5 Free Apps to Create with in Early Elementary

Over the past two years my school has moved from having a few carts of iPads to 1:1 in kindergarten to second grade. We also use a modified version of the project approach as a part of our focus to student learning. Supporting teachers and their students through the research and creation process is a large part of what I do. Working with early elementary age students one of my goals is to teach them to be creators of content and not just users.  The difficulty lies in what resource is the right fit for students who are age 3–8.

Here are my top five free iPad apps with activities that I love to use with preschool to second graders (older children can use them too!):

ChatterPix Kids (@ChatterPixIt) – This app allows you to make the picture talk. Who does not love that? It has many possibilities and can be used with any subject area. I have used this app with students as young as four with assistance. Students in first and second grade have used it independently.

Example project: In preparation for the presidential election, first-grade students read Elephant & Piggie and Fly Guy books. Then they worked in groups to identify the character traits that Piggie and Fly Guy have. Each student decided who they thought would make the best president and then campaigned for their character. They created a poster and recorded why you should vote for them. Here is their work: http://bit.ly/2homTwS.

Skitch (@skitch) – This app allows you to take a picture and then add annotations. You can easily save the images you create and go back to edit them later. I have used this app with kindergarteners with assistance and second graders have used it independently.

Example project: When learning about Native Americans students in second grade researched about how they met their needs for food, clothing, transportation, and housing. For the research part of the project students used print as well as PebbleGo Next and Capstone eBooks. Then they choose one thing they had learned about to create in our Makerspace. From there, they used Skitch to take a picture of their project and add five facts they had found during their research. Here is an example of a Wigwam.


Buncee EDU (@Buncee) – This is a resource that is both web-based as well as available in an app. As a presentation resource, it allows students to create a slide, add audio, and share their work.  Students have to think about what images they want to use to represent the given project. I have used the app version of Buncee with first grade students independently.

Example project: Students in first grade were learning about various genres, including fables and fairytales. Prior to creating their project, we read several fairytales and fables and identified the difference between them. Then the students used Buncee to create their own character. They had to identify what made their character fit in a fairytale or fable. Here is an example on a fairytale character that was created: http://bit.ly/1QVyCQv.

Popplet Lite (@poppletny) – This resource is web-based or available as an app. It allows you to create a mind map to visually represent ideas. You can add images, drawings, and text. You can connect various ideas and can color-code concepts. Second grade students have used this app independently. Teachers in PK3 have used this app as a group on the SMART Board too!

Example project: When learning to identify cause and effect students in second grade listened to the story Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch. Then they worked with a partner to create a cause-and-effect web using Popplet Lite.

Draw and Tell (@duckduckmoose) – This app is so simple to use! Students in preschool have used this app with limited assistance and students in junior kindergarten have used it independently. It allows you to draw a picture and then record your voice. Since it is so open-ended, it can be used for an unlimited number of topics or subject areas. The pictures can be easily saved to the camera roll and then shared.

Example project: In PK4, students learned about what foods make up a healthy plate. Then they drew a picture of their favorite food. They recorded themselves as they identified what food group it belonged to.

Bonus: Here are two additional apps that deserve a mention!

WriteReader Classroom (@writereaderapp) – This resources is available in both a web-based and app version. The classroom version is free! Children can create a book using images, text, and audio. It allows children to use invented spelling and for the teacher add the edited writing underneath. It can be started, saved, and edited later. The book can be downloaded as a PDF and then shared.

Example project: I have not used this resource with students yet, but plan to try it out with junior kindergarteners. They will each create their own emotion book. After learning about each emotion students will create a page in their book with an image of their face making the emotion. Then they will add a sentence about what might make them feel that way.

GoNoodle (@GoNoodle) – This is just for fun!  You do not create with this resource, but you do move with it!  It is available in both an app and web version. You have to create an account, but it is free. It is a collection of videos that allow you to get kids moving and provide great brain breaks throughout the day! There are several videos that are just for fun like this one: http://bit.ly/2cCoFVY, and there are others that have curriculum connections. The hardest part will be exploring everything that this resource has to offer.

Clearly, these are only a few of the many great options that are available! What resources do you love?


Author: Kelly Hincks

I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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