Early Childhood Educator Anita Wadley said it best in her poem Just Playing, “Today I am a child and my work is play.” For our youngest students, play is a powerful means of learning about the world around them and getting hands on experiences. The EdTech industry has recently been working hard to address the needs of the youngest learners, and there are dozens of products out there aimed at playful learning. We’d like to introduce you to just a few of them, along with the theory of what makes them successful.
Though your students won’t be cracking the textbooks quite yet, now is the time to devote attention to those early reading and writing skills that will eventually evolve to help your students read their favorite books and express their creativity to others. Little Writer is an iOS app with a tracing tool that encourages early writing. It is aesthetically pleasing and has a nice soundtrack that also engages students. This app stands out as being very customizable and adults can turn individual items and letters on and off based on their young players’ skills. The app can also be personalized with pictures of family and friends that players can begin labeling once they get the hang of the necessary letters. In addition, parents or teachers can record their own voices reading the words, creating a personal connection to the game and encouraging their students.
We’ve talked about Tiggly’s iOS apps with manipulatives before when our team got a chance to visit their offices. Since then, the company has further expanded their product line to a larger suite of apps, including many more options to play with words, math, and shapes. Tiggly’s apps are particularly well suited to their young audience and stand out in the industry for their use of physical manipulatives in play. All the apps use manipulatives that let early learners work on their fine motor skills and experience games not only with their eyes and ears but also with their hands. Additionally, the apps include several creativity tools that allow players to draw their own characters and make elementary animations. Finally, there is a backend to the apps for parents and teachers to view so they can check on student progress and help scaffold.
Alongside learning the school curriculum, early learners are developing their emotional intelligence. This is a crucial time during which children learn to express themselves as well as understand the feelings of others. This game teaches kids about emotions and helps them to identify and express theirs through games and songs. Feelings like "jealous," "patient," "frustrated," "proud," and more help children 3 and up expand how they express their own feelings. The game can be personalized with the option to take photos of kids expressing different emotions to compare how similar they look to Daniel Tiger. Additionally, several tools for actually dealing with one’s own emotions are available. Kids can follow along with simple calming techniques or draw as a way to process their emotions. This game is a great addition to a preschool app set.
Do you know of a great early childhood app for classroom or home use? Let us and our readers know in the comments below!
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