Do you struggle with choosing apps for the children in your care to use? With all of the different apps available, it’s up to you to do the research and find the right software options for the students in your class. In Buckleitner’s Guide to Using Tablets with Young Children, Warren Buckleitner recommends that you start with what you know about each child. “It is important to understand the children, know about each child’s interests and learning challenges, think about what the app can teach the child, and choose appropriately for the school or home setting,” he writes. Here are a few factors Buckleitner suggests you keep in mind when evaluating interactive apps and products for young children:

  • Easy Usage – When children use an app, they should have a feeling of success in the first few seconds. The interface should be crisp and responsive with no lags or moments in which the child has to ask for help.
  • Entertaining – The experience should be fun! The app needs to be easy to use, but it should also be designed with appropriate levels, a degree of novelty, and a good story that captures children’s attention.
  • Educational – Ideally, a child should walk away from the app with something new and valuable. Keep in mind that educational value can be enhanced by tutorial elements (or scaffolds) that offer assistance when needed.
  • Features – Look for an app that gives you the ability to customize the interface to the child, adjust background music, swap language, and track progress. Remember that it is important to consider these features in the context of the other factors being considered.
  • Overall Value – When all of the other factors have been considered, including the current state of the app, evaluate the app’s experience cost versus what it can do.

If you’re looking for new tablets for your classroom, our Shine-2 Tablet is a great example of a device that comes preloaded with educational activities that meet many of the factors listed above. Be sure to read Buckleitner’s Guide to Using Tablets with Young Children for app recommendations by age and subject. Our recent blog post "Technology in Early Childhood Education: Finding the Balance" provides a list of Buckleitner's guidelines for limiting screen time. You’ll also find a variety of tips and resources for incorporating technology into the classroom in the Technology category of the Insights and Inspirations section of our website.