Pango Free


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Developed by:Studio Pango


Overview

Ages: 2-5

Share quality time with your little one where the reading comes with action and games. TOUCH, SHAKE, RUB, SCRATCH, TICKLE... the young reader interacts with the book and drives the story forward. Funny adventures, animated stories, brightly colored drawings and sweet characters. (Studio Pango SAS)


Tip for Parents: Simon Says!

This app is all about following directions.  Before your child interacts with this app, play a fun game of “Simon Says”.  Talk to them about how the game is all about following directions, something they will need to do in order to help Pango!  Are they up for the challenge?  Turn the tables and have them be Simon and run a game with the older siblings, adults, or other people in the house.  After they have had time to interact with the app, ask them  a few questions such as “Which task was your favorite and why”?, or “How did it feel to help Pango? Why”?    

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Gone Wishing


Developed by:Fi Productions


Overview

Ages: 6-8

A remarkable interactive storybook experience about a tiny genie with a giant secret. Discover the hidden world of wish-craft. Meet genies, leprechauns, fairies, and the super secret Shooting Star Service. Learn what really happens after you blow out the birthday candles and make a wish. Where do all those coins from the wishing well go? Meet the Mimbles - a family of wish-granting legends who gave the world wonders like fire, suspenders and cotton candy. And meet their youngest son Jacob, a tiny genie who was born to continue the family tradition. Except that Jacob has a giant secret and an even bigger problem - he's the first genie ever who can't make a single wish come true. Gone Wishing is a deliciously fun look into a never-before-seen world of magic and miracles, in which the tiny genie will have to figure out how to make magic without any magic abilities - before his terrible secret is out. (iTunes)


Tip for Parents: YOU be the Author!

This interactive storybook is so fun and creative; a great opportunity to see if the author’s creativity might stir up a little of your child’s as well.  As they interact, listen and read this story, have them choose their favorite character to write their very own sequel about - a next chapter.  Or, have them create their very own original chapter that they would want to include in Gone Wishing.  Is your child more interested in being an illustrator?  If so, ask them to draw and color some of their favorite scenes from the book.  Afterwards, have them describe the scene to you and why it was one of their favorites.  

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Animal SnApp: Farm


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Developed by:Nosy Crow Limited


Overview

Ages 2-5

The first storybook app by Axel Scheffler, illustrator of the picture book modern classic The Gruffalo. Features a fun and innovative slider game - swipe through the halves of each character to make brand new farmyard animals! Unlock six different rhyming stories by completing the top and bottom half of each character. Fantastic animation, music, artwork and lively child narration. Have fun with Lucky Lamb, Gobbly Goat, Cuddly Cow, Portly Pig, Diggity Dog and Higgledy Hen. (iTunes)


Tip for Parents: Rhyming Fun     

Before interacting with this app, talk to your child about rhyming words.  Perhaps they already know about rhyming words and if so, have them tell you what they are as well as some examples.  If they don’t know what it means to rhyme, give them the definition (rhyming words are words that have similar sounds) as well as some examples.  To extend this further, then provide them with a word and have them think of as many words as they can that rhyme with it.  Rhyming builds phonemic awareness, which then helps build a strong foundation for early reading - and it’s fun!  As they play with, listen and read this app, have them be on the look out for rhyming word pairs.  

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Rounds: Franklin Frog


Developed by:Nosy Crow Limited


Overview 

Ages 2-5

The first in an innovative new series of non-fiction apps based on circular characters whose real life stories start where they end. Rounds: Franklin Frog follows the life cycle of a frog with beautifully simple narrative and design motifs. Illustrated in a bold, graphic style – using only circles and divisions of circles – and with ingenious interactivity, original music and lively child voice narration, this delightful app is both educational and fun. Learn about biology with dozens of fun facts about frogs. Join in with every stage of a frogs life - hopping, swimming, eating, hibernating, laying frogspawn, and growing from a tadpole. (iTunes)


Tip for Parents: Similarities & Differences

Before interacting with this app, let your child know that it is going to teach them all sorts of cool information, facts, about frogs! Give them a purpose for listening such as “As you’re listening to and reading this app, I want you to think about some things that frogs do that you do, too”.  Depending on your child’s age, extend this further by explaining that these would be called similarities.  Tell them that you would also like for them to think about things that frogs do that are different from what they do.  Again, depending on age or interest, extend this further by explaining that these would be called differences.  

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Rounds Parker Penguin


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Developed by:Nosy Crow


Overview

Ages 5-8

The second app in the innovative ‘Rounds’ series about the life-cycles of animals. Parker Penguin combines a warm, accessible wit with interactive and educational content, making it perfect for both the home and the classroom, and bears all the hallmarks of a Nosy Crow app – ingenious interactivity, original music, lively child narration, highlighted text, and charming animation. Children can participate in every stage of Parker’s life, from birth to parenthood, and learn all about penguins and life in the Antarctic with lots of fun activities - sliding, swimming, hunting, marching, protecting an egg, and hatching a chick – before starting all over again with Parker’s son. The app is filled with interesting facts about penguins (did you know that they have tiny spikes on their tongues to help grab slippery fish?), carefully designed to inspire enthusiasm and teach young children about biology. (iTunes)


Tip for Parents: Fun Facts!

Before using this app, help to activate your child’s prior knowledge about penguins by asking them a few questions such as “What do you know about penguins?”, “What do you like about penguins? Why?”, “What do you hope to learn about penguins while using this app?”.  Inform your child that this app will teach them all sorts of facts about penguins - true information about them! Scaffold for various ages by just talking about and showing them examples of facts throughout the app, or extending it to opinions as well.  An opinion is something you feel that can’t necessarily be proven.  For example, one of my favorite facts from this app is...or, I love the fact that...Show your child how facts and opinions are different, but can be connected.  After your child has interacting with the app, be sure to ask them what their absolute favorite penguin facts are and why.  Also, did they learn what they wanted to?

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The Kissing Hand


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Developed by:Oceanhouse Media, Inc.


Overview

Ages: 2-5

Join Chester Racoon in this interactive book app as his mother shares a family secret called The Kissing Hand to help ease his fears about going to school. Explore pictures, learn new vocabulary, and personalize the story with your own narration. A New York Times #1 bestseller, this heartwarming book has become a children's classic, touching the lives of millions of children and their parents, especially at times of separation. (iTunes)


Tip for Parents: Talk about Connections!

Prior to reading this story, talk to your child about connections; how often times readers are reminded about something in their own lives when reading a book.  This is called a text to self connection which helps readers better comprehend and enjoy the story.  As you read this story with your child, prompt them along the way by asking them questions such as “Have you ever felt that way?”, “Has that ever happened to you?”, “Does this remind you of something in your life?” This will help your child to put themselves in the character’s shoes - another awesome reading skill! Scaffold for various ages with more or less prompting.  For younger kiddos ages 2-3, ask them to identify and tap particular objects. The app will say and show the name of the object; have them to repeat the names to help them increase their vocabulary.  

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I Hear Ewe - Animal Sounds for Toddlers


Developed by:Michael Kamprath


Overview

Ages: 2-3

Entertain and educate your toddler with this simple game full of 24 different authentic animal sounds and 12 different vehicle sounds. When your baby taps on an animal or vehicle icon, the game will verbally announce what type of animal or vehicle it is and play a recording of its real sound. (iTunes)


Get Ready

Prepare to use this app by using the following activity:

Read & Be Silly!  

Choose one of your child’s favorite books with plenty of animals in it.  Read it with them and ask them to point to all of the animals while you say their names.  Perhaps they will repeat the name after you, too!  Ask them what that animal says and have fun imitating their silly sounds.  To prepare for interacting with this app, do the same activity with a book that includes any modes of transportation, too.

 

*Imitating animal sounds might seem like simple fun, but they can actually help usher along speech development milestones for your tiny talker. As your little one learns the sounds his favorite animals make, he will learn about letter sounds and inflection. A simple lesson in animal sounds will help create a pathway to talking.


Dive In!

Help your child get the most out this app experience by trying any of the following activities:

Tap, Tap & Get LOUD!

This app is very straightforward and easy for young children to use.  There are two screens of animals and one with various vehicles.  Have your child tap away and listen to the noises each animal or vehicle makes & have them imitate the noises, too!  Challenge them to say the animal and vehicle names, too.


Branch Out

Extend your child’s learning by using the following activity:

Draw & Color!  

What is your childs absolute favorite animal? What about their favorite mode of transportation?  Have them draw and color their favorites - and then make the corresponding noises of course!  

 

Scavenger Hunt!

Have your child search your home for certain animals and trucks, cars, etc.  To make it extra challenging, hide them in advance and provide a few clues.

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Park Math


Developed by:Duck Duck Moose, Inc.


Overview

Ages: 2-4

Award-winning Park Math teaches early math concepts based on Common Core State Standards. Learn numbers, counting, addition, subtraction, sorting, patterns and more through 7 fun, educational activities. 3 levels for Preschool, Kindergarten and First Grade: count up to 20, 50 and 100; addition/subtraction with numbers up to 5, 10 and 20. (iTunes)


Get Ready

Prepare to use this app by using the following activity:

Warm Up: Counting Pom Poms!

What you’ll need:

  • Large Bin

  • Colored Pom Poms (or any small objects you already have at home, anything they can count)

  • Play Pots & Pans (or real ones if you’re okay with that!)

  • Numbers (from a wooden number puzzle you may already have, or just write numbers 1-10 on paper, sticky notes, etc!

 

How to Play:

  1. Put all of the materials in a large bin (if you have one; if not you can just set it out in a certain spot in your home) & let your child explore the materials you’ve set aside for this activity.  They may enjoy a little sensory play by touching and feeling the pom poms, or whichever objects you’ve taken out for them to count.  They may also enjoy putting pom poms in and out of the pots and pans.  

  2. Next, ask them to put any numbers they’d like inside a pot or pan.  

  3. Have them put the appropriate number of pom poms in each pot or pan to match the number inside of it.  It’s totally okay if their numbers are off.  Help them count the correct amount, tell them if there are too many or too little, etc.  Just have fun!

This activity will help activate any prior knowledge they have on numbers, or, get them familiar with counting!  Modify this activity based on your child’s math abilities by having them count up higher and subtract pom poms.


Dive In!

Help your child get the most out this app experience by trying any of the following activities:

Tap, Tap & Interact!

Choose a Level 1-3 and to get started, have your child move the blue bear along to the next scene.  There will be instructions on what to do on each page.  Each task will ask your child to count, sort, balance, find the pattern, or subtract.  Your child may want to attempt these tasks on their own, or, they might prefer to work alongside with you.  Choose a way that works best for your child!  Encourage them to have fun counting and learning more about numbers.  

 

Need Help?  

After interacting with this app, ask your child which activity was their favorite and why.  Ask them which one was most challenging, and why.  If they are up for it, go back to the activity they felt was most challenging and help them work through it.  Encourage them and make them feel good - learning involves making mistakes & that’s totally okay!  


Branch Out

Extend your child’s learning by using the following activity:

Get Crafty: Roll & Glue Googly Eye Monsters!

What you’ll need:

  • card stock or paper

  • brightly colored paint daubers or markers

  • scissors

  • glue

  • dice

  • a ton of googly eyes

 

What to do:

  1. Start by folding your cardstock in half & cutting out a monster (spikes, squiggles, whatever!)

  2. Set out your paint daubers and invite your math whizzes to the table. Let them decorate their monsters with the paint or markers.  (Paint daubers are nice because they dry fast but markers would be perfect too).  

  3. When they are done painting their monsters it’s time to introduce the glue ,googly eyes and dice.  Each player takes a turn rolling the dice and adding that many eyes to their monster. Only the roller adds the eyes on their turn.

  4. To put a limit on the eyes, you can create a number line and black out the numbers as they are rolled.  If kids roll a blacked out number, have them roll again until they roll one that has not been blacked out.  

  5. Once all numbers have been added to the monsters, hang them up for others to enjoy!  Your child may walk by them and count all the googly eyes to practice! 

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Scholastic First Discovery: Dinosaurs


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Developed by:Scholastic


Overview

Ages 4-6

Dinosaurs is an interactive, fully narrated, fun and beautifully illustrated new app in a series designed to help your child learn more about their world. Watch as your child interacts with the Dinosaurs in new and amazing ways! (iTunes)


Get Ready

Prepare to use this app by using the following activity:

Some Dinosaur Names are TOUGH to say!

Before having your child interact with this app, talk to them a little about any dinosaur names they already know.  Let them know that this app will teach them about many, many more really awesome dinosaurs and some of their names are super hard to say!  Reassure your child that it’s okay if they don’t know how to say or pronounce certain dinosaur names correctly.  The app will read the names aloud, they can repeat after the voice, or take their time and practice breaking down the name.  In the end, they’ll learn cool facts about these dinosaurs, and eventually, it won’t be so hard to say their names!


Dive In

Help your child get the most out this app experience by trying any of the following activities:

Ask your child to:

  • Try to repeat and say the names of all of the dinosaurs mentioned - just encourage them to give it their best shot!  

  • Follow instructions and tap on specific objects when necessary.  

  • Be ready to share their favorite or most interesting fact with you after they are done.  


Branch Out

Extend your child’s learning by using any of the following activities:

Sing & Dance!

Teach your child the “Dinosaur” Stomp - an adorable song about dinosaurs to the tune of “The Grand Old Duke of York”.  Encourage your child to sing, dance, and act like a dinosaur of course! Each line of the song has a certain movement or action, but your child can certainly “stomp” to the beat of their own drum!  

 

The Dinosaur Stomp

Oh Tyrannosaurus Rex, (hold two hands like dinosaur claws)

He walked on his hind legs, (stomp feet)

He stomped them up to the top of the hill, (stomp upwards)

And he stomped them down again.  (stomp downwards)

 

Chorus:

He was as high as a house,  (hold arms up high)

He was a long as whale, (hold arms out wide)

He was a dinosaur, a hundred (pretend to be a dinosaur)

Million years ago! (hold hands like claws)

 

Oh the huge Diplodocus, (hold arms up like a monster)

He had a great long tail, (swish arm like a tail)

He swished it up to the top of the hill, (swish it up high)

And he swished it down again. (swish it down low)

 

(Chorus)

 

Oh the fierce Triceratops, (pretend to be a fierce dinosaur!)

He had three pointed horns, (make pointed fingers like horns on head)

He scared them up to the top of the hill, (be a scary dinosaur!)

And he scared them down again. (continue to be scary!)

 

(Chorus)

 

Oh the spiky Stegosaurus, (make pointy spiky shapes in the air)

He had a spiky spine, ( point to pretend spikes on your back)

He marched his spikes to the top of the hill, (stomp upwards like a dinosaur)

And he marched them down again. (stomp downwards again)

 

(Chorus)

 

Build Your Own Dinosaur!

What you’ll need:

  • Green craft-foam (or you can use construction paper; the foam is just a bit more durable)

  • Scissors


Prep Work:

Using the craft foam (or construction paper), cut out the following shapes.  You can also trace each shape below & have your child use safety scissors to practice learning how to cut.  

  • 1 big half-circle

  • 1 medium triangle

  • 1 medium square

  • 1 medium circle

  • 3 small rectangles

  • 3 small long triangles

  • 3 small squares

  • 4 small triangles

  • 3 small circles


Build Away!

Lay out all the shapes and show your child how to build a dinosaur. You can use the shapes however you wish. Here are the general ideas:

  • The big half circle is the body

  • The medium triangle, circle, and square are good for heads

  • The small shapes can be used for legs, tails, spikes, necks, etc.

  • Then let them go at it, building whatever kind of dinosaur creature their heart can imagine.

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Collins Big Cat: The Farmer's Big Lunch Story Creator


Developed by:Harper Collins Publishers


Overview

Ages 2-4

Where’s my sandwich? Where’s my banana? The poor farmer has lost his lunch, but where has it gone? Explore the farmyard to help the farmer find his lunch and discover if the farm animals have a surprise in store for him. This story has a predictable structure and patterned language to help early readers. (iTunes)


Get Ready

Prepare to use this app by using the following activity:

Losing Something is No Fun!

Talk to your child about a time they lost, or misplaced something.  Did they ever find it?  If so, how?  What did they do to find it?  Or, who helped them to solve the mystery?  This discussion will help them make connections to the interactive story app.


Dive In

Help your child get the most out this app experience by trying any of the following activities:

Find a Comfy Spot & Read: Building Literacy Skills!  

Emergent Reader:

This is the earliest stage of reading. During this stage, children will rely on pictures and illustrations to gather information about the story.  Help readers in this stage by choosing the “Read Myself” option on the app and ask them questions during reading such as: What do you see on this page? What is happening?  Remind your kiddo what the title of the story is; this will help them to answer these questions and stick to the story topic.  

Your child can also choose the “Read to Me” option after attempting to read the story by themselves.  Compare their version to the app version by mentioning things that were the same or different in their own version of the story. 


Branch Out

Extend your child’s learning by using any of the following activities:

Create your very own Farmer’s Lunch Story!

Help your child create their very own version of the Farmer’s Lunch Story by selecting a scene of their choice, an object for the farmer to misplace, characters to include in the story, and any text.  To help them think of text, they can follow the original story version by simply saying “Where’s my (insert object)?”  Or, they can certainly change things up and include whatever text they’d like!  

 

What are Characters?  What is a Setting?  

While your child creates their very own story version, talk to them about what characters are - the people (or animals) a story is about.  Teach them what a setting is while they choose their story scene.  The setting is where a story takes place.  Go through some of their favorite books and ask them who the characters are and what the settings are, too.  These are two of the most important components of any fiction story!

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Beck and Bo


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Developed by:Avokiddo


Overview

Ages 3-5

User control is a huge feature in this app.  Children are free to explore the scenes and decide for themselves where objects go. The ability to control the app environment fosters independence, critical thinking, and an awareness of cause and effect, all elements that fit nicely with the developmental stages of 3-5-year olds. Happy exploring!


Get Ready

Prepare to use the app by introducing one of these activities:

What Do I Do At a…

This app contains 12 different settings. To get your child’s mind ready for them, ask him/her questions about what you would find and do at a grocery store, jungle, playground, beach, city, bedroom, carnival, snowstorm, train tracks, and beach. What sights would you see? What sounds would you hear? Would you see animals at that place? If yes, which ones? What can you do at that place? Which of these places have you visited? What did you think about each of those places?

 

Person, Place, or Thing

It’s never too early to learn grammar! Let your child know that nouns are words that identify a person, place, or thing. Introduce the concept of nouns with one of these age-appropriate videos:

Take a walk around your home and have your child point out different objects, like a favorite stuffed animal or food. Ask your child to name the object and tell if it’s a person, place, or thing. If your child knows his/her letters, you could also play a noun game where you name a letter and s/he has to tell you a noun that starts with that letter. To make it even more fun, pick a topic first (i.e. the park) and state a respective noun for each letter of the alphabet (i.e. A = ants; B = baseball; C = chipmunk; D = duck). As your child engages with this app, ask him/her to identify as many nouns as s/he can.


Dive In

Help your child get the most out of an app experience by trying the following activities:

My Vocabulary Journal

Children absorb vocabulary words at a tremendous rate during their preschool years. Luckily, this app taps into that phenomenon with its own vocabulary journal. As your child places an object appropriately within a scene, the object is verbally identified and stored in a vocabulary journal. Every scene has its own vocabulary journal, where each word is also spelled out for the user. There are over 130 vocabulary words within all twelve scenes. What a great way to learn new words!

 

Wondering About Cause and Effect

This app’s focus on user control lends itself perfectly to a conversation about cause and effect. Explain to your child that a “cause” is something that happens first. Next comes an “effect”, which is what happens because of the cause. Here’s an example from this app: When the stoplight turns green (the cause), cars will start to move (the effect). Tie in wonderings within this conversation. Ask questions like, “I wonder what would happen if you put the sun in the sky?” “I wonder what would happen if you put Beck on the swing?” “I wonder what would happen if you put the dog on the trampoline?” Wonderings are powerful vehicles for learning.


Branch Out

Extend the app experience with a real life activity:

Virtual Adventure

Take your child on an animal adventure without ever leaving your home! Virtual trips are easier than ever, thanks to wildlife cams at local zoos, aquariums, and animal conservations.  After you visit one of these places, give your child a piece of paper and crayons to draw his/her observations. Encourage him/her to add lots of details: animals, plants, water sources, etc.

 

Collage Art

One of the first things I noticed when I opened this app is the unique artwork, done in a paper collage style. Have your child look closely at any of the images within the app, such as Bo’s hair or the gorilla’s facial features. Do you see the layers? Let your child make his/her own bird paper collage from Classic-Play using these materials:

  • newspaper

  • colored construction paper

  • glue stick

  • plain paper

  • scissors

  • thin black marker

Once you have all of the materials, follow these steps:

  1. First, cut pieces of newspaper to serve as the branches. (Click here for an example)

  2. Glue the branches onto the plain paper.

  3. Using the construction paper, cut out different shapes that will serve as the birds once they are layered. Teardrops, semi-circles, and triangles work well.

  4. Arrange the shapes on the branches to create the birds. Glue.

  5. Then, using a black marker draw a straight line for the birds’ legs.

  6. Hang up artwork and admire your hard work!

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Color Band


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Developed by:LND Games


Overview

Ages 2-5

This app is just cool. Cool like Miles Davis’ effervescent trumpet; cool like the tones of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. Color Band’s mergence of music and art is perfectly designed for a child’s endless imagination and free spirit. Let your child explore the sounds and colors of the app...and, after the artwork is complete, wave your hand in front of the screen to play the music!


Get Ready

Prepare to use the app by introducing one of these activities:

Colored by Nature

Our world is full of colors. From the highest treetops to the sandiest shores, nature’s colors invite us to engage and explore. Take a nature walk with your child and point out the various colors that greet you. Collect a mixture of leaves, flowers, dandelions, grass, etc. from your walk to bring home. Once home, spread your findings out in front of you and ask your child to draw pictures using only the colors that match your findings. For example, since a dandelion flower is yellow with a green stem, I would use only a yellow and green crayon to draw an image. This activity is great for 2-5-year-olds because it reinforces color association and color recognition. 

 

What’s That Sound?

“What’s That Sound” is a fun game to help your child discern sounds and strengthen listening skills. To start, you’ll need a blindfold and different household items that could make interesting sounds, like pots, pans, plastic containers, buckets, drinking glasses, LEGOs, etc. You’ll also need a wooden or metal spoon to serve as a drumstick. 

  1. To start, display the “instruments” in front of your child and allow him/her to survey each one. 
  2. Put the blindfold on your child or, if your child is afraid of wearing a blindfold, ask him/her to close his/her eyes tightly.
  3. Play an instrument and ask your child to guess which instrument s/he heard and, if possible, tell why. For instance, I may guess a plastic container if the sound is hollow, while a drinking glass may have a higher pitched sound.
  4. Have your child open his/her eyes to confirm or disconfirm his/her guess. Repeat until all of the instruments have been played. Talk about the activity. Was it hard or easy to determine the instruments? Which ones sounded similar? Why?
  5. Switch roles and let your child play the instruments while you guess the sound.

Dive In

Help your child get the most out of an app experience by trying the following activities:

Sound Off!

One feature that sets this app apart from the others is the motion control, which works in a similar way to the X-Box Kinect full body game system. After creating his/her art masterpiece, your child simply waves his/her hand in front of the screen to activate the music. Awesome, right? The music could also be played by touch or automatic playback. Oh, and if you have a rather chatty little one (like I do), let your child record his/her own voice to add to the musical fun.

 

“Do”, a Deer, a Female Deer

If your child draws seven shapes on the screen and then plays them, s/he will hear the major scale, aka the Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti song. This “song” is actually a system of learning that assigns a syllable to each note to make it easier for musicians to learn songs. It teaches the idea of intervals and allows people to hear music in their heads to strengthen their musical ear. Let Julie Andrews take your child on a musical theory adventure with this clip from the film, The Sound of Music. As Ms. Andrews reminds us, “When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything!”


Branch Out

Extend the app experience with a real life activity:

Jackson Pollock, Artist Extraordinaire

There are a multitude of great artists that 2-5-year-olds could get into, but Jackson Pollock’s art speaks to children in many ways. His abstract, expressionistic “drip” technique artwork is dynamic and encourages free flowing, energetic painting. Mr. Pollock challenged the art conventions of the time by using household paint and canvases on the floor, allowing him to paint from various directions. Why not let your little one channel his/her own inner Jackson Pollock with this online painting tool? To paint, move the computer mouse around the screen and, if you need to erase, just press the space bar. To change colors, click on the screen. Really cool stuff.

 

Kazoo’s the Word

Music is a wonderful medium for young learners, as it encourages extended play and deep creativity. Good news: homemade instruments are easy, peasy, lemon squeezy to make, like this fun kazoo!  You’ll need an empty toilet paper roll, wax paper, a rubberband, scissors, and hole punch.

  1. First, use the hole punch to create a hole in the side of the toilet paper roll as far as the puncher will reach.

  2. Cut a piece of wax paper large enough to fit over one end of the toilet paper roll.

  3. Secure the wax paper to the roll using a rubber band.

  4. Use crayons to decorate the kazoo.

  5. To play the cool kazoo that you just made, put your mouth against the open end of the kazoo. Hum and let the music take you over!

Ask your child questions to inspire critical thinking: What sounds do you hear? Hum a different tune. Do the sounds change?  How are the sounds being made? (Answer: Your humming makes the wax paper vibrate, creating sound.)

 

Books

Picture books are powerful mediums. They can convey information in ways that just make sense to young learners. Tap into the power of books with this list of well-loved titles. The books about colors cover primary colors as well as more abstract tones. Meanwhile, the music books give a general overview of music, talk about the vitality of music, and how music could be made with simple materials. Happy reading!

Colors:

 

Music:

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Pigeon Presents Mo... on the Go!


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Developed by:Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications


Overview

Ages 4-6

Three-time Caldecott honoree Mo Willems invites you to join some of his most beloved characters in this collection of entertaining games and activities to play anytime, anywhere! “Mo…On the Go!” lets you dance, draw, take pictures, create monsters, and even drive the bus! As you play, unlock stickers to put in your sticker vault! (iTunes)


Get Ready

Prepare to use this app by using the following activity:  

Books by Mo!

Perhaps you already have a book by Mo Willems in your home?  If not, check one out at your local library or bookstore.  Have your child choose their favorite book by Mo Willems, or introduce them to one, and build context for using this app by exploring, reading, discussing and enjoying it!  One of my all time favorites is “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late”.  I bet that pigeon will get you every time!  Why stop at one book?  If your child is enjoying themselves, read another one!


Dive In

Help your child get the most out this app experience by trying any of the following activities:

Monster Maker!

Ask your child to spend some time using the “Monster Maker” game.  Afterwards, ask them to recreate their favorite monster, or create a completely new one to write or tell a story about.  Ask any of the following questions to help them get their stories flowing: Where does your monster live?  What is his favorite thing to do?  Is he friendly?  Or, is he a scary monster?  What does a typical day look like for him/her? What’s his/her favorite food? Depending on your child’s writing abilities, ask them to write without worrying about spelling.  This will help them feel confident in getting their thoughts out, instead of feeling like they can’t move on until a word is spelled correctly.  Some other options are to have your child dictate the story to you while you record it, or simply have them practice their oral storytelling skills and not worry about writing it down.  

 

Dance-o-Rama!

Ask your child to spend some time using the “Dance-o-Rama” game.  As the animals dance, have them imitate their moves and add in some of their very own original moves, too.  Encourage them to enjoy the music, laugh at their animal’s dance moves, and get themselves moving, too!  

 

Sticker Pictures!

Have your child explore the “Sticker Pictures” game and explore the various scenes and characters that can be inserted into each one.  Have them imagine they are writing a new book with Mo Willems, what would it be about?  Or, would they add or change any of Mo’s books with this new scene?  If so, which book and how exactly?  Another option is to have them take their very own pictures and insert any characters they’d like into them. What stories would emerge from these pictures and scenes?  Simply encouraging your child to be the author or creator of a new story or scene is a fun way to help them increase their overall confidence!


Branch Out

Extend your child’s learning by using any of the following activities:

Character Hunt!

Now that your child has had time to explore all of the games on this app they have been introduced to the many lovable characters from Mo Willems’ books.  Were there any they already knew from reading his books?  Are there new characters they’d like to find?  If so, go back and find more of these fun loving characters at your local library or bookstore.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy another great book!

 

Act It Out!

Have your child choose either their favorite book by Mo Willems, or one of their very own original stories they may have written while using this app.  Encourage them to gather some siblings or friends and act the book out!  Are they alone? No problem! Tell them to plan and present an amazing one man or woman show!

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Ansel and Clair: Little Green Island


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Developed by:Cognitive Kid, Inc.


Overview

Ages 6-8

Ansel and Clair: Little Green Island HD is a science teacher’s dream. Going beyond the typical 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), this simulation app invites users to learn how particular actions affect the environment in positive and negative ways. Users are responsible for constructing and maintaining their own little green island, and exercise problem solving and creativity skills to address eighteen different challenges. The fact that users control the outcomes makes the learning even more meaningful.


Get Ready

Prepare to use the app by introducing one of these activities:

Cause and Effect

This app is full of if/then moments. Learning about cause and effect helps readers delve deeper into subjects and strengthen reading comprehension. Essentially, a “cause” is seen as the why something happens while an “effect” explains what happened. Help your child explore the relationship between two things by playing a cause and effect game. Give your child a scenario with a cause and have him/her provide the effect. For instance, you could say, “If you eat your vegetables…” Your child’s response may be, “I will have more energy to run around.” Create causes that fit into your child’s life so s/he has some context.

 

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read More About It!

Begin your journey by reading amazing picture books with your child. As you read, vocalize your thoughts. Is there something you’re wondering about? Did you read something that added to what you already knew? By making your thinking “visible”, you’re teaching your child to listen to his/her own reading voice and monitor his/her reading.


Dive In

Help your child get the most out of an app experience by trying the following activities:

Which One Are You?

If your household is full of little scientists, you’re in luck because this app allows up to 4 user profiles on one account. This is great for bigger households, or if your child is looking for a trial and error island.  For instance, your child may have the first user profile as the “real” island for him/herself, while utilizing a second user profile as an “oopsie” island to test out different outcomes for each challenge. An “oopsie” island provides your child with a safe space to see “oopsies” come to fruition and experience the polluted effects for themselves. Essentially, this will make learning more meaningful and hopefully realize that the greener choices are the better choices.

 

Green Bucks

One motivating element in this app is the ability to collect green bucks. Green bucks are earned for completing eco-friendly activities such as cleaning up trash and freeing birds stuck in oil spills. Children then spend their green bucks in the market to buy trees, ponds, flowers, and other solutions to common environmental problems on their island. Encourage your child to explore the market items and think about the long-term effects of certain purchases. What are the benefits of spending green bucks on a windmill vs. solar panels? Is it better to buy landscape accents or trees?


Branch Out

Extend the app experience with a real life activity:

Nature Walk

What better way to study the earth than to go on a nature walk? Grab a small notebook and pencil so your child can record his/her observations. Walk around the neighborhood or take a trip to the local park and use your five senses to examine the environment. Write sentences and/or draw pictures to illustrate what’s around you.

  • What sounds do you hear?

  • Notice any smells?

  • Look for different natural elements that support various habitats, such as a pond or a tree.

  • What plants, animals, and insects are in the area?

  • What would happen if certain elements disappeared? How would that affect the animals that live there?

  • Is there any garbage present that could be picked up?

  • How clean are the land, water, and air?

Ask your child to make connections back to his/her island. What lessons were learned through the app that could be applied to what you observed in your own neighborhood?

 

Let’s Do This!

Take action to make the world a better place to live. Think about ways that you and your family could protect or create a healthy environment. It may be as simple as planting flowers or hanging birdfeeders that attract certain birds or insects. Perhaps you want to start inside your home by encouraging people to turn off the lights or TV when leaving a room. Others prefer to ride bikes to local places to avoid adding car emissions to the atmosphere. Here are some kid-centered websites to check out for more ideas:

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Bedtime Math


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Developed by:Bedtime Math Foundation


Overview

Ages 4-6

Parents know to read to their kids at night, but what about math? Our mission is simple: to make math a fun part of kids' everyday lives, as beloved as the bedtime story. Choose the Math Problem of the Day, or explore over 400 additional math problems with various zany topics, ranging from electric eels and chocolate chips to roller coasters and flamingos. Each has three levels of challenge ("Wee Ones," "Little Kids," and "Big Kids"), and many also have harder questions ("The Sky's the Limit") for really big kids, grown-ups, and anyone who's feeling brave!  Bedtime Math gets kids jazzed about numbers. It's nothing like school. Make it a part of your family's routine today! (Bedtime Math Foundation)


Get Ready

Prepare to use this app by using any of the following activities:

Math Around the House!

To help your child understand that math really is everywhere, try this fun activity!  On a large piece of paper, or poster, draw the outline of a house.  Inside of it write down what you and your child would like to count such as: number of windows, lights, books, and so on.  Send your child off to investigate and record his/her findings on the drawing of the house.  

 

Outdoor Math!

Ask your child to gather whatever items they may find outside such as pinecones, acorns, leaves, rocks, and so on.  On the sidewalk or driveway, draw boxes with the numbers 1-20. Then, have your child put the appropriate number of outdoor items in each box.


Dive In

Help your child get the most out this app experience by trying the following activity:

Problem of the Day!

As a family, sit down for the bedtime math problem of the day.  An adult will likely need to read the featured short story, then it’s time to solve the problem!  Try each level “wee ones”, “little kids” and “big kids” and the bonus questions for the fun and challenge of it! As a family,discuss any connections that may seem relevant and most important, have fun!  If your child seems discouraged or finds the questions difficult, help them to work it out and stay positive.  This app is all about instilling a love of math in every child.


Branch Out

Extend your child’s learning by using any of the following activities:

Create Your Own Math Problem of the Day!

After using this app, encourage your child to think about creating their own math problem simply based on their very own daily experiences.  This might be difficult to do after only using the app once or twice.  After using it each night, your child will start to better understand the short stories and scenarios that the problems are based on.  Encourage them to use those as inspiration or to help spark ideas!  Then, have your child share their problem of the day with family and friends.  

 

Addition Bowling!

This is just a fun activity to help kids fall in love with Math.  What kid doesn’t love bowling?  

Materials:paper, scissors, tape, 10 water bottles (or anything that can serve as bowling pins), markers, and a ball  

Directions:

  1. Cut wide bands out of paper for each water bottle and number them with different point values 1-10
  2. Tape to bottles
  3. Arrange the bottles in a triangular shape
  4. Divide a paper into columns to serve as a score card for each player
  5. Players take turns rolling the ball to knock down pins
  6. Players need to count up the numbers on each pin that gets knocked over. Whoever gets the most points wins!

*If you want to make the game a little more challenging, try filling the bottles with a small amount of sand.

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Bizzy Bear on the Farm


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Developed by:Nosy Crow


Overview

Ages 2-4

Meet Bizzy Bear, a very busy little bear!  Based on the popular Bizzy Bear board book series, this app offers an original story and lets toddlers help Bizzy with his chores as they explore everything there is to see and do on the farm. (iTunes)


Get Ready

Prepare to use this app by using the following activity:

Let’s Chat!

Talk to your child about what life on a farm is like.  Help them participate more in the conversation by asking any of the following questions: What does a farm look like? What kinds of animals can you usually find on a farm?  What sounds do these animals make?  What kind of work, or chores do you think need to get done on a farm? Why? Would you like to visit or live on a farm?  Why or why not? This will help them build context and background before engaging with the app.


Dive In

Help your child get the most out this app experience by trying any of the following activities:

Building Literacy Skills:

Emergent Reader

This is the earliest stage of reading. During this stage, children will rely on pictures and illustrations to gather information about the story.  Help readers in this stage by choosing the “Read Myself” option on the app and ask them questions during reading such as: What do you see on this page? What is happening?  Remind your kiddo what the title of the story is; this will help them to answer these questions and stick to the story topic.

 

Early Reader:

In this stage, children can point to words that he/she knows in the text.  Ask your child to point to any words that he/she knows how to read, or ask them to try and identify a particular word of your choice on each page. Yet another option is to encourage your child to tap any word on the page and hear it read aloud to them to build early reading skills.

 

Get To Work!

Your child will be able to help Bizzy Bear on the farm in a number of different ways.  For each chore they come across, ask your child why they think that particular job might be an important one.  Extend this further by asking them if they’d like to do that chore in real life.  Why or why not?


Branch Out

Extend your child’s learning by using any of the following activities:

Reflect & Evaluate

End this app experience the way you started it - by discussing it.  Here are a couple questions that might help keep the conversation going: Which chores did you like best? Least? Why? Which farm animal was your favorite? Why? If you could bring any farm animal home, which one would it be and why? Are there any chores you feel like you can help out with at home? 

 

Get Artsy!

Depending on your child’s interests, have them choose any (or all) of the following ways to extend this app further:

  1. Draw & ColorHave your child draw and color their favorite animals from the app.  
  2. Write On!Have your child write their own creative story extending on one of the questions from above: If you could bring home any farm animal, which one would it be?  Why?  Encourage them to write about life with that farm animal in their home.  For younger children, they can dictate the story to you, or share it aloud.  Encourage them to share their story with friends and family, too!  

  3. Act It Out!Ask your child to act like all of the animals featured in this app.  What do they look like?  How do they move around?  What do they sound like?  Encourage them to be silly & just have fun!  
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Moo, Baa, La La La!


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Developed by:Loud Crow Interactive


Overview

Ages 2-4

Far beyond any e-book experience, the Moo, Baa, La La La! interactive book app has all the magic and appeal of a traditional pop-up book, offering lively interactivity and nifty discovery. Of course you can hear each animal make its unique sound (In some cases, VERY unique). But there’s more! Help the perplexed chicken stagehand raise the curtain on a stage full of dapper dancing pigs. Turn day to night with the touch of the moon. Slingshot the running cats away from the barking dogs. A touch of the duck activates a quack which brings in another duck. And another. And another. Even the back cover has a curiously articulate spokesman that you really mustn’t miss. (iTunes)


Get Ready

Prepare to use this app by using the following activity:

What Animal Makes That Sound?

Prepare to interact with this app by starting with its title.  Ask your child what animal makes the “moo” sound? Then, have them repeat the animals name a few times.  Do this with “baa”, too.  Then, ask them if they know any animals that sing “la la la”.  Be silly and have fun with this one - for example, ask them if dogs make that sound?  What about cats? How about hippos? 


Dive In

Help your child get the most out this app experience by trying any of the following activities:

Building Literacy Skills

Emergent Reader:

This is the earliest stage of reading. During this stage, children will rely on pictures and illustrations to gather information about the story.  Help readers in this stage by choosing the “Read Myself” option on the app and ask them questions during reading such as: What do you see on this page? What is happening?  Remind your kiddo what the title of the story is; this will help them to answer these questions and stick to the story topic.

 

Early Reader:

In this stage, children can point to words that he/she knows in the text.  Ask your child to point to any words that he/she knows how to read, or ask them to try and identify a particular word of your choice on each page. Yet another option is to encourage your child to tap any word on the page and hear it read aloud to them to build early reading skills.

 

Point to the…

Help your child with object identification in this fun app that features many different types of animals.  Ask them to point to certain animals, or have them do this on their own. When they do so, the animal just may do or say something silly!  To increase engagement with this interactive book ask them to imitate each animal’s sounds.  Encourage your child to be silly & have fun!


Branch Out

Extend your child’s learning by using the following activity:

My Favorite Animal Is...

Talk to your child about what their favorite animal in this interactive book was and why.  Teach them a few facts about their favorite animal and have them draw a picture of it, too.  Afterwards, have them write or dictate (depending on their ability) their own story about this particular animal. Help them by giving them a few sentence starters such as:  There once was a ___________ who loved to __________.  His/her favorite thing in the whole wide world to do was _______________ and he absolutely loved to eat __________________.  Encourage your child to make the story as short or as long as they’d like.  It’s always a great idea to practice drawing or writing after reading a story!  

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Nott Won't Sleep


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Developed by:Developlay


Overview

Ages 2-5

Sometimes, your kid just Wont. Go. To. Sleep. I mean there is a water glass to fill, another story to read, and one last hug to hug (I don’t mind that one). Sigh. Resistance is futile. Embrace the never-ending winding down process with the adorable Nott, who has to catch fireflies, rescue her bear friend, and find the moon before settling in.  And by the end, maybe - just maybe - your child will finally nod off, too.


Get Ready

Prepare to use the app by introducing one of these activities:

Sleep Routines

Bedtime routines help children wind down and relax.  Sleep experts stress the importance of consistent sleep habits as part of a child’s well being. Talk to your child about his/her sleep routine.  What does your child do to settle down? Take pictures of your child performing each of these activities and use the photographs to create a personalized sleep book. Be sure to explain that getting a good night’s sleep is critical for our brains and bodies to rest.  Oh, and it helps to get rid of a small critter called Crank E. Ness.

 

Opposites

Build your child’s language development with a lesson on opposites.  Play an opposite performance game by naming a word and inviting your child to act out the meaning of that word. Next, have your child perform the opposite of that word.  For instance, I may ask my son to jump “up” and then to crouch “down.”  This activity uses gross and fine motor movements to demonstrate understanding.  Here are a few opposite pairs to get you started: up/down; left/right; hot/cold; light/dark; soft/hard; in/out; off/on; good/bad; over/under; happy/sad; wet/dry; slow/fast; sleep/awake.


Dive In

Help your child get the most out of an app experience by trying the following activities:

You Are Getting Sleepy…

As the story progresses, observant users can see that Nott is getting sleepier and sleepier.  Ask your child to identify the signs that Nott is starting to wind down (i.e. yawning, posture is slouching, droopy eyelids). This exercise will encourage your child to make inferences while reading, a skill that is critical for readers of all ages.

 

Interactivity

Children are invited to take part in Nott’s story as she unwinds for bed.

  • Help Nott catch fireflies for her lamp.  Play peekaboo with Nott’s forest friends, who fall asleep when they are “caught.” 

  • Nott’s furry friend, Nox, needs to be rescued from the lake! Find specific items to rescue Nox and bring him back to safety.

  • Nott wants to say goodnight to the moon but needs help finding it.

Once each activity is complete, your child can turn off the lamp, tuck Nott and Nox in, and put the moon to sleep.


Branch Out

Extend the app experience with a real life activity:

Yoga for Kids

Yoga is a fantastic way for people of all ages to relax the mind and body.  It is especially beneficial for those in the 2-5-year-old set, as it teaches awareness, concentration, and calmness. Teach your child some kid-friendly yoga poses with this video.  There are also great books out there like Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga, The ABCs of Yoga for Kids, and You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses.

 

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon is a classic story of bedtime routines. Margaret Wise Brown tells the timeless tale of a little bunny that says goodnight to everything before closing his eyes. Read it with your child and compare it with Nott Won’t Sleep. What are some things that are the same about the two stories (i.e. bedtime stories; take place at night; involve animals; center on bedtime routines)? What are some differences (i.e. parent in the story vs. no parent; travels outside a room vs. entire story takes place in one room; different bedtime routine)?  Being able to compare and contrast stories fosters deep thinking across texts.

 

Party with Sloths (and by “Party” I Mean Chillax)

Did you know that sloths sleep an average of 20 hours a day? One would think that after all that sleep, sloths would have a lot of energy…but even when they are awake they are slow!  They only come down from their trees once a week to go to the bathroom. But don’t be fooled: sloths know how to defend themselves against predators with their fierce claws and shrieking.  (Hmm. Sounds a little like my youngest son at bedtime.) Find out more about sloths’ habitat, diet, and other fun facts by visiting one of these websites:

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Franklin Frog


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Developed by:Nosy Crow


Overview

Ages 2-5

I am a HUGE supporter of Nosy Crow apps. They do such a fantastic job of merging technology and literacy, and the Franklin Frog app is a true testament to that. Combining a narrative, nonfiction text with meaningful interactivity, Franklin Frog is a total win in my book.


Get Ready

Prepare to use the app by introducing one of these activities:

Jammin’ with Frogs

Little children love to sing. Luckily, we came across a great song about frogs sung by the world famous Raffi entitled, “Five Green and Speckled Frogs”. Warning: It’s catchy! You may also be interested in downloading the illustrated lyrics here as a visual-auditory connection.  Not really a Raffi fan?  No worries. Check out this Frog Finger Play called, “Croak, Said the Frog.” We love this one because it gets kids moving!

 

Circular Text

A circular text is a story technique where an author begins and ends the story in the same way. For instance, this app starts with the story of Franklin (sitting on a lily pad), goes through the life cycle of a frog, and ends with Fraser, Franklin’s son (also sitting on a lily pad). Then the same cycle repeats with Fraser. This circular text technique is taught in many schools as a “writer’s craft”. Writer’s crafts speak to the art of writing and the intentional choices that writers incorporate to keep their readers interested.  Point out this writing craft to your child. Kids love it because it is pretty easy to identify the beginning and end of stories. Build upon this experience with other circular texts:

 


Dive In

Help your child get the most out of an app experience by trying the following activities:

Interactivity

This app invites users to become part of the action.  Encourage your child to pay close attention to the narration, which prompts the reader with direct questions: “Can you help me catch that worm?” “Can you try to keep the fish away from my eggs?”  This interactivity gets users involved, thus enhancing story engagement and comprehension.

 

Artwork with Circles

Every visual element in this app is either a circle or a division of circles. Don’t believe me?  Check it out.  I’ll wait.  See?  Awesome, right?  Point this design element out to your child.  Ask him/her to identify the circular element on each page.  Then, if your child is feeling inspired, check out Ben Heine’s art; he calls the technique “digital circlism”.  Heine takes it to a whole different level.


Branch Out

Extend the app experience with a real life activity:

Frog Math

Math and frogs?  Absolutely!  Print out ten of these lily pads on card stock and write the numbers 1-10 on top (one number per lily pad).  For younger learners, draw circles on each lily pad that link to its respective number.  To reinforce number sense and 1-to-1 correspondence, have your child place the proper number of objects on each lily pad.  I like using frog counters to keep with the theme (these are free; these are more durable). Encourage your child to count out loud as s/he places each frog on the lily pad.

 

Hop to It    

Little learners love to leap.  (Say that quickly five times!)  A game of Leap Frog is a great way to get moving.  You’ll need at least two people.  Crouch down and form a line with a body space in between each person. The person at the back of the line then leaps over the person in front of him/her, shouting, “Ribbit!” Repeat.  This classic game strengthens visual perception, coordination, and fine motor skills.

 

Water Frogs

Every year, a wonderful kindergarten teacher in my school grows tadpoles as part of a life cycle/science unit.  It’s amazing to watch tadpoles transform into water frogs right in front of your own eyes! Knowing that my own budding scientists would love the experience, I purchased tadpoles from this website.  (Your local pet store may also carry them.)  I had my children create a frog journal out of folded blank paper and draw what the amphibian looked like from day one to day thirty.  Since the fully-grown frog lives in water, we are still able to enjoy it as a pet well after observing its fascinating transformation.  

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