or KeyNote.  I actually think it’s more appropriate for teachers to use rather than students.  I can see this primarily being used by teachers for tasks such as recording instructional movies.  Although students could easily import existing PowerPoint/KeyNote presentations and turn them up a notch using this app.

Explain Everything is extremely robust – which perfectly justifies its price point.  Start with a blank slate or import almost any type of existing file.  I appreciate that you do not need to create an account; this makes it easier if you do decide to use this app with students.

If you get this app, or are even interested in reading more about it, download the FREE eBook from the iBookstore!  It’s jam-packed with tutorials, videos, and full explanations of the app’s tools.

Posted in 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Fine Arts, iPad, Language Arts, Learning Apps, Math, Paid, Science, Social Studies | Comments Off on Explain Everything

iTooch Elementary School

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 5.15.21 PMiTooch is not only the name of this series of apps, it’s also the name of the accompanying character. Once choosing a grade/age level and subject, students can choose which chapter (or skill) they’d like to work on.  They’ll then choose the mode – practice (not timed) or test (timed).  They can touch the iTooch character at any time for assistance.

The developers have included variety in the types of questions found in both modes; some are multiple-choice, others ask students to touch the correct answer within the question.  As students accurately answer a certain number of questions (thus accumulating a certain number of points), they move up to higher levels that have more difficult questions.  At any time – no matter the subject – students can touch the pencil at the bottom of the screen to bring up a chalkboard to work on.  A click on the settings wheel allows the user to change the grading system (number correct divided by the number of questions or a letter grade).  The ‘User Feedback’ option can also be turned on or off.

While the actual app is free, most of the content will need to be purchased in-app.  I say “most” because a handful of chapters are ‘unlocked’ when the app is initially obtained.  However, stand alone apps are also available for some grade levels.  These contain all of the subjects available for those particular grade levels and are less expensive than purchasing the subjects individually.

I appreciate the effort the developers of this app – eduPad – took to include detailed instructions for use.  Students can touch several places to bring up tips and tricks.  It’s also quite clear that they are committed to receiving and responding to feedback from users.  This is the first time I’ve seen an in-app way to send the developers an email.

I have mixed reviews about this app.  It’s clear that it provides students with access to many, many questions for each subject.  I also appreciate how there are chapters (or sub-topics) for each subject.  But, all of the in-app purchase options can be confusing and a little misleading.  (I assume the developers offered the app this way so that you can customize the options you need for your child/student.)  Also, in order to track progress for more than one user, you must log in to Apple’s Game Center.  That’s certainly not an option most teachers want to use.

Subjects and Grade/Age Levels Covered

– Grade 3 (ages 8 – 9): Math, Language Arts, Science

– Grade 4 (ages 9 – 10): Math, Language Arts, Science

– Grade 5 (ages 10 – 11): Math, Language Arts, Science, and Health

Posted in 3rd - 5th, Free, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, Learning Apps, Math, Paid, Science | Comments Off on iTooch Elementary School

ABA Flash Cards – Alphabet

These alphabet flash cards would make a great addition to a device that’s used with young students.  The interface is appropriately simple and visually appealing.  I’m also impressed with the options for customization.  

One at a time, each letter of the alphabet appears on the screen in both capital and lowercase forms and is accompanied by a picture.  Customize your student’s experience by also having the picture’s word appear and even a sentence that utilizes the word.  The app can also show a Q and A section at the bottom.  For example: Q – Quail begins with the letter Q.  What else begins with the letter Q?  A – Queen, quilt, quarter, and quesadilla all begin with the letter Q.

Customize the app even more by turning the audio (a pleasant human voice) on or off, showing a timer,  or shuffling the cards.  You can also indicate correct and incorrect answers by using the check and cross buttons.  Data can be emailed to a recipient.

Letters and Words

  • A – apple
  • B – butterfly
  • C – cupcake
  • D – dog
  • E – earth
  • F – fingers
  • G – guitar
  • H – hot dog
  • I – ice cream cone
  • J – jack-o-lantern
  • K – koala
  • L – leopard
  • M – moon
  • N – noodles
  • O – owl
  • P – pancakes
  • Q – quail
  • R – rabbit
  • S – soccer ball
  • T – tarantula
  • U – underwear
  • V – violin
  • W – waffle
  • X – xylophone
  • Y – yawn
  • Z – zipper


Posted in iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, Paid, PreK - Kindergarten | Comments Off on ABA Flash Cards – Alphabet

Spell Bot

Are you fresh out of creative ways to have your child practice his/her spelling words?  If so, this app is perfect for you!

A parent or teacher first types in the correct spelling of each word, then records the pronunciation (and an optional sentence in which the word is used) on the weekly list.

The child then taps a large, green button to begin ‘playing’ the app.  They’ll then tap another button to hear the word (and possible sentence).  Next, they’ll use the keyboard that pops up to type in their spelling of the word and hit another button when they are done.  Immediate feedback is given.  After they’ve spelled all the words that were put in, their final score is displayed.

This is one of my favorite types of apps.  Yes, it only serves one purpose.  But it does so extremely well!  Plus, the interface is appropriately simple.  Its lack of bells and whistles allows the user to concentrate on the task at hand.  It’s also quite easy for the both the parent/teacher and child to navigate through.

I do wish more than 10 words could be included.  Perhaps the developer will modify that feature.  But in the meantime, this app is definitely worth downloading if you have a child that is learning to be a better speller.

Posted in 1st - 2nd, 3rd - 5th, Free, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, Learning Apps | Comments Off on Spell Bot

Sight Words List

This is one of the best choices out there if you’re looking for an app that solely focuses on sight words on the Dolch list.

It has 6 sets of words to choose from.  You can add, edit, delete, and/or rename all six sets or even add additional sets.  Perhaps the most ‘snazzy’ feature is the fact that you can record your own voice for words that you add to the sets.

  • Preschool
  • Kindergarten
  • First grade
  • Second grade
  • Third grade
  • Nouns

It has several other options for customization as well.

  • Sound – Turn on or off the feature where the device reads the sight word aloud
  • Timing – Manual or as few as 0.7 second per slide to as much as 10 seconds per slide
  • Play Mode – The ‘Learn’ option presents a new word on either a click with audio, click without audio, or on swipe.  The ‘Game’ option requires listening then finding 1 of 2 – 6 words.
  • Looping – Choose between no looping, loop through a single category, or loop through all categories
  • Capitalization – Choose between ALL UPPERCASE, all lowercase, First Letter Capitalized, or as you entered the words during the customization options
  • Font – Choose between Helvetica, Arial Rounded MT Bold, Bradley Hand, Chalkboard SE, or Times New Roman
  • Font Size – Choose between small, normal, large, extra large, and super size
  • Font Color – Choose between black, blue, brown, dark green, orange, purple, and red
  • Order – Choose between random, A – Z, or 1, 2, 3, etc.
Posted in 1st - 2nd, 3rd - 5th, Free, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, Learning Apps, PreK - Kindergarten | Comments Off on Sight Words List