Play On!

Five innovative gaming apps for children.

GUEST COLUMN | by Sameer Bhatia

CREDIT ProProfsChildren of all ages are using technology to sharpen their growing minds and their knowledge.  And with the growing number of apps which are available to make learning fun, children have access to a broad range of applications which encourage them to be learning all the time. There are thousands of fun learning apps available for a wide variety

There are thousands of fun learning apps available for a wide variety of devices.

of devices. Here I will highlight five innovative and intuitive gaming apps for children which provide an effective and interactive learning experience.

Counting Numbers Android App

The Counting Numbers gaming app for the Android helps young children with understanding and writing numerical values.  The interface is very easy to use and understand with access to number exercises which are colorfully displayed in icons on the Home interface.  The icons provide access to Learn Counting, Write Numbers, Number Names, Missing Numbers, Connect the Dots, and Greater/Smaller Values.

  • Learn Counting: The Learn Counting interface begins with a colorful background which displays a rainbow when you click on the number.  When you tap on the number a monkey slides down the rainbow.  The number of monkeys which slide down the rainbow correspond with the specific number which was tapped.
  • Write Numbers: The Write Numbers interface displays a tiger holding a whiteboard with numerical values on either side of the whiteboard.  To learn how to write the number, you slide the number onto the whiteboard and then trace it with the pencil tool.
  • Number Names: The Number Names feature displays a number value at the top of the screen with a group of cards underneath.  When you tap on the card it flips around to display the letters which spell out the word term for the number.
  • Greater/Smaller Values: The Greater/Smaller feature helps children to learn which number is greater than the other.  The numbers are displayed on a seesaw and when you click on the right number, the seesaw tips and a Well Done message is displayed along with points earned.
  • Missing Numbers: The Missing Numbers interface helps children to learn which number is missing out of a sequence of numbers.  Children can fill in the missing number by dragging the number selection from the bottom of the screen into the missing number slot.
  • Connect the Dots: The Connect the Dots feature allows children to learn number sequences simply by connecting the dots.  The sequence begins with the number 1 and ranges to the number 10.

Early English App

The Early English gaming app for iOS and Android provides a broad encyclopedia with vivid pictorial images which help children learn the English language.  The app offers 25 categories to choose from which include the Alphabet, Numbers, and Time, ad well as categories which help children to learn words associated with specific topics such as Land Transport, Body Parts, Water Transport, Land Animals, Clothing, Water Animals, Buildings, Air Transport, Flowers, Colors, Birds, Feelings and Emotions, Family, Countries and Flags, Fruits, Food, Nature, Occupations, Sports, Shapes, and Vegetables.

From the Settings page you can customize the app for each child which begins with a starting level and provides the opportunity to advance to new levels.  You can configure the app for more than one child simultaneously to create a learning game for multiple players.

Once you setup a profile, you can setup up the categories which you want your child to learn.  You can begin with the basics like the alphabet and then gradually increase the complexity levels.  You can also present the categories in an arbitrary manner by activating the Random feature. The Auto Navigate features allows you to set the timing for the appearance of each flash card in addition to disabling or enabling the audio feature.

When you select the Start with Learn option, simply select the profile you want to use with the application and tap on Start. Once the child has completed the app level, you can quiz them on what they learned by tapping the Assess feature.  This enables you to determine the complexity of the quiz questions.  You can also set the type of quiz such as Picture to Word Match, Word to Picture Match, Sound to Picture Match, etc.  Then you simply select the Start with Assess option and then tap on Start to launch the quiz.

You can also track and analyze your child’s progress using the reports and analytics feature.  The reports feature presents a summary of the child’s progress.  The analytics feature provides detailed categories organized in progress reports.

Kids Discover Geography App

The Geography gaming app for the iPad by Kids Discover provides a way for kids to embark upon a virtual trip through the terrain and rivers which are part of many different landscapes of the earth.  This is an intuitive app which also helps children to learn latitude and longitude, as well as the science which surrounds time zones.

The initial interface of this app allows you to tap to learn how to use the app or swipe to start reading and learning.  When you swipe to begin learning, you can choose the area of the world you want to learn about.  The following interface presents you with 9 main topics in addition to extra activities and resources.

The topics include describing the earth for the specific chosen geographic area, dividing the earth to discover longitude and latitude, show and tell maps, virtual tour, terrain topography, rivers, and activities which help to reinforce the information learned in the app.

Describe the Earth: When you tap on Describe the Earth you can navigate to specific areas and cities and then swipe the screen to read about points of interest.  In this interface you also have access to diagrams which describe how capital cities were designed along with their historical background.  When you swipe to the next screen you can visit the Geography Hall of Fame which provides images for points of interest and the surrounding area.

Augmented Reality: You can also use the interactive features which provide access to a reality environment for the area your child is studying about.  The features include actual environmental sounds which provide children with a real world experience of what a specific area of the world is like.

Interactive 3D: Geography provides an interactive 3D feature which provides children with a 3D experience for exploration.  For example, if they are studying the Hoover Dam, they can study the Hoover Dam in 3D by tapping and swiping on different sections of the image.

Extra Activities: The extra activities reinforce what children have learned by providing access to quizzes, map matrix, time zones, and questions on latitude and longitude.  When children answer questions correctly, there is a cheering section which applauds and encourages them to continue.  There are also puzzles and other fun games which help to reinforce learning.

Kids Discover Science App

The Kids Discover Science App for the iPad provides children with a fun and interactive way to learn space science.  When you initially install the app, the Index icon provides access to a wide variety of space science topics which include Star-Studded Galaxies, The Milky Way Merry-Go Round, Exotic Galaxies, Through the Looking Glass, A Galaxy is Born, Galactic Myths and Legends, Cluster of Galaxies, and Constellations, in addition to a variety of activities, resources, and quizzes which reinforce learning.

Each topic provides comprehensive information and background data, in addition to interactive features which orient children with exact locations of galaxies and other space science elements. The interactive features also help children learn where space science elements are in relationship to the earth.  You can also manipulate the 3D features to view space elements from different angles while still maintaining the relationship to the earth.

The Kids Discover Science app also provides interactive 3D views of black holes and dark matter in the universe and the opportunity to view solar system elements through a telescope.  Children can also get a glimpse into the past with a feature that allows you to see 13 billion years into the past.  An additional feature allows you to tune in and listen to the stars.

This is an intuitive app for young children to learn about the primary elements of the universe and solar system.  At the end of each section are activities, games, quizzes which help to reinforce learning.

BUGBrained Fluency App

The BUGBrainedFluency app for the Android teaches young children verbal expressions and speaking accuracy using their ears and provides tools for measuring the rate and the smoothness of speaking sentences and expressing words.  The initial interface provides access to a colorful set of features which help children develop fluency using their ears.

There is a mosquito icon which helps children to rate their expression, accuracy, and smoothness.  When you tap on one of the three features such as Expression and tap the Check Yourself icon, the app discusses the use of expressions at the end of a sentence.  For example, under Expressions, children can learn about using a question mark at the end of a sentence.

When you tap on the mosquito, it tips the sentence in an upwards direction with a recorded voice that demonstrates the expression.  Then you can tap on the mosquito to indicate whether or not the sentence was expressed correctly.

The Accuracy feature teaches children how to read and pronounce each word in a sentence.  A voice simulation reads the sentence aloud and then the child can tap on the appropriate mosquito to indicate if the sentence was read correctly or incorrectly.  Children can test their rate of reading using the Accuracy feature which presents a paragraph.  When you want to begin, simply tap on the mosquito and when you are finished tap on the end mosquito.

BUGBrained Fluency app also provides a smoothness test which provides a sentence that the simulated voice reads.  The correct answer is then generated by sliding the mosquito over the correct answer.

These are just a few of the gaming apps for children which make learning fun and enjoyable.  If you perform a search for children’s apps, you will find a host of other apps which children find interesting and exciting. There are also mobile games that are not Apps but can be accessed in browsers and available online.

Sameer Bhatia is founder and CEO of ProProfs, a leading platform for online training and assessment with one of the world’s largest libraries of professional tests and quizzes. Sameer holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Southern California (USC) and is an edtech industry veteran. Find him on Google+ and Twitter.

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