The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

50 great apps for teachers

Placeholder while article actions load

For a change of pace, here’s a list of “awesome” apps for teachers from Scholastic Instructor magazine offering activities for a wide range of subjects. These  were chosen through crowdsourcing on Scholastic’s Facebook page for teachers as well as with help from the magazine’s teacher advisers and education bloggers. They were published  in a recent edition of the magazine,, and I am republishing them with permission.

Language Arts

Grammar Pop
iOS. $1.99. Grades 5–8
Make a game of grammar with this standards-aligned app. Kids match words with parts of speech, and as the game goes on, they tackle tougher sentences.

Writing Wizard
iOS. $2.99. Grades PreK–1
Liven up handwriting lessons with this colorful tracing app, which invites kids to play with animated versions of the letters they trace. “I love that students get rewarded for their hard work,” says RhoLynda Hamm, a first-grade teacher at Benjamin Banneker Elementary in Loveville, Maryland.

Strip Designer
iOS. $2.99. Grades 4–8
Inspire reluctant writers with this supercool assignment: Create your own graphic novel! Students customize comic-book templates with original text, clip art, imported images, and more as they tell their stories.

WordGirl Word Hunt
iOS. $0.99. Grades 1–3
Choose the right words to help WordGirl defeat the villains in this game-based vocabulary app. Students reinforce vocab lessons and learn more than 100 definitions through context clues, all while saving the day.

Write About This
iOS. $3.99. Grades PreK–5
Kick-start opinion and narrative writing with creative, image-based writing prompts. “Students can add their own pictures and create their own prompts,” says Nancy Carroll, a fourth-grade teacher at Boyden Elementary School in South Walpole, Massachusetts.

iOS and Android. Free. All ages
The Kindle app is an “indispensable” tool for independent reading in Jason Kline’s fourth- and fifth-grade classes at EAGLE Charter School in Salem, Oregon. “I love how students can interact with the text,” says Kline. “It makes looking up difficult words so much easier.”


Slice Fractions
iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. $2.99. Grades 2–5
Kids won’t notice they’re studying while playing Slice Fractions. Students practice part-whole partitioning, equivalency, and more as they slice “lava” shapes to clear a path for a wandering elephant with a penchant for kooky hats.

iOS and Android. Free. Grades 2–5
Give an old-school math tool, the geoboard, a 21st-century upgrade. As with the no-tech version, students stretch bands around pegs to form shapes and explore concepts such as fractions and angles. On the virtual version, math geniuses can even fill in shapes and expand the board size.

Mt. Multiplis
iOS. Free. Grades 3–5
Struggling students practice multiplication while building bridges from one level to the next. Colleen Fail, a third-grade teacher at Crystal River Primary School in Florida, loves that the app “goes beyond flash cards, using the distributive property to help with fluency, efficiency, and understanding.”

Dexteria Dots
iOS. $2.99. Grades K–3
“A great tool for teaching, practicing, or building fluency in fundamental math concepts,” says Shira Lee Katz, director of digital learning at Common Sense Media. On, an app-review-and-rating platform for educators, Katz’s team highlights the app’s interactivity.

DragonBox Algebra 5+
iOS and Android. $2.99. Grades 4–8
Developed by a former math teacher, DragonBox helps kids form a conceptual understanding of equation solving. Through trying to isolate the DragonBox on one side of the game board, kids learn how to solve a linear equation.

iOS. $1.99. Grades 1–3
“This easy-to-use app allows students to fine-tune their foundations in adding and subtracting with coins and bills,” says second-grade Michigan teacher Erin Klein, who blogs at Kleinspiration. “Teachers will love
the built-in manipulatives.”


iOS and Android. Free w/in-app purchases. Grades 3–7
Computer science is becoming a core subject. Teach the basics with this puzzle-based coding app, in which kids drag and drop visual code blocks to solve increasingly difficult puzzles while learning programming.

Bubble Ball
iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. Free. All ages
Kids manipulate shapes and “power-ups,” like catapults, to guide a bubble from spot to spot. “As students pro­gress, they begin to understand the physics behind the ‘game’ through trial and error,” says Cheryl Lykowski, a second-grade teacher at Monroe Road Elementary in Lambertville, Michigan.

Pines to Vines: The Forest Biome
iOS. $18.99. Grades 1–8
Ditch your heavy textbooks and bring earth science to life with this digital science book featuring interactive learning tools such as audio and animation. Bonus: The text can be adjusted for different reading levels.

ColAR Mix
iOS and Andriod. Free. Grades K–3
For super-creative science projects, teachers Sara Norman and Angie Kalthoff of St. Cloud, Minnesota, recommend this 3D augmented-reality coloring book app. “My students ­created their own dinosaurs and completed a creature report about the dinosaur’s habitat, diet, and family,” says Kalthoff.

DIY Sun Science
iOS. Free. Grades 3–8
Start astronomy lessons with a bang with this interactive astronomy app. Don’t miss the sun cam, which allows kids to view live images from a NASA satellite on their mobile devices.

Owl Pellet Activities
iOS. $1.99. Grades 5+
Underscore the role of data analysis in science by uploading the results of owl pellet dissections to this national database. “[Students] can enter their discoveries and compare with other students from around the nation,” says Katie Lyon, a fifth-grade teacher and co–vice principal at St. Timothy School in Los Angeles.

Social Studies

Presidents Challenge
iOS. $1.99. Grades 3+
Put knowledge of U.S. presidents to the test by chronologically ordering our nation’s leaders into four different eras while uncovering facts about them.

One Globe Kids
iOS. Free w/in-app purchases. Grades K–5
“Memorable daily-life stories from kids around the world help students gain cultural understanding, learn about other countries, and make comparisons to their own lives,” says Common Sense Media’s Katz.

Discovery Education: U.S. Geography
iOS. $0.99. Grades 2+
Explore America from your desk with this interactive map by Phunware. “The app [which features news stories and video tours] goes beyond the usual focus on learning the names and locations of states and their capitals,” says second-grade teacher Lykowski.

Journeys of Invention
iOS. $9.99. All ages
Bring history lessons to life with this collection of inventions of yore that kids can rotate, study, and even operate. Climb aboard the Apollo 10 Command Module or tune in to a D-Day news broadcast on the Eisler Radio for lessons kids won’t forget.

iOS. $6.99. All ages
To reinforce classwork, St. Cloud’s Norman and Kalthoff encourage kids to use this multiplayer quiz game as a study aid. “You’ll find quizzes already created for geography, civics, economics, and history for most grade levels,” says Norman.

Field Trip
iOS and Android. Free. All ages
Teach kids about local culture and history by exploring historical haunts in your hometown. Field Trip runs in the background of your device and provides in-depth information on nearby hidden gems as you pass them.

Music & Art

Faces iMake
iOS. $3.99. Grades PreK–6
“Faces iMake lets you easily blend storytelling and symbolism with art discussions on composition, texture, and scale,” says Theresa McGee, a middle school art educator at Hinsdale School District 181 in Illinois. “It’s the perfect creative collage app for primary students.”

iOS and Android. $4.99.
All agesDigitize student artwork for an easily shareable and space-saving twist on portfolios that parents are sure to love. Teachers can upload artwork and organize by student, date, and grade.

Anytune Pro+
iOS. $14.99. All ages
Slow down tracks, adjust pitch, and more as students learn to play by ear. Music teachers can use the app during instruction or recommend it to students looking for extra practice.

Flashnote Derby
iOS and Android. $2.99. Grades 4–6
“Flashnote Derby allows students to practice note reading in a fun, engaging way—even allowing teachers to choose only lines or only spaces,” says Aileen Miracle, general music teacher at Cheshire Elementary School and elementary performance arts cochair for Olentangy Local Schools in Delaware, Ohio.

SketchBook Pro
iOS. $4.99. Grades 7+
“Put a graphic design studio in your students’ hands,” says Rachel Wintemberg, a visual arts teacher at William C. McGinnis Middle School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. “Working in layers, draw or paint on a blank canvas with a complete color palette and professional-quality brushes.”

iOS and Android. Free. Grades 4+
“Create simple movies and set them to music with this user-friendly app,” says fourth- and fifth-grade teacher Kline. Magisto features a “magic” video editor that helps novice filmmakers stitch together photos and video clips.

Special Needs

iOS and Android. $1.99. All ages
“Using supports such as visual timers when working with students with autism is a best practice,” says Carol Leynse Harpold, a former occupational therapist and assistive technology practitioner for the Sheboygan Falls School District in Wisconsin.

Word Flips
iOS. $29.99. Grades PreK+
Introduce kids who have limited or unintelligible speech to functional vocabulary words such as greetings by practicing sound sequences. Teachers can choose words by articulatory placement or syllable structure.

See. Touch. Learn. Pro
iOS. $39.99. All ages
To help support visual learners, try this customizable visual flash-card app designed for kids with special needs. The latest version offers data-tracking features for teachers.

My Pictures Talk
iOS. $2.99. All ages
Kim Hinton, a special education teacher at Lemons Mill Elementary in Georgetown, Kentucky, uses this modeling tool to create “talking photo albums to help students learn new routines” and wanted behaviors.

Learning Ally
iOS and Android. Free w/ membership. All ages
This audiobook app boasts 75,000-plus titles. “Learning Ally supports people with dyslexia and print disabilities,” says Kristi Evans, a reading specialist at Stephen Gaynor School in New York City. “It allows struggling readers to match the words they’re hearing with the words they’re reading.”

Letter Reflex
iOS. $3.99. All ages
Use kinesthetic learning methods to assist kids struggling with letter reversal for the letters d, b, p, and q. “[The app] is fast-paced enough to keep a student entertained, while being difficult enough for the students who need this intervention,” explains Hinton.

My Emotions
iOS and Android. Free. All ages
“My Emotions is an interactive book with a cartoon boy’s face displaying a variety of emotions and explaining why or when he feels that way,” says Brie Holtrop, a special education teacher at Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park, Illinois.

Communication & Organization

Classroom Organizer
iOS and Android. Free.
“Classroom Organizer is a wonderful tool to use when managing your classroom library,” says Quitshaw. “The app easily allows for books to be scanned and uploaded into your personal classroom-library database. Then, students can use the app or the website to check out and return books.”

Class Messenger
iOS and Android. Free.
Communicating with parents just got a whole lot easier. “It works like an e-mail blast,” explains Laura Lai, a fifth-grade teacher in New York City. “Parents sign up for your class, and when you send out a message, you can put it in a certain category. Parents can receive the messages through text, e-mail, and/or in-app.”

iOS. Free.
Clip and share articles, websites, and other resources with your students via this social-learning platform. Teachers can provide feedback on student assignments through audio, video, and more.

iOS and Android. Free.
Pair pictures with videos, then scan the image to play, using this aug­mented reality app. Theresa Quitshaw, a middle school teacher at Joseph E. Gary Elementary in Chicago, uses Aurasma to introduce topics in an engaging way at the start of a unit.

Scholastic Book Wizard
iOS and Android. Free.
First, uncover reading and interest-level information by scanning a book’s bar code or searching the Scholastic database. Then, create leveled book lists to support any unit and save them in the app.

iOS and Android. Free.
Stay organized and on task with checklists to keep track of to-dos and project boards. Invite fellow teachers to a board to assign tasks and share updates.

Voxer Walkie-Talkie
iOS and Android. Free.
Leave voice mails for multiple parents with one click, include images alongside audio, and save conversations for easy reference with this tech-savvy twist on the two-way radio.

Classroom Management

iOS. $0.99.
“RandoMeister is my favorite for groups and random picks,” says Elizabeth Bartholomew, an English teacher at Anthony Middle School in Minneapolis. “I can secretly prevent some kids from being in groups together—but they don’t know that!”

iOS and Android. $3.99. (School version also available.)
STOPit encourages kids to stand up to bullies by reporting instances of cyberbullying. Kids can send reports to preselected adults and reach out for emotional support quickly and confidentially.

Stick Pick
iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. $2.99.
Alisa Barrett, a first-grade teacher at Rainsboro Elementary in Ohio, uses Stick Pick to guide class discussions. “This app allows teachers to randomly choose students, ask predetermined questions, differentiate questions in a group setting, and track individual responses,” says Barrett.

Super Stretch Yoga
iOS. Free.
Put an end to fidgeting and distraction by incorporating movement into your daily routine. Super Stretch provides kid-friendly tutorials for yoga poses that double as much-needed brain breaks.

Splashtop 2 Remote Desktop
iOS and Android. $4.99.
Fifth-grade teacher Lai connects her mobile device to her laptop or desktop using Splashtop. That way, she can circulate her classroom while working on documents—multitasking made a little simpler.

Best Sand Timer
iOS. Free.
In a classroom, time flies whether you’re having fun or working hard—or a little of both! Keep track of the time left in each period with this digitized hourglass. The hourglass is kid-­friendly and easy to read at a glance, making it perfect for test time and centers. Plus, teachers can customize colors for different time periods.