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Uncategorized   |   Sep 24, 2012

5 apps that encourage social play and collaboration

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

5 apps that encourage social play and collaboration

By Angela Watson

Today’s guest post is by Dave Wingler, an American teacher living in Japan. Through his blog TopEducationalApps.com, Dave explores innovative teaching methods for using apps, smart phones, and tablets in the classroom to encourage social and collaborative play. Dave has written this post on behalf of INKids (an Australian company that makes apps for kids) and has compensated me for including INKids’ Math Champ and Futaba apps in the article. I’m thrilled to spread the word about the work INKids has done as well as the other apps listed below, as they’re all really great resources for teachers.


The use of apps (both iPod and iPad based) in in the classroom is growing at an amazing rate – the wave has indeed broken.  Teachers who are paddling to stay afloat with technology in the classroom risk leaving their students out to sea.

In many schools around the USA, a 1:1 tablet-to-student roll out model is being encouraged to enhance classroom activities, and  while many schools don’t have the budget to create a  1 iPad 1 child learning environment, there are still great opportunities to  to enhance the learning process with only limited resources.

Schools who allow BYOD (bring your own device) or have access to a limited number of iPads can benefit from a number of  innovative apps that allow students to collaborate or engage in social play. The following 5 apps provide engaging and innovative ways to teach a range of curriculum areas in a fun way that kids love.

Apps that can be used with small groups of students

Toontastic: Free (in-app purchases are available)

Toontastic is a creative tool that allows children to collaborate in creating their own stories and characters. Ready-made story arcs and characters makes the creation process but custom made characters, stories and your own voice can be added to make a unique project. Creating characters and a storyline is a terrific way of bringing students together and getting them to work on a project. Having the ability to share the story online to let others see provides an added incentive for students to work together and create something worthwhile.

Futaba Classroom Games for Kids: $4.99

This app allows children to learn and share by gathering up to 4 students around one iPad and is primarily aimed at K-5 students. Having children sharing and working together with one iPad helps to create a bond and emphasises friendly competition. For schools on a budget, this app allows a collaborative learning process without requiring an iPad for every student, and best of all…teachers can create their own games!

Apps for 1:1 classrooms (mobile devices for every student)

Nearpod: Free

The Nearpod app provides a number of ways for teachers to provide engaging and interactive content to a classroom. With the ability to provide polls at various points during a class, teachers are able to determine who is paying attention to the class. Apps that provide students with the ability to answer individually and be ranked or work collaboratively are all important in the modern classroom, providing invaluable assistance to teachers.

Math Champ: Free for student devices, $7.99  for the host

The Math Champ app provides a fun yet competitive maths challenge for Grades 4 to 7. With the teacher using the host app and the students with their own client app, questions are selected at random from the thousands of available questions (aimed at each individual student’s appropriate level) and sent in real time. Pupils battle it out to get the right answer and earn bonus points to claim the title of Math Champ.

eClicker: $14.99

Similar to Math Champ, the eClicker app allows teachers to create their own questions and images. It’s a the perfect way for teachers to receive real-time feedback in the classroom (from up to 64 students!).  eClicker app is a great tool for the modern classroom and provides teachers with an engaging way to deliver tests and gather valuable metrics.

These apps, and many others like them, are helping students to use their technological experience and expertise in the classroom, hopefully making the learning process a more enjoyable and engaging. As these apps provide the opportunity to study alone or in a group, they are perfect for all learning experiences and as such, can add a great deal to the classroom environment.

If you have mobile devices in your classroom, what apps do you use to promote collaborative learning? Share your favorites in the comment section below.

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. hi angela,
    i need some enrichment affordable activities for grades 3-5 in an afterschool program setting, something that will keep them engaged and hopefully and prayerfully all will enjoy. not only do they need their brains but hands on too
    thank you in advance
    jan h.

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