Apps and games can be fun ways to help your middle-schooler or high-schooler keep learning over the summer. Here are seven for you to consider.
Price and availability may vary but were accurate at the time of publication, on January 2, 2020.
With the right tools, summer can be a great time for getting tweens and teens to flex their creative writing muscles. Pixton is a free site for kids to make comics they can print or share online. Some of the comics posted on Pixton have been viewed thousands of times! The site has a wide range of tools for choosing settings and creating characters and dialogue. Pixton is easy to use and also offers how-to videos and support. For a subscription fee, kids can access even more features.
Skills: Writing, social skills including conversation
Price: Free to try; $8/month for more features
Available for: Any web browser
Get the Math
This award-winning site teaches kids how to solve real-world problems using math. Get the Math engages kids by tapping into their interests, with topics like “Math in Fashion” and “Math in Basketball.” Each topic starts with a video of people using math in their jobs. Then kids try to solve a related challenge. For example, “Math in Videogames” asks kids to plot a flight path for a spaceship to avoid hitting an asteroid. Afterward they can watch how the game designers solved the challenge.
Available for: Any web browser
Middle School Confidential 1: Be Confident in Who You Are
This app is the first part of an award-winning series called Middle School Confidential. Presented as a graphic novel, it helps kids understand and navigate the social world of middle school. It takes on common issues like self-esteem and fitting in. There’s no read-aloud function, but users can zoom in to each frame to isolate the text. After each chapter, there are quizzes to help kids work on social skills. There are also tips and quotes throughout the app to reinforce the lessons.
Skills: Social skills including conversation
Available for: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook HD
DragonBox Algebra 12+
This puzzle app offers a stress-free way for kids to learn how to do algebra. To solve the puzzles, players start by dragging and dropping matching images onto two trays on the screen. It’s a great way to drive home a key concept in algebra—that what is done to one side of an equation must be done to the other side. As DragonBox Algebra 12+ progresses, the images are replaced by numbers and symbols.
Available for: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows
This gamelike tool helps teens build resilience and stay motivated to take daily steps toward their goals. SuperBetter can be used to break negative patterns and improve self-image. The site aims to help teens do things like find ways to lower stress and feel more confident. It also enables teens to connect with other users, adding a social element that can encourage progress. The tool is customizable for kids’ needs, but it can take time to set it up.
Skills: Hyperactivity/impulsivity, organization, planning time and management
Available for: iOS, web browsers
Want to learn how to bake doughnuts filled with chocolate-hazelnut spread? Or make a hammock out of duct tape? Instructables is full of do-it-yourself projects, including many that are great for summer. Some projects are good for organizing and managing life. There are also a few projects that may help with attention. Parents may need to supervise or pre-select projects because the site has some content about alcohol and other adult topics.
Skills: Organization, planning and time management, motor skills, attention/hyperactivity
Available for: iOS, Android, web browsers
Looking for a way to make flashcards more exciting? Vocabador uses Mexican wrestling matches to help middle-schoolers and high-schoolers learn the definitions of over 400 words. Game play is very simple. Kids select a Mexican wrestler and take quizzes. When players get a vocabulary question right, they strike their opponent. When they get one wrong, they get hit. The cool graphics and sound effects could appeal to kids who are bored by traditional study aids. The app can read the vocabulary words aloud, but not the definitions.
Available for: iOS