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.

Go Go Xylo

Go Go Xylo

by Barrett Productions, LLC

There is one thing that I am not and that is musically inclined. However, today I wish that I was. Our next review is not based on reading a book, coloring, matching or the improvement of one’s mathematical skills, but rather the sounds that you can make with your mobile device. A short time ago we were introduced to Barrett Productions, a development group that has been producing mobile apps along with many other products since 2007. Recently updated in the App Store is their latest musical creation, Go Go Xylo which is compatible with various Apple devices but does require iOS 5.0 or later. Come play with this virtual xylophone, along with many other instruments in a variety of ways. With every tap of your finger, a well tuned instrument will sing. What’s the point of buying a real xylophone when you can get an amazing one for your Apple device for FREE. Just be sure to download it soon as this price is a limited time offer.

Upon entering Go Go Xylo users will immediately notice the brilliant colors and 3D animation that is incorporated. As the conductor of your band, your main screen is equipped with a harp, bells, drums, saxophone, trumpet and of course a xylophone. Let the jam session begin by simply tapping or dragging your fingers across the screen. Yes, I said fingers!! You can play multiple instruments at one time. As the user, if you have a musical ear then you will want to explore the red clef button just under the saxophone. Here users will be able to change the key that instruments will play in (C, D, E, F and so forth) as well as the essential musical relationship between major and minor scales. If confused on how to explore or where to begin, simply click the question mark button as pop up directions will appear. It also includes a brief instructional YouTube video which will require internet access in order to view. If your band of instruments are getting out of hand or too loud, simply click the horns in the upper right hand corner. It is here that users can alter the volume to both the xylophone and the accompaniment.

When downloading Go Go Xylo it comes pre-installed with three songs: Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, Blue Danube Waltz, and Old MacDonald. Additional songs can be loaded to your devices library as in-app purchases. Currently the downloadable library consists of Children and Classical songs. Purchases can be made individually or as a group, ranging from .99¢ to $2.99. After choosing a song, as the conductor your view changes from seeing the entire band to just the sheet music of that song. As the tone deaf reviewer, I was slightly overwhelmed with all the buttons at the top: Mode (easy/hard), Tempo (normal/slow), xylo (on/off), vocals (on/off), and accompaniment (on/off). I was unsure as to what they all did, however, like the free play mode, the question mark just under the sheet music provided a brief tutorial. Once we set our mode to easy and our tempo to slow, it was like playing musical Simon Says. To begin, simply click the play button and notes on the sheet music and the keys on the xylophone will begin to highlight. Listen to the song the whole way through or start and stop it at any time. See what happens if you try playing the song from memory without any support. A note to the developers – although the xylophone does have the lettered notes on each key, might it be possible to include its coordinating musical note as well on the xylophone. This additional notes support could be an available option which is turned on/off based on the users need.

Go Go Xylo is a wonderful download for any home or school device. In looking at our district benchmarks, third graders study physical science which relates to sound. The integration of Go Go Xylo could really enhance a variety of classroom environments. Our review is based on exploration with an iPad and by having the large screen and the feeling like you are making music in your lap was incredible. Integrated arts is an essential component to a child’s education. Children shine in many ways and the arts is one of them. Barrett Productions is supporting this cause interactively via your mobile device.

If you would like to learn more about Barrett Productions, please visit their website here. Whether you are a musician or not, it’s time to Go Go Xylo and have a little fun. Step outside the box and see how your mobile device can meet the musical side of yourself, child or students. Take advantage of this wonderful FREE offer that Barrett Productions is providing today, simply click here to begin downloading Go Go Xylo.

This review is also featured on the Fun Educational Apps site along with many other educational apps.

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.

Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country

Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country

By Selma Mariudottir

Recently there has been some twitter chatter on what components educators and parents want to see in interactive books for their mobile devices.  Of the books that we have reviewed or previewed, there are a number of developers that have “hit the mark”.  In our opinion, an interactive mobile device book “hits the mark” when their story makes a personal connection to one’s life, sparks conversation, incorporates the development and love of reading, establishes some form of independence and is a book that keeps children, young and old, coming back for more. Recently a new series, Perky Pranksters  was brought to our attention from developer and writer, Selma Mariudottir.   This series of books was designed for children ages 4-9 years old, as it takes 3 of the most unusual friends to various geographical locations while dealing with life in general.  Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is the first within the series that is now available for your iPad device running iOS 4.3 or later.   In reading the developers website we learned that our cartoon main characters; Genie, Dapper and Rex are not only stars in a book, but they are also real stars in Selma Mariudottir’s home. Her four legged friends have become the inspiration for this series with their daily adventures and pranks.  Come see what mischievous things they could get themselves into while visiting the country.

As most of us know, cats and dogs typically do not get along. If these two species set eyes on each other, a whole lot of running is going on, with the dog usually chasing after the cat.  Interestingly enough, the main characters of Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the County are two cats, Genie & Dapper  and Rex is their dog companion.  They are far from afraid of each other in this series, rather other animals should be afraid of what might happen when all three are in the same location.  Genie is considered the principal prankster, although fun loving, is always up to some kind of mischief and tends to learn things the hard way.  Dapper is the well-mannered feline, who at times does get involved with some tricks.  Then there is Rex, who looks just like Lassie.  Rex is a sweet addition to the family and book series who tends to be interested in everything.

Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is an interactive and creative book that is chock full of good things.  As we reviewed it, we would compare it to a chapter and activity book in one.  Your child’s experience can occur in a variety of ways.  Even before the story begins, come have some fun with Genie, Dapper and Rex, as users will be given opportunities to: Color, Play Dress Up, learn a little Musical Fun, play Rhyming Games and Record their Voices.

Coloring Book: gives users the option of five black and white pages which are scenes from the book that they can color.  Once a scene is chosen it will appear on their virtual easel with an available paint palette as well.  In addition, users have access to three thickness types of paint brushes.  Pictures created can be saved to your photo gallery by simply clicking the camera icon at the top of the page.  The green light bulb will indicate which items/objects are tapeable.  While painting if a mistake occurs simply shake your device to erase your entire page.  A note to the developers – might it be possible to include another option for erasing through an icon at the top.  At times only one things needs to be erased and some users may become frustrated that they have to start all over.

Dress Up Games: gives users the opportunity to put their silliness to the test.  Choose to dress up one or all of our fury friends.  After you have chosen which prankster to dress up, select those articles of clothing and accessories that you would to see on them.  It’s like playing real world paper dolls all over again!  A note to the developers – might it be possible to interchange articles of clothing and accessories between characters.  It might be interesting to allow users to scroll through the options and once simply drag and drop it place.  Once complete, save and print your animal paper doll to provide for an extended period of play time outside of the book.

Musical Fun: shares with users practical information on musical families, particularly the brass family.  Come hear what 5 musical voices sound like from the sounds of a tuba.  This is a very quick game as it only presents one family.  In a future update, it would be great if another family or two was added to spark the learning of those with a musical ear.

Rhyming Games – ABC: as users read Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country, they will notice how the writer incorporated many forms of rhyming.  This game reinforces such word findings as a matching game.  The only addition that I would implement would be the option to hear those directions in the large green box at the top of the window.  By adding this, it will support learners of all styles.  If the correct rhyme is chosen, users will be presented with a musical reward.  In order to continue rhyming, simply click the arrow at the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

The last fun and games option is the ability to Record Your Voice.  This gaming feature seemed a bit out of context for this section.  However, could have a great deal of potential while reading the book.  If a reader has chosen to Read it Myself, it would be interesting to support their learning with a microphone on each page which would play back their voices to indicate a readers fluency or areas of difficulty.

The storyline behind the Perky Pranksters: Have Fun in the Country is very amusing and educational.  The story can be narrated by Debbie Irwin, a parent or even your child.  Pages are filled with two verses that incorporates text that rhymes on each picture along with running text at the bottom.  If choosing to read alongside the narrator, words will be highlighted so as to keep the reader focused.  As we reviewed this interactive book we equated it like being a chapter book. Follow along with our fury pranksters as they explore the country in seven entertaining comedy of errors.  It’s like watching Abbott & Costello the animal version.  A note to the developers –  because the device needs to be vertically positioned, the pages do appear rather busy.  Might it be possible to have the two verses at the top disappear once they are read.

Overall, we loved this first book in the series and are excited to see where our four legged pranksters will take us next.  If you would like to learn more about Selma Mariudottir, please visit her website here. For a simple $3.99 download to your iTunes account, you too can begin building your Perky Pranksters library of books by simply clicking here.

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