Friday, May 23, 2014

My Favorite Low-cost or Free apps for Kindle (for ages 3-9) - Part 1

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Whether you are a homeschooling mom or not, a Kindle or tablet is a great way to supplement your children's education. There are a lot of games that are so fun, kids forget they are learning! I find a lot of these games helpful as a homeschooling mom, because it also helps when one child needs more undivided attention to have the other children take turns with their learning games.

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     On our Kindle, we have a separate folder of educational games for each child, that way they can quickly click on the games and know the difference between games that are just for fun and which games I mean when I say "Go find an educational game on the Kindle to play". Here's some of our favorite low-cost or free educational games.

  There are a lot of tracing apps to use on Kindle. The reason this one made the list is because it has upper and lower case alphabet, shapes and numbers. And most of all it has an "easy" and "hard" setting. So that even when my daughter was 3 and couldn't quite stay on the line herself, she could practice the motions of the letters and shapes. Some other apps are VERY touch sensitive when you are tracing and this doesn't work well with children who can't keep their hands that still yet. There is also the "hard" option which means the child needs to stay in the lines when they trace, great for older children!! Even my 8 year old occasionally is asked to use this, because it's a great way to remind him how to form letters correctly and not get lazy about it!


There are a series of these apps for different grade levels and all of them have a free version that you can try out first. But really the paid version is worth it! This Preschool and Kindergarten version comes with12 different games (and was actually useful for my older child too since it has a noun and verb game as well) It has games for Math (counting and simple addition and subtraction, counting down from 10), simple spelling and reading, positioning, puzzles. A lot of games that have this much are more like $5-10 this one is the nicest series of apps for under $2!

 This app doesn't have a free trial but it's a lot of fun!! Actually even my husband and I enjoy playing it! They will ask you simple state facts and information, such as what the capital is, nickname, state flag, sometimes just which is the right state (i.e. they show you four state shapes and ask "which is Maryland?") If you get the answer correct you get to "drop" the state onto a platform. Before you drop it you can rotate it or raise or lower it. If you don't drop it correctly it will bounce of the sides of the platform (sometimes my kids just enjoyed purposely dropping the states "wrong" they have funny little eyes and look very silly as they fall) The goal of the game if to stack enough states to reach the line (which gets higher as you move on in the game) My kids all think this game is really fun. My 8 year old can play independently (he can read simple sentences and though he's not always sure of the answer this game is really helping him learn his state information in such a fun way he ASKS to play it. My 4 and 6 year olds need help to figure out what they are asking but they both love this game enough that sometimes they will click on it just to play around. =) As you earn more states (you earn them by getting correct answers and then collect them on your personal "map") you get "bonus" games as well. This is really motivating to my 8 year old, he loves the extra games.

If you have kids who are learning addition, subtraction, multiplication or division you'll love this one! This game will remind parent (who grew up in the 80's like me) of the old computer games and original Nintendo games. You are a knight and you fight various beasts and villians, but the way you fight them is by completing addition problems quickly! As you vanquish the bad guys you earn coins that let you buy better weapons and shields. The Addition game is free and you can get the subtraction, multiplication and division games for $2.99 here but honestly, if you just get the free app for the addition it's really fun and your kids will learn without even knowing it! =) (I had the free app for 6 month before I chose to upgrade =) )

This games is a cross between the game above and the very popular fruit slicing game. You are completing math problems by "slicing" the correct answers. Occasionally you get "bonus eggs" that you have to slice to get extra points. Interestingly enough, my 8 year old really likes the above game, but my 6 year old likes this one better. This one goes in order , so you do all the "1+_" problems on one level and then move to "2+_" on the next level. There is an upgrade feature on this game as well, but we have never used it yet, and have been having a great time enjoying the free game.

This is a really great free game to introduce your young children to basic information about reading music. There are games to teach pitch and duration of the notes. There is also a game that will teach you to play simple songs, and a "free play" feature where the kids can play around on the key board and it will show them which notes they are making. It's a really nice free games to work on beginning music skills.

This isn't a super exciting game, but it was super useful for my struggling reader! It  gives you word syllables in separate boxes and you need to find the syllables and put them in the correct order to spell words in categories such as "wild animals" or "musical instruments". This was a game I sat down and worked on with my 6 and 8 year olds. It was a challenge for both of them since you have a list of syllables and have to figure out which two, or three, go together to form a word. But this practice was really useful for both of them (some 8 year olds may have no struggles with this app, however, if your child struggles a bit with mixing up which sounds go at the beginning and end of a word like mine does this app can really help them think of it in a different way.

I hope you find these Apps useful in teaching your children like I have! I will be completing part two of my favorite educational apps for kids soon. I'd love to hear from your in the comments about your favorite apps too!