Education is on shifting ground as technology has made it possible to connect, record and educate children with more and more exciting tools. With so many tools and apps available, it’s hard to know where to begin. Many “educational” apps offer little in the way of education and there are many “entertainment” apps that can be quite educational. So how do you decide which tools are appropriate and can work with your pedagogy?
We wanted to know which apps offer a best practice experience so we have asked our Storypark community of teachers, ECE experts, parents and children about their favourite apps. It seems that everyone we asked wants more best practice apps that are constructive and require engagement from an adult to promote and prompt tasks and ideas for children. The best apps offer no rewards, gold stars or medals only the internalised process of open ended creating and exploring. With this in mind, we have found…
10 Great Apps for Early Childhood Development
Tiny Tap – Free
This app is a very fun tool that allows you to easily create simple games using photos and drawings. There is simply so much you can do with this app! Make up your own i-spy games by taking photos of familiar objects and adding voiced over questions like “show me the baby”. This app can be fun for even very young children because you can use personal photos to create a story/game about the child’s day.
A beautiful and simple app that allows users the ability to discover and create using rhythmic touch and interaction. While this app was originally designed to encourage, capture and amplify the interests of young people with Autistic Spectrum Conditions and other communication difficulties, it allows any user the opportunity to explore it’s flowing and repetitious screens. The applications are non-competitive and users discover their own purpose making it truly open ended.
Collins Big Cat Books – Free
There are 8 books in the Big Cat series and they are all worth having on your iPad as there is something for everyone. Each of the Big Cat Stories are beautifully illustrated with bright and colorful images that gently come to life while reading the story. You can choose to read the story yourself or have it read to you by the lovely narrator. However the best feature of this app is the “Story Creator” which allows you to use backgrounds and illustrations from the book to make up your own story. You can type in text or record your voice and save the book for later reading or sharing. Brilliant!
Toca Teaparty $1.99
Invite your friends to a tea party around your iPad! Set the table, choose your favorite cookies and cakes, serve the tea and you’re good to go! Toca Tea Party is a social game that lets you play alongside children in a way that stimulates their imagination.
A lovely and simple storybook creator for young ones that allows children to make their own ebooks using photos, art and voice or sound recordings. Let your imagination run wild! With help from a big person, you can take photos of your favorite storybook and record your own voice reading the story (even drawing on the illustrations). After recording, a child can play the “read-aloud” version of the story over and over. Young readers can also record their own voice reading their favorite story book. New updates to MyStory App mean that stories can be shared on any device and emailed to friends and family.
Meet the Insects: Forest Edition $3.99
A unique science app developed for kids who want to explore the world of insects. There are many cool interactive features in this app including detailed information about the insects, excellent photos and videos, and a small encyclopedia on three insect subclasses, i.e. Coleoptera Order, Lepidoptera Order and Hemiptera Order. The “observation journal” lets children take photos of insects found in the garden and record them for further study.
Alpha Writer $2.99
The possibilities are endless, as you learn to read, write and spell phonetically with this beautiful app created by Montessori educators. Alpha Writer is great for early readers who want to compose their own phonetic stories by dragging letters into place. Stories can be saved as photos and uploaded into e-portfolios. Also included in this app is a fun version of i-spy using phonics which can be enjoyed alone or with a group.
Easy Xylophone Free If you don’t have a real xylophone, this may bethe next best thing. While playing a simulated xylophone won’t give you the same tactile feeling as a real one, at least apps can be played with headphones making it a better choice for busy classrooms. This is a very simple app that is easy for even the youngest hands to manipulate. It is worthwhile upgrading to the paid version of this app for $.99 as the ads can be distracting.
Doodle Cast for Kids $2.99 This clever app records the child’s voice while she/he is drawing creating a short little movie which is fun to watch. There are several options on how to get started including various themed templates and voiced over suggestions to prompt creativity: “what makes you feel happy?”, “what tastes yucky?”. This app would be fun to use for early story telling as it records the child’s voice and captures their process to share in e-portfolios.
Little Things $2.99
A very well crafted i-spy game that is a great “quiet time” activity for all ages. The gentle music and iconic illustrations lull you into a peaceful world of lost objects as you search for different items on the screen. There is a satisfying sparkle of stars when an object is found and more tricky puzzles to solve when complete levels. Younger children may find this app too difficult to use without help from an adult which makes it a fun game for sharing together in a quiet corner.
If you have some favourite apps please share them by leaving a comment below!