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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

These 18 Smart Kids Apps Will Make You Rethink Learning and Education

These 18 Smart Kids Apps Will Make You Rethink Learning and Education
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As our society is constantly shifting, screens have become a huge part of our daily lives. It has been widely publicized that screen time should be nonexistent or limited for younger kids, but for busy moms who need time to do things around the house or a much-deserved break, screens can be a lifesaver.

If you allow your kids to have screen time (many of us moms do) on an iPad or phone, why not choose an app that is both entertaining for your kids AND educational? It will keep your children’s attention while teaching them important cognitive skills.

What should you look for when deciding what app to introduce to your kids? Experts have analyzed existing research on educational interactional media for developing kids under the age of 8, and they formulated these five key criteria that you should keep in mind:[1]

  1. The activity must require active mental engagement. Aside from what the child’s hands are doing, gears in the child’s brain should be turning so that they are mentally interacting with the media: thinking, predicting, questioning, drawing connections, reflecting, etc.
  2. They must be able to focus on the learning experience without distractions in the app or in their learning environment.
  3. The children should be able to bridge the new knowledge they’re gaining to their existing knowledge and the wider world.
  4. The learning activity should involve social interaction, such as teacher feedback, class discussions or interactions among classmates.
  5. The activity should have clearly defined learning objectives that students or teachers can track and assess and that expand on past goals and build on previous learning. This concept is called scaffolding.

The following apps are great places to start. They are organized by age and cover a wide range of educational topics:

1. Shapes Toddler Preschool

    For younger kids who are ready to tackle shapes, colors, letters and more, this is a great resource to use. The layout is child-friendly and easy to figure out. There are over 30 categories to choose from, and the app uses puzzles, games and flashcards to make learning fun.

    Age: 2-5

    Price: Free

    Compatible: iOS, Android

    2. Disney Story Central

      This app offers a huge selection of books featuring your favorite Disney characters. Read-along narration is a great way to promote independent reading for your younger kids. The first four books are free! For additional books, you can purchase a monthly subscription or book tokens to expand your collection.

      Age: 2-9

      Price: Free, offers in-app purchases

      Compatible: iOS, Android

      3. Endless Alphabet

        This app uses colorful, friendly monsters to help your kids learn the alphabet and expand their vocabulary. For the more than 50 words available to learn, each one featuring an interactive puzzle and talking letters, plus short animations to explain the definition.

        Age: 3+

        Price: $8.99

        Compatible: iOS, Android

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        4. Reading Raven

          Reading is an important skill for your kids to master, and it can be challenging and frustrating for some kids. However, this app, with self-paced lessons and fun-filled adventures makes learning to read enjoyable and exciting. They will learn how to read in no time at all!

          Age: 3-7

          Price: $3.99

          Compatible: iOS, Android

          5. Habitat

            It is crucial that kids are made aware early on of the importance of doing things that positively affect our environment and the living things within it. In this game, players adopt a polar bear and work to keep their bear healthy and alive. By playing games and performing real world tasks, kids are able to understand how to take care of the environment while having fun.

            Age: 4+

            Price: Free

            Compatible: iOS, Android

            6. Elmo Loves 123s

              If your child obsessed with Sesame Street (especially Elmo), this app will be a sure hit. It will teach your child how to count from 1 to 20, simple addition and subtraction, and number tracing. Correct answers are rewarded with videos, puzzles, and coloring pages.

              Age: 5 and under

              Price: $4.99

              Compatible: iOS, Android

              7. Sight Words

                Using the classic game of hide and seek, your kids can learn read, write, and recognize up to 320 words. In the process, they will practice important cognitive skills such as visual memorization and active listening. As an additional resource, you can download printable sight word flash cards here.

                Age: 5 and under

                Price: $2.99

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                Compatible: iOS

                8. Kids Vocabulary, Grammar & Language

                  This is a great resource to help kids prepare for preschool and kindergarten. Using game-based learning in areas including vocabulary, listening comprehension and grammar, your kids will love using this app.

                  Age: 5 and under

                  Price: Free

                  Compatible: iOS

                  9. Fish School HD

                    Learning numbers, shapes, colors and letters is much more fun when using fish and other under the sea creatures. Songs and interactive features will keep your kids fascinated and eager to learn.

                    Age: 2-5

                    Price: Free

                    Compatible: iOS

                    10. ShipAntics: The Legend of the Kiki Beast

                      Jump aboard the ship with Amanda and Otto the Octopus and help them solve mysteries by completing educational puzzles and riddles. And if your kids are not in the mood to play, they can watch high quality cartoons using the Appisodes feature.

                      Age: 6+

                      Price: Free

                      Compatible: iOS, Android

                      11. Plants by Tinybop

                        Learn about different ecosystems and how the flora and fauna interact with each other on our amazing planet. Explore interactive scenes that depict a grassland, desert, forest, and more. This app is also available in more than 50 languages!

                        Age: 6+

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                        Price: $1.99

                        Compatible: iOS

                        12. Fruity Fractions

                          Sliced fruit and vibrant animations are a great way to help your kids understand how to tackle fractions. As they embark on a jungle-themed journey to help the parrots to get more tasty tropical fruit to eat, they will have to solve fraction math problems to advance.

                          Age: 6+

                          Price: $2.99

                          Compatible: iOS

                          13. Math Evolve

                            Math is an area that many kids struggle with and hate spending time on. By utilizing an arcade game style approach, your kids will have no problem spending time honing their mathematics skills. This is an excellent way for them to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division through fun interactive game play.

                            Age: 6+

                            Price: $0.99

                            Compatible: iOS

                            14. Toca Lab: Elements

                              Is your child a budding scientist? This app introduces kids to the periodic table of elements, laboratory experiments and equipment, and so much more. Encourage your child to explore their scientific interests in a safe but engaging way!

                              Age: 6+

                              Price: $3.99

                              Compatible: iOS, Android

                              15. DragonBox Big Numbers

                                Your children will be put in charge of a world filled with creatures called Nooms. They can unlock new worlds, build houses, collect resources, and more through correctly completing math problems. This app can also teach your kids how to count in multiple languages.

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                                Age: 6-9

                                Price: $7.99

                                Compatible: iOS, Android

                                16. Tynker: Coding for Kids

                                  Tynker uses blocks to and easy to understand aids to help kids learn how to code, starting at a basic level. The app is free to download, but a subscription is needed in order to access the mobile courses, 350+ puzzle levels, 100+ guided tutorials, and more. This app is also compatible with toys such as Sphero, Lego WeDo2.0, and the Lux lighting systems.

                                  Age: 7+

                                  Price: Free

                                  Compatible: iOS, Android

                                  17. Operation Math

                                    Every kid has wondered what it might be like to be a secret agent and go on thrilling missions to save the world. Now they can, while learning important math skills along the way. With over 100 timed missions located all over the world, there your kids will love completing these missions and you will love the learning that happens along the way.

                                    Age: 7+

                                    Price: $2.99

                                    Compatible: iOS, Android

                                    18. Stack the States

                                      Learn the U.S. states, capitals, abbreviations, and more with this silly game. Using puzzle games, maps, and stacking, your kids can work towards collecting all 50 states and becoming an expert at U.S. geography.

                                      Age: 9-11

                                      Price: $2.99

                                      Compatible: iOS, Android

                                      Screens are not our enemy and do not have to be kept strictly off-limits for young developing minds. They are tools that should be utilized sparingly, but they can be extremely effective means for teaching our kids valuable skills. Look for apps that are well-made, user-friendly, and effective at teaching your kids while keeping them entertained.

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                                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                      Katie Lemons

                                      Parenting Blogger and Full-Time Working Mom

                                      Reading for Kids: 17 Reasons Why It’s Important and Where to Start 13 Ways Working Moms Can Balance Work and Family (And Be Happy) 18 Fun Activities for Kids to Do on a Rainy Day These 18 Smart Kids Apps Will Make You Rethink Learning and Education 14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

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                                      Published on July 22, 2021

                                      20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week

                                      20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week
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                                      It’s 5 p.m., and you’re exhausted. The kids are hungry, but no one knows what they want to eat for dinner. With very little energy, you force yourself into the kitchen and look through every cabinet, hoping for a spark of inspiration. Eventually, you toss a few ingredients together and hope for the best. It won’t win any prizes and falls short of what you consider “healthy,” but it fills everyone’s stomachs.

                                      Feeding a family can be stressful, even tiresome. It’s hard to find the energy and creativity needed to cook healthy but simple family meals. It’s easy to fall into the “anything goes” mentality. When you’ve got a busy lifestyle, meals become more about survival and less about nutrition.

                                      Here are 20 quick and healthy—but tasty—recipes followed by tips on making these family meals more nutritious. These recipes can help you have a healthy family meal on the table in an hour or less. Remember, swap ingredients out if someone in your family has dietary restrictions or if you avoid certain foods.

                                      1. Mini Meatloaves With Green Beans and Potatoes

                                        These miniature meatloaves come together quickly and cook faster, too. You can have a family favorite on the table, paired with seasoned potatoes and fresh green beans, in just 40 minutes.

                                        Get the recipe here.

                                        2. One-Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta

                                          This classic will taste like you spent hours cooking, but the preparation and clean-up couldn’t be quicker. One-pot cooking makes this dish practical, while fresh basil, parmesan, and garlic add a special touch.

                                          To try this recipe, go here.

                                          3. Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

                                            Skip the restaurant and make fajitas at home. The ingredients go on one sheet pan, meaning you won’t spend all night cleaning. Zesty chicken, bell peppers, and warm tortillas can be on the table in 40 minutes. Add sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, diced tomato, and any other favorite toppings.

                                            Check out the recipe here.

                                            4. Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

                                              Lose the carbs but keep the cheesesteak flavors with this quick family meal. Kids will love the pepper “bowls,” and you’ll love giving them a meal full of veggies and protein to keep them healthy.

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                                              Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                              5. Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl

                                                This veggie-packed meal adds an extra boost by using the superfood quinoa instead of rice. Flavorful yet simple, this meal makes an excellent packable lunch or dinner for your whole family.

                                                Find the recipe here.

                                                6. Spinach and Chicken Skillet With Lemon and Parmesan

                                                  The complex flavors of lemon and parmesan come together nicely in this gourmet-like dish, but you don’t have to exert the effort or spend as much as a gourmet meal.

                                                  Get the recipe for this dish here.

                                                  7. Oven-Fried Fish and Chips

                                                    Fish and chips can also sometimes be healthy as evident in this oven-fried version. You won’t miss the calories with this favorite family meal.

                                                    You can find the recipe here.

                                                    8. Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken

                                                      Tangy pineapple and sweet teriyaki will have everyone coming back for seconds. Frozen vegetables make this simple family dish even easier to make and enjoy.

                                                      Find the recipe here.

                                                      9. Mozzarella, Basil, and Zucchini Frittata

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                                                        This egg dish is usually served for breakfast, but a frittata can make a fantastic dinner, too. High in protein, packed with zucchini, and delicious, there’s no reason to wait until morning.

                                                        Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                                        10. Chicken and Sweet Potato Grill Packets

                                                          Skip the pans and throw everything into foil with this fun family recipe. Kids will love loading ingredients into their pack, and you’ll love its versatility and simplicity.

                                                          The recipe for this meal can be found here.

                                                          11. Chicken and Spanish “Rice”

                                                            Cauliflower takes the place of rice in this low-carb family meal, but it’s so flavorful and filling, no one will miss it.

                                                            Find the recipe here.

                                                            12. Honey Chicken Stir Fry

                                                              This honey chicken stir fry is the healthier version of a restaurant favorite that can be served up quicker than you can order it.

                                                              Find the recipe here.

                                                              13. Chicken Skewers With Tzatziki

                                                                Greek chicken and tzatziki sauce will have you yearning for the Mediterranean, but you can make this recipe at home for your family to enjoy.

                                                                This easy recipe can be found here.

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                                                                14. Healthy Walking Tacos

                                                                  Traditional walking tacos are a party favorite, but they’re not usually healthy. However, this recipe keeps it fun while making it more nutritious.

                                                                  Find out how to make it here.

                                                                  15. Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

                                                                    This classic comfort meal can be ready when you walk in the door. All you have to do is add noodles, and it’s ready to serve.

                                                                    The recipe can be found here.

                                                                    16. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

                                                                      This usually takes a little over an hour, but the preparation time is only 30 minutes. You’ll love how easy it is, and the cheesy rice is sure to please.

                                                                      Find the recipe here.

                                                                      17. Crockpot Rotisserie-Style Chicken

                                                                        Skip the checkout line and have a rotisserie-style chicken ready at home. A staple in many quick meals, you might find this family meal recipe among your most-used.

                                                                        Get the recipe for this flavorful chicken here.

                                                                        18. Santa Monica Street Tacos

                                                                          Named after a simple taco found on the streets of California, you’ll be surprised that something with only a few ingredients can be so flavorful. Your kids will surely enjoy them.

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                                                                          Find the recipe here.

                                                                          19. Pizza Pasta Salad

                                                                            Enjoy the flavor of pizza without the hassle of making a crust. Use a fun pasta shape to make this even more appealing to your family, especially kids.

                                                                            Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                                                            20. Slow-Cooker Lasagna Soup

                                                                              Everyone loves lasagna, but it can be time-consuming and messy to make. However, this soup version has the taste you want but with the ease of a crockpot.

                                                                              Get the recipe here.

                                                                              Bonus: 3 Simple Ways to Make Meals Healthier

                                                                              Eating healthy doesn’t have to take a lot of money, time, or thought. Any improvements are a big step in the right direction.

                                                                              Here are three easy ways you can make meals healthier for your family.

                                                                              1. Lose the Sugar

                                                                              Are you looking to improve your health? Cut processed sugars from your diet—the more, the better, and that includes artificial sweeteners.[1] Why? Studies show that sugar increases the risks for weight gain, heart disease, acne, type-2 diabetes, depression, cancer, fatty liver disease, cellular aging, and low energy levels.[2]

                                                                              2. Avoid Highly Processed Foods

                                                                              Many processed foods are fine to eat. Even fresh fruit and vegetables go through some processing to stay fresh longer. However, highly processed foods have added salt, sweeteners, saturated fats, preservatives, and artificial colors. These types of food have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.[3]

                                                                              3. Replace Simple Carbs for Complex Carbs

                                                                              Lowering daily carbs can do wonders for your health. Studies show that low-carb diets lead to lower insulin levels, lower bad cholesterol levels, visceral fat loss, weight loss, reduced appetite, and can be therapeutic for many brain disorders.[4]

                                                                              When eating carbs, choose complex carbs over simple carbs. Simple carbs, such as white flour, rice, and degermed cornmeal, lack nutrients and spike blood sugar levels. Complex carbs, such as sweet potato, brown rice, and oats, are usually more nutritious and aren’t digested as quickly, giving more sustained energy and less of an insulin spike.[5]

                                                                              Enjoy Family Meals With Less Stress!

                                                                              Dinner can be enjoyable again now that you’re armed with simple and nutritious recipes for your family. These healthy and tasty family meal recipes can help you feel even better about what you serve. Best of all, you’ll have the extra time and energy you saved from cooking and spend more time with your family.

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                                                                              Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

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