A Great App Library of Educational Games
We live in an era where our children seem to be born computer savvy. Emma, my youngest, is one of those children and she navigates any device like a pro. There's a magnetic field that grabs ahold of her when she sees an ipad or iphone, or any electronic device for that matter. If she see one while we are around town she quickly forms a plan and hones in on her target. And since Emma is friendly and her natural charm makes her irresistible, the next thing you know she has your electronic device in hand and is trying to crack your password.
So how do we encourage our children's natural ability in a positive way? Well, if you're like me I do want to limit their time in front of these devices because I think it changes their attention span by exhibiting impatience. However, I also recognize the advantages to having the technology and take full advantage of them when I need to.
With that said, I thought I'd share some of my favorites and recommended educational apps. When school is out for the summer it's a good time for my kiddos to use these apps. They are a fun way to reinforce skills in math, reading, typing or science, and get them ready for the next school year. So, here are some we use, some recommended by a friend who is a school teacher and others from an article that crossed my path. Happy gaming and learning!!!
SOME OF OUR PERSONAL FAVORITES
Pre-Kindergarten — 1st Grade Games
First Words Deluxe (FW Deluxe): Learn alphabet recognition and practice by dragging the letters into the correct spelling order. Animals, At home, Colors, Shapes, Vehicles. There's a free sample (FW Sampler) but it's limited. (iPad, iPhone)
BB Magic #2: If you are familiar with the BOB Books for reading this is a great app. Tap a character to visit the Spelling Game. Drag the letters into place to spell the word. The game gets a little bit harder each time you play. (iPad, iPhone)
- Level 1: You'll see letter hints, gravity helps you drop letters in the right place, and you can play letters in any order.
- Level 2: Now you have to place letters in left-to-right order. If you try to play a letter out of order it will just bounce out!
- Level 3: The letters hints are gone and so is gravity! You'll also have to spell some words from the caption. To spell a caption word, just tap it.
- Level 4: Now there are extra letters that aren't actually used in the word! You'll need to remember how to spell the word to finish the game!
Rocket Reads: With sweet illustrations and animations this book helps you read, reads to you, gives you words of the day and ABC games. (iPad)
Ocean Adventures: Grammar and Vocabulary Language Development. Your child will learn and practice key language skills such as vocabulary, listening comprehension and sentence formation while playing with underwater animals. It can be customized for each child in your family and it has a progress tracker for parents. A favorite at our house!
Pogg: Spelling & Verbs. Pogg is a little green alien that acts out spelled words. There are two modes: pictures and spelling. Pictures mode offers children that are not yet spelling and icon of the word, when clicked the word is read out loud, and Pogg performs the word. The spelling mode lets the child freely type words into the "What should Pogg do now?" box, encouraging kids to experiment with spelling basic words, and showing short movie clips of Pogg doing that action. It offers 300 word/phrase combinations and the developer plans to release man extra word animations as free upgrades to everybody who purchases the app. (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)
Alpha Writer: Alpha Writer is a Montessori-style learning app that helps teach kids letter sounds and how to form words by combining different letter sounds. There's a tactile approach to the learning here, as kids can physically manipulate the letters onscreen. They'll hear the sound of each letter as they touch it, and can position them in any order they please to form words. The app has two sections. The first asks kids to spell words after seeing a picture of the word and hearing it spoken. The second section lets kids use letter and images to write their own story. Stories can be saved as photo files on your device. (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)
Interactive Alphabet: This app offers alphabet matching for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Your child can hear words, letters and phonics sounds. This app also includes a "Baby Mode." It auto advances every 15 seconds. This interactive game also teaches upper and lower case letters. (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)
iSpy Phonics: Match phonic sounds with letters, through colorful illustrations, pictures and accurate pronunciation, while playing the age old game of I Spy. It provides a fun and highly interactive way to help children learn to recognize letters and their phonic sounds. iSpy Phonics allows children to match phonic sounds with letters, through illustrations, pictures, and accurate pronunciation while playing the game of I Spy. (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)
Alphabytes: This is an educational app that helps kids learn their letters, the sounds letters make, how to write both upper and lower case letters, and how to spell a few words. The game has four sections: Alphabet, Trace, Spell, and Play. Trace teaches kids how to print both upper and lower case letters. The play section of the app has a memory game where kids match letters with the picture of an item that begins with that letter. (iPad only)
Kindergarten - 5th Grade+
Grammaropolis: Grammaropolis is where grammar lives! Hailed as a Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st Century, Grammaropolis uses the parts of speech as animated characters (The Nouns, The Verbs, The adjectives, The adverbs, The Pronouns, The Conjunctions, The Prepositions, The Interjections) starring in books, songs, videos, and interactive games. This innovative approach blends character-based content with more traditional quiz based assessment and is designed to address students' varied learning styles. Another homeschool mom left a great review about this app. (IPAD, IPhone)
Penguin Math: Navigate your penguin back to its home by jumping on the iceberg with the correct math answer. Whoever reaches home first, wins! Addition, multiplication, subtraction, division or mixed. (IPAD)
PHONICS APPS USED BY A KINDERGARTEN SCHOOL TEACHER IN HER CLASS 4+
- Phonics Easy
- Starfall learn to read
- ABC Alphabet Phonics
- Starfall ABCs
- Letter Quiz
- BB Magic Lite
- JumpStart Preschool Magic of Learning
- Word Magic
- TeachMe: 1st Grade
- Spelling Bus
- Spell & Listen cards
- Phonics Basics Reading Word Spelling 1
- Phonics Vowels
- ABC Phonics Word Family
ABCya (abcya.com) is a website containing dozens of games written by frustrated schoolteachers who could not find quality educational games easily and couldn't afford the few quality games they found. The games are available for free on the website and are grouped by age level and topic.
Although the quality of the games varies, they are all well made, and most are quite entertaining. They were created with the public school audience in mind, so there are a few themes (there's a Halloween game in the K-1 section) you'll want to be alert to. All the games use Flash technology, so they'll work fine on any reasonably modern computer. They should play on Android devices (although many games rely on the keyboard) but sadly will not work on iPhones or iPads. A few of the more popular games have been converted to apps and are available for 99 cents each.
Kindergarten — 1st Grade Games
Many great games are suitable for younger learners. Often these games are best played together with a parent or older sibling.
Here are a few of the highlights in the K1 section:
- Refrigerator Magnets:This game allows you to create words by dragging letters onto a picture of a refrigerator.
- Letter Bingo: Play bingo as the computer gives you the letter name or sound.
- Keyboard Zoo: Cute, early tool for learning where keys are on a keyboard
- Word Search Junior: Simplified "make your own word search" puzzle. Use your own vocabulary words or names of people in your family.
- Connect the Dots: Numerous connect-the-dots games to reinforce counting skills
- Marble Math: Simple math problems with digital manipulatives (marbles) to help students work out the problems . . . and pirates too!
- Make a car, house, face, pizza, etc.: A number of related games begin with a background image and allow you to put your own parts together to make your own custom object. All can be printed or saved. Not super-educational, but it's a lot of fun.
2nd - 3rd Grade Games
The 2nd and 3rd grade games add more typing and math to the mix. Here are a few highlights:
- Typing Games: Three different games introduce typing in different, fun arenas: munchies, cup stacking, and keyboard challenge.
- Decimal Tiles: Nice online manipulatives for math
- Time and Money Games: A couple of games to practice time telling and money addition skills
- Math-Man Jr.: A variation of Pac-Man that reinforces addition and subtraction skills
- Geography Games: A series of games about states and capitals, as well as interactive maps
- Jet Ski Addition: Online, multi-player game. The speed at which you answer questions determines how fast your jet ski goes.
- Word Cloud: Not really a game, but one of our favorites. Enter in a number of words and they are turned into colorful graphic art that you can save or print. Really fun way to make cards, place mats, and other fun print-outs.
4th — 5th Grade Games
The games for 4th and 5th grade students are (appropriately) a little more detailed. They cover more sophisticated topics:
- Synonyms and Antonyms: A couple of games help kids review these ideas.
- Spelling Bees: A game that reinforces spelling with vowels
- Dirt Bike Proportions: An online, multi-player game for practicing ratios (I got schooled by a fourth-grader)
- Multiplication Grand Prix: Similar to the dirt bike game but with multiplication problems
- Percent Panic: Very similar to an old arcade game, but it teaches percentages.
- Label the Skeleton: Simple anatomy game
- Tower of Hanoi: Fun puzzle game that's actually used in advanced computer science courses to teach a process called recursion
Just for Fun
Some of the games on the site are just plain fun. They may have some educational value, but mainly they're just fun. These can be fun to play together or to save as reinforcement after your kids have done some of their schoolwork. They're pretty fun for adults too!
- Bouncing Balls: This is a variation of a popular arcade game. Shoot colorful balls to make matches and clear the board.
- Civiballs: A logic game something like Cut the Rope. Several variations are available.
- Mini Train: Drag and drop bridge pieces so that the train can cross over a gorge. Or make the train jump over the cliff and crash into hundreds of pieces. I know. A piece of me is just wrong.
- Fruit Collection: Bounce the fruit into the basket. It gets hectic in a hurry.
- Rotate and Roll: Rotate the entire game board to deliver balls to their home. It's actually quite addictive.