5 Low or No-Cost Education Apps for Teaching at Home


Education apps development exploded in the last five years, but so many of said apps seem to be missing the mark. I receive countless inquiries from parents across my social media platforms every week, and they’re always looking for tips and advice on how to help their children succeed in school.

First and foremost, thank you. Thank you for every tweet, private message, email, text, or phone call. Thank you for choosing an active role in your child’s learning. That makes a great difference in the grand scheme. Now, to answer your questions…

children-1822471_1280It’s very hit or miss when searching for good education apps that will support a child’s developing skills, and trying to find one that doesn’t cost you your first born can be even harder. I can’t deny the huge market for edtech right now, and while I recognize that money talks, parents don’t need to break the bank to scaffold learning at home. In recent months, I learned of several apps that I liked and used (still use) with my son.  Give me a few minutes, and I’ll direct you to five education apps that might quench your thirst for quality.

1. Newsela

I’ve written about this app before, but I’ll do it again because I love it so much. The great thing about Newsela is 1) there’s a free version, and 2) it’s customizable. In fact, the core of the app is the customization aspect.

You can:

  • select different reading levels for nonfiction articles,
  • assign articles specifically to your child,
  • review the comprehension questions with your child, and
  • create text sets with a common theme.

That’s all included in the free account. I didn’t purchase the subscription because I wouldn’t use it to that extent with my son, but I can attest to the greatness of the app in general. If you’re a teacher reading this, you should definitely pitch that subscription option to your department chair or campus leadership. You would get your money’s worth.

2. Scootpad

I learned about Scootpad recently and completed the demo walk-through with the company. What I love about this app is the personalized learning paths based on the student’s placement tests. I am a huge proponent of pretests at the beginning of new units, so this option is wonderful. Of course, if you pay for the monthly or yearly subscription, you get beaucoup more options, grade levels, and resources.

The K-8 free version gives you access to:

  • one grade level of lessons and activities,
  • one learning path,
  • math and English Language Arts curricula, and
  • parent portals with other options.

Try out the free version first. Take the guided tour. Then, decide if you’d like to pay for access to the rest of the app. I’ll add that they are rolling out with new features in the next few weeks. I’ve also read about the possibility of adding science and social studies, which would be fabulous.

3. IXL

I opened this article saying it’s not necessary to spend a large sum of money on educational apps, and I stand by that statement. IXL, depending on your personal budget, can be expensive if you want total access, but you should look at the pricing and decide for yourself. While this app doesn’t have a free version, it made the list because I genuinely like the math curriculum. Also, I use IXL as a “summer bridge” activity because we have access to every grade level. I assign my son to complete previous grade levels for reinforcement and practice.

The “all access” version includes:

  • PK-12 math, PK-12 language arts, 2-5 science, and 2-5 social studies,
  • a comprehensive analytics section for progress monitoring, and
  • regular email notifications about your child’s progress.

If you only want to work on one subject at home, you wouldn’t need the “all access” subscription and can purchase access to one. I will add that many schools around the world use IXL. I received my first introduction when my son was in first grade in Brazil. He had a regular weekly assignment to complete. All in all, we use this app regularly.

4. CK-12

CK-12 is another app that’s new to me, but I love the way it’s set up. The app offers webinars, videos, adaptive practice, and other educational resources for K-12, especially for science and math instruction. Fortunately, it appears that the entire site is available without cost to educators, parents, and students.

The website offers (this is not exhaustive):

  • adaptive practice lessons in nearly every major K-12 subject,
  • state standard-specific resources, and
  • simulations and virtual labs on a variety of STEM topics.

If you’ve never heard of it, take a minute and browse. It’ll look promising for some home enrichment. Also, it looks like the organization operates on donations, so feel free to help them out. I loved to see great resources like this site remain free for educators and parents.

5. Khan Academyeducation apps for teachers

I hesitated to add Khan Academy to the list only because it seems like everyone already knows about this amazing resource, but just in case, here it is. Khan Academy offers student-friendly walkthroughs and videos on a wide array of topics. Then, they can practice the skills through the adaptive technology platform. You can monitor your student (whether you’re a parent or teacher) through their dashboard when you link your accounts together.

This completely free resource provides:

  • an impressive set of STEM courses and topics spanning K-12,
  • college readiness test prep for SAT, GMAT, MCAT, and NCLEX-RN, and
  • some liberal arts coursework like art history, world history, & language.

I watched a video of the creator, Sal Khan, in which he said they’re currently working on including more English Language Arts-type courses too, so be sure to watch that. This organization is also nonprofit and chooses to provide these resources without cost, so if you feel led to donate to them, it would be greatly appreciated.

Other Education Apps?

Adaptive technology is great for individualizing instruction for students because the platform “learns” each student’s level and meets them where they are. I’m still searching for more K-12 education apps, especially ones that are low or no cost to parents and educators, so if you come across any wonderful resources, be sure to send them my way.

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