Back to school: Reading, writing and apps
More and more public schools around the state are turning to a new kind of computer to help kids learn tablets.
Both the iPad and Kindle Fire are making regular appearances in classrooms because teachers and administrators know that students need to be proficient in technology's newest and most popular tool.
If your child has an iPad or Kindle Fire, make sure he or she uses it for more than just playing "Minecraft" or watching "Pretty Little Liars" on Netflix.
Darrin Johnson, principal at Fox Hollow Elementary School in Lehi, recently gave a seminar at the Alpine School District's Administrator Conference titled "Must-Have iPad Apps." Here is a list of some apps he recommends for younger students to help fire up their minds before they head back to school. Additionally, we've added a few more for older students. You can access them from either the iTunes App Store for iOS devices or the Google Play Store for Android devices.
For younger students
Chicktionary (iOS, Android, free, $1.99) • A word game similar to "Boggle" where players try to make new words out of a series of letters.
Sudoku 2 (iOS, $2.99) • The game where you place numbers on a grid so they total the same in every direction. There are dozens of versions and variations of the game available, including free ones.
Unblock Me (iOS, Android, 99 cents, free) • A puzzle game involving moving blocks. There are four difficulty levels and 10,000 puzzles.
Doodle Fit (iOS, Android, free, $1.19) • Another block puzzle game in which the player has to fit different blocks to best cover an overall layout.
W.E.L.D.E.R. (iOS, Android, $2.99, 99 cents) • Assemble combinations of words with letter tiles similar to "Scrabble." Includes a built-in dictionary so players can learn definitions on the fly.
Word Worm (iOS, Android, $2.99) • A word game with tiles of letters set up in vertical rows. The player then tries to form as many words as possible from the rows.
Math Doodles (iOS, $2.99) • A host of games, challenges and fun exercises with mathematics.
Interactive Books (iOS, Android, various prices) • Johnson recommends interactive books such as Thomas the Train, Sesame Street and Dr. Seuss that allow readers to participate in the story.
For older students
Google Drive (iOS, Android, free) • Google's application for Google Docs, the free word processor, and its spreadsheet program. It also allows you to store documents, photos, music and more in the cloud for access from anywhere. Most students are now using Google Docs to write their papers.
Educreations Interactive Whiteboard (iOS, free) • An interactive and animated whiteboard that you can use to create presentations.
Pages (iOS, $9.99) • A full-featured world processor by Apple similar to Microsoft Word. It includes multiple templates and the ability to include pictures and charts. Works with a virtual or physical keyboard.
Calculator Pro (iOS, 99 cents) • A basic calculator when in portrait mode and a scientific calculator in landscape mode. Android also has a host of calculator apps.
Dragon Dictation (iOS, free) • Perhaps the best voice recognition and dictation software on the market is now available for the iPad. Write text with your voice instead of a keyboard.
Word Dynamo (iOS, $3.99) • Word games combined with Dictionary.com allows players to beef up their vocabulary in fun ways.
Barefoot World Atlas (iOS, $4.99) • An interactive world atlas with a 3-D globe and animated features.
Solar Walk (iOS, $2.99) • A dazzling 3-D interactive tour of the solar system with information about all of the planets, moons and NASA missions.
March of the Dinosaurs (iOS, $1.99) • An interactive encyclopedia of dinosaurs. It includes ten 3-D-animated dinosaurs that can be rotated and zoomed in on.
TED (iOS, Android, free) • Free access to more than 1,400 TED conference talks by some of the most accomplished thinkers, including tech geniuses, business gurus, musicians and scientists.