I’ve been interested in space for as long as I can remember and I was trying to wrack my brains to figure out exactly what it was that got me into it. In a dark corner of my brain, a book appeared: The Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopaedia. I remember having the abridged version as a kid and the space chapter fascinated me. If you are of a certain age you will remember the carefully sketched, cross section diagrams of US and Soviet rockets, and the occasional picture of Neil Armstrong on the Moon, or Yuri Gagarin floating around in space. The problem with the traditional encyclopaedia is that it is out of date as soon as it is printed, which was as true in the 1920s, when my mate Arthur started writing, as it is now. Thankfully for us, iPad apps change all of this with regular updates to apps and iBooks, and today’s children can have up to date information at their fingertips.
Here is a round up of some apps which will help introduce, or further your child’s knowledge of space. This article will list them in age appropriate order, youngest first. Continue reading →
When I first started teaching, I marvelled at my colleague’s neatly tended mark books. The amazing array of handwritten marks, numbers and codes in different coloured pens were almost like a work of art. Unfortunately for me two of my greatest weaknesses are record keeping on paper, and filing paper. I also thought I didn’t want to hang on to physical mark books for years on the off chance the inspector came knocking. As a result I started my quest for a digital solution. Nothing really fit the bill – Excel was not portable around the classroom, Google Sheets didn’t have the flexibility. I even bought my ancient PDA out of retirement for a term. In desperation I started looking into writing my own app. Luckily for me, this is when I stumbled across iDoceo. Continue reading →
Back in the days of my GCSE and A-Level revision there always seemed to be an unofficial contest as to who had the most revision cards. Firstly, there was the annual race to Tescos to snap up their supply of index cards and then late evenings spent filling out a word, then an explanation of that word on the back. It was a sort of geeky version of the ‘business card’ scene in American Psycho the next day in school, with people standing around comparing revision cards. Me, I always lost out on the contest, mainly because I’d be too busy playing Sensible Soccer on my Amiga to do anything as thorough as revision. Times have changed now though, and the boot is on the other foot. I’m the person trying to get teenage kids to revise. As we all know, revision is a completely personal thing and there is no silver bullet to it, but there are quite a few apps which try to streamline the process. One of these is the newly released Synopsis. In a nutshell, Synopsis is a PDF e-reader with the ability to make revision, or flash cards from any text you highlight. Continue reading →
Apps like Brainfeed frustrate me somewhat. It’s a great looking app, but it has some content issues. The idea behind Brainfeed is that it serves up educational videos in a variety of topics, some of which are free to view, but most of the videos require an in-app purchase in a variety of tiers, the cheapest being $15 for a yearly subscription. However, (you can probably guess where this is going) a 20 second check of YouTube revealed that the videos were easily available here. Fair enough, I thought, the free videos on Brainfeed are available on YouTube. What would be interesting though is are any of the paid videos available? The short answer is yes. The app doesn’t give you the titles for the locked videos, only screenshots, but it is easy to find the locked videos on YouTube with a quick search of videos from the video creator’s channels. To give an example, one of the locked videos was by ‘Stuff of Genius’. I dialed up their YouTube channel and the locked video was there to watch for free. Continue reading →
When teaching, one of the great practical ways to inspire discussion, debate and higher order thinking skills is by categorisation/card sort exercises, ideally where a student can decide to put things in a certain order, and change their mind by moving their idea about depending on the discussion. Back in the ‘good old days’ (pre-iPad), I would spend ages making a card sort exercise – writing it out in Word, printing it, maybe laminating it (or if I was feeling lazy not bothering), cutting out all the cards and placing them in envelopes with paper clips on so they didn’t get lost. I’d then repeat this for however many sets I needed for the class. I’d feel my life force drain away in front of my eyes as I repeated this tortuous process for each of my classes, with the realisation that I still had a ton of stuff to mark and plan, but knowing that it would generate a good lesson of discussion, argument and discovery. Continue reading →
Today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day. To mark the occasion, a large number of excellent iPad and iOS apps are on sale at deep discounts or even available for free.
The iAutism site has a great list of the apps that are on sale or free – with good details on each of them:
This post presents a list of these apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod touch divided by categories. Those categories are only indicative, and some apps could be included in more than one category. There are apps specifically designed for people with autism and other which are aimed to help people with special needs in general, and other that are totally generic.
Many of these apps are normally priced at very premium rates, so the discounts available are in turn quite substantial as well.
I’ve written on many occasions here about how much positive impact iPad apps have had with autistic and special needs learners – and have also hear first-hand from teachers about how valuable iPad apps have proved in this area.
Check out the iAutism site to see the full list of apps that are free or on sale to mark World Autism Awareness Day.
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 Treeis 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.
When I was at school, I struggled badly with random, un-filed bits of paper, leaky ink cartridges in my Parker Pen and terrible hand writing (as well as chronic laziness and an addiction to Cricket). I’m sure this approach to my organisation affected my school work. If I would have grown up in the iPad age I think things would have been different. The following 5 apps have been tried and tested by me and my students and rank highly as apps which work brilliantly to keep work organised in the cut and thrust of a busy school day.
The iPad is notorious in not having an accessible file structure. As we know, files are often saved in app, or to the camera roll or to iCloud where you can access the files on another device, as long as you have the corresponding app. The other problem is that the more files you generate, the more you eat into your precious iPad storage. Continue reading →
One of the featured app collections in the iPad App Store this week is titled ‘Fun Summer Learning for Kids’. That may be a sight for sore eyes for many students and parents as the hot summer rolls on.
The collection highlights 30 apps that should prove engaging for kids of all age groups. Many are aimed at quite young ages, while others are more suitable for older elementary school students.
There’s everything from fun little coloring and numbers games to the Hopscotch visual programming app. I’m happy to see that my family owns about 1/3 of these apps and several of them have already got a lot of good use by my 10 year old daughter.
It’s great to see Apple featuring one sort of educational app collection or another so often in the App Store recently.
You’ll find the Fun Summer Learning for Kids collection among the rotating featured sections in the Featured tab of the iPad App Store.
Spinlight’s End-of School Mega Sale has all of their educational games for iPad and iPhone on sale for just 99 cents.
I posted just a few days ago about the excellent Geography Drive USA app that’s a part of this sale. Spinlight makes a number of other popular and award-winning iPad apps for kids from ages 1-12+. And now they’ve got all of these on sale at 99 cents, down up to 75% on some of the titles.
In addition to marking the approaching end of the school year, Spinlight has another admirable reason for running this sale:
… And second, we’re doing it for a reason. We want to make great apps for kids — and to make them insanely affordable for kids, parents and schools. But to do that, we have to see the volume it takes to be profitable at a lower price point. So we’re conducting a big experiment to see how low we can go. And we’re inviting you along for the ride.
I’d say that’s a heck of a win-win situation for parents and teachers – the opportunity to grab up some excellent educational iPad games at bargain prices and a t the same time give some support to a publisher that’s focused on producing these sort of apps.
The sale runs until May 12 and you can check out all the apps and bargains at the Spinlight home page.