Archive for the ‘ Tablet ’ Category

Can Apps and Devices be Educational for Babies? Why Devices Aren’t a Substitute for Parent Interaction

Friday, August 9th, 2013

How old is too young for a smartphone and a tablet? Is there value in giving them to babies? The American Academy of Pediatrics supports a “screen free” stance for kids under the age of two but in many cases, parents are handing their kids devices at younger ages partly because of the apps that are being created to target this age group. But are these apps truly educational for this age?

Despite claims by manufacturers that apps can be educational, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) recently filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Fisher-Price and Open Solutions charging both companies with false marketing their apps apps for babies as educational. Designed for infants as young as six months, CCFC’s Director Dr. Susan Linn said, “Fisher-Price and Open Solutions exploit parents’ natural tendency to want what’s best for their babies…time with tablets and smart phones is really the last thing very young children need for optimal learning and development.”

But what do kids really need?

Findings from a 20 year study by Martha Farah, Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, published by The Guardian determined the effects of childhood stimulation of brain development beginning at age 4. The longitudinal study involved visits to homes to determine the number of children’s books they had, if the family had toys to teach children about colors, numbers or letters, and whether they played with real or toy musical instruments. Parents were also observed to determine how much warmth, support, or care the child they provided and received a “parental nurturance” score. Farah found that cognitive stimulation from books and educational toys from early childhood had a significant effect on a person’s brain into their late teens. Researchers also determined that the amount of mental stimulation a child gets around age four correlated to more highly developed language and cognition skills in later life.

Kids at the youngest ages need interaction that comes from parents and caregivers to stimulate their brains and foster language skills along with social and emotional development. Authors Jamie Loehr, M.D. and Jen Meyers provide simple suggestions for parents in Activities to Enhance Baby’s Cognitive Development: 0-3 Months. They suggest reading to your child to get them used to the sound of your voice, talking to them and maintaining eye contact, providing them with noisy toys to learn cause and effect, showing them mirrors so they can see themselves and their movements, and singing. Activities for ages 3-6 months expand on a child’s development and include exposing them to new textures and introducing a variety of sounds through musical instruments that they can play themselves.

While apps and devices have educational value and can certainly reinforce skills and engage kids in a positive way as they synthesize information, they’re not a substitute for what parents can provide to their developing baby.

 Baby boy playing with computer tablet via Shutterstock

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All Los Angeles Unified Students to Receive iPads by End of 2014

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

iPads for Students

After Los Angeles School Board of Education awarded Apple with a $30 million contract for iPads for students in late June, reports that Apple will begin their rollout of the first phase of the program involving deployment of 31,000 tablets to students this fall. This massive rollout is the beginning of many which will provide all 640,000 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students with iPads by the end of 2014. The $30 million investment in iPads represents LAUSD’s commitment to provide each of their students with technology to support learning.

Apple will be shipping iPads to LAUSD loaded with educational curriculum designed to enhance instruction. iPads for students will include the Pearson Common Core System of Courses delivered via a new app as part of the integrated solution along with apps such as iWork®, iLife® and iTunes®. A range of educational third-party apps will also be included for LAUSD students.

“Education is in Apple’s DNA and we’re thrilled to work with Los Angeles Unified public schools on this major initiative as they plan to roll out iPads to every student across 47 campuses this fall,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Schools around the world have embraced the engaging and interactive quality of iPad with nearly 10 million iPads already in schools today.”

“The Board voted unanimously for Apple because iPad rated the best in quality, was the least expensive option and received the highest scoring by the review panel that included students and teachers,” said Jaime Aquino, LAUSD Deputy Superintendent of Instruction. “The vote is another step forward in the District’s plan to equip every one of its students with a device by 2014. When completed, the LAUSD will become the largest district in the nation to provide each of its students with the technology.”

Little schoolgirl using digital tablet at desk with classmates studying in background via Shutterstock


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3 Ways to Encourage Summer Reading with Technology

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Summer is here and while there are many phrases to describe what happens to student learning over the months your children are out of school, you can prevent the summer brain drain and summer slide by making reading fun, interactive, and involving technology that will serve as a huge motivator. According to the National Summer Learning Association, “all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.” To prevent this, do a little bit each day to make the tasks manageable and fun. Here are three ways to incorporate technology to reinforce the reading that is being done at home throughout the summer months.

Designed for children 3-9 years of age, the Reading Rainbow app delivers a library of hundreds of curated books and all new videos presented in a world of adventure and discovery. Traveling to themed islands, such as Animal Kingdom, My Friends, My Family and Genius Academy, kids find a variety of books and videos customized to their age and interests. Each book from acclaimed children’s publishers comes alive with audio storytelling by celebrity actors, including spoken word Grammy winner LeVar Burton, and features light animations and related activities to enhance the story. Children also journey with Burton on exciting real-life adventures through in-app video field trips that connect the stories children read to the world they live in. The app includes more than 50 books and 16 video field trips with new content added frequently.

Kindle Free Time appeals to toddlers and early elementary ages thanks to a wealth of content that is easy to navigate through this subscription based service that is available to Kindle owners through a monthly fee. Kids can choose from thousands of hand-picked books, games, educational apps, movies, and episodes of television shows featuring favorite characters to encourage learning in many different ways. Content is sorted according to type, subject, and characters to make it easy for 3-8 year olds to find what they’re looking for quickly.

Scholastic’s Storia app provides an easy to navigate experience where reading content can grow along with children. Storia allows parents to purchase age appropriate eBooks through the ability to shop by age. Parents can assign eBooks to each child’s shelf to ensure the content is just right for them. Young readers benefit from words being highlighted as they’re read in order to help build sight word vocabulary while older readers can find many of their favorite titles in digital form.

Man holding tablet PC with book and family in hands via Shutterstock


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Tags: | Categories: Education, Must Read, Tablet

4 iPhone & iPad Apps to Teach Preschoolers and Early Elementary Ages Math and Literacy Concepts with Favorite Characters

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Learning is always more fun when done with a favorite friend. New apps from Disney Publishing and PBS allow preschoolers to engage in early reading, math, and foreign language lessons with familiar Disney characters like Winnie the Pooh and the cast of Toy Story. PBS provides cross platform learning by reinforcing concepts in their shows, on, and also through apps featuring favorite characters. These 6 new apps are easy for young learners to navigate and fun at the same time. You might never get your iPhone or iPad back again!

Pooh’s Birthday Surprise

Features he beloved characters of the Hundred-Acre Woods in an interactive storybook that focuses on early literacy and pre-math skills. Kids ages 3-5 are invited to join in Pooh’s birthday party planning where they practice activities such as identifying and extending simple patterns, problem solving, vocabulary awareness, and story comprehension.  $1.99 from iTunes until September 12.

Toy Story Showtime!

Toy Story is an interactive storybook aimed at children ages 4-6.  Learners explore essential early reading concepts through engaging with content.  For example, “Toy Story Showtime!” features Buzz Lightyear as he sets out to impress Jessie the Cowgirl in a talent show. Readers can assist him with his comedy and juggling acts while they discover new vocabulary words through context and story-based repetition. $1.99 from iTunes until September 12.

SUPER WHY! ABC Adventures: Alphabet

Kids ages 3-6 can travel around the world on an alphabet adventure with SUPER WHY! friends. Young learners will enjoy an around-the-world alphabet adventure while playing an engaging collection of five mini-games with a literacy curriculum. $2.99 for iPhone and iPod touch or $3.99 for iPad.

All Aboard the Dinosaur Train!

Have some Jurassic Park fun on the iPad with All Aboard the Dinosaur Train! The Dinosaur Train is getting ready to leave and needs passengers! Children ages 3-6 are needed to match the passengers with the right train cars, challenging them to problem-solve by estimating dinosaur sizes and comparing them with the train cars’ capacity. $1.99 for iPad.

Portrait of a young child in a home interior engrossed in a game on a digital tablet via Shutterstock.

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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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