Elementary Applications

MP900422734.JPGMobile Apps benefit early learners just as much as students in secondary or post-secondary schools. In fact, "there is even early evidence that preschoolers who use iPads for some guided activities have a small advantage with language acquisition" (Swanson, 2012, para. 1). The same can hold true for iPhones, iPods and any other mobile devices. Swanson (2012) also notes that more and more young learners are becoming engaged by using apps. It will be important for educators to be aware of these tools and the potential they have for learning in an elementary environment.

Here are some examples of how mobile applications can be used in an elementary setting:

1) Concept review or application

  • Students can review flashcards, play memory games and review concepts through the use of mobile apps. Some examples for the iPhone/iPad are: SightCards, Hangman, Bluster, Math Monsters, Fractions App Lite, Ladybug Count, Geoboard (by the Math Learning Center), Early Learning Abacus, Rush Hour, Sudoko, SpellTower, Friends of Ten, Starfall Read, 100s Board, Number Lines, Arithmaroo1, Yoku-Gami, Scrabble blast, Guess the Code, Endless Alphabet, NumberScale, Pictureka!

  • Students can create review questions or link students to text or websites using QR codes. To create a QR code, students and teachers can use: http://goqr.me/ or www.qrstuff.com. Once a QR code is created, students can print their codes and have other students read the code with the i-nigma or QR Reader app.

  • Students can use their prior knowledge and concepts seen in class and use them in a real world or an online context: Amazing Earth 3D, Google Earth, World Maps 2012, Clock, Faces iMake, DoodleBuddy, Virtuoso, Music Intervals

2) Planning Tools
  • Students can brainstorm ideas together using the Sticky Notes app or the iBrainstorm app. Sticky Notes is only available on a tablet device, however there are similar applications available for both mobile phone and tablets.

  • Students can plan out story ideas and brainstorm writing ideas using the Mindomo, Popplet or Simplemind+ app.

3) Recording device

  • Students can use a voice/audio recording app such as Quick Memo, QuickVoice Recorder or Audioboo to self-assess their reading. Students can read aloud and record their voices at the same time and then review what was read (Mary, 2012). By reviewing a self recording, students can see what words caused them difficulty and then determine what strategies they used to approach the unfamiliar words.

  • Students can also use mobile apps to help with OT (occupational therapy). Dexteria allows students to practice working on their fine motor. It has pinching and dragging exercises. Phonics Studio and Articulation provide speech exercises. Students can choose the letter sound they need to work on and decide whether they want to practice the sound at the beginning, middle or end of the words. They can then record their words and review their recording once finished.

  • Teachers can use a video recording app such as Camera to record group discussions, reader's theater plays or a student's explanation to a learning concept. This video can then be reviewed by the teacher or class as a group or self-assessment tool.

  • Students can record written work or review points on their mobile app and then transfer that audio recording to their computer. Once on the computer the student can use their audio file to create a podcast, a story or use it an another educational way.

  • Students can create stories, audio books and plays. They can create their own images and save them in the picture folder to use for their stories/plays or they can use the provided images and characters. Some easy to use apps are: Puppet Pals HD, Sock Puppets, Toontastic, StoryBuddy 2, Book Creator, Videolicious, Scribble Press, ShowMe and Educreations. Students may also use Mindomo and Simplemind+ (mind mapping software) to plan out their stories prior to creating them.

4) Photo & Video Applications

  • Students can take pictures of anything and everything. For example, in math students could be studying about geometric shapes. With their Camera they can take pictures of the different geometric shapes they found in the school and outside. They can then share their pictures in a slideshow or in a storybook.

  • Students can use their mobile phone/tablet to take pictures and create collages with Pic Collage or labelled posters/diagrams using Skitch. We recommend checking out Steve Clark's Blog to see these apps in use at

    http://www.yycipads.blogspot.ca/2012/12/picture-collage-app.htmland http://www.yycipads.blogspot.ca/2012/11/kindergarten-labeling.html(Clark, 2012).
  • Students can create slow-motion animation through the use of the Stop-motion camera app. Students can draw a series of images or create several manipulated play dough figures and then take a picture of each image with this app.

  • Comic Life and Comic Touch Lite are apps where students can produce their own comics. Some include pictures and some require students to upload pictures from the photo gallery.

5) Research & Self-editing

  • Students can look up words using online dictionaries or translation. Some apps include dictionary.com (Swanson, 2012), Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Google Translate, iTranslate.

  • Students can use the Socrative app where they follow a series of predetermined tasks and questions. They can provide answers to the questions and can use other apps to find answers. An elementary class in Tawain used PDAs (personal digital assistants) during a social studies inquiry project where they were able to receive hints from teachers through their app. They also had to take notes and respond to open-ended questions (Ju-Ling, Chien-Wen et Gwo-Jen, 2010).

Here is a screenshot of some top recommended apps for K-4 elementary students (some can be applicable for div II as well):

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 8.29.46 PM.png

We should see mobile devices as an educational tool that can connect school world with the real world and not just as a way to communicate with our friends and family (Nielsen, 2011). Mobile learning can be valuable in education as long as we embrace it as educators and use it for it's potential.

(words written in Teal are names of actual applications you can buy from the Apple App store)

Clark, S. (2012, December 15). Picture collage app [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.yycipads.blogspot.ca/2012/12/picture-collage-app.html

Clark, S. (2012, November 21). Kindergarten labeling [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.yycipads.blogspot.ca/2012/11/kindergarten-labeling.html

Ju-Ling, S., Chien-Wen, C., & Gwo-Jen, H. (2010). An inquiry-based mobile learning approach to enhancing social science learning effectiveness. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 13(4), 50-62.

Mary. (2012, June 7). Education technology: Apps in the elementary classroom (Part 1) [Web log post]. Retrieved from


Nielsen, L. (2011, December 28). 12 Most useful ways kids can learn with cell phones [Web log post]. Retrieved from


Swanson, G. (2012, July 6). Early years apps for learning [Web log post]. Retrieved from