Apps for Learning

As I set up my classroom last week I sorted through “old” supplies
and found my set of kid-friendly classroom signs. These basic words
which serve as environmental print for many incoming kindergartners
include, “door”, “bathroom”, “desk” and “window”. I also still displayed the
label for pocket chart and easel but had a little chuckle when the signs for
chalkboard and tape player surfaced. How classrooms have changed. How
teaching has changed. How learning has changed.

My chalkboard is now an interactive whiteboard, my chalk, the computerized
pen that manages my interactive whiteboard, and my tape player, an ipod.
My students continue to use traditional supplies such as notebooks, pencils,
crayons and markers, but they do so along with the mouse of the desktop
and the touch screen of the ipad.

As a kindergarten teacher there still are handwritten poems and whole-class
writing on chart paper, but a lot of the skills that we practice together are
scanned and displayed on our interactive whiteboard, which allows students
to read, highlight, circle and maneuver letters, words and stories on a large
screen where everyone is a motivated participant, (not to mention, it saves a
lot of paper).

I have to admit that I am most pleased to be done with the often broken,
misplaced or skipping tape cassettes and cds that were used for our learning
songs or our weekly listening centers; I am no longer taken away from
meeting with groups of students to assist in these problems.

My students and I can be discussing or reading and within seconds, become
global by searching that topic on the Internet, displaying a plethora of
photos, graphs, maps or explanations, possibly taking a virtual field trip to a
related place.

Last year my kindergarten class communicated with another class across the
country, via Skype. We were able to explore a new town in a new state with
the help of our epals and discover the similarities and differences in our
communities and schools.

Technology may be an enigma for some but it is a convenience beyond that
of mere expediency; educators and students alike are now able to reach far

past our classroom walls in search of the content knowledge we require and
seek.

One of the most wonderful learning resources that I have embraced is
learning applications (apps). For schools fortunate enough to have resources
which provide apps, they will serve as an inspiring tool and an extension of
classroom learning.

Whether your child is app-friendly or not, I encourage you to explore the
wonderful world of learning apps. From your computer, ipad, ipod, or smart
phone, search “educational applications”. If you have never been in the
Apple app store, click on the education category and you will likely be amazed
by the plentitude of resources that are waiting for you to download.

Many apps are free and offer wonderful activities to reinforce skills in all
areas. Apps that you pay for likely offer more content, levels, and variety.
When browsing apps, it is a good idea to first target skills that you seek
for your child, such as addition practice or reading age-appropriate stories.
Reading reviews is helpful. It is believed that relevant apps with a four or
five star rating, by many users, are good choices, but don’t hesitate to try
others that look great!

I introduce students to apps for number and letter recognition, letter-sound
practice, counting, tracing and puzzle apps, to name a few. Learning to read,
spell, write and count may be more apparent skills, but fine motor skills, one
to one correspondence and visual perception skills are also very reasonable
to approach through the use of educational applications.

This fall, I cheer you on as you search for ways to incorporate technology
into your child’s learning.
 

Some of the many apps that I have found useful:

-Word Cat

-Little Patterns

-Puzzle Tales

-Little Writer

-Match Animals

-Shape Puzzle

-Zoo Sounds

-Spot!

-TP-Shapes

-ABC Alphabet Phonics

 

 

Kindergarten Readiness

Tara Hudson received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and Special Education at The University of Delaware and her Master’s Degree in Education at Stonybrook University. Tara has taught for ten years in the Westhampton Beach School District. Currently in her sixth year as a kindergarten teacher, her passion is working with children each day and watching them grow socially and academically. Tara has done freelance work for The Patch and her writing has also appeared in The Waldo Tribune and Macaroni Kid. Tara lives on Long Island with her husband, children and dog.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising and being outdoors.