Two Week iPad Trial: part 3 (the apps)

Part 1

Part 2

Below you can find the current apps on my school’s iPads. After the trial, I went through what we’d done and what people liked, downloaded a bunch of stuff, and deleted a bunch of stuff. So here’s how it stands right now:

I’ll go through each page and highlight some of my school’s favorite/most useful apps

English/Language Arts:

  • Dragon Dictation: Free speech to text app. I don’t really need to say anything more.
  • Pages: We tried a couple of other word processing tools, but Apple’s is really the best and easiest to use. The only feature that some other apps have over it is that there’s no inline drawing tool built in.
  • Popplet: Great for making quick, great-looking idea webs. We used this in a math class to show factorization of numbers. Lets you write by typing or finger/stylus.
  • Toontastic: Probably my single most favorite app. Kids create cartoons either with a set of toys or from their own drawings. I love how this app introduces and reinforces knowledge of basic story structure.
  • Storyrobe: This app is the utility player. Take a set of pictures, then narrate a story over them (up to 3 minutes). You could use this app all day long in every class. Kids can create their own pictures or look for pictures online. Designed for the iPhone/iPod Touch, I really wish this app had full iPad support with some basic controls over the images like rotation and cropping.


So far, math apps really seem to mostly be focused on drilling basic facts. Depending on your school’s math program, this could either be overkill or a great supplement to instruction.

  • Maths Mania: basic facts. drag the answers up to match with the answers. Fast-paced, fun sounds.
  • Pearl Diver: Practice number line skills. Starts off basic  with 0 to 10, second level moves quickly into negative numbers.
  • PopMath: another iPhone app, you need to pop pairs of problems and answers
  • Clock Master: manipulate an analog clock to match a digital clock, or vice versa
  • Rocket Math: this turned out to be my favorite of the math games. Very robust, deals with lots of subject areas, plus it has a component of building onto your rocket that would keep kids coming back to it repeatedly.

Science/Social Studies:

  • Maps/Google Earth: Great way to get a picture of our world. Especially with younger kids, I’d tend towards Maps, because it always maintains North/South, while it’s easy for a kid to flip things around in Earth. Pinch to zoom/move really shines here for kids to easily manipulate the maps.
  • Stack the States: very fun game for learning about the states. Perfect for 4th grade geography.
  • 3D Brain: the kids loved looking at the inside of brains.


  • MirrorPaint: very easy to produce good-looking results. Great way to teach about symmetry.
  • Pottery HD: cool app that lets you sculpt, fire, paint, and sell your creations
  • Doodle Buddy: this is probably the most KidPix-like painting app


To some degree, a lot of these have been supplanted by the $5 GarageBand. These are free and appropriate for quick play, though.


  • TanZen: Manipulate Tangrams to create shapes.
  • Special mention here goes to Chicktionary, which was definitely the favorite game for teachers.


  • Spell Blocks: App tells you a sightword, you try and spell it with mixed up blocks. Has levels from Primer to 3rd grade
  • Word Magic: App says a word and shows you a picture, you fill in the missing letter
  • PocketPhonic: I love this app for how it helps the kids work on their spelling and their letter formations.
  • DinoMath: Basic addition and subtraction skills, but this app will show the kids pictures to represent the numbers so they can start counting them.


There’s a bunch of fun, interactive picture books. I think my standout recommendations on the free front are the StoryChimes books, because they have a whole ton of fairy tales books that are ad-supported. Of the ones you can pay money for, I’ve particularly enjoyed A Present for Milo and Food Fight.

Part 4.

9 thoughts on “Two Week iPad Trial: part 3 (the apps)

  1. Thanks so much for all this great info. I just received a grant to go 1:1 with iPad 2’s next year, and my students and I will benefit from your experience!

  2. I’d love to know how kids turn in their work. There are a couple apps on this list that let kids create something and submit it – albeit in a convoluted way.

    I STILL do not believe that the ipads – even the ipad2’s – are ready for prime time. I think folks are rushing to buy an interface without regard to whether or not it will support their curriculum and their desired pedagogy. Look at these apps. Seriously, if this is the best we can do with this expensive device then we should absolutely save our money – IMHO.

    The idea of a grant to go 1:1 with ipads saddens me. I honestly believe that this device is a step backwards in terms of what students could be able to do with a computer/device.

    And I know I stand alone – or nearly so.
    James Gates´s last blog post ..Welcome!

  3. Miss R, that’s very exciting! I look forward to seeing you continue the good work by posting regular updates on how the iPads are working for you. I’m now following your blog in Google Reader.

    Jim, I set up an email account on the devices that was used to turn in work. Most programs support sending files by email, so that’s what we used. I started to write a rather long-winded response to the rest of your comment, but it got so long that I decided to save it, think about it, and add it into my next blog post.

  4. Dan,
    Thanks for the incredibly useful series of posts about using iPads in education. I am a 4th grade teacher in California, and I also feel there is tremendous potential for using sets of ipads in classrooms. This is one of the first tests in a full classroom with detailed impressions I have read. Do you know of any others? I would love to hear more detailed accounts of how your teachers used them in the classroom as well.
    As James said above, the iPad still has a long way to go in terms of quality educational apps and classroom support, but you have highlighted a lot of great apps here that can get teachers started. Thanks for bringing attention to the issue. After seeing the lack of many good math games, I decided to develop a fun yet comprehensive iPad game that helps students practice their math skills. I will follow your blog and keep you updated on its development. Thanks again for all the great info!

    Adam Coccari

  5. This is awesome. Thanks. We are trying to launch using iPads in our Grade 6 classes.This is not very common in South Africa. Would love any advice on tried and tested lessons for us. Feeling quite nervous, but VERY excited. Looking to connect with other Grade 6 teachers with regards to this!

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