Tech That Teaches: 15 Smart Apps for Curious Kids

iStock
iStock

Your kids may spend more time staring at screens on smartphones, tablets, and computers than books, but that downtime can still be educational. Check out these apps that can teach children of all ages far more than a game of Candy Crush—and might even inspire them to learn and live better.

1. HOPSCOTCH; FREE


Want your children to get a headstart on coding when all they want to do is play games? Introduce them to Hopscotch. The iOS-compatible app, targeted toward kids ages 9 to 11, teaches users to create games using simple tools and tutorials—whether they want to replicate existing ones like Angry Birds or dream up their own.

Find it: iOS

2. DUOLINGO; FREE


It’s no secret that starting early makes it easier to learn a second language, but things get even easier with a fun app like Duolingo. Kids can choose from a substantial list of languages—including French, Spanish, Russian, Norwegian, and more—and learn through bite-sized lessons that feel more like games. Plus, this app is also great for adults. With a little screen time, family dinners could soon be in a foreign language!

Find it: iOS, Android

3. MONSTER MATH 2; FREE


Monster Math 2

There’s no better way to beef up math skills than by fighting monsters! This app, targeted towards elementary students, comes with a customizable curriculum and even adheres to Common Core standards.

Find it: iOS

4. MAGOOSH; FREE


Magoosh

It’s hard to spice up study sessions for standardized tests like the SATs, but Magoosh does its best. Its apps, like the Vocabulary Builder, offer fun and efficient ways for younger high school students to get a headstart on test prep without feeling overwhelmed or pressured.

Find it: iOS, Android

5. STAR WALK; $3

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Star Walk

This app is a one-two punch: It will get kids outside and get them to shoot for the stars. Star Walk is an astronomy guide that’s sure to spark curiosity about the solar system by notifying users of upcoming astronomical events, pointing out the position of constellations and planets, and much more.

Find it: iOS, Android

6. TREBLE CAT; $5


Treble Cat will make requests for more screen time music to your ears. This simple game—great for musical beginners of all ages—comes with 10 levels to unlock and, as the name implies, teaches players to read the notes of the treble clef.

Find it: iOS, Android

7. READ ME STORIES; FREE


Upgrade their bedtime stories. The free app aimed at beginner readers—age 5 and under—comes with a new talking picture book every day. Each story is meant to teach new concepts and words. Young readers can even tap unfamiliar words and letters to sound them out.

Find it: iOS, Android

8. EARTH 3D - AMAZING ATLAS; $3


Kids can have the entire world at their fingertips with Earth 3D - Amazing Atlas. Users of all ages can spin and zoom in on a variety of world maps as well as learn facts about different countries and cities and much more.

Find it: iOS

9. THIS IS MY FOOD - NUTRITION FOR KIDS; $3


An appreciation for food and cooking can serve a kid for a lifetime. On top of teaching users about nutrition and food classification, This Is My Food may also inspire them to get hands-on with their own meals, thanks to the app’s recently added recipes section. The app is aimed at kids ages 6 to 8 and can also be purchased as part of a “Science for Kids” bundle which also includes educational apps about mechanics and meteorology.

Find it: iOS

10. QUIZLET; FREE


Not all learning apps should be completely separate from the classroom—that’s where Quizlet comes in. The app offers children a fun and convenient way to study on the go. Turn screen time into study time by creating flashcards, perusing study materials uploaded by other users, and more.

Find it: iOS, Android

12. THE HUMAN BODY; $4



Who needs Operation? The Human Body app offers a detailed, interactive model of the body with guts that actually gurgle and a heart that actually beats. This Tinybop app also can be purchased in a bundle which features education apps about the earth, machines, homes, and plants.

Find it: iOS

13. BLUEPRINT 3D; $1


Blueprint 3D features over 300 levels that put the user's spatial reasoning skills to the test. Each level starts with apparently random dots and lines that must be organized into a blueprint image. For added fun, users can also create their own puzzles.

Find it: iOS, Android

14. LEGO MOVIE MAKER; FREE


This movie-making app will encourage double the creativity: First kids will be excited to build more LEGO creations, then they’ll be inspired to turn their characters and buildings into stories. Using LEGO Movie Maker, your aspiring filmmaker can create stop motion movies as well as add special effects.

Find it: iOS

15. TRIVIA CRACK; FREE


Trivia Crack

Trivia Crack is as addicting as the name implies. Kids will only crave more once they start one-on-one trivia match-ups with friends, featuring questions about science, entertainment, art, geography, sports, and history. As an added bonus, this app is a trifecta: It’s entertaining, and relies on both knowledge and strategy.

Find it: iOS, Android

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Stouffer's Has Invented a Mac and Cheese Dispenser for National Mac and Cheese Day

The Stouffer's mac and cheese dispenser appears destined for college dorm rooms everywhere.
The Stouffer's mac and cheese dispenser appears destined for college dorm rooms everywhere.
Stouffer's

Though preferences vary from Kraft to Stouffer’s to homemade, macaroni and cheese has remained a go-to pasta dish for generations. Now, Stouffer’s appears to be taking distribution of this comfort food staple to the next level by introducing a mac and cheese tap it wants to install at commercial establishments.

The announcement, which conveniently comes just prior to National Mac and Cheese Day on July 14, is a glimpse into the future of on-demand pasta. The tabletop dispenser has an internal heater to keep the pre-made mac and cheese warm. With a flick of the wrist, it allows globules of warm, cheesy sustenance to ooze out of the tap and into a bowl or as a topping. It might be best described as a nacho cheese dispenser, only with pasta noodles.

Stouffer’s offered a primitive view of its mechanism on Twitter:

Stouffer’s, which normally peddles frozen mac and cheese in grocery stores, is soliciting suggestions for where their mac tap should wind up. Homes, gas stations, sports arenas, and weddings are apparently all on the table. The company says it’s aiming for a launch this year and will consider sites based on that consumer feedback.

There seem to be logistical hurdles that Stouffer’s has yet to publicly address. The chances of cheese and pasta clogging the mechanism might be a common occurrence, and the machine will almost certainly require daily cleanings. Such maintenance might result in a plight similar to those frequently unavailable McDonald’s McFlurry machines.

On social media, however, at least one rival cheese baron was impressed. In response to the announcement, Velveeta Tweeted a one-word response: “Respect.”

[h/t Cleveland.com]