Among 800 iPads introduced into Madison public schools this year, one set is helping kids in kindergarten learn to read, write, and count.
Ms. Nelson's classes at Huegel Elementary use "apps" to stay engaged while learning some of the same topics that used to require a book, pen or paper. She says the digital equivalents add motivation.
"Let's get your work done, you read me these books, then we'll have iPad time, but they don't realize that iPad time is also reading more books," said Leah Nelson.
"My concern was I don't want to just have a child glued to a computer all the time," she said. "We still do so much cooperative learning and so much learning how to get along, they even use the iPads together."
Nelson's classroom was chosen among more than 80 applications for an iPad cart within the district.
Many of the educational games are actually made in Madison. Filament Games creates iPad apps mostly for middle school students.
"In school when they make a problem harder that's a drag," said Filament Games Creative Director Dan Norton. "In a game when they make a problem harder that means you move to the next level."
Norton says they aim to make apps where the element the kid enjoys most is what the app tries to teach, avoiding games that turn into trivia. He says the engaging nature of an iPad can help keep students focused and interested.
"A game can make something you have to know be something you have to do and it can reward you for doing that thing and give you really great feedback about how to do it better," said Norton.
For a portfolio of Filament Games apps, head here.
Leah Nelson recommends the following educational apps for kindergarten students:
-Wet Dry Try
-ABC Alphabet Phonics