Written by Sharra Badgley
Published with Permission
I often receive this question from readers and friends: “How do I choose the best educational apps for my family?” Hundreds of thousands of apps are available, and this number continues to skyrocket, as mobile app technology develops at a rapid pace. It can be overwhelming to navigate through all of the choices to select the best apps to use in homeschooling. One way that I select the highest quality apps, with the best educational value, is by staying connected with app reviewers and directories. Just as I read reviews before selecting and purchasing my homeschooling curriculum, I visit a few app review websites to research educational apps before downloading. This month in Apps in Home Education, I will share a few of my favorite app review websites and directories with you.
• Apps For Homeschooling –http://appsforhomeschooling.com/
Apps For Homeschooling, a valuable resource, is a website for discovering apps that work for homeschooled children of all ages. Jennifer Bogart, a homeschooling mother of four, shares weekly reviews and recommendations about top educational apps. You can search for app reviews categorized by grade, subject, cost, and device. Each week at the website, Jennifer features a listing of new apps and free apps, and you also can enter to win great giveaways.
• Moms With Apps – http://momswithapps.com/
Moms With Apps is a collaborative group of family-friendly developers that promotes quality apps for children and families. This site sponsors the popular weekly “App Friday” link exchange, which features a host of family-friendly apps suitable for homeschooling families. You can also visit Moms With Apps on Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/momswithapps>.
• Common Sense Media – http://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews
Common Sense Media features excellent detailed app reviews and ratings. You can search for apps recommended for specific ages. If you enjoy reviewing apps, you can register in the online community and offer personal feedback about various apps featured on the site.
• App Discovery Center (Education Category) – http://apps.bestbuy.com/categories/1760-education (Accessed June, 2012)
The Best Buy App Discovery Center features a comprehensive listing of mobile apps you can explore. The Education Category includes a large listing divided into several handy subcategories per subject. This site features user reviews, and you can leave your feedback and ratings about your favorite apps, for others to consider.
I hope you enjoy visiting some of my favorite app directories and review sites! There are many wonderful educational apps to choose from, and app reviewers can help you successfully navigate through the myriad of choices that are available.
Jennifer Bogart of Apps For Homeschooling (http://appsforhomeschooling.com/) has joined us as a guest to offer her recommendations for five great apps that you can use to practice penmanship. Check out these great apps!
• Letter School
This is an absolutely amazing app. Not only is it educationally effective, but its unique interactivity, sounds, and effects make it seem more like a game to children. Its three progressive levels of play familiarize children with stroke direction and encourage them to form the letters themselves with helpful hints, if needed. The app also lets you choose from Zaner Bloser, Handwriting Without Tears, and D’Nealian inspired manuscript letters in uppercase and lowercase. This is a universal (iPhone/iPod/iPad) app available in a free lite version to try, and a full version is available for $2.99.
• Zaner-Bloser Handwriting—Cursive
Cursive is an official ZB app that teaches the stroke direction of cursive letters using animated videos followed by the opportunity to trace the letters or to form them on a blank line and compare to a finished model. This app teaches lowercase, uppercase, and numerals. It’s straightforward—a trusted resource for teaching proper character formation. Available for iPhone/iPod for $1.99.
• Letters Make Words
Letters Make Words is the only app I know of that is designed to teach young children an italic-based method of handwriting. Based on the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting system of italic penmanship, this app focuses on forming patterns to slowly build up to character formation and then teaches the italic stroke direction for the lowercase letters. This iPad app is available for $2.99.
• Write On
Write On is a nice choice for early copywork once letter formation is mastered. While it does teach the alphabet and some letter formation, what makes this app unique is its transition to early copywork by using single words—in your choice of manuscript and cursive—that are copied onto blank lines beneath them. This is an iPad app available in a free lite version to try, and a full version is available for $1.99.
• PDF Expert—Fill forms, annotate PDFs
PDF Expert is the PDF writing app that our family prefers for completing handwriting workbooks and full-fledged copywork sheets that are available in PDF. It allows you to easily add PDFs (printing programs, copywork files, etc.) and lets your child write directly on them with a stylus, saving his work as he goes. It allows for corrections, zooming, and even exporting the file by email, etc. This app is available for iPad for $9.99; it is also available for iPhone/iPod, but the larger screen lends itself better to copywork.
Thank you, Jennifer, for these great recommendations! Be sure to check out her full offering of app reviews at Apps For Homeschooling (http://appsforhomeschooling.com/). You can also read guests articles from Jennifer, covering apps for homeschooling families, on our Homeschooling with Heart blog (http://blog.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/tag/apps-for-homeschooling/).
Sharra Badgley, along with her husband and two daughters, resides in central Indiana. Sharra writes about their family’s homeschooling journey, product reviews, and information on using apps in home education at The Homeschool Marm (www.thehomeschoolmarm.com) and blog www.thehomeschoolmarm.blogspot.com).
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.