iPhone: Apps and education

Danny Gorog
28 November, 2010
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The app store is filled with so many great apps but many of them have limited utility. As fun as fart and burp apps are, they aren’t exactly great examples of what makes iOS devices so powerful.

The Education category of the App Store, however, is filled with fabulous examples of great apps that can make a real difference to your kids’ education. Currently there are 14,541 education apps so you should find something useful!

I recently got the opportunity to test a couple of apps from a developer called Montessorium, which has produced two successful apps called Intro to Math (pictured) and Intro to Letters.

Montessorium was created by a team of Montessori educators and parents, and the apps are based on the 100-year-old Montessori philosophy of education. They are all beautifully created and will capture your kids’ imagination.

Intro to Math ($5.99) aims to teach your child the basic foundations of maths, including the ability to read, write and understand numbers from 0-9. It goes further than basic writing and also uses sequences and orders to introduce spatial relationships.

For instance, my daughter’s favourite exercise is called Red Rods. The object of the activity is to improve ‘visual discrimination’ and help improve understanding of length by arranging the red rods from longest to shortest. It’s an intuitive and very creative way of teaching a complex concept.

Montessorium also makes Intro to Letters ($5.99), which introduces your child to the basics of language and the alphabet. Obviously this app alone isn’t going to get your child reading and writing but it’s a good first step.

All Montessorium apps are Universal which means they’ll work across all iOS devices. They are aimed at kids aged between 2-4+.

The education category is filled with many other titles that are worth looking at too.

Another app my kids enjoy is called Wheels on the Bus which, as you can guess by the title, is an interactive musical book based on the popular children’s song. App creator Duck Duck Moose also has a number of others including Old MacDonald, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Itsy Bitsy Spider.

They’re also available for iPad.

If your kids are a bit older try some of the more advanced apps like Star Walk, a ‘personal planetarium that can answer all of your curiosities about the sky’. The app lists more than 9000 stars, planets, constellations and messier objects, and also uses the GPS in your phone to see the sky in front of you.

Other great features include Time Machine, which lets you scroll back in time, and Sky Live, which lets you view moon phases, elevation and rising data for the Sun, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn.

Lastly, you don’t have to spend a packet on apps for your kids. The ‘Kid Apps: 13 in 1’ app, for example, is exactly as it sounds – 13 games in one app ranging from maths games to flash cards and interactive tracing drills. Not bad for free.

This article originally appeared in the November issue of Australian Macworld magazine.

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