Using Technology to Teach

by Sharon

iPods, iPads and iPhones…many of us use these items daily to make calls, listen to music and stay organized.  But did you realize that they can be a useful tool when teaching our children?

My daughter is a certified technology junkie…at the age of 3 ½.  Don’t get me wrong, she loves her coloring books and bedtime stories, but if it is flashy and she can control what is on a screen, she is in love.  So, needless to say, when we were preparing for a recent plane trip to the US, we needed to find something that would keep her occupied without causing what I call the “glazed over” look.  Rather than spend the money on a handheld video game player that we would have to spend more money on games, my husband and I decided to purchase an iPod Touch and explore the educational applications that it offered.

When checking out a new app, I always download the free version first (if one is offered) to see what it is like and if it sparks her interest.  Many times, the free version is more than sufficient for her attention span, and I never have to buy the actual app.

Here is a list of some of the educational apps that my daughter enjoys the most.

  1. Alphabet Tracing – offered by Oncilla Technologies Inc.  This is a free app that teaches children how to write upper-case and lower-case letters, as well as numbers.  Though it doesn’t replace actual writing (since children use their fingertip to write), it does teach the letter and number shapes in a fun way.  My daughter loves the trains and caterpillars that trace the letter/number that she is working on.
  2. Park Math by Duck Duck Moose is a popular app in our house.  This award-winning app teaches counting, shapes, addition/subtraction, and several other basic math concepts.  There are several great apps that Duck Duck Moose offers, some more fun than educational, but we have found that they are all worth the $1.99 that they each cost.
  3. Doodle Buddy Premium by Pinger is a great app for letting kids get creative.  Previously, the Premium version was a paid app, but it was recently changed to free.  It offers free draw, stencils, stamps, and a rainbow of colors.  When your child creates a masterpiece, you can even save their drawing to your photo roll.
  4. Mad Libs– Who didn’t love these crazy made-up stories when they were a kid? Now your kids can enjoy them too.  This app offers both free and paid options.  We have had hours of fun with the free books, so personally, I wouldn’t jump to pay for the add-on books right off.  Because of this app, my daughter now knows what the various parts of speech are, and has a blast making up stories.
  5. Last but not least, I wanted to point out Podcasts as another teaching tool.  Though they don’t technically fit into the “app” family, they are another way to bring fun, educational content to your children.  Some of my daughter’s favourite podcasts are The Electric Company, Pinky Dinky Doo, and Sesame Street.  Each of these can be searched by name on iTunes, and you can download as many or as few as you’d like.  We often look for topics that go along with discussions we’ve had or concepts in reading that we’ve been working on.

I hope these suggestions are helpful in finding a new way to use a tool that, as adults, we use every day.  Please feel free to comment with other apps that you have found to be popular in your home.

Sharon is a New England girl who never imagined that she’d find herself living in Canada. She has a wonderful husband and together they created a Diva Monster. Follow her on her crazy journeys at Nanas Button Jar!!


4 thoughts on “Using Technology to Teach

  1. We love the apps by Duck Duck Moose. We’ve bought every one they’ve made so far and they are all great. I also really like the Dr. Seuss books, and the various books by Kidztory (they do primarily classic stories) are really good too. Build-a-word has recently been a hit at our house too. When my son was quite young and I wanted something for waiting at the Dr I liked Peek-a-boo barn too.

  2. We absolutely LOVE 123 Glow for the iPad. It has colour by number and loads of colouring pages for the kids to spend time using. It’s great for time when you need them to sit quietly and don’t have the crayons and paper!

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