Archive for the ‘ Preschool ’ Category

LeapFrog LeapPad2: Interactive Learning Tablet for Kids Ages 3-9

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Last year LeapFrog’s LeapPad was a huge hit for the holidays and this year the updated LeapPad2 is sure to be another hot gift item among 3-9 year olds. Children who can’t wait to get their hands on your tablet won’t be disappointed when handed a LeapPad2 thanks to its tablet-like appearance, wealth of educational content, and appealing features allow for customized learning through play.

The LeapPad2 features a bright 5” highly responsive touch screen that responds to fingers or an included stylus, front and rear facing camera and video camera (just you’re your iPad and iPhone!), and an interface that uses app-like icons for navigating through content but in a device that is just right for little hands. It features an on/off button on the left, two volume control buttons on the right (one to turn volume up, the other down), a larger button towards the bottom that can be pressed to navigate up, down, right, and left, and a green button with a house that helps children return to the home screen.

The easy-to-navigate device allows even the youngest learners to quickly figure out how to move from eBooks, creativity apps that utilize kid-generated content from the camera and video features, favorite cartridge games, and other content that is designed to teach through interactive play. Learning experiences are as varied as you want them to be.

Since the LeapFrog library contains over 325 games, downloadable apps, music, learning videos, and more, it’s easy to find content in all subject areas (language and literacy, learning for life, math, science, and social studies) that is of high interest to all children yet appropriate for their learning level. Kids will also enjoy learning on their LeapPad2 with familiar characters from Sesame Street, Disney princesses and fairies, Dora, Diego, Fireman Sam, Thomas and Friends, Ni Hao Kai-Lan, Blues Clues, and Arthur  and through carefully developed content with trusted learning partners such as Little Pim and Discovery Education.

eBooks provide interactive reading experiences that help emergent readers become more confident in their skills while allowing fluent readers to maintain a love of reading. All eBooks, such as Disney’s Brave, contain three different reading levels. Beginning readers will love building their sight word vocabulary with simple text while fluent readers encounter sentences containing more complex words. Just as eBooks have different levels, learning games also feature multiple levels that auto-adjust to meet your child’s skills.

Other nice features of the LeapPad2 include cartridge game compatibility with LeapFrog Explorer, the ability to set up multiple user profiles, remember game progress even when switching between content and turning the device off, and the connectivity to the LeapFrog Learning Path. The LeapFrog Learning Path compiles information about time spent using the LeapPad2 to provide parents with an inside look at the skills their child has mastered, is working on, or is progressing towards as they interact with content through game play.

Images courtesy of LeapFrog.

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4 Back to School Essentials for Organization

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

August is here which means the start of school isn’t too far away! Take a deep breath because there’s still plenty of time to buy school supplies and get organized before you send your little ones off on their learning adventures. Here are 4 back to school essentials that can help every family stay organized.

My Lunch Money ensures that parents never have to send another check or cash to the school cafeteria to pay for lunch.  Parents at schools who use My Lunch Money can use the website to add money to their child’s lunch account and receive an email when the balance is low and the amount needs to be replenished. Parents can also view the items that their child is purchasing for lunch to make sure that tummies are being filled with a well rounded meal and not just cookies.

Mabel’s Labels Ultimate Back to School Combo features custom durable labels for all the things that your kids can lose during the course of the school year.  Skinny Minis work well for pencils and USB drives, Tag Mates and Shoe Labels help lost clothing and shoes make it back to your child, while Teeny Tags are perfect for attaching to lunchboxes and backpacks.  Mabels makes plenty of designs to suit every personality.  Tweens will also love the new Tween Pack that makes labeling your stuff uber cool. While you’re ordering, pick up a pack of the new Book Labels too!

LaLa Lunchbox provides you and your hungry little ones with a fun, easy, and engaging way to plan and pack lunch. The iPhone app is designed to empower kids by allowing them to pick their own lunch using photo based icons, save money by allowing them to choose from items they love, and save time since there’s no more guesswork about what to pack. Add your own favorite foods by taking a photo and adding it to the app while keeping track of the number of servings of fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. your child is consuming. LaLa Lunchbox is available from the iTunes Store for $1.99.

Cozi keeps families organized. This free app is available for Android, Blackberry, and iPhones and synch seamlessly with a web based version you can get to from any internet enabled device. Pull in calendars from your school, create recurring activities and appointments, and color code activities for various family members in your family calendar. Additional features include a to-do list, meal planning, family journal, and shopping list.  Cozi is breeze to use and even better since it’s free!

Back to school via Shutterstock

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Interactive Learning Experiences with Cookie, Elmo, and Grover

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The beloved blue furry cookie craving monster has gone mobile with the release of The Great Cookie Thief, the first official Cookie Monster app for iPhone, iPad, and  iPod Touch.

This engaging interactive book set in a town in the Old West where a cookie bandit is on the loose, stealing cookies from bakeries. Kids must use critical thinking skills to use the clues to solve who is responsible for the cookie thefts. With a wealth of story paths, young learners will get unique endings with each game they play.

Additional features include100 animations that come to life when tapped and a “create” mode that allows players to make “wanted” posters of cookie thief suspects, print, and share them. There’s also a Quick Tips section for parents to help guide additional learning experiences for their child beyond the app.

“We are proud to bring this classic story featuring one of the most beloved characters in the Sesame Street franchise to the App Store,” said Callaway Digital Arts CEO Rex Ishibashi. “With The Great Cookie Thief, parents can empower young children to move the story forward, use critical thinking skills to help solve the mystery and stretch their imaginations to create unique Wanted Posters that add limitless fun to the story.”

How else can your young Sesame Street fans engage in interactive learning experiences with their favorite characters?

  • PBSKids.org— The Sesame Street part of PBSKids.org appeals to kids due to the wide variety of activities and easy navigation. Kids can go click on their favorite characters to go to games and activities featuring those monsters or click on icons to get to games, videos, printables, and e-cards.
  • Once Upon a Monster for Xbox Kinect—Children can practice the alphabet and numbers with Grover, read a book along with Cookie Monster this very fun interactive game that involves full body movement.

Image courtesy of Callaway Digital Arts

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Classic Reading Rainbow Reinvented as iPad App

Friday, June 29th, 2012

LeVar Burton introduces Reading Rainbow app

For those who grew up watching LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow, the classic show is back but in a new format as an iPad app designed for ages 3-9.  Like the original series that ran for 26 years on PBS, the app takes kids on real life adventures where they travel to islands to find books and videos that are suited to their age and interests.

“I come from a family of teachers, and when I was offered the opportunity to host Reading Rainbow in 1983, I recognized immediately the value in using technology to inspire kids to read,” said Burton. “Reading will never go out of style, but the tools used for learning are changing. I am excited to bring Reading Rainbow back so that parents who watched the show can now share that same feel-good experience with their own children but on a platform that resonates with today’s digital kids.”

The app is free to download and includes access to all themed islands, a preview of the entire Reading Rainbow library, the ability to select and read one free book, and watch island introductory videos that star LeVar Burton.  A subscription component is also available for $9.99/month or $29.99 for 6 months.  The subscription includes:

  • Access to the entire Reading Rainbow library
  • Video field trips featuring LeVar Burton
  • Interactive stories and play based book activities
  • Ability to collect stickers towards the reading reward program

ReadingRainbow.com offers a website and dashboard where parents can view the amount of time their child spent reading, the titles of books read, and receive suggestions for new stories based on the child’s interests. The Family Reading Time hints provide opportunities to discuss themes and lessons explored in each book.

Image courtesy of Reading Rainbow.

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Free Printables for Summer Learning from Trusted Names in Education

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

With school winding down and summer starting, families often look towards vacations rather than how to keep kids’ minds active during June, July, and August. “Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing summer learning loss and supporting their children’s education when school is out,” said Jennifer Peck, Executive Director of the nonprofit Partnership for Children and Youth that is spearheading the Summer Matters Campaign. “Fortunately, there are plenty of free and easy ways to engage children in enriching summer learning activities that will help them start the new school year successfully.”

Workbooks, and summer packets sent home from school are helpful but where can you go if you don’t have materials that are just right for your preschool and early elementary learners?   Through Summer Matters, parents can access a downloadable PDF titled  Prevent Summer Learning Loss & Support Your Child’s Summertime Learning for helpful tips about keeping kids engaged.

One tip from Summer Matters suggests that parents ask their children’s teachers to recommend online educational worksheets and free downloadable activities.  PBS Kids and toy manufacturer, Melissa & Doug, have a wealth of free materials that are not only fun but highly educational. Here are additional details about learning activities geared towards ages 4-9.

iVillage PBS KIDS Summer Reading Community Challenge

For the third year in a row, PBS is providing children and families with fun and educational content across platforms that include free literacy-building resources and daily activity assignments delivered by email that correspond with summer programming on PBS Kids as well as downloadable apps and video content. The iVillage PBS Kids Summer Reading Community Challenge runs from June 18 to July 27 and features 10 weeks of themed programming.  Starting June 4, free episode downloads, video playlists and other downloadable content will also be available on iTunes.

 
Melissa and Doug’s Camp Sunny Patch

Toy creators Melissa & Doug recognize that parents are looking for affordable activities for their children and created Camp Sunny Patch as a way to create low-cost, creative activities for kids for the entire summer. The weekly activities from Camp Sunny Patch are a great way to include learning in a creative way throughout the summer.  Parents can print and post monthly calendars from the Melissa & Doug blog or get a preview of each month’s activities via email. Each week parents can download a session guide for additional details of the activity ideas, games, crafts and more. The Melissa & Doug blog also features printable camp badges while optional camp-themed surprises will be available throughout the summer on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Two brothers in the park reading a book together via Shutterstock

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