Last month, a rock the size of a school bus struck the earth’s atmosphere. Fortunatley, nobody was hurt, but a sonic boom and crater stirred up our curiosity. Click Here for links and videos about meteors and meteorites.
In Italy, il pompiere fight fires and an il mago pulls a rabbit out of a hat. In Sweden, a konstapel arrests the bad guys, and a child is a barn. The Enchanted Learning websitefeatures community helper words in picture dictionary form in 6 different languages. Also included on the sites are crafts, online interactive activities and printables all about the people in our families and communities.
App to Consider
The Free KidWeather app was designed by a 6 year old child and his weatherman father. It helps answer the question, “Should I wear a sweater today?” The app contains real time weather conditions, forecasts and fun weather facts. The features include math and science activities with S.T.E.M in mind to keep parents and teachers happy!
I have three words for you for this month – tablets, tablets, tablets. I've just finished a series of benchmark tests on 20 children's tablets. This is what you need to know.
1. Apple is still on top. The iPad is the easiest to use and has the best selection of apps. The iPad Mini is a great size for kids, too, but you have to pay.
2. Android options are catching up. I was able to find several options that can deliver app quality and quantity. They're not as easy to use, but they cost much less. Keep your eye on the Nabi Jr.
3. There's always a toll booth. This means that many apps, especially those made for young children, fence you into app stores with either poor app selection or higher prices. Before you buy a Tabeo, for example, make sure you read the reviews. I think you're better off investing in a "real" tablet, like Kindle Fire and the MG. Both have easy access to huge, mainstream app stores. In all cases, make sure you understand how to customize a tablet to turn on/off a child's ability to use such things as in-app sales, YouTube and so on.
4. Don't forget about the Nintendo 3DS, but know that the "toy" tablet options are much less viable these days..
One thing is for sure -- There will be a LOT of parents confused about how to get to most quality out of a tablet experience for a child.
It is most important to put high quality apps on the tablets children use. See, for example that iPad app Move the Turtle by Next is Great. These types of programming experiences let us know that tablets can do more than to just play Angry Birds.
According to Jeremy Brueck the Director of DigiTXT at UA Center for Literacy Parents (@brueckj23on Twitter), parents and educators should consider the following tips when choosing an EBook to share with children:
Look for eBooks with content that has direct ties to the child’s personal experiences.
For independent and shared reading experiences, allow children the opportunity to self-select eBooks, from books that have been thoroughly previewed by an adult
Consider the role space plays in the reading experience and design a quality environment for browsing and reading books.
Select books with multi-media and interactivity that is relevant to the story
Do not underestimate the WOW factor of an ebook. The natural engagement of such titles can capture a reluctant readers interest and motivate them.
App To Consider
The award-winning short film is now an interactive narrative experience. William Joyce's "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore", blurs the line between picture books and animated film. ($4.99 for the App on iTunes); The book can be found in bookstores.
Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation), award winning author/ illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a new narrative experience that harkens back to silent films and M-G-M Technicolor musicals. “Morris Lessmore” is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.
Sometimes a topic for LittleClickers just blows right in. In fact, as I was editing the copy and checking the links for this edition, a huge tropical storm was over my head. Even though most of the country never has to worry about such things, we decided to explore some links and videos to help children better understand how hurricanes work.
Also in this issue -- some more amazing apps and a tour of a technology showcase in Amsterdam called Medialab (no connection to MIT, although Eric Rosenbaum was there) that does a great job using technology to empower kids. I think this form of constructivism applied to technology has implications for informal education in the United States. Here are two examples:
In Mimicry, Don't miss the quote at the end, about learning with your hands, your head and your heart.
Some great philosophical implications there, and something more practical can be found in StopTrain, which takes stop motion animation to a new level by letting children eat the things they make.