Crayola DJ App

Screen-Shot-2015-05-27-at-6.25.49-PMCrayola DJ App

Age Scale:  6+

Device:  iPhone, iPod, and iPad (available on Google Play also!)

Quick Line: Look Out Calvin Harris!

What Educators Need to Know:

Our school will soon enter the Maker Movement with the addition and development of a true makerspace in our building.  Exciting!  But not every student will have access to this creative location every day.  What to do?  Combine our Makerspace To Go with some terrific apps on our iPads!

Crayola DJ is a great app to get students started in the creation process.  It is especially appealing to those interested in music.  And while the target age range is 6-10, I would argue that even older students would enjoy mixing tracks. While the options are minimal, it is very easy to create professional-sounding mixes.

Here’s how it works:  

Crayola DJ

First, add a drum track. There are only a few to choose from, but I think this was a good plan.  Too many options for such an important foundation could get confusing.  Second, add looping a sound effect from one of five genres. Repeat this process on the second turntable.  Slide the balance to make one turntable sound louder than the other.  Change the tempo to create some variety.  Add special effects to make your beat unique.  Then produce your song and battle it out on the “stage” by scratching and adding a light show.  Save the song and share it with family and friends!

crayola dj 2

You certainly don’t have to keep my basic guide handy when you use this app.  A nice tutorial will lead you through the steps easily and help you produce something slick.

You might be thinking, “But what would I use this for?”  We have done some terrific projects in the past by having students create original songs and/or jingles to advertise fictitious products in Health classes or points of interest in Social Studies.  How awesome would it be for students to create original beats to use alongside these?  The truth is, the students have these ideas in their heads.  Why not allow them to produce something of professional quality!

Price:  $4.99

I received a free copy of this app from Legacy Games, but my review and opinions are my own.

Plot Development with Toontastic

How do you teach students to identify the parts of a plot when they have already been exposed to it a million times?  Time to turn those tables, boys and girls!  I decided to have the students CREATE plots.  Yes, they write stories in the other half of ELA, but some of the students get so wrapped up in the word portion of writing that they lose their focus.  What to do?


I recently mentioned that one of my favorite iPad apps, Toontastic, is now offered for free.  It had been a little while since I had used it in the classroom, so I decided to revisit it again.  It requires very little, if any, writing, but the best cartoons require careful planning, voice narration, and animation.  The connection to the writing process is certainly clear!

We started with a paper planning sheet and a iPad for inspiration.   You can find a FREE student planning sheet from LaunchPad Toys here.

I let the students view the scenes and “toys”, including characters and special effects prior to making a final decision on the setting for the story.  The newest app upgrade includes over 50 different scenes, and I would advise students choose carefully.  “Pick and Stick” is one of my favorite phrases!


 This was a very revealing portion of the project.  Despite learning about plot for a several years, some students still saw plot as a series of events with relatively no connection.  Working through the planning with each pair really allowed me to correct misconceptions and mistakes.  I’m hoping this one step will remain memorable to them.


After approving their plot, I gave them index cards.  They wrote down what they would like to SAY.  I wasn’t too picky about this portion as some of the students are much better at “winging it” than others.  I didn’t want to stifle creativity with too much structure.

Then, I let them go crazy!  Our final results were saved to the camera roll and uploaded to YouTube for the world to see.  Here are a few of my favorites!

Jungle Stress by Nate and Tony

Tokyo Smackdown by Kaylee and Dominique

Shape the Village


Age Scale: 2 and up

Device: iPhone, iPod, and iPad

Quick Line:  It Takes a Village… to Learn Your Shapes

What Educators Need to Know:

Square, circle, triangle… square, circle, triangle…

For some little ones, shapes come naturally.  For others, it will take repetition, repetition, repetition before they will learn the differences.  Shape the Village by WiseKids should help.  And little ones will enjoy it!

Shape the Village is a fun, interactive app designed to introduce young learners to triangles, circles, and squares. When children visit Shape Village, they will encounter a number of engaging characters and buildings all created with these three shapes.  Children can complete 16 different activities  including tracing, building, sliding, and tapping to help them identify the distinguishing characteristics of each shape.  The activities encourage self-correction and reward users with pleasant animation and music.

While the app itself is certainly better than average, it is the accompanying workbook that sets it apart.  I love when you can meld technology with hands-on activities.  The workbook includes 16 activities to complete with a child.  For example, it suggests making a matching game, provides worksheets, and lists direction on how to play Hide and Seek with shapes.  Cute!  If I were a preschool teacher designing a shape unit, I might even center our studies around this app.  The $2.99 price point is high for a introductory game, but the workbook validates the cost.  [I’m not sure if the lite version includes a workbook preview, but this could be a great place to start!]

My only wish is that it featured a few more shapes!  Most kids are smarter than we think.  I bet many 3-5 year-old kiddos could handle the introduction of rectangles, diamonds, hearts, and stars too!

Price:  2.99 for full version (lite version is FREE)

ABC for Little Space Explorer

abc for space




Age Scale:  2+

Device: iPhone, iPod, and iPad

Quick Line:  The Universe in an Alphabet

What Educators Need to Know:

Every kid has his or her “thing”.  For my oldest, it was trains.  For my youngest, it is animals.  Many of us moms knows the depths to which we are willing to indulge those “things”.  (We have to watch Thomas AGAIN??)  Lucky for us, the App Store never lets us down.  With a quick swipe of the finger, we can easily satisfy our children with their “things”, and we don’t have to feel guilty because they are usually educational!

Take for example, the ABC Flashcard apps by Common Extract.  So far, there is ABC for the Little Scientist and the newly created ABC for the Little Space Explorer.  Now, space is far from a hot topic in my house.  But I realized as I shopped for new bedding for little D’s room, it must be a pretty popular theme.  Each letter is accompanied by its sound, vocabulary word, and quick activity.  Now, the vocabulary is certainly more challenging than the standard for the average toddler, but it is spot-on for the enthusiast.  And if they learn the sounds that the letters make?  Even better!

If I could revise this app, I would do two things.  One, I would reduce the price.  $1.99 is a bit high for an ABC app.  Two, my very wise babysitter pointed out that the advanced vocabulary was not actually defined.  Yes, this would be above the typical toddler/preschooler’s head, but at minimum, it would be helpful for parents!  Also, it could widen the audience to children in primary grades.  I know I would be more willing to download and use an app that provided content with the alphabet exposure.  Plus, content-specific vocabulary is a Common Core buzz topic!

In this very competitive market, it is nice to see developers branch out and pay attention to the interests of children.  Because, as we all know, despite our best efforts, sometimes there’s just no way to discourage some of our kids “things”.

Price:  $1.99

Mystery Math Museum

Age Scale: 6-12

Device: iPad

Quick Line: Don’t Mess with Success

What Educators Need to Know:

Do you have Halloween on the brain?  I know I do!  Check out Artgig Apps’ newest creation – just in time for Halloween!

Say you are a ghost. You’ve already haunted every house in Mystery Math Town. You’ve collected your buddies, the fireflies, and your art collection is pretty extensive, if a bit peculiar.

But you are ready to move on. What’s a ghost to do?  Ghosts are immortal but powerless without a home to torment.

You hear about a new hot spot. It sounds pretty promising. It’s called Mystery Math Museum, and the premise is the same: move from room to room collecting and releasing dragonflies while solving math problems. You hear that you’ll need to brush up on your division skill set. Now that’s something you didn’t need to do in Math Town!

You decide to give it a try. The first museum has a sports theme. Sweet! As you pass through, the portraits, once again, begin to talk to you. You think they might make an nice addition to your gallery, so you press on, hoping to score some gold coins for your excellent computational skills. As expected, you are soon rewarded, and you decide to make Mystery Math Museum your permanent residence.  Lucky you! You didn’t have to travel far to find yourself right at home.

Once again, Artgig Apps creates a product that appeals to adults and children alike.  Gaming in education is a hot topic right now, and these creative developers have their pulse on how to maximize learning. The ability to add multiple users with varying abilities is essential to the modern classroom.  I love that a simple tap can change the game from simple addition to division using dice to represent numbers. Enrich or re-mediate? Mystery Math Museum can do both!

This app is just quirky enough to get your attention and just delightful enough to keep it!   Like any other institution with engaging exhibits, I will have to drag my kids out of Mystery Math Museum!  It is well worth the price of admission!

See my review of Mystery Math Town here!

Price: $2.99



Free Apps: 09.23.2013

Hi all! I’m back with free apps on a Friday. Remember, some of these are only free for a day, so you will need to act quickly. The Symbaloo graphic is bookmarked with the websites that I consult. There are others, but I’ve eliminated many because they either don’t focus on education, or they do not update weekly. Have fun! There are some good ones out there, including Shake a Phrase! See my post here.

Here are a few that caught my eye:

Smart Apps for Kids: Kids Coin Fun, Kids Math Fun (each grade 1-5)

Fun Educational Apps: Gorilla Band 3D, GeoWalk 3D Fact Book, Shake a Phrase, Ordered Fractions, Dream School, The Tree I See, iTooch 7th Grade Math ($.99)