When I had my first post in the much-esteemed publication, Edutopia, called Tech Toys (and Tools) for Learning, they received a comment about an app that someone felt needed to be on this particular blog. My original article was almost twice the size and did include other companies that are forging ahead in this digital space. Surprisingly I had gone way beyond the recommended number of words and rather than rewrite the entire thing I saved the second half for a follow-up. Edutopia told me Part Two’s don’t usually fare well, so since I had already written this and wanted to give recognition to other groundbreaking tech teams that are pushing the envelope, I am publishing this as a second part of the article here at Teachers With Apps. Osmo is another company pushing the envelope in this space. They have just released a new drawing app called Masterpiece that, in my opinion, is outstanding. The highlight of this app is that it has the very cool feature of recording and playing back a time-lapse video of the drawing as it was created! Osmo also has “Tangram,” “Words,” and “Newton.” These apps, paired with tangible objects, all use a mirror-like reflector in conjunction with the iPad’s front-facing camera to detect and interpret shapes and patterns for this unique gameplay. Expect surreal experiences fostering social intelligence, creativity, problem-solving and much more. Read the TWA review HERE. In addition, just released is the Storied Myth, an app, and puzzles that use an augmented reality experience as well as tangible objects to advance storytelling and promote diverse cultures. This app and its physical items provide kids with six stories introducing the world and the characters of Pangea; their mission is to search for a mythical pendant and save Pangea in this epic adventure story. It combines both fiction and non-fiction to teach universal values. The creators of Storied Myth are very committed to presenting diversity in their storyline so all kids can connect to the characters and their common values. Read the TWA review HERE. For the special education child, the mobile devices have been breaking new ground since their inception, enabling students to communicate and learn in ways we never thought possible. Now that we have the ability to incorporate physical objects that can interact with educational apps, struggling learners will without question, be able to grasp new concepts and retain them in novel ways. The physical component of this technology provides a critical experience for these children and will allow them to immerse more deeply and directly in their learning process. (Oh, and by the way, all students will benefit from the hands-0n learning experiences!) One such product that is making inroads with the special education, as well as the gen ed population, is Bluebee Pals by Kayle Concepts LLC. They are adorable stuffed animals that are Bluetooth enabled and sync with both Apple and Android devices. They are able to play anything from music to stories to any educational game driven by sound. Using the Bluebee Plush Pals in conjunction with a device results in the Bluebee lip synching to what is playing. Kids that are apraxic, autistic. or sedentary may need a non-threatening friend to urge them to take a risk…be it singing a song or moving. By decreasing anxiety, and putting it in a playful realm, kids are more willing to take risks and experiment with what is presented. Which is endless, as Bluebee Pals work with any app which a parent chooses for their child. Speech Pathologists will love Bluebee Pals, both as an input for modeling conversation, and a direct resource for practicing conversation and/or social skills. Recommended for parents and kids everywhere. Read the TWA review HERE. One other added bonus that I had the luxury of seeing in person and meeting the developer face to face at co.lab, is Piper. It is not an app but shows real potential again for special needs students and the general education population in engagement while learning about how things work. This very cool new product, a toolbox for budding engineers allows them to create and tinker with electronics by playing Minecraft. This exceptional toy from a company called Piper is part of the co.lab organization. Check out their kickstarter here, Steve Wozniak contributed!
Written by Jayne Clare
Jayne Clare is dedicated to being in the forefront of the ever-changing digital landscape. She has been working directly with students and startups and recognizing what works and what doesn’t, along with the why behind both. Jayne co-founded Teachers With Apps in 2011.