The Best Educational Apps For iPad

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Teachers and students everywhere are receiving iPads this year for use in their classrooms. Some schools are even providing iPads to every student in their classroom to create a true 1:1 mobile computing environment. While all of this is very exciting, the iPads are only useful tools if teachers know how to incorporate them effectively and they are equipped with the right apps. With a new school year just beginning, I thought it would be nice to feature the best educational apps available for teachers and students. I have decided to break the apps into 3 categories: Productivity, Games, Media and Reference. The apps in the Productivity category are useful for creating, designing, writing, and facilitating work and assignments. Media and Reference apps are those meant for researching and consuming media such as books, webpages, and videos. The Games category will feature the best educational games for iPad that help students learn and practice various skills and subjects. I believe these apps are the top educational apps available for use by teachers and students.

Productivity Apps
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Evernote: Free
Take notes, save links and images, and even record audio into searchable notes that get saved online. You can access your notes from any device, computer, or internet browser. You could conceivably use the audio recording function to record and index entire lessons and lectures.

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Dropbox: Free
This excellent app allows you to store files in the cloud, and access them on any device or computer with an internet connection. This is an essential app for teachers managing a set of iPads in the classroom because it allows you to keep sync files between you and your students. You can collect and manage student work by sharing having them share folders with you.

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Pages/Numbers/Keynote: $9.99 Each
These apps comprise Apple’s iWork suite, and they are the equivalent of Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. They have corresponding apps that run on Apple computers, and all your documents can be synced with your iPad or iPhone once iOS5 is released.

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Garageband: $4.99
An amazing amount of functionality for 5 bucks, this app allows kids to record and compose music in a fun and intuitive audio sequencer. They can build with music loops, play and record virtual instruments of all types, and instantly publish and share their songs to iTunes or email. Students could easily use Garageband to record a whole oral presentation or podcast on a subject, or make songs to teach the class about what you are learning.

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Goodreader: $4.99
This app is a bit expensive, but it is a great for reading and annotating documents of all types, especially .pdf files. This app can be used by students to take notes while reading, or by teachers to review and correct student work. Accessing and annotating .pdfs is absolutely essential for using the iPad in a classroom setting, and this is one of the best all around file-reading apps there available.

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iAnnotate: $9.99
This is the premier app for reading and annotating .pdf files. It also integrates with dropbox, allowing an easy and efficient workflow for correcting and returning work.

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iThoughtsHD (mind mapping): $9.99
This allows students (and teachers) to organize their thoughts and draw mind maps with clean and intuitive interface. This is very valuable for students that are doing outlines, planning projects, or taking notes on research.

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TeacherPal: Free
TeacherPal is a personal organizer for the teacher. It enables the teacher to organize classes, and students. Its simple and intuitive interface enables teachers to track the attendance, grades and behavior of students.”

Educational Games
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Rocket Math: $0.99
A very high quality and comprehensive math game, Rocket Math lets children design and build a rocket using money they earn by solving math problems. The learning doesn’t stop there though, as the child can then launch the rocket into orbit to practice a very wide array of different math skills. Players choose their mission and difficulty in order to customize the learning experience. Students can practice multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, decimals, multiples, square roots, and even money and geometry.

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Motion Math and Motion Math Zoom: $2.99 and Free
Motion Math is another premier math app that helps kids learn math through a fun game. Students learn about fractions and number sense by using the tilt-controls to bounce a star on a number line. Students must match the value of each fraction to its relative position on the line. The game also teaches fractions by introducing students to decimals, percents, and geometric equivalents. This game is highly recommended for elementary and middle school math students. The developers of Motion Math have also released a new app to teach number sense,
Motion Math Zoom.

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Playtime Theatre: $0.99
This wonderful app accesses children’s imaginations and creative abilities by letting users put on a virtual puppet show with the iPad’s touch screen. Kids can interact with characters, change costumes, add props, and even put their own heads on to the puppets. This lets children do what they love most: engage in free and unstructured play. The digital puppet masters can then record their creations with voiceovers and play them back for friends and family. Although there are a limited number of parts, Playtime Theatre is limited only by your imagination.

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Toontastic: $0.99
Much like Playtime Theatre, “Toontastic is a Creative Learning tool that empowers kids to draw, animate, and share their own cartoons through imaginative play.” The player can draw all their characters and backgrounds, animate the action, and even choose the music and titles for the cartoon. The app also helps players craft a story arc and plot, reinforcing good story structure. This app comes highly recommended by students and parents alike.

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ABC Shakedown Plus: $2.99
This is another great fluency app that is made for younger children that are learning to read. Made by a teacher, this app contains 3 fun games that allow children to learn in a fun and interactive experience. This app has gotten great reviews and comes highly recommended by parents and kids.

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Mad Libs: FREE
The fill-in-the-blank story game that kids love so much. Not only are the stories usually hilarious, they also teach kids about the different parts of speech and grammar. This intro pack is free but many of the other add-ons are quite pricey.

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Stack the States and Stack The Countries: $0.99 and $1.99
These critically acclaimed games come from the same developer as Rocket Math, and help teach kids about geography with a fun shape-stacking game.

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Montessori Crosswords: $2.99
An app for early readers, this app is a great tool for helping young children practice spelling, literacy, and reading fluency. This app makes the process of learning to spell fun for kids by turning it into a fun educational game.

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Playtime Theatre

Media and Reference Apps
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BrainPOP Featured Movie: FREE
Learn something new every day from this great app from BrainPOP. Every day you can watch another one of BrainPOP’s fantastic educational videos about everything from dinosaurs to recycling.

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WolframAlpha: $1.99
The knowledge and date of world at your finger tips. This app allows you to search and view statistics about almost anything you can think of, and it also balances chemistry equations and solves difficult algebra, trig, and calculus problems

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Qwiki: Free
“Curious? Explore 3,000,000 topics in a format perfect for the iPad: learn about what's near you, across the world - and everything in between.”

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Wikipanion: Free
All of Wikipedia with a slick and friendly format that is ideal for reading on an iPad or iPhone. It is better than the official Wikipedia app.

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Stanza: $4.99
Just like iBooks and and Kindle, Stanza is a fully functioning eReader and book store. People seem to really prefer Stanza over the other two, but it ultimately just comes down to preference and book selection.

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Google Search: Free
All of Google’s tools as your disposal, as well as some mobile-specific features like voice search and Google Goggles, which lets you search by taking pictures of things.

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TED: Free
Amazing and inspiring videos from experts about technology, culture, art, science, and “Ideas worth spreading.”

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Star Walk and Solar Walk: The universe in your hands. Starwalk allows you to use your iPad to see the stars, constellations, and galaxies by holding your iPad to the sky. It labels everything, and great for astronomy instruction or just stargazing with students. Solar walk is a 3D solar system model you can interact with.

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