Elementary iPad A list of essential apps for elementary age children
QUICK INTRO Who are you? My name is Laura Wright. I am a teacher at an international school in Austria. I am the wife of a brilliantly talented composer and music teacher, and mother of two equally wonderful boys aged 9 and 5 years old. I am keenly interested in the application of new technologies to K-12 education. Why have you written this? I have written this information book for other teachers and parents who have an iPad and want the best apps for their students/children. Why do I need this list? With the plethora of apps now available, and so many claiming to be educational, it is difficult for teachers and parents to find the best. This is a list of the best according to our family and my experiences in the classroom. This list is current as of August 2016.
Fo u r y e a rs o n I a m astounded at how much the iPad has become apart of our lives. I now use it more than my laptop. Our youngest, almost 6, has grown up with the iPad and can navigate it better than his grandparents. The apps we use has changed as our oldest grows and enjoys different, more complex challenges, while our youngest likes many of the same his brother once liked. Our app list has grown exponentially, mainly because I now use iPads in the classroom, so this pack is a â€˜littleâ€™ longer. With all these extra apps I have changed the format to subject based. It has been a long, long time coming but I hope you like this update and I look forward to your feedback.
Korean and German
Books Picture and Readers
In each section there will be one app awarded with a star. This is our special favourite.
LANGUAGES The benefits of learning a second language are well documented. Here are our favourite apps that support language learning. Duolingo This is the most exciting addition of the past 12 months. Though not an app a beginner reader could play independently, its amazing how much they learn. This app uses the same method of language acquisition as the Rosetta Stone curriculum but for free! German for English speakers is fantastic!
My World This little app teaches simple nouns including 1-10, colours, fruit and vegetables, emotions and parts of the body. It comes in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese and German.
Living and working in Korea two years caused Korean to be the language our family focuses on. My students learnt Korean from specialist teachers at school and half of them used Korean as a first language. Here are a few apps that support learning of the Korean alphabet - Hangul - and basic words/phrases.
Korean Handwriting HD Plus This is a great simple app for learning to write and pronounce the letters of the Korean alphabet - known as Hangul. Kor Princess Cute little app - I like this one because the letter tracing is better for our youngest. I also like the flashcard section where there are a few different workbook options with more to come.
Baby School English/Korean Great for our youngest as it teaches everything in a Bilingual fashion
Popoya Fruits and Vegetable Same as above, this game teaches the names of fruits and vegetables. Hangeul - Talk in Korean This FREE app has a vibrant collection of everyday words to increase your vocabulary. Great for both children and adults. Funny illustrations :)
LANGUAGES - Korean
Popoya Animals Flashcards and games assist users to learn the names of animals in Korean. Also supports writing Hangul and letter recognition.
Now living and working in Austria, our language focus has changed to German. There are certainly differences between the dialects of Germany and Vienna, Austria but the Austrian people - who mostly speak English beautifully are able to move between forms of German. So clever arenâ€™t they :) Gus German Fun bright illustrations and good text-to-image reinforcement.
Die Bibel App This beautiful app is on our boys iPads not so much for them to understand - they have the English version for that - but simple to get them listening to the patterns and sounds of German. They know the stories so it more about familiarity. Google Translate Might seem like an odd choice but this is a great app for reading signs and translating simple sentences. English and German have common roots so the translation is relatively direct. This app was useless in Korea.
LANGUAGES - Ger man
It is my opinion that Geography is a widely neglected subject. For various reasons most children, unlike their parents and grandparents, have a vague, if any, conceptualisation of the world they inhabit. This is one reason that I was so delighted to find that the Montessori approach to learning deals with Geography so thoroughly. Mobile Montessori has created a series of apps that present and reinforce the location of states and territories, countries and continents, oceans and seas. Many of the apps also have the capital city and the countries flag.
States & Territories of Australia
Flags of North America
NOTE: they donâ€™t seem to have a flags of Africa one so we bought the regular one Flags of South America
Flags of Asia
Flags of Europe
Flags of Europe Card Matching
I was pretty strict with my eldest when it came to playing games on the iPad. When he was younger he only played the “teddy bear game” and only with Daddy. This obviously didn’t last long and with our youngest now in the mix, we have a few more games on the iPads. None of these games however are violent, unless your idea of violent includes a teddy bear turning into smoke, and have not adversely effected the boys behaviour. We have tried other games and I found my eldest becoming irritable and agitated even after the iPads had been put away. All I can say is monitor your children and students; watch and see how they act during and after they play something. Deleting is always an option.
Geared for iPad - multiple levels/single player Players are required to fit together cogs in a particular order to make the movement rotate. Amazing Alex HD - multiple levels/single player Physics based problems were players fit together different items and rely on gravity to complete the puzzle. Where’s my Water? - multiple levels/single player Physics based problems were players guide water to Swampy’s broken shower but be careful of the poison! Contre Jour - multiple levels/single player Really beautiful app with lovely music - reminds me of the music from the French movie “Amelie”. Chess - multiple levels/single or two players This app is great - you have tutorials and different helps you can turn on and off while playing a game. Dots - one level/single player Simple well designed app - recent update gave players the option to have 30 moves or 60 seconds.
Spider HD - multiple levels/single player Another problem based game that operates with physics rules. Beautiful graphics and we usually play it with no sounds as the music is pretty ordinary. Where’s my Perry? - multiple levels/single player Very similar to “Where’s my Water” app - both which are made by Disney. Like the big band music.
Wally HD - multiple levels/single player We usually play this game together. Finding the main characters and specific items before time runs out! LEGO 4+ - multiple levels/single player This would be more accurately called LEGO 2+ - or at least it would be in our house. Our boys were able to play it from a very young age.
UNO for iPad - multiple levels/single player Always great to have a tried and tested card game on the iPad. Few rules I don’t remember as a kid but still a blast.
Minecraft - one level/single or multiple player The ultimate open ended game. Users create worlds with simple cubes. The lear ning opportunities are wide and transdisciplinary. I recommend you put a timer on so you donâ€™t get carried away. Harbour Master - multiple levels/single player Guide the ships to port, unload cargo and navigate safely away - make sure you fire the canon at the pirates too. Max & the Magic Marker - multiple levels/single player Players guide Max through each level collecting resources with the help of a big orange marker! Jelly Defence - multiple levels/single player Latest addition to the game page and this one has Daddy enthralled too! So excited one night they were all jumping up and down on the lounge cheering.
BannerSaga - multiple levels/one player Beautifully crafted app that takes the user on a journey. Using an animated world, divided into a grid the user makes strategic moves, like in chess, to attack their opponent. This game has a 12+ rating for a number of reasons including violence. Every child is different so play the app yourself and decide.
This is the subject our very logical and reasonable eldest son just loves. One reason for this is the methodical way the Montessori approach presents mathematical concepts. These apps have made learning fun and interactive! I canâ€™t recommend them highly enough!
Hundred Board Mobile Montessori We used this app to see patterns in numbers <100 and how to write these numbers correctly. Skip Counting Montessori Tech A visual way to understand multiplication. Would like to see a questions section like Bead Facts in future. Multiplication Charts Mobile Montessori Great app to reinforce multiplication understand and assist in memorisation.
Bead Facts + - Montessori Tech A visual way to understand addition and subtraction. Great way to teach vertical equations.
Geometric Cabinet All the simplicity and beauty of the Montessori Geometry cabinet for $2.99
Les Trois Elles Geometry Similar to the app above but different games including a 3D option
Patterning Pre Math Exercises Mobile Montessori This is the best of all pattern recognition apps in my opinion. Stretches the concept far further than others.
Place Value by Montessori Tech Finally place value that you can see! Our eldest was excited when he understood this. Like he had cracked a secret code!
DragonBox Algebra 5+ This app teaches algebraic concepts. As you progress through the game, visual elements are slowly replaced by mathematical symbols. The user must think logically and efficiently as a full score can only be achieved within a stated number of moves. It is amazing to watch this progression, and see the scaffolded learning taking place!
Geoboard I love geoboards and the ability to play and then annotate boards in this app take it to a new level. Upper elementary students can create visuals easily and easily keep them by taking a screenshot.
DragonBox Algebra 12+ This app is the big brother of the DragonBox family. Donâ€™t be deterred by the 12+ recommendation as I have found children as young as 6 and 7 find enjoyment and success in this engaging app. DragonBox Elements With over one hundred puzzles this is an app well worth purchasing. The same scaffolded experience users have learning algebra has been applied to geometry. Children learn through play based experiences the properties of shapes and angles. Number Line Like Geoboard, this simple app allows students to create fantastic visuals for mathematics. The coloured rods used for addition and subtraction are similar in concept to the manipulative used in Montessori schools.
Division Board Montessori Tech This app helps students understand the concept of division and how it relates to multiplication.
Oh so many books! I struggled knowing what to include in this category and what not - how much ‘reading’ has to occur for an app to become a book? Think of this first page as more like a story that is read to you - cuddle up with someone you love and have the story read to both of you. Stella and Sam Story Pack The beautiful characters of the Canadian children’s program now have an app! Just lovely. You can purchase the stories individually or in one app. Also get the free drawing app.
Boynton Collection The boys have almost grown out of these stories but they are too good not to mention. Under 4s. Nighty Night Easily the best app we have ever bought. The boys never get tired of putting the animals to sleep. Nighty Night Circus Same format as the original but with a fun twist. Welcome addition to our nighttime collection. Little Fox Music Box Listen to know songs and rhymes with this clever app. You can even make your own music too! There’s a Monster at the End of this Book! This is such a funny book to read with your children. Our boys laugh so much! The Very Cranky Bear Four friends work together to make a bear happy yet it is an unlikely character who saves the day. A Fine Musician This is a delightful story with simple animations that has found a permanent place on our iPads.
Dr Seuss Treasury Classic stories made new again with fun interactivity.
Me Books Each of the picture books in this app has to purchased separately in an in-app store. On each page the text is read, with background sound effects and music, plus each page has additional audio when a character or part of the scenery is pressed. This additional audio can be customised by the reader and then returned to the default state. We bought the entire Charlie and Lola Collection for about $50 - not cheap but in my opinion worth the money - we love C&L! Oxford Owl Although not an app we saved this website to our school iPadâ€™s homepage and now it is a favourite. You create a free account and a connected class login. RAZ Kids A subscription based service, Raz Kids is one way we assess students reading. The studentâ€™s voice is recorded as they read and can then be accessed and assessed by the teacher. Reading Eggs Another subscription based service, Reading Eggs is our self paced independent practice students do at home.
As our older son is now a independent reader, the apps on our iPads now include those with access to levelled readers. Some of these are subscription based, have in-app purchase options, or are web-based (not technically an app but as we saved the link to our home screen it feels like we should include them).
These apps are not solely creative apps as such but apps that support an understanding of the theory behind art and appreciation of the masters. Intro to Colours by Montossorium Supports hands learning about colours. I love the way tone and gradient is taught in the Montessori method. Fridaâ€™s World Biographical look at this important female artist. Love the illustrations and music. PlayART Introduces children to original works of 8 masters. They can view and manipulate works, creating their own collage works. A much more exciting way to view and appreciate art. Mini Monet Delightfully illustrated app allows students to investigate art, express themselves on blank canvases, and also share their art with other kids through the app! Love the main page Parisian street. Art Authority K-12 Kidâ€™s version of best selling app of the same name. Gives children access to over 65,000 works!
TEACH ME It amazes me how motivated our boys and my students are by these apps and I have seen a noticeable improvement in their basic skills with regular use. The Toddler app supports learning about colours, shapes, number and letter recognition. At the other end of the scale the 3rd Grade app supports learning of sight words, multiplication, division, and spelling. Children are rewarded with gold coins for correct answers. These coins can then be spent on stickers to decorate a scene (pirate cove is our favourite), elements in an animated fish tank or items to decorate a house!
TeachMe: 2nd Grade
TeachMe: TeachMe: Kindergarten 1st Grade
TeachMe: 3rd Grade
TeachMe: Math Facts
MUSIC “Learning to read notation, appreciate all forms of music and play an instrument are essential components to your child’s education,” said the music teacher’s wife :) Musical Instruments of the Ancient World This is a beautiful app that introduces children to the instruments of the ancient Mediterranean world. One of our favourite features is the Orchestra page where you become the conductor - including and eliminating instruments from playing. Jazzy Music Box This bundle is a wonderful collection of story based apps that follow two kittens as they learn about music. Beautiful graphics and a authentic sounds. Students also are exposed to world geography. Loopimal Pattern and repetition are an important part of composing music. Using this app children can create loops with drag and drop actions. These loops can then be layered! My First Classical Music App Great app that introduces student to instruments and main composers of western art music.
Carnival of the Animals Beautiful music with graphic notation elements that with captivate your children.
My First Orchestra App There are many app packs that combine great apps with some less than great apps.
DoReMi 1-2-3 Intelligent pitch recognition app that supports student learning based on their answers.
Through my research and experience teaching I have come across many different approaches to language arts education. It has become my own stance to teach student phonics before reading. This is based on studies firstly by Orton and Gillingham, then Romalda Spaulding, and most recently Denise Eide. I have included two apps from the Logic of English Foundations program which I have used in my own teaching and highly recommend. Phonograms App A phonics recognition game that helps students practice the 74 basic phonograms of the English language. Doodling Dragons Cute book with simple animations that reinforces the multiple sounds the single letter phonograms make in the English language. Moveable Alphabet This app come in three versions: Dâ€™Nealian, Cursive, and round letter font.
Punctuation - End Marks From the same creators of Grammaropolis, this app engages children in games and quizzes on the correct usage of punctuations marks.
Grammaropolis Very stimulating app that combines media and quizzes to teach and test grammar knowledge. The characters created for each part of speech are memorable and engaging.
Word Sort by Grammaropolis Very fast game for 9-12 year olds for practicing grammar knowledge. Keep this for the upper elementary students - it was even challenging for me :)
LANGUAGE AR TS
We don’t have as many science apps as I would like yet what we do have is amazing. Here are our favourite science apps covering the sub disciplines of biology, astronomy, and physics. Planets of the Solar System Uses many of the tried and tested Montessori methods of content learning. Simple information presented in a beautiful way. These apps are respectful to the child as a learner. SkyView - Explore the Universe Great app to used during a shared experience. Get a blanket, lie down, and point the iPad at the sky. You will see information about the stars and constellations you are looking at. Classify it! Another beautifully designed app. Children are able to access the content through three levels: Easy, Intermediate, or Advanced. Meet Science Pack: Physics for Kids All four “Meet Science” apps in one bundle. Children are introduced to scientific principles and then led through a series of games to see the principle in action and test their thinking.
SCI EN C E
The Human Body by Tinybop I first came across Tinybop through the very successful Human Body app. Our boys have been discovered on occasion giggling hysterically at the pooping and burping they can create of this app. Simple Machines by Tinybop I originally bought this app to supplement my How the World Works unit that inquires into how simple machines make it easy to perform tasks. The game however ended up staying on the iPads all year because the kids enjoyed it so much.
The Earth by Tinybop Great introduction to all the earths systems: their names and how they work. Watch how different features of the earths environment where formed. The Weather by Tinybop Create a tornado, see the water cycle in action, and learn about the different types of clouds. Lots of fun! Plants by Tinybop Explore scenes of different environments including forests desserts and grasslands. Interact with the lifecycle of plants and fungi. The Everything Machine This app is amazing. You can create circuits that incorporate routers, logic gates, controls, detectors, modifiers, and outputs such as lights, movement, and music. Our boys love it! Homes This adorable app allows you to see and poke around inside four very different homes from around the world. I would love for an update with a SE Asian home included.
Coding is a way of thinking that is completely logical and literal. It is based on commands which the user gives. It is a new literacy that will become more and more important as technology progresses. Here are our favourites. Lightbot & LightbotJr This was our first â€œthinking like a coderâ€? app. The user is presented with a puzzle. They have to create the blocky code - organise a s e q u e n c e o f p i c t u re s t h a t re p re s e n t commands - so that the character completes the puzzle. Junior for our youngest Mr.5 and the other for Mr. 9 Tynker This amazing open-ended app is targeted at upper elementary students and above. There are hundreds of guided tutorials were children see and learn the basics of coding using block elements. These skills and understanding can then be used to create animations, games, and other student-created content. We also have a Sphero robot that can be programmed using this interface. This brings coding to new level!
Swift Playgrounds This app is where kids coding apps move from blocks to real coding text/language. There are tutorials and challenges, and in true Apple style the graphics and interface are beautiful. The coding language used called Swift has been developed by Apple. This is definitely an upper elementary app and is perfect for a shared child-parent experience.
C OD ING
This section on Creative apps, is the most exciting for educators. This is where students get to create content with the purposes of sharing! If you have a tight budget this is where you should invest!
BeeDocs 3D Timeline Easily make amazing 3D timelines that can be viewed in the impressive presentation mode. It also supports images, short videos, and HTML links.
Puppetpals HD Choose from preinstalled sets or create your own characters and backgrounds from photographs or drawings with this versatile app.
Canva This is my current favourite app. It is a free to use web based app - meaning you can only use it when online - that allows you to create professional quality graphics. AMAZING!
Puppetpals 2 This version of Puppetpals gives users the option to animate their characters more with moving mouths, arms and legs. Brilliant historical sets available with the Directors Pass. Explain Everything Great app that records voice and movement. At its most basic, its like someone recorded a lesson from a whiteboard yet at the other end of the spectrum students can insert media which can be annotated as they play through it. This versatile app can be used across all subjects and age groups K-12.
C REATI V E
C REATI V E
Quik Updated Replay app bought by GoPro and now for free! Create great video that combine music video clips and photos. Book Creator Simple app that has tools to create really beautiful interactive books. Can be exported as a video or ePub. Thinglink Great way to annotate images and embed media into images.
Typic Edit you photos with filters, graphics, and texts. There is also a childrenâ€™s version of this app with clip art type stickers. MindNode Sometimes the best way to communicate something or even just organise your thoughts is with a mind map. This is our go to brainstorm app iTunesU This app is an important source of teaching and learning resources yet it can also be used to publish and share units of work! Share and share alike people!
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A list of essential apps for elementary age children