The reason for pairing digital resources with physical play for early learners is to be able to connect to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning modalities simultaneously to create the most powerful learning experiences for young learners. Here are a few great examples.
The idea behind Square Panda came from Tom Boeckle, an entrepreneur who struggled with dyslexia as a child. The Square Panda kit consists of a plastic stand designed to hold an iPad and has eight slots. The set comes with 45 letters that can be placed in the slots. The vowels are and the consonants are yellow to be distinguishable even for children with color-blindness. The Apple device connects to the stand via Bluetooth, which allows the apps to recognize which letters are placed into the slots. Watch a video of the product in action
Teachers have the ability to add images, words, and student names to create personalized literacy learning. They can also block inappropriate words as well. There are currently 10 apps in the collection that are free with the subscription purchase. They cover a number of different early literacy skills. The Full Classroom Edition comes with access to the teacher portal (set up student profiles) as well as a lifetime subscription and access to teacher resources and lesson plans. The cost is $169, but they are still running a summer promotion that will get you a $50 discount.
Alive Studios brings literacy and math learning to life through the power of augmented reality. Using a document camera and their software, the letter cards show animals and letters in action. The letters and words can then be put together to form simple sentences that can affect the interactive characters. Watch a demo.
There are reading and math kits along with augmented journals and books. Students can learn colors, fractions, shapes, and more. The products are really engaging, but the price point is high at $795 individually or $1295 for the full suite. The software and videos are stored on the computer and require no network connection. Soon the Journals Alive will be available as an app for individual use as well which should be a cheaper side product. You can view the full product guide
Osmo is a wonderful way to merge digital iPad fun and feedback with physical play. They are amongst my favorite hands-on digital tools for early childhood students. There are currently 10 apps and play-sets in the collection.
- Words & Numbers – learn basic letter and math facts
- Coding Jam & Coding Awbie – make music and learn logic through coding
- Tangram – puzzles and shapes
- Pizza Co. – run a pizza store to learn about math and money
- Monster & Masterpiece – create art to tell a story
- Newton – art and physics experimentation
- HotWheels Mind Racers – race your cars and study their motion
The apps are free on iTunes with the kits.