Friday, September 28, 2012

Hot Apps for Reading and Writing Literature

We're always on the hunt for useful new educational apps for a variety of platforms. The apps discussed below, primarily for Apple's iOS operating system for iPhone and iPad (although some are also available on Android and the web) have impressed us as being fun, effective tools for promoting different literacy skills.

Thanks to Mashable for their ongoing coverage of new apps for education and kids (and for the inspiration for this article).

Let us know what you think, and please share your favorites with us in the comments.

For Reading

Interactive Touch Books ($1.99 - $2.99 per book, with 3 complimentary books) – As they read, kids from 18 months to 10 years old can play with coloring pages and other built-in activities that accompany each story.

Storybots Starring You App, formerly JibJab Jr. Books, ($7.99 per book, with 1 complimentary book) –  allows kids to be the stars of stories by inserting a photo of themselves, which is superimposed into the digital pages. Reluctant readers will enjoy reading about their own adventures!

iBooks (free; cost of books varies) – iBooks lacks the fun, flashy features synonymous with children’s book apps, but its highlighting and note-taking tools, built-in dictionary, and other features make it such a fantastic tool for older students that we can’t leave it off of our list.

For Writing

StoryKit (free) – This app allows youngsters to read and enjoy old favorites like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Humpty Dumpty. But they can also edit the stories if they have a better idea for the plot, and it’s easy to share their created books with other users. Reviewers say that the interface is slightly tricky, so adults may need to be on hand to help kids navigate the app.

StoryPanda ($1.99 per book, with 1 complimentary book) – Kids can use the storybook template to create their own books to read again and again or share with others via email. The included book, called The Adventures of Anna and Dad, can be read as is or customized.

For Visualization

Doodle Buddy (free) – This app works well in conjunction with books that have vivid descriptions. After reading a story, ask kids to pick out a passage they found particularly descriptive and use their fingers to create an image of the passage using a variety of drawing and painting tools, and even glitter! Images can be exported and shared.

For Retelling

Popplet (free) – Kids can quickly and easily make mind maps to show the events of a story in order, even adding images to enhance their creations. Adults can add fields with sequencing words like first, then, after that, etc. to help get summary maps going.

Sundry Notes (free) – This app is very versatile. After reading, kids can simply draw pictures showing the different parts of a story, or take their representation up a notch by adding an audio recording of their voice explaining the story. Older kids can use it to create tables as well, and everything can be shared between devices easily, or exported in the form of PDFs for printing.

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