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Children / Consumer / School

Back-to-school educational apps help with organization, learning across all ages

The iPad has been around for only two years, but the tablet computer and its many competitors are already starting to change the way both parents and teachers approach education.

Though experts remain divided on the benefits of exposing children — particularly very young ones — to tablets, smartphones and even computers, applications that aim to teach children have proliferated.

The Apple App Store, for example, has more than 65,000 active education apps available to students, teachers, and parents getting ready for back to school. App metric website 148apps.bizsays educational apps trail only games in total numbers.

“Teachers are open, receptive and excited,” said New York state middle school teacher Jayne Clare, co-owner of “We sorely need a revolution in the education system, and the iPad will really help with that.”

Clare added educational apps are beneficial to students of all ages when used right. The iPad is flexible and helps from college organization to special education differentiation.

The Denver Post examined a variety of educational apps, along with expert reviews. Here we highlight the way educators and parents are using apps, along with examples of some helpful apps for each age group.

EARLY SCHOOLING (preschool though elementary)

With this group, parents use apps with their children to interact instead of the child owning their own device, most of the time.

“The benefit is learning,” said early childhood app developer Nancee Busse. “There is tremendous value to parent involvement when they are engaged with their child.”

Busse, of Grand Junction, works with developer Good Neighborhood Press. She said apps for this age group focus on teaching and reinforcing basic core curriculum skills.

Two apps we found to be helpful for this age group are LetterSchool ($2.99) by Boreaal and iTooch Elementary (free) by eduPad Inc.

LetterSchool helps younger kids learn about letters and numbers through a game interface that requires tracing and counting. iTooch Elementary provides lessons in math, English, and science through 18,000 exercises.


Middle school kids are more likely to use the tablets without complete parental guidance. They also use the device to interact with each other, so many apps help with the social part of school, app developers Annie and David Fox said.

“We wanted to bring them something helpful on the same device they bash each other on,” Fox said. “It’s an attractive medium and kids need a more creative way to learn.”

Annie Fox who also does a “Dear Abby” style column for middle- schoolers, and developed the Middle School Confidential apps, said tablets are valuable and engage kids far more than a lecture does.

Two apps that will help middle schoolers this season include: Stack the Countries ($1.99) by Dan Russell-Pinson and Fractions. Smart Pirate ($0.99) by Virtualnye Prostranstva LLC.

Stack the Countries is a Tetris-geography hybrid that makes kids answer the country names in order to get the shape of that country as a game piece. Fractions. Smart Pirate helps students learn fractions by making them answer fraction questions with pirates in order to advance.


The iPad can become a personal assistant in the final years of school. Organization, connectivity and research are big benefits. Keith Entzeroth, co-founder of the myHomework app, said the iPad brings a nice, clean interface to organization.

“Students want to use them to become better students,” Entzeroth said. “When we first got started, phones were banned. That tide has completely changed.”

Entzeroth said the median age for users of his app is 18, and apps in the planning category really help with organization and portability when you have multiple classes.

Two apps useful for high school and college students include WolframAlpha ($1.99) by Wolfram Alpha LLC, a homework helper that has quick access to information ranging from time zones to engineering formulas.

Also, Brightstorm ACT Prep (free) by Brightstorm, is a free test prep app that has over 6.5 hours of instruction for those getting ready for the college entrance exam.

Kevin C Keller

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  1. great article. need to check out some of these apps.

  2. Great list but you need to expand on it even more. I’d love 10 in each category!

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