5 great apps for fun lessons

Peter Maxwell

Peter Maxwell is an educational psychologist and qualified teacher. He works alongside parents, teachers and other professionals to support children who are experiencing a variety of learning difficulties. Peter believes that tablet computers offer a new and exciting way to enhance children’s learning. He has set up a Facebook page called Educational App Advice to help parents and teachers find appropriate educational apps.

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Apple have produced a series of ebooks to help teachers integrate apps into their daily classroom practice. The Apps in the Classroom series is inspired by Apple Distinguished Educators, and each book contains a collection of activities that allow students to utilize a particular app to demonstrate their learning.

The books begin with an overview of the app in question before detailing possible activities. These are divided into three age bands – 5 to 11 year olds, 12 to 14 year olds and 14 to 18 year olds. The activities cover a range of subject areas including literacy, mathematics, science, geography, history and foreign languages.

The books are well laid out and contain a number of interactive elements, eg videos and slideshows. These elements really help to clarify how the activities are designed to work. So whatever subject you teach take a look at the Apps in the Classroom eBooks. You are sure to be able to find something that you can put into practice with the children you teach. There are five books in the series covering the following apps: Explain Everything, Hopscotch, Sketchbook Express, Stop Motion Studio and Puppet Pals HD.

1. Explain Everything

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use screencasting tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations. Teachers can use it to create interactive lessons, assessments, and tutorials. Explain Everything can also be used as an interactive whiteboard by connecting your tablet to a data projector.

YouTube Link

App Store Link
Explain Everything Lesson Ideas

2. Hopscotch

Hopscotch was inspired by MIT’s Scratch, and aims to teach programming skills using the same drag and drop approach. It lets users create their own characters, eg animals and monsters. Through customised commands, they can then make these characters move and perform a variety of actions. The characters can be controlled by shaking, tilting, or even shouting at the iPad.

App Store Link
Hopscotch Lesson Ideas

3. Sketchbook Express

SketchBook Express for iPad is the free version of the popular desktop drawing application SketchBook Pro. It is designed to allow users to create doodles, quick sketches or artwork on-the-go. The user interface is intuitive and it makes full use of the tablet’s multi touch interface. There are a range of brushes and other tools available. Fifteen of these are included with the app, but the others have to be bought through in-app purchases.

App Store Link
Sketchbook Express Lesson Ideas

4. Stop Motion Studio

Stop Motion Studio is a free app for making animated movies. It is very easy to use and contains a number of excellent features. For example, there is an overlay mode to show users the differences between frames and a grid mode to help them position objects more easily. Stop Motion Studio also includes an integrated movie editor where users can add music and audio. Extra effects are available via in-app purchases. For example, the background of the scene can be changed using the green screen feature. There is also a special effects feature and one that allows you to add movie titles and credits.

App Store Link
Stop Motion Studio Lesson Ideas

5. Puppet Pals HD

Puppet Pals HD is an app that is designed to create simple but fun animated stories. It works by recording all the movements on screen. At the same time, it records your voice and then compiles all this into a movie file which you can watch directly from your device or save to your camera roll to share with your family and friends. Users are able to select a range of characters and backdrops to include in their play. It is also possible to create actors using photos.

App Store Link
Puppet Pals HD Lesson Ideas

Have you used these apps as part of your work? Share your experiences below.

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