Off Topic: Our Ten Favorite Educational Apps

We all love games, but life’s about more than entertainment. Luckily for us, the App Store is stocked with thousands of educational apps, putting all kinds of knowledge at our fingertips. Plenty of games, dictionaries, math tests, and amalgamations of these are up for grabs to act as aids for teachers, parents, students, or anyone who wants to expand their knowledge. We’ve rounded up an eclectic mix of useful educational apps anyone can enjoy. The power of learning compels you!

Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe

bcox-1a bcox-2a

Not enough attention is given to educating young minds about the gorgeous expanse of space we call home. In a world where it seems space exploration may never mature beyond a moon landing, it’s important to be well-versed in what we already know as fact. Wonders of the Universe is an excellent app that delivers broad views of multiple galaxies, hundreds of articles, and hours’ worth of video that explores space as we know it. There’s also a 3-D universe, fully zoomable, that allows investigation up to the sub-atomic level. It’s one of the most comprehensive learning apps you’ll find, and learning about the universe you call home is never a bad thing.

Developer: HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $6.99
Buy It

Grammar Up

grammar1a grammar2

English is a tricky subject for all students, despite it being the language many of us speak on a daily basis. Grammar is especially difficult if it doesn’t come naturally to you, so why not spend some time with Grammar Up? It offers over 1,800 questions spanning 20 different grammar categories, all in a bid to help users improve their vocabulary and grammar usage– and possibly test scores. Plenty of practice tests and progress meters work together to ensure this is one app that deserves a spot on your device.

Developer: Eknath Kadem
Price: $4.99
Buy It

Math Ninja HD


Combining engaging gameplay with education is the hallmark of an excellent tool for teaching children, and Math Ninja HD does this very well. An evil tomato and his robotic army are invading your treehouse, and you, the math-powered ninja, need to keep them out. Choose between smoke bombs, magic, and even shuriken to fend off the advancing hordes, and answer math equations to stave them off! Math problems are customizable and offer varying levels of difficulty to cater to younger and older players.

Developer: Razeware
Price: $1.99
Buy It

PBS Parents Play & Learn HD


PBS knows that for young children playing on their own tablet, adult supervision is necessary. So why not cater to both parent and child? The free PBS Parents Play & Learn HD app is aimed at a considerably younger audience than some of the other apps on this list, but it’s a fantastic choice for eager learners. It’s a bilingual program that offers 13 interactive games, 52 activities, a sticker area, and parent notes that give insight into the skills found in the game, perfect for creating other teachable moments in everyday life. Plus, it’s a great-looking piece of software.

Developer: PBS Kids
Price: Free
Download It

Stack the States

stackstates1 stackstates2

This geography quiz game tosses out questions about where specific U.S. states are, and asks players to drag them to the correct location on the map. In another game mode, players stack states above a specific line to reach a prize. It’s an addictive quiz game that even older players will find themselves getting into. And if you master the United States, you can move on to the app’s cousin Stack the Countries for a bigger challenge.

Developer: Dan Russell-Pinson
Price: $0.99
Buy It

Motion Math HD

motionmath1 motionmath2

Where Math Ninja HD focused more on simplistic equations, Motion Math HD is a quite challenging game that asks players to place numbers on their proper location on the number line. Decimals, fractions, and percentages must be slotted correctly using the iPad’s internal gyroscope. Tilting the iPad left or right is easy to learn, but as the difficulty ramps up you’ll need to have quick reflexes and lightning-fast problem resolution skills. All of this, and it’s fun.

Developer: Motion Math
Price: $2.99
Buy It

The Elements: A Visual Exploration


The periodic table isn’t an especially exciting subject for most students, but The Elements: A Visual Exploration makes things considerably more interesting. You can choose any element and see it displayed on the screen in glorious HD. From there, you can fully rotate each element for a better, more relevant understanding than trying to visualize it without a reference. It’s a bit pricey, but worth every penny for anyone struggling to conceptualize or memorize the elements.

Developer: Touch Press
Price: $13.99
Buy It


dailyart1 dailyart2

Inject a little culture into your daily routine with DailyArt, an app designed to deliver a different piece of fine art each day. A classic painting with each sunrise is a great way to take in something new, and learn a little something while you’re at it. Tapping the day’s painting offers a quick description courtesy of Wikipedia, and there are handy sharing options via email, Twitter, and Facebook to spread some culture around.

Developer: Moiseum
Price: Free
Download It

dictionary1 dictionary2

This versatile app can be used offline and features a dictionary, thesaurus, and a word of the day option to beef up vocabularies and enrich word choice. There’s also a huge selection of example sentences, word origins, and even audio pronunciations. It’s perfect for those who aren’t always connected to the Internet, offering its entire library without Wi-Fi or 3G connection, making it especially useful for younger users who may not be plugged in 24/7 like adults.

Developer:, LLC
Price: Free
Download It



Learning about music is best done hands-on, and few do it better than Apple’s own GarageBand. Several instruments are available for users to play around with, offering hands-on practice and play with professional-sounding tools. What’s more, these tools can be used to create studio-quality recordings that could very well blossom into a top-40 hit someday. It all has to start somewhere, and what better way to learn than immersing yourself completely?

Developer: Apple
Price: $4.99
Buy It

Related Stories