Thursday, April 28, 2011

Angry Birds and Education Apps

We rationalized the iPad purchase to help Thing One with her learning issues, repetition in a fun way was the theory. In reality the one who has become totally hooked on the iPad, Thing Two.  He will do chores to play any game, will rock through any educational app that we ask, and wants to watch Netflix on the iPad. It isn't that Thing One hasn't shown some interest, Angry Birds is alright. I think Thing One gets that beyond Angry Birds, the iPad isn't really a fun thing, it is an educational thing. Somehow she has already decided that no matter what the 'game' learning is frustrating, iPad toy or not.

Where does this really leave us with getting Thing One in the groove of education. I am not totally sure what I can find to hook her, but I am not about to give up. We cut a deal, any grade below 80% and we do extra work.  This deal was made ages ago and has generally worked well. This week 80% was breached, on a geography vocabulary test. Instead of harassing her about not paying attention in class, which was most likely the case, I asked her the questions she missed. She didn't have the answers to any of the questions so I hatched a plan. I told her that because she got below 80% she would have to work on it this weekend.  Thing One wasn't pleased at this prospect, most weekends are spent watching TV and trying to convince the kids PJ and scooters at the park can be a bad idea, but I am holding out hope.  I grabbed the iPad and started hunting, I found two apps, one a game and one a world encyclopedia that has geography searching. Why the second one, One loves animals more than people, if she ends up learning the continents, countries and all the US states based on the native animals, I don't really care as long as she learns the basics.

Technology and in particular the flexibility the iPad allows us in meeting both kids needs has been a boon these last few weeks. Thing One can independently work on grammar, spelling and math, something she has stated she prefers, working alone.  Two can do his reading, thanks to a free app a friend told us about, he also does math, and can be incented to do more homework with the iPad as a reward. Thing Two doesn't need much motivation to do his homework though, he easy can rock out his work with little encouragement. Two, Two is like molasses that has sat too long, and amazingly the iPad helps with that, the quicker she answers a question the more points and the more rewards; we are hoping this skill transfers.  Do I think the iPad can meet all their learning needs, no way, but it sure help when both kids can be working on homework at the same time.

We are working on modifications on how we interact learning wise with One on a daily basis. A modification we have made for her learning right now is to read her anything she asks us to read.  She will get there with reading, but we just need to let her move at the pace she sets for herself.  We have an app to test how many words she can read a minute, but that doesn't tell us if she understands what she reads. To test comprehension we constantly ask now, what do you think that means.  We ask this question for two reasons, one to check that she understood, she frequently doesn't understand when she reads but does when we do. We also ask because asking her to paraphrase what she just heard or read will help her mind learn to break down information so it can go into her working memory easier, hopefully with time her working memory will better adapt to taking in information which will help her processes.

By the way, she loved the geography quiz app and has been playing it pretty constantly since we taught her it tonight.


  1. The kids love playing on our iphones, we have been talking about get an ipad. I want one desperately but if we do get one I'm sure I'll have to fight the kids for it. Jonathan will sit in my lap and watch a movie on Netflix on my phone while I'm watching my television show. Margot can move like molasses too, maybe that is why the girls get along so well.

  2. It probably doesn't hurt a friend at the same speed is always helpful.