Common Sense


Great Free Apps for Learning

Getting new tablets (or Chromebooks) is a big expense. Pairing these pricey devices with free apps is a great way to keep costs down. On this list, we've hand-curated awesome free and free-to-try apps across the major school subjects. You'll find that many of these apps are both high-quality and in-depth, providing deep and cheap experiences. The best part, though, is that giving any of these a shot won't cost you anything, and if you're looking for more, dive into our full database.

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Top Picks


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Gracie & Friends Birthday Cafe

Numbers-and-quantity game has precise focus and superb scaffolding

Bottom line: Super approach to teaching a very specific topic: Help kids develop an easy familiarity with quantities under five.

Teachley: Addimal Adventure

Jungle animals help kids swing into math with single-digit addition

Bottom line: An excellent interactive way for kids to build a conceptual understanding of addition while having fun with silly jungle animals.

Doodle Fit 2: Around the World

Souped-up sequel still challenges spatial reasoning

Bottom line: Game-style puzzles teach area and units through creativity and competition.

Middle School Math Planet – Fun math game curriculum for kids

Challenging mix of activities and drills provide solid math practice

Bottom line: Variety of activities with built-in scaffolding make this an engaging and effective practice tool.

Geometry Pad

Construct and explore geometric figures with smart digital workbook

Bottom line: This free version has limited features, but it's an interactive, tech-savvy way for kids to explore advanced geometry.


Khan Academy Kids

Creative, smart mix of pre-K to K activities is a breath of fresh air

Bottom line: It's tough to stand out in the crowded early learning space, but this collection does just that, offering a one-stop shop for creative learning of foundational skills.

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.

World's Worst Pet - Vocabulary

Hip games help kids learn words they'll actually use

Bottom line: Learn the meaning of vocabulary words through fun games, and put it to good use as part of everyday conversation.

Mars Gen One: Argubot Academy

Hone powerful persuasive skills on a red-planet adventure

Bottom line: A visually appealing, pedagogically sound exploration of what makes a valid argument.


Customizable reader has top-notch features, but beware of iffy content

Bottom line: A stellar, easily customizable way to browse and share the news, best used with some patient fine-tuning.

Adobe Voice

Easy-to-use tool for creating high-quality voice-narrated slideshows

Bottom line: Students and teachers will find many ways to use Adobe Voice to share information and showcase learning.



Visually super NASA-backed treasure trove may overwhelm

Bottom line: A visually stunning way to get kids interested in science and space exploration.

Classify It!

Cool tool teaches kids to observe, identify, classify living things

Bottom line: Fun, free resource is an excellent way for kids to apply and test their knowledge about various organisms.

Project Noah

Contribute kid research to stellar crowdsourced field guide

Bottom line: An outstanding resource that makes science relevant with lots of classroom potential.

Science Journal

Turn your phone into a lab sensor to collect and analyze data

Bottom line: Science Journal does a good job recording real-time motion, sound, and light data using Android phones.


Fantastic physics puzzler puts a virtual Maker Faire in kids' hands

Bottom line: TinkerBox is a rich resource for kids to learn, practice, and apply physics and engineering principles.

Social Studies

Google Earth

Cool geographical exploration tool has endless classroom applications

Bottom line: Google Earth is an engaging and completely open-ended app perfect for use across the educational spectrum.

National Archives DocsTeach

Historical texts, interactive activities can promote critical thinking

Bottom line: This text-rich app encourages students to conduct their own analysis of history, but the formats and graphics may prevent them from making a thorough analysis.

NYT VR - New York Times

Immersive 360-degree videos take users inside the headlines

Bottom line: Though there isn't much explicit learning content, there's immense value in the extraordinary opportunity to take a walk in someone else's world.

NPR News

Top-notch digital content takes students beyond the airwaves

Bottom line: Provides an easy, fun, and effective way to engage students with radio.


Artsonia Kids Art Museum

Online art museum empowers students to exhibit, explain their work

Bottom line: A well-loved digital art museum that allows students to share work and reflect on their artistic process while helping teachers assess student understanding of artistic concepts.

Shadow Puppet Edu

Resource-rich video slideshow maker a gem for a variety of classrooms

Bottom line: Easy-to-use free tool is a must-have for elementary classrooms; just keep an eye on sharing and privacy.

Wizard School

Curated videos and creative challenges ignite active learning

Bottom line: There's plenty of material to inspire kids to embark on learning adventures that get them to explore, create, and share safely on the screen and off.

Paper by FiftyThree

Beautifully designed digital sketchbook for any age

Bottom line: The simplicity and effectiveness of the app make this a powerful sketch and note-taking tool for the iPad.

Canva - Photo Editor & Design

Create snazzy designs in seconds with flexible, cloud-based tool

Bottom line: A flexible, accessible way to get kids -- especially design novices -- creating digitally in your classroom if you have stable internet and time to get students set up to be successful.


Extremely powerful photo editor will equally delight pros, amateurs

Bottom line: It successfully walks the fine line of photo-editing features, offering satisfying experiences for those making quick edits and those crafting perfect images.

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