Erin and I have been working together the last few months. She is an amazing teacher and edu blogger that I follow over at her site Kleinspiration. I am excited to have her as a guest blogger today. Here’s a little bit about Erin before she shares her suggestions on great apps for kids!

Erin Klein is a teacher, author, parent, and student who has earned her Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and currently teaches second grade. She has previously taught first, sixth, and seventh grade.

Erin is also the technology co-chairperson for the Michigan Reading Association, a national A Plus Workshop Presenter, SMART Technologies Exemplary Educator, Really Good Stuff Monthly Blogger, Edutopia Guest Blogger, National Writing Project member, Teaching Blog Addict Business Manager and award-winning EduTech Blogger.

Great Apps for Kids

When it comes to apps for kids, there are so many to choose from and so many great ones. There are also a bunch that look really great on the surface, but then will overrun your kids with adware and popups. So how do we, as parents and teachers, avoid getting the wrong apps for our little learners.

My first recommendation is always something very simple, we must all do just a little bit of homework before downloading a new app for our kids. The technology isn’t as safe as buying a new game at the toy store, there can often be something hiding in there that isn’t on the surface. Many free apps will steer you toward another app that costs a price, so be sure to know what you are getting into before your child is hooked.

While there are a handful of shady apps out there, it isn’t difficult to avoid them and put your kids together with some great technology. You can do a quick search online and find that most credible apps have had some positive press and reviews, while the ones that are less worth your time are more difficult to find great reviews about.

Below are five of my personal favorites that are both safe and educational for kids. Some are free, some cost a few bucks, but they all cost far less that whatever the newest video game craze is and also provide great educational content! These are in no specific order, they are all fantastic, and please keep in mind that the game or subject featured below is often not the only app produced by the provider, so if you already have a math app that you love, don’t count out the math publisher below- they may also have spelling, science, and other great apps!

1. ABCya Games

Math Fact Shoot – Out Game to Practice Math Facts
ABCyaGames has many games for many grade levels. I love to feature fun activities from their site. Every time I prepare a post for ABCya, my kids come running up to the computer. They love the sounds of the games and the bright animation bouncing off the screen.
I recently found Math Fact Shoot-Out. This game, like all game on their site, is super easy to get started and to play. Once you click ‘go,’ you are prompted to select a level (easy, medium, or hard). Then you pick the math operation you’d like to play. Finally you choose your player.

Check out my game play…

click here to play Math Fact Shoot Out yourself & have fun

2. Murky Reef

Murky Reef is designed for students 6-8 years old and is intended to increase their knowledge base in science, reading, and math, through use of interactive game play and enjoyable characters.
Murky Reef is a great product to add to your collection, especially for those who are homeschooling or providing an extra boost to children’s learning beyond the classroom. There are options available for all skill levels in 1st and 2nd grade, and a variety of subjects.

This app will also be of value to parents that want to help their children with their studies but may have forgotten a thing or two, as it is very easy to understand, control, and provides a video tutorial for every game option.

While Murky Reef is a paid app, there is a free lite version available in the app store if you’d prefer to take it for a test drive before making a purchase. There are also lower priced versions focusing on specific subjects alone (math, science, reading) for those interested in targeting a specific area.

3. Finger Print

Fingerprint is dedicated to developing great games that kids can play anywhere. While they play, kids learn–everything from story comprehension to math skills. Best of all, parents can easily stay involved, with the exclusive Mom-Comm, which follows kids’ progress and allows you to send messages to your child. As you know, it can be difficult to know what apps to download for kids, and Fingerprint has created a resource that helps parents choose with confidence, and feel good about what their kids are playing.

Fingerprint has many great apps available for both boys and girls, you can see a bit more in the video below.

4. Nearpod

Nearpod: the iPad Teacher’s must have tool
Nearpod is a free app you can download to your iPad. There are 2 free apps: a teacher app and a student app. Once the apps are downloaded, the teacher can begin creating his or her presentations. If you’d prefer, you can import your existing PowerPoints, etc.
The teacher shares a unique Pin (sign in code) with the class. This gives the user(s) access to the specific presentation/lecture/lesson. Now, all devices are synced! The teacher ‘drives’ the lesson by advancing slides while the student has the freedom to interact with the content on each slide as it’s displayed. I love that I can put the content directly into the hands of each of my students – no matter the seating location within the classroom.
Teachers can host assessments in real time using the same process. As students begin to answer in a safe, private manner, the results are automatically displayed to the teacher’s device. The teacher has the option to share individual results with specific students or whole class results (with names removed) so that deeper discussion can occur among the group.

A brief demonstration of Nearpod:

How does Nearpod work?

I encourage you to click here and connect with the Nearpod YouTube Channel for additional videos and information, and click here to connect with Nearpod on Vimeo. There are different videos on each channel. Additionally, you can follow their blog and join them on Facebook by clicking here.

Teachers can create questions or display content as they develop each lesson.
The app allows students to use the slides as interactive white boards to answer questions.
Once students select ‘submit,’ their answer is sent to the teacher’s device.
In real time, teachers can see exactly who has yet to submit an answer. This way, additional instruction can be given to guide that learner. Teachers can also select an individual’s response and export it to each student device so that discussion can occur regarding a specific answer.
Additionally, the teacher can view each slide of the lesson in the bottom of the presentation.
Notice the ‘green’ student icon at the top of this image: when a student navigates away from the lesson, the icon turns to red. This notifies the teacher that someone is no longer participating. This is, however, an option. Sometimes a teacher may want a student to navigate away from the lesson to further their learning on the Internet or within another application.
Results can be shared with individuals in real time. Feedback is automatic.
Teachers receive itemized results for each student – very helpful to determine points for re-teaching.
Not only can teachers import quizzes, they can add the following to each lesson:
  • content
  • polls
  • quizzes
  • questions and answers
  • videos
  • draw – it