Category Archives: Upper Elementary (Grades 4 – 6)

A Collection of Apps for Flexible Thinking

Flexible thinking means the ability to find more than one way to do something.  To be a successful student (and eventually a productive adult), one must have a flexible brain.  You use flexible thinking when you have to find a different route to travel because of traffic.  You also use flexible thinking when you’re reading a book that requires you to follow plot twists and character development.  Inflexible thinkers get “stuck” and are often times rigid in their thinking.  They don’t like to travel different routes and they don’t like changing their thoughts about where the plot is going and who the characters are.  The K&M Center has developed a Flexible Thinking Program to directly target these skills because…

…The good news is that flexible thinking can be taught!  The even better news is that flexible thinking can be taught using games (many of which come in App form).  The games listed below are suitable, in varying degree, to students from the age of 6 – adult.

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 11.25.56 AMIt’s always great to start any “brain” work with this free App:  3D Brain (free).  Using 3D Brain, students can use the touch screen to rotate and zoom in on different parts of the brain.  They can highlight and learn what each individual structure does and visualize how important the communication between the structures is.

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 11.30.52 AMFor a more “kid-friendly” explanation of the structures of the brain, I like the App (which is an interactive book with games):  Your Fantastic Elastic Brain ($4.99).  I think their website puts it best saying, “this innovative and timely interactive edutainment app teaches children that they have the ability to stretch and grow their own brains. It also delivers the crucial message that mistakes are an essential part of learning and introduces children to the anatomy and various functions of the brain in a fun and engaging way….”

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 12.32.32 PMAnother app that I’ve mentioned before, but is worth mentioning again anytime I post about Flexible Thinking is Mirta The Superfly (free).  This story is about a “superfly” who has to use flexible thinking to achieve her dreams of exploring the world.  Make sure you check out the “Tips for Mom and Dad” section at the end that really explains “flexible thinking.”

Now for the games that encourage flexibility!

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 12.41.25 PMThe Stroop Effect ($0.99) tests your students ability to focus his/her mind despite interference.

Set Pro HD ($4.99) is the classic game of visual Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 12.43.44 PMperception and set-shifting.  The interactive tutorial makes learning the game simple and your student can play solitaire-style or can challenge a friend in multi-player mode.

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 12.48.59 PMTap Towers (free) is a version of the Towers of Hanoi puzzle that has entertained (or annoyed) people for centuries.  The objective is very simple – to move the rings from the left tower to the right tower.  However, you can not put a large ring on top of a small ring.  Working through this is great for students who have a low frustration threshold.    Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 12.55.09 PMAnother version of the Towers of Hanoi that is “cuter” is Towers of HanOINK! ($0.99).  Instead of stacking rings, you stack animals.

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Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 1.04.35 PMColorShape HD (free) is a speed puzzle where students are challenged to match buttons that satisfy both shape and color in repeating orders.  But, the blocks are constantly moving around, so students  really have to “be on your toes!”

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Aces Traffic (free) and Unblock Me FREE are both games that require the student to strategically maneuver pieces around a gameboard to “free” a car or shape.

If you think your student could benefit from even more Flexible Thinking training, please check out our Flexible Thinking Program in our online store.

30/30 App for Task and Time Management

30/30  is my favorite task management app for iphone/ipad for a number of reasons.

  • Perfect companion app for the K&M Executive Functioning Program.
  • Time Management – you put in how much time you want to spend doing each task or how much time you estimate each task will take.  It alerts you when your time doing a task is up and when you should move on to the next task.  You can easily modify if you need more or less time, too.
  • User-Friendly Interface – tasks are easily moved around and modified with gesture controls.
  • Highly Visual – the tasks can be color-coded so there’s very clear differentiation.  Plus, you can add little icons to your task (like a camera if one of your tasks is “Photography Project”).  Finally, it uses a visual timer, so the user can actually see how much of their chunk of time is left.  This is a big plus for use with students to whom numbers/times have little meaning.
  • It’s free!

Here are some screenshots to give you an idea of what it looks like:

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Mirta the Super Fly APP is a Great Introduction to Flexible Thinking

 
Having trouble explaining to your students what “flexible thinking” is or how it will help them in school and/or everyday life?  This engaging and entertaining, free APP – Mirta the Super Fly –  is a super introduction to The K & M Center’s Flexible Thinking Program.  It is definitely easier for students to see Mirta’s rigidity than it is for them to see their own, so it’s a great starting point.

This APP is actually a story that you can chose to listen to or read.  In it, Mirta is a super-strong, super-motivated, super-fit fly who is determined to leave the apartment she’s grown up in and go out into the world.  She trains for weeks and when the day comes for her to complete her mission and leave the apartment, she keeps “whamming” into a shut window!  No matter how fast she goes, no matter how hard she hits it, no matter how brave she is, she keeps on hitting the closed window – wham, wham, wham!   The story then goes on to point out how Mirta was so focused on her “one way” of approaching the problem that she didn’t even noticed that there was an open skylight she could have gone out of, another open window a few feet to the right, etc.

 The moral of the story is:  you have to be able to come up with alternate solutions to problems to be successful.  In other words, you have to be a flexible thinker!

Fall Sale on Inspiration Software – 50% off!

 

 

 

Inspiration software is currently on sale for 50% off at $29.50 for a single computer.  We frequently recommend this software to parents of upper-elementary to high school students because it is so user-friendly and because it makes the writing process much less daunting.

There are dozens of templates for writing assignments pre-loaded into the software.  A student simply puts all their information into a mind-map or diagram, clicks a button, and the software turns it into an outline.   From there, they can transfer the outline to Microsoft Word, print it, or add details from within Inspiration.  For more detailed information go here:  http://www.inspiration.com/Inspiration

Free Math Dictionary APP – download today!

The Math Dictionary APP (normally $2.99) is free today and tomorrow and is a great resource to put on your iPad to start off the new school year.   Download it now while it’s free and you won’t be sorry!

Perfect for grades 3 and up, this APP has more than 400 illustrated math terms – in an easy-to-search/navigate format, which makes it a perfect “homework helper.”

Here are some screenshots to give you an idea of what Math Dictionary offers:

While we’re on the topic of Math reference APPS, here’s one you might want to try for middle or high school students.   It’s called Math Ref Free and includes Trig, Physics, Algorithms, and more.  Here are a couple of screenshots:

Finally, there’s an APP that has Math instructional videos (much like Kahn Academy) called Your Teacher.  The videos are basic, but for students who need to see the math “in action,” it’s great.

Load up your ipad with these great math resources and help your student be more independent with their math homework this schoolyear!

Math Doodles

Math Doodles ($2.99) is an app that promotes mathematical thinking in a very creative and dynamic way.  It is not a “math fact” app, instead it presents a variety of math puzzles that are so pretty and fun, you almost forget you’re doing math.  Plus, this app is incredibly versatile and can be used with students ranging in ages from Grade 2 to adult.

There are 4 types of puzzles in Math Doodles:  Sums Stacker, Connect Sums, Unknown Square, and Splat Go Round as you can see by a screenshot of the menu page. 

In Sums Stacker (and in all the games), you can chose to look at a number cube, numbers, coins, fingers, roman numerals, etc. and you can chose your level.  The point of Sum Stacker is to drag values from stack to stack until the sums of each stack equal the target sums

In Connect Sums, you click on a series of values that add up to the target sum:  

In Unknown Square, you drag a value onto a letter in a square.  The sums – - in vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines — have to add up!

Finally, in Splat Go Round, you use a 360 degree circle to try and swat a fly.  This portion of the App is still being developed, so it’s in black and white and not quite functional as a game yet.  However, I love how it incorporates degrees (Geometry), fractions, and time.

While there is a lot of addition involved in this app, it is definitely still challenging for older students.  Math Doodles really encourages students to think “outside the box” and the graphics make it appealing to students who don’t typically enjoy math puzzles, making it well worth the $2.99 download!

Unleash Your Student’s Creativity with the Bookabi APP

The Bookabi APP has quickly become one of the most popular APPs on my iPad and for the time being it’s FREE!  Of all the book-creating APPs I’ve tried, Bookabi is by far the most user-friendly, while still allowing students to be super-creative.

Bookabi allows students to create their very own digital storybook using Bookabi’s stock images, images from the internet, or images taken with their iPad camera.  Students can even add their faces to cartoon bodies (which ends up being pretty hilarious).  Students easily add in their own text AND audio record themselves reading the text.  The stories are easily saved into a Library and then can be shared directly from within the APP as .pdfs.

Watch this demo video to see Bookabi in action:  

FREE Mind Mapping APPS

I really like the Kidspiration and Webspiration software for helping students through the writing process, however I wanted to find a relatively simple, cheap (preferably free) APP for mindmapping on my iPad and on my laptop.

MindNode Lite is a free app that I have on my laptop.  It is a “simple-to-use mindmapping application for collecting, organizing, and outlining your thoughts and ideas as mind maps.”

For the iPad, SimpleMind+ is a very similar easy-to-use mindmapping APP.

Both of these APPs can be used in conjunction with Step Up To Writing and can be utilized to brainstorm everything from a simple singular paragraph to a multi-page research paper.

Thinking Blocks Interactive Math Website

We are seeing an increasing amount of students who are being taught how to use models to solve word problems as part of their school math curriculum (Singapore Math, EnVision Math, etc.).  This website – Thinking Blocks –  is a GREAT free resource for helping those students who might need some extra practice model drawing.  Model drawing can also be taught to students who are not being trained how to do it in school to help them solve tricky word problems.

There are models for all types of word problems relating to addition & subtraction, multiplication & division, fractions, and ratios.  Students are guided through the process by dragging labels and blocks into a model.  The steps are broken down so it’s not overwhelming.

Here is a screenshot of a completed Fraction Problem using Thinking Blocks:

One of the great features on Thinking Blocks’ website is the “Watch Video” feature, which is like having your own model-drawing teacher (because, as many of us who did NOT learn Math this way can attest to, model drawing can be tricky to grasp).

This website is suitable for use with students who are beginning word problems and can work with numbers up to 50.

The Educational Uses for the Skitch APP are Endless

The Skitch APP allows users to add illustration, shapes, arrows, words, sketches, and text to pictures.  The pictures can be taken with/from your mobile device OR from anywhere on the internet.  This app runs best on a tablet device, where you have plenty of space to “illustrate.”

Price:  FREE

Possible Uses:

  • Use the Google Maps tool from within Skitch to easily find a Map to do the Mapping activities from the K&M Flexible Thinking Program.  Have your student plot different routes in different colors.
  • For letter practice with resistant students, have your student make their body into the shape of the letter.  Take a picture and then use Skitch to have them trace over the picture of themselves (works perfect with the letter Z).
  •  Take a picture from the internet of a plant cell (for example) and have your student label the parts of the cell.  Then they can email it to themselves and use it as a study tool anytime.
  • Have students go on a “picture hunt” to add a visual/picture to a vocabulary word.  Using Skitch, the student has their own “flashcard” where they’ve written the word and have a meaningful image with it.