Friday, January 14, 2011

Teaching Tools: Digital books

Last week I was obsessing over whether to include AlphaBelch in my books folder on my classroom iPads.  If you have an iPad/iPod be sure to download this book for your kiddo's or just for a good laugh (It was free when I got it in Dec).  If you don't have an iPad/iPod check out these sites for great books on the computer-,,

Now, back to belches.  Or, rather AlphaBelch.  It has great colorful illustrations, reads aloud only if you push the ABC button on the page (it doesn't highlight the spoken word) and yes, it's all about animals A-Z that BURP!  I know, I have the sense of humor of a five year old.  Every page has another button to push that has the sound effect to match the belching animal.  Have you ever wondered what a butterfly or elephant burp would sound like?  Wonder no more!  My boys (7 & 8) and my daughter (almost 2) all love it.

So why was I obsessing you ask?  Well... how would my students respond to this book?  Would they just play the gassy sound effects over and over when they were supposed to be reading?  Would any chance of learning take place with such an appealing distraction available... And, biggest worry of all- what if someone (parent, administrator, board member walks in just to hear burping sounds erupting from this prized and dignified piece of technology?)  Yes, obsessing.

Then I gave it up.  My priority is captivating the minds of these children and encouraging a lifelong love for literacy.  If a belching book is the gateway to reaching those goals, then so be it.  After all, my favorite "real" or "paper" book to read year after year is No, David.  And the kids LOVE it too.  It's always the most read book on the shelf.  Which pages do you think they go to over and over?  Yep, the nose picking and naked bottom running down the sidewalk pages.

So, I now have two "Books" folders on my Dock, full of fun, engaging and yes, sometimes irreverent titles.  Most I've gotten for free, a few I bought (marked with an * below).  I'd like more but my husband would rather have a date night than more apps for my classroom.  Go figure.

I let my kids read out of the book folders during the time before the bell (when I have them reading "real" books, or when they finish work early).  I have stressed that they can NOT play any games associated with any of the books- reading only.  Usually I insist iPads are to be used by 1 person unless playing a multiplayer game, but I let them read together on the iPads,

Try these books:
Teddy's Day
Going Places (special ed app, but a great little story too)
Tommy Tiptoes
What are you eating?
Toy Story* (I got it when it was free but I am not sure if they still have the free version.  Worth it though!)
Pop Out Peter Rabbit*
The Grouchies
MeeGenius (multiple books in app)
Read Me Stories (multiple books in app)
Seuss ABC*
Tales 2 Go* (free subscription through 1/15/11 then $30.  Has audio only, but many titles to listen to).
Miss Spider Tea Party, etc...books *  (have lite versions to try as well as somewhat expensive ones.  The ipod version is only $.99 though)
StoryBoy books- lots of free books
Storychimes has lots of books... although they tend not to be my favorites.
there's a Humpty Dumpty app too...
And lastly (for now) A Story before Bed.  Their books are a little simple and mostly traditional tales/songs but the appeal is you, or a guest reader, or the student can record a video of them reading the books.

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