by Kane Taylor
Today’s advances in technology make it easier than ever to learn on the go. Even if your homeschooling takes place outside the house (or in the car) more often than at home, there are hundreds of good apps you can use to take the learning with you. I’ve rounded up a few of them here, based on age and interest.
Time for Bed Little Ted by Krystal Hurley. This sweet interactive storybook for little kids helps them learn to read, and can help them learn about bedtime routine, and more through narrated story, games, and coloring.
MarcoPolo Weather by MarcoPolo Learning, Inc. This digital sandbox app allows kids to learn about weather through exploration, games, and experiments. The cartoon style would appeal to younger players, but the content would be appropriate for 5-8 year olds as well.
Dino Tim: Math by EducaGames. This fun game for preschoolers includes adventure, puzzle solving, geometry and more.
Anything by Toca Boca. This company specializes in apps for kids that are fun, educational, gender neutral, and free of ads and in-app purchases. Our favorites include Toca Life: School, Toca Life: City, and Toca Band.
Mystery Math Town by Artgig Studio. Kids can practice their math skills while exploring houses and buildings in the town, collecting fireflies and solving mysteries. You can also decide how difficult you want the math problems to be.
Robot Factory by TinyBop. Build robots. Test Robots. Collect Robots. With this app, users can create the robots of their dreams from over 100 available parts, and then test their robots on an obstacle course to see if their design works or not. All robots are saved as part of your collection. This is a great app for encouraging design, creativity, and experimentation. And it’s fun.
Scratch Jr. by MIT. This free app allows younger kids to learn programming by playing, designing projects, solving problems, and getting creative.
Ice Breakers: A Viking Voyage by Nitrome. This cartoon physics-puzzler game boasts 140 levels filled with immersive worlds, side quests, unlockable secrets, and boss battles. Kids (and adults) will have so much fun solving the puzzles, they won’t even realize they’re using physics and critical thinking to do so.
Math by YourTeacher.com. This great math app is like having your own math tutor with you at all times. Users can look up what they need from over 50 courses including 5th grade math, sixth grade math, pre-algebra, and test prep. Each course contains over 100 lessons with video examples, interactive practice, worksheets, self-tests and more. The first five lessons are free, and then courses cost $9.99 each. The content and help provided is worth the cost.
Scratch by MIT. This free app allows kids to learn programming by designing projects, solving problems, and getting creative.
Broken Age by Double Fine Productions, Inc. This beautifully designed, hand painted game feels more like an interactive story book than an app (note: it can be purchased as an app or for Mac, PC, or Playstation). Players choose between two parallel story lines, and then point and click their way through, gathering information (by talking to characters in the game, looking for clues, etc.), using problem solving and critical thinking skills, and making choice after choice to get to the end.
Seterra Geography by Marianne Wartoft AB. This is a more traditional educational app that uses games and exercises to help you learn world geography. Users can browse categories, learn about countries, capitals, flags, oceans, topography and more, and then quiz themselves on what they’ve learned.
Lifeline by 3 Minute Games, LLC. This innovative storytelling game plays in real time, and requires users to problem solve to help save Taylor, a fictional astronaut who has survived a crash landing on the moon. As he struggles to stay alive, players receive communications from Taylor, and they must help him make life and death choices. Every action has a profound effect, but players have the option of jumping back into earlier parts of the story to make different choices, to see how the outcome is affected. Deeply immersive, this game teaches the importance of critical thinking and perseverance.
Evernote. This practical organizational app is a useful way for teens (or adults) to manage notes, lists, appointments, and more from their every day lives. Consolidate all the important notes and schedules into one place and have it handy on your phone and computer. For homeschooled teens finishing up high school or going through the college application process, this could especially useful for keeping your to-do lists (and everything else) organized and sorted in one place.
Math by YourTeacher.com. This great math app is like having your own math tutor with you at all times. Users can look up what they need from over 50 courses including high school math, college math, and test prep. Each course contains over 100 lessons with video examples, interactive practice, worksheets, self-tests and more. The first five lessons are free, and then courses cost $9.99 each. The content and help provided is worth the cost.
DuoLingo. Using gamification, lessons that focus on reading, writing and speaking, and in-lesson grading, this popular website and app makes it easier than ever to learn a new language. Oh, and it’s free.
Homeschooler Helper. This app is an all in one management tool for homeschooling parents. With the ability to manage lesson plans, grades, schedules, book lists, “attendance,” the family calendar, and more, over multiple years (and multiple kids), I can see how this could be useful for homeschooling families, especially those keeping records and preparing transcripts.
Chore Pad by Nannek LLC. This app helps parents and kids work together to create and manage chore lists and check things off as they get done. Chore charts can be created for each family member and accessed from their individual devices. There are even sounds and animations to help motivate the youngest users.
Note: This piece was originally published in home/school/life magazine.