Archive for the ‘iPad literacy apps’ Category

Building Readers, One Word at a Time

April 14, 2011

It’s hard for me to believe, but my baby girl will be five next week.  FIVE!  She will begin kindergarten in the fall.  As a mother and an educator, I have made an effort to find a balance between just being mom, yet providing learning opportunities for my children.  One thing I have always encouraged, but never pushed is reading.

I have read to my children from the time they were born.  Not a day goes by that we don’t read something.  I believe that it’s this full immersion in language that has created readers out of my children.  I never once pushed my son (eight years old, now) to read before he started kindergarten, yet he was reading above grade level when he began kindergarten – and I had no idea!  I had no idea, because I simply didn’t push him, I let him learn to read at his own pace.

My daughter, on the other hand, is showing signs way before kindergarten begins of wanting to read.  She is already reading a few Mo Willems books to me and she knows about fifty sight words.  Again, I have done nothing out of the ordinary with my children except read to them every day.  Oh, and I have also provided a print rich home for them.  We have books on every floor of our home and magnet letters on the easel.  And, I allow them to watch educational TV shows.

One show my daughter enjoys watching is WordWorld on PBS.  I don’t mind her watching, because I know it’s educational and she is learning how letters make sounds and connect to make words. But, I do like to make connections to what my kids are reading or watching.  And, actually, making connections is a comprehension strategy that they will use as they become proficient readers (so, in a way, I’m prepping them for their future reading endeavors!).

Here are a few ways we might make connections to an episode of WordWorld:

1. Make a list of the words from the episode and build our own words.  For example: If Duck is used in an episode, I may create something like this for my daughter:

We saw the word duck in the last episode of WordWorld we watched.  What other words might sound like duck? And then she will tell me words that rhyme with duck.  I write them down in a list under the word duck and then she will determine if they are spelled the same way. This is a good way for her to learn chunks, but also begin to recognize some blends such as ch- or tr-.  She also has an opportunity to begin to write words using the chunk as you see with the word, muck.

2.  WordWorld also provides episode related activities on their website.  I like the connections that the activities make to the actual show and the learning that continues from the hands-on fun we have.  Research has shown that preschoolers learn best through play.  I feel better about TV time when I know that my children are watching something educational and then we are extending beyond that TV show into more learning in a hands-on, educational way.  And there are a TON of episode related activities that extend beyond the show and into the realm of hands-on, literacy learning.

3. I’m a fan of “literacy on the go.”  As a child, I always had a book with me.  I encourage this for my children as well, who will often bring books with them even for short car rides somewhere.  However, if we forget a book and we find ourselves in a situation where we are waiting, most times one or both of the kids will ask for my iPhone.  I don’t have a problem if they use my iPhone, because I have packed it with educational games and books.  One app my daughter just became familiar with is “Snug as a Bug” which is an e-book app offered by WordWorld.  This particular book uses the same “word things” that the show uses.  She can have the book read aloud to her or she can turn the speaker off and read it herself (she isn’t there yet!).  There is some interactivity in the book, which keeps her engaged.  The great thing is WordWorld offers these e-books as apps on iTunes for the iPad or iPhone, but they also offer them for FREE on the Word World website.  The e-books are read-aloud versions of the actual TV episode, so after reading the book, you and your child can compare the e-book to the episode.

How do you help to build a reader, one word at a time?  Do you allow your children to watch educational TV?  How do you connect literacy to TV?

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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iPad App Review: Wild About Books by Judy Sierra

February 17, 2011

I don’t usually review books here on Literacy Toolbox.  Instead I tend to save book reviews for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.  More often than not, as I read a picture book, I read it with an educator frame.  In other words, how can I use this book in the classroom?  And so, books I review tend to find themselves on my educator blog.

However, I have come across several books lately that I feel parents would find helpful as well.  So, this month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share books or apps that I have recently read and/or played with my kids.

Wild About Books App

Since we purchased our iPhones several years ago, I have been on the lookout for great, quality book apps to entertain my children in times when we must wait somewhere.  Then we purchased our iPad and I continued the search.  It’s been slow going.  I have very specific criteria I look for in e-books for my children.  I want them to be interactive, but provide as much of a natural reading experience as it can.  I want the book to entertain and engage them in their reading.  I really prefer that they are quality picture books that I would read to my children anyway.

My children are very particular, too.  If it doesn’t grab their attention, it’s usually not an app that they will go back to.  Many of the apps they do return to have some kind of interactive/game component.  I don’t think that the e-book will ever “replace” the traditional book for my children, but I do think that it’s important for them to understand and learn how to navigate the e-book experience.

I was already familiar with the How Rocket Learned to Read app, when I came upon the Wild About Books app, both by Random House Children’s Books.  My friend, Susan (@bookchook), wrote a fantastic post about picture books and how important they are to readers and embedded in the post was a video of the Wild About Books app, which I promptly downloaded.  The app is $2.99 which to me is completely reasonable!  I have the hardback version of the book as well, which I’m sure cost me at least $14.00.

The story is another great way to motivate readers.  What happens when Ms. McGrew drives her bookmobile into the zoo?  Why the animals learn to read of course – and love to read, too!

The Wild About Books app is the electronic version of  Wild About Books by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown.  This app is a bit simpler in that it doesn’t have corresponding games, like How Rocket Learned to Read.  It is just the book.  However, you can have the book read to you, or you can read it yourself.  The fantastic part of the electronic version of this book is that it really brings the traditional book alive.  The illustrations, amazing in the traditional book, move and pop in the electronic version.  Children can click on different parts of the illustrations and make different animal sounds or make them move.  They can hear the train whistle or the bookmobile’s horn honk.

If you have a reader who needs a little motivation, consider downloading this app.  Your child will have fun interacting with the story, as it is being read to him.  Or, encourage him to read the book himself.  The next time you are stuck somewhere, you will have a quality picture book for your child to read.  The fact of the matter is, prior to downloading either Wild About Books or How Rocket Learned to Read, I had already purchased the traditional books.  I’m perfectly happy to purchase both if the books are high quality.  Both of these picture books are and so are their electronic counterparts!

I want my children to be able to download quality books for our iPad or iPhone.  Up until now, I have not been happy with the quality of books available for children.  I have been patiently waiting for children’s book publishers to create book apps for the iPad and iPhone.  I’m glad the day is finally here.  I hope more publishers will jump on the bandwagon.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

iPad App Review: How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

February 15, 2011

I don’t usually review books here on Literacy Toolbox.  Instead I tend to save book reviews for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.  More often than not, as I read a picture book, I read it with an educator frame.  In other words, how can I use this book in the classroom?  And so, books I review tend to find themselves on my educator blog.

However, I have come across several books lately that I feel parents would find helpful as well.  So, this month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share books or apps that I have recently read and/or played with my kids.

How Rocket Learned to Read App

This book app for the iPad is one of the best I’ve seen by far.  Essentially it brings the picture book, How Rocket Learned to Read, to life.  The bird flaps his wings.  Rocket’s eyes move and his tail wags.  The animated illustrations are fabulous.  The colors are sharp.  And of course, then there is the actual book and related activities.

The book itself is a great story to motivate readers.  Rocket, the dog, stumbles upon Bird’s classroom one day. He begins to learn how to read and when the bird goes away in the fall, Rocket tries to find other ways to continue to read.  By the time Bird returns in the spring, Rocket is reading and enjoying every minute of it!

As a reader, children have an option to have the book read to them, which highlights the words as it reads.  Or, children can read the book themselves.  Additionally, there are two games.  First, children have the opportunity to put letters in alphabetical order.  This is great for your toddlers and preschoolers learning letters and their order.  And there is a sight word game.  Children are given five different sight words that begin with the same letter.  They hear the sight word and then click on the correct one.

My daughter was particularly happy to play the games.  She enjoyed finding the correct sight word based on hearing it, as well as putting the letters in alphabetical order.  I think this is because she prefers to be involved.  She likes the interactivity of book apps, but I have yet to find one that captures her interest enough for her to listen to the book as it is read to her.  I think she still much prefers books to e-books.  But, I think that is her age.

As a parent, I wholeheartedly recommend this app.  I think, in time, my daughter will enjoy reading the book on the iPad.  More than likely, when she actually knows how to read.  In the meantime, if you have a beginning reader, this is a fantastic app to teach alphabetical order, sight words, and most importantly, the love of reading!

Disclosure: I won a free promo code for this app via Twitter and Random House Books

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.