The Best Educational Apps for the iPad

Here are 8 great iPad apps for learning at home or in the classroom

The iPad can be an effective way to complement any child's education. Whether a student is struggling to grasp a certain concept or entering pre-K, these educational apps are a great way to continue learning outside the classroom. Most of these apps are free, but some include in-app purchases to unlock additional lessons.

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Khan Academy

Khan Academy educational app
What We Like
  • Courses are detailed.

  • Qualified instructors.

  • Affordable.

What We Don't Like
  • Instructors sometimes assume existing knowledge.

  • Lacks expanded content.

The most comprehensive educational app available for the iPad, Khan Academy covers K-12 subjects, including math, biology, chemistry, finance, and history, among others. The app includes more than 4,200 videos and lessons, from basic counting all the way up to SAT preparation.

Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization focused on providing free education. While not as entertaining as some of the other apps on this list, it is the only one that compiles all subjects and all learning levels into a single free app.

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BrainPOP Jr. Movie of the Week

BrainPOP Jr. movies app for iPad
What We Like
  • Free content available.

  • New videos each week.

  • Well-organized content.

What We Don't Like
  • Paid subscription for all content.

  • Learn almost exclusively through video.

  • Passive learning.

Meant for children in kindergarten through third grade, BrainPOP Jr's Movie of the Week is a passive but entertaining way to teach kids reading, writing, math, social studies, and other subjects. Each free movie includes bonus quizzes and other activities meant to solidify the video's core lessons.

The app offers two subscriptions. Explorer includes three related videos and a movie of the week. Full Access grants students unlimited access to all content.

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Preschool and Kindergarten Games

Preschool & Kindergarten Learning Games app for iPad
What We Like
  • Covers important preschool and kindergarten concepts.

  • Engaging for very young kids.

  • Parental monitoring features.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited activities for each age group.

  • Requires a subscription to access all content.

  • Games can feel repetitive.

Preschool and Kindergarten Games is the first in a series of educational apps. Each one offers tools to learn the alphabet, numbers, language, and math skills. The apps come with a selection of games you can try for free. Students can easily exit games with a convenient slide-to-close mechanic, which is great for toddlers who could accidentally exit the app and lose their place.

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Geoboard educational app for iPad
What We Like
  • Encourages creativity.

  • Great replacement for a physical board.

  • Collaboration is possible.

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks lesson plans and instructions.

  • Intended for supervised use.

Geoboard is a simulated pegboard with nails and rubber bands that can be manipulated to create shapes. It's meant to teach kids basic concepts in geometry, like angle and perimeter, and it's especially useful for visual learners.

The iPad version of Geoboard includes a standard 25-pegboard and an expanded 150-pegboard.

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Math Bingo

Math Bingo app for iPhone
What We Like
  • Good way for kids to practice math.

  • Offers multiple difficulty levels.

  • Includes a local leaderboard.

What We Don't Like
  • No instruction or feedback.

  • Some non-math challenges.

  • Can get tedious to play.

Math Bingo uses game mechanics to teach basic math skills. It works more or less like regular Bingo, but rather than orienting letters and numbers on a grid, players solve a basic arithmetic problem to mark a square. The app works on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, or all operations at once.

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ABC Magic Phonics 1

ABC Magic Phonics 1 app for iPad
What We Like
  • Simple and easy to learn.

  • Free to use.

  • Good reading primer.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't fully teach reading.

  • Not for learning letters.

This first in a series of six ABC Magic Phonic apps uses flashcards to teach kids basic reading skills. Players are challenged to go through the alphabet and sound out the first letter of words. Kids can cycle through flashcards by swiping a finger across the screen, or they can press the random button to show a random card. It's a great way to introduce core reading and spelling concepts.

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Elmo Loves ABCs

Elmo Loves ABCs iPad app
What We Like
  • Variety of activities.

  • Teaches letters and sounds.

  • No internet access required.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires more resources than most games for kids.

  • A few bugs throughout the game.

One of the most expensive apps on this list, Elmo Loves ABCs is great for parents looking to kick-start their toddler's knowledge of the alphabet. Hosted by everyone's favorite Sesame Street character, the app introduces kids to each letter of the alphabet with visual cues, coloring pages, and interactive games.

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HOMER Learn & Grow

HOMER Learn & Grow app for iPad
What We Like
  • Personalized learning.

  • Boosts reading skills.

  • Includes music, stories, poems, and more.

What We Don't Like
  • In-app purchases.

  • Unlimited access is expensive.

  • A few non-educational games included.

HOMER Learn & Grow features a variety of interactive lessons, including a phonetic learn-to-read activity. Kids follow along to learn different sounds and lessons about nature and the wider world.

The app works best with Wi-Fi enabled, so new lessons can be downloaded as you go, although some must be purchased in-app.

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