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Whilst some of us are understandably sceptical about the prevalence of technology, particularly when it comes to occupying children – whatever happened to climbing a tree or playing a board game? –there’s no doubt that there are some real educational benefits to utilising digital resources.
Taking advantage of technology doesn’t have to be detrimental to creative development – one does not preclude the other, after all. There’s no reason that a child can’t spend time on their iPad as well as getting to know the great outdoors; or make friends online as well as socialising in the ‘real’ world. Furthermore, as educators and parents we must be aware of the fact that technology is able to stimulate the mind in a really useful way, turning something that children may not find interesting (the periodic table, for instance) into a vibrant, interactive, enjoyable prospect.
Read on to learn more about five of our favourite educational apps for primary school age children, all of which are geared towards learning though creativity and play:
The Journeys of Invention app, designed by TouchPress in association with the Science Museum, depicts ground-breaking moments in science in an exciting, inventive way. Focusing on key inventions from history – from their evolution to their impact on the world – the app allows the user to interact with and explore each invention. Users can ‘examine a flea with Robert Hooke’s 17th-century microscope, fly around the Large Hadron Collider, and see what happens when [they] put soap in a microwave’ as well as climbing inside the Apollo 10 Command Module and sending coded messages with an Enigma machine – without ever leaving their sofa! With a slick design and stunning imagery, this app is sure to get any child excited about science.
In a market full of educational apps that focus on reading and maths, Star Walk offers an exciting introduction to a new world: the night sky. It also encourages children to get off the sofa and out into the fresh air. To activate the app’s unique features, all you need do is walk along during the evening and hold your device up to the sky. Stars and constellations will appear before your eyes. You can also access a wealth of information on over 200,000 natural objects. A must-have for any wannabe stargazers – and a valuable guide to the history of our universe.
DoodleMaths comes highly recommended, not least because it was designed by a teacher! Composed to be used in short bursts, the app first reviews your child’s current level before formulating an appropriate strategy, encouraging them to work through various maths problems in ways that complement their strengths and weaknesses. A perfect diversion for train journeys or other short trips.
Loved by tutors and parents alike, Mathletics is an award-winning digital maths resource aimed at students between five and eighteen. Aiming to improve problem-solving, reasoning and mathematical capabilities, the app offers a variety of fun activities for learners to work through at their own pace. From ‘Live Mathletics’ – a game that connects players across the globe – to ‘Times Table Toons’ (a musical animation that helps children learn their times tables), the app is cleverly designed to make the process of understanding and remembering fun, whilst encouraging children to challenge themselves to earn different awards (bronze, silver and gold certificates).
The subscription may seem a little hefty – £39 per year – but the wealth of resources on offer makes this a worthwhile investment. Parents are also able to monitor progress via weekly update emails that are delivered through the Parent Centre.
Price: Annual subscription
A study app designed for Nintendo 3DS and 2DS, this resource provides an engaging and interactive method by which children can learn to read. Utilising much-loved characters Biff, Chip and Kipper from the Oxford Reading Tree series Floppy’s Phonics, and offering various levels – from beginner to more advanced – the sounds of the English language are introduced at an accessible pace via the British school-approved synthetic phonics method. Three volumes are available, which Nintendo says cover the same amount of material present in thirty individual textbooks – making these games not only a good investment, but also a more digestible resource for children who are learning to read.
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