Take Five for Family Engagement: Apps to Get Moving TOGETHER!

| April 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Take 5 to get moving! This month’s list is brought to you by Carissa Christner, one of my favorite librarians – and I LOVE her first name! 🙂

Carissa works at the Madison, WI public library and has embraced new media. She is a major contributor to the LittleeLit think tank and has suggested five apps for young children and families to engage together to “Get Moving”. All of these apps involve much more than sitting and staring at a screen. Children are asked to interact with their environment, engage with others and have fun while learning developmentally appropriate skills along the way … 

FIVE Great Apps to Engage with Young Children & Get Moving with Apps!

Plum’s Photo Hunt

Get kids exploring outdoors with this free photo app from PBS KIDS! Plum’s Photo Hunt is part of PLUM LANDING, an environmental science media property designed to get kids excited about exploring the wonders of our planet.

In this app, Plum, an alien from the Planet Blorb, sends kids on missions outdoors to photograph awesome things that they find in nature like the weather, plants, shadows and bugs.

Plum’s Photo Hunt is based on the PBS KIDS web-original PLUM LANDING, developed by WGBH, producers of award-winning kids programs such as ARTHUR, CURIOUS GEORGE and MARTHA SPEAKS. Targeting kids ages 6-9, the app is designed to extend the series’ environmental science curriculum.

 Big Bird’s Words

The educational team at Sesame Street created Big Bird’s Words especially for little learners, to help build and expand their vocabulary. It’s all about getting kids excited about learning to recognize and read written text, as they use Big Bird’s scope to look for a special group of high-interest, themed words. Big Bird’s word-o-scope recognizes all kinds of printed words IN THE REAL-WORLD ENVIRONMENT, using your phone’s own camera and exciting new augmented-reality tech. Use it in your home with foods in your pantry or fridge, recipes in cookbooks, and the free emailable word labels provided. Or take it on the road! The scope works with all kinds of labels on foods at your grocery store. Look for words with letters in the same color, in a straight line and on a flat surface for the very best results.

Big Bird asks you to hunt for specific words with the “word-o-scope”. So far, they’ve only created a grocery store model and the words are all food-based, but there’s a possibility that more venues are in the works.  My son has some difficulty getting the camera to settle on exactly the right word on the packaging, but with a little teamwork, we’re able to get the app to recognize the word. It’s an excellent way to start a conversation about environmental text — all the words in the world around us (not just in books!)

 My A-Z

This app could be used as a personalized set of flashcards, but would be even more fun to do together as a scavenger hunt.  “What starts with F?  Our cat, Fred!”

My A-Z is more than just alphabet flashcards for your preschooler: It’s an exploratory learning project for everyone to do together! Every child begins building their ability to read and write by learning the letters in their name and their surrounding environment: S is for Salt, M is for Mommy, B is for Butterfly.

My A-Z provides a fun way to personalize this process for your child.  My A-Z includes a basic set of words and pictures that many early language learners use in their beginning vocabulary, from Apple to Zipper.

 Sesame Street Family Play

With kids at a doctor’s office? On a road trip? Cooped up inside? Sesame Street Family Play turns your transitional time into play time. It’s easy – just tell the app where you are and how many people are playing, and Sesame Street Family Play will give you the perfect game to play with your kids. Designed with a parent in mind, it’s simple, educational and entertaining for absolutely everyone. And thanks to power of play, every game will help your kids build key developmental skills. There’s no screen time required. This app helps parents lead games, like Cookie Monster Tag, for any number of kids in all kinds of settings.

This free app (with in-app purchase options to expand play locations) that gives parents ideas for games to play with children using everyday, readily available objects (or, no props at all)!  The play doesn’t happen on your phone, it happens in real life, but the app helps to spark your imagination and gives solid educational benefits for each suggested game.

Knoala – Kids Activities, Videos, Story Starters

Simple, fun & development-boosting activities tailored for your kids! This app is similar to Family Play except that in addition to games, it also has craft and activity ideas, story starters and videos.  While I’m not certain how I feel about the videos, since it’s really an app for parents to use (and not to just hand to the kids), families can make their own decisions about whether or not to access that portion of the app.

The activities are the real gold mine.  You can choose to just look at the “activities of the day” and have ideas randomly generated for the age group of your child, OR you can apply more filters indicating where you are (in the car?  In the bath?), what materials you have at hand (paper?  water?), about how much time you want to spend, etc..  You can also submit your own activity ideas and your own photos — which adds an interesting crowd-sourcing element to the app.

Carissa Christner is currently raising her beautiful kids in the beautiful midwest. You can find her on Twitter at: @CarissaABC and at the @LittleeLit blog as a regular contributor.

Do you have a favorite app or other activity to get kid’s moving and families engaged in early learning activities in a fun way? Let us know in the comments!


Category: All About Apps, Guest Posts, iPads in Education, Libraries and the Digital Shift, Take Five

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of Digital-Storytime.com, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.