Challenging Advanced Level Students

Question: My student seems advanced for his age. He’s 11 and can complete most of the homework we do with only a little prompting. I’m looking for a way to challenge him in our sessions. Any ideas?

There are many online resources you can use to challenge your student if they seem too advanced for their grade level. Recently I have been using Khan Academy to differentiate instruction for my students who are either advanced or below grade level. If you set up an account, you can actually add on your student (or as many as 30 students if needed) and assign them lessons to work on.

You can also monitor their progress as well and see exactly what skills they need help with. Once you have them start completing several lessons on Khan Academy, then you can see what your student has mastered or what your student needs extra support with. The best part about Khan Academy is that all the videos, lessons, and activities are completely free!

The most important thing to remember with advanced students is to keep them continuously challenged! If they feel as if they content they are learning is too easy, look up the beginning of year standards for the following grade level and teach them the content. They’ll be excited to learn something new and expand their learning!

Other great resources for reading and math that are standards based is IXL. Although IXL is not a free website, you can choose the subject they want to learn (Math or Language Arts) and choose the topic. Make sure you click carefully about which topic to learn because IXL only gives out a few free problems per day.


“Friendly Shapes” App Review (iPad, Pre-K to 2nd grade)


Last Friday I was babysitting two children (ages 3 and 6), and I wanted to find a fun and comprehensive app that taught basic 2D shapes. After a 5-minute search through the App Store, I came across this awesome free app called “Friendly Shapes” created by the company Tabtale. Many of Tabtale’s apps focus on creating interactive storybooks and games for the iPad, and Friendly Shapes is a great example!


  • Two different story modes
  • Five interactive games to reinforce learning shapes
  • No technical issues with app crashing or bugs
  • Easy app for young child to use

Needs to be improved

  • Pop-up ads and banner ads on bottom of the screen

In Friendly Shapes, the characters are different 2D shapes who are working together to find one of their missing shape friends. Circle, the main character, is searching for his friend Star and meets other shapes along the way. As he meets his other friends, they build different modes of transportation including a truck, a train and even a robot.

A positive aspect about the app is that it has two different story modes to allow for more reading flexibility. One mode is called “Read it Myself” where the child can read the story aloud and then, through the iPad’s microphone, the app assesses how well the child reads the story. Since I was using the app to teach a 3-yr old and 6-yr old, I actually had the 6-yr old read the story aloud. He really liked the story and the animated pictures helped keep both him and his brother engaged.

The second mode is “Auto Play” where the entire story is read to the child so that the child can hear the story on his or her own without the presence of an adult.

Friendly Shapes also does a great job of using games to reinforce the shapes that the child learns in the story. After the child finishes reading the story, he or she is presented with the option of playing games such as jigsaw puzzles, memory cards, and counting. When I tried the jigsaw puzzle, I was pleased that there were no bugs or other technical issues in the app. The games in the app are very responsive, and it rewards the student with music whenever he or she completes a game.

One downside about the app is that there are advertisements at the bottom of the screen (as you can see in the screenshots) and the occasional pop-up ad, but advertisements are usually inevitable with free apps. Overall though, if you’re looking for a great interactive storybook app that teaches 2D shapes to your preschooler or kindergartener, try out Friendly Shapes by Tabtale!

App screenshots

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Disclosure: All views and opinions with regard to the products or the company are my own and were not influenced by the company.