Learning apps to stop summer slide: grades 3 to 5

Yes, kids should be out playing. But when you're waiting in line at the grocery store and your child's begging for your smartphone, try one of these apps to keep your child's brain sizzling.

By Sonali Morris

Stack the States

For iPhone and iPad.

Geography can be puzzling for children. But, Stack the States makes it less daunting. Kids learn about state capitals, shapes, geographic locations while carefully building a tower of territories to reach a checkered line. States are earned for each completed level and appear on a map. The more states earned, the more bonus games won and that equals heaps of location-based happiness.

Check it out: Stack the States.


For iPhone and iPad.

Animated Tim and his beeping robot Moby take the most mundane and esoteric subjects (bar graphs and cnidarians respectively) and turn them into riveting learning lessons. Each morning, your child will eagerly rise to hear BrainPOP’s new topic and shine as a result. Flash-based movies cover a multitude of subjects: science, social studies, English, math, the arts, health, technology. A quick quiz follows each story to build comprehension, and scores are stored so they can be beaten next time around. All movies are captioned, making it easy to read along. A great way to keep grey matter giddy.

Check it out: BrainPOP.


For iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

Get your kids scrambling to unscramble letters with these two brain-teasing apps. Fishtropolis tasks users to uncover more than 2,500 words hidden in the names of 15 aquatic species. When stumped, kids simply shake their phone to remix letters or request hints.

Check 'em out: Fishtropolis.

Rocket Math

For iPhone and iPad.

This cool number crunching app takes math and makes it out-of-this-world fun. By correctly answering arithmetic operations, kids earn money to personalize rockets using many cool contraptions. Projectiles then take off for one of 56 different educational missions, ranging from numbers and time to shapes/patterns and square roots. Kids earn medals for their efforts and are encouraged to beat high scores.

Check it out: Rocket Math.

Math Bingo

For iPhone and iPad.

As the bumper sticker boasts, “Happiness is yelling bingo.” It’s also playing bingo even when it’s a math app masquerading as a beloved pastime. Developed by an elementary school teacher, this straightforward app offers challenging equations that when answered correctly earn kids “bingo bugs.” Get five bingo bugs in a row and, you guessed it, yell happiness.

Check it out: Math Bingo.

Story Patch

For iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.

Cultivate right-brain thinking with this stellar self-publishing app that gives kids the choice to follow cues to plot stories or begin tabula rasa. Children will love spinning yarns and embellishing pages with illustrations (800 available), scenic backgrounds and changeable characters. And, for parents who think outside the app, this little iOS invention has even greater functionality. Use Story Patch to enable quick capture of the day’s events—a great way to introduce journaling at a young age. Simple to use, a cinch to save and great to share, Story Patch will keep kids dreaming and writing all summer long. For more on journaling, check out Turn scribblers into scribes!

Check it out: Story Patch.

3,500+ Random Fun Facts

Works on: iPad.

Did you know that 84 percent of a raw apple is water? Or that our eyes don’t grow, but our nose and ears never stop growing? Your child will, thanks to this trivia game. These fun facts will expand your child’s intellect, provide a plethora of conversational icebreakers, impress friends, and influence your child to fact check everything on the Internet. Besides getting secretly smarter, let’s face it: Random trivia never gets old.

Check it out: 3,500+ Random Fun Facts.