On April 16, 2012 twentyfive iPads arrived in my classroom and my teaching life changed completely. Prior to that date I thought iPads might be helpful in education. Now I KNOW they are. I am stunned by what the term "digital native" really means. My students have not only surpassed me in their understanding of iPads, they are also fearless in learning more. There is no hope, not even itty bitty, that I can ever again be "the sage on the stage" when the iPads are being used. For years I have expoused on wanting to be the "guide on the side, not the sage on the stage", but now I am living it. (... and there are moments that I really would like to be the sage - just sayin'.)
I was challenged by my district to use free apps as much as possible. (Just think about the math: each app you buy you have to buy for 25 iPads, even with the 50% educational discount, this begins to add up). Well, I am pleased to say that there are many, many, many WONDERFUL free apps out there.
Here are four favorites:
Sushi Monster - This is one crazy app and my students loved using it! In this app students are challenged to add and multiply to feed the Sushi monster. I love it because the children are given the sum and must find the two numbers to add together to get that sum. Students may select their level and may also select multiplication (which was a wonderful challenge for my firsties who were ready for multiplication). This app was a little too hard for my kinders, but perfect for my firsties.
Sock Puppets - I discovered this app the last week of school, quickly introduced it and suddenly my students were making plays on their iPads. My kiddos LOVED it! I also loved it because it reinforced the ideas of character and setting. First, students choose their characters (all sock puppets, of course). Then they choose a setting. They can also add details to the setting (microphones anyone?). Finally, they get to record. The mouth of each sock puppet moves as the children speak. (Lip-syncing with sock puppets!!) Even better, there is a way to change your voice by making it higher or lower. I created a sock puppet play to introduce this app and my students had no idea that I had recorded my own voice. Too funny! The plays have to be one minute or less, but that worked for us. (You can buy a VIP Content Pass to add more options, but I plan to stick to the free version.)
Monkey Drum - When we voted for our favorite app, Monkey Drum won by a landslide. Why? I am not sure. This app is all about a monkey who plays a drum. The children can mimic the sounds the monkey makes or create their own tunes. The children loved to create songs and then have me listen. This app was reserved for Free Choice Time in my class and it was selected during that time by most students. During Free Choice Time, I let them unplug their headphones and the noise was (almost) deafening. But they loved it.
Rover - If I got to vote for App of the Year, this app would get my vote. It is a utility app that allows an iPad to use Flash content. You see Apple (the maker of iPads) and Adobe (the maker of Flash) don't get along so anything with Flash content does not work on iPads. This meant that my students couldn't use Raz-Kids or anything else with Flash. Boo! Hiss! Enter Rover, my hero! Rover allows items with Flash to be streamed onto your iPad (think about how NetFlix streams movies). Amazing! All year when my students finished work, I let them read. Once Rover entered our lives, they could pull out their iPads and read books from Raz-Kids. (Note: Raz-Kids is NOT free. I pay about $80 a year for a class subscription to it.)
Well, that's all for now.
Love to all,