Teaching Resources

40 essential iPad apps for the primary classroom

by Danny Nicholson
on August 19, 2016


I’m in the process of setting up a small cluster of iPad minis to use with my PGCE students and teachers on CPD days. I’m getting a basic set of apps installed to give them an idea of how to get good use from iPads in the classroom.
I thought it might be useful to share the apps that I’ve been adding.

Quick tip: Before I set these up, I made some desktop images with numbers on so I can identify which iPad is which. I’ve set these as the wallpaper and the lock screen.

I installed Dropbox and set up a dropbox account just for the iPads to help share files between the iPads and also to make it easy to get the files off onto my PC. I’ve shared the dropbox folder with my main dropbox account, which I can access on my PC and laptop.


Also on the first page are several useful apps – Socrative Student for taking part in quizzes, Proconnect for connecting with Prowise whiteboards and Morphi for 3D design. Also to be added : Nearpod to allow shared lesson content.
The other apps are grouped into folders to make them easier to find. So far I’ve set the iPads up with just the essentials. More apps will follow.

Mind Mapping Apps


Popplet (lite version) – create quick mind maps / spider diagrams. Just click and drag out the boxes. Free version is limited, but will be enough to get started.
Padlet – Makes it easier to create and access Padlets on an iPad. Padlets are collaborative, shared pinboards/whiteboards. Great for collating ideas from a class.
Mindomo – Mind Mapping software.

Science Apps


This section is very much a work in progress. Will need to add more reference apps as we go along. For now it mainly includes several apps from the Field Studies Council to help with nature walks and identification.
Bugs – Guide to identifying common insects.
Trees (free and paid versions) – Guide to identifying common trees.
Hedges – Guide to hedgerow plants.
Google Earth – Great way of exploring the planet (and other planets). Switch between map and satellite view.
Desmos – Graphing tool.
Decibel 10th – Sound level meter.
To follow – Algodoo and Vernier Video Physics.

Digital Storytelling Apps


There are so many more I could add to this list. But for now, these are the essentials:

Puppet Pals – add characters to the screen and record your voice to make short scenes. Free version has limited characters. Full directors pass allows importing and cutting out of own characters from photos.
Explain Everything – Annotation and screencasting tool. Take photographs of objects/work and annotate over them while recording your voice.
DoInk Green Screen – A fun way of using video. Combine with a flat colour wall and an image to send children anywhere. Magic carpet rides, go into space, or just give a weather forecast.
Sock Puppets – Like Puppet Pals, but uses cartoon sock puppets. Changes the children’s voice to help those who might be embarrassed to hear themselves.
Lego Movie Maker – Stop-Motion recorder. Make animations with characters, paper slides or plasticine. Builds up into a short movie.
Morfo – Bring photographs to life. Use a famous person, then record short video where they explain who they are.
Photo Booth / iBooks – already installed.
TACU Talking Cutie – Take photos of objects and add a face and a short audio description.
To come – iMovie, Comic Life.

Augmented Reality Apps


Uses special markers (print these out) to overlay computer animations into a real-world view of the classroom.
ZooKazam – Bring animals into the classroom. From jellyfish to dinosaurs.
Anatomy 4D – View a 3D body or a fully animated beating heart.
Spacecraft 3D – See what the Mars rover looks like and other space craft.
Elements 4D – React virtual chemicals together.
More on Augmented Reality here

Coding Apps


Again, so many to choose from:

Bee-Bot – Move a Bee-Bot turtle around a series of challenges. Links nicely with children working with the real thing.
Daisy the Dinosaur – Control a cartoon dinosaur. Move and dance.
Scratch Jnr – A simplified version of Scratch for younger children.
Blue-Bot – Allows you to control and move a Bluetooth-enabled Bee Bot.
Draw & Drive – Controls a Sphero ball.
Sphero – Also controls a Sphero ball. Many other Sphero apps to try too.
Hopscotch – Programming language.
Tickle – Allows control of various devices such as Sphero, BB8, Parrot Drones and more.
Doctor Who and the Daleks – Coding challenge. Move the doctor to solve different puzzles and avoid his enemies.
Lego WeDo 2.0 – Control a Lego WeD02 kit. Also includes build instructions for different models to build.
Snap Build Your Own Blocks – Not an app. But a desktop shortcut to a website that lets you code just like Scratch.
Also: Sketch Nation game builder.
There’s more apps to come. But this will be enough to get started!

Danny is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and computing/interactive whiteboard trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. Further information can be found here.

This post originally appeared on The Whiteboard Blog in June 2016.