Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop

Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop

by Marcel Widarto

Years ago an educator shared with those participating in a professional development course that our brains are filled with file folders. Inside such folders are memories, experiences and informational facts. As adults and children, we pull or sort through these file folders on a daily basis. This visualization has stuck with me over the years as I fill my own 6 year olds filing system. Upon entering kindergarten this year, my son’s teacher indicated that he would be expected to know 25 sight words by June. Sight word acquisition is a critical building block as preschoolers to first graders learn to read. Amazingly, children that are familiar with Dolch’s word lists will have access to 75% of what is printed in most pieces of children literature. As a parent or teacher, what strategies do you implement to support your child on the road to reading? A large number of homes and schools are equipped to introduce and reinforce sight words but are their efforts fun? With the popularity of implementing mobile devices in various environments, there are a number educational apps in the App Store which support this concept. However, how many actually create informative reports for both parents and educators? Developer, Marcel Widarto looks to teach 200+ sight words through games, Sight Words Hangman being his first, but as of late he has added to this collection. At the end of April, he launched Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop. Come play and learn with Ugly Doll or Hello Kitty like characters: Draco, Stitch, and Pinku in three modes of interaction on your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later. With a simple design, colorful graphics, game play repetition, verbal/visual reinforcements, and academic support, Pixopop might be the yellow brick road to learning that you were looking for.

Experience Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop with the support of an adult or independently. By spending one to one time with your child or students as they learn and practice their sight words, you will be providing them a greater chance to integrating them into their long-term memory. Upon entering this educational app, users will be immediately introduced to Stitch Bunny. In addition, the target audience (preschool to 1st grade) and those instructing will find Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop to be very kid friendly. Developmentally children learn new information in stages. To support this idea, developers have included three levels of play; Flash Card, Word Challenge and Spelling. Each mode of play offers 24 word lists with 10 words in each. Exploration can begin by simply tapping a game mode and a friend to learn and play with. Concerned that with your download that you won’t have access to all word lists? Don’t be!! For $1.99, all 240 words are at your disposal. A note to the developers – might it be possible in a future update to include the option to add multiple accounts? By adding this option, homes with multiple children or schools with only a limited number of devices will benefit from this educational experience.

We have explored and reviewed several educational apps which looks to reinforce those sight words commonly seen in the English language. Each has its own positives, however as we tested out Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop, developers have included some added components. The first being a simple, but very effective reporting system. As a parent and an educator, this is critical. Reports are generated for every exposure; words that are completed, incomplete and failed. Upon entering the bar graph icon from the main menu, parents will get a quick view of results for each word list which is dated and timed. If interested in seeing more, simply click an individual list to see a more detailed report indicating those words that your child struggled with. Words that have been reported as incomplete or unsuccessful while playing in the Word Challenge or Spelling mode will be added to the users “tricky words” list. These tricky words can be selected in either of the modes of play and re-experienced in order to gain mastery. A note to the developers – might it be possible to allow users to share reports via email with other interested parties, like a parent or an educator.

Let the positives continue. The objective of this application is to learn, reinforce and master the Dolch’s word lists necessary for early elementary students. However, we believe it can even go one step further. From the main menu click on the “cogwheel icon”, here parents will be able to change the level of difficulty while playing the Word Challenge game based on their child’s needs. In addition, parents will be able to view default word lists 1-24 and to create new word lists of their own. With a very clear and concise design, developers have included the ability to create individualized word lists. Since those pre-installed lists have 10 words per level, we assume that the same number of words are added to those designed by you. Along with written words, users can record themselves saying each word. As suggested by the application, those building new word lists should read the word, along with reading it, it would also be helpful to put it in a sentence for meaning which will guide users during the spelling mode. The integration of this feature is so wonderful because what student doesn’t come home with a weekly spelling list? If your home is like mine, each night your child is expected to complete an activity which reinforces their spelling list. Why not make your mobile device an activity? If looking at this application for older students, it is most certainly applicable to you.

With no in app purchases or the ability to click buttons linked to outside sources, Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop is now on our academic agenda. It’s time to prepare your child for a future of reading and spelling. Your child will have the ability to build their academic mantle piece with success trophies along the way. This is an educational app which games for a reason and is considered a top pick from our opinion. If you would like to learn more about Marcel Widarto, please visit his website here. Whether you are a preschooler to elementary school student, Sight Words and Spelling with Pixopop is worth adding to your iPad device today by simply clicking here.

This review is also featured on Fun Educational Apps site along with several other detailed educational app reviews.

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Move the Turtle

Move the Turtle

by Next is Great

Are you a computer geek that loves programming or are you a classroom teacher instructing on such skills as angles, measurement and two dimensional geometry? If you answered yes to either these, then you have come to the right educational app review. We are no stranger to educational app developers, Next is Great and we are pleased to add to our collection of reviews their latest addition, Move the Turtle. Regardless of which mathematical program your school district is using, we are quite certain that it is a program that builds understanding over a period of time. This understanding comes as informal and formal exposure while also integrating direction instruction. Move the Turtle is a mathematical app for students in their early to late elementary years. Recently it was featured in the App Store in the New and Noteworthy for Education. It is compatible for all Apple devices running iOS 4.2 or later. As your child(ren) works alongside an adult or independently with a ruler, various directions and a pencil, they will soon become a coding guru.

With many school districts moving towards the Common Core State Standards and implementing mobile devices, the purchasing of educational apps is certainly under debate. When educational apps come at a cost, both educators and parents want to feel confident that their child(ren) and/or students will be gaming for a reason. A purchased app needs to not only engage the user, but it also needs to introduce, reinforce and/or challenge the target population. Technology is an essential tool that should be used strategically in any mathematics curriculum. Next is Great and Move the Turtle is certainly making this happen. Move the Turtle is based on the mathematical idea of Logo. Logo was created in 1967 by a Cambridge, Massachusetts firm. Logo gives students the opportunity to be introduced to basic programming or coding skills. Through a few simple step by step commands your “turtle cursor” will be able to draw geometric shapes and patterns, while also reinforcing angles. When looking at the standards for children as young as kindergarten they are expected to “identify and describe shapes, as well as to analyze, compare, create and compose shapes.” Over a student’s elementary years, this same curriculum expectation is expanded upon for a deeper understanding.

With the ability to create what appears to be an unlimited number of accounts, users will be able to unlock a multitude of rewards as they play and learn within three chapters: Let’s Move, A Little Bit of Magic, and Professor Turtle. Chapters are broken into tasks which teaches and builds upon various commands such as: move, turn, pen, color, repeat, sound, position and conditions. It is important to note that there are no audio directions, just verbal/pictorial pop up menus which can support the user as moves are made. As you keep this in mind, this will determine if adult supervision will be necessary. Once it is time to “move the turtle”, the users screen will be divided into two areas. The first being the chalkboard building area which is equipped with a ruler along each X and Y axis. The left side is designated for reviewing and selecting specific commands in order to complete individual tasks. In order to put your commands/steps to the test, simply click the play button underneath your chalkboard. If tasks are considered incomplete, additional opportunities to succeed will be provided. When tasks are completed, young coders will earn 1-3 stars within each level. As rewards are earned, additional levels are revealed. As you progress through levels, tasks become more complicated, but build on previous tasks for further reinforcement. As most people know, turtles are very slow moving, but in this educational app, your turtle can move in three different ways: slow, medium and super fast. Come see what happens when these options are altered.

Once commands are learned compose and save your own creations to your devices library. In addition, developers have also included a nice library of pre-made lessons. A note to the developers – is it possible to share newly made creations with other Move the Turtle followers? It would be greatly if your website had the option to upload and share projects in order to see how others are using this educational app.

Overall, we love this educational app and plan to install it on our new iPads arriving this summer. For only $2.99, it is an educational app worth purchasing. Put your thinking skills to the test and become a coding geek. If you would like to learn more Next is Great, please visit their website here. To get your turtle moving today, simply click here to download Move the Turtle to your iTunes library.

This review is also featured on Fun Educational Apps site along with many other detailed reviews.

Butterfly HD

Butterfly HD

by Sprout Labs

About a month ago Applicable2U was introduced to those at Sprout Labs. A development group interested in exposing elementary students to those things living in your own backyard. Earlier this year, they launched Plants HD which guides budding botanists to developing their understanding of the life cycle of a plant. As of late, Sprout Labs is once again making science happen at the palm of your hands with their recent launch of Butterfly HD. This educational app is designed for those with an iPad running iOS 4.3 or later. With a quality WIFI connection, see one of the most beautiful transformations of life through text, videos and photos. Does your life science unit need some improving? Are you a school district or classroom environment leading towards mobile devices for learning? Worried that you might not be meeting standards or benchmarks while integrating technology? When implementing those educational apps from Sprout Labs, these questions and concerns are all put to ease as it meets Common Core State Standards and the needs of different learning domains.

As you “play to learn” with your mobile device, see one of the most beautiful day-flying insects, a butterfly, evolve from an  egg – caterpillar – chrysalis – and finally a butterfly. Like Plants HD, upon entering this life science application, each stage of a butterflies life is a link to a wealth of information.  To put your educator’s mind at ease, click the “scholar’s hat” in the upper right hand corner.  This is an added feature with their recent launch, indicating how this educational app correlates to state science standards for those in Kindergarten to Grade 2.  In addition, it also shares how the Common Core State Standards are met in Reading for Informational Text, Craft and Structure, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, and Range of Reading and Level Text Complexity for K-5.

Butterfly HD is a very professional looking, easy to navigate application.  What Applicable2U loves about the applications from Sprout Labs is their ability to meet all learning styles.  Children learn effectively when material is presented in a particular hierarchy or learning domain.  This hierarchy is called Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Bloom’s Taxonomy is much like the food chain in its design, a triangle.  Each level of the triangle represents a level of thinking that as teachers we want our students to progress.  The lowest three levels are: knowledge, comprehension, and application.  While the highest three levels are: analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  As your child reads, listens, answers and witnesses science through the application of Butterfly HD, this hierarchy of learning will be present.

Some might compare Butterfly HD like a textbook and can be presented in a variety of formats: individually, in small or large groups. This will depend on the number of devices available and the needs of your students.  Each stage of the life cycle is presented in a similar manner.  On one side of the page is the informational content which shares a few lines of text or paragraphs at a time.  Information that is to be introduced or reinforced can be read in two ways, by the reader themselves or narrated for them.  If choosing to have it read, an underlining feature will appear line by line.  To the left of the text are pictorial flashcards representing that stage of the butterflies life cycle for deeper connections and reinforcement.  At the bottom of the page, developers have included a “Did You Know?” scrolling feature of WOW or interesting facts.  You will be amazed at what your child(ren) will recall and share after they have explored.  In addition to the scrolling flashcards, a digital camera of images is also included which gives an even more up close and personal connection to the life cycle of a butterfly.  Taking it one step further, educational videos are also available.

At the completion of each stage put your knowledge to the test by simply clicking the “pop quiz” button in the upper left hand corner.  Questions have been organized based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning.  With each correct answer, users are rewarded with a coin.  As a certain amount of coins have been earned, a new level of learning is unlocked.  Of course, as levels are unlocked, questions will become more challenging.   While playing in the pop quiz mode, Applicable2U wondered how the results would be shared.  By going through all stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy, users are given the number of correct questions out of a total.  Depending on the results will determine of a follow up is necessary.  A note to the developers – is it possible to design some kind of a progress report which indicates which level/question of Bloom’s Taxonomy the user struggled the most with?

Overall, Applicable2U would give Butterfly HD two thumbs up!  If you have an elementary student, then this educational app is applicable to you.  It’s time to clear out the shelves of the old hardcover science textbooks and replace it with the newer mobile version.  If you would like to learn more about Sprout Labs, please visit their website here.  For $1.99, you too can alter your life science unit or enhance your child’s love of learning with Butterfly HD by simply clicking here.

Builda the Re-Bicycler

Builda the Re-Bicycler

By Midlandia Press

As an educator or parent how do you raise awareness of Earth Day? Earth Day began back on April 22, 1970 and has certainly come a long way in 42 years. Sadly our this educational review is coming after the fact, however, environmental awareness should be celebrated year round and sharing how available teaching resources come in a multitude of ways. What is your school, community or home doing to help our environment? Whether your classroom or garage has those infamous blue bins which are used to separate paper, plastics or glass, generations young and old know of the 3 R’s symbol of recycle, reuse and reduce. Interactive book apps are truly making their mark for purposes of improving ones reading skills, but they can also be used to make personal connections and inform the reader. Recently launched to the App Store is Builda the Re-Bicycler from the developers of Midlandia Press. This thought provoking book is part of a series called “Tales of Midlandia” and can be viewed online or in print. It is currently designed for your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later and has a great deal of hidden gems.

Come meet the star of the show, Builda O. Bobo. She is a bike factory owner who helps community members but also comes to realize that she can help in so many other ways. With characters like those seen in a familiar PBS show, Arthur. The characters seen in Midlandia take on both human and animal like qualities.  Builda the Re-Bicycler is equipped with a number of Applicable2U’s favorites: highlighted text, the option to read in a variety of ways, interaction with pages and the best part – discussion questions.  A book which is normally viewed in print is now coming to life in the palm of your hands  as it is very user friendly, has beautifully illustrated images, along with clever sounds and music.  Whether you are reading at home or connected to a large screen projector in school, our friends from the town of Midlandia will spark a great deal of conversation as lessons are learned or reinforced.  For years, things were done a certain way in the town of Midlandia and it’s time to step outside the box.  Your child or student will see new words that are created and connected in a whole new way.

As we explored this interactive book we wanted to learn more about those at Midlandia Press.  By selecting the menu button at the bottom of the screen, we noticed the “info” option.  It was here that we learned how to best manipulate the book, but we also learned of a hidden secret.  Without giving away too much, Applicable2U will ask, “How many hidden items will you find?”  If you would like to learn more about Builda the Re-Bicycler or any of the other books in the series, please visit their website here. For just a $1.99, you too can get this book installed on your iPad device in a matter of minutes, just simply click here.  It’s a story you just don’t want to miss!

Compare a Twist for iPad

Compare a Twist for iPad

by App of Approval, LLC

For the last few weeks, Applicable2U has taken a brief hiatus from educational app reviewing, but is now back in full swing as we spin things up with pin wheels and tornadoes. You might be thinking that our next review has something to do with science, in fact, it has to do with all curricular areas. Recently launched at the beginning of April was Compare a Twist by developers, App of Approval. Currently, it is designed only for your iPad device running iOS 4.2 or later. It is an educational app appropriate for a large population of learners and ability levels. Whether you are a student in kindergarten or an individual wrapping up their high school years, you are expected to understand the concept of comparing and contrasting. Come reinforce these essential skills when your iPad device is connected to a large screen projector, used individually or as a center activity. Initially, Compare a Twist is installed with 5 lessons, ranging from Art to Social Studies. Creative twists or lessons can be imported or added to devices making your experience of comparing and contrasting a challenge with each return visit. No two devices equipped with Compare a Twist necessarily looks the same. It’s time to personalize and share your learning environment to meet your specific classroom needs.

Upon entering Compare a Twist, users will immediately notice its simple, but very effective design. Game building and play occurs at your finger tips. Whether you are learning in a large or small group, your main objective is to drag and drop items to its correct pin wheel or tornado cloud. Clouds are academically labeled as the similarity or the difference. Your pin wheel or tornado will blow in multiple options at the bottom. Learners, young and old are to tap choices and drop them into their correct cloud. If incorrect, items will bounce back to the bottom. However, if correct, users will earn a point as indicated in green. As your pin wheel or tornado stops blowing, users are given a success indicator. This indicator will appear as a bar graph stating the percentage correct and the percentage where help was needed. A note to the developers – is it your hope in a future update to expand upon this bar graph to share with educators or parents those areas needing support. By sharing this information, it can inform further instruction.

Although there are no narrated words, an educator, home schooler or parent will intuitively know what to do. Simply choose between two icons, a cog wheel or a play button. The cog wheel icon will allow users to review, delete or edit default lessons.  As mentioned earlier, there are currently only 5 lessons (Art, Mammals, Math, Plants or Animals, and Presidents of the United States). Users might think, why did I bother spending $2.99 to download. There are a number of reasons why your download was a good one. There are a number of conversations being had via social media networks and in schools as to why mobile devices should be implemented at the district level or within a classroom setting. There are so many questions going back and forth between teachers and administration. Is it truly worth the money? How can tablets make a difference in ones education? As most educators and parents know, there are a number of educational apps in the App Store that are truly effective, but how many allow you to basically make the app your own.

Making Compare a Twist applicable to you is very easy and can be accomplished in two ways. Within in a matter of minutes, even seconds new lessons can be built and stored on your device. Simply click the “new” button where you will be asked to fill out a form. This basic form will ask for a lesson title, two categories, choices and their answer. Once saved, it can be edited as needed and is immediately accessible for game play. Did you forget to bring your iPad home? No worries!! New lessons can also be created via your Google account while using your desktop or laptop computer. From your Google account, open a new form. Forms or lessons need to have two categories and their appropriate answers in each cell. Once saved to your account, open Compare a Twist on your iPad device, click the cog wheel and log into your Google account. Documents created will appear as a list and can be imported for future game play.  This is a great implementation of true integration of technology into ones curriculum.

As Applicable2U reviewed the App of Approval website, we were pleased to see that they will be encouraging those using Compare a Twist to share their newly designed lessons via their website library. By sharing one’s educational wealth of knowledge as mobile devices are implemented is critical and App of Approval is beginning to make that happen. The potential that Compare a Twist has for your iPad device is very exciting and we look forward to future updates and how others are implementing and building in the classroom. We love the idea of not recreating the educational wheel.  Education is about sharing best practices and resources without a cost.

If you would like to learn more about App of Approval, please visit their website here. Spin around and reinforce a variety of essential academic skills as you play with Compare a Twist. It can be downloaded to your iTunes Library by simply clicking here.