Our last post was about summer learning loss and how to prevent it. In this post, we will go more into detail on one way to help keep skills sharp, by using your smartphone or tablet.
A smartphone or tablet can be found in pretty much every house and we might have thought of them as communication devices, even though they have more uses than that. An increasing number of schools are using digital tablet versions of textbooks. Teachers can stream classes so students can learn outside of school.
Mobile devices, when used right, can make great learning tools. Here, we’ll be talking about 10 apps that can help your child study and keep their skills sharp.
1. Duolingo – To practise languages (Android/iOS/Windows Phone/Desktop)
Duolingo is a popular language learning app and the best part is you can learn as many languages as you want for free. The catch is that there are ads.
If your child is taking French, German, or Spanish, they can practise with Duolingo. Irish is also available on Duolingo. Your child can take a placement test at the beginning if they already know a bit of the language so they can
It is similar to RosettaStone because you learn grammar and vocabulary through listening and spaced repetition with little translation. Everything is read to you and you are translate sentences from the language you are learning to English and English to the language you are learning.
In the first lessons, you will learn some words with pictures. The first time you are introduced a word in a lesson, you can click on it and get a translation, but after that, you can only get translations in some practise exercises.
One benefit of this app is you can even use it on your computer. If you create an account, you can log into any device and pick up where you left off.
The downside of this app is that it could teach verb conjugation better and it’s not the best for teaching pronunciation, which is better in a class.
2. Photomath – The smart camera calculator (Android/iOS)
Stuck on a maths problem and not sure how to solve it? Now you can use your phone to help you. All you need to do is download the app, point the camera at a maths problem, and it will help you solve it.
Not only will the app give you the answer, it will also teach you step by step how to solve it. This is good for learning how to show your work, which is very important on maths tests and the Leaving Cert.
Photomath also comes with a smart calculator and includes graphs. The app supports arithmetics, integers, fractions, decimals, roots, algebraic expressions, linear equations/inequalities, absolute equations/inequalities, systems of equations, logarithms, trigonometry, exponential and logarithmic functions, and derivatives and integrals.
It’s ranked as #5 in the iOS App Store in Education apps and is well-loved. Give it a try next time you are stuck on a maths problem. Of course, it is best to give the maths problem a try before using this app.
3. BrainPOP – Cartoons that explain various topics (Android/iOS/Amazon Appstore/Windows Phone/Desktop)
This freemium video app is great for primary school students, with Tim and his robot friend, Moby explaining concepts in a visual, simple, and at times, humorous way.
There is a rotating selection of free clips every day that explain various topics in science, history, English, maths, art, health, and technology. Every day there is a different featured free video to watch. There are some free video clips in each section.
Videos are also available in French and Spanish, so it’s a great way to practise your skills in those languages. The videos are geared towards children, so they speak slower and use more simple vocabulary.
If you want access to all the clips, you will need to purchase a membership, but if you only watch a couple videos a day, it’s not really necessary.
4. Brainscape – Flashcards, but better (Android/iOS/Desktop)
Flashcards are a traditional way to memorise and learn topics and concepts. Before smartphones, you had to keep track of them and make sure your handwriting is legible. This flashcards app is best for secondary school students.
Brainscape can be used on your phone, tablet, or computer and it’s a freemium app. The free version allows you to create and share flashcards with others and study unlimited friends’ flashcards. The pro version allows you to study unlimited user-created flashcards and certified flashcards and allows you to add media to the cards.
Flashcards are simple to use, you push the button to show the definition and the app lets you rate how well you know it and tracks your mastery of concepts and ideas.
A wide variety of flashcard sets can be found. Everything from ones tailored to exams and certifications to school subjects and more.
5. TED – Inspiring and educational videos (Android/iOS/Amazon Appstore/Desktop)
TED Talks are videos that really make you think. Hearing inspirational stories can brighten your day and inspire you. Some TED Talks are long, others are short. You might learn something from a TED Talk. People of all ages can enjoy these videos. There is a nice list here of TED Talks for kids.
TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conferences began in 1984 as a way to spread ideas. Annual conferences have been held since 1990 and many high profile speakers have given a talk at these conferences. TED Talks have been put online for all to watch for free since 2006.
These videos also get you to think outside of school and the curriculum and encourage you to be a lifelong learner. There is a wide range of topics and the TED website is really like a large library. Take some time this summer to explore some TED Talks that interest you.
We hope this list of educational apps helps your child retain knowledge over the summer and when school is back in session, the transition back is seamless.