We're working our way through elementary school, app list style. This week's feature is my opinion on the must-have iPad apps in a classroom or at home for first grade students. But don't forget about the Kindergarten Top 10 list from last week. Many of the apps on that list are still very appropriate for first grade students. And keep watching for the second grade list, since many first grade students are ready for the challenges that list will bring.
TeachMe: 1st Grade: Rated 4.5 stars by Heather S
The good developers at 24x7 Digital have an app for first graders, too. TeachMe: 1st Grade was rated a Top Pick by Heather S. last school year. This great app allows the user to practice addition, subtraction, sight words and spelling. The spelling section allows the choice between typing in an answer, or using a handwriting fuction on standard lined paper. This flexibility, along with the ability to add 40 profiles, make it a great classroom pick.
iPad/iPhone - $1.99
Math Bingo: Rated 5 stars by Ron
Math Bingo is one of the first apps Ron reviewed when he started this site, and he gave it an early coveted five-star rating. My son loved it well into second grade, and the addition and subtraction levels are great for first grade(with an extra challenge for students who are ready for it with the multiplication and division options). Teachers can set up five user profiles — not enough if there is just one iPad per class, but a good option for classrooms with several.
iPad/iPhone - $.99
We love BrainPop in my house, and this version is designed specifically for younger students (from about 5-9). There is one free movie per week on this great app, which also includes activities and quizzes for free. It can be hard to use it along with curriculum without the full access (available through in-app purchases), unless the movie happens to line up. But it's a great choice for at home and for free centers, because there is so much learning in this great app. As I write this, the current week's video is perfect for back-to-school, about listening and speaking with great social skills lessons.
iPad/iPhone - FREE with in-app purchases
How can you not love an app featuring the classic sock puppets? This app is so much fun for creating stories featuring the socks. Kids create stories with narration while moving around the puppets and scenery. When the recording is finished, the puppets lip sync like they actually were talking. It's pretty easy to figure out, and this complete version includes all of the various in-app purchases. But, if you're not convinced, download the free version to try it out.
iPad/iPhone, $3.99 full verison, FREE version with in-app purchases
Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App!: Rated 5 stars by Emilie
Emilie reviewed this app when her own daughter was getting ready to enter first grade, and nearly every first grader I know just loves the pigeon. The tie-in to the much-adored pigeon series of books is great, encouraging kids to read even more. This app has kids making their own stories featuring the pigeon. There is also an easier mad-libs style section, which allows kids to practice answering questions on topic (if you don't think they need practice, talk to a few more first graders!) It's a more expensive app, but I maintain children's literacy development is worth it.
iPad/iPhone - $5.99
For any students still needing basic foundational handwriting skills, be sure to check out Writing Wizard on the kindergarten list, or even the basic Touch and Write app. Touch and Write Phonics is a great choice for first grade, though, because it concentrates on putting into practice the foundational writing skills most have already learned. This app focuses on the phonics lessons most first graders are learning, writing words following vowel patterns or including digraphs and blends. Plus, kids write the words with ketchup, shaving cream, chocolate pudding and more fun and crazy choices.
iPad only - $2.99
This journaling app developed for kids from 5-13 allows for six different profiles. It's an excellent way for students to start exploring a daily journal with writing, drawing and photos. Stickers can even be added to each page. Use it as a book journal to record reflections on each book that is read. Entries can be shared individually without sharing the entire journal. I love the simplicity for younger users that still includes the features needed in a good journaling system.
iPad only - $1.99
First grade brings the first spelling tests in my school (kindergarteners are usually still allowed to use inventive spelling). I love the Simplex apps for the solid focus on building a foundational phonics system while learning accurate spelling. It's not an app to use to put in your own list, but I find it great practice for overall phonics growth (the foundation for solid reading) even if another app is used for a mandated spelling list. There are 42 lessons with over 450 words, and the app even allows for 40 profiles. This is an app well worth the price.
iPad/iPhone - $4.99
Dr. Panda's Restaurant 2: Rated 5 stars by Rachel J
My daughter, now 7 and starting second grade, loves all of the Dr. Panda apps, but she especially loves this restaurant app. In this fun app, the user helps Dr. Panda make great food for some great customers, who communicate their menu choices with thought bubbles. Dishes range from a large salad to pasta. The user gets to have plenty of control over the ingredients added to the dish, and gets to chop, slice or blend, as needed. It's great for practicing sequencing, and it would be easy to extend into writing activities, too. Plus, first graders still need pretend play, too.
iPad/iPhone - $2.99
Todo Math: Rated 4.5 stars by Emily
Todo Math used to be totally free, and it was amazing. Now it's free, but a lot of the content is available only with (pretty expensive) in-app purchases. It makes my list, though, because it's really a quality math app. For those not ready to commit to the big-ticket full access, simply try out the free version to see if it works for individual need. What I like about it for first grade is that it covers kindergarten through second grade math, allowing for differentiation all in the same app.
iPad only - Free with in-app purchases
As of this year, all of Heather H.'s kids are beyond first grade level, but she still loves this age group.