Thursday, September 19, 2013

This Week's Favorite Kindle (mostly) Math-Oriented Apps

Mathemagica:  Range of math skills and operations covering all grade levels

Multiplication Genius:  Basically flashcards, but good for drill

Kid Math:  Sort of a flowery space-invaders kind of way to practice facts

Minecraft Pocket Edition:  Work with 3-D shapes and spaces

DragonBox Algebra 5+:  Thank you, Charlotte, for the recommendation.

Others we like:

Art Memory Game (lite)
Famous Paintings
Brain Gems
*Knowledge Tube

*Must have web enabled to run these apps, and they don't work in Kindle FreeTime, i.e. the application which lets you set time limits so that you don't have to hover over people or worry about hearing the oven timer. Still, we like them a lot. The 5th grader has been full of cosmological information lately, gleaned from a BBC series on the planets, and we all find the SaintCasts fun. Of course, we can just listen to on the computer, but the 4th grader especially likes having it on her Kindle, so that she can listen even when nobody else wants to.


VA said...

A Kindle appeared in our possession, and I am inspired to find a school use for it. Just turned it on today, though, so it may be a while. I don't have any idea how one downloads anything yet. Care to come to CO and give me a tutorial?

Sally Thomas said...

The easiest way to load things onto a Kindle is to access your Amazon account (or create one, if you don't have one) via your computer. From there, you register your device with your account (there should be a prompt on the Kindle itself for this), and then you can search and purchase Kindle books -- I use "purchase" loosely here, because the bulk of our Kindle books are free ones.

When you buy books, you'll be given a prompt asking you where you want to store them (generally the device will be first on the list). They will automatically be stored in your Cloud as well.

If you have a Kindle Fire -- that's what we have -- you can do apps. Many of them are free as well. Again, you buy them via the computer, and from your Kindle Cloud you can control what happens with them: load them into the FreeTime function (again, if you have a Kindle Fire), archive them so that they don't show up even in the "cloud" setting on the Kindle, etc.

Because Amazon owns, you also get automatic Kindle access to any Audible audiobooks you might own. We've had an Audible subscription for several years, so at this point our audio library is pretty extensive, and it's great that the kids can choose things to listen to on their own.

We do love our Kindles. As I'm writing this, the 9-year-old is in the other room with her Littlest Pet Shops spread out on the floor, playing quietly while she listens to an audiobook on her Kindle. And we do use them extensively for school.

Sally Thomas said...

You can shop from a Kindle, but I find it much harder to navigate than my computer, so I don't shop from it. And I've disabled the "shop" function -- well, you can't totally disable it the way you can all the other functions (web, apps & games, music, etc), but you can make purchasing password-protected, so kids can't just see things they want and buy them at a click.

Again, I don't know if you have a Fire or not, but if you do: to get to Parental Controls, once you've unlocked the screen, you swipe down from the top, which reveals a little toolbar. Touch the + (or maybe it says "more" -- can't remember) at the far right, and that will give you a big menu, including "parental controls."

Here you can set a password which will let you manipulate all these settings, then do things like block web access, block certain kinds of content, and set up FreeTime profiles for the kids, so that each child can have his/her own "Kindle-Within-Your-Kindle". One frustrating thing we've found is that you can load only Amazon content into FreeTime -- ebooks I've bought from places like Yesterday's Classics count as "documents," and FreeTime doesn't do documents. Nor does it do audiobooks, which is a pain! I'd hoped just to have the FreeTime be the entirety of each child's Kindle experience, but it's been a little more complicated than that.

Still, worth it. I love being able to zap new reading instantly to each child.

VA said...

Thanks, Sally! After much research, turns out we have a Kindle Keyboard, an older version that does not do apps. I think we can still do the Kindle within a Kindle thing, but I have not quite sorted it out yet. I appreciate your advice, I think it may yet be a useful device for the girls (who saw me downloading The Red Fairy Book and the Blue Fairy Book and are now fairly dying to get their hands on the device.

Sally Thomas said...

Well, that will make your life easier in many ways, not having apps. Just having the access to all those free books is huge. I have a Kindle app on my laptop, but I really couldn't hand it to the kids to read. The non-backlit screen is a good thing, too.

We would have gotten plain readers for the kids, except that one of our objectives was to wean them off my computer, which they were using for . . . math apps, plus games. I like the app functionality of the Kindle Fire, but it definitely requires more managing than just an e-reader would.