Well, I finally did it. I finally found an app that is free, happens to be available on both Android and iOS, is engaging, and is educational.
FlipPixArt is based on an old Japanese logic puzzle that offers a matrix and clues about which boxes should be colored in each row and column. By using the numbers at the top of each column and the beginning of each row, one must deduce the correct boxes to “paint” and which ones to “hammer” out of the picture.
Once the puzzle is solved, an object or animal is added to the scene at the beginning of the game. In the free “Zoo” version, there is one scene with 36 puzzles needed to complete it. Recently, the “Holiday” version went free (though I don’t know for how long), and it has 6 holiday scenes with 74 puzzles. However, one of the scenes in the “Holiday” version is a bar scene, so I would not recommend it for educational purposes. There are many other versions – including the Kids one – some are for free, and some cost. So far, my favorite free one is the Model Plane version. There is also a Jurassic one that is sure to appeal to some of those dinosaur enthusiasts.
This is a good app for the classroom because it allows for different players on the same device, so they can each play at their own level. It also offers a great tutorial. I would say that this is a good app for 3rd grade and up, though younger children can probably enjoy it with a bit of guidance.
appoLearning is a relatively new guy on the block when it comes to educational app reviews. The site comes from the developers of appolicious. They recognized the complexities of finding apps on the iTunes stores, and produced a site that gives you many more tools to narrow down your search.
appoLearning is just as ambitious, though the format is a bit different. “Experts” review educational apps using a special report card, and describe their top 5 in each category. Some of the apps are free, and others are not. If an app scores highly enough to be in the top 5, though, you can be sure that it is well worth its price. One of the highest price apps that I reviewed, Dragon Box, for example, is one of the best educational apps I’ve ever run across.
If you are a parent or teacher who is completely overwhelmed when you search for “education” apps on the iTunes app store, then appoLearning is the perfect antidote.
You can learn more about appoLearning here.
I would be the first to raise my hand in a Superdome full of people if the following question was asked, “Who is the worst art teacher out there?” But if I can find a way to integrate art and technology, my lessons are sometimes fairly successful. This was one of those activities.
To complete this project we used the iPad camera, Tracing Paper Lite (free), and TypeDrawing ($2.99). There is a web site, Texter, that performs like TypeDrawing, and is free. However it does not have the font choices and the ability to import a picture as a background.
The students took pictures of each other in profile on the iPads. Then they opened Tracing Paper Lite, imported their pictures, and traced their silhouettes. If traced so that the silhouette has no openings, the students can then fill it with black paint. Because they were using Tracing Paper Lite, which did not have an easy way to export their silhouettes, I had them take screen shots (be sure to get rid of the grid in the background first), and crop them in the Photo Album. Then they opened TypeDrawing (here is a SnapGuide to using this app), imported the silhouettes, and added the traits that they felt characterized them.
I have seen this done without the use of technology, but the students enjoyed the freedom TypeDrawing gave to personalize the fonts, the colors, and even the direction of the words. Does anyone else have ideas for how this could be used?
A couple of days ago, I received my daily update from my “Apps Gone Free” app. I noticed the “Robots for iPad” app, and thought it sounded intriguing, but didn’t have wi-fi at the time to download it. I remembered it yesterday, and decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did!
“Robots for iPad” is only available for free this week, as it is National Robotics Week (April 6-14, 2013) here in the States. If you’re reading this post after that time period, I still think it’s worth the 99 cent regular download cost.
The app shows different types of robots from all over the world. You can filter them by country, type, date, or size. You can also view just the featured ones, or random robots. Once you click on a robot’s picture, you will see a description of the robot and its purpose. There are also additional photos, and it looks like they all have videos included as well.
In addition to the summaries of the robots, you can also read robotics news, play a game, and learn more about the study of robotics.
F.Y.I. – this app is rated 9+ for “Infrequent/Mild Horror/Fear Themes. I haven’t had a chance to look at all of the robots, yet, but have not found anything I wouldn’t want my own child to see.
Don’t forget to download Robots for free before the end of this week!
I have posted before about the iPad app, Puppet Pals, here and here. Yesterday, I was reading a post by Lisa Johnson at techchef4u.com, and saw that there is a brand new Puppet Pals 2 app that was just released in January. So, of course, I had to try it out. Just like the original version, there is a free app, and you can also buy an “All Access Pass” for $4.99. Because I downloaded it to a school iPad, I stuck with the free version. Here are the new features as described in the iTunes store:
• Characters walk and talk!
• Use your own photos for heads!
• Fully pose-able limbs!
• Ride a wide variety of vehicles (camels, giraffes, planes, cars and more)
• Tons of musical soundtracks to set the mood
• Explore different terrains and settings
• Experience low gravity on the moon
So far, I have found that the free version does not allow you to add your own photos (you can add that feature for $1.99, which might be well worth it – allowing you to create as many of your own puppets from photos as you like), and the characters (the set of 3 “Pure Genius” characters – Einstein, Van Gogh, and Twain – costs .99), rides, and locations are limited. The Puppet Shop is fun to look through, though…
One of the best new features is that, if you touch a character while recording, his or her mouth will move along with your words. The movement of limbs is a vast improvement, too.
Be forewarned – your students will want to fully explore this before actually doing an assignment with it. They will need at least 15 minutes to giggle over combining different character heads with different bodies, such as Shakespeare’s head on a ballerina’s body. And they will probably want to play every music sample, too.
Another thing I like about Puppet Pals 2 is the section that is included for Parents and Teachers with suggestions, tips and tricks.
Of course I wish the free version offered all of the bells and whistles, but I have to admit that there is a lot that can be done even with the limited resources on this version. If your students produce any great samples, I would love to see them! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday, I was browsing through the day’s Apps Gone Free (using the app on my iPhone), and was intrigued by the description of “My Album“. Always a bargain hunter, I was even more interested when I saw that this free app was usually priced at $4.99. I quickly downloaded it to our school iPad, and started to play with its many features. I was very impressed. “My Album” allows you to create virtual scrapbook “albums” with as many pages as you like. On each page, you can add backgrounds, pictures, clip art, text, and even drawing. You can resize and rotate the pictures, use your own photos as backgrounds or the ones in the app, and choose from dozens of fonts for your text. The best thing about the app is the many ways that you can share your albums and/or pages. You can e-mail them in jpg or pdf formats, save them to your iPad Photos, or save them as pdf’s on the iPad. Oh, and you can include music on your pages (I haven’t explored this feature, yet.)
This is a lot of great stuff in one app. Your students could use this for creating presentations. You could use it to keep records of daily class activities in an album to be shared on a blog or printed at the end of the year. There are lots of ways you can use this in the classroom.
The Help menu is fantastic – with short videos that explain each feature. You can also go to the developer’s website for a longer video that shows all of the app’s abilities.
I don’t know how long this app will be free. There is a free version of it in the iTunes store, as well, but I am not certain how it differs from this one. Get the full version today, if you can!
My second grade gifted and talented students are currently studying bridges. We have been using the PBS Building Big site, which has some great interactive labs and suggested classroom activities. We have also been using the K’Nex Bridges kits, and will be exploring the “Bridge that Gap” challenge (Here are some other K’Nex Challenges). There is also a Structures Curriculum packet that is a free download from K’Nex. Here you can find a great compilation of famous bridges. One of my favorite new resources, though, is a pair of iPad apps that allow the students to learn about different materials and types of bridges by making their own and testing them. They are very similar. One is called, “Bridge Constructor Playground.” This one gives a tutorial that slowly introduces the different types of materials and methods. Users can build virtual bridges and test them with cars and trucks. What I like about this app is that you can have many different answers for each phase. What I don’t like about the free version is that it has an advertisement between each level. (The kids quickly learned to hit the “x” every time, though. ) The other app is merely called, “Bridge Constructor.” In this one, you are given different scenarios and budgets for your designs, and must stay within those constraints to meet the challenge. There is a free version of this app, as well, and it did not appear to have as many ads as the “Playground” version did.
We are going to add some depth and complexity to our lesson by talking about multiple perspectives and the ethics of building bridges. The 2nd graders truly seem to be enjoying this portion of our “Structures” unit, and we may have a hard time moving on!
“Clockwork Brain” is a fun, free app for iDevices. Sprocket, the robot, gives easy instructions for each of the mini-games that come in the free version. Included are:
★ Scrolling Silhouettes: Trains Visual/Spatial Ability
★ Anagrams: Trains Language Processing
★ Missing Tiles: Trains Arithmetic
★ Chase the Numbers: Trains Memory
★ Size Matters (Unlockable Bonus): Trains Visual/Spatial Ability
You can earn access to trials of the other mini-games offered in the “in-app purchases” by collecting tokens within the game. (Be sure to restrict in-app purchases if you do not want your little one to start buying up more game packs.)
The steampunk look differentiates “Clockwork Brain” from other apps of its type. I also like that it is not another “skill and drill” app, and provokes some different types of thinking. If you are really feeling adventurous, you can set the language to something other than your native tongue, and try to learn some new words while you’re playing!
My holiday series of “Gifts for the Gifted” concludes today with a post on apps that you might want to pre-load on that new iDevice you’re about to set under the tree. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. New apps are released weekly, of course, and there are quite a few older apps that I may not have had the pleasure to try, yet. I will give you some resources for finding apps that might fit your specific needs at the end of this post.
These apps are great for elementary age children, and do not require much reading. If I have previously reviewed the app on my blog, I have included a link so that you can learn more about it.
We will start with the free ones:
- Puppet Pals (this version is for iPad only, but Puppet Pals Pocket works on smaller devices) – a link to my review
- Dinner Not Art - a link to my review
- Crayon Physics (currently free for iPad only)
- Bubble Ball - a link to my review
- CargoBot (for iPad only) – a link to my review
- Daisy the Dinosaur (for iPad only) – a link to my review
- Pocket Law Firm - a link to my review
- Blue Block
- Hue Shapes
- Rover (for iPad only) – a link to my review
- Brain Pop
- Pictorial - a link to my review
- Shadow Move - a link to my review
- 123D Sculpt
- Solitaire Chess - a link to my review
- IQ Epilogue
And now for the not so free apps that I highly recommend are worth the current price:
- Puppet Pals Director’s Pass($2.99) - this paid version offers a lot more characters plus the opportunity to use your own pictures as characters or backgrounds
- WordFoto($1.99) - a link to my review
- Type Drawing($2.99) - there is a free version, but I did not like that one
- Windosill($2.99) - a link to my review
- Scribble Press($2.99) - this used to be free, but not any longer; still worth it, in my opinion – a link to my review
If you are looking for ideas for more apps, here are some of my favorite resources:
- Appitic - a link to my review
- iGame Mom
- iPadapps4school - new site hosted by Richard Byrne, author of Free Tech 4 Teachers
- Tech Chef 4u - a link to my review
You can also check out my Pinterest boards.
And, finally, if you bought a new iPad for your child, you might want to read these reviews of child-friendly iPad cases.
Engage Their Minds will be on hiatus next week, so Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!
Yesterday, I posted instructions on using the free Aurasma app on your iDevice. Included in these instructions were how to use the plethora of “Overlays” provided within the app. Once, you create an “Aura” these “Overlays” are short animations or videos that can will appear on top of a trigger image when you use Aurasma on your device to scan the trigger image.
But you are not limited to the “Overlays” provided by Aurasma, numerous and entertaining though they may be. You can also add your own “Overlays” within the app. For example, suppose you have a student who has created a work of art. You would like to display the art on a bulletin board, but you really want people to see and hear the child describing her artwork as they are viewing it on the board. You could do this with a QR code, of course, as I explained in this post, but you could also use Aurasma, which will make it appear as though the student is actually standing in front of the artwork as she explains it. Another way you might use a “homemade” overlay would be with a textbook picture or a worksheet. You could have a video that explains a certain concept or gives hints, and it will appear every time a user holds their device over the trigger image. Here is how you could do this:
1.) First, decide what your trigger image is going to be. In the first example, it would be the child’s artwork.
2.) Then, decide what you want to happen when the image is scanned. In this case, we want a video of the child explaining her work to appear.
3.) Using your iDevice that has the Aurasma app, videotape the above scene with your camera app, and save it to your Photos.
4.) Open the Aurasma app. Tap on the Aurasma logo.
5.) Tap on the +. Near the bottom of the “Create” window, tap on the “Device” tab.
6.) Tap on the large +, and choose “Photo Album”.
7.) Find the video you created and choose it. Select “Use”.
8.) After it process, give the Overlay a name, and tap on “Finish”.
9.) You will be asked if you want to create an Aura with that Overlay. Tap on “OK”.
10.) Take a picture of the artwork.
11.) Choose where you want the Overlay to appear on the artwork.
12.) After it processes, add details (see my previous post for more info on this).
13.) Once it is done, it will give you a message that the Aura has been added to your device. After that, whenever you use the Aurasma app to scan that art, the video will appear over it.
Below, you can view a short video on ways Aurasma can be used in education. Next week, I will give some more ideas on how this app can be used in the classroom. (You can find it at
if the video does not show below.)