My Backpack is the first app from the educational non-profit the Waterford Research Institute. The app is designed for children from preschool through 3rd grade and has 4 different sections. It is designed as a classroom supplement to be used alongside Waterford Early Learning, a research-based adaptive software curriculum. It is currently free with no in-app purchases adverts or external links.
The 4 sections are : Read-a-Long, Mental Math, Sing-a-Long, and Nursery Rhymes.
There are 16 books included in the app, designed for Pre-k through 2nd grade. These are classic stories which have been rewritten for the Waterford Institute. They can be watched like a movie, with word highlighting by the phrase as the story is read or the student can choose “read by myself” mode. In read by myself mode the student can choose to have individual pages read or can touch on individual words to hear them read. This is great for encouraging beginning readers as they can read by themselves. but still have help at hand when they need it.
All of the books are nicely illustrated, they are not interactive apps but rather narrated digital copies of print books. They look like they have been scanned from printed books and occasionally the scan quality is not as sharp as it might be.
The stories are: The Gingerbread Man, Anansi and the Seven Yam Hills, Lizard and the Painted Rock, The Little Red Hen, The Big Mitten, Henny Penny, The City Mouse and The Country Mouse, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Magic Porridge Pot, The Three Wishes, Mr Lucky Straw, La Tortuga, The Shoemaker and the Elves, The Brothers, The Three Little Pigs, and The Ugly Duckling.
These are simply illustrated versions of 5 classic nursery rhymes : Hey Diddle Diddle, Jack & Jill, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Pat-a-Cake and Quack, Quack, Quack. Each nursery rhyme can be enjoyed in 3 ways: the child can listen to it being read, listen to it being sung or explore the book. In “explore” mode the child can touch on words to listen to them and touching the illustrations triggers interactive elements.
There are 35 songs to listen to each covering an educational topic. There are songs about Math & Science concepts, Numbers & Counting, Times & Seasons, Alphabet, Grammar & Punctuation, Usage and Phonics.
The songs are catchy and well performed, they remind me of the kind of educational songs you hear on Sesame Street. Some, but not all of them, have sub-titles. The graphics are a little fuzzy at times, but they are a fun way to introduce children to a wide variety of educational content from simple counting & ABC’s to the scientific method, types of nouns & the use of commas. I did notice a spelling error in this section “grammer” instead of grammar – which should be corrected as this is an educational app!
Mental Math includes 4 math games: Balloon Race, Rock Climb, Let’s Build and Frustration! The games start off very simply working on addition problems with numbers under 5, as students successfully complete levels harder problems are unlocked, subtraction problems are added and problems including larger numbers. After they have completed a session the parent or teacher can look at a review of questions answered correctly and those answered incorrectly. As students unlock levels they move around a board game, unlocking bonuses on the way. The app has multiple player profiles.
In this game the student answers addition or subtraction problems, and for each correct answer the squirrel climbs a little further up a rock face. If they get a question wrong 3 times in a row they are given the correct answer and get to move on to a new question. As the student completes levels they unlock new climbing helmets for the squirrel.
This is a similar game to Rock Climb,with an added challenge. For every correct answer the players ballon goes up and for every incorrect one it goes down, it also slowly drifts down with time, so they are encouraged to answer quickly as well as accurately. As the student completes levels they unlock new hot air balloons.
In this game the student needs to create an equation of the form A + B = C, or A-B =C. They are given a value for one of the numbers and a selection of possible numbers for the missing two. The 2 halves of the equation are on a teeter totter and they must check to see if it balances. For each 5 correct responses they earn a piece of playground equipment to build a playground.
Mastering a level in any of the other games unlocks Frustration! for the same questions. This is basically a timed math test, the student needs to try to answer 20 questions correctly in under a minute. They earn a star for each correct answer and can change answers to improve the star score. The app tracks accuracy of the responses and number of problems answered per minute. The parent or teacher can view correct and incorrect responses.
Overall, this is a must download app for the parents of any child from pre-school to 2nd or 3rd grade. It includes a huge amount of high quality educational material and it’s FREE! Although it is designed for students of the Waterford Learning Institute is is a great app for any child in the target age range. It includes games to work on addition and subtraction, fun educational songs, nursery rhymes for the younger kids and classic stories for early elementary school students. Download it today.
This app has been thoroughly evaluated by our staff. Please click on the 'star ratings' tab above, to see how it fared in all nine of our rating categories. See synopsis tab for more details about the storyline.
This review was originally published by TheiMums.com on November 19, 2014. The iMums – Amanda, Alison, Mary and Grace – are four mothers from different parts of the world dedicated to educating parents about the best digital stories, educational apps, fun games and technology products available for their children. Founded in August 2011, the four iMums have 11 kids among them ranging in age from 1 to 17 and bring a global perspective to their app reviews.
The original iMum Amanda being from Australia, Alison is in America, Grace is from Singapore and Mary is from the UK but is currently living in America. Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Waterford Research Institute, LLC
45 - 60 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 6 - 9 +
English • Spanish •
ABOUT MY BACKPACK
Creators of Waterford Early Learning Curriculum present a free selection of songs, books and math games to be used alongside Waterford's adaptive learning software in the classroom or home. Waterford is a nonprofit research center; this free app is one of the ways we're happy to inspire a great start for every child!
My Backpack offers a wide variety of activities to suit a range of ages from preschool through second grade. My Backpack was developed by the award-winning nonprofit, Waterford Research Institute, as a classroom supplement to be used alongside Waterford Early Learning, a research-based adaptive software curriculum.
My Backpack Features:
- 4 Mental Math Games - Interactive addition and subtraction games with 25 progressive levels and 3D animation that encourages and challenges children, yet is so fun they don’t want to put it down.
Mental Math includes 4 Games:
1. Balloon Race
2. Rock Climb
3. Let’s Build
- 16 Traditional Tales books - Beautifully illustrated interactive read-along stories allow the child to choose if she wants to read on her own, be read to, or watch the story like a movie.
- 35 Songs - Catchy, original songs illustrate reading, math and science concepts in fun ways that make sense and stick with the child.
- 5 Nursery Rhyme Read-Alongs - Creative nursery rhymes that encourage exploration and reading, in a board-book format with interactive features that appeal to pre-readers.[Source: iTunes]