4 novel ways to get kids reading and learning

4 novel ways to get kids reading and learning

Marc Saltzman explains how to get kids to read and learn.

4 novel ways to get kids reading and learning

With its knack of straddling learning and fun, Leapfrog Academy is an on-demand and online service with more than 1,000 educational games and activities.

Let’s start with the young’uns.

Designed for kids ages 3 through 6 (kindergarten through 1st grade), Leapfrog Academy is a collection of more than 1,000 interactive learning activities, games, ebooks, videos, and music.

Along with an animated 3D home screen, the platform offers traditional school subjects – including the ABCs and 123s – as well as problem solving and critical thinking, life skills (like sharing and caring), science, health, creativity, and more. Based on how well the child comprehends the content, the difficulty level of the activities can scale up or pare down, as needed. A Parent Dashboard gives mom or dad a glimpse into their child’s favorite games and progress. 

Similar to Netflix, Leapfrog Academy is an on-demand subscription service ($7.99/month; leapfrogacademy.com), for up to five child profiles per account. Those who own a Leapfrog Epic tablet pay $5.99/month. The app is playable on multiple devices, and if you know you’ll be without Internet connectivity for a while (perhaps on a long plane ride or road trip), kids can download up to 24 activities to play offline.

The more they play, kids will also earn rewards for their avatar, including pets, clothes, and accessories.

Epic!

4 novel ways to get kids reading and learning

For $7.99/month, kids can have access to many thousands of popular books, from many of the top publishers.

Having trouble getting your kids to read books?

Epic! ($7.99/month; getepic.com) is a leading digital library app and website for kids 12 and under.

Whether it’s for reading out of pure enjoyment or for schoolwork’s sake, Epic! encourages kids to read by providing unlimited access to roughly 25,000 books, graphic novels, audiobooks (and “read-to-me” titles), videos, teacher-created quizzes, articles, and more.

This subscription service includes content from hundreds of publishers, including leading brands like Macmillan, HarperCollins, Sesame Street, National Geographic, Smithsonian Enterprises, and Encyclopedia Britannica, to name a few. Books are divided into Recommended, Collections, Popular, by Category, Age, Subject, Audio and Video, and so on.

Once you start reading, the app can offer personalized recommendations based on interest and level, plus there’s a reward system as extra motivation to keep kids reading. You can save books to read offline if you know you’ll be off the grid.

A parents area lets mom or dad see their child’s interests and activity.

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Quizlet

4 novel ways to get kids reading and learning

With nearly 185 million study sets and counting, students can find what they’re looking for with Quizlet.

Billed as the world’s largest student and teacher online learning community, Quizlet (quizlet.com) offers a growing variety of games and activities to help students of all ages practice and master any conceivable subject and topic – from languages and math to science and history.

Available on iOS and Android, Quizlet’s popular free products include Flashcards, which you can create your own or choose from millions created by others; Quizlet Write, which quizzes students on terms and their definitions; Quizlet Learn, requiring you to create a study plan and be reminded when and what to practice; and Quizlet Match, a timed study game. Quizlet Live is a collaborative classroom game that teachers use to test students on certain lesson topics.

While most of its features are free, Quizlet also enables both students and teachers to upgrade to paid subscriptions for added benefits. For example, Quizlet Plus ($19.99/year) offers students advanced content creation tools on their desktops – including image uploads, diagram creations, voice recording capabilities, and faster customer support. Last week, Quizlet Go on mobile devices ($1.99/year) debuted, which removes ads and enable students to customize flashcards right from their phones or tablets.

Other Quizlet features include six study modes, gamification elements (competitions and high scores), and text-to-speech audio for 18 languages automatically integrated into Quizlet study modes and games.

Swift Playgrounds

4 novel ways to get kids reading and learning

Learn to code at a young age with Apple’s Swift Playgrounds, a free download for iPad.

It’s been said most jobs kids will have after they graduate haven’t even been invented yet. But you bet it’ll include technology in some way, shape, or form.

And what better way to help kids engaged in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) than teaching them to code in a fun and rewarding way?

Enter Swift Playgrounds (apple.com/swift/playgrounds), Apple’s free app for iPad that lets kids (or kids at heart) learn and experiment with code. Solve interactive puzzles in the guided “Learn to Code” lessons to master the basics of programming, while additional challenges let you explore code and experiment with concepts to create engaging experiences. Created by Apple, Swift is a powerful, touch-enabled programming language used to create many of today’s popular apps.

The 257MB Swift Playgrounds app requires no previous coding knowledge. As you start to code you’ll see your work run in a colorful and interactive 3D world, with one of three animated characters that carry out the steps of your code. You’ll see the results of your code instantly, beside the text or acted out in the live view.

Create your own playgrounds from scratch – and use your own images and sounds — or start with preexisting templates. You can also access iOS frameworks, such as SpriteKit for 2D games, SceneKit for 3D graphics, UIKit, and others. There’s even support for controlling robots and drones. When you’re done, send your creations to friends and family, or record a video of yourself coding or running your creation.

Swift Playgrounds requires a 64-bit iPad with iOS 10 or later, including iPad mini 2 or later, iPad Air or later, or iPad Pro.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. E-mail him at [email protected]



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