There is no doubt about it, screens and tablets are here to stay. While you have people on both sides of the aisle arguing for and against the use of electronics and screens, I believe screens give us a unique opportunity to educate and entertain. We live in an age where our children have a world of information at their fingertips, we can shy away from this knowledge or we can teach our children how to responsibly use it.
Needless to say, I am a big fan of using tools like tablets in our homeschooling. I come from the unique perspective of having a child in every major age group so I thought I would share some of our very favorite apps used in homeschooling, to both educate and keep our children safe online. While this is by no means an exhaustive list (because that would take hours to write and read!), it will get you started on the path to safe educational entertainment! Please note that not every app mentioned will be available on every platform, however many are.
Apps for Homeschooling Toddlers & Preschoolers
PBS KIDS – PBS Kids allows my child to watch all of her favorite PBS Kids shows and allows me to not worry about her having access to questionable shows and commercials. We use PBS Kids on Kindle Fire, iPhone, and AppleTV, it’s perfect for those times when I need to provide a little distraction for the preschooler while I work with the older kids.
ENDLESS ALPHABET – The Endless line of apps are really wonderful, there’s an app for the alphabet (my child’s favorite!), reading, math, Spanish, and more! Most of the Endless apps are free on all platforms, however, Alphabet is only free on Kindle Fire (that’s the version we use!) and if you want to use the school versions of each app (which isn’t necessary) you’ll be set back around $30.
SENSORY BABY – Sensory Baby (or as my daughter calls it, Fish!) is a virtual aquarium designed for toddler hands. It works to soothe kids when they get overloaded while discovering the 5 senses. We use Sensory Baby on as part of my daughter’s occupational therapy plan.
LEGO DUPLO – LEGO Duplo has a line of apps that my preschooler finds delightful! With this line she can drive the shape-sorting train, feed the animals in a zoo, and more! These apps feature large controls and intuitive navigation for even the youngest users. These apps are available for both Android and Apple products!
ARTICULATION STATION – Available for iPhone and iPad, Articulation Station is a great app for kids who are in speech therapy or who need a little help improving their pronunciation and vocabulary. Used by speech therapists all over the US, this app is fun for the kids and practical too!
TOCA BOCA – The Toca Boca family of apps are some of my kid’s very favorites! Toca Boca stands apart from other apps because they employ children to help design their apps. The Toca Boca apps embrace both education (Toca Lab, for instance, where your children learn the periodic table) and creativity (Toca Hair Salon teaches colors, vocabulary, and art.) The Toca Boca apps are easy enough for my preschooler to navigate but still of interest to my 10-year-old.
Apps for Homeschooling Elementary School
SPLASH MATH – Splash Math is a suite of apps that teach math to kids in kindergarten through 5th grade. Your children will enjoy learning math facts while earning rewards in these fun ocean & space-themed apps.
STACK THE STATES – Are you studying the United States? Stack the States is a must have! Stack the States (there are two versions, each costs around $3) is a puzzle game that keeps the kids on their toes while learning facts about each state.
TEACH YOUR MONSTER TO READ – Younger children will adore Teach Your Monster to Read, a fun app from the BBC that teaches your child how to read as they, well, teaching their monster how to read!
THE SPELLING BEE – The Spelling Bee offers a fun way for kids to practice their spelling words. Create your own word list or use the preset lists of over 850 words! With these fun games your kids won’t find spelling boring anymore!
PRONOUN FILL-IN – Learning the parts of a sentence is super easy when you use an app like Pronoun Fill-In! Pronoun Fill-In is just one app in the Super Duper, Inc catalog
MONUMENT VALLEY – Monument Valley has been a favorite of my kids for years. This is a challenging puzzle game that teaches the basics of geometry, architecture, logic, and design.
MONSTER PHYSICS – In this fun game your children will be challenged to build contraptions and buildings using all sorts of materials. Monster Physics features free play mode as well as 50 guided challenges, your kids won’t even realize that they’re learning all kinds of science and math!
Apps for Homeschooling Middle & High School
BRAINSCAPE – Studies show that no matter how hard a student studies, they can lose as much as 80% of their knowledge! What? That’s HUGE! Brainscape is a flash card app that’s so much more. It starts where you are and builds from there, adapting to focus on your weakest points while skipping over the stuff you already know. Brainscape is available on all platforms and can even be used in co-op classes and between friends who are studying the same subject.
KHAN ACADEMY – Khan Academy is well-known for their free, easy-to-understand videos that teach pretty much any subject you’d ever want to learn about. Khan Academy now offers apps for both iPhone and Android. Yeah, you can still access Khan Academy from your device browser but the app makes it easy to take a break and pick up right where you left off.
GEOGEBRA – Geogebra is a fascinating app and website. The app takes algebra, geometry, and other math ideas…well, let me let them describe their program:
“GeoGebra is dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that brings together geometry, algebra, spreadsheets, graphing, statistics and calculus in one easy-to-use package. GeoGebra is a rapidly expanding community of millions of users located in just about every country.”
INTELLIVOCAB LITE – Intellivocab Lite is another example of adaptive technology! Intellivocab is a great way to learn and practice vocabulary without the use of flashcards. Intellivocab learns how you learn and changes to meet your needs. Your child will be much better prepared for the SAT after just a few weeks with Intellivocab. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
MINDSNACKS – Mindsnacks offers a whole line of free apps that are both educational and adorable! Your high schooler can work their way through foreign language, SAT prep, and math. Mindsnacks apps are only available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
GOOGLE DRIVE – Google Drive offers a free way to create, save, share, and edit documents, spreadsheets, databases, and everything else you can think of! Drive is accessible from all devices and automatically syncs with your Google account so you never have to worry about losing your progress.
Apps for Homeschooling Parents
AVI-ON – Avi-On is an app that connects to the GE Bluetooth SmartSwitch that will help give you some peace of mind. SmartSwitches are power control boxes that run $10-30 and plug into standard outlets. The Avi-On app allows you to set timers and fully customize power schedules for whatever is plugged into it, all controlled by a parent password. While we use it to control schedules on our video game system you can also use it to control power to the modem, a computer, chargers or whatever you see fit.
FAMILY TIME – Family Time allows parents to see what content their children are accessing and set limits. While Family Time isn’t a substitute for conversation and supervision, it is a powerful tool will help ensure your child’s safety online.
ZOODLES KID MODE – Your young children will love Zoodles Kid Mode! Zoodles Kid Mode is a child-safe app that installs on any device. It comes with a small selection of games and videos but allows a parent to add videos, websites, and access to other apps as they see fit. If your child uses your phone or tablet you’ll have the added protection of knowing they cannot access your settings and apps without your permission.
HOMESCHOOL HELPER – Homeschool Helper is a very popular app that helps homeschooling parents organize their lessons, records, and schedule. While originally created for the iPad, you can now get versions for Android and Kindle Fire as well.