Winter break is a time for students to relax, refresh, and start forgetting everything they learned in the first semester. While winter brain drain is less significant than the summer slide, getting students back into learning mode when they return from break can eat into valuable teaching time. But keeping students’ brains active doesn’t have to mean sending them home with worksheets, book reports, or group projects. It can be as simple as suggesting they spend some of their free time on one of these free Google Play and Chrome apps.
Here are our suggestions for fun and educational apps to keep your students using their brains.
STEM can help kids develop analytic and problem-solving skills. These applications will let them strengthen their left brains without pages of practice problems.
Kids can create the next viral app with the help of MIT. This application connects with the free, web-based MIT App Inventor to teach students how to build applications and let them test their creations on their Android devices. This app has users in 195 countries, who’ve created almost 22 million apps. Prior coding or design experience isn’t necessary with the thoughtful tutorials, and students of all ages are able to use the application. American middle schoolers created an app to help blind classmates navigate school hallways, Nigerian high-schoolers built an app to help police catch traffic offenders, and young Moldovan women made Apa Pura, which helps residents find safe drinking water. Overall, MIT AI2 Companion is a simple way for students to learn a new skill at their own pace during break.
This application is much more entertaining than its name might suggest. Players solve multiplication questions to feed an adorable panda. Students can choose their difficulty, how long they want to be quizzed, and get instant feedback on their answers. Correct answers earn points, which can be exchanged for different meals for the panda, including avocados and birthday cake. By gamifying times tables, the app promises that kids will master multiplication without noticing!
Many public libraries subscribe to Hoopla Digital, a multimedia lending service that lets users read ebooks and graphic novels, listen to audiobooks, and watch videos. Educators can make a suggested list of books for their students- from Murder on the Orient Express to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Alice in Zombieland– or can give the kids free reign on what to read. With automatic returns, no late fees, and 24-hour access, even kids who won’t be near a library can still keep reading.
Part encyclopedia, part trivia game, World Geography will help kids study for map tests and social studies exams without even knowing it. This dynamic quiz game adapts to players’ weaknesses to teach about maps, flags, capitals, currencies, and much more. In a race against the clock, students will score points in different categories, unlock increasingly hard levels, and be prepared for their geography class when they return to school.
The best way for students to better their writing is by practice, but writer’s block can become a good excuse for students to quit before starting. Storybird lets students of all ages write and design picturebooks, longform e-books, and poetry. Users can choose from beautifully drawn illustrations to inspire their text. Teachers can give writing prompts through this common-core friendly app, and download or print their classroom’s stories for a small fee.
Students are more stressed than ever, and winter break is the perfect time for them to recharge without the worries of tests and assignments. These apps will help kids unwind after a long semester.
Calm teaches mindfulness through guided meditation. Users can choose different paths depending on their goals, like Focus, Calm, Better Sleep, or Stress and Anxiety management. While there are many free meditations, subscribers have access to additional sessions, like the College Companion, the Breaking Habits series, and a specific selection of meditation for younger children.
Since students are going to watch TV anyway, they might as well be viewing something that’ll make them think. Here are some great options for you to recommend:
- Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
- Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
- The Mekong River with Sue Perkins
- Ken Burns: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Keeping students learning over winter break can be as easy as recommending the appropriate Google Play and Chrome applications. With fun but educational apps, students can stay academically active while still relaxing and preparing for a successful semester.
*This app is free but has in-app purchases available. If you are recommending this app to students, make sure their parents are aware that in-app purchases are available and that they should talk with their student about expectations regarding purchases.
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