Date: June 1, 2012
A few years ago, educators starting warning parents about "summer slump." This drop in academic skills forces teachers to spend the first few weeks after the traditional school year begins re-teaching lessons their students knew at Memorial Day. Keep young brains fresh by encouraging kids to use apps that inspire reading and problem-solving. These websites should help you locate apps that match your child's developmental stage and enthusiasms.
Mind Leap reviews educational apps with three things in mind: Does the app trigger genuine learning? Do kids enjoy using it? Will they want to use it more than once? Apps are organized by grade level so you can pinpoint what works for preschoolers or fifth-graders. mindleaptech.com
Common Sense Media now reviews apps in addition to movies, video games, TV shows, websites, books and music. Operated by a nonprofit, the site uses an easy-to-understand rating system that helps parents zero in on content that is developmentally appropriate. commonsensemedia.org/mobile-app-lists
Digital Storytime reviews picture books that have been adapted for the iPad. In addition to a candid assessment of the book, each review includes screen shots and videos so you know what you're getting before you buy. digitalstorytime.com
International Children's Digital Library offers a free app that gives children access to more than 4,000 books from around the world, as well as an app that helps children write and share their own stories. en.childrenslibrary.org
Storia is another free app that gives readers easy access to many of the popular books available from Scholastic book clubs. You can choose five free books when you download the app. After that, you'll pay from $1.95-$20 per book. scholastic.com/storia
Apps in Education reviews 1,000 apps each week to identify those most likely to be useful to teachers. This is a great place to look for apps that will help your child catch up on fractions or some other subject he or she hasn't quite mastered. appsineducation.com
Teaching Appz, endorsed by teachers in Great Britain, offers reviews that include tips about how to use each app to stimulate learning. teachingappz.co.uk
Get your daily dose
Some apps deliver new content to your mobile device every 24 hours.
Read Me Stories provides a daily book ideal for children who are just learning to read. 8interactive.com
Brain Pop offers a mini-movie about a random topic likely to interest elementary age children. brainpop.com/app
Carolyn Jabs raised three computer-savvy kids, including one with special needs. She has been writing about family life and technology for 10 years.