Learning apps to stop summer slide: grades 6 to 8

Try sandwiching these learning apps between tween social engagements. You'll be surprised how palatable these educational tools can be.

By Sonali Morris

3,500+ Random Fun Facts

$0.99
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.

Kindle

Free
Works on: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Keep your teen reading while you’re on the road this summer. Kindle’s app gives your child access to almost a million books, including best sellers, new releases, and classics. Affordable titles cost less than $10, and your child gets three books free from the start: Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, and Aesop’s Fables. Thousands more are gratis through the Kindle Store, too. Next up for this app? A virtual library system is in the works. Stay tuned.

Check it out: Kindle.

Hanging With Friends

$1.99
Works on: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Game on for the rainy-day recess classic, hangman. Tweens can try to stump friends with the most complex words in their vocabulary, while avoiding the most commonly guessed letters (hello S, T, and R). If the guesser is unable to get the answer, their cute little customized avatar is dropped into a pool of lava. It’s about strategy, social gaming, and keeping childhood fun alive.

Check out Chess With Friends and Words With Friends, too. And note that while all of these games have free versions, they’re chock-full of annoying cross-promotion and ads that aren’t always kid-appropriate — so spring for the paid, ad-free apps.

Check 'em out: Hanging With Friends, Chess With Friends, and Words With Friends.
 

Maxjournal

$1.99
Works on: iPad.

Journaling is a great way to keep teens writing all summer long. For those loathe to pick up a pencil, here’s a modern-day alternative. Simple to use but sophisticated in style, this mobile journal lets writers incorporate photos (from adding a simple shot to over-the-top scrapbooking), and allows for your child to keep multiple, separate diaries (say, one for camp and another for creative writing). It’s a great way to capture the events of the day all summer long.

Check it out: Maxjournal.

 

Star Walk

$2.99
Works on: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Star Walk has the uncanny ability to get everyone — even teenage naval-gazers — to cast their eyes toward the heavens. Kids can aim iPhones or iPads towards the cosmos to see stars, constellations, and satellites in real time. Shift locations and the stars on screen move with you. It’s the perfect complement to backyard camping and s’mores (provided they wash their hands before handling the iPad).

Check it out: Star Walk.