Technology is developing at an incredible speed. This has led to an overall shift from analogue to digital ways of working and has sparked the infusion of e-learning in schools. While many traditional methods of teaching still hold a lot of value, technology is there to supplement learning. It can offer exciting opportunities for children to use their minds in different ways, while simultaneously improving their computer literacy skills to prepare them for our changing world. Today, there are many apps available to enrich the learning experiences of young minds. Below are some popular, free apps worth giving a spin!
Language is a cornerstone of communication. With Mzanzi Kids, children are introduced to six South African languages in a way that is both fun and enriching. The app has been specially designed by a team of South African educators passionate about teaching. Through sensory activities and a range of interactive games, sibling participation is encouraged, fostering teamwork and a joy for learning.
The app includes phonics and mother tongue pronunciations, over 100 illustrated images to support information retention, and exercises to engage students with pre-literacy reading skills. In a country so rich with language, this app is a must-try!
Also locally developed, Xander offers young children (those aged 1-5) the chance to begin their educational journey in their mother tongue. Available in English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, Swahili, and Shona, Xander is based on the South African school curriculum, preparing children at an early age. The app includes various activities such as ABC, 123, and vocabulary for shapes and colours, fruit and vegetables, animals, body parts and wardrobe. These cultivate a rich bank of words and support a range of skills, like numeracy, literacy, problem-solving, and pattern recognition.
Focusing on mathematics, WhizApp trains young minds to improve their memory, response speed, and the ability to perform mental calculations. Although simple, this app focuses on making maths enjoyable for children, challenging them in a healthy way.
For early learners between two and six years of age, Endless Numbers presents a friendly, non-threatening introduction to the world of numeracy. A sweet monster teaches counting, addition, numerical patterns, quantity and number recognition. Filled with colourful animations, puzzles, and interactive sequences, Endless Numbers encourages children to appreciate their 123’s and work at their own pace while doing so.
This resource-rich app, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, stimulates a love for exploring and learning by offering quality, updated science videos, graphics and pictures that are easy to find and use. Scientists, universities, colleges, and science and engineering centres contribute to the content available on the app, making information reliable and relevant. Kids can get lost for ages, reading and learning about our world.
Habitat the Game
By adopting a virtual polar bear, children are taught about climate change in a way that prompts them to be conscious of their own behaviour and impact on the environment, while growing an appreciation for the importance of environmental protection. Alongside taking care of their adopted bear, players also need to complete missions to reduce their ecological footprint in the game. Multiple levels can be reached by performing these tasks and improving the health of their bear. This is a gentle, yet effective way of teaching children about the seriousness of a situation that has become deeply worrying.
Technology is being woven into each facet of our lives and can become a powerful tool in schools if used correctly and if resources are available. Unfortunately, due to the digital divide present in our country, many children do not have access to these new means of learning.
I hope we can close this gap, by engaging children living in rural communities with technology; e-learning programmes ensure that each child who has the opportunity to grow computer literacy skills, equipping them for the digitalised world out there will allow children to exercise their minds through online resources and activities.
Want to help? Find out how you can get involved and join us in working towards education that is equal for all.