In Search of Apps
How to find that educational needle in a digital haystack
With more than 700,000 apps on iTunes alone, searching for a quality one for your kids can be overwhelming, to say the least. It can feel “like looking for a needle in a haystack, unless you have a few trusted and unbiased review sites to rely on,” says Carisa Kluver, a mom and founder of digital-storytime.com. These six independent review sites, run by parents or teachers, can offer guidance:
With more than 600 reviews of iPad book apps for readers ages 2–12, this site rates apps on educational value, originality, animation, and interactivity. Users can sort by category, language, age group, and price. The site also has top-10 lists, news of free and discounted apps, and advice on parenting in the digital age.
Run by Digital Storytime, this site is a good resource for the bargain shopper. It lists price drops and free apps in the book-, educational-, and game-app categories.
With 1.2 million visits in 2012, this is the kids’ app site with the most traffic. “We give bad reviews and publish them,” owner Ron Engel says. “If you truly want to serve your readers, you want to be a resource that they can rely on for honesty and as much info as possible.” The site reviews kids’ educational apps, games, and books. There is a “Top 100 Free Apps” list and a “Good Free App of the Day” feature.
A marketplace for educational apps, AppyMall was launched by Technology in Education, a popular review site, to help teachers and parents find quality children’s apps. Users can search for educational apps by grade level and subject, such as math, language arts, or reading. Apps are divided into anchor stores that organize book, game, and educational apps into categories, such as preschool, elementary school, middle school, speech and language, special needs, and apps with lesson plans.
Co-founded by educators Jayne Clare and Anne Rachel, this site offers reviews based on extensive field-testing by parents, teachers, and children. Says Rachel, “We are currently in the process of developing an App Certification Program” for which apps will have to meet certain criteria.
Founded by four moms who met online while searching for and reviewing apps for their own children, the iMums hail from Australia, the US, Singapore, and a UK native now living in the US. Collectively, the group has 11 children, ages 1–18. “We are all part of one global community of parents, teachers, therapists, and developers who come together to talk about the best children’s apps, and how to make them even better,” says Mary Mahon from the UK. “We have a common goal of ensuring that our children get the best learning opportunities from these devices and are protected from inappropriate content.”
Julie Landry Laviolette is founder of Story Bayou, Inc., storybook apps for kids 8–12.
Want more fun, educational apps for kids? We've got a Pinterest board full of 'em!
More techie tips from NJ Family:
- Digital Resources for High-tech Moms
- Help Kids and Teens Find Technology Balance
- Digital Days: Younger Students are Streaming School From Home