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PeopleImages/E+ via Getty Images
It’s no secret that your life changes after you have children. But with coronavirus affecting millions around the world, life with your children might have made a complete 180. Special events like graduation and prom have been canceled, birthday parties have had to be reimagined and celebrated indoors, and homeschooling has become a new norm.
Keeping your child engaged in the joys of learning might have been hard enough during in-school classes. But with the living room serving as a new classroom, you might be wondering how to guarantee your child is still learning. Luckily, you won’t have to leave your home to reignite your child’s love for learning. Here are the best free learning apps that will teach your child important lessons — without hurting your pockets.
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Breathe, Think, Do is an app created by the makers of the television show “Sesame Street” that enlists the help of a friendly monster to teach children problem-solving skills. While using the free, bilingual app — both English and Spanish are language options — children engage in interactive activities that will calm the Sesame Street monster, including helping it solve problems, learning encouraging phrases and practicing soothing breathing techniques to manage anxiety and stress.
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Adults hoping to learn new skills at home might be familiar with Duolingo — an app that utilizes personalized learning and in-app rewards to help individuals learn over 30 new languages — but the language learning app is perfect for everyone. Diversify your child’s in-home curriculum with a new language like Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Swahili and more.
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Droplets is also a language learning app, but it was specifically designed for users ages 7 to 16. For five free minutes a day, children can learn how to read and write the alphabet, practice common words for food and drinks, and even master how to say essential household items in 37 languages.
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Laugh & Learn Animal Sounds, a creation of the popular toy brand Fisher-Price, teaches children ages 6 months and up animal names and sounds with the use of colorful animations and sound effects. Learning progresses steadily with children first being introduced to one animal at a time, then advancing to up to four animals on the screen. Your child will become an animal lover as they tap through cows, frogs, pigs and more.
Quick Math Jr. is an Apple-exclusive, award-winning app that teaches children age 3 and up fundamental math skills. Users can learn to name numbers, practice number sequences and solve simple addition and subtraction skills with interactive games. All answers are written on the screen by hand — so children can learn proper penmanship — and parents can review a report card through the app.
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Learning to code is an essential skill that could lead to high-paying jobs, like computer programming. Swift Playgrounds teaches kids the basics of coding for free with Apple-created lesson guides, a built-in glossary and interactive coding challenges that display your hard work instantly. Swift Playgrounds is exclusively available to users with iPads.
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Fans of family-friendly, happy television shows might be aware of Nick Jr. and its educational programming, but parents who subscribe to a TV provider can use Nick Jr.’s app to access free educational games. Kids can learn shapes, numbers and problem-solving skills with Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig and more of the channel’s most famous characters.
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Similar to Nick Jr.’s interactive app, PBS Kids Games features games that include the network’s famous characters like Arthur, Daniel Tiger, Elmo and more. The app includes over 100 free learning games like mazes, puzzles and coloring games focused on subjects ranging from science to reading.
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Recommended for children ages 5 through 7, ScratchJr educates young learners on the fundamentals of coding. The free app features interactive stories and games, and children can use the basics of coding to replicate beautiful sunsets, start a dance party or run a race.
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GoNoodle is a free exercise app that’ll get your children up and moving and away from their television screens. GoNoodle has movement, yoga and mindfulness videos as well as games that require movement — like jumping, waving and ducking — to solve simple problems.
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Habitat the Game teaches children how to be more sustainable in their everyday life. Players adopt a polar bear and undertake real-world activities — like turning the lights off — to keep the bear alive and well. Each time a player completes a task, they earn badges and the polar bear’s health improves.
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Whether you follow yearly astronomical events or you’re unable to spot the Big Dipper, SkyView Lite is the perfect app for the entire family, especially for children. Simply point your phone at the sky while using the app and you’ll receive a detailed description of the constellations, stars, satellites and more.
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Knowin is a free app that teaches children how to code at a level that best suits them. Recommended for kids ages 4 and up, Knowin teaches children programming languages like Python and Swift and includes short lessons to educate players on what’s next before each challenge.
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If having your toddler draw on your walls isn’t part of your home organization plans, Scribbaloo Paint is the perfect way to engage your child’s creative side without the hassle of the cleanup. The app has a simple layout and design with an array of watercolor options for freeform painting.
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When it comes to around-the-clock learning in every subject ranging from science and grammar to history and politics, Khan Academy Kids should be every parent’s go-to app. This free app utilizes interactive games and exercises to make learning easy and fun. Parents hoping to engage in indoor learning activities can also use Khan Academy, a version of the app with lessons for high schoolers and up, to sharpen their skills.
Prodigy: Kids Math Game disguises math lessons under the pretense of a video game, making learning enjoyable and engaging. In this no-cost game, kids are assigned a majestic quest and must solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and fraction equations to reach new levels and rescue pets.
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Just because some of the best museums in every state might be temporarily closed doesn’t mean future astronauts have to miss out on the opportunity to learn about space and beyond. The NASA app brings all things space to your phone and tablet. Users can explore over 17,000 images, watch live NASA TV, view earth-orbiting satellites, read the latest news stories and watch events unfold in real time.
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Created by PBS Kids, the Play and Learn Science app gives children the chance to not only predict the weather, but also to determine it as well. Developed with the assistance of early childhood experts, children learn core science concepts like earth science, physical science and life science while using the Play and Learn Science app.
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There are many benefits of doing yoga. It stimulates the mind, rejuvenates the body and gives our muscles the stretch they’ve been needing. The Adventures of Super Stretch teaches children 12 yoga poses and breathing regimens with the help of the character Super Stretch and his friends.
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Even though you can virtually tour some institutions, getting lost in the most beautiful libraries in the world is currently off the table. Libby, however, brings the library to you. The free app has ebooks and digital audiobooks that can be borrowed from your local library. All you’ll need is a library card.
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Google Arts and Culture brings over 2,000 museums — some you might not have known even existed — from 80 countries right to your fingertips. Users can listen to the story behind pieces of art, take short quizzes and learn the history behind fashion trends, among many things.
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GeoGuessr is both a website and a free app that takes learners to natural wonders and man-made marvels around the world and has them figure out where they are based on their surroundings. From Russian roads to the streets of Las Vegas, the app teaches children geography and exposes them to the wonders of the world.
Teachley: Mt. Multipis is a free math app that teaches children multiplication as they work to build amazing bridges for the main character, Linka, to help her navigate the city of Mt. Multiplis. While following a fun storyline, children will also learn how math is used in our everyday lives.
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Your child doesn’t have to visit a famous movie location to get lost in the world of film. With the help of Toontastic 3D, they can create their own animated features for free. Cartoons can be drawn, animated and narrated within the app.
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Sentence Maker is an interactive game that teaches children how to form complete sentences with the touch of their fingers. Parents even have the option to record their voices so toddlers can learn common words with their parents’ guidance every step of the way.
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Superhero Comic Book Maker is an award-winning creative app designed to kindle your child’s imagination. Children can choose from 27 background scenes, more than 170 animated stickers and nearly 60 crayons and colored pencils to create the comic book of their dreams. And while using the recording feature, your child can narrate their comic book as well.
Funbrain Jr. is an app designed to introduce preschoolers and kindergarteners to early literacy, math and problem-solving lessons. Each of the five games within the app were created to build letter and number recognition, understanding of sequence order and motor skills all with the help of colorful characters.
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Zac the Rat has been teaching children to read since 2002, and he keeps the lessons going with Starfall Learn to Read. The app displays a vowel sound and its related spelling. Users can then touch and read the vowel sound with a variety of activities, videos and popular songs to master learning.
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Lightbot: Code Hour is a free coding app that requires users to use programming skills to solve puzzles with the help of Lightbot the robot. With 20 levels to navigate, children with little to no experience will learn loops, conditionals and technical skills that will turn coding into an everyday hobby. After the coding session, try some of these new hobbies for quarantine with your children.
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