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Must-have iPad Apps for Back 2 School (All Free)

With Back to School right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about which apps we want to download and introduce to our students in the first weeks of school.  With so many incredible apps out there, how do we decide which ones to introduce first? 

Back to School Must-have iPad Apps
For me, I tend to reflect on the apps I used most frequently throughout the previous school year because I want to take the time to allow my students to truly master them.  I’ve learned from my mistakes that introducing too many apps at once can confuse and overwhelm students and I end up wasting valuable instructional time re-teaching them. 

So here’s a list of MY must-have apps, which all happen to be free.  Many of them can be used across multiple subject areas and grade levels, but I’m writing this post with my current second graders in mind.:)
I use Popplet Lite frequently to help my students map out their thinking.  In reading we use it it for skills like sequencing and retelling, and also for vocabulary. 
Popplet can also help students visualize tricky math concepts.  Here’s a “popple” of a number in standard, expanded, and word form.  

Pic Collage is another great app for your visual and hands-on learners.  Students can take pictures of things in real life, such as nouns or geometric shapes, and make a collage.  Here’s a shape collage my 2nd graders made and an angle poster my 4th graders made. 

We also use Pic Collage for hands-on math practice, like these addition and subtraction sentences. 


My students use Doodle Buddy a lot as a white board for practicing spelling words and for solving math problems. 

Doodle Buddy offers lots of fun pen colors as well as “stamps” that really motivate the kiddos.  I had my students stamp and write out addition sentences as well as arrays.   

Storykit allows students to create an electronic storybook.  This was a choice during Daily 5 and we also used it to publish various books throughout the year.  Students can choose to illustrate their books by drawing a picture on the screen, uploading their own image, or taking a photo of a paper illustration.  Students can even record their voices reading the text aloud.

If you do QR code activities, a QR scanner like i-nigma, is a must.  If you’ve never used QR codes in your classroom, I’d highly recommend trying them out.  They’re great for engaging your students and getting them up and moving around the room.  Click here or on the image below to download a free base-10 block QR code scavenger hunt.  I have many QR code freebies in my TpT store for multiple grade levels to help you get started. 
If you plan on doing any digital/paperless activities using Google Slides, you will want to download the free Google Slides app. Students will not be able to edit/annotate Google Slides activities unless this app is installed. Here is a screen shot of one of my digital task card sets being edited using the Google Slides app.

If your students need to work on sight word practice, you may want to download a couple of sight word apps, such as Sight Words: Kids Learn.  You can check out my post about my favorite sight word apps here.

Lastly, I would recommend introducing a couple of fun math apps depending on what topic you plan on teaching first.  You can check out these posts on my favorite free math apps for place value, addition, geometry, time, and money.

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