During summer vacation when kids typically have an open schedule without having to attend private school every day, parents usually witness a spike in their child’s screen time. For those inevitable summer days when your child doesn’t have camp or a soccer game scheduled, you can introduce some meaningful computer usage by recommending these great educational apps for your child to try out! Please note: I am not being sponsored to promote any of these apps.
1. DUOLINGO. 5/5 iTunes rating and Apple’s iPhone app of the year. Available in iOS and Android. Cost: free
This is a fantastic language-learning tool for your child to use. Duolingo makes it easy to learn a new language for beginners with its intuitive user interface and game-like progress that makes it addictive to learn each new lesson. Duolingo provides written lessons and dictation, and categorizes each new word learned in a special vocabulary section for easy viewing. Duolingo does not provide boring grammar lessons, but rather depends entirely on user interaction; your child will learn a new language simply by translating hundreds of fun and relevant sentences. There are 19 languages to choose from, and your child can pick as many as they want to learn, from French to Swedish to Vietnamese and everything in between. This app can serve as an additional learning aid for your child during school, or as an affordable way to learn a new language which boosts cognitive functioning!
2. GOODREADS. Available in iOS and Android. Cost: Free
GoodReads is quickly becoming a popular app and website for bibliophiles of all ages. Parental supervision may be required as this is technically a social media site, but as with all internet usage parental supervision is recommended. GoodReads has become the best friend of book-lovers everywhere. It is a place to categorize, document, and rate all the books one has read, as well as utilize the site’s excellent recommendation software to find their next favourite book or author. You can read book reviews from fellow users or real librarians, keep up-to-date with new book releases from your favourite authors, and even track your annual reading progress with GoodReads’ highly popular yearly “Reading Challenge“. This is a great way to motivate students to read more, as you can compare your progress with friends in a spirit of friendly compeititon. I also like to use this site to find my next great read, because it is much easier to search for books than with the Mississauga Library Catalogue.
3. SKYVIEW. 4.5/5 iOS and Android. Cost: Free or $2.79 for the extended version.
This is Apple’s extremely popular astronomy app. If you are in the country, it acts as a guide for stargazing by providing a virtual realty overlay that labels the stars in real time. Simply open the app, calibrate the compass, and point your phone or tablet up at the night sky. If you live in the city, have your child do the same, only the app will project the location of the stars on the screen so that as you are looking through your phone’s screen, you can see the location of all the stars in the sky even though you can’t see them with the naked eye due to light pollution. Tap on a star or planet, and a pop-up provides detailed information about the planetary body you selected! This is a great learning app that also works during the day to show you where the moon and stars are on the other side of the Earth!