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Phoenix Forward magazine

5 apps for kids that entertain and educate

Best educational apps for kids

If you’re weary of hearing your kids playing “Angry Birds,” there are a lot of other options that are educational and just as engaging, says Charlene Kaplan, an instructor in the early childhood education program at University of Phoenix and a former preschool director.

“While there’s no substitution for school instruction,” Kaplan says, “a lot of these apps can help reinforce important concepts and keep your kids busy while you’re stuck in traffic.”

Here are five apps, all compatible with iPhone®, iPod® touch or iPad® devices, that are well worth the time and relatively small investment:

1

American Museum of Natural History’s Dinosaurs iPad App

If you have a Tyrannosaurus Rex fan in the house who has learned to read, this app is a wealth of fascinating information, which, Kaplan says, “will keep the right kid busy for days.”

Cool tools: The home page opens on a gigantic zoom-able Dino-skull mosaic made up of about 1,000 photos of fossils and dinosaurs. When you double-tap the mosaic, you can click on information buttons and flip the photos to read stories and facts about the world’s largest fossil collection.

Cost: $1.99

2

iSign

Children interested in languages can learn a new one in their spare time with this app, which features the entire sign language alphabet and 800 gestures demonstrated by a graphically animated woman.

Cool tools: Features include a quiz mode where kids can test themselves on words they’ve learned, as well as a “favorites” list for saving frequently used signs.

Cost: $4.99. A free, bare-bones version of this app is also available.

3

Marble Math Junior

For any student age 5–8 who’s resistant to practicing math facts — and also for those who love math — this app  turns math concepts into a game that combines fine motor skills with solving equations. Players answer problems by rolling a marble over the correct answer while navigating through a maze of incorrect answers.

Cool tools: Users can choose from three levels of difficulty, select the core skills they want to focus on, and even decide whether to tilt or drag the marble while solving subtraction, multiplication, division, analog clock and currency problems.

Cost: $1.99

4

Dr. Panda’s Restaurant

Geared toward preschoolers, this cooking app — which is also available on Android™ devices — features a cast of animal characters that help kids learn how to prepare food, set and clear the table, and recycle after a meal.

Cool tools: Dr. Panda is “super intuitive and easy for little fingers to navigate,” Kaplan offers. Kids follow on-screen arrows as they stir ingredients in frying pans and serve their edible creations to dining animals. Bonus points for Mom: It trains kids to be helpers in the kitchen.

Cost: $1.99

5

Pianist

Everyone from budding musicians to total novices will enjoy plunking away on this app, which features a complete set of 88 piano keys labeled with corresponding notes. “The sound quality is surprisingly good,” says Kaplan, who recommends the app for all ages, even adults.

Cool tools: Touted as the best of breed among keyboard apps, Pianist includes a metronome, recording device and 3-D keys that virtually depress, as well as the option of having two rows of keys visible for four-octave playing.

Cost: $3.99

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Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

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