Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Favorite Low-cost or Free apps for Kindle (for ages 3-9) - Part 2

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     Make sure you don't miss the part 1 in this 2 part series! You can find it here!

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     Here is the second installment of my favorite low-cost or free apps for Kindle for ages 3-9. All of the apps I am recommending here are ones I have personally downloaded and my own children use and enjoy!

 If you haven't heard of Starfall yet, let me introduce you!! Starfall has a great website site for beginning readers, or children just learning their phonics. The 2 apps that starfall has created here for a similar purpose are fun and engaging. In fact, my four-year-old daughter often picks these apps to play when she asks to play something "just for fun". They are cleverly produced in a way to make the learning hidden in the fun! This first app goes through several common endings for words and helps your children associate word families (such as rat, hat, bat, cat). It also has lots of short easy-reader interactive stories  for your child to click through and learn from. Each page in the book has an ear symble where you can hear the sentence read to you, but also if you click on each word, it will sound the words out for you and then say them. Each page also has a silly interactive picture for your child to play around with.

 This second app from Starfall  is for a slightly younger audience than the first, as it's teaching the sounds each letter of the alphabet makes. For each letter there is typically a short game to play or a little song clip to watch as well. Note: the vowel sounds only make the short sound for each. Both of these apps my kids go back to again and again, they really love to play them!

I found this game while searching for a way to help my second son, who was struggling with learning to count by 5's at the time. This game has a humor that makes me smirk each time I hear it come on (for instance, when it's loading it has this comical little voice singing "doo, do, da, dooo" while you wait. It has never failed to make me smile yet ;) ) It's and excellent game for teaching your children to count by 1's , 10's, 5's, and 2's. It also has a last level that is basic addition. Each skill has a easy, medium, and hard level to increase your skill level over time. In each individual game it will as you to perform the counting task by "squishing" little germs to reach the appropriate number, so if you are counting by 1's and they ask you to count to 5 you would squish 5 little germs and then click the check mark. In the easy level the narrator counts out loud for you as you count and a number pops up for each germ you squish. The medium level, still counts out loud for you, but the number no longer pops up as you squish. On the hard level, you count them all by yourself. When you complete each level, the large germ in the middle is release and you must hit him several time with you finger before he is knocked out and "captured". My kids find this game fun and engaging, and it really has helped my son learn to count by 5's!

 Not everyone will love this game. If you do not want your children to play games with monsters or mild cartoon "violence" then feel free to skip on to the next app review. You may like the other similar math app I reviewed last time called medieval math. This one was still mild enough for our standards and my children enjoy the victory over the "bad guys" that this game gives them. It's an excellent game for increasing your children's speed in solving simple math problems. You are in an ancient Egyptian tomb and mummies are coming at you, each with a math problem over their head you must solve the problem, type the answer and then "fire" your gun and the mummy will disappear in a cloud of black smoke (it's not gory or bloody, just a pop of black) some mummies require several problems to be solved before they are stopped. You collect coins over time and can use them to "buy" different guns (all look very toy-ish, like water guns). If you miss an answer the screen turns red and shakes and your "heart meter" goes down. If it gets to the bottom you will fail the level and have to try again. This game has a very fun "fantasy" type feel to it and my boys are excited to play it and practice their addition. (the app says it has subtraction, multiplication and division, but my kids haven't gotten that far yet).

The graphics on this one are really cool! The beginning of the app gives the premise of the game citing the verse in Genesis where the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. You are trying to guide the ark safely down a fast moving river while collecting the words you need. So for example, on the first level you need to collect 10 letter "A's". You steer by tilting your Kindle from side to side. If you hit the wall you'll need to start again. This was actually easier for my kids than me! I seem to hit the wall everytime, but the make it through safely and collect what they needed to. The company that puts out Park the Ark is Truth Gaming and if they hit 500 likes on Facebook they will release the second section of the game "into the cave" so if you like this free game, go on over and give them a like!

There are a whole series of these apps for the Kindle. I have two represented here and one on my "part one" of this series. There is a free trial version if you'd like to check it out, but these are really worth the $1.99 in my opinion (the free trial will give you and idea of the app, but it really isn't functional as a full game. There are MANY grade specific apps on the Kindle but so far these are my favorite. They have LOTS of great skills to help your child learn. The first grade app has patterns, ordering, advanced counting, adding and subtracting, fractions, word bingo, compound words, contractions, spelling and verbs, nouns and adjectives. The second grade app has numbers, place values, time, multiplication, money, alphabetical order, spelling, verbs, nouns, adjectives, punctuation, synonyms and antonyms. The games are fun and give a really good overview of some concepts that your child may be struggling with.

  My kids are too young to play this all by themselves, but they enjoy when we sit and play it together. You pick your grade level 2-6th and are answering true or false to questions on a variety of subjects  (math, social studies, science, language arts and "mystery meat") by picking "that's true!" or "that's baloney!" . If you get an answer wrong it will give you a "pickle". 5 Pickles and you need to start over. at the end it will give you a review of your answers and any statement that was false, you can click on the question mark and it will tell you why it's false. This was a fun game to play together and harder than I thought it would be. Some answers I disagreed with the answers they gave, but since we were playing it together, it was a great opportunity to discuss differing opinions on a variety of subjects. I would really recommend this as a "play together" game more than a do it yourself game.

     So there they are!!! My favorite apps for kids ages 3-9. I hope you found some you will enjoy with your family as well. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section or ask any questions you may have!!

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