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Encourage learning through mom and teacher-approved apps



Best 5 apps your kids should download

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In today's digital age, some of the first opportunities for learning are on an iPad or tablet. Here are some of the most popular apps parents and teachers are talking about!

BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr.
Easily engage kids in learning with these fun and active apps. BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. (K-3) encourage students to learn through educational games, animated movies and activities that challenge them to participate in curiosity-driven learning.

"These are perfect for teachers who are looking for a fun way to incorporate technology and to expose elementary school kids to learning based on state standards," says Amber Dominowski, a special education teacher and mother in Kingston.

The app covers STEM, socials studies, reading, writing, health, arts and more.

READ MORE: Best apps for preschoolers

ABCya
If your kids love games, they will absolutely enjoy ABCya! This award- winning app provides games and learning activities for elementary school students.

"I have used ABCya in my classroom and at home," says Dominowski. "They offer basic games such as alphabet and number bingo to more challenging and complex games. They even offer holiday and play activities that I let students play for the last 5 or 10 minutes of the lesson time as a positive reinforcement for their academic work."

The best part is there are a ton of free weekly games that parents can check out on ABCya.com.

Raz-Kids
Spreading the love of reading can be tough when kids would rather pick up a tablet than a book. That's where Raz-Kids swoops in! This award-winning app is one of the best online reading resources for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Kids can practice reading from over 400 available e-books at 29 different difficulty levels.

"I love this app. It is a huge help," says Ellen Wilcox, a Dover Plains mom. "Both of my kids used Raz-Kids last year and my daughter who is now in first grade is using it again this year. There has been a huge change in her reading between the beginning of kindergarten to now."

Khan Academy
Personalized learning is key with the free app Khan Academy. This non-profit organization is dedicated to providing free educational exercises, videos and a personalized dashboard for your child's learning so they can study a variety of subjects at their own pace.

"My school uses Khan Academy for summer math practice as well as supporting learning during the school year," explains Amanda Ruhe, an elementary school teacher at Dutchess Day School in Millbrook. "I find that, in order to properly serve a wide range of student abilities and interests, an app like this allows for differential while keeping continuity to sources."

READ MORE: 6 more educational apps for kids

Lexia Core 5
Another teacher favorite is Lexia Core 5. This app specializes in helping students read and spell, allows students to work at their own pace and develop their skills and provides teachers with vital information that identifies problem areas.

"The program is set up like a game, so most students really enjoy playing it," says Lauren Betterton, a grade school teacher and mother from Saugerties. "I often send home information about the program so the students can use it outside of school. Teachers can get reports about which skills the students have mastered and which ones were challenging. I like that the program provides me with information about the student's skills."

Educational apps are the perfect way to encourage your child to fall in love with learning.

"I think that apps keep students engaged as they practice skills," explains Betterton, referring to her experience with using educational apps in the classroom and at home with her young children. "I work with many struggling learners, and for some of them, having an app that feels like a game is extremely motivating."

Michelle Peterson is a freelance writer who lives in Poughkeepsie.