A question we get asked frequently from schools is about our recommendation for which apps to put on iPads. There are now over 1.2 million apps to chose from on Apple’s App Store, and this number continues to grow each and every day. We find that less is more when it comes to apps . A tablet is just a tool and the most important thing to focus on is the context in which children can make their own creations. Here are a few must haves apps.
Category 1 – Film Making
iMovie – Free or Paid (£2.99)
So, if your iPad has been purchased recently (after September 2013), then iMovie should either come pre-installed on the iPad, or you will be able to get it for free from the App Store. Those who have bought their iPads after that time, or have iPad 2s, will have to pay £2.99, but it is a worthy download. The iMovie app has a similar visual style to the Mac version, and is capable of some quick and impressive editing. You can add multiple audio tracks, import many video clips into the timeline, and can record and edit all in the same app. You can also record voice overs using the in-built microphone. The app itself takes some getting used to, but once you discover where all the buttons are, you will be doing some quick and nippy editing on the fly. iMovie also has multiple export options, such as YouTube, DropBox and straight to the camera roll. It is the easiest way to get your children creating short films in no time.
I Can Animate – Paid (£1.99)
I Can Animate is a fantastic app that enables you to make stop motion animations with your class. I Can Animate also has a desktop version, which is how we discovered this app. Stop motion animation is not only a brilliant form of film-making, it teaches pupils valuable skills, like patience and team work. The app is really simple to use, just hit the camera icon to take a snapshot of three photos, move the scene and take another picture. With the app, you can increase the frame rate and even record audio using the built-in microphone on the app. Combine this app with iMovie, and you can make some very impressive films. Do bare in mind, the case on the iPad will factor here, as if you wish for a steady film, a sturdy case with a stand might need to be invested in.
Category 2 – Presenting
Popplet Lite – Free
Popplet Lite is a visual and creative application that allows you to write and insert pictures into bubbles. It is perfect for brainstorming ideas and documenting processes on how to do things. Being able to insert photos from the camera roll allows for an interactive way to explain a new concept that students have learned in class, or a way for students to express their ideas in a creative way. You can then export the finished Popplets as a picture and export to the camera roll. The paid version of the application allows for more export options, so bare that in mind. But for a free app to try out, it can’t be missed.
Show Me/ Explain Everything – Free / Paid ( £1.99)
Show Me and Explain Everything are both very similar apps. They are virtual whiteboards that put the pupil in place of the teacher, and uses the iPad screen acts as the whiteboard. Both the apps have a record button, and once this is tapped, anything done on the iPad’s screen is captured. Both can record audio at the same time, so students can draw something, or import a picture, and then point arrows to certain parts of the picture to explain what is happening using the power of their voice. Not only are these apps a great way for pupils to improve on their writing and speaking skills, they also offer a way for children to explain and reflect on their learning. Although Show Me is a free app, it requires you to make an account for the Show Me website, where you store the recording online and there is a limit to how many recordings you can store before you have to pay for more storage. Explain Everything, is a paid app from the start, but it does allow you to export the recordings to Google Drive, Dropbox, YouTube, or to the Camera Roll. Easier if you want to share those recordings with other pupils or teachers and parents.
Category 3 – Storytelling
Puppet Pals HD – Free
Puppet Pals brings storytelling to life by allowing pupils to be put right into the heart of the story. The app allows you to take a picture of a person or object with the iPad, and then use that as a puppet in the story. It’s a great way to personalise stories. The app works by having a number of different scenes, which again can be preset scenes built into the app, or you can take a picture of a scene (this could be a picture you have taken from a book, or a picture of your school etc.) You then choose your characters for your story (again, preset or take a picture of a pupil), and then you are ready to tell your story. Moving the puppets is simple, just use two fingers to make them bigger or smaller and simply drag them around the stage. Your voice is also recorded at the same time, so you can explain what is happening in the story. Their is now a more recent version of this app, Puppet Pals 2, but for a whopping £9.99, we suggest trying out Puppet Pals HD first, as it is free.
Book Creator – (£2.99)
A lovely app that allows pupils to make their own books straight into the app. Students can import pictures, change the size and style of the font, and make some lovely books which can be exported to PDF and then printed out. Not only that, but children can also make instruction manuals, for example, explaining how to build a Raspberry Pi. For the ease of use and being able to print something physical that children completed on an iPad, we feel it is worthy of a place on your iPads.
Category 4 – Programming
Beebot – Free
Maybe your school has Beebots. The Beebot app is the perfect companion to the actual robot to introduce the basic concept of programming in your classroom. The app has a number of programmes to complete, each time getting more complex. The best thing is that the buttons on the app look exactly the same as the buttons on a Beebot, so children that have used it will find it familiar and this can help reinforce their learning with the floor robot. The app is a great way to introduce the concept of debugging, programming and algorithms, especially for the younger children.
ScratchJr – Free
Developed by MIT, Scratch is a free desktop or online software that helps children to program and remix simple games, challenges and animations. The Scratch Junior app has been developed to introduce younger children (5 to 7 years) to programming. ScratchJr has many noticeable similarities to Scratch, so if you have used Scratch on a desktop or online before, then the environment will seem familiar. The controls work exactly the same, simply by dragging blocks onto the board. However, as it is on an iPad, some of the blocks have been removed, and because of the size of the iPad, more complicated programs will be more difficult on the iPads 10inch screen. However, if you do not have access to computers, and would like to be able to program with your class which will suit all ages and abilities, then the Scratch Jnr app is a great place to start.
Some essential apps you need but need no explaining ( and are all free!)
Dropbox – Essential for getting pictures and students work off the iPads. You will need to create an account on first time use.
Google Drive – If you have a Google account, this is a good way to transfer files from the iPad.
VLC – Enables you to store and view different video file formats.
Aurasma / Qrafter – Both allow you to scan QR codes, but Aurasma lets you make QR codes.
Brushes – A simple app to draw on the iPads.
Number Lines – An app about Number Lines
Maths Wiz – Math quiz
So, hopefully by now you have a good few apps to try out. However, word of warning to the wise, never use you personal Apple ID or account to purchase apps, and please never use your personal card to buy for your school. Make sure you have a dedicated Apple ID created for the school, and make sure that your school signs up to the Volume Purchase Programme. Apple;s Volume Purchase Programme allows you to bulk by apps and gives you a redeemable list of codes that can then be distributed to your school by either a cloud management based system on the iPads such as Meraki or Apple’s Distribution Service, Apple Configurator. Another benefit, is all the paid apps we mentioned above will be at a reduced price to the school if your school signs up to Apples Volume Purchasing Programme. Apps are normally half price if you buy 20 or more, which cuts the cost considerably.
More information about the Volume Purchase Programme can be found on Apple’s Education website here.