Parent resources / Product Reviews / Reviews / Tech ed

Apps for Education


Kids love iPads

Kids love using iPads. All those fun activities that can be accessed quickly via the pad format are both stimulating and

addictive. I’m all for giving kids what they want in the way of educational tools, but there-in lies the rub:

How do you find those apps?

When my school asked me to come up with a collection to use on our new class-set of ipads (to cycle through grades 3-8), I thought it would be easy.

It wasn’t.

Every app I looked into claimed to be educational because that’s today’s buzz word–edutainment–because teacher (and moms) would never consider wasting a child’s formative years. More often than not, despite their claims, those that screamed the loudest offered the least in the way of education and even less as entertainment. Kids tried them and dumped them.

A year into this, I’ve shared the app list that worked for my school. Now, I am starting on next year’s list. This time, I’m going to be smarter. I’ve been researching the recommendations from the best names in education. How could that fail? Here are a few of the sources:

Turns out no one agrees on a list. Every list I check has many completely new apps from anything I’ve heard of in the past with just a few overlaps (there are some exceptions, like Google Earth and Evernote).  Why is this true? Because there are too many apps out there. The best names in tech ed end up recommending what they are familiar and comfortable with. There doesn’t seem to be a list of ‘best’ apps on everyone’s lips.

Which means I’ll create one. You can help.

I am developing a list of the most effective apps used in schools. It will be lengthy so I’ll organize it by topic, but it’ll be a good starting point as you seek apps for your school, homeschool, library, or family.

If you have a favorite, please add a comment. If you are the developer of one you know should be a favorite, please contact me. I’ll review it and decide if it meets criteria for

  • authentic
  • student-centered
  • educational
  • affordable
  • easy-to-use
  • sustainable

Check back often. I’ll let you know when this is available–definitely in time for summer!


Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and three ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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26 thoughts on “Apps for Education

  1. I am sorry, but I really disagree on what you are saying here.

    The kids love using ipads? No. Kids love to play. They use iPads because their teachers love iPads. Why do their teachers love iPads? Because they make the children learn better? No. Because the teachers fell for the marketing strategy of Apple.

    Ultrabooks are a far better tool for learning than iPads. Ultrabooks are built for consuming AND producing information. The iPad is only built for consuming information. That means, that the iPad is best suited for a monological form of teaching, where the pupils are seen as receivers of knowledge – while a laptop can be used in both monological, dialogical and polyphonic forms of teaching.

    • Thanks for sharing. I think it gets down to how the teacher uses it. If she sees it as playing rather than enrichment, that’s what it’ll be. If the teacher approaches it as an extension of her teaching, another tool in her toolbox and this one students are eager to use (unlike tests), it can be wonderful.

      I wish I had an app to translate your website so I could better understand your background!

  2. I also don’t think tests are the best tool – but choosing between iPads and laptops in education, I think the laptop is far superior.

    There’s a UK flag in the right-menu on – it will let you translate the website into english (with some errors, I did the translation myself – sorry) 🙂

    • If I had to make a choice, it would be laptops. If I could have both… We have lots of laptops at my school, but iPads are that fresh tool everyone wants to learn how to use. There’s a lot of educational value in that level of interest.

      OK, found the flag on your website and found some interesting articles. I like your reviews–Screenbird looks great. I’m going to try it.

      • iPads are popular, yes. That doesn’t make them good learning tools. They support consumption of information, and that is only a small part of what learning is about. If learners are to produce and collaborate, they are better off with a laptop 🙂

  3. I think the kids entertainment is a matter of which app they are using. There are plenty of really fun educational apps out there. One in particular that would recommend for younger children is A Jazzy Day app. There is a storybook part of it, but also a game portion. It’s geared toward teaching young children about jazz music, but it also serves as great entertainment and a good source of early reading practice. The website is
    This app is great for teachers or parents because, unlike some apps, it will keep the child entertained and interested, and less likely to get bored.

    • I’ve looked at A Jazzy Day. It’s a beautiful site, but a bit young–preschool or young Kindergarten, which I think they consider their target audience. I am going to include it under Kindergarten.

      Thanks! Any more favorites?

  4. Pingback: Apps for Education | iPads in Education |

    • What a wonderful list. You’ve put a lot of work into it. Have you tested them all? And can I include the entire list with credit back to you? I’ll provide a link to your wiki.


      And, BTW, your wiki is an amazing resource for lots of topics.

      • Credit is always nice, but the list and other pages are there for anyone to use or modify on their own pages.

        All tested by us and our students except those at the bottom. Careful, many do similar things, just pick one.

  5. I’ve been reviewing Educational App for a while. I am so glad that more and more eucational professionals are getting involved. Due to the Apple business model and the nice design of iPhone and iPAD, app development as an industry is developing rapidly. It is not something we can stop or ignore, so we have to embrace the trend and figure out how to leverage it to the best potential … The consequence of ignoring the trend – being left behind, while your target (the students) will move on. If you are intereted in the apps I reviewed, plese visit:

  6. Here are some great suggestions from a reader:
    Name: Tim
    My focus this year has been on using iPads to share student voices. I have found Puppet Pals, Book Creator, Educreations, and My Voice to be very helpful. On the rote side I have used Puzzled Lite to reinforce state geography. It is simple to use and provides instant feedback.

  7. I have been using an amazing app in my classroom to increase the foundation in math. Fact fluency is very important to math success and the app – Timed Test assists in developing this foundation.
    Students enjoy taking the test and practicing their facts. The tests are automatically graded, saving the teacher time and the students have the opportunity to return to missed problems and correct them.

    I have seen students drop 1 minute off a five minute timed test! Every student has increased their speed and accuracy. It is great! I use it in my 3rd/4th grade class and use it with other students that I tutor in math!

  8. I use a great app called Timed Test in my classroom. Students use the app each morning as they arrive in the classroom. They practice the math facts – the app grades it – and they fix the problems that they have missed.
    Students have dropped 1 minute off of a five minute timed test. They have shown an increase in their accuracy by up to 50% I am thrilled with their progress and they enjoy the practice.
    I also use this with the students that I tutor. It is a big help in developing a strong foundation in math.

  9. I have used the timed test app in my classroom. It is fantastic for practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. You can set the number of problems, the time and more. The test is graded automatically (saving the teacher time) and the students can go back in and fix the problems they have missed. TIMED TEST is used in my classroom each morning as the students arrive… their speed has greatly increased and accuracy has improved! This app really helps build a strong foundation in math.
    I also use this app with the students that I tutor in math. They are practicing math facts, but enjoying the way they practice.

  10. Pingback: Apps for Education | Innovación, Creación y Evaluación en Docencia |

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