14 Learning Apps for Your Tablet or Smartphone
One thing that my wife Sofia and I always notice at Learning Foundations is that in the few minutes that our kids are waiting in the reception area, they almost ALWAYS ask mom for her phone or Ipad. And there they go, playing away at Angry Birds, Tetris or some other video game. But what if you could use that time to get your child engaged in games that actually help their brain?
So we have been playing around with our own Ipad, downloading Apps and testing them to put together a list of helpful learning apps. So after about a month of “research” (it was actually quite fun!) we want to show you which ones will be most helpful for your child. Of course we also want to hear some of your suggestions as well. We know that as responsible parents, you have also done your research and have found apps that have worked for your children. So please share them with us!
Here’s our list of 16 Learning Apps (in no particular order) that can help your child improve his or her learning skills while still having fun!
NOTE – These apps are good tools to reinforce learning, but should are not a substitute for professional learning skills training. They will neither diagnose nor fix a learning problem. If your child has been struggling in school, and tutoring hasn’t helped, don’t wait for the school to diagnose a learning disability. Consult a professional to help find the underlying cause of your child’s learning difficulties. Most learning challenges can be corrected using targeted and consistent 1-on-1 cognitive training.
1) Dragon Dictation – This app is a very good “speech to text” program and works well with students who struggle with handwriting, taking notes or remembering their ideas. By clicking a button, you speak into the microphone and then turns your speech into text. Its vocabulary is quite limited at first, but it quickly learns to recognize your voice and is able to correct itself. Once you stop the recording, you can make any corrections to the text and then export it to your email, Facebook, Twitter or cut and paste it into a word document.
2) Blio Reader – Visually impaired and dyslexic children often miss out on the benefits of the written word because they are unable to read efficiently. Blio is a great audiobook app that highlights each word as it is being spoken. The reader can then follow the text word by word while he is getting the auditory reinforcement. Research shows that children with dyslexia can learn to read using an Orton-Gillingham based program. This can take up to 3 years. In the meantime, they can use this program as a tool to keep up with the rest of their class. Story books and textbooks are purchased individually.
3) Lexico Cognition – I especially liked this app because of how it works to improve spatial relations and logic and reasoning. A series of pictures with different shapes, objects or people are laid out in a grid pattern. A voice with text reads a sentences describing a picture. With your finger, you drag the sentences to the group of shapes it is describing. As you start matching sentences with pictures, you start uncovering a picture that is laying hidden in the background. I highly recommend this one for children with Autism or other cognitive difficulties.
4) iWrite Words – Toddlers that are learning their letter and number shapes as well as children with dysgraphia can benefit from this interactive app. A series of dots outline the shape of each letter and you have to connect the dots by sliding your finger from one point to the other. The dots are numbered in a sequence to reinforce consistent starting and ending points when forming letters. If you go the wrong way, or step out of the path, you simply start again. This program works with both capital and lowercase letters as well as words.
5) Find the Letters – This app helps develop fine motor and visual tracking skills for reading. A series of 3 or 4 letters are laid out in a grid pattern with a corresponding color assigned to each letter. You first tap on a color and slide your finger across the grid, finding all of the letters that correspond to that color. Once letters are colored in, you can see the picture that has been formed.
6) Sight Words by Photo Touch – Sight words are difficult to learn for many kids, especially those with dyslexia. This app provides a nice, visual way for them to memorize their sight words by using their visual memory. The voice in the program will say a word and then present “cards” with different options for how to spell that word. When you choose the correct word card, the voice will give positive reinforcement before saying the next word. When you get three consecutive correct words, the number of possible word choices increases.
7) Idea Sketch – Most of my dyslexic students have great ideas and a great imagination, but struggle getting them on paper in an organized manner. This app allows you to create bubbles with individual ideas and group them by different shapes and colors. Each idea can be linked with another by dragging your finger from one shape to the other. The entire drawboard can be later turned into an outline to turn your series of scattered ideas into an organized story, essay or presentation.
8) myHomework – This app is really designed for older kids as a way to keep track of their homework assignments, tests and projects. This interactive agenda lets you create classes and add new assignments to along with their due dates. The assignments are grouped into “Upcoming Homework”, “Complete Homework” and “Late Homework”. Whenever your child completes an assignment, she can just slide it from the Upcoming category to completed. And it will never let you forget about your Late Homework, as it will stay in that category until it is completed. If your child is younger, you could use it as a visual incentive for them to move things from upcoming to the completed category.
9) Khan Academy – This series of interactive videos is great for anyone who needs a review of Math and Science concepts. If you were not very good at math to begin with, and your child needs help, simply search for the concept that he is having trouble with. There are video tutorials for everything from addition and subtraction to algebra, statistics and calculus. Look for the Singapore Math section under Test Prep as an easier way to understand Math.
10) Times Warp – Learning your Times tables can be a daunting task, especially when your child is being timed on her tests. This little app styled as a video game is a fun way to improve your child’s speed in solving multiplication problems. A space character of your choice flies through outer space and is presented with a multiplication problem on the screen, along with blocks with 6 possible answers. By moving the tablet from side to side, the character must move towards the correct answer in order to get points. Even my students that hate math have enjoyed playing this game.
11) Elevated Math – This is a fun series of videos that your child can watch in the car on the way to school. Animated characters explain a variety of math concepts through real-life scenarios in which the concept can be used. Students that struggle with concepts like percentages, ratios, measurements, geometry, etc. can benefit from these concrete examples. You can buy each lesson individually and replay them as much as you like.
12) OhNo!Fractions – For children that struggle with the concept of fractions (we see plenty of them) this is a helpful tool for understanding relative quantity. There are two fractions opposite each other on the screen and they have to determine if one is greater or less than the other. For each answer, they have to prove each answer by filling up a series of blocks that represent each fraction.
13) Ruby Repeat – A nice and simple app for memory and sequencing, Ruby Repeat shows a large octagon with shapes around it. Shapes light up in a particular sequence and you have to repeat that sequence by touching those shapes. Each level adds an extra shape that is lit up in the sequence. For the more difficult option, you can chose a multicolored shape which adds an extra distraction.
14) Wordventure! – If you played Mad Libs as a kid and had as much fun as I did, then you will have a blast with this one. The basic concept is the same. First you ask for nouns, adjective, adverbs, verbs, etc. and then those fill in the blanks of a pre-written story. Without knowing it, your kids will learn about grammar and sentence formation. You get the added bonus of improving your child’s vocabulary (with the occasional reference to boogers, aliens and other gooey stuff).
Although these apps are a great tool to reinforce your child’s learning process, like most technology, these are still only tools. They will not fix a learning problem. If your child has been struggling in school, and tutoring hasn’t helped, don’t wait for the school to diagnose a learning disability. Most learning challenges can be corrected using targeted and consistent 1-on-1 cognitive training.
To learn more about why your smart child is struggling in school, you can attend one of our FREE Parent Information Seminars. These are held every Tuesday Night at 7:30 PM at Learning Foundations. Seating is limited, so please call (210) 495-2626 to RSVP.