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Fun Foundations for Pre-K and Elementary School

Here's a handpicked assortment of top-rated, seriously fun early learning apps, games, and websites. At the younger end, you'll find tools to help kids master the fundamentals of ordering, counting, and reading, as well as introduce them to STEM and social and emotional learning concepts. Older students will engage more in complex problem-solving and decision-making as they continue to develop these essential skills. 

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Top Picks

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ELA

Endless Wordplay: School Edition

Rhymes, phonetic approach, silly animations help kids construct words

Bottom Line: Good, holistic approach to the nitty gritty of constructing words.

Name Play: a name reading and writing practice kit

Simple but fun games cleverly let prereaders explore familiar names

Bottom Line: This collection of name-based mini-games offers a targeted and clever introduction to literacy.

Reading is Fundamental: Leading to Reading

Teachers and kids explore the wonderful world of reading together

Bottom Line: This delightful collection of online books, activities, games, and songs for the preschool set works best when shared with a grown-up.

Alpha Writer, by Montessorium

Well-crafted app lets emerging readers and writers develop reading skills through word building

Bottom Line: Basic reading skills are developed through word building, word play, and letter-sound recognition.

Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Classroom Edition

Research-based curriculum adapts beautifully to fun, easy-to-use app

Bottom Line: Thorough, high-quality phonics program offers impressive benefits for emerging readers.

Homer: Kids Learn to Read App

A captivating, comprehensive beginning reading resource

Bottom Line: Concrete phonics learning alongside books, songs, storytelling, and art.

Montessori Letter Sounds - Phonics in English, Spanish, French & Italian

Thoughtfully designed, self-paced games bring letters, sounds to life

Bottom Line: A warm, wonderful tool for teaching prereaders and young language learners solid literacy skills.

Writing Wizard - Kids Learn to Write Letters & Words

Vibrant, playful tracing practice offers unique rewards, fab support

Bottom Line: Writing Wizard offers fantastic, customizable tracing practice with interactive rewards.

Oh Noah!

Comforting character makes second-language mistakes no big deal

Bottom Line: Oh Noah! provides a solid start in Spanish while building self-confidence and relaxing kids through humor.

LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary

Kids can "go anywhere, be anything" with vast book and video library

Bottom Line: Wonderful and practical way to get kids excited about learning and reading -- the greatness of the classic TV series, updated for the 21st century.

Toontastic 3D

Flexible tool hands kids the reins for creative animated storytelling

Bottom Line: Despite some lack of variety and simple drawing tools, Toontastic 3D remains a terrific, versatile storytelling tool.

VocabularySpellingCity

Subscription-based, student-facing app fine for independent practice

Bottom Line: A potentially more engaging -- although uneven -- option for your students, if you've got a Premium membership.

News-O-Matic for School, 2016-17 Nonfiction Reading

Flexible, interactive daily stories for elementary school students

Bottom Line: Engaging, high-quality news stories help students learn about the world.

Math

Elmo Loves 123s

Sesame Street sets the standard for teaching numbers

Bottom Line: Elmo Loves 123s takes kids on a learning romp from writing numbers to addition and subtraction.

Gracie & Friends Lemonade Stand

Interactive games thoroughly address small, focused learning goal

Bottom Line: Games do a nice job of providing practice with a very specific early math principle; they work even better as part of a whole teaching unit.

DragonBox Numbers

Explore the concept of numbers through puzzles and fun gameplay

Bottom Line: Though there are a few kinks, kids experience fun gameplay while internalizing fundamental number concepts.

Love to Count by Pirate Trio

Hundreds of tasks and swashbuckling fun for new math learners

Bottom Line: By blending simple math skills into pirate games, Love to Count by Pirate Trio helps kids understand why math matters.

Montessori 1st Operations

Montessori tools and fun rewards help kids learn math concepts

Bottom Line: Montessori 1st Operations helps kids learn math concepts by blending Montessori principles with points, rewards, and fun monsters.

Quick Math Jr.

Cute and clever games teach young learners fundamental skills

Bottom Line: A fun way for young kids to learn and build a conceptual understanding of fundamental math skills.

Todo Math: School Edition

One arithmetic app fulfills the needs of many learners

Bottom Line: A variety of strategies and accommodations make this app classroom-ready for a variety of levels and abilities.

Lumio - math games for the Common Core classroom

Cool games boost math basics, support multiple users

Bottom Line: This suite games is a great resource for math centers and independent practice.

Pattern Shapes, by the Math Learning Center

Virtual pattern blocks with some extra useful teaching tools

Bottom Line: If you don't already have a bucket of pattern blocks, or you want a more portable option, this free version may be a great fit for your classroom.

Motion Math: Hungry Fish

Six games build mental math skills and promote fact fluency

Bottom Line: Excellent tool to improve mental math, memorization, speed and acuity.

ST Math: K-6

Game-based, visual activities get below the surface for deep learning

Bottom Line: Great tool for differentiating in-class and at-home math practice.

DreamBox Learning Math

Individualized, game-based math adapts to kids' needs

Bottom Line: This is a pretty nice all-in-one solution for extra math support and practice with solid adaptive tech, but students might need help with the interface.

Character & SEL

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

Sesame Street winner teaches kids how to keep calm and carry on

Bottom Line: Highly effective tool for whole-class instruction or one-on-one intervention.

Four Little Corners - An interactive storybook app about friendship

Simple story about shapes showcases problem-solving and inclusion

Bottom Line: This cute little story could be a nice launching pad for big discussions about friendship, tolerance, and acceptance.

Kid in Story Book Maker

Easy-to-make personalized stories can help boost social skills

Bottom Line: Kid in Story Book Maker is a must-have story creation tool for teachers in special-needs settings.

Toca Tea Party

Pretend play meets social skills at this cute interactive gathering

Bottom Line: Beautiful, imagination-provoking app is so easy to use, kids will likely want to return for many more parties.

Super Stretch Yoga HD

Appealing videos inspire kids to move their bodies in new ways

Bottom Line: No-stress introduction to 12 yoga poses and the importance of good breathing captures kids' attention and gets them moving.

Big Kid Life Vet

Gentle feedback helps kids learn empathy and some ABCs

Bottom Line: This engaging and simple veterinarian game helps preschoolers build pre-reading skills.

Social Adventures

Expert-approved activities nurture students' social skills

Bottom Line: A treasure chest of social-skills-building activities created by speech and language pros that are worth the high price and need for facilitation.

STEAM

Bugs and Bubbles

Fascinating graphics engage as kids practice pre-reading, STEM skills

Bottom Line: Great bang for the buck with all the content and stages included.

Leo's Pad Enrichment Program for Preschoolers

Imagination and science intersect with famous kid scientists as guides

Bottom Line: Fun, seamlessly interactive appisodes engage kids in a holistic learning adventure

Peep and the Big Wide World

Pre-K science games, videos shine; related curriculum truly sparkles

Bottom Line: Let students dabble with games and videos; be sure to dive all-in to the science curriculum and teacher support.

Mac, Izzy & Friends

Engaging stories, prompts, tools encourage exploration and creation

Bottom Line: An engaging assortment of activities encourages creative exploration and expression.

Thinkrolls

Fun physics platformer teaches, engages young elementary students

Bottom Line: Highly engaging game packs in physics learning and puzzling fun.

Faces iMake - Right Brain Creativity

Open-ended collage maker teaches symbolism and revs up creativity

Bottom Line: Faces iMake - Right Brain Creativity is a don't-miss art app that encourages creativity at the same time as modeling it.

Easy Studio Stop-Motion Studio

Ideal, easy-to-use way to help kids learn basic animation

Bottom Line: This introduction to digital animation offers lots of opportunities for creativity for young students.

ScratchJr

Drag-and-drop programming is an effective intro for budding coders

Bottom Line: With a little adult help, this is a great platform for getting kids into programming.

Codeable Crafts

Animate stories with accessible drawing tools and coding blocks

Bottom Line: Kids get a simple peek at computer programming principles by animating stories using code blocks.

Crazy Gears

Highly applicable STEM-themed free play; easy appeal for wide audience

Bottom Line: A clear, simple, and fun introduction to science and engineering topics that may otherwise feel unapproachable for some kids.

Simple Machines by Tinybop

Excellent elementary NGSS engineering practices embedded in fun games

Bottom Line: Fun gameplay lets kids explore important physics concepts in a solid standards-aligned context.

General

Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem

Fun games require spatial reasoning to help Cat jump out of a tree

Bottom Line: Get kids problem-solving and thinking about basic spatial reasoning in a fun, welcoming setting.

Thinking Time Pro - Cognitive Skills for Early Learning

Challenging games stress memory, logic, impulse control, flexibility

Bottom Line: Effective and engaging way to address foundational cognitive skills; most kids will need adult support.

Brainzy

Handy, engaging early reading and math topics in fun, inviting package

Bottom Line: Super-fun practice with common early learning topics; the premium version is much more comprehensive than what's available for free.

Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase

Classic method offers three-step, low-stress learning approach

Bottom Line: Kids get systematic letter- and number-tracing practice, and teachers get lots of data and support.

Todo Telling Time

Top-notch tool for teaching time, from minutes to months

Bottom Line: Well-rounded, fun learning game that's ALL about time.

PBS KIDS Lab

Explore outstanding new math and language additions to PBS KIDS family

Bottom Line: With PBS-pedigree content that's up to its usual standards of excellence, this is a great, fun resource that ensures high learning potential.

Skill Champ

Foundational-skills-practice tool supports specific learning needs

Bottom Line: Well-designed tool for targeted foundational skills practice.

BrainPOP Jr.

Top-notch educational videos a boon for elementary school teachers

Bottom Line: BrainPOP Jr. sets the bar for top-quality online learning supplements.

Fizzy's Lunch Lab

Professor Fizzy and crew make it fun to be healthy

Bottom Line: Fun games and informative videos get kids excited about nutritious eating and healthy lifestyle habits.

One Globe Kids - All Friends

Engaging stories, activities introduce kids to peers around the world

Bottom Line: A smart, thoughtful way to learn about the lives of kids around the world.

GoNoodle

Brief bursts of physical exercise add classroom fun, build brain power

Bottom Line: In a genre of its own, GoNoodle is a ready-to-go and classroom-friendly exercise program that challenges students to get moving.

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