Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

5 Best Toys of All Time

pile of toys
"Treasure Box" photo by Flickr user Evelyn Giggles. Used under Creative Commons License.
Here at GeekDad we review a lot of products — books, toys, gadgets, software — and I know it’s impossible for most parents to actually afford all of the cool stuff that gets written up. Heck, most of us can’t afford it either, and we’re envious of the person who scored a review copy of a cool board game or awesome gizmo. (Disclosure: that person is probably me.) So while we love telling you about all the cool stuff that’s out there, I understand that as parents we all have limited budgets and we sometimes need help narrowing down our wishlists.
So to help you out, I’ve worked really hard to narrow down this list to five items that no kid should be without. All five should fit easily within any budget, and are appropriate for a wide age range so you get the most play out of each one. These are time-tested and kid-approved! And as a bonus, these five can be combined for extra-super-happy-fun-time.
1. Stick
What’s brown and sticky? A Stick.
This versatile toy is a real classic — chances are your great-great-grandparents played with one, and your kids have probably discovered it for themselves as well. It’s a required ingredient for Stickball, of course, but it’s so much more. Stick works really well as a poker, digger and reach-extender. It can also be combined with many other toys (both from this list and otherwise) to perform even more functions.
Stick comes in an almost bewildering variety of sizes and shapes, but you can amass a whole collection without too much of an investment. You may want to avoid the smallest sizes — I’ve found that they break easily and are impossible to repair. Talk about planned obsolescence. But at least the classic wooden version is biodegradable so you don’t have to feel so bad about pitching them into your yard waste or just using them for kindling. Larger, multi-tipped Sticks are particularly useful as snowman arms. (Note: requires Snow, which is not included and may not be available in Florida.)
As with most things these days, there are higher-end models of Sticks if you’re a big spender, from the smoothly-sanded wooden models (which are more uniformly straight than the classic model) to more durable materials such as plastic or even metal. But for most kids the classic model should do fine. My own kids have several Sticks (but are always eager to pick up a couple more when we find them).
One warning: the Stick can also be used as a sword or club, so parents who avoid toy weapons might want to steer clear of the larger models. (On the other hand, many experts agree that creative children will just find something else to substitute for Stick, so this may be somewhat unavoidable.)
Although she is not generally known as a toy expert, Antoinette Portis has written this helpful user manual for those needing some assistance in using their Stick.
Wired: Finally, something that does grow on trees.
Tired: You could put someone’s eye out.
2. Box
Another toy that is quite versatile, Box also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Need proof? Depending on the number and size you have, Boxes can be turned into furniture or a kitchen playset. You can turn your kids into cardboard robots or create elaborate Star Wars costumes. A large Box can be used as a fort or house and the smaller Box can be used to hide away a special treasure. Got aStick? Use it as an oar and Box becomes a boat. One particularly famous kid has used the Box as a key component of a time machine, a duplicator and a transmogrifier, among other things.
Still stuck for ideas? Check out this Box user manual by Antoinette Portis for a few more ideas.
The Box may be the most expensive item on my list, available from many retailers and shipping companies, but they can often be had cheaper if you know where to look. Amazon is one of my main sources of the small- to medium-sized Box; I include one with virtually every order I place there. If you don’t mind second-hand toys, the grocery store, bookstores and recycling centers are also great sources for Boxes. Oh, and the best place for the extra-large version is an appliance store (though sometimes they’ll try to sell you an appliance along with it, which could get pricey.)
Note: If you’re in a pinch, Laundry Basket is a similar item and can often be substituted for Box in some instances, though it’s generally not as great for costumes (other than a turtle). And if you’re thinking of using Box for your next building project, Mr. McGroovy’s Box Rivets make a great optional accessory.
Wired: Best celebrity endorsement: Calvin & Hobbes.
Tired: Paradox: what do you put Box in when you’re done playing with it?
3. String
My kids absolutely love String — and when they can’t find it, sometimes they substitute other things for it such as scarves or blankets, but what they’re really after is String. Now, I should start off by saying that String is not intended for toddlers and babies: it is a strangulation hazard and your kids must be old enough to know not to put it around their necks. However, when used properly your kids can really have a ball with String.
The most obvious use of String is tying things together, which my kids love to do. You can use it to hang things from doorknobs or tie little siblings to chairs or make leashes for your stuffed animals. Use String with two Cans for a telephone (and teach your kids about sound waves), or with Stick to make a fishing pole. You’ll need String for certain games like Cat’s Cradle — there’s even an International String Figure Association for lots more information. String is a huge part of what makes some toys so fun — try using a yo-yo or a kite without String and you’ll see what I mean. Try the heavy-duty version of String (commonly branded Rope) for skipping, climbing, swinging from trees or just for dragging things around.
Although you can buy String at a store, it’s generally sold in much larger quantities than your children will probably need — usually my kids are happy with roughly two or three feet of it. I actually have no idea where it comes from, because I don’t remember buying them any, so it must be pretty easy to come by.
Wired: It really ties everything together.
Tired: There’s a reason “no strings attached” is a benefit.
4. Cardboard Tube
Ah, the Cardboard Tube. These are kind of like the toy at the bottom of a box of Cracker Jacks — they come free with a roll of paper towels and other products but you have to wait until you get to the end of the roll before you can finally claim the toy. (Perhaps this explains why my kids — who love the small size — go through toilet paper so quickly.) The small- and medium-sized are most common, but the large versions that come with wrapping paper can be more difficult to obtain — I had a roll of Christmas wrapping paper that lasted about three years before my kids finally got the Tube. There’s also an extra-large size that is sometimes sold with posters, and a super-sized industrial version which you’ll generally only find from carpet suppliers. (Of course, carpet stores aren’t toy stores, and while their product also goes by the name Cardboard Tube it’s hardly the same thing and probably shouldn’t be considered a toy.)
My kids have nicknamed the Cardboard Tube the “Spyer” for its most common use in our house, as a telescope. (Or tape two of them together for use as binoculars.) But if you happen to be lucky enough to get a large size, the best use is probably whacking things. Granted, Stick is also great for whacking, but the nice thing about Cardboard Tube is that it generally won’t do any permanent damage. It’s sort of a Nerf Stick, if you will. If that sounds up your alley, look up the Cardboard Tube Fighting League — currently there are only official events in Seattle, San Francisco and Sydney, but you could probably get something started up in your own neighborhood if you wanted. Or if you’re more of a loner, perhaps the way of the Cardboard Tube Samurai is a better path.
Obviously if your own kids are younger you’ll want to exercise discretion about these more organized activities, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to provide them with a Cardboard Tube or two just so they’ll get used to the feel of it. You never know if your kid will be the Wayne Gretzky or Tiger Woods of Cardboard Tube Fighting, right? Best to give them the opportunity so that if they show some particular aptitudes they’ll have that early advantage. And if not, well, there are still plenty of people who enjoy playing with Cardboard Tubes casually without all that pressure.
Wired: Comes free with purchase of toilet paper, paper towels, and wrapping paper.
Tired: Doesn’t hold up to enthusiastic play.
5. Dirt
When I was a kid one of my favorite things to play with was Dirt. At some point I picked up an interest in cleanliness and I have to admit that I’m personally not such a fan of Dirt anymore — many parents (particularly indoor people like me) aren’t so fond of it either. But you can’t argue with success. Dirt has been around longer than any of the other toys on this list, and shows no signs of going away. There’s just no getting rid of it, so you might as well learn to live with it.
First off, playing with Dirt is actually good for you. It’s even sort of edible (in the way that Play-doh and crayons are edible). But some studies have shown that kids who play with Dirt have stronger immune systems than those who don’t. So even if it means doing some more laundry (Dirt is notorious for the stains it causes) it might be worth getting your kids some Dirt.
So what can you do with Dirt? Well, it’s great for digging and piling and making piles. We’ve got a number of outdoor toys in our backyard, but my kids spend most of their time outside just playing with Dirt. Use it with Stick as a large-format ephemeral art form. (Didn’t I tell you how versatile Stick was?) Dirt makes a great play surface for toy trucks and cars. Need something a little gloopier? Just add water and — presto! — you’ve got Mud!
Dirt is definitely an outdoor toy, despite your kids’ frequent attempts to bring it indoors. If they insist, you’ll probably want to get the optional accessories Broom and Dustpan. But as long as it’s kept in its proper place, Dirt can be loads of fun.
Wired: Cheap as dirt.
Tired: Dirty.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Goals Of Pre-K

Goals of Pre-K

General Attitudes/Behaviors:

1.  Be able to separate from parents in a reasonable manner.

2.  Attend for 10 minutes at a child selected task.

3.  Follow simple directions (1 or 2 steps).

4.  Have had experiences sharing and interacting with other children.

5.  Ability to verbalize needs.

6.  Positive attitude towards books and reading.

7.  Positive attitude towards writing.


1.  Have book handling experience and be able to hold book in proper reading position.

2.  Participate in conversations/discussion of books.

3.  Go to kindergarten with a rich background of literature, nursery rhymes, poetry, songs, and drama.

4.  Recognize first name and last name.

5.  Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes to listen to a story.

6.  Know that a group of letters make up a word.


1.  Have frequent experiences with scissors, crayons, markers, pencils, chalk, paper, etc.

2.  Write their own name.

3.  Draw a simple illustration and be able to describe it.

4.  Write name using a left to right progression.

Language Skills

1.  Can say whole name, parents name, and address.

2.  Can speak in complete sentences of 5 or more words.

3.  Can name common objects and body parts.

4.  Understand spatial concepts; on, over, under, in, out, up, down, etc.

5.  Tell real-life and fantasy stories.

Listening Skills

1.  Can listen to entire story.

2.  Can repeat a 3 digit sequence; i.e., 4-5-6, 8-4-1.

3.  Can follow a two command direction; touch your toes and turn around.

Fine Motor Skills

1.  Cuts with scissors.

2.  Uses paint and glue correctly.

3.  Holds crayon or pencil correctly.

4.  Has had experience coloring.

5.  Can draw a recognizable person.

Gross Motor Skills

1.  Can catch and throw a ball.

2.  Can walk on a line.

3.  Can balance on one foot for 10 seconds.

4.  Jumps in place.

5.  Hops 5 feet on each foot.

Visual Skills

1.  Can name 8 colors.

2.  Can recognize 4 basic shapes; circle, triangle, rectangle, square.

3.  Can identify same or different objects by size, shape, and/or color.

4.  Can put together an 8 to 10 piece puzzle.

Math Readiness Skills

1.  Can count orally to ten.

2.  Count from 1-10 using manipulative and demonstrating the concept of one-to-one ratio.

3.  Traces numerals from 1-10 using various mediums (shaving cream, sand, finger paints, crayons, etc.).

4.  Knows meaning of first and last.

5.  Arranges up to 4 objects in order from smallest to largest.

6.  Match, name, and repeat patterns using objects (e.g., a pattern of red-blue-red-blue).

7.  Uses size words when talking about objects (e.g., small, large, many, few, big, little).

Science Readiness Skills

1.  Describe what happens to ice when it melts.

2.  Observe and describe the characteristics of a solid (e.g., ice, rock, Popsicle).

3.  Identify plants as living things and rocks as non-living things.

4.  Aware that the earth is composed of land, air and water.

5.  Identify that plants need the energy from the sun to grow.

Reading Readiness Skills

1.  Can say alphabet.

2.  Knows the difference between a letter and a number.

3.  Knows the letters in their name.

4.  Know the sounds that at least some of the letters make.

Social and Self Help Skills

1.   Respects authority.

2.   Take turns in social situations (e.g., waiting your turn to talk).

3.   Uses “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me.”

4.   Does not interrupt.

5.   Capable of interacting with other children.

6.    Is able to finish a task.

7.    Is able to use words to solve a conflict and not the body.

8.    Knows how to line up properly.

9.    Knows the difference between an inside and an outside voice.

10.  Compare daytime with nighttime.

11.  Identify school days and non-school days.

12.  Look at a picture of a person at work and tell something about the type of work done.

Our goal is to have a well-rounded program that meets the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual needs of each child.

The following are skills that can be reinforced at home or through preschool experiences:


            Run                                                Jump

            Walk a straight line                        Hop

            Throw a ball                                    Clap Hands

            Build with blocks                                    Complete simple puzzles

`            Opportunity to use scissors


            Follow simple directions

            Pay attention

            Repeat a sequence of sounds

            Recognize common sounds in environment (ex. Door bell)

            Repeat a sequence of oral directions


            Wash and dry hands

            Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing

            Wipe their nose

            Administer to own needs in the bathroom

            Button and zip clothing

            Put on and take off own jacket


            Express self verbally

            Identifies other children by name

            Can be away from parents for 2 to 3 hours and separates easily

            Takes care of own belongings and helps put toys away

            Joins in family conversation

            Gets along with other children

            Recognizes authority

            Shares with others

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Baby Bloopers

Ethan, 7
One morning, I was brushing my teeth and didn't notice my son enter the bathroom.  When I backed into him by accident, he said,  "The eyes in the back of your head are probably still asleep."

Ciera, 2
My daughter wanted to know how her baby brother was born, so I explained that the doctor helped deliver him at the hospital.  She asked, "Did the doctor say, "Come out, come out wherever you are?"

Audrey, 4
My mother made a cake for our July 4th cookout, and my daughter asked why.  After I explained that we were celebrating America's birthday, she said, "I want to sit next to America."

excerpt from Parents Magazine

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 2013

Dear Parents,                                                                                                July, 2013

It is hard to believe we are half way though this summer.  We are having  a lot of fun with water play and more outside time.  Thank you for choosing Pee Wee for your child’s summer school.

Pee Wee will be closed on Thursday, July 4th for Independence Day.  This is a paid holiday as noted in your contract. 

Our Lost and Found has grown quite large in the last couple months.  The lost and found container is located at the front of the building outside Sharon’s classroom door.  It is Pink and White and says lost and found on it.  Please take a moment to look through it in the next week as we will be donating all items left in it on Friday, July 12th.

We are making plans for the 2013-2014 school year, we will have a few openings in our preschool classes beginning in August.  If you have friends that are ready to enroll their children, please have them come in as soon as possible.  Waiting until the end of summer may mean going on a waiting list this year. 

Have you checked out our classroom websites lately?  We have been updating them weekly with new pictures of the fun activities we are doing this summer.  I also encourage you to check out our blog at  Here you will find interesting parenting articles and fun activities to do with your children.

I know many of you are looking at the Kindergarten year with as much anxiety as your child may be having (if not more).  I hope you will please feel free to stop in and ask me your questions.  I just went through the Kindergarten transition last year with my daughter and I have many connections through out the school district.  I will be happy to help with any issues you come across. 

I hope you are enjoying the summer with your family!  I have been trying to get out and do a little outdoor time camping and fishing. This is the first year since having my children that it has been an enjoyable experience due to their ages.  It is so fun how simple things like dirt, sticks and water can entertain children for hours.  It’s nice to unplug and appreciate the amazing outdoor areas we have so close to us here in Paradise.

Please feel free to call or come by the office with any questions you may have.



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

5 Things Every Parent Should Know

1. Poison control's phone number
It's 1-800-222-1222. Store it in your contacts.

2. CPR
Take a course from the American Heart Association ( or American Red Cross ( See how-to videos for both baby and child at

3. How to help someone who's choking
This is included in a CPR course.

4. How to use an epinephrine injector
An epipen or auvi-q administers the medication that treats a severe allergic reaction; they can literally save a life.  Even if your child doesn't have an allergy, it's possible that a child could get dropped of at your house with an epipen or auvi-q in hand.  It's simple to use- you inject it into the middle of the outer thigh, even through clothing, and hold for several seconds.  But actually doing it when you're flustered may be hard, so it's a smart idea to become familiar with the process beforehand.

5. Location of nearest emergency room with pediatric expertise
Children require different equipment, medications, and techniques than adults.  Ask your doctor where you should take your child if the need should arise.  You won't always have a choice, but it's good to know the best possible place.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June 2013 Newsletter

Dear Parents,                                                                                                             June,  2013

As another school year draws to an end and we celebrate the graduation of many of our students to kindergarten I have such appreciation and respect for all of the children and families.  It may just seem like a lot of fun here @ Pee Wee but the children have learned so much.  Their social, academic and emotional growth is amazing.  I am honored to have been part of this.

If  you shop at Save Mart please stop by the office and pick up a S.H.A.R.E.S. card.  This is a great and easy way to support us.  When you use it at the checkout it gives up to 3% back to our school!  Thank you to all families that already participate. 

On Monday June 10th, Dr Hunter’s office has offered to come in and do preliminary dental screenings for our students.  We have permission slips that need to be filled out for this. Permission slips are available from your child’s teacher.

During summer we will be spending more time outside.  Please apply sunscreen to your child in the morning before they get to school.  For those children who stay all day we can reapply sunscreen in the afternoon if you provide their sunscreen and sign a permission slip. 

Swim and water play days will be Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons. You will need to send a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen for you child to participate in these activities.  Activities include water tables, wading pools and sprinklers.  Please take home your child’s swimming items each day because we do not have the proper drying facilities here. 

Please remember to check your child’s extra clothes in their cubbies making sure that they still fit and they are weather appropriate.

Pick up times are no later than noon for the morning session and no later than 6:00 pm, for the full day session.  If you are unable to pick up your child on time, please make arrangements for someone to pick them up on time.

Our facility is full and we have a growing waiting list.  If you need to make changes to your child’s schedule please let me know as soon as possible.  A two week advance notice is required to take your un paid vacation week. 

Happy Father’s Day,


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Alternatives To Yelling

1. Run around the house (big-time endorphins boost).

2. Start talking gibberish. (Kids laugh and stop pummeling each other).

3. Bang arms on chest like a gorilla ( a good release and great entertainment for children).

4. Pull out family photo album. (Takes everyone to a happy, smiley place.)

5. Yell into a closet. (Closets don't have feelings. Neither do cabinets.)

6. Think things could be worse. (Yes, he's on the table, but he isn't swinging from the chandelier. Yet.)

7. Text a friend announcing you're going to lose it. (Hopefully he/she will write back. "Don't!")

8. Start a dance (adrenaline + fun). What's not to love?

9. Grab your hands together and squeeze (a great release!)

10. Whisper. (Don't know why this one works; it just does!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Inspiring Creativity With Your Children

We each are born with a seed inside that wants to grow.  It is the seed of creativity.  And it is watered by questions.  Just to get you going I am going to give you my favorite question:

I wonder what would happen if…?

This is a particularly useful question when it comes to creating with kids.  It is a question that invites play and experimentation.  Use it often and explore the answer with your child.

15 “I Wonder What Would Happen If” Questions:

I wonder what would happen if:questions for creativity
  • We add water to this?
  • We take this outside?
  • We take turns doing this?
  • I stop talking?
  • I ask my child where I should put this?
  • I get out my own paper and give this a try?
  • We mix THIS with THAT?
  • We took a little break and came back to this later?
  • I just let my kid do this all wrong?
  • I turn on music while we do this?
  • I set out this other art supply near my child?
  • I only set out two colors?
  • We glue something to this?
  •  I simply say, “Oh?” and let my child talk about it.
  • We don’t do this the way the directions say we should? (Will the police show up?)
Creating naturally involves scary feelings as we try things we don’t know.  If you can take on a feeling of curiosity, it can help you move through the scary feelings and allow you to try something new.  You don’t have to take on something completely-wildly unfamiliar- the first step in creativity is allowing yourself to experiment just outside your current comfort zone.  The more practice you get at this, the stronger your creativity will grow, and eventually you will easily be able to say a big fat “YES, I AM CREATIVE!”

Water Play at Family Fun Night

Family Fun Night
Families come and enjoy a meal provided by one of our local churches. During the dinner, families are engaged in a craft, story or movie and a book or movie giveaway. The theme of the night is focused on the theme of the book or movie.
Family Fun Night is held on the 4th Wednesday of each month from 5:30pm-7:00pm (with the exception of December being the 1st Wednesday, January being the 3rd Wednesday and in November there isn’t one due to the holidays).
The Paradise Ridge Family Resource Center received a grant from Target to provide free books to children at Family Fun Nights held each month.
Please call the Paradise Ridge Family Resource Center for more information at (530) 872-3896.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Top 10 Educational Apps for Preschoolers

I’m a firm believer in real-life, hands-on experiences to help young children grow and learn…So much so that I have really fought against this whole “kids using iPods/iPads” thing.  But I’m giving in–mostly because I know that this is the way of the future and refusing to let my children “indulge” makes them want it even more, to the point where they are obsessive when/if they do get to play.  Rather than mindless video-game playing (i.e. Angry Birds, which they’ll still get to play on occasion), I want to harness this technology as a tool for teaching and learning.  After hours upon hours of reading reviews and testing more than a dozen apps,I compiled a list of  10 of our favorite iPhone/iPad educational Apps for preschoolers!
I have included 6 favorites that must purchased and 4 that are currently free.  Please note, however, that a few of the free apps only have parts of the app available for free.

6 Best Paid Apps for Preschoolers:
1. Montessori Crosswords (designed for iPad and iPhone–$2.99)
This is one of my favorites, probably because it is a great tool for teaching reading (or the phonetic component of reading, anyway).  Teaching a child to read is one of my favorite things in the entire world!  This app is great for teaching letter SOUNDS (which is WAY more important than learning their names).  It also adds a cognitive component of mini-crossword puzzles as well as consonant blends.  This app is completely customizable and includes a special section for parents.
If you are familiar with the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, you will appreciate this app!  It is an electronic version of the Wet-Dry-Try activity that is a core component in this curriculum.  It teaches children to form letters from the top down.  Although using this app is quite different from holding a pencil and writing (unless you have your child use a stylus), it at least allows children to learn how to correctly form a capital letter (and numbers).  My only complaint about this app (besides the fact that it is ridiculously expensive and only includes capital letter formation) is that it can be frustrating for younger children.  Little Brother attempted it and he obviously did not have the fine motor control necessary, so it would make him start over again and again.  I would suggest this app for children who are 4+.  It is perfect for Big Brother and keeps me from harping on him all the time to begin writing his capital letters from the top down!

3.  TeachMe Toddler (Compatible on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad–$0.99)
This all-in-one app works on letters, numbers, shapes, and colors (which I think is great for young preschoolers/older toddlers).  If you have a preschooler who is ready for more of a challenge, the Teach Me Kindergarten App ($1.99) would be a great step up!  The Kindergarten app includes addition, subtraction, spelling, and sight words!  Each child has their own log-in and you can track their progress.  The interface is pretty simple, which I personally prefer for my children–some other “busy” apps can be overstimulating.  This app can be a little drab if playing it for a while, but it is still something I would recommend.
4.  Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (designed for both iPod and iPad–$0.99)
This is the most popular preschool app available, with good reason!  At 99 cents, it offers a lot of bang for its buck!  The puzzle feature (below) is great for incorporating visual/spatial awareness while you’re on the go (without losing a million puzzle pieces in the process).  It also includes sorting, shape recognition, and color recognition…just to name a few.

5.  Park Math – Duck Duck Moose (compatible with iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone–$1.99)
This app provides valuable content and is engaging to young children.  The bear on the roller skates strolls from task to task, including sorting from smallest to largest, patterning, number recognition, counting, and addition.  The graphics won’t wow you, but they’ll keep your child entertained while learning.

6.  Bugs and Bubbles (Designed for both iPod and iPad–$2.99)
This app, along with its companion app (Bugs and Buttons–same price), are the most beautiful children’s apps I have seen!  The graphics are incredible!  This app, in my opinion, is the perfect blend of fun and learning.  Some of the tasks are solely for fun (popping bubbles) while others include important early-learning tasks such as patterning, letter matching, letter writing, and shape recognition.  I also really like that every game starts at the easiest level and as the child masters it, it goes to harder levels.

The Best FREE Apps for Preschoolers:
7.   PBS Kids Video:  Although this is less of an app and more of a portable movie player, it is still nice to have!  Watch more than 1,000 videos from your favorite PBS Kids shows anytime, anywhere (with Wi-Fi) in the US!  Great for doctor’s appointments and airplane rides (just don’t forget the headphones).

This interactive pop-up book allows your little one to count, but won’t let him/her recount an object that has already been counted, therefore helping to increase a child’s one-to-one correspondence ability.  Some of the games are locked until you purchase the app, but the book portion alone is worth downloading.

If you don’t want to pay for the Handwriting Without Tears App, this is a great (and FREE) alternative that helps your child learn how to form their letters in a fun and interactive way.  Like the HWT app, it would be even better if you had your child use a stylus.  I also really like this one because it includes lowercase letters as well (unlike the Handwriting without Tears app).

Many of you shared on Facebook that you loved the Starfall Apps.  But when I read the reviews, there seemed to be a lot of negative comments about how expensive the App was for ONE game (out of dozens) that are free on the Starfall website (that can’t be used on iPads/iPhones due to no flash players).  Rather than paying for a Starfall app, I followed the recommendation from Ashley of Life with Moore Babies and downloaded Rover–which makes websites with flash players (like Starfall) accessible and usable!

A Few Runner-Ups
Alphabet Zoo:  This simple flashcard-like app goes through every letter of the alphabet, saying the letter name, its sound, and an object that corresponds to it.

Paid:  I didn’t purchase these apps and try them out, but they came recommended byreaders on my Facebook page.
ABC Wildlife ($2.99):  We downloaded this one when it was free about a month ago.  I REALLY like it and would recommend it. Each letter has several real animal examples with letter sounds, games, and videos about the real-life animal.

A FINAL WORD:  Please remember that iPhones and iPads are just like computers–meaning that you must be vigilant about ensuring your child isn’t exposed to any inappropriate content.  SecureMama shares a step-by-step guide for ways to secure your iPhone or iPad.   Read and implement these suggestions!