I want my son to have fun learning and I want to take advantage of the new and old ways of teaching.  Therefore, carefully selecting apps for my son has been a high priority for me.  I love how apps have the ability to teach boring subjects that I son will not sit still long enough for me to teach him. I love that apps teach him skills that I can’t like art, music and engineering. Truthfully, what I love most about apps is that they provide a way for me to entertain my son and convenience myself that he is actively learning rather than mindlessly absorbing television.  I’m a life-long learner and I want my son to have the same attitude and I want him to enjoy learning.

My love for apps is equally balanced by my frustration with finding good apps.  I’ve spent way too much time at night on my son’s app finding and testing apps after he has fallen asleep.  The other night, I decided this has got to stop and shifted my attention to finding ways to find quality apps faster.  Below are 6 website to find good apps fast.  They are organized by age, reviewed by educators and easily searched and skimmed.  Ahhhhhh. I can breath now.  And, so can you.

1. Common Sense

Common Sense is the gold standard in app reviews.  There is toolbar on the right that allow you to search for apps by any age range. You can also limit your search by device, price, genre, subject, skill or topic.  If they say an app is age appropriate, I trust them.  If anything, I find them to be a little limiting so I search for apps above his age range.  Also, due to their rigorous review process, they seem to be a little slower to update their reviews with new content.  Their editorial reviews are based on a research-backed, 15-point rubric developed specifically to evaluate the learning potential of digital tools. Their rubric evaluates three key qualities essential to great digital learning experiences: engagement, pedagogy, and support, including (but not limited to) how engrossing the tool is to use, whether it promotes conceptual understanding and creativity, how it adapts to students’ individual needs, and how well it supports knowledge transfer. Keeping parents in mind, it also looks for positive messages, violence & scariness, sexy stuff, language, consumerism, and drinking.  This is the most comprehensive review process that allows you to know exactly what to expect with an app.

2. Academics Choice

The toolbar on the left of Academics’ Choice home screen allows you search their winners by category.  You can also narrow your search based on the price and your child’s age. It is a long list of apps.   They use a standardized approach to product evaluation and assessment based on existing best practices and academic standards.   In order to be selected as an Academics’ Choice™ award winner, the submitted product must be determined by our academic board and evaluation teams to have robust educational value and strengthen cognitive skills. Each submission is evaluated by a panel of product-appropriate judges, including parents, educators, scientists, artists, doctors, nurses, librarians, students and children.  I also like their evaluation considers whether the products develop higher-order thinking skills.

3. Kindertown

Childhood educators find and reviews apps for kids ages 3-8 years old.   They allow you to search by age, device and price.  All the apps are reviewed by childhood educators. The list is long but they also provide a way to narrow the list for apps focused on math, spelling, language, art, science or social studies.  I love the specificity.

4. Parents’ Choice

Parents’ Choice annually awards mobile apps for children, which are rigorously evaluated by experts.  Parents-Choice provides a short list of the best apps.  The product finder tool in the left column allows you to search by likes, age, budget, contributor, and company.  They consider age-appropriate content, design and function, educational value, and universal human values. The Parents’ Choice Award evaluation process is lengthy and comprehensive. It’s a multi-tiered process with its roots in a four page questionnaire that queries developmentally appropriate content and challenges, the product’s design and function, the educational value, long-term play value, and the benefits to a child’s social and emotional growth and well being.

5. Tech With Kids

Tech With Kids allows you to search for apps by topic, platform, company, price, age and grade.  They add new reviews every week and also provide best picks list that lists apps based on their subject area or topic.  They consider the app’s educational value, entertainment value, usability, value and use of technology and give them a rating on a 5 star scale.

 Honorable Mention: Geeks with Juniors 

Geeks with Juniors has a best apps guide for 1, 2, 3, and 4-5 year-olds.  They also provide a list of the best apps each year.  This makes browsing for news quick and easy.  Most importantly, all the apps on the list are educational and are a good quality. While the preferences will vary with kids, I find that these seem to be genuine reviews and they are easy to browse quickly.

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