Finding the Best Online Tools for your Child

August 4, 2015

As you will know the Internet brings with it a world full of learning opportunities for your teens. There are tons of apps, games and websites out there, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Asking their teachers is a great place to start as they will be able to recommend the tried and tested tools that will work for your teens.

Although the online world brings its dangers and distractions, encourage your teens to embrace the goodness and give guidance about what they could use to tickle their imagination, amplify their knowledge, or ignite a new passion. With the right support and guidance your teens can explore, discover and learn from digital media in a way that will help them develop the 21st century skills they’ll need to succeed.

Safe tech tools for your teens to learn

All of the tools and apps recommended below are safe for kids to use. Find your child below to recommend the best tool for them.

“I’m so over PowerPoint. I want a simple tool to create spell bounding presentations.”

Explain Everything is like a superhero version of PowerPoint. Teens can create presentations for school or personal use that include photos, PDF files, annotations, drawings and audio, all into a single slide. Explain Everything will allow your teens to animate their thinking and take their presentations to the next level. The app can be purchased for just $2.99. For more information on how students and teachers can use Explain Everything in the classroom click here.

“I want to learn a new language but learning from a textbook bores me.”

Duolingo is a game-based language learning website. With gamification poured into every bite-sized lesson, kids and adults alike are addicted to the learning platform and eager to get to the next level. Proven to actually work, your kids can start learning all sorts of languages including French, Spanish, German and Dutch. Duolingo is free to use and is free from any ads or hidden charges.

“Art is my favourite subject. I would love to be able to boost my creative skills online.”

If your kid loves to draw but is just getting started with digital art, check out Sketchbook Express which is free to use and contains all the basic features including brushes, layers and symmetry. If your teens is serious about art it would be worth the upgrade to Sketchbook Pro (from $2.99/month) to unlock a unique set of advanced tools. Sketchbook is available on all major platforms and devices and once your teen has made their creation, they can share it over social media or email.

“I struggled to understand what we learnt at school today and need a recap.”

Learning Bird might be just the answer! With an library of over 10,000 lessons in math, science, ELA and social studies for grades 6 - 12, your teens will be sure to find the lesson that helps to bridge their understanding gap and cement what they have learnt in class. Most lessons come in video form and are broken down into small 3-5 minute chunks so that kids are not overwhelmed. The diverse library also includes slideshows, documents and even songs. All lessons are contributed by real teachers so your kids can receive classroom quality instruction at home. Learning Bird is a safe, ad free environment containing only the highest quality, vetted content. Parents, you can create a family account starting from $12.50/month for all the kids in your family.

“Organization is not my forte. I want a single tool to help me organize my to do lists, notes and school work.”

Evernote will help your teens get organized and manage their digital lives as well as support their executive functioning skills. It works across multiple platforms and multiple devices. Your teens will have access to everything all in one place, including lists, notes, images, sounds and links. Visual teens will love the colour-coding and highlighting tools while those that struggle with visual memory will benefit from the microphone tool. The free account includes all basic features including sharing notes and links via email or social media. For more features, more space and more freedom upgrade to Evernote Plus for $28.99/year.

“I love science and want to become a doctor but the lessons at school are not stimulating me.”

Your inquisitive teens can virtually explore the inner workings of the human body with the amazing 3D anatomy tool BioDigital Human. It is the second best tool for learning about the human body, second to the real thing. For individual middle and high school students, basic membership is sufficient and will inspire their curiosity provide a hands on learning experience with interactive quizzes and editing tools.

“I’m a computer nerd but I’m not into all that social media rubbish. I need a new challenge.”

The smart site Codecademy teaches kids how to code using interactive exercises organized into lessons. The hands-on learning experience provides well-paced instruction and real-time feedback and tips to take learning to the next level. Take the intimidation out of coding for your teens, for free.

Whatever the tool, find something that your teen will love. And remember that the small cost is often worth it to get a safe, ad free, high quality learning resource. Surfing can also be a beneficial activity for your teens, allowing them to explore, ask questions, and solve problems on their own, but make sure that they are surfing safely!

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.

Written by

Charlotte Nichols

Charlotte Nichols is a Marketing Associate at Learning Bird, a personalized library of teacher-created digital lessons for grades 6 - 12.