Versatile kids apps are often overlooked and underappreciated. Users are too quick to focus on what an app says it teaches, rather than what it can teach. Apps that offer expandable experiences are not only great for our budgets, but they’re also more likely to tap into a child’s naturally inventive, inquisitive self.
Today we are sharing a list of versatile apps designed specifically for kids that make it easy to create, develop, discover and share learning across all subject areas.
Art Apps Are for All Subjects
Well-designed art apps give teachers and kids a platform for taking notes and sketching ideas, which is as relevant to working on building numbers as it is to learn to draw a house. If you are presenting a new science concept, use an art app that allows kids to draw and create a video that models what they’ve learned. Art apps can also become a child’s drawing board for stories, especially the apps that have a mix of stickers and interactive tools to spark story ideas and conversations.
What should you look for in an art app?
A platform to use as a drawing board (that is super kid friendly):
Scribble Kid is an app that gives students a blank white screen and a few markers to get started. It allows kids to easily integrate images taken with the devices camera into their drawings.
Faces iMake is an app we recommend for its creative use of objects for innovative art. Beyond creating pictures, this app can be integrated in the classroom easily in all subject areas. Scroll through the variety of objects to use as story starters, for making comparisons and letting kids get inspired with unusual objects.
A drawing board that helps kids to communicate:
Doodlecast for Kids is a long time favorite at KinderTown. We were sold immediately after watching a few YouTube videos of kids being recorded while talking and drawing (above is one of our favorites). The app can be as simple as a blank page, but also has many story starters. The best part is that kids can draw, talk and share their work easily in the app. It’s a teacher’s best tool for getting a sense of what kids are working on and thinking about, while busy with other students.
Draw and Tell is similar to Doodlecast, but adds the recording at the end, along with a few more bells and whistles. Kids can draw and use stickers to create a scene, then press record and tell their story while interacting with the stickers. This app creates a product that is very easy for teachers to start meaningful conversations about a child’s learning with a parent.
Using Storytelling Apps for More Than Literacy
Apps are amazing tools for storytelling, but don’t just think about storytelling as a language activity. Kids need to create and explain as part of math, science, social studies, health and social emotional lessons. Use open-ended storytelling apps that allow kids to expand their understanding. Here are two apps that we see teachers and parents using to provide meaningful ways for kids to collaborate, design and share their learning.
Puppet Pals Director’s Pass is another storytelling tool that allows you to add your own photos into the story. You can use it to retell and sequence a class field trip or write and create a class debate cartoon. Share it with other classes in your school (or outside of your school) and collect the ideas and comments from peers.
Open-Ended Math Apps
There are not nearly enough open-ended math apps for early childhood classrooms. We need more experiences that give kids the tools for pursuing their own math questions, experimenting with quantities, playing with patterns and working out real life number problems. We have recently come across three apps that combine traditional classroom math tools in a uniquely digital form. Each of these apps provides plenty of flexibility and room for kids to be inventive.
Montessori Numbers is a brand new app! The app provides structured number practice with a “build” screen where kids can play with math rods, numbers and other tools for building quantities. It also has lots of fireworks and other tricks for entertaining kids. We see a lot of potential for Montessori Numbers to be used in small groups lessons.
MosaicHD is the pegboard app you need in your classroom. Use it for its intended purpose, completing pattern boards. Extend its use by having kids create and apply their knowledge of symmetry, patterns and shape. It also can be used for graphing! Share and work with kids around the world in the “public gallery.”
When looking specifically for your classroom, search for apps that can be used in all areas of your instruction and with a wide variety of children’s needs. The ten apps we listed here are excellent for whole group, small group and independent use. You can easily differentiate instruction with each tool because they present much more than just an activity for an isolated concept. Downloading a few apps that you can integrate into multiple lessons is not only effective for classroom management but enables a creative teacher to get by on a tight budget.