14 Apps That Will Help Your Kids Learn This Summer (and Give You a Much-Needed Break)
As a mom, I worry about Summer brain drain — the slow erosion of the knowledge your child gained during the previous school year during the course of three months spent focusing on cannonballs, lightning bugs, and ice cream trucks. While the backslide that happens over the Summer isn't the biggest deal, it doesn't mean you shouldn't encourage your kids to keep their school skills sharp, preferably in ways that don't involve you begging them to complete math worksheets or assigned Summer reading. Instead, download the following 14 educational apps to their tablets or phones and let the learning begin. From games that help them practice basic math to inventive storytelling sites, these apps are fun and educational — the perfect Summer combo.
Operation Math ($3) turns math drills into a global learning adventure that takes players from the streets of Paris to the pyramids of Egypt. More than 100 timed missions help kids learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Recommended for kids ages 7 and up.
Stack the States
Recommended for kids ages 8 and up, Stack the States ($3) helps kids learn about the 50 states. As players learn state capitals, shapes, geographic locations, flags, and more, they can touch, move, and drop animated states anywhere on the screen, building a stack of states to win each level. Earn more states to unlock four free bonus games.
Toca Lab: Elements
Future scientists will love Toca Lab: Elements ($4), recommended for kids ages 6 and up. Players can discover all 118 of the elements from the periodic table, taking them for spins in a centrifuge, warming them up in a Bunsen burner, and making them magnetic with an oscilloscope. The app encourages kids to put on their lab coats and explore.
TinyTap, Create & Play Educational Games
TinyTap, Create & Play Educational Games (free to download, $8 monthly subscription for all access) offers the world's largest collection of educational games, all created by teachers. For kids ages 2-8, the app has more than 100,000 games, covering the subjects of English, math, art, science, music, and more, and lets you track your child's progress throughout each subject.
DragonBox Big Numbers
DragonBox Big Numbers ($8) is designed to increase your child's understanding of mathematics while motivating them to keep learning through play and exploration. Recommended for kids ages 6 to 9, the app lets players build a world for animated creatures the Nooms as they learn how big numbers work, performing long addition and subtraction.
Threes! ($6) is a fun math-based puzzle game that lets kids practice their addition. The easy-to-learn, tough-to-master game, recommended for kids ages 8 and up, encourages math skills and strategic planning by having players merge numbers to create bigger numbers and repeat to avoid gridlock.
Reading Raven ($4) helps children learn to read with their own personal reading adventure guide. Recommended for kids ages 3 to 7, the app guides kids on fun-filled adventures where they will encounter fly-eating frogs, caterpillars that turn into butterflies, circus acrobats, underwater sea creatures, rhyming rockets, and more, all while gaining basic reading skills.
Geography Drive USA
Geography Drive USA ($3) is a map-traveling trivia game perfect for family road trips or for kids who want to learn about American geography and history. Recommended for kids ages 8 and up, the app turns learning about all 50 states into a fun and super informative game the whole family will love.
Encourage STEM learning with Busy Water ($4), a critical-thinking puzzle game based on water physics. Use pipes, paddle wheels, blocks, and more to help Archie the fish get back to his tank. Each level provides new challenges to develop problem-solving skills, and kids can also create their own levels using the build mode. Recommended for kids ages 6 and up.
Recommended for kids age 6 and up, Sushi Monster (free) from Scholastic helps kids practice, reinforce, and extend addition and multiplication skills. Through 12 sequenced levels, players use speed and accuracy to place sushi pieces near the monster and make a correct equation to feed the monster.
Fruity Fractions ($3) uses fun fruit models to teach kids about fractions. Players slice fruits into equal parts and put the pieces back together to learn to identify fractions. Recommended for kids ages 6 and up, the app has a jungle-themed story in which Quip and other greedy parrots are searching for tropical treats.
For older, independent readers, Bookly (free) helps users track and manage their books, make a habit out of reading, and see their progress over time. Set monthly goals for your kids through the app, which will track statistics like total reading time, total pages read, pages read per day, and more.