Monday, March 10, 2014

My Must Have Apps

I often get asked about my favourite Apps and which ones I recommend people should get. After receiving an email today from a colleague asking for my Top 10, I thought it could be a great time to create my Top 12 apps of today! (I couldn't just pick 10. There are way too many good ones).

This Top 12 has some solid apps that've always loved; some are newer apps; some that will be taken off this list one day; some that will stay. In my opinion, Apps will always evolve. We will find apps that will be better than these. We will find new uses for apps. Our needs will change, Our students will change. All of these things will effect how and why we download apps. We need to always remember that.

In this Top 10 Starter Kit I think you can get a good feel of some very powerful apps and what iPad is capable of. All of these Apps that can be used in a variety of different grades. I have used most of these apps with students in K-6. The best feature that most of these apps have is the ability to save to the camera roll - this is the key to exporting work off the iPad. If not through the camera roll, uploading to cloud storage is the next option I try to look for.

My Top 12 One Screen


This is the must-have app provided by Apple (now for free). When you create video presentations, iMovie is crucial for mashing all your clips and photos together! It's easy to do and allows you to create top quality videos. This app is now free with an iPad purchased from around the Fall of 2013.


I like keynote, not only for making easy-to-make slick looking presentations, but also to create text based images that are useable in other apps (such as iMovie above) by taking screen shots and creating image files of specific slides. This app is free with an iPad purchased from around the Fall of 2013.

Pic Collage

A great way to quickly build a sequence of photos. Pic Collage allows users to easily, and quickly, make learning visible. I also like creating Lego style instructions or sequence of events using this app. Pic Collage is a free app.

Explain Everything

WOW - Probably the most widely loved Ed Tech app that is out there. Explain Everything (EE) is an amazing app that allows you to explain everything :) We have created tutorials, digital stories, solved math problems and more! We are always experimenting with new ways to use this app. EE app costs $2.99.

Voice Recorder for iPad

Recording the voice is very powerful! This app allows you to create folders and store audio recordings in different folders. This is not only a great app for students but it also great for teachers as an assessment tool. You can also save audio files to the camera roll and download as Quicktime files.This app costs 99c.

Book Creator

Book Creator is probably the easiest to use digital book creator out there. I have used this with Kindergarten to Grade 6. It gives the ability to create simple digital book that feature text, drawing, images, and voice recordings. You can even publish these to the iBooks store if you wish! There is a paid version for $4.99 and a free version of this app (which has the limitation of only one project at a time).

Green Screen by Do Ink

This has to be the best option for green screen video for iPad. This app creates beautiful, amazing quality, green screen video all on the iPad. Being a relatively new app, Do Ink Green is improving all the time. They are also planning on introducing a still image output option in future updates. This app costs $2.99.


A great way to create visual or text based mind maps. Easy to use from K-6. Popplet cost $4.99 or the free version will allow you to create one Popplet (mind map) at a time.

Doodle Buddy

This app is one of our most widely used apps. It allows students to very easily create basic drawings and save them to the camera roll. Doodle Buddy is a free app.


Aurasma is an amazing Augmented Reality app that is possibly too technical to be on this starter list. It definitely deserves to be here as it is amazing way to showcase student work. Aurasma is free! I have written another couple of blog posts that share how powerful this app is ~ Augmented Book Reviews and Making Images Move


Skitch is made by Evernote and allows users to take photos and make annotations over the top of the image. It is super easy to use and produces great quality images which can be saved to the camera roll. This is another free app.

Google Drive

This awesome app allows you to connect to your Google Drive account. You can create documents and spreadsheets on the iPad but the power is being able to upload video and images to Google Drive as well as many other apps that you upload to as well.


  1. Fantastic list. I agree with each one, but the biggest take-away from this post is that bit about exporting products to the camera roll as videos or pictures... I think if more people understood that, there'd be fewer complaints about the 'i' device mentality where it is made for a single user! I also love that each of them (I think!) whether you meant to or not, are applications that DO NOT require the internet. They are creation apps, not consumption apps - which is how it should be!

    How are you finding using iPhoto with iOS 7? Have you found an easy way to use iPhoto without needing iTunes open? I want all computers at our school to "trust" all of our iPads and visa versa... Help Steve! You're my only hope!

    1. Great point about the Internet and how these apps all focus on creating.

      Access iPhoto in iOS7 is a little tricky the first time around. WHat you need to do the first time an iPad is plugged into a computer is needs to verify that you trust it. What you need to do (only once) is open iTunes first, then click Trust on the iPad and then you'll be able to access photos on the device.

      Does that make sense?