10 Free Educational Apps to Make Your Kids’ Phone Time Count

published Aug 18, 2023
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Regardless of age, anyone with a smartphone knows what it’s like to spend a little too much time mindlessly looking at their screen. While your go-tos may be social media and news outlets, your children may pick up your phone and gravitate toward games and videos. While these activities are fun, they can also be enriching — especially if you have your phone well-stocked with free educational apps.

Whether you have a child in Pre-K or an older student, there are tons of free apps designed to engage and pique their curiosity. So next time your kid has some downtime, make sure to have one of these apps downloaded so you can entertain their brain while expanding their horizons, one game at a time.


1. Sounder and Friends

Learning to read and flesh out sounds can be intimidating, especially when the English language has so many nuances, but an app can help fill the gap. “Sounder and Friends helps early readers to hear the sounds in words, which is a critical early reading skill,” says Minnesota-based reading and writing tutor Ashley Gilbert. In a game-like fashion, users can experiment with sounds by rearranging word parts. Gilbert adds that the app helps to motivate young learners with interesting animations. 

2. Cool Math

Struggling with math is common, and parents aren’t always able to help. After all, solving for square roots and adding fractions isn’t a part of daily adult life for most folks. Mother of three Whitney Rancourt is a Texas-based elementary school instruction coach who recommends using Cool Math’s app to help a child’s brain automate basic math skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

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3. Etymonline

If your child always asks questions and enjoys knowing how things are made, Etymonline is the ideal app to keep them curious. Rebecca Deitsch has a Ph.D. from Harvard and has taught and tutored middle schoolers through adults. She recommends this app because you can enter any English word and find its history and origins. “This is a great resource for students learning about word formation or trying to expand their vocabulary in preparation for standardized tests,” she says. Plus, she notes, students tend to remember new words easily due to how bizarre some word history is.

4. Techne Futbol

Not all apps have to focus on math or language to educate, which is where an app like sports-focused Techne Futbol can work the body and mind. The app shows soccer drills for players to do at home or on a field. Youth soccer coach Stefan Angelevski found the app a lifesaver during the pandemic. “They had a free curriculum to improve their skills and compete with each other for time spent on it,” he reflects. He continues to use it with his teams to teach and reinforce training, and it’s also a fun way to teach skills to active kids interested in sports.

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5. Blending Board

Gilbert also recommends Blending Board, which is a great way to practice reading words and learning spelling patterns. “Not only is it super easy to use, but my clients also love to change the background color and swipe to change the letter cards,” she says. If you have a beginning reader, this app is a fabulous way to build confidence via interactive practice. 

6. Photomath

Jeanine Bobenmoyer felt powerless to help her son, who was struggling with math. While he was being tutored by his middle school teacher, Bobenmoyer also turned to Photomath for help. “This has become a go-to for me to follow along with my son’s math homework and better understand his studies so I can support him,” says Bobenmoyer. Users scan math equations with a smartphone, and then the app provides step-by-step solutions along with additional explanations and graphs, if necessary.

7. Prodigy Game

As a Florida-based elementary and special ed teacher, Jane Ecochardt often turns to educational apps to aid her students. Still, the one she uses most is Prodigy Game, a math-based role-playing game that her students love. “Players have to answer math questions to progress through the levels and virtual world,” says Ecochardt, adding that users can also earn rewards and engage in math battles. One big positive to this app is that it gets increasingly difficult as a student’s skills improve and it can report results to a teacher or tutor.

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8. GoNoodle

GoNoodle is the perfect brain break, especially for homeschoolers who need to give their child regular times of mind rest and movement. “If kids get fidgety, you can fire up a fun little GoNoodle video and have kids follow along with the dances or mindfulness exercises,” recommends Rancourt. It’s her favorite app to inject a block of learning with physical activity to keep kids engaged and help them release some energy. 

9. Khan Academy Kids

Gilbert’s clients enjoy the Khan Academy Kids app so much that she sometimes uses it as a reward after a student works hard during a session. “It is so comprehensive,” she says while noting that the app has games, logic puzzles, stories, and videos, which will keep kids entertained and thinking for quite a while. Gilbert adds, “I highly recommend it for children working on Pre-K through second grade skills.” 

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10. AnkiDroid

Although other flashcard apps like Quizlet and StudyBlue exist, Deitsch’s favorite app in the genre is AnkiDroid (but don’t confuse it for the similarly named AnkiApp). AnkiDroid ranks on top for Deitsch because it shows flashcards at different intervals based on response speed. “The advantage is that you aren’t stuck reviewing all your flashcards every day,” she says. “Instead, you see the most difficult cards the most frequently and the easiest cards the least frequently.” One point to note is that although it’s free on Android and desktops, there is a one-time $25 fee for iOS users, and it’s called AnkiMobile on iPhone.

This post originally published on Apartment Therapy. Read it there: 10 Free Educational Apps to Make Your Kids’ Phone Time Count