Although we encourage appropriate and limited screen time in children's lives, when your kids are having some screen time, it is great if you can guide them to content that actually promotes learning while it entertains. There are some amazing educational apps out there. We have listed a few below, as well as some resources to point you in the right direction for finding more.American Association for School Librarians: Best Apps for Teaching & Learning This is one of my favorite places to find wonderful learning apps for kids. Each year they put out a list of best apps. Lists from previous years are also still available. Their list is broken down into the following categories: Books, Stem, Organization & Management, Humanities & Arts, Content Creation, and Off the Beaten Apps. I love that they include Organization & Management! Those are such important skills for kids to learn and they are often neglected. A couple of my favorites from the 2017 list are:
- Radio Jones And His Robot Dad (Interactive Storybook/Elementary School): From ASSL, "Radio Jones is a boy whose dad doesn’t have time to play with him, so Radio creates a robot dad who has time to do all the fun things with him. However, Radio learns that a robot dad isn’t necessarily better than a human dad."
Disaster Detector (Science & Problem Solving/Middle School): From the Smithsonian Institution, "The citizens of Smithsonville are in dire need of a Disaster Detector! Help Smithsonville and other cities predict and prepare for natural disasters. Use tools to make predictions and save the city from damage by helping citizens prepare properly. Disaster Detector teaches players how to analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and how to implement tools to mitigate the effects of those disasters."
Common Sense Media I most often use this website to review movie content and determine whether a particular movie falls within our family's standards for what is appropriate to watch. However, under the Top Picks section of their website, they have a Best Apps Page. There are all sorts of "best" lists and you can sort by age which is always handy. Here are just a couple of apps that make on their lists.
- Prodigy (Math/Elementary & Middle School): An adaptive math game in which kids become immersed in a world of wizardry and earn spells for battle by solving math problems.
- Stack the Countries (Geography/Upper Elementary+): I'm a geography fanatic so this one was bound to make my list. From the developer, "As you learn country capitals, landmarks, geographic locations and more, you can actually touch, move and drop the animated countries anywhere on the screen. Carefully build a stack of countries that reaches the checkered line to win each level."
Edutopia This website may require a little more digging around, but the apps they recommend are great and it is definitely worth the effort. Edutopia is part of the George Lucas Education Foundation which he founded in 1981 to help identify and replicate innovative and effective approaches to education. Just do a search for "apps" or "learning apps" and you will be rewarded with plenty of great options.
- Quick Math (Math/Elementary) From the developer, "Quick Math improves arithmetic fluency and promotes development of mental strategies for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and mixed operations." One thing I love about this app is that instead of using a keyboard on the device to enter answers, your child writes the answer on the screen.
- Book Creator (Creative Writing/Elementary+) This one is perfect for your creative kids. My daughter first used this at school to create a book as part of a group project in second grade. She loved it and came home everyday telling me what they had accomplished. From Edutopia, "Students can add photos, videos, text, and illustrations to each page of the book they create. There is an option for adding a voice recording to individual pages so that students can use narration to set the tone of their scary or whimsical story."
This list is obviously far from comprehensive, but more than adding yet another list of "best apps" to the internet, I wanted to provide some sources you can trust for finding educational apps your kids will love. Now, I think I'm off to play a little Stack the Countries!
What are some of your favorite learning apps?