Our school year is off to a fast start. I can’t believe it is already October?!?!?!?!
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Andrea_44: http://flickr.com/photos/8431398@N04/3008173939/
The cart of Dell Windows 8 tablets that we ordered has arrived and been put to use in a first project for Grades 1-5. In celebration of International Dot Day on September 15th, our students listened to Peter H. Reynolds, The Dot, and used it as their inspiration for artwork of their own. You can see our completed work here.
And I’ve been searching for apps for our Early Childhood students to use. The functionality of the tablet should be more practical for those young fingers and I hope that we can provide them with a small amount of technology exposure to start building their skills and enhance their classroom learning.
Here are the apps that I’ve checked out:
GS Preschool Games Lite
The graphics in this app are well done. There are a variety of options, though some are too difficult for all three year olds. There are also a few words that are culturally specific, like “wax apple”. I have no idea what this fruit is to be honest. They also refer to what I know as butternut squash, simply as butternut. Depending on what the student is familiar with this could cause some confusion. A feature that I did like is that the background music can be turned off while directions and guides are left on.
Guru Cool Playschool- PreSchool Essentials
While there are several different options in this app, only the Shapes activity is free. The others: colors, tracing, the alphabet, and counting are at an additional cost.
The graphics are nice and the voice/instructions are easy to hear.
The games are developmentally appropriate, including simple matching and drag and drop activities. I think that this app has a lot of potential for our students and it’s on my list to look in to purchasing.
Kids Colors (Preschool)
Again, this app has nice looking graphics. There are several sections on the initial menu: learn, pick, find, and more games.
In the learn sections, there are 10 colors and when you click on a color it splashes on the canvas and says the color name. I wish this activity had more to it as it’s not interactive and I think students would lose interest.
In the pick section, several jellyfish appear on the screen and a voice asks you to identify the jellyfish that is a given color. If you get it wrong, the jellyfish drops to the bottom of the screen and you get additional chances to identify the correct jellyfish.
In the find section, there are matching games for color. This section is really nice because you can adjust the number of cards for matching my clicking the options button on the right. This allows to differentiate for children who may need less or more options.
The more games section leads you to games that can be bought in the Windows store.
Learn Forms and Shapes
This app has a “studying” section. Here there is no sound, only pictures, without words and no cues are given to direct the student. There is a Find a Pair game, the only one available in the free version, that is a memory matching game. It uses 12 cards, and again has no sound. There is no option to adjust the number of cards.
Unfortunately, in the free version there is essentially nothing available. You can choose between numbers and letters. You then click on the words Alphabets or Numbers to get to the choices, but then when you open a letter or number, nothing happens. There is no sound.
Kindergarten 8 Lite
This app is specifically geared towards Kindergarten students, but I thought I’d investigate to see if there was anything that might be useful to younger students.
Even in the lite version, there are several options for students. In the Alphabets sections, the sound is given and an object with the same starting sound, but the app doesn’t cue students to touch the letters. There is an Alphabet Chart section, which is simply a list of letters. When you touch the letters, you hear the letter sound. The Alphabet Balloon Quiz is the same balloon game from GS Preschool Games Lite. The Numbers 1-9 game operates in the same manner as the Alphabet games.
There is a Colors section with 14 colors and a pencil and paint bucket. The name of the color is mentioned when you select it. I could not get the drawing to clear the color even after closing the app, so this would not be useful for scenarios when multiple students must use the same device. It also has stamps and patterns.
The Rhymes section has simple graphics with basic movement, but it is nothing fancy. A rhyme plays and the lyrics are available. When the rhyme finishes you are not prompted to leave the rhyme, it simply plays again. A small child would not know to use the back button to return to the menu.
The Playground section contains more games from GS Preschool, or at least ones that are in a similar format. There is a time present in the games. This concerned me at first, but I realized that the game continues to function when the time runs out.
The Charts sections only lists lots of things and doesn’t cue the students in any way as to what to do. It only gives the names of the object pictured. And, as mentioned in the section for the Preschool app, a lot of them are strange or, in my opinion, difficult for this age group. For example, Romanescu broccoli is included in the vegetable section.
Are you using Windows 8 tablets with elementary students? If so, I would love to hear from you!