When teachers are planning, I'm the first one to say "If it can be done more effectively while unplugged, do it." We need to face facts - sometimes the "old fashioned" way is better than high tech.
Sometimes, though, you can blend the two.
Especially with the younger kids.
This post features some of my favorite tangible tech experiences that include hands on components, not just screens.
#1 - Osmo
By far my favorite tech toy for younger students... or really, all age students! Osmo takes the table in which the iPad/tablet is sitting and makes that table interactive. Using a periscope style device, Osmo has more than a dozen different learning games that students can play with, including tangrams, number and letter tiles, maps, coding, and even pizza toppings! I've blogged about Osmo several times but I will never tire of sharing this incredible platform.
#2 - Tiggly
If you are lucky enough to find a Tiggly set, they contain either number rods, vowels, or shapes. The tangible sets are amazing because you stick them right on the tablet screen and the apps "read the screen!" The Tiggly apps do not need the tangible sets to play, instead students use their fingers to engage with the games. My favorite game is Tiggly Chef Subtraction - if the kids need to subtract four, they put four fingertips on the screen. It's kind of hard to explain, but lots of fun to play! Oh, did I mention all the apps are free?!
In particular, the SquareLand and Phonics Playset. Remember those magnetic letters that were a childhood rite of passage for refrigerators? Well, this playset uses a letter tray where not only are letters recognized, the platform recognizes whether letters are facing the correct direction. It's a fantastic way to explore letters and phonics and basic site words beyond just clicking a screen. Plus, the reading games are adaptable, adjusting to how well the child is doing with the platform.Plugo
Plugo has a unique twist on tangible games, with sets that involve STEAM and letters and numbers and puzzles and even a piano! Connect your tablet to Plugo's Gamepad and the sky is the limit. The Gamepad spaces things out and directs kids where to place objects. Whether you're placing the piano or the number spikes, you can clearly see where things go. There are eight different game sets for Plugo, each with it's own apps and storyline. All are engaging, hands on, fun!
There is a whole genre of screen-free tech toys, too, but that is a totally different post!