Reading and Writing Apps: K-5
Thanks to a generous grant from the Walled Lake Foundation for Excellence, I was able to get five iPad minis for my classroom. We have been working out the way to best incorporate them into our kindergarten classroom, and we found that they fit in best during our literacy centers, small groups that allow for focused interventions. This way, small groups can use the iPads to enhance skills in an exciting way.
We use the iPads at other times throughout the day as well; literacy centers were just a natural fit. Because the world of educational apps can be a bit overwhelming at first, I hope to help guide you toward some apps we’ve had success with and that my students have enjoyed engaging with in the classroom. Everything below represents my own opinions.
Reading and Writing
With the grant we were also able to obtain a subscription to a service called Raz-Kids, on the website Reading A to Z. This is both a website and an app, and it’s wonderful! You are able to set up logins for each student and assign books at their reading level. At the end of each book, students are asked comprehension questions to earn points. The students are motivated because these points help them create a robot to interact with. Teachers are also able to log in and check students’ progress and comprehension of the texts.
Another app we just downloaded–and the students are enjoying–is called Tell About This. In this app, students are offered choices of pictures, and then are able to record themselves as they tell a story related to the picture. We first implemented it into the classroom with students taking a picture of the animal diorama they had created for the culmination of our research project. Then they recorded what they learned. They were so excited! (Here’s a link to download a sample of one student’s video.)
A companion to this app is called Write About This. We have not used this in my classroom, but my 2nd Grade daughter enjoys it.
My students’ newest favorite is Vocabulary Spelling City. While it isn’t sight-word practice, it is great practice when working on spelling, helping to motivate students during writing time. To practice, they can play hangman, alphabetize words, and unscramble a word’s letters, among several other choices.
Teach Me Kindergarten is another go-to app. This app, which covers multiple subjects, is in quiz form. Students earn coins as they correctly answer questions, and they are able to use these coins to buy virtual prizes like a fish tank and accessories. As the students start to show mastery, the questions start to become harder automatically. You can also choose a level at which your students start.
Lakeshore also has several learning apps. We have been using Sound Sorting and Phonics Tic Tac Toe. The students like the instant feedback when they get answers correct, as well as the ability to try again.
A new way that students are learning to write is through coding. This is a whole new language, one I can admit I don’t quite have a handle on, but I am trying. We are only using the iPad apps for coding, but all these apps have desktop applications too.
Currently my students are in love with an app called The Foos. With The Foos, they are learning to code by creating their own games. My students love creating levels for their friends to play.
Tynker and Scratch Jr. are also coding and programming apps my class (and daughters!) are enjoying. With Tynker, kids learn to code different characters to complete missions. With Scratch Jr., students are able to code a character to move around and entertain them. Kids can also change the background and animate things like letters.
While I can lay no claim to being a technology or iPad expert, I will say I have enjoyed having them in my classroom. The students enjoy learning while having fun, and the technologies give them another outlet to show what they can do. I am excited to spend the summer checking out new ways to use them; my daughters will get to be my guinea pigs.
Tricia Ziegler (Twitter: @axf96; blog: http://kindergartentreasures.blogspot.com/) is a kindergarten teacher at Loon Lake Elementary, in the Walled Lake School District. She is a part of the Walled Lake iCouncil (Instructional Council) team. She recently won a technology grant from the Walled Lake Foundation for Excellence. She is in her tenth year of teaching, with eight in kindergarten and two in Second Grade. Prior to that she taught in the Walled Lake Great Start Readiness Program, which is a state-funded preschool program for at-risk students. Tricia attended Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree and specialization in Early Childhood. She then attended Wayne State University for her Master’s in Teacher Education.