Free Apps: August 9, 2013

Hi Everyone!

There are many free apps out there just waiting for you to grab.  But act quickly!  Some will only be free until 10:00 p.m.  Since there are so many websites that now offer Free App Fridays, I decided not to highlight individual apps but rather my three favorite websites.

Note:  Not all reviewers are teachers, and I cannot comment on the quality of these freebies.  But, again, free apps are low risk.  If you don’t like them, you can always delete them!

Check this every Friday morning, and you will stay in the know!

Best apps for kids



smart apps for kids



Fun Educational Apps


The Little App

the little app
Age Scale: 2-5 (but it is really a tool for an adult)

Device: iPod, iPhone, and iPad

Quick Line: Little Activities Make a Big Difference

What Educators Need to Know:
For those of you that aren’t totally convinced that your toddler or early preschooler needs to be using an electronic device, here’s an app that is sure to please. The Little App is more of a tool for an adult than an app for a child. Input a child’s birth date and voila! Age-appropriate content to support the development of your little one!

What kind of content, you ask? Here’s the really great part: it is a mixture of practical, engaging activities, story starters, and kid-friendly video clips. For example, with a quick refresh, The Little App recommends two activities, two videos, and a story starter for two year old D: Blocks Galore (sorting activity), Guess My Weight (using a small scale), Bruno Mars singing “Don’t Give Up” on Sesame Street, Laurie Berkner’s video for “Rocketship Run”, and the suggestion to tell a heartwarming tale of a happy whale who dreams of going to space. Everything seems to be perfectly selected for his age, and the activities are easy to do with items found around the home.

Please pass this along to daycare providers. Each activity lists several educational outcomes which is great for writing lesson plans. And the price tag won’t break the bank… FREE!

Note: Don’t expect too much for five-year-olds. House of H is still adding content for this set.

Price: FREE

The Little App - House of H

Free Apps: July 19

I do not have any experience with any of these apps. And some are for the iPad only. However, they look promising and are low risk because they are FREE. Right now. Limited Time. Go get ’em!

Guess How Much I Love You (regularly 2.99): Features interactive episodes for little ones
Toca Band: We loved Toca Kitchen. I’m expecting this one to be just as good.
bugsy's math quest
Bugsy’s Math Quest (regularly 2.99): Math drill adventure game for multiplication and division
iluv drawing vehicles
iLuv Drawing Vehicles (regularly 1.99): Kids learn how to draw step by step
worst parents ever
Worst Parents Ever (2.99): An interactive book for the primary grade set
adding up to 10
Adding up to 10: Look like it would be good for preschool, K, or first graders

State Bingo and Road Trip U.S.


Age Scale: 7-13

Device: iPad

Quick Line: Hit the Road With This App!

What Educators Need to Know:

Planning on traveling this summer? Download State Bingo and Road Trip U.S. and have your child learn about the U.S. as you go!

The app features two games, the first of which is State Bingo. Choose a level: Easy, Medium, and Hard. Users answer questions and riddles about states. Stumped? Use the fully illustrated map to help you on the first two levels. Think you are an expert? The reference map has only state names and you have to answer questions by state shapes instead of names. Talk about a challenge! Win the games to send states to statehood.

In Road Trip, select a travel direction for Pep the car. Answer at least one question to move Pep to the next state. Choose wisely or you’ll end up with flat tires! This isn’t a problem if you stick with the Easy level, like me!

There are several things that sets this app apart. One, it is very comprehensive. The content includes state capitals, state shapes, U.S. regions, map navigation, facts, landmarks, nicknames, and more. Two, the built in reference map is stellar – very pleasing to the eye and contains just enough information to not overwhelm the user. Three, I gravitate towards multi-level games. It allows a teacher the flexibility to meet the needs of individual learners so easily! I can easily envision a classroom of mixed ability learners enjoying this app.

Price: $2.99

State Bingo and Road Trip US - Niyaa LLC

Play-Doh ABCs


Age Scale: 3-8

Device: iPod, iPhone, and iPad

Quick Line: Don’t Squish This Creation

What Educators Need to Know:
Who doesn’t love Play-Doh? Well, okay. What KID doesn’t love Play-Doh? It’s squishy, colorful, and can be used to make just about anything imaginable. My wonderfully awesome babysitter does not, in fact, love Play Doh due to its messiness, but I’m hoping this post will change her mind. Maybe she will allow it to enter her home!

When I was first approached to take a look at this app, I’ll admit that I was skeptical. Play Doh is such a great way to meet the needs of tactile learners. Wouldn’t an app take away from this strength? Not so.

Play Doh ABCs has several goals in mind: letter recognition, writing letters using proper stroke order, and letter/sound recognition. There are also three modes: Write and Craft, Create and Share, and Letter Matching. Now, there are THOUSANDS of apps that support letter and sound recognition. Play Doh does a decent job here. Students can connect letters with Play Doh art, including their own (see below). Clever! But there are FEW apps that I would recommend that enhance the writing of these letters. Many are too abstract! “Write and Create” is where Play Doh succeeds.

In fact, I saw the transition from digital learning to pencil-paper first-hand. E tried the app yesterday for about 30 minutes. First of all, I could not believe he stayed focused on something that is clearly not a strength. As usual, E likes to do things “his way”. Predictably, he started with uppercase A (lowercase is available too). When writing an A, he likes to start at the bottom, but Play Doh softly reminds users to follow the proper procedure as they trace the shape of the letter. Once finished, he was able to create a picture of an alligator by using pre-made components with custom colors. A purple alligator? No problem! The miracle occurred today when he had to write a capital A and did so with the proper stroke order! Can I attribute his success to this app directly and solely? No. But if I were a preschool or kindergarten teacher, I would say “perfect practice makes perfect”. There is no sense in practicing incorrect handwriting techniques.

If I were using this app in the classroom setting, I would certainly follow up with real Play-Doh. I would be encouraging students to mold the letters, trace their creations with their fingers, repeat my letter writing phrases, and use their pencils to write the letters. Let’s hit all modalities!

Notes: I would highly recommend using the settings to turn the sound off. It drove us nuts. Up to three players can save their work on a device. Nice!

Price: $2.99

PLAY-DOH Create ABCs - PlayDate Digital


Common Sense Media


Age Scale: Adult

Device: iPhone or iPad

Bottom Line: Digital Literacy Support

What Educators Need to Know:
Say your little learners are looking for new books to read. Say you want to incorporate some new websites into your lesson plans. Say you want to show an episode of an educational show to your high school class, but you want to be extra careful about what you select. Where should you turn? Download the Common Sense Kids Media app.

Common Sense Media is an organization that reviews movies, games, app, websites, tv, books, and music. Each review contains an age range, quality rating, and learning rating. Quality is based on a number of categories including ease of use, consumerism, and privacy and safety. It considers a child’s exposure to sex, violence, language, and drinking, drugs, and smoking. Short narratives explain a resources “learning potential” including skills and subjects. Parents will appreciate “things to discuss, explain, and enjoy” after using the reviewed resource.

How can classroom teachers use this website and app? The reviews themselves are a terrific resource for educators. Use the slide to select an age range, and the best of each category are listed. Click on each for the full reviews. In addition to the app, Common Sense offers a number of programs including classroom curriculum, parent education, and professional development via its website. Teachers can use the curriculum as a whole or consult the scope and sequence for individual components that meet their needs. The overall goal is to create responsible digital citizens. Who can argue with that?

How can parents use this website and app? Both are designed with parents as the target audience. Particularly helpful are the “Top Picks”. The number of lists is mind-boggling! Your son is a baseball fanatic. Check out the list of Best Baseball Movies! Seeking a list of nonviolent video games? It’s there! Looking for books with strong female characters? You’ve got it! I subscribe to the weekly newsletters and recently received “100+ Summer Learning Ideas”. Perfect!

Click on the link below to access the website, or visit the App Store to download this terrific FREE app!

Kids Media - Common Sense Media