Our 10 Best Apps for Homeschooling on the Road

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As we’ve been traveling, I’ve researched dozens and dozens of apps for homeschooling, seeing which ones might work well for our kids. We’ve tried out many of them — some we keep, and others we don’t. Check out our 10 best apps for homeschooling.

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling

Our Top 10 iPad Apps for Homeschooling

Listed here are the ones we use most frequently. This isn’t a complete list —  I’ll save my views on Vine and Temple Run for later. Instead, this is a quick rundown of the apps my kids presently use the most that have easily justifiable educational benefits.

Looney Tunes Phonics

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - Looney Tunes Phonics

We use Looney Tune Phonics alongside the ClicknKids web program on our laptops. They’re basically the same thing, but the app can be used on an iPad, while ClicknKids website content won’t make the leap to smart devices.

Another benefit of the app is that it integrates clips of Bugs Bunny, Tweetybird and other Warner Brothers characters into the lessons. I use quotes around “benefits” because adding cartoons to your phonics lessons is a dubious advantage. My son hated them because it slowed down his finishing time.

Fortunately, you can adjust the amount of cartoon per lesson in the settings. Another warning: the app tends to stall and/or buffer on one of our iPads to the point of being unusable, so we could only use one iPad for this. The kids don’t use this app much any more as they’re just about to finish all 100 lessons, but they’re still tearing through the Click n Spell lessons on the laptop.

Check the official website about Looney Tunes Phonics

Get an App for Looney Tunes Phonics ($30/year)

Khan Academy

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - Khan Academy

Khan Academy is also an accompaniment to a website used on the laptop. If you’re not familiar with Khan Academy, you should get started.

At present, my kids focus solely on the mathematics lessons here, but Khan Academy is much, much more. Kids and adults can learn a lot here, and now that they’ve teamed up with the United States’ school board to prep students for the college entrance exams, we may be using Khan Academy for years to come.

Most of the lessons are accompanied by youtube videos with great instructors, many of which have been transcribed, as well.

Get an App for Khan Academy app (free)

Bobo Explores Light

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - Bobo Discovers Light

Bobo Explores Light is one of the most impressive looking interactive learning experiences we’ve had on the iPad. This app unfurls the science and wonder of light. From fire and lightning to bioluminescence and auroras, Bobo Explores Light walks you through the science of it all in ways that are fun for both me and my kids.

For example, your fingers move lasers to see how they reflect and refract in certain situations, and there is plenty of additional text and video in there when you want to dig deeper. I only wish that it had a “read to me” feature. That way our girl could have got through a lot more of it on here own.

Get an App for Bobo Explores Light ($5)

Reading Rainbow

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - Reading Rainbow

Reading Rainbow is a pricey one, but it’s been completely worth it to us. The app itself is free, but you’ll need a $9.99/month subscription to really get any use out of it.

Just like the old TV show it originates from, the Reading Rainbow app is all about getting young noses in books. It’s a virtual library, where each child with an account creates a profile by age and interests (sports, nature, adventure, history, etc) so that relevant books present themselves.

Kids can keep up to five books in the app at a time, and can then read the book themselves or have the book read to them by a variety of narrators, including LeVar Burton himself.

You’ll need a wifi connection to download the books and watch the accompanying videos, but downloaded books can be read with or without internet. We allow the kids to read whatever they take an interest in there, or have it read to them. But they know that they’ll need to choose a few of those books each week to read back to me.

These are picture books, but some get into complex language that is still challenging to my ESL 11-year-old. We love this being part of our day. The only complaint is that without chapter books, it will soon lose the interest of my oldest.

Get an App for Reading Rainbow

News-O-Matic

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - News-O-Matic

News-o-Matic is a kid-centered news app, with five new stories daily (you can toggle back to old stories if you like).

Apps like this could easily just cover fluff and call it news for kids (“This just in: Puppies are adorable!”). And being an American-made app, it could just cover domestic stories and many of its users would be satisfied.

Fortunately, News-o-Matic doesn’t seem to be that kind of app. Sure, it has stories about horses, dinosaurs and the Billboard Music Awards. They also covered the Indian Election, the recent flooding in SE Europe and the fast-food workers’ protests. There’s also a hangman-type word game and a puzzle using one image from the day’s news. The best add-on in the app, I think, is a timeline-based “On this Date” game.

On this Date

For example, on May 20th, the camera (1837), alphabet blocks (1882), and bubble gum (1928) were invented. The first eBook was created on May 20th, 1971, as well, we are told. But there’s one more item on the page without a date: blue jeans. The kids need to place a rocket icon on the timeline somewhere between these other items to guess when Levi Strauss made the first blue jeans. I love putting these the dates and objects of our lives in perspective like this. The kids do too.

We use this app much like we do Reading Rainbow: the kids read whatever they want, or have it read to them (News-o-Matic has that feature, too). Then later on, they must either read one or two of these stories to us, or simply explain it to us in their own words. Usually we don’t even have to ask — it just becomes part of the conversation over lunch, in the car, or wherever we are. I wanted our kids to be more aware of what’s happening in the world. This app is a major step in the right direction.

Get an App for News-O-Matic

The Converted

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - Converted

This is a simple conversion app, but the GUI is so engaging that we use it even when we don’t need to. With a few flicks of your fingers, you can understand the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit or the Yen and the Dollar, but the interface makes it easy to toggle between large numbers and granular percentiles.

Converted also works with currencies, lengths, weights, volumes, temperatures, speeds, areas and pressure. Running your finger up and down the scale allows you to better understand the proportions between whatever two units of measurement you’re working with.

Get an App for The Converted(USD $3)

How it Works: Machines

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - How Stuff Works

I don’t know how much time you’ll spend with this one, but my daughter turns to this app with enough frequency that I feel compelled to include it.

It’s pretty simple: kids see diagrams of common mechanical devices: cars, lawn mowers and hair dryers, for example. Then they use their fingers to place the main components into the device to see…wait for it…how it works. There’s not much to it — there is no animation or real explanation — but it’s been a nice springboard for further exploration.

On its own, your kid will finish it in an hour. To get more out of it, you should then seek out videos and other info on the machines you see in the app: rockets, car engines, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Show the real machine to your kid, then show the parts (if you can).

Get an App for How it Works: Machines (USD $2)

Star Walk

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - Starwalk

What an amazing app. Turn on the wifi and point your device at the sky. There on your screen you’ll see constellations light up as you scan through the heavens, giving you a real-time look at what’s above you at that moment.

You can even track the planets and follow satellites in (semi) real-time orbit. The app can even provide an approximate time when certain objects are directly overhead (using your location information, naturally).

There are dozens of ways to integrate this app into learning opportunities, but all we’ve done so far is look up constellations related to Greek and Roman mythology. The kids love the Percy Jackson book series, and the gods & monsters found within, so this has been a nice way to expand on that.

Get an App for Star Walk (USD $3)

Human Body

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - Starwalk

Human Body is one of the most impressive and accessible physical science app I’ve used with the kids. This app is essentially the “How it Works” of our bodies, but with much more information and infinitely better graphics.

Kids can get an intimate and informative look at bones, muscles, the nervous system, the digestive system, you name it. Most of the organs are covered, as well (skin being the exception), with clever visuals to show how it all works.

There is no voice or text, which means the kids will get more out of it if you join them during a session and help explain things. My two have enjoyed examining the digestive system, watching food go through the stomach and intestines, and then make the colon pass gas and defecate. See? Education! The only fart app I’ll ever endorse.

Get an App for The Human Body

Monster Physics

Our Top 10 Favorite iPad apps for Homeschooling - Monster Physics

Kids build their own monster and then try to feed him by building devices to get them to the grub. Different materials must be used: rope, wheels, springs, magnets, pulleys, propellers and (sometimes) rockets.

It takes some serious critical thinking to get the whole thing to work sometimes, but the kids love the entire process. Big fun.

Get an App for Monster PPhysics

What apps for homeschooling have we missed? I’m sure that there are many that we haven’t used or haven’t got around to yet. What works for your family?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase through those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

Comments

  1. Hi!
    We don’t homeschool our children, but as a family we like the app KeyWordCup, https://appstore.com/keywordcup. It is an educational word game app for iPad – a bit like Hangman, but you can play it together 1-3 players on the same device (that is an app that promotes fellowship!). It is free right at the time of writing.

  2. Hi family, Our family used the “Sky” app. when vacationing in San Diego at Christmas. We went out into a desert and it was very cool. It is so interesting to read of all the materials that your children are using. I had heard of Khan before but now my children are all grown. I will continue to read and enjoy your entries.

    Debbie

    • Thank you Debbie! Yes, Khan Academy is pretty great. I’ll be very interested to see what role it and similar services will play in the future of education. They can’t do everything, but there’s so much potential there!

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