Best apps to get kids ready for the new school year

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(WTNH) — Is your child having trouble writing their ABCs or battling geometry? Well, there’s an app for that.

Whether your child is getting warmed up heading into classes or looking for extra help throughout the year, plenty of smartphone and tablet apps can give them the boost their brains need.

“It’s always good to have different ways for them to approach things and it’s definitely engaging,” said Renee Mitchill, library media specialist at Essex Elementary School, where she uses tech in learning every day.

“Some of them now are very game-like so it’s drawing them in while at the same time they’re practicing skills and different things they need to be working on,” she added.

Games like Stack the States ($2.99, Apple and Android), with quizzes about geography and history and almost Tetris-like playing field, bring social studies to life. “You’re practicing some facts and logic and geometry as you’re going through,” said Mitchill.

Apps like Mathmateer (free, Apple) turn math practice into a handheld space race.

“While you’re [playing], you’re making math decisions as you go along so it’s kind of a fun game but you also get the math practice in there to earn your points,” Mitchill added.

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She said they also incorporate programs like Puppet Pals (free, Apple) where kids can create virtual puppet shows to tell stories about books they’ve read.

East Hartford Middle School teacher Matt Bundock sees firsthand how turning math into a game can make a big difference.

“I think every kid, especially a K-8, they love to compete,” said Bundock, “so when you can put a gaming aspect and can put points on something they seem to take it by the reigns and try to beat everybody. They just love it.”

Bundock recommends Prodigy Math Game (free, Apple and Android) to his students. “It’s kind of like an adventure game, kind of similar to a Pokemon game for people who remember that but they throw in a little flare with some magic and math — you gotta be able to do your math to cast spells.”

It can be especially helpful when adjusting from elementary school math to middle school.

“When you go from a K-5 school to a 6-8, some of the time you get kind of lost in the math with some of the other subjects,” said Bundock.

He also recommends Khan Academy (free, Apple and Android) for high school and beyond for step-by-step guides on topics your student may struggle with.

These apps are not a replacement for good old fashioned studying but can complement your child’s studying routine. 

“It has some of that game like feel so that it draws them in as opposed to a flashcard, which they need to be doing but this gives them another option.”

Other apps recommended by local educators:

Word Wagon

  • Teaches kids letters, spelling and phonics.
  • Free on Apple and Android.

Kakooma

  • A math game using addition, subtraction, and multiplication against the clock or an online opponent.
  • Free on Apple and Android.

Epic!

  • A digital library for kids featuring thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, and videos.
  • Free 30-day trial.
  • $7.99/month on Apple and Android.

Little Writer

  • A tracing app for kids, including everything from letters, shapes, numbers, and words.
  • $2.99 on Apple.

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