parenting

Education Apps: Tips for Making Learning-on-the-go Fun

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Most experts will tell you that kids' learning happens much more easily when it's fun. Heck, most moms—the true experts—will testify that their kids enjoy learning more and retain knowledge better when the learning experience is fun. There are lots of ways you can do that at home. However, making learning happen, let alone making it fun, can be difficult on the go. Making a volcano in a minivan tends to be kind of messy.

But The iPad, LeapFrog, and similar devices are changing that. There are, in fact, many things you can do to make learning adventures possible as you do your errands, some involving technology, some using the good old-fashioned five senses. Tweeters at a recent MomItForward Girls' Night Out (#gno) in March, sponsored by PBSKids, shared what apps and tricks work for them:

Top Six Tweet Tips for Making Learning-on-the-Go Fun

  1. Be on the look out. First of all, as @PeekaBaby says, "It's all about finding the teachable moments everywhere you are."
  2. Have your kids use their eyes. @TiffanysToyBox says she loves making her kids count the colors of cars, "It really is a great distraction on a long car ride!"
  3. Be prepared. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it can really pay off if you take care to download the right apps or pack the right gear. @C2CMom takes a Melissa & Doug license plate travel game on longer road trips so that kids can turn over the license plates as they see them. @D1_Dawn and @OurWild actually take playing cards along and have kids play simple number games like War. @D1_Dawn says her kids love that. Consider taking a small white board for each child with you, either for card games or for taping money to and attaching to the back of a car seat to help them identify coins and bills, like @SweetMatcha did.
  4. Speaking of apps... As you probably know, many destinations such as museums have related apps that can either enrich your experience when you're there, or keep learning fun when you're not. The American Museum of Natural History in New York, for instance, has a Beyond Planet Earth Augmented Reality app that @C2CMom uses.
  5. Try these apps or tools to make math learning fun: Google Sketchup, which is a free tool for creating and sharing 3D models, recommended by @LadyOzma, who likes to find ways to use math. She has her kids design houses and other CAD work. Math Bingo, which @ColoScienceMom says is "a fave with the little critters." RocketMath, TuxMath, and Multiplication.com were other favorites.
  6. For word-related fun, try these apps: Noodle Words, by family-friendly developer @yadongliu, recommended by @LearnWithFunApp.

Of course, PBSKids has lots of on-the-go educational apps as well. As some of our tweeters pointed out, technology works best when it enhances hands-on learning. And both technology and learning work best, for both kids and adults, when they're fun.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr.

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