This week I reviewed five educational apps that help children explore language, culture, friendship, numbers, and much more. The apps originate from many places around the world, including England, Croatia and Jamaica. Yet each app engages children in its own unique way.
1. Aiden and the Apple Tree, A Jamaican story from author Johnathon A. Kelly, creator of The JuiceMan
Set in the Jamaican town of Little Patch, the story begins as a young boy named James is caught trying to steal a mango from the town’s JuiceMan. Instead of getting angry at James, the JuiceMan retells the story of Aiden, a boy from the village of Chewmagna, who tried to steal from an apple tree that belongs to his teacher, Mrs. Applebee. James learns that honesty and hard work are rewarded, but sneakiness and stealing lead to trouble.
The story of Aiden and the Apple Tree is a bit more complex than most storybook apps which makes it appropriate for children who are independent readers or prefer longer, more complex reading. However, the narration option makes it easy for younger children to enjoy the story as well.
The app includes a fifteen question reading comprehension quiz for the older children and coloring pages for children of all ages.
Note: iTunes lists Michelle Anaya as the seller for this app. I verified that the actual creator is Johnathon A. Kelly and holds the copyright for this app.Aiden and the Apple Tree is available on iTunes for $1.99. Ages 4 to 10.
2. Smarty Britches: Nouns by Sascyn Publishing, Inc.
Smarty Britches: Nouns is set in the Arkansas, a state in the southern United States, and tells the story of a boy who is studying nouns.
The story divides nouns into several groups – person nouns, place nouns, thing nouns, and idea nouns. The boy explains and gives examples of each type of noun. The app includes highlighted narration and five different activities in which children can practice identifying each kind of noun. Users have the option to turn narration and music on or off.
Smarty Britches: Nouns is for ages 4 and up and is available at the iTunes store for $3.99. As the story is set in Arkansas, it includes cultural elements typical for this part of the United States, such as southern accents, slacks or pants being called “britches” and mentioning the University of Arkansas’s football team, the Razorbacks.
3. Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep from Well Said Press
Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep is the app version of a print book written by British children’s author, Karen Inglis. Narrated by Inglis, the rhyming text tells the story of a fox named Ferdinand, who falls asleep in Patrick Maceever’s yard. Ferdinand Fox dreams of countless food items after another as the clock’s bell chimes hour after hour. The fox doesn’t even wake up when Patrick Maceever sneaks out to snap a picture of him sleeping under a tree.
The app helps also children develop reading skills by tapping items in the story, revealing the spelling of words. As an educator, I recommend parents encourage children to spell out the words as they tap them on the app.
The publisher lists Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep as appropriate for children ages 2 to 5. The app is availalbe at the iTunes store for $1.99.
4. Mabell’s Zoo - Interactive Counting App by Brenda Long
Mabell’s Zoo - Interactive Counting App takes children through a counting adventure, full of vibrant colors, sounds and movements. Created for ages 2-5, Mabell’s Zoo is easy for young children to navigate as they go through a variety of animal habitats including jungles, oceans, ponds and polar regions.
The young voice narrating the app will appeal to children as will the ability to manipulate the many animals and other items that appear in the app. The options in Mabell’s Zoo include turning narration on/off, playing the story in repeat mode, and playing the book in numerical order or mixed order. The mixed order feature is better for children who already know the numerical order.
Mabell’s Zoo is available from iTunes for $1.99.
5. The Adventures of Slibby the Snail: The Stolen Food by CoolAsh Studio
The Adventures of Slibby the Snail begins with Slibby feeling sad and lacking color. The app asks children to help Slibby feel better by using their fingers to give him some color. Once Slibby is feeling better, the story begins.
Something is wrong in Slibby’s town of Porchlandia, and he needs help to figure out what that is. Children are asked to help Slibby as he gathers his ant friends together and discovers that someone has stolen their food. Then Slibby and the user set out on an adventure in which they visit neighbor after neighbor, trying to find who took the ants’ food. This adventure has many twists and turns as children must solve puzzles and mazes before they can identify the culprit.
The story wraps up with a special message about getting along with others and making friends.
The Adventures of Slibby the Snail is available from iTunes for $1.99.
Disclosure: I received promo codes for each app reviewed in this post.