7 Must-Have Apps for Summer Learning

Takepart.com

At this point in the summer, backpacks have been shoved into the backs of closets, three-ring binders have been disassembled, and homework folders have conveniently “disappeared.”

And while kids may have fantasies of spending the entire summer perfecting the cannon ball or getting to the final level of the video game du jour, parents are making plans for their kids to enjoy a respite from the classroom without having their brains turn to mush.

Aside from summer day camps and workshops, there’s a lot that students and parents can do on their own to strengthen academic skills while still having plenty of time to enjoy the long days and warm weather.

Here’s a list of a seven educational apps (and one site) that will keep kids engaged and learning all summer long.

Reading

Just a half hour of reading a day can help students of all ages close learning gaps and perform at higher levels during the upcoming school year.


Bookster is a free iPhone, Android and tablet app that offers a kid-friendly, easy to use interface that gets young readers learning. It is a read-along storytelling app that reads to kids and teaches vocabulary along the way. It also lets kids record the story in their own voices. iStorybook, ideal for kids two to eight is very similar with the added bonus of making titles available in Spanish.

Tales2Go is an audiobook app that provides access to more than 2,000 titles and is great for students from K-12. The app is available for a subscription fee of $9.99/month and can be accessed on up to five devices at a time. It can be used individually or in groups. Users can read along with physical books in hand—a great tool for tactile learners, bringing oral and decoding skills together—or just listen to the story of choice.

Math

The child who loves math is rare, but rarer still is the child who doesn’t love games. So here are a few apps that combine the two.

Cash Register is a simple money counting iPad app ideal for kids ages five and up. While kids play store, they learn to add and subtract nickels, quarters, and dollars while ringing up imaginary goods. They can even print virtual receipts and cash out. The app also includes realistic cash register sound effects which will likely delight your children, but may make you want to close up shop.


Numbler is like Scrabble but with, you guessed it, numbers! Instead of creating words, players build math equations in a familiar crossword style board complete with double and triple score points. This app is suitable for all ages and players can test themselves against the computer or challenge other online players.

Hopscoth HD may not be a math app per se but it does teach kids how to “think like programmers.”  By dragging and dropping commands and instructions into a script kids learn the logic of computer programming.

They choose different characters—colorful monsters or animals—and customize commands to make the characters move where they want or do what they want.

Users give the app glowing reviews saying, “Kids don't have to worry about missing intricate details like a closing parenthesis just yet, but they can see how each command is carried out and the importance of each step and its placement.”

Languages

If your child is taking a foreign language, summer vacation can virtually extinguish what they’ve learned. The following apps will keep kids practicing and building their vocabulary.


Insta Spanish was created for young children learning Spanish. The app contains six lessons for kids wherein they learn about colors, animals, family words, weather, telling time, and body parts. 

They also have access to over 300 individual pages of audio-visual activities in Spanish and English. Lessons include vocabulary exercises and songs. There’s also an interactive podcast that can be used in addition to the app. Each episode contains listening comprehension exercises and grammar lessons for students of all levels.

Duolingo is ideal for older students learning Spanish, French, German, Italian or Portuguese. The app uses games and social competition to move learners through lessons. Students take rapid-fire quizzes that test speaking, listening and writing skills. A high score earns you extra hearts used to unlock further lessons.

The Wall Street Journal said it is "Far and away the best free language-learning app." 

YouTube

Yes, it’s the home of a seemingly endless supply of adorable (yet counter-intuitive) water-loving cat videos and memes starring Ryan Gosling refusing to eat his cereal, but YouTube is also rife with engaging education channels that will help prevent summer learning loss.

Teachers, professional experts and even self-taught hobbyists have taken to the world’s most popular video-sharing site to impart their expertise with the world.

Crash Course has become a YouTube sensation. It’s hosted by Hank Green and his brother, New York Times bestselling author, John Green. Together they’ve created a series of 10-minute fast-paced lessons investigating the Agricultural Revolution, the fall of Rome, and the Periodic Table.

In one video John reminds viewers that they will be tested on these topics “in schools and bars and dorm rooms, on first dates, and job interviews.”

You may not have heard of Steve Spangler’s The Spangler Effect, but chances are you’ve seen his video teaching viewers how to turn a bottle of Diet Coke and a roll of Mentos into an exploding geyser.

Spangler’s channel is all about making science fun, “turning ordinary science experiments into unforgettable learning experiences.” Kids learn how to conduct their own experiments at home often with household items.


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