Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The World Fact Book for iPad

Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Social Studies
Specific Skill: Geography - World
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

Wow! This app provides students with an abundance of research about many, many countries around our world.

For each country, information concerning the following topics is provided:
- Introduction (background)
- Geography
- People
- Government
- Economy
- Communications
- Transportation
- Military
- Transnational issues
- Flag (with description)
- Color map
- Location map

This app is a must-have if your students will be researching various countries.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

U. S. Quarters

Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 1st and up
Subject: Social Studies & Mathematics
Specific Skill: USA, Money
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

This is a fun (and free!) app. Please note that it's quite simple and there's no opportunity for interaction. Students simply flip through large pictures of each quarter from the the States collection. Each picture is accompanied by the state's abbreviation and a brief description of the image depicted on the tails side.

Here's the information for my state's quarter:
Georgia (GA) - Wisdom, Justice, Moderation
T. James Ferrell
Features the peach, a silhouetted outline of the state, live oak sprigs, and the Georgia state motto "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation".

Despite being a free app, advertisements are not included.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stack the States

Price: $.99 (free Lite version)
Grade Recommendation: 2nd and up
Subject: Social Studies
Specific Skill: Geography - United States
Levels: 1
Players: 1 - 6
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is one of those apps that perfectly combines learning and fun!

After correctly answering questions about states in our country, an outline of a shape is dropped. Students have to manipulate the shape as it drops, causing them to stack and eventually crossing a checkered line.

The educational value of this app is impressive. It's a 'Must Have' for those of you who must cover basic information about the states such as names, nicknames, shapes, abbreviations, and capitals. But as a bonus, students also learn a little about physics as they carefully choose how to stack the states.

The animation and background pictures are stunning too!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Social Studies
Specific Skill: U. S. Government
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Wow! It's hard to believe this app is free! An animated ad runs across the bottom of the screen, though.

The entire United States Constitution is included. A separate section is included for the Preamble, each Article, and each Amendment. Each section is comprised of the full text plus an additional page of explanatory notes. The app also features a full biography of each signer of the document and a painting of all the signers.

This app should definitely be on every iPad in our schools today!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

World Atlas HD

Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Social Studies
Specific Skill: Geography
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

National Geographic has produced this stunning world atlas. Students can choose to view four different versions of maps for countries around the world: Executive, Classic, Satellite, or Road.

A research component is also included. Students can read information about countries and see each flag.

With an active Internet connection, maps can also be downloaded.

This app serves as an adequate replacement (or enhancement) to traditional print world atlases located in schools.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Britannica Kids: Solar System

Price: $4.99
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Science
Specific Skill: Solar System
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Encyclopedia Britannica has published several amazing research apps for students. The only one I have right now is the one for the Solar System because it's in the science standards for students I teach. The app provides an abundance of interesting information on the subject.

The sections are:
- Makeup of the Solar System
- The Sun
- The Planets
- The Moon
- Asteroids and Comets
- Formation of the Solar System
- Studying the Solar System
- Gravity and Space
- Exploring the Solar System

The app is more than just an electronic version of an encyclopedia, though! Several games - like Magic Square, Jigsaw Puzzles, and Memory Match - are included. The app also includes many pictures and even a few short video segments. Students can also take a solar system quiz.

If your science standards include the Solar System, I strongly suggest purchasing this app!

Other series included in the Britannica Kids collection:
- Snakes
- Dinosaurs
- Rainforests
- Volcanoes
- Ancient Egypt
- Ancient Rome

Monday, May 23, 2011

Time, Money, and Fractions On-Track

Price: $9.99
Grade Recommendation: 1st - 2nd
Subject: Mathematics
Specific Skill: Time, Money, and Fractions
Levels: 1
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

This app is made by School Zone, a well-known educational publishing company. While pricey, it provides first and second grade students with an enjoyable way to practice skills related to time, money, and fractions. There are 10 activities to complete for each of these skills. Written and verbal instructions are provided. The app has a self-checking feature.

Here are some examples of included activities:

Money - "Count the coins and type the amount in the boxes. Is there enough money to pay for each item? Touch yes or no."

Time - "Read the hour hand first. Then read the minute hand. Drag the correct time to the box below each clock."

Fractions - "Drag the fraction to the box for each shaded object."

Several non-educational games are also included to give students a break from learning. My students know how to skip these games, however, when they appear.

The app is highly engaging and provides a tactile experience. However, it lacks the ability to change levels. You can't blame the app though; it's clearly marketed for students in grades one and two.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Price: $9.99 (iPad), $2.99 (iPod)
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Reading
Specific Skill: Spelling
Levels: 2
Players: 1 - 4
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Sure this app is one of the more expensive ones I'll recommend, but it's definitely worth the price tag! The app version of Scrabble comes with many choices for customization. Students can play against the computer or choose to play a solo game. They also may choose to play with up to 3 more classmates.

Other options include 'Pass and Play' and 'Party Play'. For those who do not also have access to iPod Touches, the 'Pass and Play' option is quite adequate. Students literally pass the iPad to the next person once they've made a word. In 'Party Play', students can use an iPod Touch to display their tile rack! It's so cool! They 'slide' needed letters from the iPod to the iPad. The tile rack is a free app only available for the iPod.

A dictionary is built into the app so students can look up words before making them. Of course the app keeps score as words are being made.

Overall, this app is costly but highly recommended!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Price: $7.99 (iPad), $2.99 (iPod)
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: N/A
Specific Skill: Critical Thinking
Levels: 2
Players: 1 - 4
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is one of the pricier apps I'll feature, but it's worth every penny you'll spend. Those of you familiar with the visual perception game SET will be able to comprehend this app immediately. Others can visit http://www.setgame.com/set/index.html for an overview.

Users can choose between the basic and advanced decks. Basic uses 3 features (color, symbol, number) and Advanced adds a fourth feature - interior shading. MANY more customization features are included - from the color scheme to displaying the reason an identified set was incorrect.

In a classroom, you'll most likely have a small group of students play SET. However, this app also comes with six solitaire game modes - Classic, Sprint, Marathon, Puzzle, Arcade, and Rediscovery. Individual students are free to explore each of these modes.

An interactive tutorial is also included.

A quick Internet search revealed the traditional card version of SET currently sells for $9.67 - more than the price of the app. But in my opinion, the app version is MUCH better! SET - in either form - is a must have for classrooms that promote critical thinking.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Price: $.99
Grade Recommendation: 2nd - 8th
Subject: N/A
Specific Skill: Critical Thinking
Levels: 3
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

As a gifted program teacher, my eyes are always peeled for apps that hone my students' critical thinking skills. This app does just that! In it, students analyze one analogy and find the missing word or picture to complete another. For example, "Cotton is to fabric, as English is to (language). Immediate feedback is given.

The settings option allows you to customize the experience. You can select whether each analogy is made up of words or pictures. There's also 3 levels. Each round can contain 10, 15, or 20 analogies.

This app is well worth its price. High-achieving students will certainly appreciate the challenge it provides.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

World Book - This Day in History

Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Social Studies
Specific Skill: History
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

This simple app from World Book lists 3 - 4 historical events that happened each day of the year. There's an option to look at events that happened today or you can use the built-in calendar to select any other day throughout the year.

Each event also has 1 - 2 terms that are linked to additional information. For example, an entry for May 15th states, "Pierre Curie, co-discoverer of radium, was born in 1859. But both 'Pierre Curie' and 'radium' are typed in a different color and underlined. When the user clicks on either term, a paragraph appears - providing the user with additional information.

At this price point (free!) there's no reason why this app should not be included on your iPad(s).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Jungle Time

Price: $2.99 (iPad), $.99 (iPod Touch)
Grade Recommendation: 1st - 4th
Subject: Mathematics
Specific Skill: Time
Levels: 5
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is another excellent app to practice skills associated with time. It has four components: Tell Time, Set Time, Tell Elapsed, and Set Elapsed.

Tell Time
- The app shows a time on an analog clock. Students need to set the digital clock to match. The app announces the time to which they set the digital clock. They click 'Done' and immediate feedback is provided.

Set Time
- The app 'says' (verbally and written on the screen) a time to which to set the clock. Again, they click 'Done' and immediate feedback is provided.

Tell Elapsed
- Two analog clocks are shown. Depending on the level, the app asks something like, "How far ahead is the second clock?". Students calculate the elapsed time and receive feedback for their answer.

Set Elapsed
- Two analog clocks are shown. The app gives them a task such as, "Set second clock ahead 45 minutes." Students then manipulate the second analog clock with the appropriate time, then receive feedback.

This app is highly customizable! Access to 5 levels is quite beneficial.
Level 1 - One hour intervals
Level 2 - 30 minute intervals
Level 3 - 15 minute intervals
Level 4 - 5 minute intervals
Level 5 - 1 minute intervals

You can also change the style of the clock.
Standard - Hour numbers only
Learning - Hour and minute numbers, with color-coded hands
Classic - Roman numeral hours

It also has a built-in tutorial. The interactive and engaging tutorial (called 'Learn' at the bottom) covers the hour hand, minute hand, telling time, and adding time.

This app features a jungle theme, but it doesn't contribute much to its educational value. Users can select one of the following animals to be featured: lion, tiger, elephant, hippo, panda, or monkey. Luckily, you can turn off the sound effects in the Settings option.

I highly recommend this app for every iPad or iPod Touch in an elementary school!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Awesome Xylophone

Price: Free!
Grade Recommendation: K - 3rd
Subject: Music
Specific Skill: Xylophone playing
Levels: N/A
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This is one of the simplest apps you'll find. However, it's title says it all - this xylophone is awesome! Notes C to C are each represented by a different-colored (and sized) bar on the xylophone. Students use their fingers to operate the mallets.

The app doesn't come with an option to change the range of the xylophone; what you initially see is what you'll always get. Also, I'm not a music teacher; so I can't comment on the quality of sound this xylophone makes. But it's a fun app and perhaps can be used by a music teacher at the early elementary level to practice basic xylophone skills with students.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

iStereogram HD

Price: $.99 (or free version w/ads)
Grade Recommendation: 3rd and up
Subject: Art
Specific Skill: Optical Illusions
Levels: N/A
Players: N/A
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

Stereograms are optical illusions that initially look like static you'd see on a television screen. When you look at them a certain way, 3D images seem to 'pop' out at you. To see stereograms, the user has to look beyond the picture. If done so correctly, an image - within the image - will appear.

I've only used this app once with students and probably never will again. However, I'm leaving it on the iPads because I won't mind if they stumble across it on their own and will probably explain its purpose when they do. While I can see the images contained within stereograms quite easily (by crossing, then slowly uncrossing my eyes), I realized I couldn't explain to my students how to also do so. I wasn't comfortable teaching them how to cross their eyes! :)

I'm filing this app under the subject of art. Perhaps an art teacher could incorporate the app into a lesson or unit on optical illusions.

The free version has ads running across the top of the screen. But their presence doesn't distract from each of the 150+ stereograms contained in the app.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Memory Game Spelling Words

Price: $.99
Grade Recommendation: K - 1st
Subject: English Language Arts
Specific Skill: Spelling
Levels: 3
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

This app is quite similar to the traditional matching game we all know and love. The user has the choice between 3 levels: 1. Words with short vowel sounds, 2. Long vowel sounds, or 3. Sight words. In addition, you can choose to display 6, 12, or 18 cards.

The words change each time. Meaning, a user can play the same level back-to-back and receive different words each time.

The app automatically reads each word that is turned over and it comes embedded with background music. The only way around this is to mute the device.

Unfortunately, after each game students have the opportunity to play a non-educational dinosaur matching game. Luckily this game only lasts a short while. But you also have the option to remove this feature in the 'Settings' tab.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Make Change

Price: $1.99
Grade Recommendation: K - 3rd
Subject: Mathematics
Specific Skill: Money
Levels: 3
Players: 1
For iPad, iPod, or Both: iPad

The name of this app - Make Change - is misleading. Before purchasing it, I thought the students would be practicing the skill of making change. Like, "Jeff went to the store. He bought a pencil for $1.85. He gave the cashier $2.00. What was his change?" Nope. Instead, the students are given an amount and have to show that amount using the provided coins.

There are 3 difficulty levels - up to 50 cents, up to $1.00, and up to $5.00. Unfortunately, students do not have the option of using dollar bills nor dollar coins (or even half dollars) for amounts greater than $1.00.

This app is quite basic; for that reason, I don't think it's worth the price tag. But it is a suitable option for having students make various amounts of money and receiving feedback for their work.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Custom Spinner

Price: $0.99
Grade Recommendation: All
Subject: n/a
Specific Skill: n/a
Levels: n/a
Players: n/a
For iPad, iPod, or Both: Both

Reflecting upon my career, I can remember several times where I've decided not to play an educational game with my students because I didn't have the appropriate spinner needed.

This awesome app solves that problem!

It comes with the following preset spinners: boy/girl, yes/no, foods, numbers, and colors. But the best part is that it comes with an option to customize the spinner too! You can choose from 2 - 10 segments and label each one.

This app is well worth the price and will certainly come in handy if you have your students participate in game-like activities.