Strategies for using iPads in the 1st Grade Classroom

Partner Reading with an iPad

The first graders had an exciting and motivating experience this week with the iPads. We used five iPads for partner reading. The idea was to introduce them the first day so they could try something fun. They used the app called Talking Tom. The kids read a story to Talking Tom and Tom repeated the story back to them sentence by sentence. It helped promote the first graders using a clear voice with expression. Tom is a fun cat to interact with so the kids were very motivated.

The second day we introduced two apps from Dr. Seuss: Cat in the Hat Lite and Green Eggs and Ham Lite. We just wanted the kids to read with their partner and practice with the touch screen. Again the first graders were very motivated and focused on their assignment.

Partner Reading with an iPad

The third day we used three different apps that had stories at different reading levels. This level of differentiation is what we are looking for when we do our Reader’s Workshop. The Learn to Read 2 (B) app was excellent. The graphics were beautiful, the kids could read the story to their partner and touch the words to practice the vocabulary words. The students were motivated, engaged and focused for the entire session.

Partner Reading with an iPad

I am looking forward to my next iPad project. I have included the notes on this project that are being shared on a Google Doc at our school. We want to see iPads used in ways that promote achievement, motivation and differentiation for all students. The touch screen and simple accessible apps are perfect for young learners. I am planning on continuing my research and trials in first grade with the iPads. I have the IT support that I need to make the iPad the focus of my future technology projects. I am excited to forge ahead to find many areas where the iPad can be used effectively with first graders.

Grade 1:  Objective:  Partner Reading

  1. Day 1: Introduced the iPad as a tool and use Talking Tom app.  (evaluation)
  • Observations:
    • iPad ground rules were addressed by Scott.
      • A tool for learning/not a toy.
      • How to turn on/off
      • One person at a time touches it and reads while others listen
      • Take turns reading
    • Students are motivated to read with voice so that Talking Tom can hear them well enough to repeat what they read.
    • Reading one line at a time is best.
    • One student holds the iPad while the other reads.
    • Reinforces taking turns and working collaboratively; reading articulation, volume and expression (story-telling voice)


Talking Tom application (video)

Talking Tom evaluation (document)


  1.      Day 2: Introduce story apps. (2 simple – for introduction to story reading); ground
    rules reviewed
      1. Apps:  Cat in a Hat Lite, Green Eggs and Ham Lite


●  Observations:

These books were a good introduction to iPad reading as they were chosen for the purpose of introducing students to one specific book to be shared with a partner. These are well-known Dr, Seuss books familiar to the children.

                       After the stories, students pulled up Talking Tom and retold the stories.
Grade 1:  Objective:  Partner Reading using leveled readers

  1. Day 3: Use specific story apps individually assigned  for each of the nine reading partnerships.

(3 reading levels)

      • There were 9 reading partnerships and 5 iPads. The first session had 5 readng partnerships and the second had 4 reading partnerships. Each session lasted approximately 10 minutes. We assembled in the Grade 1 Cave where it was cozy with few distractions.  It was the perfect reading environment with some students on the floor and others on couches and chairs. Each partnership chose their location. There were 2 adults available for assistance.
      • APPS used
      • Observations:
        • Students were excited to be able to read on the iPads.  They used good judgement when sharing them and were respectful of the tool and each other.
        • During their readings they first read in storytelling voices and then listened to the audio version.
        • The Read Me Stories did not fit well with the lesson because it did not have the option for students to read without assistance. (view the app evaluation form.)
        • Students made good choices when transitioning from one session to another.
        • Students filled out a survey about their new learning experience.
      • Documentation:


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One Response to Strategies for using iPads in the 1st Grade Classroom

  1. Profile photo of Amita Patel Amita Patel says:

    Hi Scott,
    Very nice! i am looking at encouraging the year 1 teachers to use more iPads in the class room and your post has given me a lot of ideas.


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