When David and I decided to homeschool neither of us knew what that meant. However, David knew there were a ton of educational apps available on the iPad and so he gave me a blank check and said “buy what you need”. We’ve done a lot of technology experimentation and so I’d like to provide you with a list of our favorite apps.
Hands down the most used app of the school year. Max attended The Handwriting Clinic this year and the occupational therapists recommended this app. It is a very simple idea – kids must trace letters with their fingers. The difference is that they have to draw the letters IN A VERY SPECIFIC SEQUENCE and completely on the lines or they get it wrong. It teaches the kids the proper sequencing of handwriting and provides positive reinforcement with a video. This app is really targeted towards grades Pre-k through first grade but Max enjoyed using it as well (second grade).
This was another very popular app in my family. This is a combination of state recognition and Tetris. The idea is that the kids are asked a multiple choice question regarding the states. If they get the question right they get to “stack” the state and they keep stacking until they’ve reached a goal. Lucy (age 10) has LOVED this game. I will catch her playing it in bed before she goes to sleep at night.
This app teaches kids basic object-oriented programming by creating little programs for a team of adorably cute monsters. David and the kids have loved this app. The kids have learned to debug and think sequentially. They simply “drag and drop” boxes of code which tells the monsters to do certain things on the screen. However, if the kids don’t load the boxes of code in the proper sequence nothing happens or it happens in the wrong order.
Have I mentioned how much the human body grosses me out? Well it does. It is pretty gross with all of its fluids and parts and nastiness. However, this app makes it seem like this super cool machine that does all kinds of super cool things. Kids get to explore the body through different tasks — like feeding it. Once you’ve given your person food you get to see an inside look as to what the body does with the food — but it’s all animated and cute and not gross like in real life.
Okay, so this is a three in one. These are three separate apps but they are all math oriented and all about math facts. Lucy loves Fraction Squeebles and Marble Math, Max likes Math Ninja. These are all good and basically offer different sorts of games to teach Math facts. If you want something a bit more advanced or that will teach actual math concepts you might want to visit Khan Academy but for basic math fact drills these are all good.
I’ve been told that most kids don’t really master telling time until 5th grade. This game allows you to control difficulty level which is nice if you have multiple players at varying ages. Younger kids can start with simple O’clock and half past times and work their way all the way up to calculating future time. This has been great for both Max and Lucy and both have been able to tweak it to meet their ability.
Harper especially loves Monkey Word but both of these apps are good at teaching sight words. Word Bingo is really targeted more towards 1st grade and older and can be adjusted for difficulty. Monkey Word is for the K-1st grade crowd but who doesn’t love the Monkey? He gives you stickers and makes funny noises.
This is not meant to be “educational” but I find it to be a great vocabulary builder for the 4th-6th grade crowd. It’s a simple game of synonyms. You are given a clue, similar to a crossword puzzle, but are provided with word fragments that must be unscrambled to determine the word that fits the clue. I have the adult version of this game on my phone and sometimes Lucy and I can sit and play together
A full disclaimer that this app isn’t cheap and requires in-app purchases so be warned. However, it is a very robust app that has provided Lucy quite a bit of information. This app was designed by the Discovery Channel and allows kids to travel the world watching videos and reading information about countries and regions. Lucy’s favorite part is the ability to dress a virtual doll in traditional clothing from these countries.