Thursday, July 21, 2011


As any teacher will attest, there is the dream of all the things you hope to do during the summer and then the reality of what you are actually able to get done. Our family has made several commitments for the summer that are making it difficult for me to research apps or blog with any regularity. I am also trying to finish up revisions to a novel I started last summer. And I've been spending a decent amount of time in my bathing suit...

So Teacher with an iPad is officially on vacation for the next couple weeks. I had a request that I review reading apps so I will try to take on that topic in mid-August. Truth be told, I haven't been looking in this curricular area, so if anyone has any suggestions for reading apps, please post a comment. I will be teaching fifth and sixth grade in the fall but am interested in any apps that are appropriate for grades 3-6.

Happy summer!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


So it would be no surprise to me if I read somewhere that there are a ton of new apps being released every week.

If I read that I would nod my head.

Yup. (head nod) A ton.

Of course I don't really think there are that many new apps coming out all the time, a ton is just a figure of speech, a reference meaning “a whole lotta”.

Or is it?

Because today, July 5, there were 239 new apps released. Two Hundred And Thirty Nine. I just counted. Yes, you may be saying to yourself, that's all well and good but there were so many new apps released on July 5 because it was the day after a long weekend/holiday. Which is true. There were only 49 new apps released on the 4th. So while it is unlikely that there are 2000 new apps released every week, representing the 2000 pounds in a ton, it's a fair assumption that over the course of a week, there will be 900 news apps. And in the metric world, there are 900 kg in a ton. (I just learned that from Wikipedia) Weren't we supposed to switch to the metric system back in the 70s, anyways?

...Coming soon: an app to count the new apps released each day. Because this will make life more functional...

The point of all this app counting silliness is that there might as well be a literal ton of new apps coming out every week. It's a lot to wade through.

I am trying to get myself in the habit of checking out the top twenty free education apps every so often. When I think of it and have the time, I will also scroll through the newly released apps in all categories.

Tonight I downloaded four apps, (although one of them was a free yoga app, just because I could.) I will play around with the others and report back later.

For now, one scary (to me) observation:

As of right now, ten of the top twenty free education apps are designed for young children. This number is based on a combination of product description and user comments. Some product descriptions list preschoolers as their primary audience, but some promise they were carefully designed for toddlers and babies. ABC Alphabet Phonics says it is ideal for ages 0-6 but “the interface is so easy to use that even a 9 month old baby will delight in using this app.” Balloon Darts Deluxe “allows young children to improve their fine motor skills as they play and enjoy.” The Dress Up Fairy Tale Game teaches colors with six mini-games. And the ABC Sing Along book teaches...come on, you are probably smart enough to figure out what that's all about.

Why not sing the ABC song to your small child, give them some crayons and paper to develop their fine motor skills, and talk about the color of the flowers growing in your neighbors' yards while you take a walk? The marketing of technology to young children is nothing new, but noticing how many top rated apps are zeroing in on young children alarms me. It's only going to increase unless we all choose not to (over)use technology with our children, not to rely on it in place of exposing them to the world the good old fashioned way.

That being said, if you want to give your pre-school or kindergarten aged child a literacy boost, both my children learned to read in large part due to It's free, it's user friendly, and it's all about reading. Technology will be a part of my childrens' world their whole lives, but for now it's my job as “the grown up” to make smart choices about how I introduce them to it.