March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Spanish-Language Apps: A Starter Collection| Touch and Go

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apps en familiaIn 2014, The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, a research lab focusing on children, digital media, and education published Family Time with Apps: A Guide to Using Apps with Your Kids. (free on iBooks). A Spanish-language edition of the guide, Apps en familia, became available last fall as an iBook and downloadable PDF. The 20-page booklet addresses the educational value of digital media and offers best practice suggestions. Research-based findings on using apps and recommendations on some of the family activities available through them—from creating photo albums to bird watching—are also included. A separate section answers parents’ questions and provides resources for locating quality products.

Share the guide and some of our Spanish-language and bi-lingual app recommendations for children with the adults who use your library, and if you don’t have any Spanish-language apps on your library devices, it’s time to begin a collection. The annotations below excerpted from the School Library Journal reviews when available; title links will bring you to the full review, price links to iTunes, Google Play, or Nook downloads. All of the apps listed are available in the United States. Feel free to add the titles of some of your favorites.


Screen from ABC Action (

Screen from ABC Actions (Peapod Labs LLC)

Written and voiced action words in English and Spanish are the focus of ABC Actions ($2.99; Peapod Labs LLC; PreS-Gr 1). The app incorporates crisp, colorful photos, live-action video demonstrations of terms; and simple descriptive sentences.

Arthur’s Teacher Trouble (Wanderful Interactive Storybooks, iOS, $4.99; PreS-Gr 2) Marc Brown’s aardvark and friends are beloved by children around the world. This story relates Arthur’s adventures during third grade with a new teacher—Mr. Ratburn—also known as “The Rat.” Children can listen to this interactive, narrated version in English or Spanish. “Premium” features, including the “Classroom Activities Guide,” are in-app purchases. Wanderful offers other English-Spanish titles available including The Tortoise and the Hare (iOS, $4.99) and Stan and Jan Berenstain’s The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight ( iOS, $4.99; Android, $4.99). See their website for additional titles.

Originator has created a number of educational apps in their “Endless” series, featuring playful and energetic monsters. Endless Spanish/Infinito Español (Free, in-app add-on purchase $4.99 for full ed.; PreS-Gr 4), is designed for Spanish speakers and learners. Here the colorful, exuberant creatures are employed to teach common Spanish terms, their usage, and spelling. Hi-octane fun.

LieselsisterPrior to their app incarnations, the Piccolo story apps enjoyed successful print runs in The Netherlands, published under the Unieboek | Het Spectrum label. As apps, each offers listening/reading options in five languages, including Spanish. Sound effects and animation have been added, but are minimal; in each production the story takes central stage. Quality illustrations are another given with these apps. The collection features a variety of tales for children ages two through eight, “something for everyone,” notes the publisher, but must be purchased through the Piccolo app. Titles include: Marianne Busser and Ron Schröder’s Will You Come for a Sleepover? illustrated by Alex de Wolf; the same author’s Liesel Gets a Sister and Liesel’s Birthday illustrated by Dagmar Stam; Tjibbe Veldkamp’s Tim on the Tile, illustrated by  Kees de Boer; Niels Rood’s The Flying Dutchman, illustrated by Yke Reemer. Piccolo titles must be purchased through the Piccolo app and are priced at $4.99.

Not Without Bear (appropro, iOS, $2.99; Nook, $2.99; PreS), written and illustrated by Anna Grossnickle Hines and based on the print book of the same title (Orchard, 2000), features a scenario that will be familiar to households with young children: revisiting the day’s activities in search of a missing lovey. In this interactive story, viewers help Audrey and her mother as they look under couch cushions, in drawers, and through cupboards, until at last the stuffed animal is found and the girl and bear are tucked safely into bed. The narration, accompanied by a few sounds effects and musical interludes, enhance this simple but satisfying nighttime tale.

Screen from xx by Tinybop

Screen from Plants (Tinybop Inc.)

Tinybop Inc, offers a number of apps on a range of topics. The apps do not come with instructions, but navigation and interactivity are fairly intuitive. Viewers have the option of choosing the language they would like the see the images labeled. For each production, extensive, downloadable handbooks (in a number of languages) are available online. The handbooks provide notes on using the apps with children, questions to ask, and features to point out, along with background information on the topic for both classroom and homeschool instruction. Among their many productions to date are Homes ($iOS, $3.99; K–Gr 5), The Human Body ($iOS, $2.99; K-Gr 5), Plants (iOS, $2.99; K-Gr 5), Simple Machines (iOS, $2.99; K-Gr 3), and The Earth (iOS, $2.99).

News-O-Matic, a subscription app launched in June 2013 by Press4Kids, delivers news and human interest stories five days a week. The app, which is available for iOS, has been downloaded in classrooms, libraries, and in homes in more than 100 countries, has earned high praise from Teachers with Apps, the American Association of School Librarians, and other educational organizations. It offers articles in three reading levels and Spanish language translations “at the tap of a button.”

For additional app reviews, visit School Library Journal‘s dedicated app webpage.

Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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