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Top 10 Educational iPhone/iPad Apps for Your Kids

by Steven Burrell

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The day you came home with your newest iPhone or iPad, you felt like you had won the smartphone lottery. With built in GPS, camera and e-mail, not to mention the endless applications, you thought you had just bought yourself the best present in the whole wide world. Until your kids got ahold of it.

That’s when you realized that you had actually bought your children the best present in the whole wide world, whether you liked it or not.

Instead of letting your kids play hours of Angry Birds, put a few of these educational apps on your iPhone/iPad. Then you can sit back and relax while your children monopolize your favorite gadget. After all, they’re learning something.

1. Simplex Spelling HD is a great app for the spelling test challenged grade school students. It has more than 260 words that have been specially selected because they are the most frequently used in children’s literature. It’s a great way to help your children read better and learn new vocabulary without feeling like school.

2. Boggle is an old classic that you might already have on your phone for yourself. The newest incarnation has three-minute games of basic Boggle, but a whole slew of variations to keep things interesting. You might just find yourself vying with your kid for top scores.

3. Geocoachingis perfect for the Indiana Jones wannabe. The game takes its players on an exciting treasure hunt looking for hidden treasures, called

Geocoaching App

“geocaches,” by leaving clues and utilizing the iPhone’s built-in GPS It’s the safest way to send your adventurer on a wild expedition.

4. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is perfect for the preschooler set. Using an animated, cuddly little monkey, it captures their attention. Once they’re under the monkey’s trance, they will learn colors, letters and numbers. It has written directions, but playing will also come very naturally to those who don’t know how to read yet.

5. WeetWoo is basically YouTube with a filter. Parents can curate their own children friendly video libraries, weeding out anything inappropriate. There are a lot of educational videos suited for all interests. Nursery Rhymes is good for the toddlers and Mythbusters is perfect for a science lover.

6. Math Ocean is an engaging way for kids to learn skills including addition, subtraction, matching, sorting, and patterns. You can also add fun themes like holidays!

7. Clever Tales makes reading fun. It uses beautiful images and great stories.

8. PUZZINGO is a top puzzle game. It will teach your kids animal names, letters, numbers, and more. And they’ll learn quickly, thanks to PUZZINGO’s reward system which encourages learning with prizes.

9. Cash Cow is a great app for first graders that uses a fun puzzle game to teach math.

10. PlayART is a unique artistic application that adults can play too. It incorporates the work of Van Gogh, Klee, Rousseau, Monet and Cezanne, and is suited for a wide span of ages, beyond the 5-13 range it was designed for.

There you have it: 10 apps that make your phone the best invention since sliced bread…for whoever happens to be monopolizing it.

About the author: Steven Burrell researches and reviews cognitive ability tests that help students measure their growth. His favorite thing in the world is spending rainy days indoors with his family.

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Filed under Critical Thinking, Summer Learning, technology

a puzzling holiday

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and you could win a $20 School Box Gift Card! A winner is selected weekly.

So, whatcha doin’ on January 29? How about…a jigsaw puzzle??

If this wasn’t on your agenda this week, it should be! January 29 is National Puzzle Day. And, since puzzles are such a great way to incorporate cooperative learning while sharpening the ol’ noggin, we think we should all jump on the bandwagon of celebrating this holiday. Who’s in?

Need more convincing?

“Doing jigsaw puzzles can help build cognitive skills like visual processing, logic and reasoning, attention, and processing speed,” says Kristen Thompson, owner of LearningRx, a brain training center in Kennesaw, Georgia, that helps students overcome learning struggles. Puzzles rank at the top of their list for an impactful way to improve critical thinking.

Did You Know???

And now, here for your puzzling pleasure, are some random facts about puzzles that would impress even Alex Trebek:

· Jigsaw puzzles originated in the 1760s when maps were pasted onto wood and dissected.

· In 2008, more than 15,000 people in Ravensburg, Germany, assembled a nearly 6,500-square-foot puzzle in town square. The puzzle had 1,141,800 pieces.

· In the 1930s, puzzle manufacturer Einson Freeman convinced a toothbrush company to give away a puzzle with every toothbrush purchase. More than one million toothbrushes sold.

· No one is sure who invented National Puzzle Day, but there are various clubs dedicated to the love of puzzles.

There are lots of places online where kids can do jigsaw puzzles for free! Here’s a good starting place:

http://www.thekidzpage.com/onlinejigsawpuzzles/animals/index.html

There is also a great selection of high quality puzzles for all ages available on-line from our sponsor, The School Box:

http://www.schoolbox.com/Puzzles.aspx

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Filed under Academic Success, Activities, Cooperative Learning, Critical Thinking

Anatomy of a Creative Novel Study

by Kristin Woolums, M.Ed.

A creative study based on From the Mixed-Up files of Mrs. Basil E. Franweiler

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is a Newbery Award-winning novel about two children who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The story combines adventure and comedy, and each year, my 5th graders eagerly tell me how much they love it!

Originally published in 1968, one might think that it wouldn’t appeal to today’s youth, but here’s how I foster a love of a novel that’s over 40 years old:

A Virtual Field Trip

Early in the story, the lead characters, Claudia and Jamie, run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I take my students to the computer lab for a virtual field trip to see the sights that Claudia and Jamie would have seen (www.metmuseum.org). The website allows students to see priceless pieces of art that they perhaps would never get to see, so I allow them to browse through the many pieces shown online. Click here for a printable sheet about the virtual tour.

The students supply a few details about their favorite pieces, including a rough sketch, which they record on a note-taking guide (click here to print it). We discuss the proper way to react to art and that there are many pieces that showcase the human body in tastefully, yet unclothed, ways (just a head’s up!).

A Great Debate

There are several ethical decisions that Claudia and Jamie encounter throughout the story:

o Stealing money from the museum’s fountain so they could eat

o Sneaking around and lying so they wouldn’t get caught living in the museum

o Worrying their parents by running away

Each student chooses whether they thought the action was justified or not, and in a traditional debate setting, we civilly discuss the matter at hand. This makes for some very teachable moments, and the students love this!

A Creative Culmination

To end the study, the students participate in a creative “summary-by-chapter” book report. A post describing all of the details about this creative project, including a rubric, is coming next on A Learning Experience. The best part is that this idea can be adapted to any novel!

This wonderful and timeless adventure about two children running away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is chock full of adventure, comedy, and a sense of family as Claudia and Jamie learn to survive in the real world. My students enjoy the novel, and I hope Ms. Konigsburg is happy that I’ve taken her exciting novel to the next level by interjecting classroom reading with a virtual field trip, a debate, and a creative book report project!

Kristin’s Chapter-by-Summary book report idea (including a rubric) is coming next on A Learning Experience!

Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed., teaches fifth grade at a private school in Atlanta and works at The School Box at Southlake during the summer months.

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Filed under Assessments, comprehension, Field Trips, Reading, reading aloud, reluctant readers, technology, Uncategorized

Four AWESOME Classroom Web Sites!

student and teacher at computerDo you have a favorite online resource? Share it below in a comment. One comment will be selected to win a School Box gift card!

Cyberspace is flooded with sites geared toward education. Here are a few of our favorites– all of which are chock full of great resources you can share with your students and easily implement into your lesson plans. Inspiration made easy!

1. puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com: Make your own printable word searches, crossword puzzles and more using the vocabulary words from your current lesson plans. The site also includes a lesson plan gallery for K-12, organized by subject and topic.

2. www.FactMonster.com. This is a fun reference site filled with facts galore! The site is well organized, and topics span current events, sports, money, math, science, homework help, biographies of notable people (including a section focused on famous women) and a slide show of presidential “first kids.” There’s also a “reference desk” complete with an online atlas (both world and U.S.), encyclopedia, dictionary, and almanac. A one-stop-shop for kid-friendly research!

3. kids.nationalgeographic.com. Learn about places and animals around the world through photos, games, stories and activities. Cool stuff abounds on this site, which is sure to become a favorite with your students.

4. www.eduplace.com/tales. Welcome to Wacky Web Tales- an online version of Mad Libs, where students can hone their parts of speech while making up silly nonsense stories. Hilarity guaranteed.

Do you have another favorite online resource? Share it below in a comment. One comment will be selected to win a School Box gift card!

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Filed under Academic Success, Games, Teaching