Back to School: Apps Every Student Should Have

by Helen Beyne

back to school best apps

images courtesy digital art/luigi diamanti |

It’s a brand new school year, one that is full of opportunities. It’s time to make use of the best back-to-school apps that not only will make life in the classroom easier but also will help students become more organized and study more effectively.

The following is a list of mobile apps for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Many of these mobile apps are free and can be loaded onto your students’ devices as they head back to school.


iOS, Free

ScratchJr allows young children (ages 5–7) to program their own interactive games and stories. As children are learning how to code, they are simultaneously designing projects and learning how to problem solve.

SlateMath for Kids

iOS, Free

SlateMath for Kids uses engaging activities, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards, to teach young children foundational math skills so they are prepared for kindergarten and first grade math.

Britannica Kids: Solar System

iOS, $4.99

Britannica Kids: Solar System is part of the Britannica Kids series. It allows students to learn and play as they explore the solar system. The app features stunning images, engaging videos, informative text, and fun games about the solar system. If you want to assess how much students know, you can use the quiz feature to test their knowledge.

National Geographic World Atlas

iOS, $1.99

National Geographic World Atlas delivers stunning, high-resolution map images to give you the best viewing experience. You can spin the interactive 3–D globe and zoom in on different areas of the world. The infographics allow you to see each country’s flag and learn fun facts about different countries. 

PopGeo USA Geography

iOS, $.99 

PopGeo is an engaging way to learn the geography of the United States. You can use this game to learn where the U.S. states, state capitals, major cities, and National Parks are located. The goal of the game is to travel as far as possible by dragging the targets to the correct location.

Google Drive

iOS and Android, Free

Google Drive provides free tools to take notes, write papers, create spreadsheets, and build presentations. It is also perfect for collaborating, since anyone in a group can work on it from any device.


iOS, $2.99

Notability is a great app if you need to write, illustrate, or record. It also allows you to complete worksheets, type an essay, create an outline, and insert pictures and links. One of its best features is the playback option, which allows you to replay your notes, since every note you take or sketch you make is linked to the audio recording. Another useful feature is the search tool, which allows you to quickly find notes by title or content. You can organize your notes by subject and back up all of your work to Google Drive or Dropbox.


iOS and Android, Free

gFlash+ allows you to create, download, and manipulate as many flashcards as you want for free. You can also easily share them with your teachers and classmates, making this app a must-have study tool.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

iOS and Android, Free

Merriam-Webster Dictionary allows you to look up words and their definitions and even teaches you how to say the words correctly. It also includes example sentences, a voice search, and a thesaurus so that you can find better words to use in your papers.

Learner’s Dictionary

iOS, Free

Learner’s Dictionary by Merriam-Webster Dictionary is designed for English language learners. It provides the tools to master both written and spoken English.


iOS, Free

AccelaStudy is award-winning language software that uses spaced repetition to help you master a language in the shortest amount of time. It includes thousands of vocabulary words, flashcards, and quizzes so that you can assess your progress as you learn.


iOS and Android, $2.99

Wolfram Alpha allows you to search for information from thousands of domains. The software, which Siri uses to answer questions, turns any device into a supercomputer.  When you ask it a question, it gathers detailed answers so that you don’t have to do the work. It also includes a problem generator that allows you to practice solving problems.

Khan Academy

iOS and Android, Free

Khan Academy’s app features more than 4,200 videos. Its extensive library contains content for all grade levels and covers a variety of subject areas, including math, science topics, and the humanities. The app also lets you create playlists and tracks your history so that you can easily access previously viewed content.

Literary Analysis Guide

iOS, $2.99

Literary Analysis Guide is a literary reference guide. It arranges literary elements around poetry, prose, and rhetoric to help students better understand the effect of literary elements on style and meaning. Clicking on a literary element reveals its definition, examples from literature, and questions to ask about how the device is used in the literature you are studying.


iOS and Android, Free

This Shakespeare app includes the complete works of Shakespeare. It allows you to customize your reading experience and jump from one scene to another. Each scene is broken down to provide you with a detailed overview of the scene in each play.

Graphing Calculator

iOS, $1.99

Graphing Calculator turns your device into a high-resolution scientific calculator and function plotter, making it a must-have for any high school student.

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.