Choosing the Right Apps for the Primary Classroom

By Michael Hilkemeijer


The use of apps in the classroom is today becoming more popular with many schools adopting BYOD policies. These policies typically allow students to bring their own devices which usually include some form of mobile technology such as iPads, laptops, and even mobile phones. Teachers even use tablet computers and students utilise the availability of such technology in lessons.

With such action being taken in schools it is no wonder that there are so many websites featuring all these fantastic apps for the classroom. The problem is though….which ones to choose? There are free apps and there are paid apps….but which ones are the best apps? 


When it comes to choosing the right classroom apps for your students you need to keep in mind what your goals are for using it in the classroom. Is it to support subject learning? To develop student ICT capability?

Or both?

It is my view that when integrating ICT in the classroom, you aim to achieve both. ICT should be transparent in the subject learning in such a way that students learn the context with the use of ICT and without even noticing that they are also developing their own ICT capabilities. 


Many teachers today use iPads for curriculum learning including literacy and numeracy. Choosing apps is like deciding on the right software for computers. After all, applications are indeed tablet computer software! The principles which should then aide your decision-making include: 

Does the app allow students full control of its use or only partial control?


Research suggests (Kennewell et al., 2000) that if students are to develop their ICT capability, that they need to be given opportunities to be challenged intellectually using software including apps where the level of decision-making and control by students is high.


  • What features and facilities does the app provide which might be used to extend children’s learning? 
  • How easy are these features to use? 
  • Will the children need to be instructed in their use before or during their use of the app? 
  • What is the educational purpose underlying the student’s use of the software?




Literacy and Numeracy Apps

Many of these types of apps like computer software are recognised as an Integrated Learning System or subject-specific. If your goal is simply to achieve higher levels of literacy and numeracy, then they are fine depending on whether or not they meet the learning needs of the students. A key problem with such software is that if teachers are to capitalise on its use then this requires them to be proficiently trained. Training is essential but it also takes time. Time to learn about it, time to know it, time to practice and time to evaluate it. Teachers, as we all know, are time poor!


What are the best apps?

Taking into account what I have discussed earlier about how the best software is the ones that allow high decision-making and full control over its use, apps are pretty much the same. In fact, if you want to go further the best apps are those that are content-free.


In my opinion, using apps in the classroom should share the same purpose of software in the classroom. Ensure that it enables the technology to be used as a tool in the classroom.



Using apps in the classroom

Top Apps for Classroom use


One of the most common forms of technology that students have in their possession these days are either iPads or smartphones. Your school might also have a set of classroom tablet computers that you can use. If not, with the correct policy and procedures in place and supported by the school administration you can put to use some of the best apps to use in the classroom today.

Previously, I talked about how to choose the right types of apps. In this article, you will learn some great examples of apps that promote the development of higher order thinking skills. This is an important component in the development of student ICT capability. Each one enables there to be high level decision-making to be conducted on the student’s behalf.

Included in the list are apps that enable content creation by students as well. These apps for the classroom also are also great for the development of student ICT capability.


Here is my list of some of the best apps for the classroom today.


Book Creator

One of the best apps for the classroom when teaching literacy this one. This app can be used by students from kindergarten through to high school where they can demonstrate their understanding of a topic by writing a book.


Explain Everything

This popular app for the primary classroom is great for its creative potential. This screencasting app allows students to record their voices and can produce content that allows for their demonstration of understanding in a topic.



This app for the classroom allows students to turn their videos and photos into a magical musical clip. It has good editing features to nourish creative skills and knowledge



This is a digital storytelling creator and publishing tool for students.



Using apps in the classroom that develops programming skills is a great way for you to develop student ICT capability. Students can challenge their brain and start at the six-level tutorial to get started as it is said to be quite tough.



Adobe Spark

Adobe has given you the opportunity to allow students to design stunning graphics, videos, and webpages. This app is available on IOS and Android.



Classroom apps for students can become a powerful learning tool that allows students to focus on achieving subject-specific learning outcomes if used correctly. The teaching strategies app that must be employed and embedded into classroom practice must ensure that the technology they are using becomes sufficiently ‘transparent’ to the extent that they hardly notice they are using it. This, after all, is the ultimate of ICT capability. Always ensure that you are keeping the subject learning outcome in focus and not the technology.


These are the best classroom apps to use today.



Apps to use in the classroom

Teacher Apps for the Classroom

There are many great teacher apps to use in the classroom these days. It is important when you are deciding that they meet your needs as a teacher and that you spend time (if you have time spend) to get to know it better so that you can optimise its use.


So I have scanned the Internet to give you a list of apps to use in the classroom so that you have more time to do exactly that.



If you haven’t heard of Zoom before today you will have now! It is used by many teachers these days to communicate and it also easy to use and has multi-user functions.



Turn a boring lesson into a game to help motivate students. This classroom app can do this for you



My daughter’s school uses this classroom app and I think it is great as you can post student activities to parents like documents, video and photos. My wife and I enjoy being able to learn and understand what our child is up to in class.


Google Classroom

Many schools use the Google G suite for Education. Here you can distribute and grade assignments through this classroom app along with organise class materials.



Communicate with parents and students easily in real-time outside of the classroom.


These are some of the teacher apps to use in the classroom today that I recommend for you to try out. Remember, it is best to make sure that you understand its use and functions before implementing it into your teaching practices.