Best Apps, Games and Sites of the Last Year

A.D.A.M. Interactive Anatomy Online

A.D.A.M. Interactive Anatomy Online
Grades: 9–12
Pricing: Free to try, paid
Concepts: Anatomy, biology, memorization, part-whole relationships

A.D.A.M. Interactive Anatomy Online is a 3D visualization and curriculum-development tool all about the human body. Teachers can select and create assignments that allow students to manipulate 3D images of the human body.

Students can move through the curriculum at their own pace, and teachers can tailor the curriculum specifically to their students' needs.

The tool can also be used for reference, with its encyclopedia of more than 3,000 3D images and 3,900 articles. Human-body models are available in four skin tones, as male or female, and with parts labeled in nine languages.

Students can also create and share their own visualizations of the human body using the highlight, import, and export capabilities.

Overall, this is a pricey but full-featured tool that's a solid choice for in-depth studying of high school-level anatomy.


Construct 2

Construct 2
Grades: 7–12
Pricing: Free, paid
Concepts: Digital creation, programming and coding, game design

Construct 2 is a Web-based 2D game-creation tool for students and teachers who want to get into game design without the need to know programming languages.

The tool features a tabbed interface that lets users easily manage many elements of a game project at once. At the same time, help is there when you need it through its active online community and tutorial collection.

Though users won't learn a lot of code or have the ability to code directly in the tool, the flexible built-in features can help kids learn the principles of coding and design something uniquely their own. Robust enough for commercial games yet simple enough for a classroom with proper support, Construct 2 is a great game-creation tool that lowers the barrier of entry without sacrificing depth.

Fruity Fractions

Fruity Fractions
Grades: 1–3
Pricing: $2.99
Concepts: Fractions, part-whole relationships

Set in a tropical jungle full of brightly colored fruit and animated birds, Fruity Fractions teaches fractions concepts to kids in first through third grades.

Students cut fruit apart, put it back together to make a whole, and identify specific fractions along the way. One of the app's biggest strengths is its clear scaffolding. As they successfully complete activities, kids unlock increasingly difficult problems and concepts, alongside a fun story line featuring tropical birds. Instruction and practice are interwoven through the app's 50 levels, which empower kids to move seamlessly from simple to complex concepts. There is also excellent Common Core State Standards alignment, meeting all fractions standards for first, second, and most of third grade.

Fruity Fractions is a fun app that successfully balances important foundational concepts with engaging visuals and a fun story line to keep kids coming back for more.


GameMaker: Studio

GameMaker: Studio
Grades: 5–12
Pricing: Free, paid
Concepts: Digital creation, programming and coding, game design

GameMaker: Studio is a robust game-making tool that appeals to both entry-level novices and game-development pros alike.

The tool allows users to quickly create cross-platform games without the need for programming skills, as its drag-and-drop system allows new users to jump right in.

Once comfort levels increase, these would-be designers can switch over to the built-in scripting language when they want access to more flexible or nuanced behavior for their games.

Additionally, GameMaker: Studio is one of the most popular game-creation tools, so it comes with active support forums and numerous opportunities to participate in a learning community that extends outside the classroom.

This tool provides teachers with an excellent choice for a full unit or class on game design and gives students a platform for turning their game-making dreams into reality.

The Orchestra

The Orchestra
Grades: 6–12
Pricing: $13.99
Concepts: Music theory, memorization, listening, part-whole relationships

The Orchestra is an interactive iPad app for exploring classical music, the orchestra and orchestral instruments.

From videos and interviews to live performances from famous conductors and their orchestras, there's a ton to explore in this beautifully designed app. It also features eight classical music selections, each with a five-minute live performance and a real-time "BeatMap," an animated seating chart of the orchestra with colored dots representing each player as his or her instrument sounds.

Students can also explore instruments one by one, hearing interviews with the players that cover basic facts (such as how to buzz your lips to play a brass instrument) and other artistic insights.

The Orchestra is a phenomenal tool that invites students into the often-unwelcoming world of classical music in a way that deepens appreciation for the complexity and beauty of music.


Grades: 2–8
Pricing: Free
Concepts: Design, geography, curiosity, imagination, making new creations

As its name suggests, WonderBox is an app that piques kids' natural curiosity through video, drawing, taking pictures, messaging with family and friends and engaging in multistep challenges.

Curated videos and specially designed creative challenges are organized by theme (such as music, science and sports). Challenges such as designing a tree house include background information, prompts, and a general framework to get started.

Many challenges could also be linked to a wide variety of Common Core State Standards.

Safe messaging and sharing add a social component that's not only fun but also can encourage kids to follow through on their projects and interests by sharing with classmates, family members, in-class groups, and beyond. WonderBox wonderfully combines the resources of the Internet with the interactive capabilities of a touchscreen to get kids excited about learning with and without a screen.