Numbers League

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 1.43.57 PMThis app successfully sneaks a lot of learning into a game-like format.  The app is based off a card game with the same name.  The ‘game’ takes place in Infinity City.  Each villain that students encounter has a specific weakness in the form of a number.  The heroes  – who form the Numbers League – must work individually or in collaboration to add up to the total of each villain’s weakness.  Instead of  spinning to create a new hero (called ‘Hero Up’), students can occasionally ‘Gear Up’ to spin for powerful ‘Devices’ (such as +10 or x3).

Games

  • Minion – Mini Game: Simple heroes and villains
  • Sidekick – Mini Game: Simple heroes and villains, plus simple devices
  • Hero – Base Game: Basic heroes and villains, plus positive and negative devices
  • Hero Plus – Base Game Plus Variants: Add negative heroes and villains and/or multiplication devices
  • Superhero – Advanced Game: Positive and negative heroes, random villains and multiplication devices

At this price point, I expect for an app to come with plenty of options for customization.  This app certainly delivers!

Customization Options

  • Game Play – Dynamic, Fast, or Simple
  • Audio – Turn off/on Music, Sounds, and Voices
  • Hints – Each can be Free or cost 1 or 2 Points (Or entirely eliminate the option)
  • Timer – 40, 80, or 160 seconds (Or entirely eliminate the option)

This is one of the best math apps I have encountered.  It allows students to have an abundance of fun while gaining valuable mental math strategies.  (Or students can certainly have paper and pencil close by.)  I also appreciate how it is appropriate for a broad level of students.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, iPad, Math, Paid | Comments Off on Numbers League

HOPE Poster Photo Filter

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 5.54.33 PMThis app pulls photographs from the device’s library (Camera Roll on an Apple device) and places a soft filter over them.  The filter mimics the one used in the iconic Hope poster from President Obama’s 2008 campaign.  Photographs can be moved, scaled, and rotated.  After importing a photograph, students can choose from one of 9 filters (each black with one additional color).  They can then add a word or short message that appears at the bottom of the poster.  Most students can create attractive posters in Easy mode.  But there is also an Expert mode that allows for adjustments in three tonal regions – shadows, midtones, and highlights.  Completed posters can be saved to the device’s library and shared via email, Facebook, and Twitter (as poster or avatar).

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Fine Arts, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Comments Off on HOPE Poster Photo Filter

Sentence Reading Magic

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 1.56.07 PMThis app is designed for early readers.  It has two modes – Sentence Building and Sentence Reading.  Each has the option of using either 2 words or 3.

Here are summarizations of the instructions for each mode.

Sentence Building – The purpose is “To lay the foundations and to strengthen the ability to read sentences.”  It demonstrates how we pair verbal words with written words to form sentences that can be read or said aloud.  As each new sentence (and accompanying picture) appears on screen, the mobile device reads it aloud.  Then the child needs to drag the words in the proper order.  When done correctly, the tiles will join together and play a brief musical number.

Sentence Reading – The purpose is “To give lots of practice reading short, simple sentences and to prepare children to read books.”  To eliminate the reliance on visual clues, the picture does not appear.  The words also appear in the correct order.  Therefore, the objective is for students to read the sentences orally and then tap the blank picture box to hear each sentence read aloud and watch as the accompanying picture appears.

This review is for the free version.  It comes with just two categories in Sentence Reading (15 two-word sentences and 25 three-word sentences).

The Deluxe version comes with four categories in Sentence Reading (72 two-word sentences, 84 three-word sentences, 84 four-word sentences, and 84 five and six-word sentences).  It also comes with several sound and font options that are not available in the free version.

As always, I encourage you to try the free version before committing to the Deluxe version.

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

BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 1.35.50 PMI am a big fan of Brain Pop movies.  This app is geared towards students in grades Kindergarten – third.  Another version is available for older students.  Good ‘ole Moby (the robot) appears in all BrainPOP Jr. movies with his dear friend Annie.

This app does allow all students to watch one ‘free’ movie each week.  However, students with access to a subscription can log in to access part of or the entire collection of BrainPOP Jr. movies!  Bonus features (such as quizzes and activities) are included for each movie.

There are two different mobile-device based subscriptions.

  • Explorer – $1.99/month.  Provides access to the free ‘Movie of the Week’ and its bonus features plus 3 related movies (per week) and their bonus features
  • Full Access – $5.99/month.  Provides unlimited access to all movies and their bonus features

Note: Login credentials for the web-based BrainPOP sites also work on mobile devices via the BrainPOP apps.

Subjects and Categories

Science – animals, plants, habitats, conservation, land, matter, forces, energy, weather, space, science skills

Health – be well, be safe, relationships, be responsible, bodies, teeth, food, drugs

Reading & Writing – authors, reading skills, story elements, comprehension, phonics, word, sentence, communication, writing

Social Studies – American history, ancient history, biographies, holidays, communities, Native Americans, government, economics, citizenship, geography

Math – number sense, addition and subtraction, measurement, geometry, time, money, data and probability, fractions, multiplication and division

Arts & Technology – art, music, technology

Posted in 1st - 2nd, 3rd - 5th, Fine Arts, Free, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Language Arts, Learning Apps, Math, PreK - Kindergarten, Science, Social Studies | Tagged | Comments Off on BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week

Learn Spanish for Kids – Ottercall

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.59.34 PMThis app has an interesting concept behind it, but overall – it fails to fully deliver.  From the ‘About’ section of the app: “Ottercall helps you practice your pronunciation and learn to speak a new language.  We use speech recognition to help judge your pronunciation and give useful feedback.”

Unfortunately, the speech recognition component of the app is in need of improvement.  It often gives negative feedback when words are actually correctly pronounced.

To begin, the user selects from the list of lessons.  They also choose for the language to be English or Spanish.  Then they tap the picture to listen as the device reads the word aloud.  This feature is the best in the app!  Although the voice sounds very ‘computer like’, it is still beneficial to have the app read each vocabulary word aloud.  But I do not recommend using the speech recognition component of the app until the developers greatly improve that feature.

Unlocked Lessons

  • Animals
  • School
  • Beach
  • Bedroom
  • Breakfast
  • Clothing

Locked Lessons (Unlocked via an in-app purchase)

  • Fast food
  • Fruits
  • Holiday
  • Music
  • Kitchen
  • Appliances
  • Seasons
  • Sports
  • Tools
  • Vehicles
  • Vegetables
  • Weather
Posted in 1st - 2nd, 3rd - 5th, Foreign Language, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Tagged , | Comments Off on Learn Spanish for Kids – Ottercall

Ludo Classic

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 3.10.12 PMThe educational value of this app is questionable.  Yet, I still decided to include it because it is a good way for students to practice using strategy (combined with a little bit of luck).

Ludo is sometimes called ‘pachisi’.  The basic premise is to move all four of your game pieces around the square board without getting ‘caught’ by other players’ pieces.  You’re also trying to capture your opponents’ pieces.

Up to four players can play at once.  You can play ‘the computer’ or play with friends via a local wifi + Bluetooth network or Apple’s Game Center.  You also have the option of playing with one or two dice.  I find this game to be very addicting.  To emphasize its educational value – encourage students to focus on strategy rather than just moving pieces randomly.

Official In-App Rules

  • The goal is to walk around the board with the pawns and arrive at the center with all 4 pawns.
  • Roll a 1 or a 6 to put a pawn into play.  Rolling a 6 gives the right to roll again.
  • If a pawn lands on a place already occupied by another player’s pawn, that pawn will return to its starting position.  Again, it can only be put into play by rolling a 1 or a 6.
Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Critical Thinking, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Tagged | Comments Off on Ludo Classic

Easy Portfolio

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 4.10.51 PMDigital portfolios are still a fairly new concept in K – 12 education.  But apps like this make it easy to bring this new technology into classrooms at all grade levels.

After creating a new portfolio, it takes just a couple of taps to add records.  The records can be in the form of videos, images, audio files, notes, URLs, and documents.  The app easily retrieves records from DropBox or from the iPad itself.

Individual records or even the entire portfolio can be exported via DropBox or Google Drive.  The app links to tutorial videos and blog posts that help navigate the process of creating and maintaining portfolios.

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

Complete the Words

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 11.46.07 AMThis app provides young learners with an opportunity to match print words with both oral and visual versions.  It is divided into 3 activities: Shapes, Letters, and Words.

Shape Matching – The objective is to drag the colored object from the bottom of the screen to its card that contains the word and a black-and-white image of the same object.  The name of the object is stated each time you tap it in order to drag it to its correct spot.  Although the name of this activity is “Shape Matching” and traditional shapes (star, hexagon, triangle, circle) are shown above the title for it, students are actually matching objects, not shapes.  Sample objects include a fence, letter, and bicycle.

Letter Matching – Students need to drag the missing letter from the bottom of the screen to its card that contains the rest of the letters and a color image of the object.  Unfortunately, when each letter is tapped the app says the name of the object it’s supposed to be dragged to, instead of stating the letter or the sound the letter makes.

Word Matching – This activity requires students to drag the word to its card that contains dashes to represent letters and a colored image of the object.  Like in ‘Letter Matching’ each word is read when it is tapped.  From there, students have to simply drag it to the card that contains the picture of the stated object.

Verbal feedback (such as, “Great”) is given in all 3 activities for correct answers.

‘Smudge Mark’ is the name of the reports section where you can access the total number of correct and incorrect responses.  The data can easily be cleared.  Note that it only stores information for one user.

At this price point, I expect this app to do much more.  Specifically, I wish it had the ability to make the 3 activities more challenging.  For example, it would be beneficial if the black-and-white images of the objects in ‘Shapes Matching’ could be removed.  Then students would be required to match the picture of a cup with the word that says “cup”, rather than simply matching the colored cup to its black-and-white version.  Sure you can mute the mobile device in order to make the app more challenging, but these types of options should also be built into the Settings menu.

Currently the only two options in Settings is ‘Use only CVC words’ and ‘Use Open Dyslexic font’.  I am not familiar with Open Dyslexic font, but I didn’t notice a discernible difference after enabling it.

A lite (free) version of the app is also available.

Posted in iPad, Language Arts, Paid, PreK - Kindergarten | Comments Off on Complete the Words

Number Link Pro

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 12.20.33 PMThis app strengthens students visual-spatial skills.  It’s more like a puzzle than a game.  The concept is deceptively simple – connect pairs of numbers (by creating a path) without leaving any empty spaces on the game board and without crossing over an existing path.  The board starts out with 5 rows of 5 and gradually increases in complexity to a 16 x 16 board.

It connects to Apple’s Game Center, but you do not have to choose this option to play.  There is a free version, but of course it comes with ads.  In-app purchases provide more hints and open up new levels.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Critical Thinking, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Comments Off on Number Link Pro

Hands-On Equations 1

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 8.13.43 AM‘Hands-On Equations’ is actually an off-line program that simplifies the process of learning and mastering algebraic concepts.  It is both visual and kinesthetic in nature.

The iPad version presents six lessons.  Each consists of a video introduction followed by two practice problems and ten exercises.  The practice problems and exercises remain locked until students complete each preceding one.  Feedback (correct/incorrect) is given after each problem.  Students are required to redo incorrect problems.

Although I do not have experience with the off-line program, I am impressed with the iPad version.  Use it to introduce algebra to mid-elementary students or to practice algebra with older students.

You can also try the free Lite version before committing to the full version.  It allows students full access to the first 3 lessons!

Level 2 and Level 3 of the paid version are also available.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Math, Paid | Tagged | Comments Off on Hands-On Equations 1