TeachThought and Teachers With Apps are happy to release our list of 12 best children’s educational apps released in 2012!
Every app featured in this review has been released in 2012, updates excluded. We wish this list had 12 categories so we could cover all of the wonderful new educational additions to the app store. Since that is not feasible we are limiting this list to learning games only. We will post a list of the 12 Best Book Apps of 2012 soon, as well as a list of the top 12 Educational App Developers. Stay-tuned!
The 12 Best Children’s Educational iPad Apps Released In 2012
1. State Bingo and Road Trip US, just hit the app store last week! It is totally educational, exceptionally engaging and aesthetically pleasing. It also completely encompasses Common Core Standards and differentiated modes of play. This app has so much to offer, learning-wise, and is so much FUN! The zoom in- zoom out map is an exciting way to learn all types of map skills and the act of immediately applying that knowledge to a given question brings this app into the category of deeper learning.
2. Spinlight Studio released their newest app, Geography Drive USA, and we love it!! No more boring maps and memorizing facts. Students will be delighted to learn about geography in a whole new, fun, exciting way. The visitor’s center has each of the individual states and facts galore. Each state has three different questions to answer. To gain more fuel and money, visit the all-state pass for more questions that are read to the player. There is more than one chance to try a state, with a wonderful variety of harder and easier questions. Questions cover current as well as historical events.
3. Ansel & Clair: Paul Revere’s Ride, by Cognitive Kid, was recently released too and we had the pleasure of beta testing this incredibly elaborate app over several months. Cognitive Kid is one of those companies that will go down in history as being one of the first to develop outstanding learning content, where discovery is the model & play is the focus, where students love it as much as the teachers and every school considers it a must have! Let us share some feedback from the students during round one. When kids were asked to respond why they thought it was a good way to learn, the responses were plain and simple. “Because it teaches important history stuff in a fun to play way.” Or, the let me get right to the point comment, “Made boring history fun.” Kids approached this app eagerly and surprised us by the amount of time spent exploring and discovering each individual scene with complete focus.
4. Eye Paint Animals, by Curious Hat, is one of the most innovative and invigorating apps we’ve seen to date. TWA had the pleasure of speaking with Luca Prasso, one of the co-founders of Curious Hat, and got a better understanding of where this state of the art company has been and where they hope to go. They strive to design tools for children that encourage discovery play and foster creativity, they succeed spectacularly. Curious Hat has taken the iOS user experience to a whole n’other level. Luca states, “Our apps are not games, they are discovery tools aimed at energizing kids to play, create, invent, explore and learn in enjoyable ways without the limitations of set parameters.”
5. Native Numbers, by Native Brain, is a wonderful addition to the already saturated math app market! This game is on the money when it comes to providing a deeper understanding of number concepts and imperative math vocabulary, which is needed to build a strong foundation for all mathematics to follow. As Native Brain mentions on their website, kids are capable of so much more if we give them the chance. We need to embrace this philosophy and raise the bar. Starting early is by far the best way to achieve this. Research has shown over and over that children that have a solid and deep exposure to basic number concepts have the ability to learn and understand math skills later.
6. Numerosity: Play with Math!,by ThoughtBox, is based on a cutting edge approach to learning math and TWA found while field-testing, the kids kept wanting to come back for more and more play time. We love their statement, “Let’s show our children that Math and Science can be loved.” Numerosity may not have coined the term GamefulLearning, but they refer to it often and explain it as a way to engage and empower learners by placing them in the driver seat. TWA couldn’t agree more! The games are a brilliant way for students to learn and Numerosity has done a smashing job of coming up with an app that has the ability to put the child back in the drivers seat.
7. Social Quest,bySmarty Ears, is a keeper! Speech therapists and teachers will have no problem engaging students with this superb app. Students will love their picture being in the House of Heroes. Various items will be earned as the student successfully answers either receptive or expressive questions. This app is very clever in creating a game around a castle. Pick a room in a house by pulling the students picture or avatar to the room, then student will transport to that specific room. The bathroom, for example, covers sharing items in the bathroom, how to explain to parents you want a haircut and what not to touch. Actual photographs make the experience more real and reinforce concepts. Other locations are available such as the movies, a restaurant, in the neighborhood, at the doctor’s office, in the supermarket and at the mall… and up to 4 students can play in different locations at one time. Different situations create great, true to life learning opportunities for all students.
8. iTooch Junior High School, by edupad Inc., is not only a state of the art and completely comprehensive educational app, it is exciting, effective and enormously fun! iTooch Junior High School has more than 10,000 exercises in ELA (reading, writing vocabulary, grammar) and Math (properties and operations, graphs, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability, and data analysis) and Health – Grade Six. iTooch comes equipped with an easily accessible built in blackboard for a workspace and students are provided with clear, concise lessons at any point, by just tapping on the iTooch mascot. The app is free to download and titles can be tried out before buying any in-app purchases, which are available for each topic.
9. Tense Builder, by Mobile Education Storeand renowned developer, Kyle Tomson, released this long awaited app and it does not disappoint in any way shape or form! Teaching the tenses is one of the hardest concepts to explain, as it is a very abstract concept. Then there are the English words that do not follow the rule, otherwise known as irregular verbs. It isn’t difficult to comprehend this concept with words like: walk, walking, walked. Now try come, coming, comed… opps, doesn’t quite work. Along comes the terrific Tense Builder and what used to be a tedious task for the teacher is now an app away!
10. Reading Raven, by Early Ascent – This developer has reason to be proud of their first release. Reading Raven has what it takes to get kids on the road to reading and the developers have done it brilliantly by following a proven reading program. Reading Raven is phonics-based, and unlike other learn-to-read apps, even phonics apps, it takes children all the way from learning foundational pre-reading and reading skills to reading sentences and very short stories. We’ve heard this story many a time, Scott White wanted to teach his 5-year-old son to read and wasn’t too impressed with much of what was available for mobile devices. Once again, a new app was born due to a parent’s curiosity and concern about their child’s early learning experiences. The developer suggests this app for ages 3-7 and that appears to be right on.
11. Futaba Classroom Games for Kids, byINKids, introduced a powerful concept for the iPad, engaging multiple players in fast paced games for the classroom or home. These games, which vary in content, can be set to a specific skill or set to randomly display a mix. All by a simple visit to the settings menu. Presently they have a pre-k section with animals, shapes, transportation, and “things.” There is a K-3rd grade math section, geography, and Dolch sight words. Also, they offer First Spanish Words and Japanese for beginners to learn the language. You can easily add your own content and create your own game based on any theme you choose. This is an amazing option for teachers to implement and customize to whatever they are studying. INKids is now asking for teacher and parent input and plans to expand the game selection. There are plans of adding different learning sets, as well. David Wingler, a teacher at Osaka Kunei Girls’ Junior and Senior High in Japan, is responsible for the original idea.
12. Letter School, by Boreaal, got lots of accolades from just about everyone (including us!) for being a spectacular app for implementing and practicing fine motor skills, and for beginning the process of building a strong foundation for reading and math readiness skills. TWA wants to give this app a huge shout-out! Their slogan, Letter School Makes Handwriting Cool, is on their opening page… and, oh yes, this app makes everything cool! The surprise factor and variety that this app has to offer for each and every upper and lower case, as well as numbers, keeps children engaged and active participants for long periods of time. When we field-tested this app, we had to struggle to get our iPads back from the students. They kept insisting, “Just one more, PLEASE!”