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16 great educational apps to get kids ready to go back to school — handpicked by the experts

The Counting Kingdom

Who it’s for: Ages 6-8
Pricing: $9.99 on PC/Mac — iOS price not yet announced
Available from: Steam
In a nutshell: Magic, math, and tower defense

The Counting Kingdom

Above: The Counting Kingdom combines magic, math, and tower defense.

Image Credit: Little Worlds Interactive

So, The Counting Kingdom wasn’t actually recommended to us, but this math and magic game was just too darn irresistible not to include in our round-up. The fact that it’s recently been announced as one of the “Pax 10” — a list of the best indie games around chosen by 50 industry experts — demonstrates its pedigree.

Developed with teachers, The Counting Kingdom has kids play as a wizard, using math spells to defend the realm from invading monsters. Developer Little Worlds Interactive says it believes in “making educational games that kids want to play.”

The Counting Kingdom isn’t actually out on iOS until later this year, but it is currently available for PC and Mac via Steam.


Photo Mapo

Who it’s for: Ages four and up
Pricing: $0.99
Available from: iTunes
In a nutshell: Create beautiful annotated maps of your summer travels

Photo Mapo

Above: Photo Mapo turns photographs into a geography lesson.

Image Credit: Dan Crawley

Photo Mapo is a neat little app that turns photographs into what look pages from an explorer’s notebook. It’s perfect for kids travelling around this summer as they can create lasting reminders of the places they visit.

“Photo Mapo is a free iOS app that should not be overlooked,” said Terri Eichholz. “It offers 13 different styles, and you can determine what shows on your ‘postcard’, such as the zoom level of the map, the date, or the latitude and longitude. “


Easy Blog Jr.

Who it’s for: Ages four and up
Pricing: $3.99
Available from: iTunes
In a nutshell: Blog before you can even write

Easy Blog Jr.

Above: Easy Blog Jr. lets kids blog before they can even write.

Image Credit: The Easy App Company

Easy Blog Jr. gets very young children using language and recording their thoughts. It allows them to post photos, video, and voice-over photos to Blogger, with no reading or writing required. In a neat touch, it features audio help and prompts voiced by a child.

“The reason I think this app has value is that it helps younger children develop their language composing skills without having to do any writing,” said educator and technology access activist Phil Shapiro.

“They need to organize the thoughts that speak into the app to accompany the photos they take. This gives them ‘writing’ practice without doing any writing. Immensely valuable for people with learning disabilities or motor coordination delays.”


Endless Alphabet

Who it’s for: Ages 3-7
Pricing: Free with in-app purchases on Android, $6.99 on iOS
Available from: Google Play, iTunes

Endless Reader

Who it’s for: Ages 3-7
Pricing: Free with in-app purchases
Available from: iTunes

Endless Numbers

Who it’s for: Ages 3-7
Pricing: Free with in-app purchases
Available from: iTunes

Endless Alphabet

Above: A monster from Endless Alphabet.

Image Credit: Originator

Josh Allen, instructional technology facilitator at Papillion-La Vista Schools, Omaha, picked out the Endless series for special attention.

“Endless Reader is a perfect follow-up to the critically acclaimed Endless Alphabet,” said Allen. “Once kids learn their letters, they need to work on sight words, right?”

“When you download the free Endless Reader, you get six teaser words that will give you a good feel for how the app works,” he explained. “Click on any word and the cutest, craziest looking monsters mess up all of the letters in that word. When you begin dragging the letter, it turns into a wiggly monster whose only language is that of a letter sound. Kids love it!”

Allen pointed out that the apps aren’t without their flaws, such as the fact that the letter sounds in Endless Reader don’t always match the words they’re in (such as the ‘e’s in the word “please”). However, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

“If you have kids in the 3-7 year old range, check out the entire Endless series,” said Allen. “The apps are so well crafted and the in-app purchases bring extra content and enjoyment to your devices. Your kids will love being able to help the monsters build words, sentences and numbers!”

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11 comments
ParrotFish Studios
ParrotFish Studios

Nice list! Sight word apps are really great for children. We have also developed one. An educational App, developed by a Special Ed teacher that can be used for any child learning sight words. The app is available on Google Play, Apple iTunes and Amazon.


A set of six games, 10 levels that use sound teaching techniques that develop skills that can be applied to all reading and learning situations. The games develop auditory and visual discrimination, auditory and visual memory, fine motor skills, one to one matching, fluency, and confidence to apply reading strategies in a non-threatening environment.

Please visit and download here to try: 
http://parrotfish.com.au/

Angela Eller
Angela Eller

My class loved learning through music with Common Core Rap app.  They were featured in the Orlando Sentinel, West Orange Times, and Daily Commercial.  16 educational song videos that  are perfect for all students – Content is built around Common Core concepts and provides unique, engaging learning experiences for all types of learners (audial, visual, kinesthetic).

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/common-core-rap/id880498165?mt=8

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/blogs/gone-viral/os-common-core-rap-20140710,0,4380663.post

Robert Scoble
Robert Scoble

That assumes we use iPads for anything but babysitting!

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