Apps that may be worth your children's time
A list of education apps:
BrainPop Jr.: Offers a free movie of the week, for pre-kindergartners through second-graders. Free for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Martha Speaks Storymaker: Kids ages 4 and older can write stories for Martha from the PBS show. $1.99 for iPhone and iPod Touch.
Dinosaur Train Mesozoic Math: Develops early math and science skills in students ages 3 and older. $1.99 for iPad, Nook and Kindle.
Dinosaur Train All Aboard: Children ages 3 and older can match dinosaurs with train cars, gauging size and capacity. $1.99 for iPad.
WordWorld Fun with WordFriends: Features word games and characters WordWorld. For iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. $1.99.
Park Math: Students can learn early math concepts with the help of Blue Bear and friends at a park. For preschool and kindergarten. $1.99, for iPhone and iPad.
Counting Ants: Helps toddlers learn to count to 10 in many languages. Free version is available for iPhone, or full version is $1.99.
Feed Me — PencilBot Preschool Learning Center: This app comes in various languages, including English and Spanish, and helps prepare students for kindergarten or to learn another language. For iOS. The app is free, but in-app purchases cost various amounts.
Bilingual Baby Flash Cards: Includes flash cards for babies and toddlers in many languages. Free for iPhone, iPad and Android, but in-app purchases have associated charges.
Daisy the Dinosaur: For kindergartners through second-graders, this app is a simple introduction to computer programming. Kids drag programming terms along with actions into an instruction box and then Daisy the Dinosaur does the child's bidding. For iPad. Free.
WWF Together: App with overviews of endangered animals, which includes beautiful pictures of various animals. For students in third through 12th grade. Free for iPad.
BioBots Under Sea Rescue: Students in third through 12th grades can learn about underwater creatures and plan a game to rescue people trapped in an underwater museum. Free for iPad.
Nova Elements: Students can explore the periodic table. The app also has videos from the Nova series and a Build an Element interactive. For third through 12th grades. Free for iPad.
Grammar Wonderland: Students can use these apps to learn grammar and improve skills. Free (lite) versions are available for both primary and elementary students. For iPad.
Time, Money, and Fractions: An app for first- and second-graders, it teaches the skills mentioned in its title on iPads. $4.99.
Math Academy: Games to increase math skills at the elementary level. Free for iPhone and iPad.
Mathmateer: Features math missions in space. They range in difficulty from even and odd numbers to square roots. Lite versions for iPhone and iPad are free, and full versions are 99 cents.
Math Bingo: Play bingo by correctly answering math problems using all four functions at a variety of levels. 99 cents for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Bugs and Numbers: Features various games to develop math skills. $2.99 for iPhone and iPad.
Pizza Fractions: Teaches second- through sixth-grade students fractions using pizza as an illustration. Free for iPhone and iPad.
Opposites: An app for children age 7 and older, it focuses on vocabulary as students compare and match words. For iPhone and iPad. $1.99.
Chicktionary: For third-graders and older, this app allows students to create words using a scramble of letters. The iPhone and Android apps costs $1.99. The iPad app is free.
Sparkle Fish: For third-graders and older, it has students fill in words like MadLibs, by recording them in the student's voice, then replays the story. For iPhone and iPad, free.
Maily: A free iPad app geared toward getting kids comfortable with technology skills (like email) and in way that brings the family closer together. Parents sign up and then set up guidelines for who their kids can exchange emails with. Kids can write, draw, paint and design emails then send them to the grandparents, a friend they miss from school or silly Aunt Mary. It is simple to use for parents and students. For iPad. Free.
Autodesk Digital STEAM Applied Mechanics: For elementary and middle school students, this app applies understanding of physics concepts to solving problems in a game-like format. Free, for iPad.
Stack the States: This app allows students in third grade and higher to move and drop states as they learn about state capitals, shapes and geographic locations. The game involves trying to stack the states as high as the app's checkered line. For iPhone and iPad, 99 cents.
Stack the Countries: Similar to Stack the States, students in third grade and higher can manipulate countries as they learn about them. $1.99 for iPhone and iPad, although a free (lite) version is available for both.
Tap Quiz Maps: Quizzes students in third grade and above on geography, and keeps statistics on how well they're doing. Free for iPhone and iPad.
Presidents vs. Aliens: Students in third grade and above will use their knowledge to help presidents defeat aliens. Lite versions available for iPhone and iPad, or full versions are 99 cents.
Geography Drive USA: Take a great vacation road trip without the cost of filling up the tank. I like how this app gives a child choice to navigate the country, learning geography and information about the whole country. $3.99 for iPad.
Virtual Cell Animations: Students in middle and high school can learn about cells through movies, pictures, text and quizzes. Free for iPhone and iPad.
Solve the Outbreak: This science-focused app is for middle and high school students, and was created by the CDC. It again teaches science through application and problem-solving, and helps students learn about biology, disease control, medicine and human health. Free, for iPad.
BrainPop: Pelicula del Dia: Limited access to videos and quizzes that change daily. For all ages and covering all topics. Free for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Alfabeto Aventura: Students can learn about the Spanish alphabet using images, words and sounds. For beginning readers and Spanish students. $2.99, for iPad.
Lee Paso a Paso: Helps students learn to read Spanish by using phonics and a "step-by-step methodology used in many Spanish-speaking countries." For native Spanish-speaking children who are just beginning to read, as well as kids and adults learning Spanish as a second language. Free versions are available for iPhone and iPad, and full versions are $1.99.
Zap Phonics en Espanol: Teaches toddlers and preschoolers the basics of associating sounds with the correct letter symbols. Free for iPhone.
ABC Magico 2: Teaches preschool students the letters and sounds of the Spanish alphabet. Free for iPhone and iPad.
IPeque: This Spanish-language app teaches students about letters, numbers, colors, basic words, animals and more. 99 cents for iPad.
General, for all ages
iMovie: A movie-making app to help students make trailers or sophisticated home movies. $4.99 for iOS.
Brain School Training: Features 20 different brain games, including those to develop spatial, numerical, verbal and musical aptitude. Free for iPhone and iPad.
BrainPop: Limited access to videos and quizzes that change daily. For all ages and covering all topics. Free for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Doodle Buddy: An app that lets students draw, paint and sketch, as well as a variety of other activities, like playing games of tic-tac-toe or hangman. For all ages. Free for iPhone, iPad and Android.
BioIQ: A picture game to label biology pictures. Free, but add-ons are $1.99 for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Herbarium HD: Features pictures of various garden plants, detailed descriptions and quizzes. For iPad. $3.99. The Herbarium app is available for iPhone, for $3.99, as well.
Germ Blaster: A game about combating various infections. Free for iPhone and iPad.
Popular Mechanics Quake Tracker: Explore information on various earthquakes. Free for iPad.
Walk a Volcano: Explore a variety of selected U.S. volcanoes. Free for iPad.
Aero: Learn about flight dynamics by flying a bird. Free for iPhone and iPad.
Comet Quest: Game for launching satellite probes and data tracking. Free for iPhone and iPad.
Planet Simulation: Create your own solar system by changing variables like star size and color and adding planets. Free for iPhone, iPad and Android.
SkyOrb: Find objects in the sky, the location of earth, your location on the earth, information about the moon and much more. Free for iPhone and iPad; $2.98 for Android.
iNaturalist: Keep a journal of your observations of animals, plants and fungi you see in the wild. Free for iPhone and Android.
Rocket Science 101: A NASA app that allows you to create and launch your own rockets. Free for iPhone and iPad.
EarthViewer: Explore the earth as it changed through its 4.6 billion year history. Free for iPad.
Word Wizard: A talking movable alphabet that features advance text-to-speech capabilities, as well as an extensive spelling practice list. $4.99 for iPhone and iPad.
Sock Puppets: Read or tell a story and sock-puppets lip-synch it back in your voice. Add puppets, props and scenery, and share videos on Facebook and YouTube. A free version is available for iPhone and iPad, but the full version is $3.99.
Mad Libs: Free for iPhone and iPad, but additional stories cost $1.99 each.
World Book — This Day in History: Select dates to learn about what happened that day in history. Includes links to more information on each topic or person. Free for iPad, 99 cents for iPhone.
Political Time Machine: Includes more than 2,000 videos of various presidential speeches. 99 cents for iPhone and iPad.
Story Creator: This app allows students to create a book with pictures and video, record narration and more. It uses their creativity and allows them to apply skills learned during the school year. Free for iPhone and iPad.
Photography Assignment Generator: A photography teacher in your mobile device that focuses on giving the user ideas for what to take photos of and teaches about composition, camera settings and similar skills. Apps for iPhone and iPad range from free to $2.99.
Symmetry Shuffle: A puzzle game that will sharpen spatial reasoning. $1.99 for iPad.
Sources: Jennifer Frerichs, Urbana's director of Title I Services and Initiatives; Matt Sly and Heidi Bjerke, instructional technology coaches in the Champaign schools; Molly Delaney, the educational outreach director at Illinois Public Media; Lupe Ricconi, Urbana's interim director of Bilingual & Multicultural Programs; as well as the teachers who work in that department; the iTunes Store; the Google Play Store; and pbskids.org.