Thursday, 7 February 2013


We hope you have had  a restful holiday period (if you got a holiday break, and if you didn't we hope you get to relax soon!) 

Over the Christmas / New Year Period, Little Monkey Apps have taken a break. We've driven around to the relatives, to various parks and had our fair share of adventures! (That's what we call it here when we get a little bit lost or take an unexpected turn!)

Teaching Little Ones (or big ones) to read a Melways is tricky. (Hey! We're from Melbourne, Australia, but substitute whatever map book you wish!) Not surprisingly many students these days wouldn't even see their parents read a map, let alone be able to read one.

Use the GPS! Use the GPS! Is a cry I often hear from my own mother to my father when he attempts to drive to an unfamiliar destination on 'intuition'. I don't want to go down the sexist, assumptive, gross generalisation that all men refuse to use maps and in reverse, that women can't read them! We bought my parents the GPS, so I'm glad that Mum wants it used!

We have a GPS here, but it hardly EVER gets a workout at all. We're not that adventurous and when we are, the GPS gets charged! 

One of our big adventures these holidays was to take Little Angel to the Zoo. She is turning three soon and although we have been before, this time she clutched onto the paper map like it was a golden ticket. We didn't even need the map as we had it on the phone. She knew what she wanted to see and pointed out all of the pictures on the map. Oh! What a teachable moment! If only she was five and we could have reasoned with her to then read the map. 

But she's not five, and when you want to see a monkey, well, you NEED to see the monkey...RIGHT (stamp your foot) NOW (stamp the other foot!)

Our new App, Co-ordinates covers the basic to more complex skills of map reading from the compass rose up to xy ordered pair co-ordinates in four quadrants. The App contains five modules including game-like situations, asking users to manipulate, create, interpret maps and plot xy co-ordinates.  

NOTHING replaces life experience, hands on manipulatives and interaction with peers and teachers. Our Apps are designed to be used additionally to support and extend these experiences.Use the teacher module instead of a whiteboard or butchers paper, to save or revisit something you have done on paper! 

Users have reported to us they use our Apps to check student knowledge, to keep the small group on task while working with a teacher group, to replace worksheets (well why wouldn't you if you had a 1:1 iPad classroom), to use to vary the curriculum for students who learn differently, to differentiate the curriculum for levels of understanding, use when homeschooling in addition to or replace textbooks or workbooks, use for a small teaching group or 1:1 to model, demonstrate or work interactively. We love hearing your feedback!

Check out the website for my ramblings on other activities you might like to do with mapping, co-ordinates and directions. You've probably got 101 more ideas than me that suit your purposes, location, budget and inclination! 

Like us on Facebook and we will let you know when we've released a new App. We're not serial posters and won't pester you or anything....but there are going to be a few codes put up every now and then. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Fraction Wall

Whenever we create apps, we make them because WE would like to use them in our classrooms. We don't make "stuff" that already exists! Those who know me personally and professionally are used to my somewhat 'laid back vocabulary' but know that underneath everything that happens in the classroom or in the apps we make, is a strongly held belief (knowledge and understanding) about best practice and pedagogy. I can fire out the vocabulary and knowledge if you'd like, but lets not alienate non-certified parent-teachers, or use too much jargon or latest buzz words. More importantly, I am data driven teacher, (not testing driven) and have a passion for hands on approaches. (Refer my previous ramblings on MAB for example!) 

So far our app sales have allowed us to buy some new tech and take a little bit of unpaid leave, finance my further studies. We are not a large company. It is just the three (well two) of us plodding away making apps that I would like for my classroom (or for tutoring students). We have only made ONE app with an in-app purchase just to dabble with what that meant. 

The testing phase involves students using the app, finding bugs, and us as educators noticing that we wouldn't use it the way we thought we would.

We are teachers. You are a teacher. (Whether a certified, trained, paid one or a unpaid parent-teacher) You will probably want something different than what we want. That's okay, Let us know what you think either by emailing us at

or the feedback button on our web page


Here's a sneak peak and five free codes for those people who would like to know what our new app Fraction Wall is all about!


Remember, read the teacher instructions before you dabble, extended ideas are on the website, or watch me rambling on about it on the video on the website.

Worldwide codes, due to expire on the 21st of December 2012

Please post a "gone" statement in comment section so others know you've used it!


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

What on earth would I use a Venn Diagram for?

We recently had a request to include some visual organisers and simple graphing tools. We aim to please at LMA, so if you have an idea, please feel free to let us know.


So here is our latest App Teaching Graphs.

I feel myself rolling my eyes when I hear the term Venn Diagram. Pointless right? Who really cares if Sue likes Bananas and Apples, but not Oranges! What point does this have in the real world?

A lot actually. Reading and Interpreting graphs and graphics has become more important than ever. Increasingly, we are given these types of presentations to persuade us.  We need to be aware of how to read and create these diagrams and graphs in order to become aware of what actual data is being presented (or misrepresented).

Venn diagrams help us to organise information and make links between similarities and differences of a particular set (or traits) We do need to start with 'eats bananas and apples...' but then use these charts to move onto more complex (and meaningful) data sets to compare and contrast such as  animal diet or habitat e.g. eats meat, eats leaves.

Carroll diagrams work in a similar way (I really prefer Carroll diagrams to Venn diagrams as a learner myself) It is basically a YES / NO chart. Basically you put the object in 'the right box' to match all of the criteria. My favourite for this was 'lays eggs' or 'live born' during a unit on life cycles. (Love the fact that some sharks lay eggs...)

The rest of the App is about numerical data sets and graphs,  making them, reading and interpreting them. NOOOOOOO Voice overs (seems we are always getting requests for voice overs... which in our next app we have included but it seemed silly to voice over here because the student will have to re-read to pick out key phrases anyway...)

In my teacher mode I really wanted students to make the graphs on a computer (and by hand) but using Spreadsheet programs meant I had to teach cell references and how to change colours and fonts. You can make any graph look pretty or over-do something (often with inappropriate use of Word Art or too many colours... I can feel my loathing rising) ... I was just interested in the graph part...especially Pie Charts Below is my spiel from the website...

Pie chart maker

Pie chart creation can be difficult without the assistance of IT devices as young children aren't able to understand the mathematics behind its creation (angles, using a protractor,) Students are able to create their pie chart by inputting data sets, change the colour and value for each slice. Great introduction to percentages for more advanced backwards and complete the task on the App and (oh my goodness, yes, I'll say it...) by HAND!
If you are doing this by hand, my personal favourite way of introducing percentages is to have students collect 100 hama beads or other small beads onto floristry wire, put all of the same colours together, tie off to make a loop, then bend into a circle. Use a white kinder circle (or cut one out the same size as the wire circle) Then mark the mid point of the circle, put the wire circle of beads on the top of the paper circle and then mark where each colour starts and stops. Use a ruler to join to the centre of the circle and colour in to match. Voila! A pie chart. Then you can go on to teach that each bead is worth 1%. You might like to get fancy and only collect 50 beads and discuss how each bead is now worth 2%. You could do this with people too. Put all the students who match a criterion together, move the whole group into a circle and sit down (or stand if you want), use string or streamers, or plastic tablecloths if you want a solid colour to show the slice!

Facebook friend us or Follow us on Pinterest and comment "I like Venn diagrams" for a free code!*

Leave a comment on the Blog, "I like Venn diagrams" for a free code!* 

*First ten ppl will get a free code to Teaching Graphs!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Introducing MAB Addition and Subtraction

Ever watched, really watched a young mathematician complete an addition problem without intervening? Try, lets say 247 plus 345. Not too difficult right? Ever asked them, without judgement, why are you putting that little one up the top (or bottom)?

Child: You add the 7 and 5 first. 
Me: why do we start at the right with the ones?
Child: You just do, that is 12. So you put a little one under the four and write two down.
Me: why do we put that little one under the 4? Doesn't that make it 14 or 41 now?
Child: No, now it is 4 plus 4 plus 1. 
Me: Okay.
Child: So that is 9 (writes 8 down) and then 2 and 3 are 5. 
Me: So the answer is ...?
Child: Five Nine Two
Me: Five nine two?
Child: Yeah.

MAB is a physical way to demonstrate what is actually happening when we complete these types of addition problems with regrouping... regrouping... that is what is called when you add the 7 and 5 and get 12 and put the "little" 'One' in the next column.

Some students don't know WHY they put the little one there, they just do it because that is where they have been told to put it. They don't recognise that the numbers they are adding can be pulled apart, 200+40+7.... and 300+40+5.... So when we line these up in columns the answer would be 500+80+ 12. 

As for subtraction, why all of that crossing out you might ask. What's all this borrowing? My mother was taught the add ten here, add ten there method... whoa! Wasn't that confusing as a seven year old trying to do MY homework in Mum vs School methods!  

As I always harp on about iPad should never replace a hands on physical method. Have a read of my previous blog post on MAB and using manipulatives to teach place value.

Monday, 20 August 2012

I just build towers with them!

All our Apps come from a NEED whether this be a past colleague or a random email from a user. Mainly, they come from my tutoring efforts and the NEED to reach into a little person's brain and tap into where they are at... because it isn't happening at school or with other methods.

So... here's the story behind Little Monkey Apps Place Value MAB.

I’ve been tutoring my neice Miss Ten again and we’ve been working on number facts to ten, twenty. She gets the tens frame, she gets that if she knows 5+5 is ten then 15+5 is 20. So to mix things up a little we played a game called double plus one. So 5+6 is like 5+5+1. Having her talk about her thinking is REALLY helping her to become cognizant of what it is she is actually doing. 

At the end of the session though, she appealed to me, “But Aunty Leasha all of this doesn’t help me when I have to do addition with regrouping!” Ah, I thought, its time to transfer this knowledge to something that is undertaught in our classrooms today…. Mathematical Manipulatives! Yes! Hands on stuff. “Do you use MAB at school?” I asked her. She rolled her eyes and replied, “I just build towers with them!”

I remember as a kid throwing the ones (minis, units) across the table at one of my peers. I remember some kid putting ones up his nose and two tens (longs) in his mouth like fangs. As a teacher, I was always finding ones in inconspicuous places and tripping over them even after I thought they’d been well packed away…vacuum cleaners DO NOT pick them up! 

Not having any Multibase Arithmetic Blocks at home (and no access to school supplies since being on Leave with Little Angel) I pulled out a pack of craft icypole sticks, rubber bands and a shoe box and made her make me bundles of ten, then advance to 36, 29, 45, 92, 105. We played games with dice, and had races to make the number rolled. We rolled dice again, made the number with sticks and then… added them together… but what happens, I asked her with the bundles and sticks. You’ve got 47 and 29? Oh my goodness…. Regrouping!!!!  

On a large place value mat (laminated A3 placemat) we wrote HTU (hundreds tens and units) and put the bundles and sticks in the right place. We wrote the problem out on the mat and she saw that when written out vertically on the place value mat the problem was, “like at school!”  We then wrote the problems out first, then used the sticks and bundles to solve the problem. 

I was hoping to have her transfer her knowledge of doubles and near doubles to this situation and to use bundles of pencils and glue beans on sticks in sessions following. 

Creating an MAB App was on my mind to create because I had no access to the real equipment and couldn’t afford to buy it for tutoring one child. 
By this time, Little Angel was awake. I grabbed the playdough to keep her amused, but it was clear that she wanted the icypole sticks to stick into the playdough. Looking at Miss Ten and Little Angel I asked them both, “Want to build a tower?”

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Recording, Reporting and Statistics

Lately, we have had a few requests for our Apps to record data and statistics. Some of our Apps do this such as Timestables, but many of our Apps just congratulate on the correct answer or prompt too high or too low. We have added a few "stars" or "points" boards to our apps as feedback to student in response to this; however, we stand firm on not over-analyzing every step a child takes!

As a professional I understand the benefits of recording data and being data driven in your teaching. In Victoria, Australia, there is SINE numeracy testing, Observation Survey literacy testing for the junior classes and NAPLAN Australia wide standardised testing Years 3, 5. There are other tests schools implement such as the PAT Maths and Comprehension, SA spelling test, CARS and MARS. I personally utilized the DMT tests in my classroom as a comprehensive fail-safe in order to ascertain understanding of key concepts. All of the tests mentioned when used correctly are valid forms of assessment and inform teaching. 

When it comes to every day classroom assessment there comes a point that you might want to stop and think what is the point of assessing (and recording) every little step. Am I doing this activity as a valuable learning activity or to test if the child has grasped the concept? Am I presenting an environment where learning itself is valued? Will this assessment be valid, reliable and consistent, genuine, ongoing, involve feedback and reflection? Will the assessment improve student performance or direct teaching? Will the assessment be OF Learning, FOR learning or AS learning? Heard of that phrase. Basically what I'm trying to say is that Little Monkey Apps doesn't assess...You do... You know why you are assessing (and How) If YOU choose to use any Little Monkey Apps to assess your students great!

Sure, we could add statistics to each of our Apps but what do those numbers really tell you? Unless you are sitting beside the child 1:1, there is no way you will be able to tell if Max who got 15/20 was just lucky or really has the skill down pat or if Harriet who got 10/20 wasn’t just pressing the wrong answer because she liked the response of the deflated ‘farting’ balloon when she got a number too low. 

Speaking of sitting beside a child (or small group of children) using the App…that is how I use Little Monkey Apps to assess a child.


The teaching module came about because I personally use use the teaching module to teach and assess. Use it to present a problem or have the child show and explain what they are doing. I know you don’t have time to do this every minute with every child, but you also don’t have the time to look at statistics that mean nothing.  

Want a more reputable source? 

Snakes and Subitising

Have you ever played snakes and ladders (or any board game) with a four and a seven year old? Ignore the need to win, the wriggling mess that they become when they slide down a snake or the bragging when they climb a ladder…. And look at what happens when they roll the die…

Oh if Miss Four counted the die dots one by one, one more time Master Seven was going to scream! “Six, the die is six, why do you need to count every dot… when it looks like that it is a six!” Master Seven was annoyed with her because he was able to subitise, while she had yet to grasp this automatic knowledge. 

Subitising (or subitizing) is the ability to automatically recognise a small group of objects…like on a die or a collection of counters or on a ten frame. It helps with the four processes, counting on, counting back, automatic recall, trusting the count, self checking… I could go on.

Miss Four couldn’t do it, yet! How could I help her? My experience with early mathematic skills has led me to believe that exposure, real life and game situations provide this ‘help’. Most importantly though, is the ability for Miss Four to explain how and why she knows ‘it’. Metacognition and ability to explain how you have reached an answer is paramount in building a solid understanding of mathematics. 

What about Master Seven? Sure, he could subitise a die, but what about when it came to other patterns or objects other than dots? What if I changed them around? 

For our next game, we made our own die.  Not to change too much around, we used sticky dots. We even added a seven, eight, nine and ten. The four year old didn’t get it and still needed to count from one but Master Seven was able to verbalise what he was doing ‘in his brain’ to subitise the numbers. 

Needless to say, that is why Little Monkey Apps SubitisingFlash Cards was created. We hope you like it.