Apps, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, K-5, Problem Solving

Give the Gift of Awesome Apps

Pictorial App (Free)
Pictorial App (Free)

My holiday series of “Gifts for the Gifted” concludes today with a post on apps that you might want to pre-load on that new iDevice you’re about to set under the tree.  This is, by no means, an exhaustive list.  New apps are released weekly, of course, and there are quite a few older apps that I may not have had the pleasure to try, yet.  I will give you some resources for finding apps that might fit your specific needs at the end of this post.

These apps are great for elementary age children, and do not require much reading.  If I have previously reviewed the app on my blog, I have included a link so that you can learn more about it.

We will start with the free ones:

And now for the not so free apps that I highly recommend are worth the current price:

If you are looking for ideas for more apps, here are some of my favorite resources:

You can also check out my Pinterest boards.

And, finally, if you bought a new iPad for your child, you might want to read these reviews of child-friendly iPad cases.

Books, Creative Thinking, Education, K-5, Parenting, Teaching Tools

Little Thinkers

Leonardo da Vinci "Little Thinker" doll from Unemployed Philosophers Guild
Leonardo da Vinci “Little Thinker” doll from Unemployed Philosophers Guild

My series of  holiday (or any time) “Gifts for the Gifted” continues today with a set of adorable dolls and puppets from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild.  The Little Thinkers dolls include a wide array of influential personalities from different cultures and fields of study.  There are scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, revolutionaries, and even radio hosts (N.P.R.’s Carl Kasell).  Inspire your own little thinker with a cuddly Galileo or Frida Kahlo.  And if your child has an active imagination, you might want to look at the very reasonably priced puppets – which include some of the same notable personages, but also offer a few different ones, such as Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela.  I would bundle one of these with a children’s book; you can find several of the famous names in Chicago Review Press’ “For Kids” series, some of which are listed on this Amazon list.

I know a lot of parents are considering bestowing iPod Touches or iPads to their children for Christmas, so next Friday, I will be giving a list of apps that you might want to load on your child’s iDevice before you put it under the tree.

Here are links to my previous “Gifts for the Gifted” posts:


Camelot Jr.

Little Bits Holiday Kit


Q-Bitz Extreme

2013 Guinness Book of World Records

Also, you might want to take a look at my Pinterest board, which has even more ideas.


Creative Thinking, Education, K-5, Student Products

S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays Redux

UPDATE 12/14/2020: If you are looking for more holiday ideas, here is my new Winter Holidays Wakelet that I will be continually updating throughout December.  I also just posted a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through Winter Jamboard that you can access here.

Last week, I posted about one of my creative thinking packs that I like to use around this time of year.  You can learn more here.  I have been using the first two pages (“Substitute” and “Combine”) with my 1st through 5th graders during the last week, and it’s been a kick to see their unique ideas, particularly for the “Substitute” page.  The directions for that one are to design a snowman made out of something other than snow.  I have to share some of their results!

A snowman made of clocks - with watches as the hands!
A snowman made of clocks – with watches as the hands!
How about a snowman made from car parts - with nuts and bolts falling from the sky instead of snow?
How about a snowman made from car parts – with nuts and bolts falling from the sky instead of snow?
Lego Man!
Lego Man!
Soda cans - mine would be all Diet Coke!
Soda cans – mine would be all Diet Coke!
DNA Man!  (Microscopic, of course!)
DNA Man! (Microscopic, of course!)
And one of my personal favorites from a 1st grader - "Frosting the Snowman", made from cake frosting!
And one of my personal favorites from a 1st grader – “Frosting the Snowman”, made from cake frosting!
3-12, Apps, Critical Thinking, Education, Games, Problem Solving, Websites

Factory Balls – The Christmas Edition

Factory Balls is a bewitchingly challenging Flash game that I found out about on “Technology Rocks.  Seriously.”  You have to drag the white Christmas ornaments to the appropriate tools that surround the tree to recreate the colors on the sample ornament.  Each level becomes increasingly difficult, as you have to learn how to layer the paint colors and use the correct pieces to imitate the design on the ornaments.  This is an excellent problem solving/logic game for our students.  It would probably be fun to do on an interactive white board.  You might also try using it on an iDevice through the Rover app, which allows you to play Flash games on the iOS.

For more fun Christmas-themed sites, I strongly encourage you to visit “Technology Rocks. Seriously.”  There is a goldmine of links that will satisfy anyone!

3-12, Critical Thinking, Education, Problem Solving, Websites

Holiday Logic

I apologize to those of you who may not celebrate Christmas, as these puzzles all fit that theme.  I did look for online logic puzzles to represent the other winter holidays, and sadly did not find any that would be appropriate for this post.  I will try to be more prepared next year!

The following links are to online, flash based games that require strategy and/or logic.  They would make good centers for the last few days before the break if you are in the same boat as the teachers in our district, who are teaching into next week.  Parents, here is a way to keep your kids challenged over the holidays.  Remember, the games will be most effective if there is an accompanying reflection, whether written or verbal, about the thinking that is used to complete each puzzle.

Christmas Tree Light Up – Connect all of the bulbs and wires to light up the tree.

The Christmas Tree Maze – Drag the bar of lights at the bottom of the tree along the maze of white wires until one of the end bulbs lights up the star at the top.

Christmas Ornaments Swap – Try to get 3 or more Christmas decorations of the same type in a row.

Creative Thinking, Education, K-5, Music, Websites

Rain Deer Orchestra

Rain Deer Orchestra is just a fun site that can easily be differentiated for various music levels.  I am not sure why the site designer chose that particular way to spell the title, but it’s the songs that are important.  Go to this site, and you can tap on the noses of the reindeer to play music.  There are a couple of songs that have prompts to accompany them for those students who are just learning, and there is the option to “free play”.  For the middle-of-the-road students, or as a class lesson, the teacher could play a few notes, and then ask the student(s) to predict which reindeer would make the next appropriate note.