Give it a try – our pick of the best free apps and tools, part 2

Each week in our newsletter we highlight a favourite free or low-cost app/tool/resource/piece of software and give a brief rundown of how you might use it in the classroom. Every month or so we round them up here on the blog. We’d love to hear what you think about them if you give them a go, and any others you’d like to share – leave a comment in the box below. Catch up with all the tools in Give it a try, part 1.

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Tinybop homes

Tinybop homes


Make and share 3D worlds
CoSpaces Edu is an online platform where you can create 3D virtual worlds and share them to mobile VR so students can experience a world that they have created themselves. The new basic package is free and allows logins for one class.

A camera calculator
Use the rather cool Photomath app to photograph a maths problem with your ipad or phone and promptly get the solution. Most importantly, it will also show you the working, which is useful for when pupils are stuck and want to see how they could have solved the problem – but don’t forget to encourage perseverance first and only use as a last resort!

Interactive lessons
We discovered 
Nearpod at BETT. It’s a very versatile app that allows you to make more meaningful use of your devices in the classroom. It works well on iPads but is completely cross-platform and will also work in a browser or other tablets. It lets the teacher present to pupils’ devices instead of the board and share a range of exciting content with them including a bank of virtual reality scenes. It will also enable you to assess pupils.

Tinybop online
We also noticed at BETT that the beautifully crafted content from the well-established
Tinybop series of apps is now available to those without devices through their new online content portal. If you haven’t see the apps or the breadth of coverage, take a glance, as one or more might just be a perfect match for one of those hard to resource topics (ages 4 upwards).

We like the look of this Tinybop app exploring homes in different locations around the world. Children can use the app to observe and interact with different animated living spaces in Mongolia, Yemen, Guatemala and New York.

Edison robot
Many schools are familiar with a range of controllable robots – some small, some larger, some very simple and some quite complex and sophisticated. We are currently checking out the possibilities offered by a fairly recent arrival on the scene, the Edison.

While very small, it has an interesting range of features. Raspberry Pi style, many of its electronics are visible under a clear plastic lid. These include sound and light sensors and it has the built-in capacity to be programmed via a barcode, perhaps for initial exploration, as well as through an online portal (similar to Scratch) with a range of languages – it can even interface with a range of TV remotes. It has two small wheels, and Lego bricks can be attached. One to watch!

Civilisations AR app
With BBC Two’s much heralded new series
Civilisations starting tonight, why not try out the augmented reality app created to accompany the programme? Released on both iOS and Android, it allows users to view and explore artefacts virtually – for example, looking at a mummy inside a sarcophagus. You can also “rub” through layers of history to revive a faded sculpture to what it would have looked like when it was first made.

Duck Duck Go
With concerns about privacy, tracking and sponsorship, people are moving away from Google search and using Duck Duck Go as their preferred search engine. Showing pupils that there is more than one search engine available is an essential part of digital literacy learning.



Hello Ruby
We came across  through Miles Berry at Roehampton University. Linda Liukas is a Finnish programmer, illustrator and storyteller who has created beautiful resources to support children to learn about computational thinking and programming. We recommend checking out the whole site and resources – it’s a delight.

2Race for maths
Purple Mash from 2Simple has just released some great new features. Its new 2Race game supports maths – the faster you answer the questions, the faster you race – and a whole class or selected pupils can participate. It is configurable in a variety of ways, covering different types of maths questions, there are some ready made examples to try out or use without fuss, and scores are captured and available to the teacher to review and export if needed. It’s not just racing cars either, there are snail, mermaid and rocket options too.

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