With tablets becoming more and more popular, new apps for children’s education have developed, and teachers have even started using them in the classroom. According to Forbes, Apple sold three million of its new iPad during its opening weekend, with analysts expecting over sixty million of the tablets to be sold worldwide; ereaders are selling even faster than tablets. With so many different options, like the iPad, Nook, Kindle, Nexus and other devices, there are innumerable apps available to tablet owners. Nowadays, there seems to be an educational app for everything: language arts, math, science, civics, geography, history, astronomy, and even apps for special needs education.
According to The Mercury News, more than one-third of children under two years old have used a mobile device. Their survey also found that kids are more likely to watch educational programs when watching television rather than when on smartphones, and that kids are watching less TV and spending more time on tablets and smartphones. The rising number of apps geared toward children’s education is especially necessary, then; the CEO of Common Sense Media James Steyer claims, “The data shows rapid and profound changes in the 21st century in both childhood and learning.” Beyond educational tools, apps have even helped students turn the page on book publishing, enabling students of all ages to digitally create their own books.
Designed to help introduce kids to being active creators in storytelling, tablet apps allow kids to publish their own work even in their early childhood. For toddlers, there is Draw Along with Stella and Sam, which has a coloring and drawing interface, and also gives the option for the animations to become a movie. For elementary school kids, there are Little Bird Tales and Toontastic Jr. Pirates—these create easy digital stories for children. Little Bird Tales creates books with drawing and photo features, and children can record their own narration. Toontastic Jr. Pirates features cartoon pirates, mermaids, ghosts and princesses that can be manipulated to tell a unique story.
Going beyond children’s education, there are apps for high schoolers and adults specifically for publishing: Creative Book Builder, currently available for Android- and iOS-based tablets, lets students create original works in an ebook or epublishing format, letting them incorporate images, audio and video with their text. Some apps exist as guides to self-publishing. For example, there is the Kindle Self-Publishing Success, available from the Google Play Store and marketed toward writers who wish to live the dream as an established Amazon author. There is also iBooks Author, an app for iPads and Macs that makes digital publishing simpler with design layouts and templates. The app features galleries, videos, interactive diagrams, 3D objects and mathematical expressions. These apps are more developed with what users can do, making their projects seem more serious and unique.
Although teachers and parents have feared that touch screen devices prevent children from picking up and interacting with books, these apps make tablets educational and encouraging. If anything, it seems that children interacting with these devices is almost inevitable according to studies, so it is only beneficial for them to have educational apps. In the classroom, teachers have started using them—one elementary school teacher recalls, “It’s truly incredible that a five-year-old’s story can now be amplified using the iPad and creativity apps to a global audience. This is an exciting time for parents and teachers, but more importantly it’s a fantastic time to be a kid!”
Did You Know?
The availability of countless types of tablets for adults has long seemed clear, but what about options for kids? Many schools and parents may hesitate in having kids handle more advanced technology, but they can find a solution in the more kid-friendly options out there.
Two of the leading children’s tablets specifically geared towards learning are the LeapFrog LeapPad series and the VTech InnoTab series. The former comes with built-in apps, a camera, access to over 800 games, ebooks and other interactive media, and is built “kid-tough.” Its competitor also comes with a wide range of fun and educational apps as well as a camera and MP3 player, and, has the option to text/message others with a tablet or smartphone through Kid Connect. Both devices and apps are often available in department store toy aisles, allowing adults (and kids with adults) easy access.
While these tablets are known mostly for their educational approach, there is also a huge amount of tablets built to be kid-friendly. From Toy “R” Us’s Tabeo e2, to Ematic Fun Tab, to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids, the choices span many different age ranges and can be used for both fun and skill-building. Regardless of choice, the learning and exploring potential is right there in a child’s fingertip.