Ten iPad Apps for Educational Fun

Part of the iPad in Education For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Here are casual, fun games children and parents can enjoy. These aren’t games with specific curriculum-based objectives, and they won't necessarily help students master long division or prepare for a geography test. The main objective is placed squarely on having fun, but with productive results. The apps are for young children, older children, and the young at heart. A list of educational iPad games is available at iPadEducators.ning.com, where you can view the list, and vote for new additions.

  • Scribblenauts Remix: This is an app for the younger kids. Scribblenauts is based on a bestselling game where the assignment is to help a character move up levels by solving puzzles. Each level presents a dilemma that you can solve by typing the name of an object. Whatever object whose name you type automatically appears and comes to life. Drag it around and use it to solve the challenge. It requires a degree of creative thinking and there are usually many different ways to solve a challenge. Objects you name also behave in the manner you might expect of them. (Wings make you fly, for example.) Kids exercise their logical thinking skills, creativity, and enhance their spelling as they dream up innovative paths through their challenges.

  • Amazing Alex: Originally called Casey's Contraptions, this game was bought by the makers of Angry Birds and given an interface makeover. There are over 100 levels in the game where you have to set up objects to bounce, pop, ricochet, and crash into each other to create an elaborate Rube Goldberg device. You position objects such as pipes, shelves, balloons, and balls to create a chain reaction that solves a specific challenge. There's always more than one right answer and you can come up with lots of creative ways to select and position objects to get your desired result. Alex is entertaining, challenging and lots of fun. You learn simple rules of physics along the way as you come up with imaginative methods to create your chain effects.

  • BrainPOP: The BrainPOP app has an entertaining, featured animated movie every day. Watch the movie and then test your knowledge with the BrainPOP interactive quiz. There's also an optional in-app subscription that offers a wide selection of content in a variety of subject areas. Kids can explore more than 750 Science, Math, Social Studies, English, Engineering & Tech, Arts & Music, and Health subjects. Movies are closed captioned, so it’s easy to read along.

  • Math Bingo: Playing Bingo is fun. Learning math drills is not. The essence of this popular educational app combines the two. Tap the answer to a math question in the grid of numbers. Complete a row or column and… bingo! Select from 4 games: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division and choose from 3 different levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium and Hard for your game. On the spectrum spanning fun games at one extreme and boring drills at the other, Math Bingo falls somewhere in the middle.

  • NineGaps: NineGaps is a math puzzle game that leans towards strategic mathematical juggling. You have to place numbers from 1 to 9 in the missing gaps of the math grid, while matching the operations presented in the puzzle ... all while a clock ticks away in the top corner counting the time it takes you to crack the puzzle. It looks similar to playing Sudoku but with a twist. There are 5 difficulty levelsand you can compare your achievements to others on the global and friend leader boards. NineGaps challenges players to solve the math puzzle by projecting solutions to multiple possible expressions as they search for solutions for each of the 6 equations on the board. The need to evaluate multiple possible expressions is a great technique for fostering logical thinking.

  • Words with Friends: Words with Friends is possibly the most popular word game for mobile devices. Open an account and play this Scrabble-like game with people anywhere across the Internet. Push notifications tell you when it’s your turn so you can rotate between and play up to 20 games simultaneously. Play with your friends or match-make instantly with a random opponent. You can save your games at any point and then continue them across your iPhone, iPad and/or iPod touch.

  • W.E.L.D.E.R.: This is a very addictive word strategy app. The goal is to form words of four letters or more by moving tiles around a grid. You score points every time you form a word the letter tiles that were used are removed and other tiles fall into their empty spaces on the grid. There are 15 levels of difficulty. You get 25 swaps on the easiest level and you have to form 20 words with them. Score 250 points, and you’ll earn five more swaps. As you move up levels, the number of swaps decreases and the words become more difficult to form.

  • Star Walk: Not strictly a game, StarWalk is a fascinating augmented reality app for locating and identifying 20,000+ objects in the night sky. It will fascinate any child with an interest in astronomy and pique the interest of anyone that has ever looked up at the sky in wonderment. The 360-degree, touch control star map uses the iPad's GPS and magnetic compass to calculate your exact location and the direction you're facing. Point your iPad up at the sky and Star Walk will display a layer of data that identifies the constellations, stars, planets, satellites, and galaxies over your current location. It's the perfect marriage of the iPad's native tools and a child's desire to understand the mysteries of the night sky. Students who enjoy Star Walk might also like Solar Walk and Geo Walk as well.

  • DragonBox+: DragonBox displays two trays, each one containing a series of different cards. Look for the box with the sparkling star. Your objective is to add, delete and rearrange the other cards in order to leave the starred box by itself on one of the trays. The mathematicians among you can immediately identify the algebraic logic. There are green spirally cards that disappear when tapped and day/night versions of cards that cancel out when you drag one on to another. As you progress you'll be allowed the option of dragging cards to a tray but of course, if you add a card to one tray then you have to also add it to the other tray - just as you might when solving an algebraic equation! Great idea.

  • Civilization Revolution: Lead your civilization from the dawn of man to the modern age and beyond. Go head to head with history’s greatest leaders as you wage war, conduct diplomacy, discover new technologies, inspire your nation and build the most powerful empire the world has ever known. Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise has been one of the more popular strategy games for many years and is now available and updated for the iPad. Choose from 16 Civilizations (including America, Spain, China, Japan and Germany) to lead one of four different victory conditions: Technology, Domination, Economic or Cultural. Engage in strategic combat across a randomly generated map or use the Scenario Creator to create your own challenge. Your quest to explore and discover will have you traversing the globe in search of long lost relics, rival civilizations, technologies, barbarians and much more. Civilization features multiple difficulty levels, an integrated tutorial and friendly advisors to help out as needed.

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iPad in Education For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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