With kids spending more and more time on their screens, it's important to keep an eye on what they're doing with that time. Instead of giving them free reign, help them find educational school apps that will keep their minds active even after the school day is over. These educational tools will help cultivate a love for learning and keep their brains working rather than zoning out on media or social networks. Here are our picks for the 10 best school apps out there.
Meet Science Light and Sound — iOS
School-aged children will love this science app, which offers plenty of changes for exploration. It uses interactive games, quizzes and animations to teach children about light and sound, but it also features a variety of experiments. For each experiment, kids have the chance to make hypotheses and observations.
The app touches on topics like principles of sound, frequency waves, light and shadow, refraction and reflection, and color. Plus, the glossary helps children understand the terms and concepts presented to them through words and pictures. An additional Meet Science app is available with a focus on electricity and magnetism.
2. Scribblenauts Remix — iOS, Android
Scribblenauts Remix is an exciting puzzle game that gives kids a chance to use their imagination while also building their vocabulary.
In 50 unique levels, children can help the main character Maxwell by solving each challenge in hopes of locating the Starite. To do so, they must think up the most creative, interesting objects possible and write them in to the game.
Because so much of the solution is left up to the player’s imagination, Scribblenauts Remix can be played over and over again with different outcomes every time—with different avatars as well.
Since the challenges are open-ended, this game is best for older children who won’t get frustrated with the difficulty of the puzzles.
3. iTooch Music — iOS, Android
Built around a middle school music curriculum and the National Standards for Music Education, iTooch Music is a great way for kids to practice the music education they’re learning in schools or to supplement their studies with a new after-school hobby.
Rather than just playing music on the app, the content delves into understanding music theory, reading sheet music, and learning to listen closely and evaluate musical pieces.
Lessons are broken up into four themes—The Basics, Theory, Culture and Styles, and History—and include over 2,000 questions to test kids’ knowledge. Though it’s presented in a cute, kid-friendly way, this app is filled with music theory and history.
4. DragonBox apps (Algebra 5+, Algebra 12+, Elements and Numbers) — iOS, Android
Available on both Apple and Android devices, the four DragonBox apps are one of the best ways for your children to practice the math skills they’re learning in school or to get a head start on concepts they will be learning in the future.
Presented as engaging games, these school apps disguise all of the work with fun. Little ones who are just starting out can experiment with Numbers, which shows what they are and how they work.
For a bit more advanced math, Algebra 5+ teaches kids ages five and up an easy way to solve linear equations—without even realizing they’re doing them. Older kids can experiment with Elements to learn about geometry and Algebra 12+ for more advanced algebraic equations.
5. Duolingo — iOS, Android
They say it’s easier to learn new languages as a child. With Duolingo, it couldn’t be any easier—or more exciting. Kids can choose from common languages like Spanish, French and German or delve into more obscure languages like Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Danish and Irish.
The app itself is a game where children choose from different skill sets—like phrases, food or animals—then answer questions to earn experience points. With different types of questions, children can practice reading, writing and speaking the language along with vocabulary acquisition.
While youngsters probably won’t be able to navigate Duolingo, it’s great for teens, tweens and even adults who want to learn along with their kids.
6. Codea — iOS (iPad only)
Kids interested in programming and coding will love Codea, an app that teaches children to program using the Lua programming language—a simple language that doesn’t use many symbols so kids can pick it up quickly.
Though many of the apps on our list are educational games that tie in science or math, this app is purely a tool through which children can learn and experiment. Using Lua, kids will learn how to create their own games, animations, graphics and more, all from code. Touch the code to adjust different settings and export your projects into stand-alone apps when you’re finished.
While Codea probably won’t complement your child’s on-campus curriculum, it does provide an educational experience on a topic that not many other school apps do.
7. Think Like Churchill — iOS
Learn better decision-making skills while you explore historical events and people in the Think Like Churchill app. In a game that is animated like a graphic novel, children play as Winston Churchill, making their own decisions about which actions to take in personal and political situations that Churchill faced in real life.
Once your child has made their decision, they will be provided with information on Churchill’s own decision as well as psychological analysis on what the best choice would be and why.
In addition to information about the situation, kids are presented with historical primary-source documents like telegraphs, letters, intelligence reports and more, as well as advice from acquaintances that they can use to determine what they would do if they were in Churchill’s place.
8. Spatial Line Puzzles — iOS, Android
Designed by an occupational therapist, Spatial Line Puzzles gives kids a way to enhance their spatial skills as well as their visual memory. Developing these skills can be especially helpful to children who suffer from dyslexia.
Two boxes sit side-by-side; the first is filled with a combination of dots, lines or boxes that kids must copy into the second, empty box.
To develop your memory skills further, toggle the setting that makes the first box disappear after a short period of time, making sure that kids play close attention so they can successfully copy the design. The game has 40 different puzzles in each level and multi-user scoring.
9. SimpleRockets — iOS, Android
The SimpleRockets app is one of the best school apps available for teaching kids about physics and astronomy. Combining two relevant sciences, can build their own rocket ships—and it doesn’t stop with the body of the ship.
Choose from different engines, fuel tanks and other aspects to truly customize the ship. Then blast off into space, learning about the atmosphere and gravity of the planet you choose to launch from as well as about astrodynamics, orbital physics and Kepler’s equations.
There is also a challenge mode that allows children to play against their friends to see whose custom-built ship can fly the fastest, orbit the longest or travel the furthest.
10. Acceleread Speed Reading Trainer — iOS
Acceleread is a personalized reading trainer app that helps teens and tweens overcome obstacles and become faster readers. The app will draw off of your current reading level and factor in your goals for the future while teaching you new techniques to speed up your reading as well as your comprehension.
In addition, Acceleread will help you rid your mind of habits that may be hindering your speed, like wandering minds that cause you to skip back and re-read passages.
While there are a variety of school apps geared toward reading, we love that this one is geared toward not just speed but also understanding.