…There was once a star that twinkled…and a boy who reached for it. Thus begins a simple but profound story about friendship, holding close, and letting go.
Mrs. Torres’s 4/5 grade class at Zuni Elementary Magnet School for Communication and Technology in Albuquerque, New Mexico is one of the growing number of elementary schools across the county that has access to a set of iPod touches for the classroom.
Michele Torres recently contacted PicPocket Books to let us know that her students have been working with a number of our apps for reading. Mrs. Torres uses the book apps to get her students excited about new titles and subjects and they write book reviews in their writing journals, record reviews in Photo Booth and also present book recommendations to their classmates and “Reading Buddies” from younger grades. Mrs. Torres noticed that the recommendations from the more advanced readers and the inherent appeal of the iPod touch device are successful ways to get reluctant readers more motivated and interested in reading.
In addition to book apps for reading, the class uses several apps for math. The students do math drills, complete story problems, and listen to math lessons. Torres uses lessons from iTunes U to supplement some of the concepts they are learning in class. “If a student isn’t “getting it” I look for a lesson to download and have them complete it on their own,” she says.
Michele says, “I love that the kids are so excited about using these amazing little pieces of equipment. Using the iPod Touches engages my students in learning and increases their motivation. I am able to accommodate the many learning styles of my students by finding different apps for the students to use.”
The flip side of having a huge variety of specialized apps in the App Store is that finding appropriate educational apps in Apple’s vast collection takes some research. “I didn’t want apps that the kids would just play a game on, I wanted to use the apps to supplement what the kids were already doing in the classroom,” explains Torres. For age-appropriate and subject appropriate recommendations, she turned to MomsWithApps. Through their popular website and catalogue of apps, MomsWithApps brings developers of family friendly and educational apps and app users like educators and parents together to share best practices and feedback.
A recent day found students from Mrs. Torres’ class reading and discussing PicPocket Books’ Human Body Detectives: The Lucky Escape, written by Dr. Heather Manly, N.D. Because of the contact information for the publisher and the author is included in the app, Mrs. Torres was easily able to contact PicPocket Books and the author to provide feedback and ask questions – most importantly, “When is the next book in the Human Body Detectives series coming out?” PicPocket Books directed Mrs. Torres to online resources on the author’s website to supplement science lessons and also let the class know that the next adventures will be published as apps in the early summer of 2011.
A number of factors make this kind of communication with the readers, author and publishers of book apps much more direct and immediate in comparison with previous models form the traditional print world. Publishers are benefiting from reader feedback, and readers feel that they can be more connected by giving input on what kind of content is useful for them.
Torres’ students have an “iTouch Notebook” to record their notes and feedback on apps and iTouch activities. Torres added, “I love when the kids come to school and tell me, ‘Mrs. Torres, I did some research last night, and I found a couple of apps you should check out for us.’ Most of the time, the apps are very appropriate for what my goal for them is, and that is to learn.”
This article was originally published on the MomsWithApps website, on May 7, 2011.
We woke up this morning to the entire neighborhood covered in a sheet of ice – and, much to my son’s delight – no school! What could be more conducive to a cozy morning reading by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate by your side?
Even though this beautiful collection of stories is entitled Fireside Stories: Tales for a Winter’s Eve, my son and I can attest to the fact that these are darn good stories for any time of the day. This children’s book is a collection of traditional tales, beautifully illustrated, with handsome borders and colorful images. The eight tales in Fireside Stories, retold by Caitlin Matthews, come from Scotland, Russia, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Canada.
Drawn from countries and cultures around the world, these wonderful wintry stories express the magnificence of the season. From a group of courageous Russian animals to a legend about a bag of warmth that can keep winter away forever, these cozy stories will keep out the winter chill. So next time there’s a snow day, cuddle up and share a story by the fire!
Read early, read aloud and read often – PicPocket Books always encourages children and families to follow this advice – whether you’re reading print books or books on mobile devices like the iPad or iPhone. Other proponents of literacy and reading also echo these recommendations to read early, read aloud and to read often.
The well-established Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) book distribution and reading motivation program has given over 300 million new books to children who might not otherwise have books to call their own.
Read Early, Read Aloud is also the goal of a new campaign sponsored by the First 5 Commissions of Southern California.
The Family Child Care Language and Literacy Project targets child care centers to promote more early reading opportunities in day-care type settings. Specialists modeled ways that care providers can work with children; they offered tips for reading to infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers; they encouraged providers to set up dramatic play areas where they can engage children in conversation; and they demonstrated ways to build youngsters’ comprehension skills and vocabulary. The 15-month project brought about a 20 percent increase in the number of times a day child-care providers read to children; and a 29 percent decrease in the number of hours the TV was on.
Let’s keep reading!
Several features set PicPocket Books apart from other picture book apps for the iPhone. We offer a wide range of classic content from established publishers, including previously published “board books,” concept books, easy readers, and fairy tales, and other culturally diverse picture books. The full color illustrations are detailed and clear. The text is easily readable and the books for the youngest set of readers includes a “learn-to-read” feature where the text is highlighted as the words are spoken, encouraging a connection between the written and spoken word for emergent readers.
The PicPocket Books collection includes books which expand horizons with rich, lively illustrations and which are particularly conducive to being read aloud again and again. We work with a variety of publishers and authors and produce books for the iPhone and iPad that have been previously published in print versions. Our goal is to provide children and families with high quality stories that are beautiful, fun to read, and honor diversity.
Enjoy these titles for free on App Friday. Download today; the apps revert back to their regular price after Friday, October 15, 2010! Click on the images below to go straight to the iTunes App Store.
Huggybird is a versatile character with a high content hug and a humorous approach. He stands for friendship, hugging, humor and can be a bit mischievious. Huggybird loves himself as he is, but he also likes to dress up to try new roles.
For active and adventurous boys and girls there is a Super Huggybird with some serious super powers. Knight Huggybird or a Pirate Huggybird can lead the way to imaginative adventures. For kids who like some fancy flair, this app also introduces Princess Huggybird, a very sweet bird. She is a true princess with her beautiful pink dress and her diamond crown.
The different characters allow both children and adults to identify with Huggybird. Let them spark creative play for dress up, storytelling, or “let’s pretend!”
Mico is a little mouse with a big fear.
A special friend helps him make discoveries that open up a whole new world for him!
Mico’s story encourages kids to take new steps that lead to positive experiences.
A nice story for little readers, especially ones who have ever been afraid of the dark.
Charlie and Isabelle are the same age and share a love of drawing, dancing, playing at the park and snacks! Like most friends, they are also different.
This book offers an opportunity for a discussion about tolerance, acceptance and friendship by showing that “differences are what makes the world so great.”
Best Friends Sleepover: Gilbert’s friends help him get through his first night away from home in Jacqueline Rogers’ humorous and heartwarming story about friendship. And her richly detailed watercolor paintings perfectly capture the spirit of four rambunctious little boys, who just happen to look like animals. Narration and original ukulele music by the author. Originally published by Scholastic Books.
A Reuters article from September 30, 2010 points out that as kids spend more and more time using cell phones and other mobile technology, the time that they spend reading for pleasure decreases.
The article reports results from a study conducted by the Scholastic and Harrison Group with the following findings:
1. 40% of parents think that time spent online and using mobile digital devices would reduce time for books and for engagement in physical activities.
2. 33% of parents are concerned that technology would detract from time spent with family
3. 33% of children said that they would read more books for pleasure if e-books were more available to them.
4. 66% of children claimed that they would still read print books even with greater e-book availability.
Francie Alexander, the chief academic officer of Scholastic, believes that e-books can have an important educational role. She explains, “If we can meet kids where they are and get a third of all kids, many of them struggling readers, to spend more time reading for fun on e-books, that additional time spent building fluency and vocabulary will not only help them become more proficient at reading, but will help prepare them to tackle more complex texts that they will encounter in high school and college.”
Ms. Alexander’s statement really resonates with my belief: if having kids’ books available on your iPhone means more exposure to stories and enthusiasm for reading for kids, then we consider that a success!
- Read with your child every day, whether it is from a print book or digital bookapp version!
- Let your child choose the book – even if it is the same one over and over.
- Set an example of reading – let your child see you reading for pleasure.
- Go to the public library often.
- When your child is older and has longer books assigned for school, read the same books yourself so you can discuss them together with your child.