As a child in elementary school, I looked forward most to doing creative projects for class. It’s a lot of fun making videos, writing stories, drawing scenes, coding a simple web site to show what you’ve learned, after all.
Kids today get all the fun with so many cool tools at their disposal to create projects for school, with HD cameras, high-quality mics, iPads, editing apps.
In this part of the series, we’ll go over some ways to tap into their inner writer/illustrator:
1. Use Doodle Buddy (FREE) for brainstorming
As a visual thinker, I normally brainstorm ideas with little doodles and light illustrations.
Doodle Buddy is great for this very purpose: free-hand sketching of story ideas.
Kids can draw free-hand, add text, add shapes, even stamp their doodle buddy creations with clip art if they want to (though why you’d want to do that in a brainstorm session is beyond me, but that’s besides the point).
If they’re working on telling a story through a more motion-oriented medium like an animation, they can use this to create a preliminary storyboard.
2. Use the Writers App ($0.99) to flesh out ideas
Most stories have a few elements in common: a plot (unless you’re a modernist), some characters, a premise, etc. The Writers App makes it easy to organize story ideas with its well-designed interface.
Your student or child can type in the synopsis of the story they’re writing, include the premise of the story, and plan out characters as well. They can be as detailed as they want to be in describing the characters as there are several options (Role, Strengths, Weaknesses, Biography, etc.) in which to flesh out the persona of a character. It’s useful for both aspiring young writers and writers who are a bit more seasoned.
3. Making a story book with StoryBuddy ($7.99)
After they’re done planning out the story, they can finally put it together using the StoryBuddy app.
StoryBuddy is an easy to use app that lets kids make a storybook using the iPad. They can arrange the elements of the storybook to their heart’s content, everything from text to pictures they’ve taken using the iPad camera.
After they’re done putting together the book, they can then share it with their teachers, friends, and other people.
Adults today often lament about how spelling and grammar are going by the wayside thanks to text speak, the internet, etc. Instead of waiting until your child morphs into a teen and looses^1 his or her spelling and grammar skills, or waiting until he or she starts “2 typ lyk d1s”, why not work on their spelling and grammar now?
Practice Spelling and Reading with Word Bingo ($0.99)
One of the best apps for kids to practice their spelling with is Word Bingo. Word Bingo has two modes: bingo and spelling practice. In bingo mode, a word is spoken aloud by an in-app character which then must be selected on screen. In spelling practice mode, you have to drag the letters to boxes and make sure they’re in the correct order.
Use ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard to Practice Spelling
We’ve mentioned ShowMe before as a great tool for teachers. You can also use it to get your child or your students to practice writing out/spelling a word without any aid from other tools.
I play a simple game with my son to get him to practice his spelling. I say a word aloud and then he is to write the word on the iPad. For every correctly spelled word, he earns 10 points. For every incorrectly spelled word, he gets 1 point subtracted from his score.
This should go without saying. There are a lot of choices to pick and choose from when it come to interactive eBooks on the iTunes store (if eBooks are your child’s choice of medium) or go traditional with a good old paper book. You can have them read a variety of texts to get a grasp of proper usage of words and even learn a few new words after reading.
Have other ways to jump start your kids’ iPad learning? Comment below to suggest other iPad apps.
By Renee C. Jackson
I am, undeniably, a product of the 80’s and early 90’s. I spent many hot, New York summers playing Skip It and watching classic PBS children’s programming. But nothing (and I mean nothing) matched my level of excitement when it came to playing the wildly popular, Nintendo. “Addicted but lacking skill,” best describes my relationship with games like Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. Embarrassingly, I was known for standing annoyingly close to the television set while playing Duck Hunt and still managed to miss the targets.
Skill or no skill, video games were the ultimate distraction for me. I could ignore my summer reading list and math workbook exercises and lose myself in Mario and Luigi’s world for hours. Although two decades now separate me from my childhood pastime, I still understand a child’s attraction to these games. It makes sense—identify the goal, work obsessively to meet the challenge and have boatloads of fun doing it.
In a February 2010 speech entitled, “Gaming can make a better world,” game designer, Jane McGonigal, presented a wacky, yet novel concept at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. Suppose video games could change the world?
At eSpark, Inc. we subscribe to that same concept. Suppose video games could change education? What if handheld, mobile games that were customized to fit a child’s level of rigor and academic need could change the way that child learned? Better yet, what if it could change their future? The concept, again, is fairly simple— work with children, parents and teachers to identify and set academic goals, provide that child with fun, engaging, educational mobile games that encourage them to work hard (obsessively, even) to meet their goals, all the while learning and having fun.
When Maren McMullan, one of the founding teachers at eSpark, starts a tutoring session with one of her first-grade students, this, in fact, is her aim. Maren sits down at her computer and prepares her virtual classroom. She uses iPods that are configured with educational games and apps that address her student’s specific learning needs.
As a certified teacher, she helps her students identify and set rigorous goals and through virtual one-on-one or group tutoring sessions, she is helping her students reach those goals and they are all having fun doing it. Not to mention, her students are growing more than a one whole grade level in their math and reading goal domains—that’s pretty significant.
Tell us what you think: Can video games change the way kids learn?