10 Best Summertime Apps!


I am not just speaking here as a teacher in this post, but also as a parent. Summer is a time for running around the backyard in sprinklers and long lazy days at the beach. However, there are aggravating times when the kids say, “I’m bored” or “I have nothing to do.”

Then there are the long road trips. We have a 12 hour drive to Mt. Shasta ahead of us. I know my kids are great with entertaining themselves in the car (and no… we don’t have a DVD player in our van). But I am also not unprepared. I know the inevitable moments will arise when they will begin arguing about whose arm crossed the invisible line and who looked at who in a funny way. I know these are the moments when I need to bust out the good ol’ iPad and iPod.

Please note, I am not a huge advocate of constantly reaching for a screen to solve the summer boredom problems. In fact, I happen to believe kids are never bored, that more often than not, they have run out of creative play options and need guidance or redirection into a new game. Also, I believe in using iPods and iPads as a learning tool rather than a gaming device. I do limit my own kids’ time with apps such as Angry Birds and encourage, more educationally based games.With that said, here are some great apps that will not only help ease those irritable summer boredom moments but also provide a fun learning experience for your child:
1. Splash Math
This is a math skills based app, but what I really like about this app is in the settings you can have the app email you a progress report letting you know what math skills your child has practiced and how well they progressed. This is for the iPhone, iPod, and iPad. This app is pretty pricey for the iPad but today I noticed the iPhone apps were free! My second graders loved this app as they were able to review skills they learned in class and there is a gaming function to the app that allows you to earn items for your aquarium. There is an app for each grade level from 1st through 5th. Each app has activities for each of the math strands. Link to Splash Math in the AppStore: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth

2. K12 Money and Counting Coins:
Most children need to review money concepts and both of these apps are FREE! The great thing about these apps are they have a variety of review options. Your child can choose: counting money (you count the coins and tell the amount), show me the money (they give you an amount and you place the coins needed), making change (you show how much change is needed), matching amounts (showing a different combination of coins showing the same amount), and show values (you place money on the table and it shows you how much there is). This app also allows you to personalize by selecting easy, medium, and hard levels. Both are iPod/iPhone apps.

3. Mad Libs:
There is no better to way to practice parts of speech than by creating hilariously silly stories with Mad Libs. The Mad Lib app is free and with the free version you get one free book called “Vacation Fun Mad Libs.” You can also purchase more Mad Libs books and each book is $3.99 (but that is the price of a real Mad Lib book so this just may be worth it for those long drives). This is fun for the ENTIRE family. iPhone/iPod only.


4. Hangman:
This is a fun interactive game that my daughters and I love to play while waiting in doctor’s office waiting rooms or on long drives. There are many hangman apps out there, but this particular one is free. It does have ads, but what I love about it is that it allows you to create your own hangman games. My daughter constantly tries to stump me, but I am unstoppable! 🙂 You can use this app to help your child (in a fun way) to review words you know they have a difficult time spelling. I plan on using this one on our road trip with a destination theme to our words! iPhone/iPod only.

5. Bee Spelled:
This app has a free and a paid version. I allowed my second graders to use this app for a short time and they loved the free version. However, they did need a little coaching about how to best play this game. With a few word making strategies such as applying word family concepts, they were able to master this game and defeat the evil cat! Yes, this is a spelling/word work app with a gaming (and timed) element that quickly becomes an app favorite with kids. If you are super strict about non-violence, you may not like this app. There is an element of good versus evil battling. The bigger the word you create, the more “bee power” you have. Free or $1.99 for full version. Link to lite version. Link to paid version. iPhone/iPod version only.

6. Word Warrior:
I was able to download this app a long time ago for free and my second graders quickly fell in love with this app. Again, this app has an element of good versus evil battling (so check out the free version if you are worried). This is another word working app that has a highly engaging gaming element that allows you to conquer levels and earn powers as you head along your path to the castle. Much like the Bee Spelled app, help your child be more successful by showing them word family concepts. This app is only $0.99 (link)! Lite version link here.

7. BrainPop:
BrainPop is an app that stemmed from their educational website (account required for the website). This app has a featured movie of the day. Kids love the adorable robot Moby who learns about the world with his human sidekick Tim. Each movie is an educational journey about a variety of topics followed by a quiz to ensure comprehension. Along with the daily featured movies, there are a variety of other free movies to watch as well. This is a free app! There is a Spanish version, too! Link to English version. For iPhone/iPod/iPad.

8. Draw People:
This app teaches you step by step how to draw people. You get a variety of lessons from just one person, to drawing a group of people, to drawing people performing a variety of actions like jump rope. This app is designed for children and is a fantastic way to practice fine motor skills. This app will download on your iPod or iPhone but I believe works best on an iPad. This app is $1.99. iPhone/iPod version and iPad version (links).


9. Lifecards:
If you are on a road trip this is a great app to keep Grandma and Grandpa updated on your road trip adventures! In a nutshell, this app is a postcard creator that allows you to take your own picture, write a letter, and email it to anyone! This app costs $1.99. For the iPhone/iPod/iPad.

10. eBooks from Oceanhouse Media: I happen to love the Oceanhouse Media ebooks. Oceanhouse Media was able to get the license for children’s book favorites such as Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, Tacky the Penguin, and Little Critter. These books are interactive and allow the book to be read three different ways: read it myself, read to me, or auto play.  These apps can be pricey (ranging from $0.99-$11.99) but they are a great option when you are traveling as it will save a lot of space when packing (keeping you free from packing a bag of books)! Here are just a few of the Oceanhouse Media links:

Cat in the HatBerenstain Bears Big Bedtime Book, All By Myself- Little Critter, Tacky the Penguin

I hope everyone enjoys their summer and don’t forget… the most important thing about summer is getting outside and enjoying the sun with the family!

Jo-Ann Fox



  1. Cindy Lund says

    My kids aren’t small anymore, but I like a lot of these, and will use them in class next year! Thanks for the info. I am downloading a few on my iphone:)

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