The iTooch library opens upon download with options for ten different free downloads (Language Arts, Science, and Math for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, along with a health app for 5th grade). Since my daughter Riley is in 3rd grade, I went with the 3rd grade Math and Science apps.
Upon downloading, you'll notice that the option to play or upgrade the app is available. This is because the developers have made iTooch Elementary free to download and try before you buy it (you get to see about 20% of the app in the free trial). The upgrade for this particular set is only $4.99; however, I always recommend to try it before you buy it because not all apps are going to be a perfect match for your kids. So today I'm going to highlight the free trial version for you to see before deciding to upgrade.
Once I opened the 3rd grade math app, I am met with multiple options: Numbers and Operations; Fractions, Decimals, Money; Geometry; Measurement and Data, Graphs and Statistics. Each of the options has between 1-4 units, so you can try a handful before committing to the paid app. This is a nice feature. Since Riley has recently been working on fractions and decimals, I went there first.
The questions that came across the screen were varied in difficulty and structure. Some were heavily worded story problems, while others were very brief and to the point.
Here are some examples that the app generated for fractions and decimals:
- "What is the denominator?"
- "Johnny has 100 jelly beans. 20 are pink, 20 are yellow".......(this leads on to about 5 questions)
- "What would happen if we added 1/8 to what we already have?"
This is not a content creation app where students will be working on higher level Blooms activities, but it does provide a lot of quality questions that are beneficial for learning.
On a review of this same product for a different site, I read that because the app was not heavily grounded in instruction, only questions, it should be viewed as a worksheet replacement. While I agree that the app may not be particularly strong at providing direct instruction, I personally think that this tool is light years ahead a worksheet in a number of ways.
First, there are the visual differences. Many of us become more engaged when we are visually stimulated. Pinterest, Flickr, and Instagram have all built worldwide networks based heavily upon visual stimulation. So taking a look at the screencaps below, captured from iTooch Elementary's 3rd Grade Science app, I would argue that the photos below are much more engaging than the black and white worksheets of yesteryear, and can much more easily transmit ideas and hold a student's attention than a worksheet.
Secondly, once a student has completed some practice questions, they can click over to test mode. The test mode within the app is timed and gives the student immediate feedback on their performance, earning points toward belts and other achievements. They can also keep up with the activities of friends through the leader-board if you wish.
And third, the apps will soon add an enhancement that allows them to always be up to date, as they will be doing an automatic sync behind the scenes on your device whenever there is an internet connection available. This combined with the fact that worksheets seem to disappear after being turned in/handed back and the app will never get lost provided an opportunity for the most up to the minute information to always be at the student's fingertips.