A Smarter Wish List

Guest Blog by Susan Bearden - Originally posted on SpaceCoast Living Family viewerThe iPad is at the top of many a child’s wish list. For many parents, the iPad conjures up visions of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja HD. However, the iPad is a powerful learning tool, with thousands of educational apps available through iTunes and more being released every day. Looking for apps that will help support your child’s education, but overwhelmed by the number of apps listed in the app store? Wondering where to find reliable education app reviews? Here are some resources and app recommendations to get you started. Check out some of these websites for education app reviews:
  • iear.org - IEAR is a grassroots community made up of educators, administrators and app developers who evaluate educational apps. Reviews are organized by grade and subject level.
  • teacherswithapps.com - Founded by two teachers, this site is dedicated to reviewing educational apps on the premise that not all educational apps are equally valuable.
  • adesontheweb.com - This site posts reviews of apps being used by Apple Distinguished Educators. You can search for apps by name, grade level, or subject area. You can also subscribe to their app review blog via email or RSS feed. All app reviews on this site are written by professional educators.
  • a4cwsn.com - This well-respected site is a must-see for those interested in apps for special needs children.This site offers video reviews so you can see apps in action before deciding to purchase. Check out their app review channel on vimeo: http://vimeo.com/channels/a4cwsn
  • momswithapps.com - Moms with Apps is a collaborative group of family-friendly developers seeking to promote quality apps for kids and families.
Here are a few highly recommended educational apps for the iPad:
  • Brain Pop (free) - This app presents a new movie every day covering a range of topics including current events, historical figures and milestones, holidays, and much more. Quizzes test your child’s comprehension and allow them to keep track of their scores.
  • Toontastic ($1.99) - This app enables children to draw, animate, and share their own cartoons. Using the story arc of Setup, Conflict, Challenge, Conflict, and Resolution, children can create their own stories and record their own voice.
  • National Geographic World Atlas HD ($1.99) - Using this app, students can view maps from around the world and use the side bar to gather important information, such as the literacy and life expectancy rates. It puts them in charge of their own learning and offers some structure for comparing countries. National Geographic is an accurate, safe, and dependable source tool.
  • Starwalk ($4.99) - You will never view the night skies quite the same way after using this stunning planetarium app. Using the iPad’s built in GPS capabilities and gyroscope, this app enables you to point the iPad towards the sky to identify starts, planets, and other heavenly bodies. Track satellites and see what the sky looks like in either the past or the future. It is enough to turn anyone into a budding astronomer!
  • Easel SAT Prep Lite (free) or SAT Prep Pro (free) - There are many SAT prep apps in the app store, but this excellent app enables students to work through problems on the screen using their finger or a stylus. Students who get stuck on a problem can watch a step by step animation of how to solve the problem. The Pro Version has over 200 practice questions covering Math, Critical Reading, and Writing and is worth the money if your child likes the Lite version.

Susan Bearden is the Director of Information Technology at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne, one of the first schools to deploy iPads for student use. Follow her on twitter at @s_bearden or @HTEATech.
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