Social Series: The Best Apps for Back-to-School


A long, long time ago when I was just a young schoolgirl, we searched for books using an archaic library system (The Dewey Decimal!) and used things called encyclopedias to do research reports and the word “application” meant a form you filled out to apply for something. In my later years (circa the 7th grade) the invention of cell phones took off and me and every other kid on the block had a sweet Nokia brick. These cellular devices were good for talking and texting (if you knew how) and that was about it. You couldn’t even access the internet from these things – Crazy I know. Nothing about cell phones fit into learning and were therefore usually banned from most classrooms. “I don’t want to hear or see it, and if I do, then it’s mine,” was the familiar speech given by all teachers.

Skip ahead a few years to the present where cell phones and other mobile devices are not only allowed in classrooms and lecture halls but are being praised by teachers and professors as invaluable learning tools. As we embark on another exciting school year, I would like to share with you my favorite apps for students of all ages.

Let’s start off at the beginning with preschool to elementary school students. During these early years, children are developing vital learning skills like reading and writing and it is so vital to their future education that they master these skills at this young age. To help the little pupils excel, the appstore offers great apps like Read Comprehension, which helps build your child’s reading comprehension skills with a variety of topics to read about, from the Solar System to Sportmanship, they’ve got it all. The app also provides follow-up questions to challenge your child’s comprehension skills. Another great app, Super Why, allows kiddos to dive into interactive literacy games feet first. With characters like Alpha Pig, Princess Presto and Wonder Red, learning will be a ball. Super Why covers all your literary bases, with the alphabet, rhyming, spelling, writing, and reading. I also suggest nurturing your child’s creativity with apps that let their imagination soar like Princess Fairy Tale Maker and Monster Physics.

Jumping ahead to the teenage years, here are a few apps that will make high school a breeze. Is your child a bit stressed about taking one of the most important tests of their lives: the SAT? Fear not, check out the SAT Vocab – Mind Snacks app and put that SAT in check. And to help your high schooler steer through those tougher courses, download apps like iMathematics, Vernier Video Physics; and Shakespeare – which comes equipped with everything from Hamlet to A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and 39 other plays, 154 sonnets and six poems. Some apps can even save you money, like the PocketCas Lite app which turns your phone into a serious graphing calculator for FREE (a $139 value).

Moving onto the college years, where kids are trying to juggle a full load of demanding classes, internships, part-time jobs and a social life in their free time. The biggest issue for these young adults is just trying to keep up with it all. With apps like gFlash and Evernote, students will be able to keep up with their intense and busy study schedules. gFlash allows users to create and edit their own set of flashcards. With no limits on the number of cards they can create and features like reverse Q&A and support for multiple choice questions, this app is sure to put the flashcard business to shame. And with college come research projects, lots of research projects, that’s where the app Evernote steps in. This amazing app allows students to take notes, record audio, and even stores documents. Did I mention it also syncs between all capable devices? With these simple to use apps, your students will be on top of their college game.

And I even have something for you adults who love to continue learning, and discovering new things every day. To enrich your lives with new knowledge that will set you apart from the rest, check out my two favorite learning apps: TED and Stitcher Radio. The TED app is compiled of the well-known TED talks which present seminars from the most fascinating people from all aspects of the professional world. And Stitcher Radio is a streaming app that features podcasts from NPR and WSJ.

So sorry Pink Floyd, we DO need an education and from early childhood to mature adulthood, these innovative apps are a great resources for getting one. Learn on my friends, learn on.

- Katie Cohen, Junior Copywriter