Thursday, February 7, 2013

Apps for Young People

Heather Johnstone - Rosebud County Library

All the apps I'm suggesting are for the iPad and many of them I discovered while working in Special Education.  I have very strong opinions about the potential of special needs kids when they have an iPad in their hands! has autism apps, which also work well for kids with other disabilities.

We have an iPad 4 geared toward tweens/teens at Rosebud County Library.  Some of my favorite apps follow...
  • Flow Free-matching, problem solving, variety of skill levels
  • King of Math-educational, teacher recommended
  • Words with Friends-interactive, improves spelling, thought provoking
  • Where's My Water?-autistic kids LOVE it, interactive, fun, great for occupational therapy
  • Racing Penguin-challenging, holds your attention, hand-eye coordination
  • Minecraft PE-very popular with tweens/younger teens, creative outlet
  • Talking Tom-great for those with communication challenges (he repeats everything you say)
  • Magic Piano-listening skills, fun, fast-paced, good for those who enjoy music
Here's the link for a 13 minute video on how autistic people use iPads

Rebekah Kamp - Belgrade Community Library

As one of the authors, I have to mention the YALSA blog. Each week we review apps that are great for teens and teen librarians.
  • YALSA's Teen Book Finder - Teen books organized by awards, book lists, etc.
  • Netflix - Movies and TV on the go :-)
  • Shazam - Press the button on Shazam, and the app will listen for a few seconds, matching tunes with a database. The screen pops up with the album cover, the artist’s name, and a list of other ways to interact with the song. Share it with a friend via Facebook or Twitter, read lyrics in time with the song, check reviews, browse related You Tube videos, and buy tracks from iTunes.
  • Songkick Concerts - Many people enjoy listening to music on their mobile devices, but this app brings the listener to the music. Songkick Concerts helps users keep track of upcoming concerts by location and artist, organizing shows on a concert calendar for easy reference.
  • Flashcardlet - There are several flashcard apps out there, but students that need more than text to study will appreciate Flashcardlet’s features. A step beyond the traditional pen and paper flashcard, this app allows you to view images. Create your own deck or download one from to study SAT vocabulary, science and math diagrams, art history, or any other subject imaginable. If you find or make a study deck that will be useful for a friend, share it by using Dropbox or email.
  • Goodreads - Not necessarily just for teens, but this app is a great way to keep track of what you have read. You can create shelves, join clubs, review books, and share on Facebook. Adding a new book is as easy as scanning the barcode.
Susan Matter - Elementary Librarian, American School of Warsaw

Scribble Press
Scribble Press ($3.99) for iPad makes it easy to create a book on the iPad – either write your own story or use one of over 50 story templates. You can make a book about any topic and instantly publish to the gallery or share with friends anywhere in the world.

Here is how the Scribble Press books look on the web:

Puppet Pals
With this app, children can create and save their own shows.  We like this app because it’s easy to use and allows students to be creative.  To start you need to pick out actors.  You can choose from actors that are included in the program or you can upload your own photos from the camera roll so that children and family members can be the actors. Then you choose backgrounds, drag them on to the stage, and tap record.   Up to three children can maneuver and speak for characters at a time.  Overall, this is a great app for storytelling.  While there is a free version of this app, you might want to purchase the Director's Pass version for $2.99 since it provides a wide range of characters and scenes to choose from.  This is a favorite for both teachers and students in our school.  For example a second grade teacher here had her students create videos that explained the plant cycle.

Aurasma is a free app that allows students to create augmented reality.  This means that students can view real-world objects with a computer-generated overlay such as a video, cartoon animation or audio recording. For example, students can film themselves talking about a book, map, poster, or poem and then attach that video to a picture of the object.  Then when someone views the object using the Aurasma app, he or she will see the video or other animation that was attached. In one class, students made posters of landforms and then attached a video of themselves explaining that feature.  In the library, I videoed students doing book reviews and then then attached them to the book.  I keep the iPad handy for students who want to use it to view books where classmates have made book review videos.

Screenchomp is a free app for creating and sharing short tutorials or lessons on your iPad. Students can use it to create and share demonstrations of their understanding of a topic or concept.   Screenchomp acts as a whiteboard in which you insert a photo or a screen so you can record your voice as you demonstrate things by using the drawing tools.   Students here used it to show how to use an index in a print book.  I used it to show cross country runners how to use machines in the weight room.  The nice thing about Screenchomp is that you can upload the file to YouTube, get the embed code and then use it on your website.

Suzanne Reymer - MSL

These are all iPad apps but some or all may be available for Android as well. Certainly worth checking the Google Play Store and/or Amazon App Store.

Interactive Books

  • Ultimate Dinopedia: Complete Dinosaur Reference - National Geographic Kids
    I've read complaints in the reviews about errors in some of the data but I thought this was a nice comprehensive e-book with lots of dinosaurs, stats and pictures. And who doesn't love dinosaurs?
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore - this continues to be my favorite example of the potential of interactive e-books. Great story that you can choose to have read to you or read yourself with lots of interactive bits including a song to play on a piano. Great fun and there's also a short film that won an Oscar last year.
  • iPoe: The Interactive and Illustrated Edgar Allen Poe Collection vols. 1 & 2
    Probably more for tweens and teens than the previous two as Edgar Allen Poe is rather macabre but these collections have incredible illustrations and interactive components for some of Poe's best known and best loved stories and poems. 
  • Reading Rainbow - the books in this are not interactive. The app is free but access to all the books and activities require a subscription. It's based on the Reading Rainbow program with LeVar Burton narrating many of the books and activities. There are games, videos and rewards for reading as well as quite a few books  available as part of the subscription. 
Educational Apps and Games
  • TouchWorld - a geography game. I spent hours identifying every country in the world. If your child is not as obsessive as I am and goes slower, you can learn facts about each country as you identify it. 
  • WWF Together - a free app from World Wildlife Federation - learn facts about endangered animals.
  • NASA App - free app with information about planets and the space program. Beautiful photos and videos.
Update 2/8/13

I ran across this (LONG) List of Recommended Apps from School Library Journal 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013