By: Lisa Johnson
At a recent Mothers of Preschoolers’ meeting, I had the pleasure of listening to two Kindergarten teachers share a list of of skills needed for preschoolers to be ready for Kindergarten. While there was no mention of actual technology skills or the idea of technology working to support the readiness items they mentioned, my mind instantly began assigning apps to each one.
In an earlier post, I mentioned how the iPad could support literacy so I felt this post should focus more on color and shapes, sight words, hand-writing, letter recognition, time, and patterns and sequences.
Letter Recognition: There are many ABC books out there but I am always partial to anything from Grasshopper Apps. Their The Little Book of ABC (free) is clean and visually appealing, gives you the option to read to you/read to myself/autoplay, and will even allow you to customize the story with your own voice. As they become familiar with the story, have them rewrite and rerecord each page with more adjectives, prepositional phrases (e.g. instead of “A is for Apple”, consider “A is for Apple that grows on a tree”), or words with the same beginning letter (e.g instead of “A is for Apple”, consider A is for Apple, Ant, and Alligator” or “A is for an apple the ant ate”).
Hand-Writing: Alphabet Tracing (free) offers tutorials to help students practice how to write upper and lower-case letters and numbers from 1 to 10. The app provides a tutorial for each letter and number, two places to practice writing it, and a word that starts with that letter.
Sight Words: ABC Sight Words Writing Free Lite HD (free) features words from six different categories (e.g. Pre-Primer, Primer, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, and Nouns). In each category, there are multiple words available. The app will read the word and then you can trace over it to practice handwriting.
Patterns & Sequences: When it comes to patterns and sequences, I have to say both of my boys are enamored with Caboose – Learn to Recognize and Complete Patterns ($1.99 and worth every penny). Not only are the dinosaur and train delightful graphics, it is a wonderful tool. The dinosaur drags out a patterned sequence train of upper case and lower case letters, numbers, shapes, or colors. The app will read off each element in the sequence and then prompt you to drag the item below the bridge that will complete the pattern. You can even customize the pattern content and type and answer method.
Color & Shapes: Let’s Make Shapes! Lite (free) has three modes. The first prompts you to trace a shape, the second allows you to draw free-form shapes, and the third provides directions and patterns for you to create a scene with shapes. The creature host will also tell you what shapes you draw and highlight the color you use as well thus reinforcing both color and shape recognition.
Time: Apples in Hour Hands (free) provides three grade levels (Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade). Simply choose the apple with the digital time that matches the analog time on the clock in the tree.
Clearly this is not an exhaustive list of apps that will prepare your preschooler for Kindergarten. Motor skills, social skills, and further assistance with Math, Science, and History are also integral. Visit your state’s essential knowledge and skills for a complete listing of standards. As a parent of an iPad native and preschool student, I have to say that apps can only go so far in supporting learning. I always encourage parents to be involved in their child’s iPad time whether it be asking probing questions or simply monitoring iLearning.