Within the past few months, I have started using the iPod Touch in the classroom, and have been on the lookout for good preschool apps. The kids love it (of course)! It amazes me how intuitive young children are with tech gadgets. Even children who typically need my assistance with “real world” activities, pick up the iPod and start touching, poking, and flicking “pages” like they’ve been doing this all their lives (maybe they have).
Here is a list of my favorite iPod apps for preschool. Most of them cost $0.99 each; some are $1.99, but I try to stick with the less expensive ones. If you have any you would like to recommend, feel free to post them in the comments section below.
I LOVE the Kidztory apps! So far this company has made four apps (more are on the way): The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs, The Tortoise and the Hare, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf. These are illustrated, animated stories, and you have the option to have the stories read to you, or read them by yourself. You also have the option of English, Spanish, or Cantonese. I like the illustrations and I like the fact that the stories are read to the children because it makes a great listening center activity. After each page is read to you, you click the arrow at the bottom, and you get a bell ding as well as a page turner sound effect as you go to the next page.
Teach Me Toddler
Don’t get turned off by the word “toddler” in the title. This app is great for practice of numbers, letters, letter sounds, shapes, colors, and counting. The little mouse tells you what to find; e.g. “find the letter that makes the sound /k/” or “how many ships are there?” and you are given four options to choose from. The mouse lets you try again if you choose the wrong answer. There are several things I really like about this app. In the “options” area, you can choose which topics to turn on and off for each child. If you want a child to only practice lowercase letters, you can set it up that way; or if you want the child to practice only letters and numbers, you can set it up that way. For each topic, you can view statistics. You can see how many times the child identified each letter, number, shape, or color correctly, along with a percentage. The downside: you can only add four players, which makes it difficult when you have a class of 20. I have emailed the company to suggest they change that, if possible. Otherwise, it’s a terrific app.
Wheels on the Bus
One of the cutest things I’ve ever seen! Really. This is an illustrated, animated, and interactive song. On each page, a verse of the song is sung to the children, and they get to poke or slide something to interact with the pictures. For example, on one page, they slide the bus doors open to reveal a bird, and when you poke the bird, he jumps and laughs. On another page, you get to swish the windshield wipers back and forth. There’s also a setting where you or the child can record their own voice. I haven’t tried it because I don’t have an iPod microphone. This company also makes apps of The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Old MacDonald.
ABC Tracer + Words
On this app, children trace uppercase and lowercase letters and numerals. You simply trace the letter with your finger. If you go off the lines, you get a squeaky sound and your ink color changes from green to red. You can always touch the eraser to try again. Once you’ve traced it correctly, a smiley face pops out to clap for you and cheer “yay!” Then, you get to move the picture at the bottom, e.g. an airplane for letter A. You can also trace words, play the alphabet song, or pop the balloons in alphabetical order.
Whizzit 123 Lite
I have the lite version of this app, but you can also buy the regular version. This is a simple app that works well for beginners who need 1:1 counting practice. You are shown a set of objects to count, and as you touch each object, the voice on the app counts them aloud “1, 2, 3… 3 apples.”
Another simple app, but it does what it’s made to do. Add the names of your students to a class list (it places the names on virtual craft sticks just like a craft stick cup for choosing students). The app randomly selects students you can choose for a class discussion or any kind of turn-taking. If you want to mark students absent or mark those who have already had a turn, you can change their smiley face to a sleepy face.
These are apps that my class and I have enjoyed. I’ll add more to this list as I find ones I like. If you use one with kids, be sure to get some kind of protective case, something that is easy for kids to grip, and hopefully is shock absorbing in case it is dropped. The iPod Touch is a lot of fun in the classroom. Hmm, now I can’t wait to use the iPad in the classroom!
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