I know, I know, it’s the beginning of October and I’m just now writing about one of our most popular series of Summer Reading Club programs. This summer was the first time we offered iPad programs for kids ages 8-12 years old. I was fortunate to be able to run each of these programs at least once at one of our 20 participating branches. When I was looking for app recommendations, I took advantage of Little eLit and super genius Emily Lloyd. I also worked closely with two of my colleagues, Saara and Nicole, to select the apps for each program. I thought it’s only fair to give back to the community by sharing the apps we used and how they worked.
For each of these programs we registered 18 kids as we were limited by the physical number of iPads we own. We also provided bookmarks with the list of apps used and challenges the kids could complete. For the first 15-20 minutes we split the kids into groups and briefly modeled how to use each app. Then we let them play, while we answered questions, interacted with the kids, and encouraged them to complete the challenges.
Our SRC theme was Funny Business, so we tried to find apps with a high LOL factor. All of these apps are free.
Verdict: ChatterPix Kids stole the show (see my demo below!). Kids can create talking pictures and there were many a talking poop creations. Runner up was Sock Puppets – kids loved changing the sound of the voices and working with others to create their show. SparkleFish and Mad Libs only appealed to a small crowd, and I could have probably just gone with Mad Libs. The only added feature in SparkleFish is it lets kids record the missing word, rather than choosing or typing it in. Singing Fingers was kind of a dud – cool concept but it was a bit finicky. Many of the kids loved BeBop Kids which allows you to mix your own beat. It was just a cacophony having 18 kids in one room all playing different types of music.
Here’s me having some fun with ChatterPix!
These apps are designed to teach kids the thinking strategies and patterns behind coding, such as logic statements. They don’t actually learn to code a website. All of these apps are free.
Verdict: I loved this program! We had a very high ration of parents and caregivers sticking around and playing right along with the kids. These apps offer a wide range of skill level – Daisy is great for younger kids while Cargo-Bot is challenging even for adults. Tynker is more like a video game which gave it a high appeal factor, though you can only get so far without paying for access to higher levels. Hopscotch was less like a game, but still a great app to teach sequencing.
My co-worker Nicole created this program. For the first half, kids used drawing books from our collection to draw three new things. Then we handed out the iPads and showed them the following apps. We challenged them to recreate one of their drawings in one of the apps. All of these apps are free.
Verdict: I really liked Cartoon Camera because you can take a picture rather than drawing your own, but that’s saying more about my own lack of artistic talent than anything else. Paper by FiftyThree gave the kids the most creative control as it’s basically an open canvas. FingerPaint Studio worked better for the younger kids as it was easier to navigate, plus it allowed them to animate their drawings. Tellagami was a huge hit, though admittedly it has the least to do with drawing. It lets kids create an avatar and they loved adding funny voices. I didn’t get a chance to play around much with MoMA Art Lab, but it’s definitely the most educational of this group. You could probably do a whole program just using that app.
We used Minecraft – Pocket Edition and it was the only paid app we used this summer. We wanted to cash in on Minecraft mania before it goes out of style. We basically just let the kids play together, while we helped any beginners figure out how to build a house. The kids all wanted to join the same server so they could play together and we did run into an issue with that as only four kids could join at once. At the end of the program I gave out these bookmarks which I swear to god they thought were the coolest thing ever. In fact, I think you could run a program based on Minecraft without actually playing the game and get just as good results.
So there you have it – how we used iPads in our Summer Reading Club line up!