We’ve been studying Japanese for a few years now and I absolutely love Human Japanese on the iPad. It does a wonderful job explaining the Japanese language, grammar and even some culture. Its an interactive book where you can tap on the Japanese words and hear them in Japanese, there are quizzes and games (concentration) at the end of each chapter and you earn XP points – so if you want to level up from novice you need to go back and do the quizzes frequently – which makes for a great review. Kanamoji is a fun app to learn hiragana and katakana, its written for Japanese toddlers to learn their ‘ABCs’.
MindSnacks has games to help with reading/writing and vocabulary for a variety of foreign languages. My middle schooler prefers this app to other ways of drilling vocabulary. As you get better you unlock more games. They have lessons in Portuguese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and SAT (which I assume is English vocabulary for test prep). Mind snacks also has a U.S. geography app which my kids enjoyed.
Mango is another app which can be used for different foreign languages. You have to buy a subscription but if your local library has a subscription, you can set up an account using your library card and its FREE!! My youngest started using this to learn Latin but I haven’t played with it yet. I’v heard a lot of people like Dulingo but they don’t have Japanese so we haven’t used it.
SpellTower is a boggle/tetris like game where you find as many words as you can, and as you complete a word it disappears and the remaining letters shift. Of course the bigger the word you find, the more points. My kids went nuts with this game trying to beat the high scores and figuring out big of a word they would need to get the high score. Lots of learning going on and they didn’t even realize it.
Scrabble or Words with Friends – more great games for spelling practice. The nice thing about these is they can play with friends or relatives on the other side of the country. I prefer Scrabble because of the Teacher button which lets you know you could have scored more points and shows you what you missed. They both a have a built in dictionary so you can check and see if something is a word but the Scrabble one doesn’t give you a definition. Words with Friends just recently added a dictionary and it actually has definitions which is a nice touch.
iA Writer – This is a very simple word processor, more like a text editor really. We used this a lot when they first started writing – they hating using pencil and paper so I let them type. The app is nice because is very basic, you don’t have to worry about formatting, fonts, etc, just type. It has a running word count on the top of the screen and you can email your text, print it or open it in a different app.
Mathmateer by Freecloud Design, Inc, used to be called Rocket Math. You build a rocket using all kinds of different parts (even a British phone box is possible) and then launch your rocket into space and answer math questions on the way up to space. My youngest played this all the time just to see what he could make the rocket do. Probably not the best math app out there but its the one my kid kept going back to.
We used Number Line, but I had trouble finding it on the app store. It looks there is a new version called Number Line 2 by Todd Bowden. This is a good app for comparing decimals, mixed numbers, fractions and percents. Numbers in different formats are floating around the screen and you have to put them in the right order on the number line.
Stack the States and Stack the Countries are great for learning some geography and basic facts for states and countries. It was a little annoying at first because the kids kept asking me the questions (which I didn’t always know) but pretty soon they remembered the answers and now recognize different country and state flags when I have no clue. Overall a pretty painless way to get some geography done.
ArtPuzzle HD by MacPhun is a simple jigsaw puzzle app but all the puzzles are great works of art. By sliding your finger around the ‘museum’ you pick a gallery and then work your way down the masterpieces. You can select the difficulty of the puzzle and tap the information button to see the title and painter of each piece. A nice way to sneak some art history into the schedule. Be careful when searching for this app, there are many with very similar names.
Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins probably should have been on my science apps post. This is another beautiful interactive book about science with chapters on a wide range of topics, such as: Who was the first person? Why do we have night and day? winter and summer? What is a rainbow? What is an Earthquake? There are even some built in experiments where you can play with genetics (selective breeding of frogs) or move prisms around to break up white light into its different colors.