As a follow up to our first blog post, we thought that it would be sensible to share some great apps that we use with our first grade students. Finding high quality apps that are age appropriate, exciting, challenging, customizable and flexible is not easy. The apps below have been reviewed by teachers and tested with our students in morning centers and projects.

Puppet Pals HD Director’s Pass

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Topic: Projects

Puppet Pals HD may be the finest app available for lower school projects. Why? Students can draw pictures or build objects, photograph them, save to the camera roll and animate on the iPad as well as narrate. It’s the perfect screencasting app for elementary project-based learning.

Pros:

– Very easy to use & simple to teach

– Anything students draw or build can be photographed and animated

– Exporting to camera roll is easy

Cons:

– None

Cost:

$4.99 (full price)

$2.49 (20+ copies in VPP Store)

My Talking Pet

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Topic: Projects

Great for biography projects. Photos and drawings can be imported. Students can record and adjust the pitch of the voice. Eyes and mouths are animated.

Pros:

– Incredibly simple to use

– Students find it engaging and hysterical

– Exporting to camera roll is easy

Cons:

– no VPP discount, but very low price

Cost:

$1.99 (full price – no VPP discount available)

Letter School

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Because home and preschool methods of teaching handwriting may differ from what schools use, sometimes teachers must re-train students to write letters. Letter School is a delightful way to practice. It’s beautifully designed, corrective and self-paced. When letters are written correctly, students are rewarded with a short animation reinforcing the writing steps.

Topic: Writing

Pros:

– Students must write the letters correctly to progress

– Teachers may choose D’Nealian, HWT or Zaner-Bloser Style

– App has an easy Reset

Cons:

– Only 3 available logins

Cost:

$4.99 (full price)

$2.49 (20+ copies in VPP Store)

Writing Wizard

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Although this app was not created by the same company as Letter School, it seems related. While Letter School focuses on individual characters, students can write full words in Writing Wizard. As a reward, students are given an animated word to play with once it has been written.

Topic: Writing

Pros:

– Corrective feedback given

– Teachers may choose D’Nealian, HWT or Zaner-Bloser Style

– App has an easy Reset

– Custom word lists may be added

– Multiple users may be added

Cons:

– Entering words is time consuming. Word lists can’t be copied or Airdropped between iPads

Cost:

$4.99 (full price)

$2.49 (20+ copies in VPP Store)

The Counting Kingdom

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This is how addition and subtraction apps should be done. The graphics are beautiful and the gameplay is novel. A wizard must use math spells to defend castles from monsters. From the developer website: “Generative level design means there are multiple ways to solve a problem; kids are are encouraged to engage with the map instead of looking for a single solution.”

In addition, a Mac and Windows version is available now directly from the developer. As of 8/31/15, the application costs $5.99 per user.

Topic: Addition and Subtraction

Pros:

– Multiple strategies are needed to find solutions to addition and subtraction problems

– Above average graphics

– Age appropriate action

– Fun level-ups and new kingdoms to unlock

Cons:

– Only one user login. App must be reset for new students. *In response to this post, the developer explained that a new version for iOS is coming in the next year with this feature.

Cost:

$2.99 (full price)

$1.49 (20+ copies in VPP Store)

Math Bingo

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Topic: Math

Simple and fun. Choose addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. Students solve problems and earn a space on the bingo board. Win bingo, get bingo bugs and get to choose bonus games.

Pros:

– Great price.

– Fun built-in incentives

– Addition, subtraction, multiplication or division may be chosen

– Lots of logins

Cons:

– No variation in equations

– BINGO Bug Bungee is a completely non-academic bonus game. Students can easily get off track from math practice when they aren’t monitored.

Cost:

$1.99 (full price)

$.99 (20+ copies in VPP Store)

Marble Math Jr.

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Topic: Math

Marble Math Jr., and it’s older cousin Marble Math, are excellent apps from Artgig. Children must navigate a marble maze and collect numbers while avoiding obstacles and collecting power-ups. Gameplay is highly engaging with interesting. Although there is no discount for volume purchase, the $2.99 price tag isn’t hefty.

Pros:

– Varied types of math problems and equations

– Interesting power-ups

– Each board / level offers something new

– Customizable skills & levels

– Players have fun avatars

Cons:

– No VPP discount

Cost:

$2.99 (full price – no VPP discount available, but very low price)

Number Run

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Topic: Math

Number Run is a side-scrolling, action-packed math game. It’s great for practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Facts can be chosen by the administrator, but the player needs to recall them quickly to enjoy the game. For that reason, Number Run may be better after students have built fact skills.

Pros:

– Great alternative to flash cards

– Super graphics

– Fast paced

– Interesting variation in gameplay

– Selectable skills

– 4 separate player logins

Cons:

– Very mild violence (monsters get zapped off of platforms)

– Not for students that need time for computation

Cost:

$1.99 (full price)

$.99 (20+ copies in VPP Store)

Quiz Dungeon (Math Edition)

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Topic: Math

Students love Quiz Dungeon. It looks like a classic 80s Nintendo game. When a player encounters knights, monsters or treasure chests in the dungeon, they must answer addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problems to proceed. Although the game is repetitive, young students don’t mind.

Pros:

– Great alternative to flash cards

– Easy controls

– Plenty of logins

Cons:

– No variation in equations

– Limited variation in gameplay

– Although number range can be selected, it would be ideal to be able to choose addition, subtraction, multiplication or division

Cost:

$2.99 (full price)

$1.49 (20+ copies in VPP Store)

Fizzy’s Lunch Lab: Hectic Harvest

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Topic: Strategic Thinking

Hectic Harvest is a great RTS (real time strategy) for young students. Because this game is fairly challenging, we usually play this towards the end of first grade. Students have to maintain a farm by planting seeds, watering them and caring for the soil. As they progress, students can purchase upgrades essential for winning higher levels.

Pros:

– Very engaging

– Age-appropriate RTS gameplay (no fighting or zombies)

– Requires and builds strategic thinking

Cons:

– May not have a direct tie-in with academic content

– Only one login, so the game must be reset for other players

Cost:

$1.99 (full price)

$ .99 (20+ copies in VPP Store)

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