Some iPad Apps for the Primary Classroom

We’ve had iPads at school for a few months now and I thought I’d share our favourite apps so far.

1. Math Duel

The idea here is simple. You play on your own or against an opponent (very useful in our school where we have one iPad between two students) to answer maths questions as quickly as possible. You can just the difficulty for players individually making ideal for use in a mixed ability setting. The app itself is also very nicely designed and is visually appealing.

2. Write About This

This app is useful for encouraging reluctant writers or students who struggle to come up with ideas when writing. You choose an image to inspire your writing and each image comes with three writing prompts of varying levels of complexity. You type your story within the app and can then export the image and text in a postcard-like image. You can also create your own prompts using the iPad camera.

3. Google Earth

I’m sure everyone is familiar with Google Earth by now! Still, it’s an app that we have used time and time again to locate countries, landmarks, seas, lakes, rivers… you get the idea. What’s funny is that the first thing students want to do is search for their own school or house! The app is useful across all curricular areas and should be one of the first apps you install on any iPad, in school or elsewhere.

4. I Can Animate

We were fortunate to have a stop motion animation workshop with a local artist earlier in the school year. This sparked my students’ interest in this form of video production. There are a number of apps available in this area and the one we use is called I Can Animate. The good thing about the iPad, or any tablet device, is that it is an all-in-one solution. You use the camera within the app to take pictures and put them together as a stop motion video. You can save the video on the iPad to view again and share it with others. It makes the entire process simple and streamlined, although the quality of the images (if you’re using an iPad 2 like us) is nothing to write home about.

5. Photo Sync

This app makes it simple to transfer photos from multiple devices to your school laptop. Install the free program on your laptop, download the iPad app and you’re ready to go. As long as the laptop and iPads are on the same wireless network, transferring photos is a breeze.

6. Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck is a great, free presentation app. It works as a good alternative to Keynote, which may be a little expensive for schools unless you have purchased the latest iPads and received it for free. Haiku Deck is definitely limited but we have used it effectively to create maths trails and simple Irish vocal presentations.

7. Spelling City

This app is more limited than the web offering of this excellent site, but it is great to have access on iPads in the class. My students can search for our weekly spelling lists (I have inputted these via the site) and practice with games and tests.

With so many apps available, it is sometimes easy to forget that some very useful apps come preinstalled on every iPad. The Safari browser, Camera, Maps, Calendar, Clock, iBooks, Notes, Photo Booth and Mail can all be used to create, explore and share content and information easily.

It is also easy to get caught up in the excitement of every new app that comes along. Keep in mind that the iPad (or any other piece of technology) is just a tool. It’s up to teachers to figure out how to take advantage of these tools to excite and enthral students and to enhance teaching and learning in their classes.

Using the camera to take pictures for a maths trail.

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