Universal (iPhone / iPod / iPad)

high school apps

In high school, students are getting down to business, and they need apps that will support their learning.  Bells and whistles of entertaining educational games often (but not always!) give way to practicality as kids focus on the job at hand. Our selection of recommended apps will help students review important concepts in core subjects, study for important exams, and have a little fun along the way as they review and prepare for the next phase of their learning.

my-alphabet-b01
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
My Alphabet: Underwater ABC for Kids is a great early learning app that teaches children to learn, recognize, build words, and write the alphabet. Perfect for young children!
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

My Alphabet: Underwater ABC for Kids is an easy to use early learning app that teaches children to learn, recognize, and write the letters of the alphabet. With fun puzzle concepts, writing activities, letter recognition games, and a missing letter activity, children will learn a great deal of information about the alphabet in this fun underwater themed app.

Features include:

  • 6 Mini games
  • Puzzles
  • Letter writing
  • Narration options throughout

Quality

The developers have done a great job of creating a visually engaging app that children will love. With a lovely underwater theme in the background of each activity, children can see fish, bubbles, and coral in various images as they learn. The narration throughout for the activities is also a great as it helps players through each activity. They have also included simple tap and touch technology that is very easy to use to move through each mini game making this app quite intuitive. Overall, this is a great early learning app for kids.

Education

With 6 mini games to explore children have lots of opportunities to learn and practice their alphabet. Players will not only learn the alphabet sequence, but also the names of each letter, how to write each letter and they will learn to recognize each letter visually. With puzzle games, fill in the blank, and matching activities the developers have set up a creative way for children to learn their alphabet in a fun environment.

There is also an activity that allows players to form their own words by dragging and dropping letters in place. This portion of the app does provide narration for each letter, but doesn’t actually read the word for players. It would be helpful in this section of the app to include specific site words for children to replicate and spell. This would add an opportunity for children to learn to spell various words which would be really helpful for early learners.

While overall this app is great for early learners, it would be nice to add a phonics activity under the ‘letter sounds’ section of the app. In addition to teaching children the names of each letter, allowing players to learn the sound each letter makes would definitely add a great deal of value to this app.

Entertainment

While the activities in this app are primarily educational they are set up in a fun way that will keep children engaged. With puzzles, matching, and fill in the blank games to complete, this app creates an entertaining way for children to learn their alphabet. The developers could add an additional game that combines some of the things children have learned throughout the app as an added bonus activity to increase the entertainment value, but overall the entertainment value of this app is pretty good.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, this app has a lot to offer in terms of educational value. With 6 mini games to enjoy while learning the alphabet, the names of each letter and letter writing, this app is a good deal. Parents will certainly be happy with the overall value.

Child Friendliness

With simple tapping and drag and drop technology this app is very easy to use for young children. The narration helps to keep players engaged as they play. While the user interface is fairly simple to use, parents may need to provide a bit of guidance when children are first playing each activity until they get the hang of it.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

8th grade apps

Our reviewed and recommended apps for 8th grade offer review of middle school science concepts, inspire kids to start writing as well as quiz them on verbs, nouns and adjectives, work on foundational concepts in Algebra, and provide a homework planner to help students stay better organized. There’s a nice review of challenging skills in math and science that we threw in for good measure.

7th grade apps

The seventh grade year is often a year of big changes-changing classes, new teachers, and higher educational expectations.  It’s also time to begin planning ahead for high school challenges.  These recommended apps will help your student learn and grow with the best.

6th grade apps

High quality educational apps for 6th grade can be a little harder to find in the App Store. Our list of reviewed and recommended apps include world geography, middle school vocabulary prep, a comprehensive math practice tool, a tower defense geometry game and a graphic novel that covers a variety of middle school issues like self-esteem, teasing, bullying, peer pressure, stress and insecurity.

5th grade apps

The apps we’ve chosen for our reviewed and recommended list for 5th grade include basic fraction concepts, searchable math video tutorials, visual and written creativity while creating professional-looking books and word analysis practice covering multiple concepts.

4th grade apps

There are so many great educational apps in the App Store for elementary school-aged children, we couldn’t narrow it down to our top 5 reviewed and recommended apps for 4th grade. Our list covers apps for encouraging creative writing and self-expression, text and visual design, scientific inquiry and observation, spelling, coding for kids and even a tool for assessing reading skills.

3rd grade apps

Finding just the right apps for your elementary-age child can be time consuming. Our list of reviewed and recommended apps for 3rd grade can make finding the right app for your child easier. The apps featured focus on a number of important areas, including building language skills, developing reading and comprehension skills, practicing writing skills, improving understanding of geometry and fractions, improving fine-motor skills, following directions, and encouraging creativity.

jazzyworldtour
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Jazzy World Tour is an excellent educational app with lots of great information and fun activities for children to enjoy. Particularly great for music lovers!
4.5

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 4
Download on the App Store

Overview

Jazzy World Tour is a fabulous educational app that is full of awesome information about various countries around the world. Everything from music, instruments, foods, and other fun facts are included in this app with three ways to play. Players can learn fun facts, play and interact with various instruments or create and share their own scenes. Overall this app is a fun and engaging way to learn about other places and cultures in the world.
Features include:

  • 3 Ways to play
  • Music
  • 10 Countries to explore

Quality

Jazzy World Tour is a creative app that teaches children fun facts about various countries around the world using lots of great graphics and sound effects. The images and illustrations used within this app are very well done and are highly engaging and entertaining for children of all ages. The narration and sound effects in the app also help to create a very engaging and educational experience. Overall the developers have done an excellent job creating a highly engaging and easy to use app for kids.

Education

With 10 countries to explore, children are exposed to lots of fun facts about the various countries, animals, instruments, foods and so much more! Each ‘learn’ section comes with various pictures that when tapped opens a window with a description and picture of the item while the narrator reads the information aloud. While the information is being narrated, it would be nice to include text highlighting to allow early readers to follow along and practice their reading skills. With that said, Jazzy World Tour still offers lots of great information for children to learn about places like the U.S., Japan, Australia etc.

Entertainment

In addition to learning loads of fun facts about various places around the world, players also have the opportunity to interact and play a bit with the musical instruments and images using the ‘play’ option. There is also a ‘create’ section that allows children to put together their own scenes and pictures that can be saved and shared through a protected button. Overall this app has a nice balance of both educational and entertainment features.

Value

Priced at just under five dollars this app might be a bit more than some parents typically pay for an app like this, but the educational value alone is fabulous. With so much to learn and the additional entertainment elements of the app to keep children coming back for more, this app is definitely one that is worth the extra money.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a great job making this app easy to use and safe for kids of all ages. With simple tap and touch functioning even young users don’t need a ton of assistance as they move through the app because of the intuitive interface.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchases
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)

bubumotivate
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Unique motivational app allows parents to assign kids tasks and reward them for positive behaviors.
3.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Parents having trouble getting their kids to follow rules and complete tasks around the house have a new app in their corner. Bubu – Motivate Your Child is an app designed that rewards kids with points for following a set of rules. Those points can then be redeemed virtually for real-world presents and other rewards set up by the parents. The app isn’t flashy or full of games to distract kids. It’s a more simplistic app designed to remind kids what they need to do and motivate them to get it done.

Features include:

  • Set up multiple child profiles
  • Share across devices
  • Customize children’s schedules and tasks
  • Award and take away points
  • Encourage children to reach goals

Quality

Parents will find that the app is fairly easy to set up. Instructions help parents fill out their information and set up each child’s profile. The free version of the app allows one child profile, but parents can pay to add multiple profiles. Parents can also pay to customize the color scheme, get notifications, print weekly schedules, and add friends. These are all great features that parents may wish were included in the free version of the app, not as expensive in-app purchases. Another downside to the app is that it assumes families have multiple devices. One device families will not be able to use the app effectively. Since nothing is password protected on the main profile, children can access their profiles and add and take away points, which they will undoubtedly figure out how to do. When children use a different device to access the app, they will only have access to a screen showing their tasks, points, and rewards.

Education

Kids are encouraged to behave at home and at school and are rewarded for good behavior with points that can be redeemed for different rewards determined by their parents. Each child profile has a place where kids can set goals and point values to reach. The default goals are to earn 300 points for a birthday gift and 900 points for a Christmas gift. While Christmas and birthdays are two times of the year where kids will receive gifts regardless of the points they earn and, therefore, not particularly useful for many families, parents can also set their own goals for kids. They can also let kids set goals for themselves teaching them how to work hard to reach a goal.

Entertainment

One of the paid features of the app allows kids to add friends in the app. They can interact with their friends by sharing and exchanging points and other items. They can also encourage one another to work hard to meet their goals. Kids will enjoy watching their points increase and will also enjoy redeeming those points for rewards.

Value

The free version of the app allows parents to create a single child profile with a basic schedule, but puts limits on how much the profile can be customized and how many points can be earned. Parents who want full access to the app can purchase all customization options for one flat price or opt to purchase individual options. Whether purchased individually or as a bundle, these options are over-priced. For example, the option to change the color scheme costs the same as the option to create multiple child profiles. Developers would do well to cut the price of the options in half to make them a better value.

Child Friendliness

Parents set up the app on one device and link their child’s profile to another device. Two parents can manage the app if connected through separate devices. For families with multiple devices, this is a great feature. For families with one device, the app is less useful and gives children access to all of the features designed for parents.

  • NO external links
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES access to parent profile
  • YES social media (access from parent profile)
  • YES in-app purchase

2nd grade apps

Our reviewed and recommended apps for 2nd grade include a wide variety of apps such as logic puzzles, apps for creativity and self-expression, building language skills and math.

image (2)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Robot School gives kids a chance to rescue a stranded robot while learning basic computer programming skills and developing a better understanding of how computers work. Along the way, they will build logic skills, observation skills, attention to detail, and other important life skills.
4.6

App Info

Price: $3.99
AppStore User Rating: 1

Download on the App Store

Overview

Robot School: Programming for Kids teaches the steps to creating simple computer programs using icons that control a robot. Players are given progressively more difficult challenges and more sophisticated tools to solve them, and are guided into developing sequences of code to accomplish each mission.

Features include:

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop interface
  • 45 levels
  • Teaches programming logic
  • Codes displayed in Swift programming language
  • New tools unlocked as levels are completed

Quality

Robot School is a well-designed app.  The controls are very intuitive, and developers have included a hints section for many levels.  The robot predictably follows the code input by the player, no matter where it leads.  Users make the programs by dragging and dropping cards with commands into the proper places in the sequence, then test their effort by running the program to see if the robot finishes the required task.

However, I had no success with the Sharing feature.  The app claims that programs can be shared via Facebook, but I could not find the mechanism to connect my account, and when I clicked the sharing button, I was consistently dropped out of the app and had to restart it.

Education

Robot School will help children understand the basics of programming code and logic.  Each level is a simple step to add a skill or concept to the player’s repertoire, and players quickly learn to combine skills and apply them to new situations.  Run the code to see how successful the robot will be at finishing the required task.  If the task is completed, the game moves to the next level.  If not, players can modify their code or check hints to see where they are going wrong.

The program teaches many of the basics of coding that are common across the various languages, including loops, conditional statements, and more.  The working format is a visual, drag-and-drop system that allows players to sequence command cards to create the code.  After placing all the cards in sequence, players push a start button to see what happens.  If the code is correct, the robot performs the task, then the code is displayed in written format using the Swift language. This is Apple’s programming language, and is based on several versions of C. However, the translation to Swift is displayed in a very subdued fashion, and most young players are likely to overlook it.  It would be more educationally sound to display the code before running the robot, and to emphasize the translation between the cards and the code more.  As it stands, many children are not likely to see the connection between what they are creating and computer code that makes apps and programs work.

Teaching coding to young children has a number of advantages, even for students who have no intention of working in IT.  At its heart, computer programming is problem-solving within a given set of rules, and this skill is important no matter where life takes you.  Coding develops logic skills, attention to detail, and many other life skills, as well.

Entertainment

Robot School is lots of fun to use.  R-obbie the Robot is cute as robots go, and the sound effects that accompany his movements and actions are lots of fun.  He has a back story that will intrigue most kids, but this is not very clearly emphasized and really only available in the description of the app on the App Store.  You might want to read through it so you can share it with the kids.  The way that developers laid out the levels also adds to this app’s entertainment value.  New “skills” (programming steps) get added every few levels, so it’s like R-obbie is getting additional powers just often enough to intrigue young users and with just enough practice time between presentations that all of the skills get mastered before users move on.

Value

Robot School rings in at $3.99 in the App Store, and will provide your child with hours of productive puzzle-solving and programming practice.  It’s very easy to get lost in this app, striving to solve “just one more” level before putting it away.  The app also will keep track of multiple users’ progress, so it’s perfect for classrooms or family use-everyone can have their own profile.  Nice job, developers!

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly.  Every link I checked had a parent gate on it and a message that children must check with parents before going to outside sites.  This is wonderful, but it might be even safer to hide these options in the parents’ section or the settings so that young fingers don’t stumble onto them by accident.  Also, the parent gate involves a multiple choice multiplication problem.  Determined kids would have a one in four chance of guessing correctly if they were trying to get into unapproved territory.  A better solution would be to require adults to actually input the correct answer instead of simply choosing it.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)
  • YES connections to social media (protected, but visible)
  • YES external links (protected, but visible)
  • YES app rating system (protected, but visible)

1st grade app

Our reviewed and recommended apps for 1st grade develop literacy and numeracy skills, place value concepts, geometry, thinking and logic skills, cause and effect skills, and more.

image
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Cato’s Hike is an entertaining and engaging app that will teach players concepts about creating computer programs. It encourages problem-solving, logic, attention to details, and many more vital skills that will be needed by adults no matter what career they may choose.
4.7

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 4

Download on the App Store

Overview

Cato’s Hike: A Programming and Logic Odyssey uses a popular and familiar gaming format to teach programming language, logic and techniques to children and adults alike.  Users are challenged with progressively more difficult tasks to move forward in the game, and along the way, learn about how computer programs are designed.

Features include:

  • 60 levels and 12 tutorials
  • Colorful and nicely-designed “cards” to use in programming
  • Capability to email solutions to friends
  • Capability to create unique puzzles and maps
  • Well-designed visual manual for adults or mentors

Quality

Cato’s Hike is a very high quality app.  Developers created an intuitive interface that allows even very young children to learn about designing computer programs.  The symbols are very visually intriguing and the map of each level is clear with puzzles or challenges that can be solved by creating a simple computer program that will guide the main character through the maze or in completing the required task.  The app is simple to use, and the tutorial provided by developers will guide even adults who understand nothing about programming, giving them the tools to help the kids when needed.

Education

From the earliest days of personal computers, educators have recognized the power of teaching children to write computer code.  Computer programs are, at their heart, a series of logical steps that the computer must take to solve a problem or perform a particular task.  The lines of code must rigorously adhere to strict rules and “grammar,” and the logic of the steps must be impeccable.  Even for children who are not planning a career in computer sciences, learning a bit about coding has a lot of value.  Kids learn to work within a set of rules, to solve complex problems using small, discrete steps, and to experiment, redesign, and experiment again.

Cato’s Hike is a computer coding instruction tool dressed like a puzzle or maze game.  Each successive task teaches a new concept about programming in such a painless way that children will hardly know they are learning.  You don’t need to tell them until later!  They’ll learn about code concepts such as looping, goto, branching and more as they help the main character move through mazes and complete tasks to move to the next level of play.  Best of all, there are no penalties for making mistakes.  Kids can try and fail and try again to solve each successively more difficult puzzle, and along the way they will be practicing important life skills such as observation, analyzing complex problems, creating step-by-step soluctions, and more.

App developers have also incorporated the ability to create new maps and puzzles that can be shared with friends via email.  In this way, kids can make fun activities for their peers, or parents and teachers can add more practice or functionality to the app if a player happens to be struggling with a given concept.

Entertainment

Any child (or adult) who enjoys mental gymnastics and puzzles will love Cato’s Hike.  The app is masquerading as a puzzle, with levels, challenges, mazes and more.  It looks and acts like many common video games, so the environment will be familiar to most players.  The developers’ choice to set it up in levels was genius.  It’s so much more fun to beat levels than it is to complete lessons, yet that is exactly what each level accomplishes.

Value

Cato’s Hike may seem a bit on the pricy side with its $4.99 pricetag, but it is well worth the investment.  Everyone should have a basic understanding of how computer code works, and this app will provide that in an entertaining and engaging way.  And if players stick with it, they will learn the basics of writing their own code, which just may ignite interest in a future career choice.

Child Friendliness

Cato’s Hike is not quite as child-friendly as it might be for younger users.  The app has the capability to email solutions to friends, and to share them with the larger community on the developers’ website.  There are also unprotected links to send feedback or to rate the app.  It would be nice if adult users could restrict access to these features, but as it stands, they will simply need to keep a close eye on younger players.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES Ratings link (unprotected)
  • YES Feedback link (unprotected)
  • YES Access to Email (unprotected)

clangers
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Explore the Clangers' planet through a series of games and activities designed for young kids to enjoy.
4

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 5
Download on the App Store

Overview

The Clangers have brought their planet to the smartphones and tablets of Earth. These pink, mouse-like creatures, may seem a bit odd to those who have not experienced their children’s show on the BBC, CBeebies and Sprout, but for those who are familiar with The Clangers, the app will seem very familiar. As kids spin around the Clangers’ planet, they get to interact with Mother, Small, Major, Tiny, and Granny in a selection of simple games and activities.

Features include:

  • 3D, spinnable world
  • Popular Clangers characters
  • Multiple games and activities
  • Available in UK and US English

Quality

Fans of the Clangers series will note that the app captures the feel of the series well. Kids will recognize similar background music and narration. The app also features a rotating planet that kids can move to locate the different activities. At times the planet moves a little too fast, so kids must be prepared to go back and forth a few times to get to the activity they want. Once within the activities, verbal and non-verbal instructions help kids understand what to do. Some of the activities work well, while others, such as the pea gathering and shape shifting can frustrate kids because they are too sensitive and make it hard for kids to complete the tasks.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

One of the most entertaining aspects of the app is the ability to spin the planet. As kids spin it around they’ll find different characters and activities to enjoy. The activities themselves are fairly simplistic. In one activity, kids simply open doors to find characters in a game of hide and seek. In another, they listen to a bunch of Eggbots make sounds and must work to repeat the tunes they play. All of the games are fairly intuitive and designed so that even toddlers can enjoy them.

Value

Parents of young Clangers fans will find a lot of value in this app that lets kids interact with their favorite characters. For those unfamiliar with the Clangers, the app’s simplistic games and activities compare to those found in a much lower-priced app.

Child Friendliness

Toddlers and preschoolers will find themselves spinning the planet and enjoying the various activities contained within the app. There is a “More Apps” button that bounces up and down in the bottom corner of the screen, but parents can turn it off in the protected parent area.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

kindergarten apps

Kindergarten apps are plentiful in the App Store. Our list of reviewed and recommended apps for Kindergarten will help narrow down the best educational apps for your child or classroom. The apps we have recommended cover important skills such as developing high-level thinking and spatial skills, building reading and written expressions skills, and mastering basic sight words.

image (3)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Shape Gurus is a delightful romp through shapes and colors that toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy again and again while they learn to recognize green circles, red squares and purple triangles.
4.8

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Shape Gurus is an engaging and interactive set of shape and color puzzles designed for toddlers and preschoolers.  Each game encourages children to sort, match and classify while they interact with the artwork.

Features include:

  • 27 puzzles
  • 4 shapes and 9 colors
  • Size matching
  • Intuitive interface
  • 12 languages

Quality

This high-quality app will engage young children in valuable and productive problem-solving and thinking skills practice.  The artwork is brightly-colored and done in a shape-composite style that highlights how everyday objects are made of simpler shapes placed just so.  The audio identification of the shapes and colors is clear and crisp. The one concern is that, while the app consistently names each shape and color as it is placed correctly, for some reason it does not do this for red triangles.  It is also possible to place shapes quickly enough for the sound files to overlap, making them very difficult to understand.

Education

This simple app will give young children a thorough workout with basic shapes, colors and even sizes.  Each of the increasingly difficult puzzles requires children to match, sort, or classify the shapes and drag them to the correct spot on the screen to complete the picture.  A few puzzles even require players to recognize inner and outer shapes and use visual closure to complete shapes.

Educators know that learning to name, match and classify items such as these is important, but they also understand that puzzles like the ones in Shape Gurus build foundational thinking skills as well.  Learning to recognize and name squares and triangles, and to notice when one is blue and the other is orange are great skills, but the more challenging thinking skills, such as figuring out which of the differently-sized similar shapes will fit into the target area and understanding that the small blue square fits into the empty spot in the larger blue square are as valuable if not more so.

Entertainment

Shape Gurus is an engaging app for the audience.  Each page shows brightly-colored objects made with basic shapes, such as flowers built from triangular petals and circular centers. The pages lead nicely one into the other, such as the first circle that turns out to be an egg that hatches a bird that flies to a nest, and so on.  The content ranges from the bird nest down to the ground and beneath it to find an ant community, some dinosaur bones, and even a mole having a somewhat private moment in his bathroom!  Flowers grow, hot air balloons take off, and rockets jet to other planets, and each scene leads nicely into the next.

Value

Shape Gurus is likely to achieve “favorite app” status with your young users, so it’s a great value at $1.99.  Kids will play again and again and will enjoy predicting the next scene as they complete each puzzle.  And the game doesn’t “end,” but simply circles around to start the puzzles over again when the planet in outer space turns into the egg at the beginning of the sequence.  Best of all, the play is very productive and will help them master skills important for later academic and life-long success.

Child Friendliness

Shape Gurus is child friendly.  Determined children could access the language selection and mechanism to reset the app, but all links and other adult utilities are safely tucked away behind an effective parent gate that requires reading ability.

  • Protected parent area (contains external links & social media)
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

Screen-Shot-2015-08-06-at-11.34.03-AM
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Teachley: Subtractimals is a fabulous tool with two teaching methods to help children learn and practice their subtraction tables in a game-like environment. Perfect for use in the classroom or at home.
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Teachley: Subtractimals is a fun math app that helps children learn and practice their subtraction tables with interesting activities. Unlike many other memory based tactics, this app teaches children two methods of learning subtraction in addition to using their memory. With fun colors, sound effects, and a game-like set up, this is one educational app kids will love.

Features include:

  • Classroom profile option
  • 2 Subtraction learning tools
  • Fun game-like set up

Quality

At first glance Teachley: Subtractimals looks more like a gaming app than an educational app. The developers have done a great job making the app visually appealing with bright colors and fun illustrations. The sound effects and the easy to use game-like set up are also great as they help children stay engaged as they learn and play.

Education

There is no doubt this app is a fun and effective way to help children practice their subtraction skills. While many methods focus on memorization, Teachley: Subtractimals offers two other methods to teach players how to work through their subtraction problems visually with ease. By using the “count back” method, children are shown how to count back to come up with the answer while the “count on” method shows children how to start with the lower number and count up to the higher number for the answer. Both methods are effective and easy to use especially with the visual illustration with each math problem.

What I love about this app aside from the additional learning methods included, is how the problems are random and set up in a way for children to get lots of practice as they progress through the app. Parents and teachers also have the option of setting up an account to manage profiles and track player progress which is a great way to determine when children may need extra practice.

Entertainment

Teachley: Subtractimals is anything but boring as the developers have done a great job making this app more of a game than just an educational app. As children solve various problems, they are awarded with a number of squares that will slowly reveal a picture in the end. There is also a challenge portion of the app where children must quickly answer problems to test their knowledge in a more challenging timed environment.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars this app is priced well for what it includes. With the ability to set up multiple profiles to be used in the classroom or at home, this app is great buy for parents and teachers.

Child Friendliness

Teachley: Subtractimals is designed to help children learn their subtraction tables in a fun, easy to use environment and it does just that. With two additional learning methods (aside from memorization) and the hint option included in the timed challenge, this app provides lots of great practice for children as they practice and improve their math skills.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

image (1)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Social Stories Creator and Library for Preschool, Autism and Special Needs is a great tool for designing your own social stories for learners of any age group, ability level, or condition.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 3

Download on the App Store

Overview

Social Stories Creator and Library for Preschool, Autism and Special Needs offers one free story and numerous others that can be purchased to help children learn to navigate social hurdles. Adults can easily create personalized stories to share, as well.

Features include:

  • Easily create individualized, personalized stories
  • Incorporate text, video and audio recordings on each page
  • Use the system to create calendars, instructions, and more
  • Use app offline if desired
  • Share stories with other users

Quality

This quality app offers lots of features to help you create your own social stories for use with students, including recording features and the ability to incorporate photos and text onto each page.  It is easy to use and intuitive.  There are also over 20 pre-made stories available for purchase individually or as a bundle, as well as one free story about caring for an electronic device. One concern is that the app does not seem as responsive as it might be.  It is sometimes difficult to get screens to change, and one screen in the “Settings” section does not seem to scroll at all, though there is obviously content below the fold.

Education

Social stories are tools designed to help individuals with intellectual, communication, or emotional disabilities better understand the complexities of interactions with others and with their environment.  The theory is that if students can see how others handle similar situations, they can model this behavior and apply it in their own lives.  The stories essentially provide a “role-playing” experience that can really help some learners better interact with their world.  This app offers a free story and the capability to create your own social stories customized for your learner.  Paid upgrades allow users to access more ready-made content, save more than two stories, print stories, and more.

The story-creation section is very easy to use and would be very helpful to anyone wishing to create content such as this.  The on-screen prompts are very clear, and it is easy to upload your content (pictures, videos, audio files and so forth).  There aren’t any tools to help you plan out your story, and that would be a nice addition.

There is one free ready-made story in Social Stories Creator and Library.  It is about taking care of an electronic device, which is an excellent choice of topics for the intended population.  The graphics in the story are inclusive-the main character is colorful and relatively non-descript, and the other illustrations are clear and concrete.  The language, however, is relatively complex for many of the students who may be using this app.  The author uses a number of complex sentences.  For example, one page says, “I really like using my device, so I need to make sure that I take good care of it.”  This type of construction may make the language inaccessible for students with language or processing issues, for those with autism, or those with cognitive impairments.

Entertainment

Most students will find this app to be enjoyable to use.  While it’s not really intended to provide recreational reading, the characters are personable and friendly-looking.  Homemade stories will have the added bonus of being recorded in a familiar voice and of showing familiar people and places in the pages.

Value

The basic app is free, and it will help users decide if it is worth the investment.  Free users will be able to create and save two of their own stories, and they will be able to view the free story as well as preview the paid content to decide which stories will be most helpful to them.  There are several options for purchasing the premium content, ranging from buying individual stories for between ninety-nine cents and two-ninety-nine.  Users can also choose to purchase the entire set of stories for $19.99.  It is possible to upgrade the the app to one of two levels.  The Full upgrade increases the number of stories that can be saved from 2 to 6 for $6.99.  The Pro upgrade removes the limit to the number of saved stories and unlocks the ability to print for $9.99. The Pro upgrade can be combined with access to all stories for $24.99.

Child Friendliness

This app is child-friendly.  There is a protected parents’ area that has access to the in-app purchases, contact email and ratings section, but the protection is a relatively simple addition problem, which some young users will find ways to circumvent.

  • Protected parent area (contains extra links, IAP, and email)
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase (in protected area)
  • YES email access (in protected area)

preschool apps

Apps for Preschool-aged children are pretty easy to find in the App Store. With so many available it can be difficult to decide which will help your preschooler develop important skills such as sequencing, patterning, building language skills and developing problem solving skills. Our list of reviewed and recommended Preschool apps can make finding the right app for your child easier.

image (18)
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
MARTi is an innovative and outstanding tool that will improve quality of life for individuals struggling with learning problems, dementia, cognitive challenges, autism, traumatic brain injury and many other conditions that impair reasoning, memory, sequencing and other vital skills.
5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

MARTi provides users with step-by-step video and audio directions to complete simple tasks.  These prompts can be created by parents, caregivers, teachers, mentors or others, and can be used by persons with disabilities, dementia, traumatic brain injury, or any other condition that limits the ability to sequence or recall tasks.

Features include:

  • Use photo, video and/or audio prompts and cues
  • Create task directions for nearly any sequence of actions
  • Share tasks with other users of MARTi
  • Optional step confirmation setting
  • Optional password protection

Quality

MARTi is a very high quality app.  Developers added in numerous features that will help caregivers, teachers and coaches create sequenced sets of directions for clients to accomplish basic tasks.  The app includes helpful tutorials to get started, and the controls are intuitive.  This app will help people with many types of disabilities and learning differences gain independence at home, at school and in the workplace.

Education

One of the many challenges facing individuals with learning differences or memory problems is how to recall, sequence and perform the small steps that make up basic but necessary tasks in life, such as fixing a cup of coffee, washing dishes, or solving long division problems.  MARTi provides tools that can help.  Mentors can create step-by-step task directions using a combination of photos, videos and audio recordings. The app can even include choices in the array.  Users then follow these steps to accomplish the desired task.

Using the app is easy and intuitive, and the tutorials are clear and simple.  The toughest part, which most professionals who work with individuals with learning challenges will be familiar with, will be breaking a task up into a manageable series of steps.  This app allows lots of flexibility in this regard; users can add almost as many steps as they wish to each sequence.

Within each task, users can set an option to “check off” steps as they are completed and also to password protect tasks.  Finished task breakdowns can be shared with other MARTi users, too.  I hope the developers create a library of basic tasks for users to use as a resource.

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

This app could be free because it’s actually priceless.  One of the biggest barriers to independent living, working, and even functioning is frequently difficulty with performing basic tasks and this app offers a great tool to ease that burden.  It will take some effort to set up task sequences for individuals who need this kind of help, but the end result will be well worthwhile.  And because it is so extremely customizable, mentors can create instructions that are highly personalized.  They can, for example, show the client’s favorite cup in the coffee-making sequence, or refer to specific places and equipment in work-related tasks, such as showing the exact closet where cleaning supplies would be found.

Child Friendliness

Though this app is intended primarily for use by disabled adults, it is quite child-friendly.  The app includes the capability to hide the administrative functions and make them accessible only with a “secret gesture” that is unlikely to be made at random.  Inside the administrative area, there are some unprotected links, such as to the ratings system on the App Store and to the developers’ website.  However, it is easy to hide access to this section if needbe.  One other thing to be aware of is that the developers’ website is in French, since this app is produced in Canada.  A quick click on Google’s Translate button will solve that problem, though videos and other media on the site are still in French.

  • Ability to hide administrative functions
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES Rate This App function (can be hidden)
  • YES email connection (can be hidden)
  • YES links to website (can be hidden)

saveyourplanet
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Save Your Planet Kids is a fun educational app that teaches children simple ways they can work to conserve water, energy and save the planet.
3.9

App Info

Price: $1.99
AppStore User Rating:

Download on the App Store

Overview

Save Your Planet Kids is a simple app that teaches children how to care for the planet with music, interactive activities, and coloring pages. Everything from recycling to conserving energy and water are covered in this eco-friendly app and teaches children skills they can begin to apply in their own homes to help save the planet.

Features include:

  • Coloring pages
  • Music room
  • 6 Interactive activities

Quality

Save Your Planet Kids is a simple app with 3D images and illustrations and fun songs and sound effects that children will love. With simple tap and touch technology through out and narration options as well, this app is easy to use for children of all ages. Overall the developers have done a nice job creating a good quality educational app.

Education

Save Your Planet Kids is a great app that teaches children how to save the planet by recycling and conserving water and energy. With six different activities to explore players get to help each character do their part to protect the planet. Not only are these activities educational concepts that are important for children to learn, but they are also things that children can apply in their own lives by turning off the water why they brush their teeth and recycling the appropriate materials.

Entertainment

In addition to the educational activities included in this app, children have an opportunity to enjoy coloring pages as well as a music room. The music room provides musical ducks and birds that can be used to create unique songs and tunes. While the coloring pages allow children to choose from various images and lots of colors, the quality of the coloring could use some work. The colors show up very faint and it’s quite difficult to stay within the lines no matter the size of the utensil.

Value

Priced at just under two dollars, this app isn’t going to break the bank. When you consider the educational material and the additional activities, it really is a good deal.

Child Friendliness

The developers have done a nice job of keeping the app easy to use for children of all ages. With simple tap and touch functioning and arrows to help children if they get stuck, this app is one that children can play on their own without a ton of instruction. And while the parents section is protected, the option to share the coloring pages is not and allows access to social media pages and email. This section should really be protected especially since this app is aimed at young users.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “external links” (unprotected and visible)

cover-reference
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Nighty Night Construction Trucks is a cute storybook app that allows readers to follow along with various construction trucks and their night time routine. Perfect for truck lovers of all ages.
4.5

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating:
Download on the App Store

Overview

Nighty Night Construction Trucks is a cute storybook app that is perfect for bedtime. With a rhyming storyline, text highlighting, and fun interactive illustrations, little readers are going to love this fun story about putting the construction trucks to bed as they too put themselves to bed.

Features include:

  • Narration options Read to me/Read to myself
  • Text highlighting
  • Matching game

Quality

The developers have done a nice job overall with the simple illustrations, sound effects, and easy to use interface which all make Nighty Night Construction Trucks easy to use for children of all ages. With narration options, arrows at the bottom of each page, and indicators that notify readers when there is a interactive image to explore, this app is very intuitive. Children are going to especially love the real life sound effects of rocks falling and trucks tooting along as they finish their work for the night.

Education

It’s always nice when developers include text highlighting and narration options in storybook apps so children of all ages can enjoy the story. This app includes both read to me and read to myself options that allow children to follow along and learn new words while they work on their reading skills. There are also additional words that are highlighted so children can tap them and hear the narrator read them aloud. This function also helps children add new words to their vocabulary which is great.

Entertainment

Not only is Nighty Night Construction Trucks a cute story, but it also includes a brief in app activity and a memory match game at the end of the story. It’s always great for children to have additional activities aside from just the story to help keep them engaged and interested in using the app over and over again. Overall the developers have done a nice job of creating an app that is quite entertaining and highly engaging.

Value

Priced at just under three dollars, Nighty Night Construction Trucks is priced pretty well compared to other similar storybook apps. With a cute story, an easy to use interface, and additional activities for children to enjoy, parents will find good value in this app overall.

Child Friendliness

With narration options, text highlighting and an easy to use interface, the developers have done an excellent job of making this app easy to use for children of all ages. In addition to the usability, they have also made sure to make the app very safe too which is always greatly appreciated by parents.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchases

image (17)
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Quizlet is a great tool for older students to use for memorizing and studying rote information from their own flashcards, their teacher’s sets, or even sets of flashcards created by other students in similar classes.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Quizlet gives users access to millions of flashcards created by other users and organized by topic and class.  The app allows users to create their own sets of flashcards, as well, and share with others or keep private.  Users can opt to have most flashcards read aloud, and there are matching games to help students practice the info.

Features include:

  • Millions of sets of flashcards
  • Practice with games
  • Create your own flashcards
  • Study any time and any place
  • See and hear information

Quality

Quizlet is a high quality app that will help students practice nearly any content.  The app is easy to use, with searchable sets of flashcards and the capability of creating assignments for classes and even password protected information.  Students can use flashcards created by others or make their own.

Education

This app is a great asset to students learning any material that can be presented on two-sided flashcards, ranging from vocabulary through translations, and even to questions and short answers.  The app allows users to access Quizlet’s larger website easily from any device.  The advantage here is that hundreds of thousands of people world-wide have already taken advantage of this learning tool and created literally millions of sets of flashcards on nearly any topic imaginable.  The sets of existing cards, predictably, are of variable quality so users may need to check out several different sets to find one that meets their needs.  With so many available, chances are very good that someone has needed the same information that your student needs now and has already created cards that will help others learn the material.  The app will even read or pronounce the material on the card, or users can add short audio files to cards if desired.

Quizlet cards are two-sided flashcards.  There are many ways to use the learning tool, including putting a word on one side and a definition or translation on the other, writing a sentence with missing words on one side and the answers on the other, or writing the beginning of a statement or fact on one side and the ending on the other.  Learn the material by reviewing these virtual flashcards-try to recall the matching information on the other side of the card.  Once the information is in your short-term memory, practice with one of several matching games where cards are presented in random order and users need to identify the matching information for each.

Finally, teachers and even students can set up an account on Quizlet and create custom-designed cards that cover exactly the material needed.  These cards can be completely private, password protected, or shared with the larger community to become part of the huge collection.  It would be easy to create materials for a class and then give access just to class members.

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

Quizlet is a great value!  It’s free to use and can be accessed with the app or on the internet.  With millions of ready-made flashcards, there is something that will meet nearly any educational need.  The capability to make flashcard sets is also a real plus, since users can create customized sets that are tailored to their precise needs.  Users can choose to upgrade their access to Quizlet and gain additional organizational tools and flashcard creation tools, but the information about this option is just at the website, not in the app itself.

Child Friendliness

Parents or teachers should carefully monitor use of Quizlet by children under the age of 13.  If they use the app anonymously, there still can be questionable content on cards, since this is not monitored by the developers.  For example, a simple search for “pornography” turned up dozens of sets of flashcards focused on scholarly vocabulary for related collegiate psychology and legal classes.  I saw nothing beyond definitions of terms, but there is no way to check all of the sets.  Creative children could likely find (or post) things that aren’t quite so legitimate if they are not supervised.  There is provision to get parental permission to set up an account, if desired, for younger users.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES ratings link (unprotected)
  • YES external links (unprotected)

image (14)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Duolingo offers a positive and comprehensive language learning experience that most middle school, high school, and adult students will find engaging and fun. It features short, effective lessons and practice, motivational rewards, and a built-in goal-setting feature.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Duolingo offers short and sweet practice sessions with a choice of 13 languages. The app provides several styles of interaction with bite-sized lessons and offers rewards for consistent practice, as well as many other features that encourage learning.

Features include:

  • Short, manageable lesson blocks
  • Pretest out of basic skills for students with some skill
  • Option to slow audio prompts for translation
  • Visual and auditory interactions
  • Read, listen, translate, speak, write

Quality

Duolingo is a high-quality app that will engage learners and keep them coming back for more.  The developers included an array of activities, built in a rewards system, and challenge users in a gentle way at every turn.  The narration is clear, and developers even included an option to slow the speaker so that single words are enunciated clearly to help beginners.  The illustrations used to help students learn the meanings of words are high-quality and very clear.  Each language includes dozens of separate lessons and a wealth of vocabulary words.

Education

The makers of Duolingo demonstrate a good understanding of how students learn foreign languages.  They have incorporated many styles of interaction that will help learners master not only vocabulary, but also grammar, inflection, and conjugation.  The app provides opportunity to translate between languages, to take dictation, and even to speak and have your efforts evaluated for accuracy.  Where possible, words are introduced using pictures and a narration.  The first words are presented in groups that allow sentence building, so learners are working with grammar and spelling right off the bat, rather than tedious vocabulary memorization.

Duolingo’s lessons are short and sweet.  The app prompts users to set goals for daily practice and will send optional reminder notifications.  Choose to work at one of four paces (ranging from casual at five minutes daily to insane at twenty minutes daily), then gather up perks and rewards for consistency.

Activities include choosing words that have the given meaning, listening to phrases or sentences in the new language and typing a translation or typing what was said, matching vocabulary from English and the other language, and listening or seeing a sentence in English and typing or saying a translated version.

Entertainment

Developers of this app have taken a subject that could be dry and boring (learning endless vocabulary, spelling and grammar rules), and made it engaging and fun.  Duolingo pulls many strategies for motivation together to keep students interested.  Setting goals is a great beginning, and sending notifications to the device to remind students to practice will help most people make time, as well.  As lessons are completed, students gain experience points, try for personal best records, and earn “Lingots” that can be used to purchase perks from the app’s “store.” These include the capability to take a day off without affecting standings, change the clothing on the animated mascot, and even “gamble” a little bit on the ability to maintain consistent effort.  The app also accesses the Game Center where players can compete with and challenge one another.

Value

Duolingo is a free app, and an outstanding tool to learn the beginnings of a new language.  It offers thirteen different languages to explore and dozens and dozens of bite-sized lessons.  The app will provide a great way to practice concepts learned in high school or college classes or lessons for recreational learning.  It’s a great value for high school or adult students.

Child Friendliness

Duolingo is best for users over the age of thirteen.  The app contains unrestricted access to social media and the Game Center.  There are links to the developers’ web site (where additional activities are located) and to email.  The app registers students onto the website and requests an email address to register.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES external links (unprotected)
  • YES links to social media (unprotected)
  • YES website registration required

image (16)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Khan Academy’s app provides a comprehensive library of topics and skills that support Common Core goals. It includes a wealth of information particularly on middle school and high school classes, as well as useful topics for college students and adults.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Khan Academy’s app opens the door to the Khan Academy library of instructional videos and practice activities for thousands of skills from early childhood through collegiate level.  The activities are organized by grade and subject matter, and the search function will pull up specific skills based on keywords you type in.

Features include:

  • Dozens of subjects and topics
  • Thousands of interactive exercises
  • Instructional videos and in-depth readings
  • Progress tracking system on website
  • Built-in scratch pad for working out solutions or writing thoughts

Quality

Khan Academy’s app is just as high quality as you have probably come to expect from the online version of Khan Academy.  The app presents a searchable, well-organized list of subjects and topics, and users are free to explore them in any order.  Instructional videos, detailed readings, interactive exercises, and hints are available for the topics.  The interactive exercises and scratch pad recognize handwriting, so input is easy and intuitive.

Education

Khan Academy includes hundreds of sequential lessons ranging from early elementary math through high school and college topics, as well as test prep and more. Each topic includes some instructional material in the form of short videos and/or reading, as well as interactive exercises that will help students practice.  There are hints available for most topics and students can access the instructional information from the exercises page, as well.

Students who get the first interactive problem correct are passed to the next concept. If they make an error, they are passed to the next section after getting five items correct in a row.  The app also notes when hints or instructional information has been accessed.  All of these records are kept in the student’s account on the Khan Academy website.

The instructional videos that I checked were well-constructed, using voice over and a combination of photos, illustrations, animations and screen captures.  The narrator for each did a good job with inflections and tonal variation, so the videos are easy to listen to.  The skills have at least two different types of interactions for the activities and directions are clear and intuitive, and often demonstrated in the instructional video.

Entertainment

Though this app is not really meant to be entertaining, it is engaging and will keep students coming back for more practice.  After each correct response, a little bit of digital confetti explodes from the counter in the lower right of the screen, and when five in a row are correct, there is a slightly bigger display with a congratulatory note.  The app reminds students periodically that extra practice is the key to mastering skills, and keeps record of the time the program has been accessed and what has been accomplished, so users can see tangible results.

Value

The Khan Academy app is completely free and connects with the Khan Academy website to keep student records easily accessible.  It can be used without an account, however, but doesn’t keep records then.  This is a nice option if you want students to practice but want to preserve their anonymity.  With hundreds of topics and lessons, the app can provide appropriate practice for students at nearly any level, and would make a great remedial system as well.

Child Friendliness

Khan Academy is fairly child friendly, but does require registration and logging in to their website in order to keep records of student performance and progress. Log in can be accomplished with social media accounts or with a separate password.  Students can also access information intended for adults such as coaches, parents and tutors.  The device does need to be connected to the internet for the app to function.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES Khan Account required to keep records

image (13)
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
MyScript Calculator is a powerful scientific calculator that has the advantage of accepting hand-written input on the device’s screen. It simplifies entry of complex equations and has a number of great features that increase its usefulness.
4.5

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

MyScript Calculator allows users to hand-draw equations on the device’s screen, converts them to text and solves them. It includes the functionality of a scientific calculator and can balance equations with a question mark serving as a variable on one side of the equals sign.

Features include:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Undo/Redo functions
  • Scratch out and overwrite correction functions
  • Copy results to clipboard, email and other outputs
  • Includes basic math functions, trig functions, inverse trig functions and more

Quality

MyScript Calculator is a very useful, high-quality app that is sure to please math students everywhere as well as provide practical help for anyone needing to quickly enter calculations (even complex ones) on the run. The app includes nearly every mathematical operation and function that could be desired for most high school math and science classes.  Developers have done an excellent job of making the app easy to use and accurate.  Users should be aware, however, that the app isn’t quite as versatile as old-fashioned scratch paper.  For example, it gets confused if the user writes problems in vertical instead of horizontal format, as a younger student may be inclined to do.  It also can misread numbers or symbols that include extraneous lines, such as two zeros connected at the top as some do when writing a cursive “100” or a percent sign written as a loop attached to a number seven, instead of both circles being completely separate from the slash mark.  A little experimentation will help users uncover these quirks, and neat handwriting will prevent most of them.

Education

MyScript Calculator is an excellent handwriting input calculator.  It has numerous options and features that will help students get the most out of the app.  A built-in tutorial with video clips of screen shots is well-designed and answers nearly all questions.  The Settings section allows users to control the default number of decimal places in answers, the way the app handles long, repeating or non-terminating decimals (truncating or rounding), the method of reporting angle measures, and even whether the device calculates automatically or on demand.  This feature helps users have more time to write the problem out before the calculator solves it or even to have the opportunity to work on the problem mentally before seeing the answer.

It’s easy to fix mistakes on MyScript Calculator, as well.  The app allows users to cross out, scratch out, or even overwrite incorrect numerals or operation signs. This is actually much easier to manage than on traditional calculators, even on a tablet.  There’s no keyboard, and no need to erase most of the equation to fix a mistake entered early in the process.

If users want to keep track of solved equations, these can be copied to the clipboard, emailed, or shared via Dropbox or similar programs.  This makes it easy to save them for later or to allow someone else to check the work.

Entertainment

This app is not intended to be entertaining.

Value

MyScript Calculator is a free app that will be incredibly useful, so it’s an outstanding value.  Scientific calculators can be a bit pricy, and this app seems to have the same functionality with the added bonus of accepting hand-written input.  The app does offer an in-app purchase for ninety-nine cents that extends the functionality of the system, allowing users to save equations in a history section, to save answers to use in future calculations, and to immediately reuse the answer to a calculation in the next one.  These features are all available on a trial basis when you first get the app and will deactivate after a specific number of uses.

Child Friendliness

MyScript Calculator should not be used by children under age 13.  It contains unprotected links to other apps from the developer, the in-app purchase of the “PowerPack,” and links to email, social media, and the developers’ website.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES links to social media (unprotected)
  • YES in-app purchase (unprotected)
  • YES links to email and other sharing platforms (unprotected)
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected)
  • YES external links (unprotected)

heroki
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Heroki is a fabulous video game-like app with gorgeous visuals, lots of challenging levels, and an adventurous story weaved throughout that children will love.
4.8

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Heroki is an incredible app that plays like a video game without the expensive gaming console that children are going to love. With incredible 3D visuals, challenging game objectives, and multiple levels to work through, this app offers over 10 hours of playing time and endless fun. Best for children ages 9 and up, this app is sure to quickly become a family favorite.

Features include:

  • Gorgeous 3D visuals
  • 4 Worlds to explore
  • Video game concept

Quality

The first thing you notice in this app are the beautifully crafted 3D illustrations and images throughout. Each world is full of vibrant colors, fairy-tale settings, and whimsical images that children are going to love! The simple background music and sound effects add to the overall experience, though there isn’t an option to narrate the dialogue between characters. Since the app is aimed at children ages 9+, there shouldn’t be a problem with reading through the instructions and dialogue as players play.

Heroki is very much like a video game and requires a bit of learning how to maneuver through the challenges and the developers have included a brief instructional section at the beginning of the app to help players. Even with the instructions, it does require some getting used to as players move through the various levels and worlds. Overall though, this app is very well done!

Education

Not rated for education.

Entertainment

From an entertainment standpoint, Heroki is fabulous! With a variety of levels over four different worlds, players have over 10 hours of playing time to defeat unique characters and to meet various challenges. Similar to other video games there are coins to collect, prizes to collect, and secret missions to complete in order to complete the game and with that comes a ton of fun. Children who are partial to regular video games are going to love this app because it’s like a mobile version that they can take anywhere and with high scores and other markers to watch their progress versus others playing the game players can continue to play to beat their previous scores.

Value

Heroki is priced a bit higher than most other gaming apps out right now, but when you consider what you might pay for a regular video game with a console, this is a great deal. Priced at just under eight dollars, it might be more than some parents want to pay for an app, but with over 10 hours of playing time, lots of great visuals and challenges for children to enjoy it is absolutely worth the price.

Child Friendliness

After playing with the app a bit, children will have no problem learning how to maneuver through the levels with ease. It does take a bit of getting used to in terms of how to move Heroki and to control his movements, however after a few plays and moving through the brief instructional section, children will have no problem. Parents will also want to note that this app is designed for children ages 9+ and may be especially difficult for pre-readers since there are several places with dialogue and no narration including the instruction section.

  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchases
  • YES “external links” (unprotected, visible)

netkids
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
NetKids Digital Entertainment Network lets kids experience unlimited content from many of their favorite characters - for a small monthly fee.
4.4

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

NetKids introduces a new way for kids to enjoy apps. Through this all-inclusive app kids get access to videos, games, eBooks, and apps designed by Cupcake Digital. This content includes selections from many of their favorite characters and movies, including Wubzy, Ice Age, The Cat in the Hat, Sid the Science Kid, Madagascar, and Thomas the Tank Engine. With the ability to create parental profiles, parents can customize the content each child sees, creating an all-in-one spot to keep kids engaged during their screen time.

Features include:

  • Multiple player profiles
  • Games, eBooks, videos, and apps
  • Favorite characters
  • 7-day free trial

Quality

NetKids Digital Entertainment Network is a well-organized app chock full of high-quality content for kids. Perhaps the only flaw in the app is the fact that kids have to download all of the content they want to access before they can interact with it. While this makes sense given the massive amount of entertainment options included in the app, download speeds for some of the videos, eBooks, and apps can be a bit slow, leading kids to rack up a whole queue of items to download while they wait. Parents can limit this a bit by setting up multiple player profiles and selecting which characters they want kids to access within the app.

Education

Included among the wealth of content for kids are categories that highlight educational books, movies, and other resources. When parents create a child profile, the app highlights the content based on the child’s age, so a three-year-old will find videos and apps related to his interest and skill level, while a six-year-old will see something totally different. Even if kids aren’t picking inherently educational content to interact with, they’re still bound to learn something as they play videos and watch games. This is because many of the characters included in the app regularly incorporate educational material into their videos.

Entertainment

All of the content contained within the NetKids Digital Entertainment Network is kid-friendly and fun for kids. The app contains content related to so many of kids’ favorite characters that they’ll have no trouble finding something. Kids will also feel a sense of freedom as they interact with the content in the app. They get to decide what videos they want to watch, books they want to read, and games they want to play without having to ask a parent for permission to download them. Parents can restrict the app’s access to cellular data to be sure kids are only downloading content while connected to a wifi network.

Value

Parents and kids can access this digital entertainment network for free. The free version of the app contains a few books, videos, and simple games for kids to download. To access the rest of the content, parents must sign up for a subscription. The app offers a 7-day free trial that gives kids full access to the content and requires a modest monthly fee if parents opt not to cancel at the end of the trial. Whether the monthly fee is a good value depends on whether the app meets kids’ digital needs. Parents who want to control more of what their kids access during their screen time may find that the app is a really good value, while those who already have a wealth of apps and kids who won’t be content to just stay within one network may find that it is not enough.

Child Friendliness

Both the settings area and access to the free trial are protected by a parental lock. Parents can also customize the characters kids have access to while they interact with the app, helping the ensure their children don’t watch videos or see other content they don’t want them to see.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchase (monthly access to content)

image (12)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Vaue
Child Friendly
Summary
CK-12 offers a comprehensive system of review resources and practice questions that will help students get ahead in school. The app does a thorough job of covering vital ideas in elementary math as well as middle and high school high school math and science.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 5

Download on the App Store

Overview

CK-12 presents practice activities and instructional videos for students to study that will improve their performance in math and science. The app covers math for grades 1-5, as well as middle and high school math and science courses.

Features include:

  • Comprehensive library of science and math topics
  • Instructional videos
  • Progress bar to encourage continued practice
  • Progress report available
  • Connections to teacher, tutor or mentor if desired

Quality

CK-12 is a high quality app that contains a LOT of content. Each subject and grade level is broken down into concepts commonly covered in the course, and each concept has a question bank and an instructional video. The app keeps records for the user, but will only work for one. Once the user name is changed once, it cannot be changed again.  It does require an active connection to the internet to work, however.  Developers should at least consider incorporating a method to reset the app if desired, and ideally, a system to keep records for multiple users.

Education

CK-12 offers a wealth of practice material that will help students study math and science concepts they are currently covering in school, those they wish to review, and those that strike their interest to preview.  Each concept has an optional reading and review video, and practice multiple choice questions. The app sets a goal of answering 10 questions correctly and keeps score in a visible window.  Questions that are answered incorrectly are re-presented later in the activity.

Many of the practice questions involve application of concepts and ideas.  This higher-level thinking is important for school success, and is well-placed in this app.  Many school tasks involve analysis and application, and questions that just call for rote memorization of information are not enough to build the skills needed for success.

At the bottom of each question screen, users can find a virtual whiteboard for calculations and a hints section.  There is also a link to “improve this question” if any issues are found, such as an incorrect response marked as correct or a misspelled word.  It’s nice to have a means to provide specific feedback.

Entertainment

This app is not really intended to be entertaining, but it has features that will help students want to keep using it.  The app displays the number of questions correct, the student’s progress through the exercise, and the amount of time spent practicing.  It even keeps track of “streaks” where the student answers multiple questions correctly in a row.

Value

This is a free app, and loaded to the gills with great practice information for students.  It would be tough to find a better value to help them review, especially in the middle and high school.  The app also would be a good source of information for students needing remedial assistance.

Child Friendliness

This app is fairly child-friendly.  It does require an active connection to the internet to work, and it does contain one unprotected link to the web, as well as a sign-in system that is tied to the device’s profile or email.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES external links (unprotected)

sweetbabygirl2
Quality
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Head to the beach in Sweet Baby Girl Summer Fun where you can make food, get all dolled up, and have fun interacting with the girls.
3.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 3
Download on the App Store

Overview

Sweet Baby Girl Summer Fun is one of those apps that kids just love. Set at the beach, this app is designed with fun in mind. While kids don’t actually get to interact with the water, they can make hot dogs and ice cream, style hair, give manicures, and clean up a horse barn. Once they’re finished, they get to use their hard-earned coins to shop and decorate. While the in-app purchases make this initially free app a bit pricey, it’s a fun choice for kids, particularly girls, who just want to have some fun on the boardwalk.

Features include:

  • Play five different activities
  • Earn coins
  • Purchase clothing and accessories
  • Collect postcards

Quality

At first glance, Sweet Baby Girl Summer Fun doesn’t appear to be a high quality app. However, once you get past the main screen, it’s surprisingly well made. Non-verbal instructions and arrows guide kids as they complete each activity. While every activity uses the same basic motion (move your finger to make an item appear or disappear), the game incorporates different tools to make kids feel like they’re doing something different each time. As kids play, they earn coins and level up. These are tracked at the top of the screen and used to purchase clothing and other items within the game. Coins rack up quickly, making it easy for kids to make purchases.

Education

This app is not being rated for education.

Entertainment

In the free version of the app, kids can visit the hot dog stand where they get the chance to earn coins by making hot dogs. An in-app purchase gives kids access to manicures, the hair salon, an ice cream parlor, and horse care. With all of these activities, kids earn coins that they can use to purchase items in the shopping mall and the villa. Other ways to earn coins include spinning a wheel (only once per hour) and watching videos, although no videos were available at the time of this review. All of the games are fairly simple, but they’re the kinds of activities kids really enjoy. The ability to earn coins and dress up the girls in the games provides them with even more incentive to keep playing the games so they can fill their villa with furniture and purchase large amounts of flowery clothing and accessories.

Value

Downloading the app is initially free and gives kids access to the hot dog game. All other stores and games within the app must be unlocked through an in-app purchase. All of the locked games are fairly simplistic and over-priced, but still fun for kids.

Child Friendliness

While the app is free, it does offer in-app purchases. On the main screen, kids are also exposed to a large selection of other apps and a “Rate Us” icon. All of these items are visible, but protected by a parental lock that has kids hold for three seconds.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)
  • YES in-app purchase (protected, but visible)
  • YES “rate us” (protected, but visible)

image (11)
Quality
Education
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Homework List is a handy tool that will help students get organized with school assignments and stay that way with minimal effort. The fact that it is digital should be appealing to most students.
4.6

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Homework List gives middle, high school, and even collegiate students a centralized, organized method to record and monitor homework assignments and study goals.  The app will send notifications and alerts, and students can also record homework completion dates and other information.

Features include:

  • Set notifications for assignment due dates
  • Enter class details
  • Check off assignments as you finish and record completed work
  • Simple, intuitive design
  • Add priority settings for each assignment

Quality

Homework List is a high quality app that will help students stay organized as they work their way through school.  Developers have things well-organized: students enter classes on their schedule, and then can add assignments when they are given. All fields work well, and the app sends reliable notifications that students can schedule as needed. The app also allows prioritizing of assignments, and color codes them accordingly.

Education

Everyone needs a little help with organization now and then, and this app just may be the digital equivalent of the paper student planning book.  Being digital is a plus for today’s tech-oriented students, and many may be more likely to use this system than the old-fashioned one. Plus, kids are seldom without their phones or tablets, but they frequently leave their book bags and notebooks behind when they are off to more exciting pursuits. Using Homework List with reminders set just may get their attention even when they are out having fun with friends and prompt them to get that assignment finished when they get home.

Homework List includes all of the recommended tools for organization and goal setting.  Students can note assignments, due dates and important details. They can set a priority for each assignment that will color code the assignment.  They also can keep track of completed assignments, either as reassurance that they actually did them or as a way to know where to look for study materials for the big test.

Entertainment

This app is not intended for entertainment.

Value

This is a free app, and really helpful, so it’s a great value for older students. After all, how do you put a price tag on school success?  The appeal of digital tools may well make this app the tool that your student will be willing to use to keep tabs on homework, and that’s priceless.

Child Friendliness

This app should only be used by students who are over age 13.  It has unprotected links to social media, the App Store, email, ratings, and more.  It requires notifications be turned on to allow the app to send those all-important homework reminders, too.  Also, the “Settings” link is a bit disingenuous…this section contains rating tools, sharing tools, and social media connections, but nothing that has anything to do with running the app, other than a help button that reminds users to email or connect on social media to ask questions.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected social media links
  • YES unprotected email links
  • YES unprotected rating system

montessorium
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
With the help of the Montessori approach, Intro to United States introduces kids to the name, location, shape, and animal of each of the 50 states.
4

App Info

Price: $2.99
AppStore User Rating: 3.5
Download on the App Store

Overview

Kids don’t have to drive across the United States to learn about all of the states. With Intro to United States by Montessorium they can learn the name, shape, and animal of every state. The app incorporates the Montessori approach to education to help children learn this information in a unique way that has been designed to maximize their learning potential. Through its unique puzzles, tracing exercises, and other activities, kids will soon become familiar with all 50 of the states in America.

Features include:

  • Recognize states by name, shape, and location
  • Three types of activities
  • Beautiful drawings of state animals
  • Available in English and Spanish

Quality

All of Montessorium’s apps come with a simplistic, but polished design. Intro to United States is no exception. The app features a neutral background designed to keep kids focused on the educational components. All of the states stand out in bold colors during the activities in which they are featured. When not featured, they fade into the neutral background. Also included in the app are beautiful pictures representing each state’s animal. As kids work through the app, the settings section allows them to access the content in groups of 3, 6, 9, or 12. They can also use the app in English or Spanish. Most of the app’s activities include simple tap and drag motions. Kids must be certain to fully drag objects onto the correct space and completely connect items with lines or risk getting the answer incorrect.

Education

To parents who are not familiar with the Montessori method, much of the app’s content may seem odd. Kids are asked to recognize states in different groups, many of which seem to be chosen randomly. However, developers note that all of the app’s activities were designed to maximize kids’ learning potential and stay true to the Montessori method. Parents can control the pace of the app, choosing to reveal states to kids in sets of 3, 6, 9, or 12. Due to the somewhat random presentation of states, kids who are just beginning to learn United States geography should start with the smallest option.

As they play, kids are introduced to a variety of activities. The first activities simply have kids place the states by shape, with the name of the state being read once it is correctly placed. Rather than rushing through these initial activities, kids should pay close attention to the names and locations of these states. The app will expect kids to have this base knowledge as the activities increase in difficulty.

Entertainment

The activities in the app can seem a bit repetitive, especially in the beginning when kids must simply tap on the correct state and drag it into position multiple times. Kids will become a little more interested when the app introduces each state’s animal. While including state animals in the geography app seems less useful than including state capitals or even nicknames, it does provide a much-needed entertainment factor.

Value

Kids will learn the name, location, and animal of all 50 United States through a series of activities designed using the Montessori approach to education. Still the app is priced higher than similar apps and, while good, may not be as entertaining for kids as many of the lower-priced U.S. geography apps.

Child Friendliness

Tapping on the compass on the app’s opening screen reveals an in-depth explanation of the Junior Cartographer program and the Montessori method, along with the settings and more apps screen. Access to the apps and social media links is visible, but protected by parental locks.

  • Protected parent area (can contain external links & social media)
  • NO external links
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchase
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)

image (3)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Geoboard, by the Math Learning Center is an outstanding app that will help students from middle elementary school through high school develop and improve their understandings of geometry, fraction concepts, and much more.
4.9

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Geoboards are familiar tools for elementary and upper grade math teachers. The real-life versions have nails or pegs placed on a grid and students can place colored rubber bands around these points to create geometric shapes and conduct experiments with perimeter, area, and more. This app digitalizes the experience, and adds whole new dimensions to a traditional hands-on math learning tool.

Features include:

(Many of these features are only in the iPad version of this app.)

  • 8 colors of bands
  • 3 boards to use: small square, large rectangle and circular
  • Fill, rotate, move and copy shapes
  • Optional grid lines with and without coordinate numbers
  • Text tool to write equations for shapes

Quality

Geoboard, by the Math Learning Center is a very high-quality app.  The iPad version does offer a lot more features than the phone version, but both will allow students to learn about and experiment with shapes. The “How-To” section gives short and clear explanations of each icon, so there is ready help available to those who do not find the symbols to be intuitive. The “Overview” section just barely scratches the surface of the types of concepts that students can learn, but does give some web references to learn more about the use of geoboards for elementary, middle and high school learners.

Education

Geoboard, by the Math Learning Center offers the virtual equivalent of a common hands-on teaching tool that will help most students learn a host of geometry, fraction, coordinate grid concepts and much more.  The app offers the familiar square geoboard, as well as a larger rectangular grid and a circular one.  Users can place digital “rubber bands” around the “pegs” to create lines, triangles, and an almost unlimited variety of polygons.  The evenly-spaced pegs allow students to quickly and easily calculate perimeter and area for squares and rectangles, and to develop formulas to calculate perimeter and area of triangles and other irregular shapes.  Young children can demonstrate multiplication and division concepts and more advanced students can examine fractions and even trigonometry.

With Geoboard, students will quickly figure out ideas about scale, size and shape.  The app’s copy, rotate and flip functions will help students learn about various types of translations, congruence, symmetry, and many other important geometry concepts.  As with many subjects, geometry is often best learned using hands-on methods, and this app offers a convenient (and easy to store!) avenue to these experiences.

Entertainment

This app isn’t really intended to be entertaining, but many students will find a lot of satisfaction in building with the colorful, stretchy bands and the challenge of creating shapes that they envision. It’s even possible to play the traditional children’s game of Dots and Boxes, where players compete to complete and color or claim squares by connecting vertical or horizontal pegs.

Developers would really extend the independent use of this app if they included challenges for players to try, such as creating a rectangle with an area of 18 or a triangle with a perimeter of 9 units.  As it stands, students can either be left to their own devices to experiment or they can be given such challenges appropriate for their age level by teacher, parent or other adult mentor.

Value

This app is an excellent value-it’s free!  It’s often tough to find quality free apps for the iPad that teach concepts you are looking for, but this one does a great job of teaching geometry, fraction, trig, multiplication/division and more with a hands-on experience that is hard to beat.

Child Friendliness

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads

image (10)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Middle School Science Pro 8th Grade is an engaging way to encourage students to review middle school science concepts. Two modes of play, the ability to earn banana tokens and unlock levels, and the potential to gather game enhancements will help many students stay more engaged.
4.7

App Info

Price: $0.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Middle School Science Pro 8th Grade offers two modes of play to answer five question quizlets at three levels on ten subjects.  Players compete for personal best scores, Game Center leaderboard placement, and to earn bananas that can be exchanged for game enhancements.

Features include:

  • Quizzes on ten topics, including periodic table, weather, astronomy and chemistry
  • Three levels of difficulty
  • Timed quiz performance
  • Achievements and tokens to earn for game enhancements
  • Good performance unlocks more difficult levels

Quality

Middle School Science Pro 8th Grade is a high quality app.  The games are responsive and incorporate both tapping and tilting the device to play.  The animations in the space game are simple, but fun, and the background photographs for the flashcard activity are vivid space pictures.  The app is intuitive and easy to use, yet engaging, especially for students who wish to be competitive for their own personal best or within the Game Center.

Education

This app offers great review for 10 common middle school science topics, including physics, geology, and biology.  Each topic is covered by three sets of five questions in increasing order of difficulty, for a total of thirty levels. Correctly answering the first level in a given topic unlocks the second, and good performance on the second level unlocks the third. Earlier levels can be replayed as desired for extra practice.  The quizzes are also timed, which can motivate students to increase their reading speed and accuracy, important for success on in-class tests and for efficient completion of homework.

Correct responses turn green and prompt the game to advance to the next question.  Incorrect responses turn red, then disappear and allow a second chance to answer.  The question is still scored as incorrect for the purposes of moving to the next level, but a banana is still awarded. A second incorrect response will cause the correct answer to be shown, then the next question will appear.

Developers did a good job of leveling the questions.  For example, the easy level for the Energy quiz has “Which is a renewable way to generate electricity?”  The middle level includes “A coiled spring has [potential energy]” and the most challenging level includes “When substances combine in an exothermic reaction, [energy is released].”  The answers in brackets are chosen from four multiple choice responses.  Each level draws from a question bank, so when levels are repeated, there is usually some difference in the questions presented.

Entertainment

Middle School Science Pro 8th Grade is not really intended to be entertaining, but developers managed to include features that will be likely to engage middle school students.  The competitive aspect of posting quiz scores and times to best and offering Game Center challenges and leaderboard will appeal to many teens.  Players also earn bananas for each correctly-answered quiz question, which can eventually be exchanged for game enhancements such as changing the monkey character for one of eight other options or changing the theme of background photos.  Extra banana tokens can also be purchased with real money in the App Store.

Value

For ninety-nine cents, your middle school student can practice and learn about a wealth of middle school science concepts.  The questions cover many basic concepts about the subjects, and so provide a good review of the ideas.  The organization by topic will allow students to use the app to help them study for chapter tests or review for semester or year end assessments.  The game can be reset to start the review and scoring process over again.

Child Friendliness

This app includes Game Center connections, an unprotected social media link, an email system, and unprotected links to the App Store, more apps, and ratings.  Parents and teachers should carefully monitor the app’s usage by middle school students due to these concerns.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (unprotected and visible)
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)
  • YES App Store and Game Center connections

image (6)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Story Chaser offers a fun way to sharpen and improve reading skills for teens and adults. Players will build their speed reading while having fun competing with themselves and with opponents and friends.
4.7

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Story Chaser is designed to build reading speed and accuracy for older students. Short passages of several sentences are presented with an illustration, and players must scan the text to tap the given target word within the short time limit.  Players earn coins and unlock additional levels to progress through the game.

Features include:

  • Short texts from famous works
  • Includes literal level comprehension questions
  • Points and coins to earn
  • Play well to unlock additional stories and levels
  • Hidden animations

Quality

Story Chaser is a high quality app.  It is responsive to taps that need to be accurate and in quick succession.  Developers included a helpful tutorial that will get students reading and tapping quickly, since the point of the game may not be intuitive.  There are options to turn sound effects and music on or off, to share scores and to compete with friends. It would be great if developers could incorporate a reset button somewhere in the settings, to allow new users to start the game again, and perhaps a record-keeping system that could accommodate multiple players on the same device.

Education

This app will be challenging even to the best of readers at the high school level.  It essentially is a speed reading app, designed to teach students how to take in phrases, sentences and even groups of sentences with a few quick visual sweeps while still absorbing the content of the text.  The text for the first sections is taken from The Count of Monte Christo, which is a sixth grade reading level but challenging due to the old-fashioned vocabulary and phrasing.  There are 30 levels available with the free version of this app, which will keep many students occupied for quite a while.

Players are required to keep an eye on a target word placed at the top of the screen and also to simultaneously scan several sentences at the bottom of the screen to find it and tap on it within a few seconds. The faster the tap, the more points are scored.  Every few screens, there is a comprehension question about the text that has been read, and some screens include hidden animations to find in their illustrations, as well.  Levels not passed are repeated, and passing levels opens new levels for play.

Story Chaser will challenge even good readers to become better, and will help average readers improve their speed.  It may be frustrating for struggling readers, however, so be sure to monitor its usage to make sure students are enjoying the experience.

Entertainment

Developers have worked hard to make this app enjoyable and engaging.  The story excerpts they’ve chosen to include are less common fare in many school curriculums, but appealing to the age group.  Players can earn coins that help open new levels and unlock new “skills.”  The app is also connected to the Game Center, where students can compare their standings and high scores with those of their friends and peers and even issue challenges to others.

Value

This is a free app, and one of the only ones I’ve seen that is designed to help good readers become better.  Reading quickly and efficiently is a hugely important skill for success in college and in the workplace, so nearly all students can benefit from improving their reading at an age where the educational focus shifts away from reading instruction in school.  This app really will help teens and adults build reading power that will make a huge difference in their lives.

Child Friendliness

Story Chaser does include in-app purchases that are unprotected.  The developers recommend turning off the option to support in-app purchases in your device’s settings, but it would be more “child friendly” if adult mentors could turn this option on or off for this app in a settings area. There is also unrestricted access to the Game Center, which should be controllable by adult mentors, as well.

  • NO external links
  • NO social media
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchases (unprotected)
  • YES rate app option on settings screen (does not access App Store)
  • YES access to the Game Center and leader board

image (2)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
5 Dice: Order of Operations is a great game to practice a challenging skill, especially for middle and high school students working individually or in pairs or groups.
4.7

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 3.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

5 Dice: Order of Operations Game offers an endless stream of individual or multi-player practice with order of operations problems at any of five levels of complexity.  Students are given five numbers and an endless array of operation and parentheses signs, allowing them to apply order of operations concepts to create equations that match the given target number.

Features include:

  • Single or multi-player over wifi (up to five devices)
  • Higher order thinking
  • Infinite problems
  • Five levels of difficulty
  • Competitive or cooperative play

Quality

5 Dice: Order of Operations is of outstanding quality.  Developers included a virtual scratch pad in the form of a white board for calculations, a help screen that explains how to play, and a step-by-step overview of how to solve each problem.  Even if a student wishes to skip a particular problem, the app demonstrates the solution before moving on.  It would be nice, though, if the app had a “home” button on every screen, including the work screens where problems are solved.

Education

This app makes an outstanding addition to math practice apps for home or classroom use.  Order of operations can be a tricky concept for some students, and nearly all students need a lot of practice to master the skill.  This game provides motivating practice in competitive or noncompetitive forms.  It was nice to find five levels of difficulty; this makes the game very useful for a wider range of age groups.  Younger users can work their way through problems using only addition and subtraction, can add multiplication and division when they are ready, and finally can learn about using parentheses to manipulate the equation and even add exponents.  Students as young as fourth grade could use the lower level of this app, and middle school and high school math students will benefit from the more challenge practice options.

The app rolls five digital dice and chooses a target number. Players use the five numerals and an endless collection of operation signs (and parentheses and exponents at the upper levels) to create an equation whose answer matches the target number.  This approach not only will help students practice and gain understanding of order of operations, but also will build higher-order thinking skills and problem-solving skills.  This makes it much more effective than traditional practice with a list of problems.

Once a player believes they have the correct equation, he or she can submit it and see it solved correctly in step-by-step fashion using order of operations.  Incorrect submissions are also solved in the same way, so students can see where their idea went wrong.  They are given the option of trying again or creating a new challenge.  The correct answer is shown before leaving the screen even if a new problem is selected, so students either solve the problem eventually or see the right answer.

Entertainment

This game’s appeal will lie in the game-like aspect.  It keeps rudimentary records for each player, so students can monitor their own progress, or players can challenge classmates, parents or teachers on other devices who are nearby over wi-fi. The game also includes the option of playing with Facebook contacts or through a system called “Game Stream.”  Older students (13 and up) who have accounts on these systems may find the game more engaging if they know they can challenge and compete with others.

It’s also very nice that players can work cooperatively on problems if they wish.  By giving one problem to two or more players, they have countless opportunities to help each other out as they work together to solve the problem.

Value

This is a free app, so it’s a fantastic value.  It offers fun, effective practice on a challenging math skill at several levels of difficulty.  The game-like format will make it fun for most students, so they are likely to play enough to improve their understanding of order of operations, too!

Child Friendliness

5 Dice: Order of Operations is not as child-friendly as it might be.  The opening screen contains an email sign-up to receive a downloadable version of the game. Players also have unlimited access to social media opponents and to Game Stream play through the multi-player section.  The “More Apps” link has directions to “press and hold” in small print, so middle school-aged players would have no trouble accessing the App Store if they chose to do so.  Due to these aspects, it is recommended that this app be used for students in grade 8 or above.  If you do not want your player to access these links, you may need to turn off your device’s wi-fi, which will also disable the multiplayer system.

  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)
  • YES access to social media opponents and Game Stream
  • YES email sign up on opening screen

image (3)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child-Friendly
Summary
Mad Libs, the word game that makes learning parts of speech worthwhile, is great fun for players of all ages and stages. There’s something timeless about nonsense, and this app hides significant learning beneath a layer of fun.
4.7

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

The printed version of Mad Libs has taken the prize for silliness for decades, and now the fun has gone digital.  This app is an electronic version of this family favorite word game.  Fill in the blanks with the requested type of word, then get ready to roar at the crazy story that results when your words are inserted into the story you’ve never heard before.

Features include:

  • 21 free stories to choose from
  • Interactive hints and word banks
  • Stickers, badges, and other awards for playing
  • Optional connection to the Game Center
  • Solo, partner or group play

Quality

Mad Libs is a very high-quality app.  Designers did a great job of creating easy-to-use functions that simplify game play and support language arts skills and vocabulary development. Features are intuitive to use and find.  Players can use the swipe gesture to move to the next screen or tap the button on the virtual keyboard, giving options for how to use the system.

Education

Mad Libs has long been a favorite of many teachers because kids are always so excited to play.  What student doesn’t love a healthy dose of nonsense?  It’s a great way to dress up the otherwise dull and boring task of learning parts of speech and improving vocabulary.

The digital version of the game works exactly the same way as the printed version.  Players are asked to fill in blanks with words of given parts of speech that eventually will be inserted into a story.  The catch is that players do not know much about the story when they think up their words, so nearly any word they provide will lend itself to the game’s quirky humor.  And students get loads of practice providing adjectives, singular or plural nouns, verbs, adverbs, and more.  The app throws in a few benefits that the paper game does not, however.  Each requested word includes the option for a definition of the part of speech and a list of suggestions to consider if your own creativity is running dry.  This not only will help kids internalize their knowledge of English grammar, but it also makes it easier for younger students to play the game independently without constantly having to ask, “Now, what’s an adverb again?”

Entertainment

Somehow the craziness of Mad Libs never seems to go out of style.  The game has been around at least as long as I have (we won’t say exactly how old I am, but I remember playing in the 1960s).  Anything with that kind of staying power has to have lasting appeal.  I also like that this version is set up for solo, partner or group play, just like the printed versions of the game.  The suggestions are a very nice feature, as well, and will help most kids move beyond the very simple words that some are prone to using.

Value

It’s hard to beat free and fun!  Mad Libs is free to download and comes with 21 built-in stories that can be used again and again.  Players will have hours of fun, and the app is perfect to occupy kids during waiting times or car rides. There are in-app purchases available to get more collections, and developers also indicate that they are adding additional free content.

Child Friendliness

For the most part, this app is trying very hard to be child-friendly.  When users start up for the first time, they are asked to enter their birthdates, which the app uses to decide if kids are old enough to access the Game Center and the App Store on their own (13 is the magic number).  The app remembers the last age entered, so be careful if there are players of different maturity levels. If the player has entered an age below 13 years, Game Center just keeps track of private statistics and the App Store and sharing features are protected by a relatively simple multiplication problem (such as 4 x 10).  This app could use a more effective parent gate, and should protect the age entry screen so that parents do the entering to prevent mischievous kids from fibbing about their ages.

One big concern is that the “more apps” section that is located at the bottom of the story list screen is not protected at all.  Tapping one of the other apps available for purchase will trigger the parent gate, but even if that question is not answered correctly, the app still attempts to open the App Store.  The link, however, leads to a “page not found” error but the child can easily find themselves outside of the app and in an open browser.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES in-app purchases (protected, but visible)
  • YES “more apps” (partially protected, but visible)
  • YES external links (partially protected, but visible)

image (1)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
TeleStory will keep kids of nearly any age entertained for hours on end as they take on the challenges of writing, directing and filming shows that will fire up their imaginations.
4.8

App Info

Price: Free
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

TeleStory taps users’ creativity as they create and produce television shows. With fun sound effects, theme music, and on-screen costumes, the possibilities for fun are limitless. Once the show is made, it can be viewed or saved on the device’s camera roll for later sharing and viewing.

Features include:

  • Four themes for shows
  • Over 30 scenes to mix and match
  • Write-your-own scenes
  • Digital costumes using face tracking
  • Animated special effects

Quality

TeleStory is a high-quality app that will really tap into users’ creative juices. The app is intuitive to use and has a wide array of elements to choose when creating new shows.  The face tracking feature places costumes on the user, so it takes a bit of getting used to because the digital hats, features and other props follow the central figure around the screen and sometimes lag behind just a bit as the tablet responds to movement.  Developers did a great job of creating the scenes, music and effects for the four themes provided, and also remembered to leave room for lots of creativity and even “blank” scenes and shots.

Education

It’s tough to pack much more creativity into an app than this one has.  Kids are usually fascinated with video, but this app encourages them to plan their shows carefully and gives opportunity to write the script, choose the sound effects and special effects, and even rehearse before recording.

There are four themes to choose from: TV news show, spy thriller, rock star, and action/adventure.  Once the theme is chosen, users can put together scenes by creating scripts, choosing sound effects and onscreen animations, and dressing themselves in digital costumes.  The costumes utilize the camera’s face tracking feature to show the digital decorations that move with the person’s face.  Young directors can string multiple scenes together to create entire shows, then watch them like movies or send them to the device’s camera roll to share in other ways.

Educationally speaking, this app makes a great reason to apply school skills to fun, every day activities.  The planning, reading, writing and thinking required to create movies of any length will really help kids maintain their focus on a larger project.

Entertainment

Recording yourself has an appeal all its own-what parent hasn’t seen their children grab the video or sound recorder and put on a skit or mock up an interview.  TeleStory adds fun to these intrinsically entertaining activities by adding great theme music, interesting animations and sound effects (who doesn’t love a good “POW” when hitting the bad guy in a spy show?), and great digital hats and costumes.  Kids will enjoy TeleStory for hours and they will play with it again and again.

Value

TeleStory is a great value-it’s FREE!  You’ll have to look a long way to find a more exciting way to occupy kids and get their brains moving.  Your kids are quite likely to leave the real TV or computer in favor of creating their very own shows, and it can be a true family event to view the finished products once they are done.  The shows can even be family projects: collaborations not only bring people closer; they also offer opportunities for modeling important attitudes and skills that you want the children in your life to emulate.

Child Friendliness

This app falls down just a little bit in the Child-Friendly category.  The parents’ area is not protected, and it does contain one live email link that will take kids into your email client.  It was surprising to find it live; there are numerous email and internet links, and developers seem to have taken great pains to make the others non-clickable.  It seems like this one live one sort of slipped through by accident, but it is there, and parents do need to be aware of it.

  • NO social media
  • NO in-app purchase
  • NO 3rd party ads
  • YES unprotected parent area containing a live email link
  • YES “rate app” pop-up (unprotected)

image (10)
Quality
Education
Entertainment
Value
Child Friendly
Summary
Intro to Math, by Montessorium offers an important comprehensive look at foundational number concepts, including comparison, sequencing, units and wholes, even and odd, and symbols. It makes a great introduction to beginning math skills for young children.
4.6

App Info

Price: $4.99
AppStore User Rating: 4.5

Download on the App Store

Overview

Intro to Math, by Montessorium takes advantage of the iPad’s capabilities to digitalize a hands-on experience with numbers for early learners.  Young students can see numerals, hear their names, and trace them. They can compare sizes and count objects in this multi-sensory number playground.

Features include:

  • Concrete experiences in number recognition and tracing
  • Concrete experiences in quantity and sequencing
  • Concrete experiences in understanding even and odd
  • Active participation in each of six levels
  • Available in thirteen different languages

Quality

Intro to Math, by Montessorium is a high quality app that will help young children build foundational understandings about our number system.  Children can tap, drag and swipe their way through interactive experiences reinforced by a narrator and supportive sound effects.  The app is intuitive to use and very responsive.  Developers also included a parents’ section that explains some of the philosophy and meaning behind the Montessori-like experiences they provide.

Education

This app is a great example of how to translate some of the experiential nature of Montessori learning to the iPad.  If students play the six games in order, they will build a really solid foundation for understanding numbers, quantity and relative size, as well as sequencing, number recognition and even how to write the numerals.  The first level uses number rods to encourage children to arrange them in order of length.  The second game adds the unit distinctions and begins the process of teaching children how to count.  The third level introduces the numerals and gives children the opportunity to trace them, and the fourth level works with the rote counting sequence. The fifth activity set in the sequence reinforces rote counting and adds concepts of quantity, and then even introduces the concept of odd/even.  The final exercise allows users to choose and trace numbers, then remove the guiding path to see the results of their efforts.  The parents’ section includes a digitalized space to record observations about the child’s progress, as well as a short explanation of the general philosophy of the program and why it is effective.

Like other Montessori materials, this app provides as much of a hands-on experience with numbers as is possible with a digital tool.  Children are encouraged to touch, to shake, to drag, and to play with the items on the screen.  The narration offers clear suggestions about what to try next, and gentle reinforcement of success.  Incorrect responses simply do not work, so every child will feel successful.

Entertainment

While this app is not really intended to be entertaining, children are likely to really enjoy using it.  It would be a good idea for beginners to go through the exercises in order, but once students are familiar with the concepts, review of any will help them deepen their understanding of the ideas. The developers did a good job of incorporating the various capabilities of the device, making the exercises varied and fun to use.

Value

Intro to Math, by Montessorium is a good value for young children who are just beginning to understand that math is a whole lot more than memorizing numbers.  It’s designed to show number patterns and so much more!  The app really covers the bases and is a good tool to get children thinking about numbers, quantities, sequencing and many other vital early math skills.

Child Friendliness

In spite of having a very young target audience, this app has some disappointing flaws that may worry parents.  The Parents’ Section is not protected at all, and contains links to social media, email, ratings, and other links.  Developers seem to be relying on the fact that the section is “hidden” in the horizontal lines that usually symbolize menus on many modern apps.  The links to the App Store in this section that lead to purchases are protected by a parent gate that requires following written directions for swiping, but other links are not protected at all.  Inquisitive youngsters can easily stumble into email, social media or the internet, so parents should turn off internet access in the Settings section of their device before allowing little hands to play with this otherwise outstanding app.

  • NO 3rd party ads
  • NO in-app purchases
  • YES “more apps” (protected, but visible)
  • YES “rate app” link in parents section (unprotected)
  • YES links to social media in parents section (unprotected)
  • YES links to email in parents section (unprotected)