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12 essential home-learning apps for kids

By Jen Paolini 19 February 2020

Due to the ongoing health crisis, Hong Kong schools will remain closed until 16 March at the earliest, but not to fear—there are plenty of home-learning apps to help your kids learn and brush up on their existing skills outside of the classroom, as well as pass the time before schools resume. Read on to find an app suitable for your little one!

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Languages

1

Duolingo

A tried-and-tested favourite amongst adults and children alike, Duolingo is the veritable godfather of all modern, interactive language-learning apps (sorry, Rosetta Stone). With over 30 languages to choose from in fun, bite-sized lessons that can be picked up and put down at any time, kids can track their progress and earn rewards as they go, all the while staying motivated and engaged in Duolingo’s game-like environment. Suitable for children of all ages, users can also revisit previous lessons to brush up.

Alongside the roster of standard international languages, Duolingo also offers Esperanto and Latin lessons, so what’s stopping you from learning a new language in tandem with your kids? Download for free on the App Store or Google Play

2

Endless Spanish

App creators Originator designed and developed Endless Spanish with children in mind, doing away with high scores, failures, limits, and stress. Allowing for kids to interact with the app at their own pace in a home-learning setting, Endless Spanish offers vocabulary training and interactive word puzzles featuring letters that come to life. There are also sentence puzzles with words that transform into what they describe—a perfect way to illustrate word meanings and assist with associations! Download for free on the App Store or Google Play with in-app purchases

3

Gus on the Go

Geared more towards toddlers and pre-schoolers, friendly owl Gus assists with language-learning in 30 different languages—and Cantonese is included as well, making it a welcome addition to our list of top home-learning apps.

Dive into 10 interactive lessons, engaging vocabulary reviews, and delightful games, and don’t forget to check out their Vulnerable Languages section, where Team Gus works with native speakers of vulnerable and endangered languages (like Ingush) to help preserve language diversity. Download on the App Store or Google Play

If you’re looking for more advanced lessons, Gus on the Go also offers Stories, a separate app series that re-shapes classic fairytales like Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks and the Three Bears into interactive adventures. Great for listening and reading comprehension, start off with animations that teach vocabulary and build their way up to short sentences. Once your children have finished the interactive lesson and completed the story, they can play mini-games that make learning fun and exciting! Download on the App Store

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

4

MindSnacks Mandarin

This vibrant learning app will help your little ones pick up Mandarin in no time! MindSnacks Mandarin features eight exciting games designed to build essential vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, and conversation skills.

Keep the kids entertained with 50 levels of language content presented in the form of games and fun challenges. Each level features up to 25 Mandarin words and phrases, in Pinyin and characters, with pictures and matching audio clips from a native Mandarin-speaker so kids can learn pronunciation and tones correctly and efficiently.

Browse with them through a library of hand-illustrated images designed to help memorise words and master over 1000 Chinese words and phrases together! Download for free on the App Store with in-app purchases

5

HelloChinese

More suitable for kids in their teenage years than pre-schoolers, HelloChinese is consistently touted as one of the best apps for Mandarin-language learning. Designed in a fun and highly effective way, it helps kids learn Mandarin up to a conversational level using game-based learning and immersive lessons.

But there’s a lot more to HelloChinese than vocab drilling. Designed as bite-sized courses suitable for home-learning, it offers over 2,000 videos with native Chinese speakers and innovative learning games that incorporate Chinese cultural education, so you’re not just learning the language, but the culture behind it as well. Switch between traditional and simplified, or Pinyin and characters as you like, as well as how to write in the correct stroke order. Download for free on the App Store or Google Play with in-app purchases

6

Epic!

Hands down, Epic! is one of the best reading apps available for kids, and thus an essential addition to any home-learning arsenal. Boasting an e-book library that contains over 35,000 children’s books and a “Read-to-Me” feature for little ones who are still learning to read, this is the perfect platform to extend to your kids when they’re screaming for screen time during what should be learning time. Great for families with kids of various ages. Download for free on the App Store or Google Play with in-app purchases

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Maths

7

MathTango

Brought to us by the same studio behind Endless Spanish, MathTango is a groundbreaking app that might lead your little ones onto a path of loving maths. Best for kids aged five to 10, MathTango introduces a unique, classroom-tested combination of math puzzles to teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Progress through 500-plus puzzles and 40-plus levels to earn collectable monsters, complete missions, and discover even more fun and surprises along the way. With calculation techniques that make maths easier and more intuitive and a curriculum that dynamically adapts to the user, children advance only when they have mastered the current lesson. There’s also a free-play mode and an offline mode for on-the-go learning! Download for free on the App Store with in-app purchases

8

DoodleMaths

Using adaptive learning technology to tailor mathematical content to students’ strengths and weaknesses, DoodleMaths is one of the smartest personalised maths programmes on the market.

Suitable for kids starting from age four, kids can work on bite-sized exercises designed to fit around busy schedules, both online and offline, and motivational features ensure that they come back every day feeling more and more confident about their maths.

As a parent, you can also use the dashboard to follow up on where your child is excelling and where there’s room for improvement—that’s pretty nifty, in our opinion. Download on the App Store or Google Play

9

Prodigy

Amazing pets, customisable characters, epic battles, and… maths? It may not look like it at first glance, but Prodigy is curriculum-aligned maths game that is used by millions of teachers, parents, and students around the world. This fantasy-based learning platform offers content from every major maths topic, covering over 1,400 skills from first to eighth grade.

Borrowing elements from role-playing games (RPGs), kids complete in maths-based duels against in-game characters, whereby they must correctly answer a set of questions to win. Pretty epic. While playing, students can earn rewards, go on quests, and play with friends! The game also uses adaptive learning to adjust the content, addressing each student’s trouble spots. And the whole thing comes at an unbelievable price of free! Download for free on the App Store or Google Play

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

Others

10

Khan Academy Kids

Suitable for children ages two to six, Khan Academy Kids is a personalised learning resource designed to inspire a lifetime of learning and discovery. Let five whimsical characters guide your kids through a library of stories and engage with topics through open-ended creative tasks as well as assessed activities.

Individualised lessons allow kids to learn at their own pace, and core subjects like early literacy, languages, and maths are highlighted to encourage creativity and build social-emotional skills. And the best part? It’s all free! Download for free on the App Store or Google Play

Are your kids slightly already in more advanced stages of learning? The all-ages version of Khan Academy is free as well and chock-full of educational courses like science, engineering, arts, and humanities. Dive into practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalised learning dashboard to empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.

11

Master of Typing

Get the little ones ready for a lifetime of sitting at their keyboards (just kidding). Jokes aside, learning how to type and doing it well plays an important role in our modern lives, and with Master of Typing, children can take part in a structured touch-typing course.

Whether to brush up on existing skills or just getting started with tutorials on how to type using all 10 fingers, the courses are specially developed for young learners under 12 years old. Ideal for self-education and home-learning, Master of Typing comes with animated smart teachers to take you through the different courses and typing drills.

Along with a colourful keyboard scheme to help you learn the correct finger position, the app also provides exams to test out your new skills for speed and accuracy! Download for free on the App Store with in-app purchases

12

Plants by Tinybop

Since your kids are cooped up at home for the foreseeable future, why not bring the beauty of nature and wildlife closer to them? Suitable for kids aged six and above, Plants by Tinybop lets you explore flora and fauna virtually in a playful and interactive manner through intricate illustrations. Crash clouds together to create lightning or speed up time to watch how seasons affect plants. Kids are encouraged to discover interactive dioramas of the forest, desert, and grasslands, and identify species with labels.

App developers Tinybop also offers other installations in the Explorer series, such as Skyscrapers, the Earth, Weather, Simple Machines, and Home, so there’s always more for curious children to investigate. Download on the App Store

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Jen Paolini

Content director

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Germany, and educated in the U.S., Jen is an award-winning creative with a background in illustration, communication design, art direction, and content creation. When she’s not getting lost in a good book, you’ll find her doing crosswords, eating dim sum, covering both sides of a Disney duet, and taking naps.

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