Last week, my daughter Sage and I had a great time talking with the crew from News12 (NYC, Long Island, Westchester) about our favorite fun, educational apps for grade schoolers that help your kids make the most out of screen time.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to talk about creating a tech-positive environment at home, and finding apps that “don’t even make kids feel like they’re learning,” as every developer ever likes to tell us! Watch the segment for a quick overview of the app (and a look at my cute daughter), or get more info about my faves right here.
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These are 5 general educational apps I really like for elementary students, sorted by subject.
If you’re looking for apps to help enhance your kids’ learning in school, or to get them passionate about a subject they might be reluctant to take on, check out these favorites for preschool to elementary aged kids.
For getting kids excited about science and STEM: TinyBop STEM app bundle
For a long time, we’ve loved the apps from TinyBop, which allow kids to explore various science concepts without rules, points, winning or losing — just the kind of unguided exploration through gorgeous apps that allow kids to discover on their own and become truly engaged.
We included TinyBop Weather among our list of the best science apps for kids of all ages, and now you can get even more of the educational fun through their TinyBop STEM bundle. It includes 4 apps about skyscrapers, physics, states of matter, and engineering (the award-winning Everything Machine) at great savings.
($7.99 for 4 apps, iOS)
Related: 15 of the best science apps for preschoolers through teens: Back-to-School tech guide
For getting kids excited to learn another language: DuoLingo
There’s a reason that DuoLingo remains among the top10 educational apps in the entire App Store, with over 300 million learners. The simple nav and interactivity (complete with helpful pronunciations) will throw kids right into to immersive learning one (or more) of 30+ languages, from French and Spanish to Latin, Korean, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Hindi, Czech, Navajo, Swahili…even Klingon and High Valyrian.
Achievements, “rewards,” and mini games help keep kids motivated, while a parents’ dashboard keeps you up to date on progress.
(Free, iOS and Android; $6.67-9.99/mo for the ad-free DuoLingo Plus with a 7-day free trial.)
Related: 9 of the best educational YouTube channels for teens and tweens to help keep brains sharp
For getting kids excited about math: DragonBox
While there. are plenty of great math apps for kids of all ages, if you’re looking for one that really makes algebraic concepts feel like play, DragonBox is it. DragonBox Algebra 5+ (the one I demonstrated on the segment) is rated for kids 4-9, and reminds me of Cut the Rope — solve some logic problems via card matching and sequencing, and as the levels get more advanced, the quirky graphical cards turn into equations.
Your kids will be solving more complex problems including fractions and polynomials and mastering the basic concepts of algebra while feeling like they’re just playing a cool game.
($5 on sale for the DragonBox Numbers and DragonBox Algebra 5+ starter pack, regularly $12.98; $20 for the complete bundle of 5 apps rated 4-teen or a limited time, regularly $33.95. All for iOS)
Related: 18 of the best math apps for kids, from preschool to high school
For getting kids excited about reading: Epic! Reading Library
We’ve written before about Epic!, the smart subscription service that gives kids 12 and under access to a digital library with more than 35,000 well-curated children’s books. (Disclosure: They were a previous sponsor, but we continue to recommend it and our own kids are subscribers.)
The library includes everything from early reader books like Fancy Nancy and Flat Stanley; to chapter book favorites like Warriors,The Chronicles of Narnia, Rita Wilson Garcia’s Gone Crazy in Alabama series (which Sage highly recommends!), and A Series of Unfortunate Events; to non-fiction like Nat Geo titles and Andrea Beaty’s Ada Twist and Rosie Revere bio series. You’ll also get learning videos, audio books, quizzes and parental tools to help you track progress. ($7.99/mo for unlimited access, iOS, Android, Windows, Desktop — but free for elementary school teachers and librarians!)
Related: 17 of the very best reading apps for kids, from ABCs to SATs
For getting younger kids excited about general learning: Khan Academy Kids
While this fifth fun, educational app for elementary students didn’t make the TV cut. I have to mention this award-winner in this list. It’s a phenomenal, free resource for helping our youngest kids. ages 2-6, to learn more about, well, basically everything.
From the makers of the wildly popular Khan Academy, the relatively new Khan Academy Kids gives them access to books, videos, and interactive games with subjects ranging from reading and literacy, to counting and basic math, to executive function skills like focus, memory, logic, feelings, and problem solving. I really like the nice selection of videos from National Geographic Young Explorer about science, nature and animals. And thanks to a new partnership with relationship with popular kids’ app developer Duck Duck Moose kids will love the playful characters and graphics, with such easy nav, they can get around without frustration.
Best of all, it’s totally free with no ads or subscriptions, and always will be.
(Free, all platforms)