Summer vacation is beginning, and on top of traveling and playing, children will also be experiencing lot of down time. According to research, children experience learning loss during the summer months when they don’t engage in educational activities and past times.
There are numerous educational apps available for children to utilize skills they learned in school over the summer. Sara Dewitt, PBS Kids Digital Tech Expert, says they thought technology would be a good way for children to continue learning while they are out of school.
Click here to listen to KMZU’s Elizabeth Orosco talk with Sara Dewitt:
“There’s been quite a bit of research about the ‘Summer Slide’. This is when kids learn so much during the school year, but then aren’t engaging with any of those topics during the summertime,” said Dewitt. “So, we were trying to think about technology as a way that can help prompt that learning; help bring kids back into playing with those skills so they don’t have quite so much lost.”
For children between the ages of 2 and 8, Dewitt has listed the top 5 educational apps that would be best for children to use during the summer. The first one she lists is called “Ready, Jet, Go: Space Explorer”, which introduces kids to astronomy and constellations, lets them interact with “the night sky” and learn about the names of stars. Dewitt said it would be fun for kids to use prior to going on camping or star-gazing trips.
The second one is called the “PBS Kids Games App”, which has 30 games all tied to educational goals and television shows kids may be familiar with. For example, it has games for younger kids featuring Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that teach sharing and other social skills. Parents are able to download the games onto their devices, so kids can play anywhere without the need for Internet connection.
For pre-schoolers, Dewitt says she loves “Sago Mini-Roadtrip”, which helps them practice the routine of going on a trip. Dewitt says 3 and 4 year old children are experiencing a change of routine, so practicing what they’re going to do “throughout their trip” helps them learn.
For older kids, Dewitt suggests “Telestory”, which allows them to create their own news casts using the camera on their device. The app outlines literacy concepts, such as how to set up and edit their story, but also allows them to put filters on their work to change their hair, glasses, etc. Dewitt says it’s great for working parents as well, so the kids can have something to work on throughout the day and share their news casts with their parents later on, prompting child/parent interaction.
And finally, Toca Tailor Fairy Tales, meant for ages 4 to 8, lets kids get creative as they style and combine outfits for two characters, then tailor the outfits by adjusting sleeves and hems. The app is a great way for kids to interact with and explore different colors and patterns.
Dewitt said, when thinking about choosing the apps, quite a few things were taken into consideration, such as appropriate games for certain age groups and a variety of games that would fit the amount of time families may have in their schedule.
In addition, Dewitt says there are things parents can do to help engage their children as well.
“I think it’s helpful for parents to think of the whole day and kind of a mix of activities that kids want to do. You know you want them to be playing outside some, you know you want them to be engaged in physical play, and you know there might be time for some screen time,” says Dewitt. “So, when you choose that screen time, choose something that is easily going to transition to more physical play or some other kind of activity.”
Dewitt went on to say that www.PBSParents.org has a lot of great app recommendations and activity ideas, as well as a website called Tech with Kids that suggests multi-player apps that can be fun for the whole family.
For more information, activity ideas, and tips on educational apps, visit www.PBSParents.org.