Monday, January 23, 2012

Our iPad addiction…and our most loved apps


Our family loves technology.  Fitting,  since my husband is an IT software engineer.   Surprisingly, I have only within the last year or so received a smart phone.  In August, I added an iPad 2 to my collection.  One of the first things I did once it was fully charged was begin searching for apps that would be educational for the girls.  Wow – there is a plethora of apps to choose from, and more are added every day.  

Sure we have apps loaded which simply provide fun – but true to form in a homeschooling family, our favorites are the apps that expand our knowledge.  Most favored are the science apps.

Here are some of our favorite educational apps that are frequently used on our iPad:


Star Walk –  Load this app, point your iPad at the sky (day or night!), and the stars,  constellations and satellites will be identified!  The screen also shows the “shapes” of the constellations.  One of our favorite nighttime astronomy activities is to simply stand in our back yard and watch the screen while turning slowly around – we get a great view of the night sky, with explanations, even though we live in a fairly large city with lots of lights. 

Other astronomy apps that we love:


Astronomy Picture of the Day


Geo Walk – our favorite geography app, this is like a 3D reference book.  A virtual globe spins and photos pop up of general facts (you can also choose a different view, but we prefer the globe).  With filters of places, animals, plants, people and events, you can customize the photos you’re shown.  Several other viewing options plus a quiz feature make this one of our favorites to learn about the world!

Stack the States – Teaches state capitals, shapes, geographic locations, state nicknames, bordering states, and more.  If you answer a question correctly you’re awarded that state’s shape (an animated shape) to “stack” on the screen.  Build a stack of states that reaches the checkered line to win each level.  Love the visual that this game provides – there’s nothing like trying to stack the shape of Alaska on top of the shape of Rhode Island to get a visual of the size difference. 

Stack the Countries – works the same as Stack the States but with, obviously, countries.  Learn capitals, landmarks, major cities, continents, border countries, languages, flags and country shapes.

Other geography apps that we love:

National Geographic GeoBee Challenge

Puzzleography – World Geography

Puzzleography – USA Geography

Map Trek Ancient World


This Day in History – self explanatory, but one of the coolest things is that clickable links are provided for the items listed for that bring up more information.

Virtual History Roma – a virtual, panoramic tour of Ancient Rome.  Incredible views and information.  This is the first application to use ‘bubble view’ technology, which was conceived in Italy and patented in the USA. This technology uses the iPad’s sensors (accelerometer and compass) – move the iPad and the scene moves.  We loved using this for our Italy trip last fall.

National Archives—Today’s Document – Highlights 365 (including popular and lesser known items) of the most fascinating documents and photos in American History stored in the National Archives.

Smithsonian Channel – includes Smithsonian’s original series, documentaries and fun facts.

Other history apps that we love:

Library of Congress Virtual Tour

Presidents vs. Aliens

Medieval Life


The Chemical Touch – a virtual periodic table.

Simple Physics - design complex structures for everything from tree houses to ferris wheels and then simulates your design with a sophisticated physics engine.

Peterson Birds of North America – an online version of the printed field guide.

Molecules - view three-dimensional renderings (in ball-and-stick or space-filling visualization mode) of molecules and manipulate them using your fingers - rotate, zoom in or out, or pan the molecule.

Science 360 – Video and pictures from NSF_funded institutions.  There’s great stuff here,  but note that since it’s NSF info, there is evolutionary content. 

Other science apps that we love:

Crazy Machines

Real Science 4 Kids – Chemistry

The Elements

Science Glossary  


Slice It!

SAT Question of the Day




Brain Pop! - Watch a different animated movie every day, then test your new knowledge with an interactive quiz – free!  My girls loved this free app so much that I purchased the monthly subscription!  

I know there are probably great apps on my iPad that I’m neglecting to mention, but this list gives you a sample of our favorite type of apps.  I’m always looking for more great educational apps – please comment and share your favorites!


  1. This is my first time participating in the Blog Cruise, too! I see we have a few of the same apps. :) We are fighting against the pull of technology, but there really are some truly amazing things. We don't have an iPad, but I am going to check out some of the ones you have mentioned here to see if they are available for our device (iPod Touch). Thanks for sharing!

  2. We love Stack the States and Brain Pop too! Love all your ideas. Thanks for posting them!