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Learning to Read, With the Help of a Tablet - The New York Times 4/10/17, 1(02 PM

Learning to Read, With the Help of a Tablet


By KIT EATON AUG. 21, 2013

Learn With Homer, a free iPad app.

I learned long ago that the iPads game and video apps cast a magical spell over my children, but this summer Ive
also been pleased by how much they have learned while using their tablets. This is important, as my 4-year-old is
going to real school for the first time. His reading skills, in particular, have been helped by some great apps.
These have helped him move from knowing shapes and sounds of letters to actually reading words.

One of the most comprehensive apps for teaching reading is a free iPad app called Learn With Homer (not the
Greek one or Mr. Simpson, youll be pleased to hear). Its a set of lessons and games presented with bright cartoon
graphics and amusing sounds.

Using animations and spoken guidance, the app leads children to sound letters that appear on the screen and
shows how letters make words, using examples like alligator and ant. The apps learning sections are
interspersed with game sections, and there is a listening section where children read and hear stories. Completing a
lesson or story is rewarded with the chance to draw something on the screen or to record an answer to a question
about the story. The apps best feature is that it keeps these pictures and recordings, because it is fun to look back
on them.

The apps interface feels child-friendly and is easy to use thanks to on-screen cues and spoken instructions.
Children could most likely use it on their own though an adult may need to lend a hand with some controls, like
the drawing interface. The app also has great attention to detail. For example, in the section that reinforces
learning letter sounds there is a convincing animation of a child mouthing the sounds on the screen.

Booksy, a free app for iOS and Android.

My main problems with Learn With Homer are that it moves too slowly in places and that younger children may
lose interest. Buying extra lessons via in-app purchases could also be expensive, since they each cost $2 or more.

For a simpler reading app, the free Kids Reading (Preschool) app on Android is a great option. The apps first
section helps children learn to blend letter sounds into full words, through a cute game with a tortoise. The game
animates the tortoise walking along slowly, sounding out each letter in a short word as he moves. The child can
click on sneakers to make him move faster, which then sounds the word faster, or click on a skateboard to sound
the word in real time.

A try reading section lets children practice reading and saying short words with a simple matching game. And the
make words option has the child spotting the right-sounding letter to complete a word puzzle. This app has clear
sounds, and many children will love its simplicity. But for more words you do need to pay $3 for the full Kids Learn
To Read version.

Montessori Crosswords, $3 on iOS, is more sophisticated. This apps main feature is a game in which children drag
letters from an alphabet list onto a very simple crossword grid. Each word on the grid is accompanied by a picture
hint. Tapping on this makes the app say the word aloud. Depending on the settings, words can be made of fewer or,
if you choose, more sounds, which makes the puzzles more challenging. To keep children interested, getting words
right delivers an interactive graphic, like one of shooting stars, that reacts to screen touches.

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Learning to Read, With the Help of a Tablet - The New York Times 4/10/17, 1(02 PM

Montessori Crosswords, $3 on iOS.

Compared with its peers, this app has a narrow range of activities, which may limit how long it remains useful. It
also probably works best under adult supervision particularly since the apps main menu is a little confusing.

For children who have learned to recognize words by themselves, and yet would benefit from guided reading
experiences, theres Booksy. This free app, for iOS and Android, is best thought of as a traditional high-quality
childrens reading book with added digital powers. For example, as well as displaying a page of text and well-drawn
images, it reads the text aloud. Tapping on any word even in the labels, for example in a drawing of a whale
will make the app say the word clearly. The app can also record a child reading aloud automatically, then e-mail the
audio files directly to you so you can keep track of progress. This feature may seem a little creepy, but you can turn
it off.

Booksy comes with two free books, and more are available through in-app purchases. There are about 30 titles for
around $1 each. Each book has a different reading difficulty level, and many of them are also available in Spanish.
You can lock the bookstore on iOS to prevent children from getting in, but smarter children may spot the parental
controls and unlock it again. On Android there is a better adult question lock, but on this platform some of the
apps screen space is, unfortunately, taken up with navigation buttons.

Remember, your enthusiasm for reading can be an important example for your children so why not play with
these apps alongside them?

Quick Call

Dots is a simple game that has already had a lot of success on the iPhone to play it is as easy as connecting the
dots, yet its fiendishly addictive. Now its on Android, and free.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/technology/personaltech/learning-to-read-with-the-help-of-a-tablet.html?_r=0 Page 2 of 2
Study Shows How Screen Time Can Improve Your Toddler's Reading Comprehension | The Huffington Post 4/10/17, 1(12 PM

Study Shows How Screen Time Can Improve Your


Toddlers Reading Comprehension
Conscientious parents may soon become anxious about not giving their toddlers enough screen time.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups encourage parents to ration their kids use of tablets,
smartphones and televisions as if they are refined carbohydrates, new research indicates that some of the media
transmitted through these devices may actually make your kids smarter.

Last summer, New York University spent six weeks monitoring how four and five-year-olds at a Brooklyn preschool
were learning how to read. Half the students were given unsupervised access to an iPad app called Learn with
Homer, which teaches foundational reading, while the others were given a math app as a control. At the beginning
of the study, each set of students scored equally on the standardized Test of Early Preschool Literacy (TOPEL).
When tested again six weeks later, the students who used Learn with Homer for approximately 15 minutes each day
saw their scores double in the area of phonological awareness, while the control group scored lower in this area.

Admittedly this is just one test with a small sample size. Yet it signals that the right combination of educational
media and technology, far from being a brain drain, can have a positive and immediate impact on learning.

I believe very much in developmentally-appropriate activity, said Dr. Susan B. Neuman, the NYU professor who
administered the study and Chairs the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYUs Steinhardt School of
Culture, Education, and Human Development. Neuman also served as Assistant Secretary of Elementary and
Secondary Education in the US Department of Education, and played a huge role in the implementation of the No
Child Left Behind Act.

Neuman added that the children who were observed during the study came from economically disadvantaged
areas, and in most cases had little or no previous exposure to iPads and other touchscreen devices. The mission was
to see how students would respond to the challenging skill-based learning activities in Learn with Homer that focus
on sounds and word construction.

Rather than distract, Neuman said the app combined with headphones and an engaging touch-based interface
that the iPad provides is causing her to consider whether this (type of learning) can encourage concentration for
children.

Not all apps will make your kids smarter


As an educational app reviewer with a four-year-old who was born a month before the debut of the iPad, I can
verify that Learn with Homer is among the best apps available that teaches foundational reading.

The iPad-only app, which is free to download and has a number of premium sections that combined cost up to $8
per month, features extensive content structured around engaging characters, exciting field trips, songs and other
activities. Neuman said she was confident enough in the apps efficacy to use it as the basis for her study.

Very few alternatives would qualify at this point. This is because the vast majority of apps, educational or
otherwise, are not worthy of our time and attention and very well could contribute to the decline of Western
Civilization as we know it. Yet this point is not exclusive to touchscreen-based media. You can say the same thing
about most books, periodicals, movies and television shows.

Every parent parents differently, explains Stephanie Dua, founder and CEO of Learn with Homer. My own
parenting is focused on what my kids are engaging with, not for how long. As long as they are engaging with
content that is stimulating, I feel good.

Prior to starting Learn with Homer, Dua served in the New York City Department of Education under Mayor
Michael Bloomberg, and consulted on the development of Common Core State Standards. Her company, which has
13 full-time employees or full-time equivalents, is generating significant revenue from the approximately 520,000
registered parents who use it (she wouldnt specify how many are paying subscribers). Learn with Homer also has
1.3 million kid accounts, and since launching in August 2013 than 33 million lessons have been viewed. Last
November, the company raised $3.4 million from seed investors.

While Dua and her colleagues are touting the success of the NYU study - they scooped the university on reporting
the results! - the benefits of Learn with Homer are not limited to the development of phonological awareness in
toddlers. For children who are raised literally and figuratively along touchscreen devices, apps like Learn with
Homer, Bugs and Buttons 2 and and Motion Math: Hungry Fish provide a safe, engaging introduction to the new
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Study Shows How Screen Time Can Improve Your Toddler's Reading Comprehension | The Huffington Post 4/10/17, 1(12 PM

medium. Digital media fluency will be essential for social and professional development in the years and decades
ahead, and this type of exposure (rather than arbitrary limits on screen time) will serve them toddlers ways not
possible to track through a six week study.

The genie is out of the bottle, says Keith Meacham, director of partnerships for Learn with Homer. Screen time
is here. Our kids are using digital technology to learn themselves. I want to make sure that what my children are
consuming is of high quality and that they understand the limitations and promises of technology.

Follow Brad Spirrison on Twitter: www.twitter.com/spirrison

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Can An iPad App Help Solve The Literacy Problem? 4/10/17, 1(19 PM

Can An iPad App Help Solve The Literacy Problem?


Aug 1, 2013 @ 07:24 AM

Learn With Homer is a new app that provides a comprehensive


contextualized literacy curriculum that kids can use at home on the iPad.

The app is created by Stephanie Dua, a well-known education reformer who


led the effort to improve understanding of the intent and implementation of
the Common Core publishing criteria for top decision makers across the
country.

I know theres a lot of great research on how to teach children to read, said
Dua. But when my own daughter wanted to learn, I couldnt find any
suitable materials for parents. Thats when Learn with Homer was born. It
brings the best early learning techniques together in one app.

I get where Dua is coming from. People are always asking me which apps they should download for their kids. Little
munchkins love smartphones and tablets. Anything with a touchscreen is fun. Meanwhile, parents are anxious to
find something with educational value. Earlier this week I got a facebook message from a friend I hadnt talked to
in over 15 years. After a few niceties--I hope life is treating you well--he cut to the chase; he was looking for an
app that would help his young kids start reading.

Considering I write in a very particular niche, it surprising how often people ask me about learning apps. I doubt if
I wrote about digital cameras, for example, that friends would be asking me about megapixels all the time, nor
seeking me out on facebook. But apps for kids--learning apps in particular--are different and not as tiny a niche as
it seems. In 2009, 47% of the top selling apps in the iTunes store were aimed at young kids. According to a Joan
Ganz Cooney Center report, in 2012 almost three quarters (72%) of top selling apps targeted preschoolers and
elementary age children.

Still, theres little to recommend when people ask me about early childhood literacy apps. The IOS Appstore and
Google GOOG -0.36% Play Store are both loaded with apps that want to teach math skills or coding skills. But
there are relatively few apps that focus on reading skills. So I was pleased when the folks from Learn With Homer
reached out. Truth be told, I didnt even care if the app was any good. I was just excited that there was finally a
serious ELA app that I could asses.

Before Learn With Homer, I pointed most people in the direction of Montessori Crosswords, which combines
phonics in with sounds, pictures, and an easy drag and drop interface. Its good, but limited. Montessori
Crosswords functions like an interactive practice drill. It is a good practice drill, but still it functions better for
review than for actual teaching. Learn With Homer, on the other hand, features a comprehensive literacy
curriculum that locates reading skills in the world.

This is what makes Learn with Homer unique: context. It does some of the same things a good kindergarten or
pre-school teacher would. It is interdisciplinary in that it combines learning to read with learning to understand
the world. What does that mean? Kids are not only learning what the letter A sounds like and that alligator
starts with A, but also taking virtual field trips to the zoo, where they learn about alligators. They also draw
pictures, record their own voice discussing the subject matter, and listen to stories that emphasize the letters,
sounds, and ideas. Then, with an especially cool social feature, parents can track progress, look at a pinterest like
board of drawings, and brag about their kids genius on facebook.

Anyone who has ever sat in on an exceptional kindergarten class has seen this kind of multidisciplinary teaching in
action. It combines serious literacy curriculum with a plethora of different activities that reinforce the lessons with
real world context.

My five year old has been the guinea pig, testing Learn With Homer for the
past few days. When I asked him what he thought, he said, I like all of it. Its
good. The best is the storytime part. Oh, and the thinking hats. The app
features a fantastic collection of folktales and poems--really good stories. The
thinking hat feature allows kids to take pictures of themselves and then try
on silly hats virtually. The thinking caps are the achievement badges, my
son earns a new one after completing each level.

The app held my sons attention for about 30-40 minutes per sitting. He
explored different worlds, was interested in the lessons, and found the phonics instruction really engaging. He also
smiled at the little moments of praise when the app exclaims, Wiggly ears, cheers! Hes started using the
expression.

I was thoroughly impressed with the pedagogy; it is top notch, comprehensive and remarkably complex. Phonics,
deep vocabulary, and context all meet technology wisely. My only gripe is that a few of the user interface aspects
could use some tweaking. For example, there were a few moments when my son wasnt always sure how to navigate
further. It wasnt always intuitive at a five year old level. I had to show him what to tap. Honestly, this is to be
expected from such an early iteration. These are precisely the kinds of things that can be easily fixed with simple
animations after developers begin to get feedback.

When I spoke with Stephanie Dua, she told me that the goal was not only to create the first comprehensive literacy
app, but also to deliver for parents what we know to be best practices for early education in a way that was
beautiful but not over gamified. I think Learn With Homer succeeds. Now, when people ask me for a reading app
for young kids, this will be my recommendation. It's not magic; it won't make it so your kid can skip kindergarten--
after all, school is about a lot more than just language arts skills. But Learn With Homer is a great way to start
working on reading with your kid, or to reinforce what he or she is already learning in school. And as always, the
results will be much better if an adult plays with a child.

Learn With Homer is backed by a seed series round of 2.2 million from a prestigious list of angel investors,
including: Great Oaks Venture Capital; Paul Francis, Entrepreneur and early CFO of Priceline; Tom Glocer, former
CEO of Thomson Reuters TRI +0.33%, Founding Partner of Angelic Ventures; Rob Soni, Entrepreneur, Investor
IVSBY +%, former Managing Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners and General Partner at Matrix Ventures; and
Matt Turck, Managing Director, FirstMark Capital (invested personally).

The app is free to download. It relies on in-app purchases for revenue; the first few lessons are part of the initial
download, additional lessons need to be purchased.

Jordan Shapiro is author of FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide to Maximum Euphoric Bliss and co-editor
of Occupy Psyche: Jungian and Archetypal Perspectives on a Movement. For information on his upcoming books
and events click here.

Gallery
7 Great
Educational Apps
And Games
Launch Gallery

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Research Says Screen Time Can Be Good For Your Kids 4/10/17, 1(27 PM

Research Says Screen Time Can Be Good For Your Kids


Jul 17, 2013 @ 08:59 AM

Screen time is not all bad for your kids. They can learn a ton from video
games. And when parents and children are watching or playing together,
kids are internalizing important social skills. Being intentional about the
messages you send to your kids about media is a missing link in most
parenting strategies.

In the 1980s, researchers at the Childrens Television Network discovered


that kids learned more from Sesame Street when they watched the show
alongside their parents. They called it coviewing.
"Family Time" (acrylic on canvas) by Frank
Tartaglia
Most experts agreed that coviewing was unquestionably better than placing
kids in front of boobtube babysitter. For example, the Center on Media and Child Health explains that coviewing
reduces fear and aggression, while increasing learning and discussion.

Still, most parenting wisdom continues to portray television as an evil mind-rotting demon. The fear of screen
time is so deeply ingrained in our collective imagination that an irrational opposition between outdoor play and
media consumption is taken for granted. Many parents believe the choice is either/or: indoors or out. Trees,
worms, and grass are pitted against transistors, cathode ray tubes, and Super Bowl commercials.

The dichotomy is laughably absurd. It supposes that kids cant participate in a moderate mix of myriad ways of
being. Yet the divisive story remains ubiquitous.

One interpretation of Plants vs. Zombies, for instance, reveals an ironic representation of an ideological battle
between the good natural spirit of flora and Zombie-like brainwashing that supposedly comes from entertainment
and digital media. Pay close attention to the character design of the zombie villains--football zombies, disco
zombies, suit & tie zombies, etc. Suddenly, it becomes clear that, intentional or not, theres an implicit anti-
consumer, non-conformist cultural critique underlying the game. Plants are the good guys. Brainwashed
mainstream zombies are the bad guys.

Ironically, when I try to interrupt my kids when theyre playing, it seems like THEY are the Zombies. The resources
they control are not the only plants. The metaphors get confused. My kids also become single-minded vegetables
with eyes and fingers glued to the iPad. Still, they are thinking and problem solving. Individualized gameplay might
be better than television because theyre more interactive.

These days, in fact, most storytelling is interactive. We consume most of our media through internet connected
devices. And technology is so adept at providing adaptive feedback that it proves to be an exceptionally effective
teaching tool. In fact, a recent SRI study shows that game based learning can boost cognitive learning for students
sitting on the median by 12%.

This is why I enthusiastically focus my writing on game-based learning. Ive covered games like Dragonbox, which
can teach even very young kids to master the basic mechanics of Algebra in under an hour. Likewise, my six year
old and I recently began working on his phonics skills using an app called Montessori Crosswords on the iPad.

Interactive learning games are fantastic. Youll be amazed at what they can teach your kids. But remember, they
still work best when parents and children play together. This is the new coviewing. Researches call it JME: Joint
Media Engagement.

According to a Joan Ganz Cooney Center report entitled The New Coviewing: Designing for Learning through
Joint Media Engagement,

Joint media engagement refers to spontaneous and designed experiences of people using media together, and
can happen anywhere and at any time when there are multiple people interacting together with digital and
traditional media.

Some games are even designed to promote joint media engagement. For example, Williamspurrrrg HD is a game
that features hipster cats. Players slide waxed mustaches, hats, and bow ties onto adorable kittens. Heres the
catch: controlling the game requires more than five fingers.
To win, kids need to play together.

I showed Williamspurrrrg HD to my two sons (six and eight years old) and
within minutes they were laughing, collaborating, and playing together. They
were not learning cognitive STEM or ELA competencies, but they were
practicing social skills.

The thing about joint media engagement is that it is always a learning


experience. Kids are learning whether they are playing serious games
collaboratively or just screwing around on the XBOX. The majority of learning is a result of everyday doing.
Parents indirectly influence learning by providing particular toys or media and by arranging excursions that
provide new experiences and opportunities for conversation.

In other words, JME is happening even when youre setting boundaries and time limits on screen time. When it
comes to media, the Cooney Center report quotes a 1999 study, explaining that there are three styles of parental
mediation: restrictive mediation, instructive mediation, and social coviewing. Although these categories were
defined in regards to television, it might be useful to think about them in regards to tablets and video games.

Restrictive Mediation describes the rules and restrictions we put on screen time. Some of these restrictions
limit time, other restrictions filter content. When we limit our childrens access, however, realize that they are still
learning lessons about media. They pick up subtle messages about the things adults value. They notice that grown
ups watch and play whenever they want. And because they have no idea what were doing on our smartphones, they
assume that maturity comes with the privilege of playing Angry Birds all day long. Unlimited access to media
becomes one of the markers of adulthood.

Instructive Mediation describes what happens when we talk to our kids while watching a movie or playing a
video game with them. Make it a teaching opportunity. Ask questions. Explain to your kids the ways to think about
the media experience youre engaged in together. Ive offerred tips on how to do this before. You dont need to be a
therapist to be good at playing with your kids. They are smarter than you think and they do most of the work. All
you have to do is engage. Just soliciting reactions is fantastic. Ask them what they think the next level of the game
will look like. Even better, ask them for tips on game playing strategy. Slight disruption of the balance of power
between children and adults can be a powerful motivator for sustained participation. Instructive mediation is key
for raising kids that are critical thinkers and intelligent adults in a media saturated world--kids who know how to
THINK about the media they consume.

Social Coviewing is when you watch something with your kids but dont necessarily talk about it. This is what
happens in a movie theater. This is what happens when I watch Phineas and Ferb with my kids. Originally, this
category was imagined in a less interactive media world. But as parents, we might adapt it to our ways of thinking
about playing video games with our kids. Think about the difference between just playing alongside your child and
actually talking about the game youre playing. Either way, the child learns things about how her parent interprets
the world. But more instructive play includes intentional discussion.

In the world of interactive digital media, we might add two categories. The first is a kind of parallel play that mobile
go-anywhere devices allow. The second is an asymmetrical joint engagement experience that services like email,
chat and video conferencing allow.

Parallel play is kind of like multitasking. I can be typing on my Chromebook next to my son while hes playing
minecraft. We engage in peripheral conversations, some tangential, and some directly related to the game he is
playing. I turn to search engines mid-conversation, allowing web-based knowledge to supplement our discussion.
In fact, while I was writing this post, my son wanted to know how to build a Minecraft server, so I taught him to
look for tutorials on YouTube and helped him follow the directions. But I never stopped writing.

Asymmetrical joint media engagement is also a regular event in my household. My ex-wife and I have joint
custody. My children and I regularly email, chat, and video conference when they are at moms house. While
interacting with me online, I hope they learn good web etiquette. Im teaching them lessons about propriety and
social media. They see the kinds of things I write in emails and chats. I model the way mature video conferencing
behavior looks. Just as our kids learn the lessons of live social behavior from their parents, it is our responsibility
to teach them online social skills.

What does screen time look like in your household? How does your family practice joint media engagement?

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Why Playing Video Games Makes You a Better Dad 4/10/17, 1(37 PM

Why Playing Video Games Makes You a Better Dad


Nov 15, 2012 @ 10:13 AM

When my wife and I separated, I moved into my parents house. Now I


spend a lot of the days and nights that I have custody of our two small boys
(ages 5 & 7) sitting next to them on my mothers sofa playing New Super
Mario Brothers on the Wii.

I know how it sounds: pathetic.

Im a thirty-five year old man, living with my parents, manipulating my


thumbs to try and save Princess Peach from Koopas castle. They write
Saturday Night Live sketches to make fun of people like me.

Conveniently, it is fashionable to blame the economy for the poor salary I earn as adjunct faculty at the university.
Id need to earn at least twice as much to be able to repair my credit and move into my own place.

What about the video games? Does playing with my kids count as quality engaged family-time?

I think so.

For one thing, my kids love it. When I pick them up from their mothers house, they immediately start screaming
from the back seat of the car, Can we play Mario when we get to your house? We fight over who gets the best
power-ups. We exchange high fives whenever we level-up from one world to the next.

But just because my kids like it doesnt mean it is good for them. They would also be happy if I gave them candy for
breakfast and let them stay up all night watching horror movies.

Video games are different. This is the world of my kids imagination. When I take it seriously (and participate along
side of them), Im not only validating their inner world by giving positive reinforcement to the things that matter
most to them, Im also providing fun and supportive space in which a sophisticated emotional intelligence can
emerge.

Of course, I dont just sit there silently, fingering the D-pad. I dont embody the role of the almost-middle-aged
slacker. Instead, I embody the role of the father.

I dont allow the game console to be merely a babysitting computer that distracts my kids while I flirt with my
girlfriend on Facetime. Instead, it is something that father and sons do together.

Most importantly, I talk with my boys about what its like to play the game.

What emotions go with jumping high enough onto the flagpole that you get a free life?
How do you feel when you lose because your little brother made Yellow Toad accidentally hop on your polka-
dotted cranium?
Dont you think its kind of crazy that you get better at winning by losing over and over again?

Child psychologists have always recognized how important play is to a childs cognitive and emotional
development.

One of the early proponents of play therapy was preeminent psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. Deriving her own
theories about kids from the discoveries that Sigmund Freud made while working with adults, Klein argued that in
play, children act out the unconscious narrative dramas that shape their everyday lives.

Likewise, C.G. Jung developed the practice of Active Imagination, in which individuals, children and adults alike,
are encouraged to engage with the images, characters, and stories that inhabit the unconscious part of the psyche.
Jung believed that it is only by taking seriously what is ordinarily dismissed as mere fantasy that one can become,
what he called, individuated.

Both of these theories were instrumental in the development of the kinds of play therapy, such as Sandplay, that
are now ubiquitous in the consultation room.

But can I really compare non-directive psychodynamic therapy to sitting on my mothers couch collecting magic-
mushrooms and fire-power-flowers with my two sons? Yes.

Although the common view is that video games are an escape from the real world, I think video games can function
as interactive mythology. They can be understood as non-linear stories that help individuals derive meaning from
the complicated paradoxes of everyday life.

I wrote my book FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide to Maximum Euphoric Bliss for adults. It is an attempt to
unpack some of the psychological, spiritual, and philosophical messages that are veiled right beneath the surface of
the video games we played as kids (and some of us still play as adults).

But the ideas in FREEPLAY can also shape childrearing practices.

Here are three things you can do right now to turn video games from a distraction into opportunity for quality,
engaged parenting.

1. Play with your kids. This is not specific to video games. Whenever you take an interest in what matters to
your kids, you are sending the message that you approve of the ways that your child makes sense of the world.
You are being supportive of your childs story. You are telling the child you like them as they are and dont
expect them to become something they are not. The caveat here, however, is that you cant fake it. Your kid is
smarter than you think. S/he understands the difference between the moments when you feign interest and
when you are authentically engaged.
2. Talk about the game. It is not enough to just play. Discuss the particulars. No, you dont have to talk like a
therapist. It is great to ask questions about how your kids feel when they play. But it is also good to just talk
about how difficult a particular adversary is, how crazy the games graphics are, or to guess together what the
next level might look like. When you ask your kids to explain their game-playing strategies, youre
simultaneously teaching them that adults value the ability plan, experiment, theorize, and execute.
3. Let the game continue after the console is powered down. Taking an interest in your kids video
games is not something that concludes when you put down the controller. The game world can also provide a
framework within which you can situate many conversations. I regularly ask my kids to imagine what a video
game of a particular situation might look like. For example, I might ask my son to draw pictures of a video
game in which the goal is solve a playground dispute. This serves two functions. Firstly, this kind of
imaginative exercise provides my son with some objective distance from his life-world problems. Secondly, it
allows my son to re-imagine his everyday situations in a way that is empowering; in a video game, his actions
impact the games outcome.

What do you think? Does thumbing the controller of the Wii with your kids count as family time? Or is this just a
rationalization for a dude to be his boys best friend instead of their dad?

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Gallery
24 Classic Nintendo
Power Covers
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The Future Of Video Games Is Also The Future Of Storytelling 4/10/17, 1(37 PM

The Future Of Video Games Is Also The Future Of


Storytelling
Jun 17, 2013 @ 02:02 PM

Upper One Games is the first indigenous owned video game company in the
United States.

Announced at the 2013 Games For Change Festival, the partnership


between E-Line Media and Cook Inlet Tribal Council aims to make
meaningful and scalable social impact by creating world-class games and
game-based learning infused with Alaska Native values and culture.
Screenshot from Upper One Games/E-Line
Media's Upcoming Cinematic Platform Game
Their first consumer game will be a top line indie game to be released on
major consoles. And Upper One Games is not holding back. Theyve handpicked top commercial talent who are
excited to be working on games for impact.

Sean Vesce is leading the team on the first game, a cinematic platformer (see screenshot above). Vesce has quite a
resume. He led design on early hits like Pitfall: Mayan Adventure, Mechwarrior 2 and the critically acclaimed
Interstate 76 while he was Activision in the 1990s. He also led the development on three Tomb Raider games
(selling more than 6.5m units worldwide) as well as over-all studio operations when he was General Manager of
Crystal Dynamics. For Upper One Games, Vesce is assembling a team of equally experienced leads. Including Art
Director Dima Veryovka, formerly from Sony SNE +%, who is working closely with the Alaskan Native artists and
elders.

Commercial games are just the beginning. It is not just a project, but rather, a partnership. Together E-Line and
CITC hope to bring game expertise to educational and social services as well.

Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) is the primary educational, workforce development, and social service provider
for Alaska Native people in the Anchorage/Cook Inlet Region of Alaska. With a budget in excess of of $41 million,
CITC invests in a variety of traditional and non-traditional business ventures. Rather than relying entirely on
Federal funding, CITC aims to be recognized as an innovator in social enterprise by investing financially
sustainable and profitable projects and partnerships that will serve not only Alaska Natives, but also all of Alaska.

E-Line Media develops game-based learning products that educate and empower. They describe their commercial
games for impact in as designed to fire the imagination, catalyze curiosity, and create gateways to new ideas,
themes, and interests.

Alan Gershenfeld, founder and president of E-Line Media is excited about he calls a true alignment of values and
vision that will lead to some spectacular game-based cultural storytelling. He says the deep working
relationship with CITC will harness the video game medium in new ways, pioneering ways of thinking about how
wisdom gets passed from one generation to the next, and creating truly interactive cultural storytelling.

So much about Upper One Games excites me. I love that top-notch game making talent will be designing impact
games. Im fascinated by the possibilities for game-based cultural storytelling. And I love the big questions about
both the future of gaming and the future of storytelling that this partnership raises. It breaks down an old
dichotomy between traditional and modern storytelling.

We have so many words to describe storytelling. Some that come to mind immediately: Digital interactive media,
Folklore, Mythology, Content. On the one hand, each is distinct. On the other hand, they all have many
essential features in common.

Most people focus on the structural similarities between old and new narrative. Think of Joseph Campbells
monomyth, the archetypal Heros Journey that forms Star Wars sequential skeleton. Or, remember the climax and
catharsis among the concepts in Aristotles Poetics.

Video games shift the narrative structure. We could also think of narrative structure as the technology of linear
storytelling, which video games replace with a kind of interactive dynamic that Ian Bogost has called procedural
rhetoric. And this transition forces us to focus on the substance, which is often evoked out of the kind of essential
human conversations that were traditionally passed down through generations. Im talking here about the kind of
knowledge that we romantically associate with elders.

Weve been conditioned to believe that indigenous is tantamount to primitive and technology is equal to progress.
An indigenous owned gaming company, however, has the potential to demolish stereotypes. It reminds us that
storytelling categories like old and new are just fantasies. The tools may be new, but the messages often stay put.

Of course, this has always been true. Video games have always expressed social messages. Inadvertently, they offer
an experiential lesson in cultural literacy. They teach us ways of thinking about right and wrong whether they mean
to or not. In short, they function like mythology, folklore, and scripture. They shape our ways of thinking about the
world.

With the formation of Upper One Games, the messaging becomes intentional and humanistic. E-Line Media and
CITC recognize the immense power of interactive storytelling and work to engage it responsibly.

Ill be watching Upper One Games carefully. If they can change our mythology, they can simultaneously change the
world.

Jordan Shapiro is author of FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide to Maximum Euphoric Bliss and co-editor
of Occupy Psyche: Jungian and Archetypal Perspectives on a Movement. For information on his upcoming books
and events click here. If you're attending Games For Change, find him and say hello.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2013/06/17/the-future-of-video-games-is-also-the-future-of-storytelling/#32277dd86546 Page 1 of 1
It Only Takes About 42 Minutes To Learn Algebra With Video Games 4/10/17, 1(38 PM

It Only Takes About 42 Minutes To Learn Algebra With


Video Games
Jul 1, 2013 @ 07:01 AM

On average, it took 41 minutes and 44 seconds for students to master Algebra skills during the Washington State
Algebra Challenge using the DragonBox App.

The Challenge, co-sponsored by Washington Universitys Center for Game Science and the Technology Alliance
included 4,192 K-12 students. Together, they solved 390,935 equations over the course of 5 days in early June.
According to the Challenges calculations, thats 6 months, 28 days, and 2 hours worth of algebra work.

Whats even more impressive, of those students who played at least 1.5 hours, 92.9% achieved mastery. Of those
students who played at least 1 hour, 83.8% achieved mastery. Of those students who played at least 45 minutes,
73.4% achieved mastery.

Why didnt this exist when I was a kid? I hated algebra. I was terrified of variables. I avoided it at all costs. Now, I
find myself playing DragonBox for fun.

The original DragonBox app is one thing that initially sparked my enthusiasm for game based learning. Long before
I had ever heard the term joint media engagement. I wrote a post on Forbes entitled, Why Playing Video Games
Makes You A Better Dad. I drew from my background in Jungian and Archetypal psychology to explain what
seemed intuitively right to me: it is more important to make sure you ARE playing with your kids than it is to worry
about WHAT youre playing. Among the many responses to that piece, I received an email challenging me to play
DragonBox with my kids. I downloaded the app and was astonished to see how quickly my son (then 7) learned to
do complex algebraic equations.

I was blown away. I felt like I glimpsed a future in which kids love to learn. I imagined schools full of enthusiastic
kids discovering that both life and work can be play. If DragonBox could make algebra exciting, what else could we
expect from interactive learning? Ive been exploring the space ever since, meeting some incredible people with big
hearts and huge dreams for the future of education.

Jean-Baptiste Huynh, the creator of DragonBox, emailed me a few days ago. He wanted me to know about the new
updated version of DragonBox 12+ and to direct my attention to the impressive results of the Challenge.

DragonBox Algebra 12+ updates the original with some new graphics, new music, improved feedback, a faster pace,
and more levels. Now theres more fortified feedback encouraging learners to eliminate unnecessary operations,
more dynamic positive and adaptive reinforcement, cooler dragon artwork, and more equations to solve. The
updates are impressive, showing me that Huynh is a fantastic teacher. He took an already impressive learning
platform and updated it to make it even stronger. Hes incrementally improved the app in the same way that I
update my curriculum and lesson plans after each experience in the classroom at Temple University. This is one of
the criteria of good teaching: ongoing assessment not only of your students, but also of your own performance--self
study.

Now my five year old is playing and hes mesmerized by the goal of feeding the dragon. Hes learning the rules
quickly and mastering the game. I watched him breeze through the first two chapters in about 20 minutes.

Soon, however, I was wondering about why we value Algebra in the first place: abstract thinking, problem solving
skills? Were my kids simply learning mechanical processes, algebraic procedure? Or were they also gaining the
kinds of cognitive skills that led educators to value algebra class in the first place?

I quickly typed an email to Huynh to see what he thought.

Jordan: Broadly speaking, why is algebra important?

Jean-Baptiste: Algebra is important for MY kids because I want them to be able to understand how the world
works: physics, science etc. You need algebra to understand the math behind these disciplines. Also, I want my kids
to make good decisions--economics, finance, statistics all require algebra.

Jean-Baptiste Huynh, creator of DragonBox

I've seen that DragonBox teaches my kids the mechanics of algebra processes. Do you have any
sense of whether or not this translates to development of abstract and critical thinking
skills? DragonBox does 50% of the job. We need to teach the rest. For example, wed need to set up an equation
from a given situation to complete abstract thinking skills. DragonBox is about the mechanics of algebra processes,
and abstraction. It is 100% algebra math skills. But it doesnt replace teachers. It requires help to transfer the
knowledge to pencil and paper (we have a pdf for teachers and parents describing best practices for transitioning
from tablet to paper). Honestly, I've yet to see a kid sit down with DragonBox and not learn some algebra.

If kindergarten kids can learn with DragonBox, should we be teaching algebra earlier than we
normally do? We should create tools that children can use when they are ready and mature enough to use them.
These tools should be available from a very early age. We are too much focused on teaching and not enough on
learning. Teachers teach, learners learn. Two different perspectives, two different worlds.To teach people is to my
mind not effective. On the other hand, inviting people to learn when they are ready and motivated is extremely
effective. Motivation from learners should be key in school. And there is only one thing you can do there: listen to
kids. It will create a much better society if we do that and kids will learn much much faster!

How do games like DragonBox fit into the future of curriculum development? Games like DragonBox
will be must-have for any educator that is learner centric. For 3 reasons: 1) they can deliver a learning experience
which is fine tuned for an individual. 2) The feedback loop in a game makes it possible to achieve formative
assessment and learning at the same time. 3) Social elements can be easily incorporated. This is the holy trinity:
individualized learning, non intrusive assessment, and socialization.

What do you think game-based learning means for the future of education? DragonBox questions the
whole system. DragonBox implies that grade and age-level thinking is archaic. Why do we learn stuff at a certain
age? Why should it take this amount of time to learn it? Who has decided that? Is it scientific? I think DragonBox
helps us shift from the question "is individualized learning possible?" To the statement: "lets individualize
learning!"

Jordan Shapiro is author of the pop philosophy treatise: FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide to Maximum
Euphoric Bliss and co-editor of Occupy Psyche: Jungian and Archetypal Perspectives on a Movement. For
information on his upcoming books and events click here.

Jordan Shapiro, PhD. is a Senior Fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at
Sesame Workshop. Visit his website or subscribe to his
newsletter: www.jordanshapiro.org. Twitter: @Jordosh

Gallery
7 Great
Educational Apps
And Games
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2013/07/01/it-only-takes-about-42-minutes-to-learn-algebra-with-video-games/#1067755c4ae4 Page 1 of 2
Yes, iPad Apps Can Help Your Child Learn To Read 4/10/17, 5)01 PM

Yes, iPad Apps Can Help Your Child Learn To Read


Technology will forever present us with a stubborn conundrum: It evolves faster than our ability to figure out if its
any good for us. This is perhaps most true when it comes to children. It didnt take long after the launch of the iPad
to see toddlers everywhere glued to tablet-sized screens. The debate over the proper dose of screen time for young
children has since raged on, with little in the way of actual scientific evidence.

Now the empirical research is starting to roll in and its looking good for education app developers.

The latest conclusion? Those reading-focused iPad apps youve been handing to your 3-year-old actually do work.
In a recent study from New York University, the popular reading and phonics app Learn With Homer had a
measurable impact on the literacy scores of the children who participated.

The randomized, six-week study took a sample of 95 disadvantaged students across seven different Head Start
classrooms in Brooklyn and divided the children into small groups. Each of the 4- and 5-year-old students was
given an iPad running either Learn With Homer or another unnamed math and music-oriented learning app. In 12-
15 minute intervals, students were fully immersed, headphones and all, in these iPad-based learning environments.
Adults only stepped in as needed to ensure the kids were staying on track, but did not aid directly in the learning
process so as not to taint the results of the trial.

After six weeks, the students who followed Learn With Homers lessons showed marked differences in six of the
seven phonological skills being measured. They were especially better in three key areas: print knowledge,
phonological awareness, and letter sounds. These students scored higher on their post-trial TOPEL (Test of
Preschool Early Literacy) test than either group did before the trial began.

The study was led by Susan Neuman, an NYU professor of early childhood education and former U.S. Assistant
Secretary of Education. Neuman, who has long been interested in the impact of tablets and smartphones on early
education, approached the New York-based startup about using the Learn With Homer app to conduct a formal
study.

As a company, we were delighted by the prospect of having someone of Susans reputation and background
conduct randomized research on the efficacy of our product, says Keith Meacham, director of partnerships at
Homer. It was admittedly a risky move for obvious reasons: Once you enter a blind study, you have to live with the
results whether you like them or not.

Indeed, the team at Homer had been waiting with bated breath for the results of the study, since its results could
singlehandedly validate or invalidate the entire premise of the companys flagship product. While theres plenty of
further research to be done, the results of this study are clearly good news for Homer, not to mention anybody else
working on tablet-based apps for reading and phonics education.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3037603/yes-ipad-apps-can-help-your-child-learn-to-read?show_rev_content Page 1 of 1
iLiteracy: New iPad app teaches little ones how to read | VentureBeat | | by Christina Farr 4/10/17, 5)04 PM

iLiteracy: New iPad app teaches little ones how to read |


VentureBeat | | by Christina Farr
Stephanie Dua spent most of her career working in education reform. Shes also a mother of three; a few years ago,
one of her daughters needed help learning to read.

Dua sought guidance from colleagues and close friends, who happened to be some of the foremost literacy experts
in the country.

This inspired Dua to take all this knowledge and funnel it into a new reading app for children. She was also inspired
to start this as a new business, given the lack of alternatives on the market. The more I dug into what was
available, the more disillusioned I became, Dua said.

Duas iPad app, dubbed Learn with Homer, is now available to download on the App Store. It is intended for kids
ages 3 to 6.

Duas focus is on literacy, as she believes the greatest predictor of future academic success is childrens reading
level in the third grade.

I asked Dua about the distinction between her app and the scores of other learning tools on the App Store and
Google Play, which have also popped up in the past year. Unlike most apps, Learn with Homer doesnt assume that
children can read, she explained. The app can teach kids to read, and it offers plenty of practice techniques to
supplement classroom learning.

It is also designed to meet the new standards of the Common Core, a U.S. education initiative to bring diverse state
curricula into a more nationwide alignment.

I believe Homer is incredibly well positioned to be the leader in this category, as its simply a world apart from any
other learn to read app or website thats currently on the market, Matt Turck, an investor in the company, told
me.

The app covers phonemes, sight words, and other building blocks of literacy, according to Dua. It also exposes
children to an array of subjects, including science and history. Up to three players can use the app at any give time,
and they may draw, record, and share content.

Parents can track their kids progress and share drawings on Facebook or from the Parent Site.

The first 30 lessons are available for free. However, the company intends to make its money by charging parents for
access to additional content, including lessons. This premium content is discreetly presented in a separate screen
click the shopping cart to view the full list and pay via credit card. This prevent kids from making in-app purchases
without parental consent.

The Brooklyn-based Learn With Homer team today raised $2.2 million from angel investors: among them, Great
Oaks Venture Capital; Paul Francis, the former CFO of Priceline; Tom Glocer, the former CEO of Thomson Reuters;
Rob Soni, the former managing partner at Bessemer Venture Partners; and Turck, who is now a managing director
at FirstMark Capital.

Check out the video below to learn more about the Learn with Homer app.

https://venturebeat.com/2013/08/01/iliteracy-new-ipad-app-teaches-little-ones-how-to-read/ Page 1 of 2
Announcing a Tap, Click, Read Toolkit to Promote Early Literacy in a World of Screens - Tap, Click, Read 4/10/17, 5)36 PM

Announcing a Tap, Click, Read Toolkit to Promote Early


Literacy in a World of Screens
Tap into videos, link to app reviewers, and read up on the science
Posted October 3, 2016

Over the past several years, New America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop have become
known for our book Tap, Click, Read and for our joint research and analysis on how digital technologies could be
used to improve, instead of impede, early literacy. Now our two organizations are going a step further: This month
we are releasing a toolkit of materials designed to help educators and other leaders put these insights into practice
to help children learn to read. Fourteen research-based resourcesincluding tipsheets, discussion guides, ratings
lists, and a quizare now downloadable and free for further distribution at TapClickRead.org/Take-Action.

To reach large audiences of educators and community leaders, we have formed partnerships with FirstBook and the
Campaign for Grade Level Reading, two organizations that are dedicated to closing literacy divides and ensuring
that children in low-income families and high-need schools have access to high-quality teaching and reading
materials. We will also be actively promoting these materials in the coming months through Media Literacy Week
(Oct 31-Nov 4) and at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Los
Angeles in a featured session on November 3.

With the creation and release of these materials, we are trying to walk the talk. We recognize that in todays high-
paced world, adults as well as children are learning in multiple ways, and they need easy access to multimedia
materials that spark conversation and new ideas. Since the books release in October 2015, we have been providing
information in as many formats as possible: through the stories and brilliant people we introduce in the chapters of
our book, through presentations we have given around the country, through five videos that are freely available on
our site, on YouTube, and on Vimeo; through social media conversations at #TapClickRead on Twitter and
throughout Facebook; through one-and-two page downloadables (including ratings charts, quizzes, and expert
advice); and through discussion guides that are designed to prompt critical thinking by educators and other leaders
throughout communities.

Our book and the accompanying resources lay out a vision for building 21st century ecosystems of learning that
combine the best of media and reading. We playfully call this combination Readialand. We believe that
Readialand ecosystems can be created in communities around the country through new collaborations between
educators, families, and community leaders who recognize that 21st-century learning has to be human-powered
first and tech-assisted second.

What Educators Can DoA list of recommendations for updating teaching methods, working with libraries
and public media, and more.
What Parents Can DoA list of ideas for parents and caregivers, including the importance of listening to and
talking with children about the media they use and why.
How to Use Media to Support Childrens Home LanguageUsed well, media can spark opportunities for
children to converse with their family members at home in their native languages. This helps them build a
foundation for learning English too.
How to Promote Creation and AuthorshipChildren need to learn what it means to be a creator, not just a
consumer, of media. New tools bring this concept to life.
How to Find Apps for Literacy LearningChoose wisely. Use app-review sites and advice from literacy experts
to find materials that match your students needs.
The Three CsContent, context, and the individual child. Become more mindful in using digital technology
with young children by taking this quiz.
A Modern Action Plan for States and CommunitiesA guide for community and state leaders on how to make
progress in solving Americas reading crisis and strengthening family-centered approaches that will endure
over time.
12 Actions to Take NowA one-page list of must-dos for community leaders, district administrators, and
policymakers to break out of the literacy crisis and bring opportunities to all children.
What Developers Can DoMedia and technology developers can become a key part of creating ecosystems of
learning by partnering with educators and recognizing the needs of todays diverse families.

We have also produced five discussion guides to accompany short videos that could be used to spark dialogue in
community workshops or professional learning community meetings:

Comienza en Casa: Helping immigrant families prepare their children for kindergarten.

Video vignette (5:15 minutes)


Discussion guide

Tutormate: Matching community volunteers with first-grade students for weekly reading sessions.

Video vignette (4:18 minutes)


Discussion guide

Parents And Children Together (PACT): Encouraging parents to read with their children using e-books and
text messages.

Video vignette (5:05 minutes)


Discussion guide

Play and Learning Strategies (PALS): Helping parents see how to create language-rich moments with their
children.

Video vignette (5:37 minutes)


Discussion guide

Univision and Too Small to Fail: Spreading messages about the importance of talking, singing, and reading
with young children.

Video vignette (4:06 minutes)


Discussion guide

Funding from the Pritzker Childrens Initiative made it possible for us to do the lions share of writing and
researching the book, producing the videos, and creating and distributing the toolkit comprised of these 9
downloadable resources and 5 discussion guides. The idea for this project was sparked by the Campaign for Grade-
Level Reading. We are grateful to the Pritzker Childrens Initiative and CGLR for their support. All royalties from
sales of Tap, Click, Read are invested back into the education research programs at our two institutions, New
America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, and all materials on the TapClickRead.org
website are openly licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license.

Buy the book now on Amazon.com.

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Learn with Homer: Not the epic poet, but pretty amazing nonetheless | Cool Mom Tech 4/10/17, 6)41 PM

Learn with Homer: Not the epic poet, but pretty amazing
nonetheless
Julie Aug 4, 2013

My five-year-old son heads to kindergarten in two weeks. (Cue sobbing.) While he talks a blue streak and wields a
glue stick like a lightsaber, were still working on his reading skills. So I was absolutely tickled by how quickly he
became absorbed in Learn with Homer, a beautifully designed new iPad app created by literacy experts that just
launched this week.

This app is utterly charming. The artwork, songs, and stories are lovely, and the scientific segments are thoroughly
engaging. The design is so pretty, theres even a whole Learn with Homer shop on Society6.com, one of our favorite
resources for arty gadget cases.

Related: 12 of the best educational apps for preschoolers

But whats more important is how the Homer team has integrated the Common Core literacy standards into a
comprehensive app that really engages kids. After we sat down together to create an account and take his photo, my
kid pushed me away and immersed himself in Homers world all by himself. (He did return later to hug me and
thank me for this cool new game.)

In fact, the parent site shows me just how much hes explored: I can listen to recordings of him practicing the B and
T sounds, hear his answers to post-story questions, and see his drawing of our family (which admittedly could use
some work). I can even print out lesson completion certificates and coloring pages.

The app is free to download and accommodates up to three kids accounts, and theres plenty to do in the 30
lessons that come with it. But if your kids tear through it the way my son has, additional packs are available for
purchase by parentsyay for not racking up in-app debt.

Learn with Homer makes no promises about childrens Ivy League potential, only that a bunch of smart people who
know about learning have put a lot of work into this app. I find that refreshing.

Maybe my son wont be reading at a fourth grade level by next week, but at least hell be even more excited about
the prospect of learning. Which is kind of the point of education, right?

Get the Learn with Homer app at the iTunes store for free. Additional lesson packs start at $1.99.

http://coolmomtech.com/2013/08/learn-with-homer-app-for-kids/#more Page 1 of 1
12 of the best educational apps for preschoolers 4/10/17, 6)42 PM

12 of the best educational apps for preschoolers


Nicole Aug 20, 2014

Were so happy to kick off our 2014 back to school tech guide with one of our favorite, and most requested
categories: The best educational apps for preschoolers.

Now just because your little one isnt in official Big Kid school yet doesnt mean they cant get in on the fun of cool,
educational apps.There are tons of preschool apps out there from which to choose. The thing is, some of them are
meh at best. They might be high on design quality, but way low on educational content. Or really knocking it out of
the park with the learning piece, but failing on the overall user experience. So weve combed through a ton of new
apps this past year, as well the Cool Mom Tech archives for some favorites, and culled down the 12 best preschool
apps for iOS and Android users right now. Happy learning! (Orplaying. Shhhh.)

Best Educational Apps for Preschoolers to Teach Phonics and Letters

Alpha Tots app


This award-winning app, and a past favorite pick of ours, uses action verbs to teach kids the alphabet (B is for
building) plus phonics. There are also puzzles, interactive mini-games, and a sing-a-long song built around the
ABCs. The design is bright and fun, while the navigation is easy. There are no in-app purchases to worry about and
no third-party ads popping up to interrupt your youngsters good time. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for
$2.99.)

Endless Alphabet app


Weve talked about our endless love for this crowd favorite before, and the love affair continues. The clever app
teaches kids their ABCs using grown-up words like hilarious, making it a spelling and vocab-building tool as well.
So get ready for some rather gargantuan words coming out of your tiny 3-year-olds mouth, which can end up
being pretty hilarious. You have been warned. (Available on iTunes for $6.99 and at the Amazon App Store for
$4.99. Its a free download for Android on Google Play and at the Windows Store for A-C then $4.99 for the
rest .)

Best Educational Apps for Preschoolers to Teach Reading and Writing

Reading Rainbow app


When the beloved show launched this app for tablets two years ago, it became the most downloaded educational
app on iTunes in just 36 hours literally an overnight success and its still crazy popular for good reason. Your
kids can access hundreds of quality books, head out on video field trips with longtime show host Lavar Burton, or

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12 of the best educational apps for preschoolers 4/10/17, 6)42 PM

explore themed islands such Animal Kingdom (above). Parents can track what their kids have been reading and
leaning and how much time was spent with the books. Theres also a tips section to help parents share in their kids
reading adventures. (Free download on iTunes for iOS and on Amazon for Kindle Fire. )

Learn With Homer app


With its cute characters, sweet stories, fun drawings, and darling songs, this learn-to-read app for the 3- to 6-year-
old set continues to charm us and our kids. Created by literacy experts, the engaging, well-thought out app also
incorporates Common Core literacy standards. There are more traditional phonics lessons and exercises here, too,
but its the level of interactivity that we like most. Kids can record their own voices talking about what theyve
learned with Homer. Another plus is, you can have up to three separate accounts on the same app, making it easy
for parents to track individual progress. Also: no sibling bickering. Think youve earned your stay around here, lil
bird. (Free download for iOS on iTunes.)

Writing Wizard app


It always makes me proud-giggle when I see my 5-year-old son writing. Like, actually writing. Sure, sometimes the
lower case t towers over the capital letters, but, hey, the guy was a cooing baby not too long ago, so this is all
progress. The cool thing about Writing Wizard is that it uses animated stickers, games, and audio and video
prompts to help kids trace the alphabet while learning each letters phonetic sound. Kids can also add their own
words to trace, such as their names. The app is highly customizable, and parents can adjust the letter size or the
show-hide modes. (Available on iTunes for $2.99.)

Best Educational Apps for Preschoolers to Teach Math, Numbers and Shapes

Elmo Loves 123s app


We tend to gravitate towards indie developers, but lets be frank: Preschoolers love them some Elmo, Sesame
Workshop tends to do things right. In this app, the ubiquitous furry, red friend of preschoolers everywhere teaches
the four-and-under set how to count from 1 to 20. Along with his bestie Abby, Elmo uses fun videos and games to
get young minds focused on numbers and counting. Theres also a parents-only screen where grown-ups and
caregivers can check up on how long their kids played and which activities and numbers they covered. (Available
on iTunes and Amazon App store for $4.99 )

Doodle Critter Math app: Shapes


This app teaches kids about the six key shapes, from circles to hexagons, through a series of fun games, puzzles
and activities. Its colorful, easy and definitely fun. The design is sharp, with just the right amount of business to
keep kids interested. I suspect kids will be dazzled by the animated shapes as they shift and join forces to become
other things, like pictures of animals. The app also helps kids learn how to draw the shapes for themselves.
(Available on iTunes for $2.99.)

Bugs and Numbers app


Most kids I know seem to be super into bugs. So here comes an app that brings creepy crawlies together with math
learning. Its comprised of 18 different games and activities that basically cover math skills from preschool to early
elementary, taking you from basic counting to beginner fractions. But its not overwhelming for younger kids, since
its divvied up into three clear sections. For example, the first six games work on preschooler skills and the next set
of six cover kindergarten math. Plus, its promoted as Common Core-friendly. However, its the brilliant graphics
on this app that will likely push it to the top of kids and parents list of faves. (Available on iTunes for $2.99.)

Moose Math app


This app fits right into the Duck Duck Moose family of apps with cute and familiar animals leading the lessons. Its
a great intro to early math, with counting, adding, subtracting, sorting, and even getting into some geometry. There
are five multi-level activities that encourage young minds to reason and make decisions so that they can build and
decorate their own little cities in the app. This is another one with the parents-only screen allowing grown-ups to
get report card on their kids progress: the skills theyve mastered and the ones they need to work on and
improve. Theres no third-party advertising here either, so your childs personal info is safe and private. (Available
on iTunes and the Amazon App store for $1.99, and on Google Play for $0.99.)

Best Educational Apps for Preschoolers for Overall Fun and Learning

Beck and Bo app


Its A for Adventure when it comes to this duo. Designed specifically for preschoolers, the app follows Beck and
Bo as they head off to interesting, fun places. Its got animals, food, a pet dog, trains, taxis, the beach parks, and
even a trampoline all at a toddler fingertips ready to be moved here, there and everywhere by simple drag-and-
drop. Young kids will enjoy creating and manipulating the scenery while checking out all of the cool interactive

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objects. The design here is fun and colorful. My only issue is that I would have liked to see either Beck or Bo
rendered as a child of color. Diversity and representation in kids media is crucial, especially with young minds
seeing the world with fresh eyes. (Available on iTunes and the Amazon App store for $2.99.)

Leos Pad: Preschool Learning Series


This animated story app follows a young Leonardo Da Vinci and his famous historical friends through interactive
adventures. (Gally is the kid version of Galileo and theres also Marie, as in Marie Curie get it?) Its basically a
series of appisodes, which means the action in the story stops periodically so that the user can get involved and play
the games embedded in the story. Kind of like an enhanced Choose Your Own Adventure. This adaptive gameplay
makes Leos Pad feel totally fresh and somewhat futuristic. The dynamic visuals instantly draw you in and the
smart storytelling keep you there, engrossed. The Parent Pad allows you to track your kids progress, showing you
the different skills reading, arts, math, reasoning, creativity that they are developing from playing the app.
(Free download on iTunes.)

Daniel Tigers Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel


Here, kids get a chance to experience a day in the life of the friendliest tiger in town. The idea is that as they play,
theyll discover how similar some of their routines are to Daniel Tigers. For instance, helping Daniel get ready for
bedtime, they can see how they do many of the same things, too. Although the actual lessons n learning piece is on
the thin side with this app, the familiarity of PBS Kids popular character and the fun of pretend-play makes it a
good choice for the 3-year-old Daniel Tiger fan in your home. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for for $1.99.)

Fore more great educational apps and everything else you and your kids need to kick off the new school
year, keep an eye on the rest of our back to school tech guide, and visit the Cool Mom Picks back to school guide
series too.

More from our 2014 Back to School Tech Guide


10 of the best organizational apps for parents
16 best math apps for kids of all ages
11 of the Best reading apps for kids
16 best science apps for kids of all ages

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Best reading apps for kids: Back to school Tech Guide


2014
Jeana Aug 26, 2014

Whether your kids are figuring out how to sound out words for the first time, or you have older grade-schoolers
who just might choose an educational app over a game from time to time if its fun enough, educational apps can
certainly be a big help in getting kids excited to read. So Ive put together my list of 11 of the best reading apps for
kids as part of our 2014 back-to-school tech guide. I culled it down to apps that are smart, helpful, entertaining,
and well-designed, as all educational apps should be. Hope they help your kids get excited about reading as much
as theyve helped mine.

Best Reading Apps for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners

Endless Reader app

We first fell in love with Endless Alphabet and when Endless Reader came out, we knew it would be another hit.
Not only do kids get to identify letters to spell words, but then those words form into sentences to bring it full
circle. I like that they emphasize the sight words like look, dog, up that complement what kids are learning in
Kindergarten. The cute monsters are a fun bonus too and will give kids a giggle while theyre reading. (Available on
iTunes for free, but with only six words; all letters can be unlocked for $4.99)

Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read app

Disregard the As Seen on TV part of their marketing spiel and you actually have a really great app from Hooked on
Phonics for kids learning to read. Following the tenets of the popular phonics program, this app is more like a
lesson program that takes kids through the steps for becoming independent readers. The app comes with one free
unit and ebook, which guides kids through interactive activities and provides rewards and achievements along the
way. Youll probably want more, but its a good way to see if this one is right for you. (Available on iTunes, Google
Play and Amazon Appstore for free; individual books and units can be purchased in-app)

Bobs Books Reading Magic apps

Bobs Books is another acclaimed reading program that made it to the digital screen, and weve been
recommending it for a while now. While the app doesnt feature the entire program in digital form, it offers similar
reading concepts, exercises, of course, the adorable illustrations that kids have come to love. The first app in the
series, Reading Magic #1 app , offers young readers 12 cute scenes featuring 50 words, as well as phonic sounds and
activities to reinforce those early reading skills. If your kid has already made it through them check out Reading
Magic #2 (Available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, NOOK and Nabi Store for $3.99)

Sesame Street SMore app

Its no surprise that this new iOS app tops the charts in the preschool category on iTunes. Much more than a book,
the Sesame Street SMore app is a digital magazine that features six issues a year for the earliest readers. Each issue

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is loaded with educational content, reading activities, aut0-narrated stories and educational lessons from Elmo, Big
Bird and Cookie Monster. Your kids may have heard of them? A for awesome. (Available on iTunes for $3.99/issue
or $2.99 bi-monthly)

Best Reading Apps for Early Elementary Kids

Avokiddo ABC Ride app

While yes, its an alphabet app, this beautifully designed app will teach kids new words and sentences that go way
beyond A for apple, B for banana which is why I recommend it for kids who are just beyond the preschool basics.
Youll find more sophisticated words and phrases like acquire the apricots, jiggle on the jelly and recreate the red
robot, making it a fantastic way to challenge your kids a little further. In addition to the 26 interactive countryside
scenes that accompany each letter, kids can engage in activities with Beck and Bo, the main characters of the app
(who you might recognize from our roundup of the best preschool apps), to alliterate their way through the ABCs.
(Available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for $2.99)

MeeGenius app

While your kids are on this reading kick, you can fuel their interests by providing them with an entire library of
books at their fingertips. MeeGenius is a highly-awarded app that offers a digital library of more that 800 classics,
new releases and everything else in between. The app is free to download and it comes with five books. You can
purchase additional titles individually or subscribe to have access to all the books in the collection. Just remember
to turn off those push notifications or youll get inundated. And uh, wed be remiss if we didnt admit that we are
laughing really hard at a book called Silly Daddy and the Big Weed, which hopefully isnt what it sounds like to
us. (Available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Windows and NOOK for free; free version comes with
five books)

Montessori Crosswords app

By early elementary, kids are reading well enough to start introducing the concept of a crossword puzzle to keep the
learning going in a more gamified way. The Montessori Crosswords app not only reinforces how words are spelled
visually, but adds audio accompaniment so kids can hear the exact phonetic sound for each letter. Super helpful
when they have to navigate the intricacies of the human language and decipher between things like an ay or an ah
sound for the letter A. (Available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for $2.99)

Best Reading Apps for Upper Elementary Kids

iTooch 5 th Grade Language Arts App (with other grades available as well)

With proper grammar and reading comprehension becoming even more essential with Common Core Standards,
its nice to have found a good app to help kids understand the rules of the language a bit better. The iTooch series
of apps is an engaging way to reinforce important grammar concepts, vocabulary and spelling lessons outside of the
classroomand its comprehensive too. There are more than 1,000 activities all based on Common Core Standards,
complete with explanations of each answer, making it a really valuable supplemental learning tool. And the
achievements that kids can unlock are a nice added motivation for moving through the lessons. (Available on
iTunes, Google Play and Windows for free; lessons can be purchased in-app and also available for middle
school students)

Duh! books app

For strong readers who are beyond story books and want to learn about real world things, the Duh! books app is a
perfect way to get kids reading. Anyone curious about volcanoes, horses, cats, Brazil, knights and castles, the
life, the Universe, and everything: look no further than these textbook-like guides filled with educational content
and illustrations. We look forward to seeing even more topics covered, but the ones in the app right now should
keep kids occupied just fine. (Available on iTunes for $3.99 each)

News-o-matic app

Speaking of the real world, News-o-matic is a super way for kids to brush up on current events in an age-
appropriate way. Covering everything from worldly happenings to geography to sports and science stories, this app
is a great way for kids to learn about whats going on here and abroad. Its also a great conversation starter for the
dinner tablethe 21st century digital version of having a kids version of news magazines delivered in school each
week. (Available on iTunes; free trial comes with 10 editions, additional are available as in-app purchases;

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school edition on Google Play for $9.99)

National Geographic Weird-But-True app

Its not a new app, but we still guarantee that kids will be reading with it, albeit reading very weird facts. Dont be
surprised if after you download this, your kids will be informing you that you can clean the toilet with Gatorade, or
that sticking raw bacon in your nose can stop it from bleeding. (Whaaat?) This is one app to keep even reluctant
readers laughing, ewwwing or saying whoa as they flip through the 900+ must-read facts. And then, tell you them
over and over again. (Available on iTunes for free)

More from our 2014 Back to School Tech Guide


10 of the best organizational apps for parents
16 best math apps for kids of all ages
12 of the best educational apps for preschoolers
16 best science apps for kids of all ages

http://coolmomtech.com/2014/08/best-reading-apps-kids-back-school-tech-guide-2014/ Page 3 of 3
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14 of the best math apps for kids of all ages: Back to


School tech guide
Jeana Sep 12, 2016

Our Back to School tech guide continues with a bevy of the best math apps for kids of all ages. There are so many
fantastic options these days almost too many to count (ha) so weve done the digging for you to uncover lots of
the best math apps including a few old favorites from these pages, and plenty of new additions.

Its by no means comprehensive, so be sure to see our post on the best math apps of 2015 for even more ideas.

One thing youll notice about this list the belief that math can and should be fun, especially when youre first
learning. Hopefully, with the help of these apps, your kids will agree.

Related: 21 fantastic math apps for kids of all ages

Best Math Apps for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Preschool Math Games for Kids app

Your preschooler wont exactly know what it means to use a math app, so an app that employs games to engage
numeric skills is the way to go at this age. As the name suggests, the app is designed for preschoolers and younger
kids just learning the basics. Little hands will enjoy tracing numbers, and a fun connect-the-dots activity
to reinforce those counting fundamentals.

(Free, Google Play)

Drive About: Number Neighborhood app

Using space ships, boats and cars, little ones can play nine different games that reinforce math basics and skills
likes like counting, number tracing, simple addition and more. The games, like feeding whales and balancing
animals on a see-saw, are really cute and help solidify kids 1-10 skills.

($2.99, iTunes)

Splash Math Kindergarten app

Splash Math offers a series of apps for kids up to fifth grade, but Im partial to this one for counting, addition and
subtraction. The app centers has a cute jungle theme with Madagascar-like characters to keep kids attention
through eight chapters. Kids work through them sequentially; you need to master the counting, before you progress
to concepts like addition. It feels more like a full curriculum than random games thrown together, which explains
the higher cost. I think its worth it, but there is a free version of Splash Math, if you want a preview before making
the commitment.

($9.99, iTunes)

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Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem app

Fans of this popular PBS KIDS show will love this app which teach early math concepts, especially with the help of
the friendly faces of Peg and Cat. Based around certain challenges like lining up monkeys at the circus, arranging
meteors and stacking snowballs, straight numbers take a backseat to fun and games.

($2.99 on iTunes and Amazon), and $0.99 on Google Play)

Related: Jump Numbers Math App: Our cool free app of the week

Best Math Apps for Early Elementary

Math Jungle Grade 1 app

Monkeying around and doing math at the same time sounds like a fun way to solve math problems. Helping the
monkey collect bananas and solve equations will earn points that continually accrue for higher and higher scores.
All math problems in this app are aligned with Common Core standards. (Free, iTunes)

Jump Numbers app

Think of this as a game of hopscotch with numbers and addition. There is a roadmap you follow, and you can only
progress when you add correctly, counting by ones and twos, up to twelves. What makes Jump Numbers even more
entertaining is the goal of saving adorable Snortles who need to find their way back to their volcano home. It
may sound easy, but wait until you get into the 100s.

(Available as a free trial on iTunes, $2.99 to unlock all levels)

King of Math Jr. app

This fun app lets your child strive to be a king for the day, all thanks to (you guessed it) math. Slowly work your way
up the medieval ladder by completing progressively harder math activities. Its fun to watch your your total score
increase as you go from farmer, to bard, to knight all way up to king. And yes, girls can be kings too! There are
plenty of exercises in each section 90 questions in the counting section alone making this one kids wont put
down so quickly.

(Free, iTunes and Google Play)

Best Math Apps for Upper Elementary

Pet Bingo app

We are fans of lots of apps from developer Duck Duck Moose including this newer option devoted to teaching math
concepts. Pet Bingo tests kids math knowledge in a visual way, featuring a traditional Bingo board that can only be
filled in by answer questions correctly. Theres a Report Card feature for parents to track progress, but the best
part, of course, is when your kid gets to yell out BINGO!

($1.99, iTunes and Amazon)

Related: 16 more of the best math apps for kids of all ages

Quick Math app

For kids who want to test their skills against a ticking clock, Quick Math improves arithmetic fluency and keeps
those neural math connections sharp with a series of quizzes. The app tracks user progress and speed, monitoring
how your child is improving as the problems get harder.

(Free, iTunes)

Numbers for Osmo app

If you have the Osmo Starter Kit for your iPad, the Numbers for Osmo game add-on is a must-have math app that
mixes tactical play with digital technology for an incredible all-around learning experience. The app kit comes with
numbered tiles that kids must arrange on the screen and connect in order to answer math equations all in the
setting of an underwater world of fish.

(For existing Osmo owners, the Numbers game add-on is $29)

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Bedtime Math app

I love the interactivity of this app, new to our best math apps list, which blends kids learning with parent
involvement. It features a fun fact about random things (from porcupines to snow cones), and then provides a
verbal math problem for parents to ask their kids. There are three difficulty levels for each question so you can pose
questions to kids of all ages, but we like the super challenging questions for older kids which will really make them
think. And despite the name, Bedtime Math can be used any time of day and (Free, iTunes and Google Play)

Best Math Apps for Middle and High Schoolers

DragonBox Algebra 12+ app

Hopefully a dragon and medieval icons will make an intro to advanced algebra a little less daunting. Algebraic
concepts are demonstrated here in a step-by-step visual way, thanks to cool graphics and backgrounds. Each level
presents an equation that kids have to solve before unlocking the next, and the gaming factor is terrific motivation
for kids to continue using DragonBox, making it an easy addition to our best math apps for kids list.

($7.99; iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and $10.99 on Windows)

Related: Making math fun: 8 ways to get older kids excited about learning math

Photomath Camera Calculator app

If you take a photo of any math equation, this amazing app will solve it then provide you with the step-by-step
solution. Amazing, right? That said, for students, we definitely recommend it as more of a checking the answer
app, and not one to do your homework for you; but its a great option if your child needs math help and its not your
own strongest subject. Photomath can solve everything from arithmetic to trigonometry problems making it
extremely valuable as your kids get older.

(Free, iTunes and Google Play)

Mathlab Pro Graphing Calculator app

Remember those clunky graphing calculators those of us of a certain age had to lug around, back in the day? No
need anymore thanks to this handy app. The algebraic prowess of the MathLab Pro Graphing Calculator is
impressive, as is its ability to handle complex equations, fractions, derivatives, slopes and all that fun stuff that I
should understand much better than I do now. This is a handy one to have downloaded, to help with those
complicated math problems in high school and into college.

($4.99, Google Play and Amazon)

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21 of the best math apps for kids of all ages: Back to


school tech guide
Julie Sep 9, 2015

Rounding out our 2015 back to school tech guide: The best math apps. All year long were on the lookout for the
very best of the best math apps for kids of all ages, that we know that parents will appreciate too. (Especially since
were the ones paying for them, right?) We always want our kids to get excited about learning new things, whether
its early math basics or advanced concepts like multiplying decimals, or plotting coordinates along an XY axis.
Thats why were so grateful to the wonderful developers who put out smart math apps like these, that can be a
fantastic way to take the fear factor out of math and replace it with fun, right from the start.

Weve narrowed our picks from ohabout a zillion down to our very favorites from preschoolers through high
schoolers. We hope these math apps for kids become favorites at your house too.

Related: 16 best math apps for kids of all ages: 2014 back to school tech guide

Best Math Apps for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Endless Numbers

Weve featured lots of the Endless educational apps from Originator, and were adding Endless Numbers as one
were loving just as much as the others. The app helps strengthen basic skills like number recognition, counting,
sequencing, and introductory addition, all with the help of those adorable monsters. Keep in mind that while the
initial download is free, youll run out of numbers if you arent ready to pony up for some small in-app purchases.
(Available on iTunes, Google Play, and Windows App Store)

Whats the Time Mr. Fox

I love time-telling apps for kids, and not just because Ive found most preschoolers (and plenty of older kids) have
trouble grasping the difference between five minutes and an hour. Mr. Fox and his friends (no relation to the
morning show whatsoever) can help kids get a handle on what happens at different times of day, and what the clock
looks like when its time to get dressed, eat lunch, and even when its nap time. If were lucky. (Available on iTunes
for $2.99, Google Play for $2.03, and Amazon app store for $.99)

Drive About: Number Neighborhood

Were always impressed when a favorite educational app developer launches apps across a broad age range. The
excellent Artgig now offers a math app for the younger set thats just as awesome as Mystery Math Museum and
Mystery Math Town. Kids can absorb math concepts like number tracing, ordering, stacking, and balancing as they
explore the Number Neighborhood in a free play format. (Available on iTunes for $2.99)

Quick Math Jr.

This smart app from well-loved developer Shiny Things (who we featured in our 2014 roundup of the best math
apps for kids) is geared toward helping kids grasp number sense. Think of it as common sense, only for math. This
kind of understanding of what numbers mean, how they relate to each other, and how they represent quantities,
can really help kids build a great foundation in math. (Available on iTunes for $2.99)

MathLab for Kindergarten

With a broad scope of coverage, and an Expedition section thats similar to Number Neighborhood, the MathLab
for Kindergarten app is packed full of math concepts to learn and practice. The graphics arent as snazzy as the
other options above, but that may be in part what helps make MathLab for Kindergarten a great deal, price-wise.
Bonus for our neighbors to the north: its based on Canadas math curriculum. But we think its a great app for all
kids, since math works the same way no matter how you pronounce about. (Available on iTunes and Google Play
for $1.99)

Basic Math Skills for School with Numbie

This app really has it all, and by all, I mean all 144 Common Core math concepts that kids are supposed to be
taught up to first grade. With comprehensive coverage of topics from counting and sequencing to number place and
geometry, Basic Math Skills for School includes hundreds of games and challenges to introduce and practice
concepts. Of course having amount of content that could fill several textbooks comes at a price, so Id suggest trying
the first chapter for free before making the leap to a monthly or lifetime subscription. (Available on iTunes and
Google Play; $4.99 a chapter after the first free one; then $12.99 a month or $89.99 to unlock all content.)

Best Math Apps for Early Elementary

OctoPlus app and OctoMinus app

Drilling basic math facts isnt particularly fun for kids, but does get a whole lot easier once they get the hang of it.
These two simple apps are designed to turn drill time into game time, which is always smart. Plus I like that the
music and graphics can be adjusted for kids with sensory needs. OctoPlus and OctoMinus are switch-accessible too,
so they can be connected to alternative inputs and used by kids with motor limitations. (OctoPlus and OctoMinus
available on iTunes for $0.99 each)

Related: 7 great math apps to help avoid the summer slide

Todo Number Matrix

At first glance this app might look too basic for early elementary learners, but I assure you its not. I love how Todo
Number Matrix introduces the complex concept of matrices with simple graphics and basic logic and
categorization. It helps kids think spatially and grasp mathematic relationships between objects, along with
covering math facts, shapes, and even beginning fractions. (Available on iTunes for $1.99)

Counting Kingdom

Im happy to report that even after 8 months, Counting Kingdom is still in heavy rotation at our house. The strategy
involved in combining numbers to defeat monsters has kept this app fresh, plus kids can go back and try to earn
more stars on earlier levels. Im still hoping for a sequel involving higher-level math operations, since this game
format seems to be a winner. But at least now theres an Android version, yay! (Available on iTunes for $2.99, on
Google Play for $0.99 and on Steam for $6.99)

Related: 7 awesome ways to get girls excited about STEM

Twelve a Dozen

Like The Counting Kingdom, this engaging game has stuck with my grade school kids thanks to the cool graphics
and fearless female protagonist who uses math as a means to an end. Progress in this app mirrors progress in math,
with kids unlocking more ways to solve problems as they gain new skills. My only complaint about this app is the
price, but its worthwhile to give up a latte if your kids use the app as much as mine do. (Available on iTunes for
$4.99)

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Fruit Ninja Academy: Math Master

What do you get when you take a beloved slice-and-dice game and add numbers? A math app that kids will
definitely ask to play. Fruit Ninja Academy: Math Master is from the same developer as the original Fruit Ninja
game (sorry copycats), and while its more of a fun game than an educational tool, I recommend it as a clever way
to entice kids into a little extracurricular math practice. (Available on iTunes for $4.99 and on Google Play for
$2.99)

Slice Fractions app

Another smart app that handles a tough concept well is Slice Fractions, which uses a fun graphic approach that
employs fractions to let users solve problems and make progress. Like Todo Number Matrix, I love how this app
introduces a complex idea in a way thats accessible to kids. And if youre not sure whether first graders need to
know fractions, then perhaps youve never had to listen to them argue about dividing a plate of cookies among
themselves. Who knows maybe a solid grasp of fractions could help keep the peace at home? (Available on
iTunes for $3.99 and on Google Play for free with in-app purchases)

Best Math Apps for Older Elementary

Motion Math Cupcake app

When I checked out this app earlier this summer, I knew it was a winner the moment it trumped Minecraft during
carpool. Even with school back in session now, my kids still come up to me, iPad in hand, to show me how much
profit theyve made on their latest sugary creations. I really have no regrets about the purchase price. Unlike when I
eat cupcakes. (Available on iTunes for $4.99)

Tower Math app

Weve lauded Stack the States over and over again (seriously, if you havent downloaded it yet, you really should),
so its no surprise that were all impressed with this smart app from the same developer. As with Counting
Kingdom, Tower Math has users try strategic problem-solving to progress through levels, earning bronze, silver, or
gold medals along the way. Although iTunes has rated Tower Math for ages 6-8, I would definitely leaning toward
grabbing this math app for your older elementary students since it includes multiplication and division. But hey, if
your first grader gets her hands on Tower Math, I wouldnt yank it away. She might even surprise you. (Available
on iTunes and Google Play for $0.99)

Love to Count 2

Another longtime favorite math app from my teenagers younger days is Love to Count Pirate Trio, so Im excited
about Love to Count 2 which covers higher level skills including fractions, decimals, and odd, even, and primary
numbers. I really like that the app encourages kids to see ways to apply math in everyday life since we all know that
understanding context can make or break a childs appreciation for math skills. Parents can check on progress, and
kids can set up individual profiles, which is a big deal at my house where three small people can get a bit
proprietary about their math achievements. (Available on iTunes for $3.99)

Math vs. Dinosaurs app

While Im a little iffy bout the premise of futuristic siblings armed with ray guns that make dinosaurs and cavemen
disappear when you select the right answer, I have to admit this app is one that most elementary school kids I
know would dig. As players use math to bypass these prehistoric threats, they can learn more about a dozen
different dinosaurs. One feature that I especially like is that the difficulty level and concepts covered can be easily
customized, so this app can be a good fit for both younger and older kids. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for
free download;$4.99 in-app purchase to unlock all content)

2Vars

This Android app doesnt have many bells and whistles, as you can tell from the screenshot here, but I love how it
introduces the concept of variables using simple math facts. Not nearly so intimidating as that first algebraic
equation, right? (Available on Google Play for free, with $2 in-app purchase)

Best Math Apps for Middle and High Schoolers

iTooch math worksheets and games

The iTooch series of apps from eduPad (also in our roundup of the best reading apps for kids) is intended for use in
schools, but it will be especially helpful for homeschooling families, or any kid who wants lots of extra practice
without the hassle of printing out worksheets. Im a fan of the virtual blackboard in this app, which is a more eco-
friendly way to work out problems than covering sheets of scratch paper. Im also impressed by the pricing
structure, which is based on subject and grade level and seems quite reasonable. (Available on iTunes and Google
Play for free, with $5.99-6.99 in-app purchases for additional subjects)

Lightbot app

This programming puzzle app reminds me of a higher-level version of a ThinkFun board game my kids love called
Laser Maze. It requires understanding of commands, logic, and sequencing for users to solve puzzles and progress
through levels. Lightbot is yet another app that takes a complex concept like coding and introduces it in a fun,
really accessible way. For younger kids or older kids who might prefer an easier intro also check out Lightbot
Jr. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for $2.99)

Related: 8 of the best reading apps for older kids: Back to School Tech Guide 2015

Algebra Tiles by Brainingcamp

As you can tell just from this very list, most educational apps for older kids dont offer as many cool graphics or
motivational rewards. But an app like Algebra Tiles makes up for lack of flash with an excellent if simple
interface that helps kids grasp concepts visually. Those who still learn best by seeing and manipulating will find it
especially helpful. (Available on iTunes for $0.99)

DoodleMath

From across the pond comes DoodleMath, a subscription-based app that offers customized daily practice based on
your kids strengths and weaknesses. Like the iTooch series, it was developed for use in schools, but it can also be
an excellent supplement at home. Dont be fooled by the kitschy, playful graphics; DoodleMath for middle
schoolers (or secondary students if youre from the UK too) covers plenty of higher level concepts. (Available on
iTunes and Google Play for free, with in-app subscription purchases starting at $5.21 per item. Lifetime
subscription to unlock all content is $46.99 for iOS or $48 for Android)

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10 of the best reading apps for young kids + early readers 4/10/17, 6)45 PM

10 of the best reading apps for young kids and early


readers: Back to School Tech Guide 2015
Nicole Sep 2, 2015

Next up in our Back to School Tech Guide 2015, were happy to share 10 of the best reading apps for little kids.
Because as plenty of us parents know, getting kids hyped about reading isnt always an easy road. So when theyre
first starting out, we always welcome any tools or technology that will help get our kids excited about reading and
eventually developing a healthy love for it. Good thing theres an app or really, a full list of apps for that.

Related: 13 of the best educational Android apps for kids

For kids leaning to write letters

Writing Wizard app

This bright, easy-to-follow app uses animated stickers, interactive games, and audio and video prompts to help
preschoolers trace the alphabet while learning each letters phonetic sound. Kids can also add their own words to
trace, such as Mom, Dad, Grammy or their own names. The app is very customizable, and parents can adjust the
letter size or the show-hide modes. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for $4.99 and on Amazon Appstore for
$2.99.)

Elmo Loves ABCs app

Whether you love him or merely tolerate this cuddly, red fur ball, Elmo is trying to help your young ones learn. And
with this iPad app, much like the Elmo Love 123s app, hes teaching pre-schoolers how to identify letters, how to
write them, and how they sound. Through games, tracing activities and songs, including Elmos own alphabet song
which your kids will probably immediately love and sing on loop. Yeah, youll just have to deal. (Available on
iTunes for $4.99.)

For kids starting to read on their own

Endless Reader app

Our no-so-secret love affair with the Endless apps for kids started with Endless Alphabet, and quickly spread to
include the follow-up learning app, Endless Reader. Aimed at the 5-and-under set, Endless Reader uses its
trademark cute monsters to introduce those sight words that young kids need to start mastering by first

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grade, helping them learn how to identify the right letters to spell these words and, by extension, how to read them
in a sentence. Its fun with fundamentals, and were huge fans. (Available on iTunes and Google Play for free, but
with only six words; all letters can be unlocked for $4.99)

Related: 5 great websites for childrens books recommendations

Learn With Homer app

Weve recommended it before, but this learn-to-read app for the 3- to 6-year-olds continues to be an absolute
charmer. Created by literacy experts, the engaging, well-thought out app also incorporates Common Core literacy
standards. Sure, there are traditional phonics lessons here, but they are completely surrounded by interactive fun,
cute characters, funny stories and silly songs. We also like that you can have up to three separate accounts on the
same app, making it easy for parents to track individual progress. (Plus, no sibling squabbles. (Free download
on iTunes.)

Alpha Tots app


This award-winning app uses 26 action verbs (building robots, zapping aliens, etc.) to teach kids aged 5 and under
the alphabet and phonics. Through puzzles, interactive mini-games, and a sing-a-long song built around the ABCs.
Its an easy to navigate app with a colorful, clean design. Plus, Alpha Tots app doesnt have any of those often
annoying third-party ads popping up and no in-app purchases to worry about. Just words and fun, with a lot of
learning on the side.. (Available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for $2.99.)

For kids who are starting to love reading on their own

Bob Books Reading Magic apps

Bob Books is popular, acclaimed, gentle reading and phonics program that was successfully turned into an app and
has been on lots of our best app lists for a few years now. The first app in the series, Reading Magic #1 app ,
presents young readers with 12 cute scenes featuring 50 words, as well as phonic sounds and activities to reinforce
their developing reading skills. Once the child makes it though the first app, theyll likely be looking for more. Good
things theres Reading Magic #2. (Available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, NOOK and Nabi Store for
$3.99)

Skybrary by Reading Rainbow app

When the Reading Rainbow app launched three years ago, it became the most downloaded educational app on
iTunes in just 36 hours. Thats saying something. Now theres the Skybrary by Reading Rainbow app which rolled
out earlier this year and seems destined for the same success. The new app is essentially a digital library on the
web, providing kids (about ages 5 to 9) with a grand library packed with more than 500 books. Kids can choose to
read by themselves or read along with the narrator, or spend some time with one of 150 videos. Its a subscription
service, however theres a free 14-day trial, and parents can see up to five profiles on the account. (Subscriptions
start at $9.99 per month.)

For kids who need a game to make learning more fun

Metamorphabet app

Super cute and playful, this app (also shown at very top) lets kids play with letters and sounds as they move
through a short series of fun interactive vignettes. With a tap of the screen, each letter of the alphabet morphs into
something else that begins with the specific letter. So, the letter B grows hair and becomes a beard. Another tap
and a yellow beak juts out from the top loop. More taps gets your a bird and then some buzzing bees. Although
Metamorphabet claims its for 6- to 8-year-olds, we highly recommend for early readers in the pre-K and
Kindergarten crowd. Parents will get a kick out of it too. (Available on iTunes for $3.99.)

Teach Your Monster to Read app

What better way to get more comfortable reading than with a lovable monster buddy by your side? This fun app, for
kids aged 3 to 6, lets you create your own goofy monster and take it on an adventure. Really whats happening
during the adventures and game of it all is that kids are learning the first steps of reading: phonics, letter
recognition, blending words, and more. Kind of sneaky, but not really. Our guess is these kids already know the
game has learning baked in it; they just dont let on. (Available on iTunes for $4.99.)

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Sid the Science Kid Read & Play app

We know kids often respond to educational apps when its presented by characters they already love from TV and
movies. Even better when its around a topic kids already love, like science. You get both of those here, thanks
to that smarty from PBS fame, Sid the Science Kid, whos helping young kids to learn through play, using jokes,
games, sing-along music videos, coloring pages, and two story books. That includes Whats That Smell? shown
above. (Ha.) Children can opt to have stories read to them on autoplay, read along with the narrator or read all by
themselves. Whatever reading method they choose, were sure that youll hear all about the good, the bad and
the ewww smells that Sid is discovering. (Available on iTunes for $2.99.)

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