Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Alien Assignment

Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children's Media has created several apps for young children. My favorite is Alien Assignment. It's a free app available in the Apple app store (it's an iPhone app bus can be used on the iPad or iPod as well- iOS 4.3 or later). Children are introduced to the Gloop family of aliens whose ship has crashed landed and who need the child's help to fix it.

Through the camera feature on the device, children are asked to find objects and photograph them as examples of items the aliens could use to replace the broken parts of their ship. Directions are spoken and children must pay close attention so that they know what their photo assignment is. The open-ended assignments can lead to some
creative and out-of-the-box thinking when children are looking around the room. For example, the assignment to find something with buttons led to kindergartners locating buttons on classroom snowmen, a teacher's sweater, and the keyboard of the computer. Children can then be asked to justify their choices when reviewing their photos with an adult.

This one, simple, free app encourages active listening, following directions, creativity, critical thinking,
reasoning, problem solving, and camera use. It is recommended for ages 4 and up and would be an excellent choice for grades K-2. Extension activities could include partners assigning each other items to find and photograph or having children write their explanations for their photo choices.