Category Archives: Critical Thinking

Scratch Jr

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 10.09.21 PMLike Hopscotch, Scratch Jr. is an excellent app for introducing younger students to the world of basic coding/programming.

The interface is organized quite well – with the stage taking up the bulk of the space, followed by the area for the programming script.

The coding blocks are separated into the following categories: Triggering, Motion, Looks, Sound, Control, and End.

Each activity has the ability to be saved, for easy access the next time the app is opened.

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Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 9.20.02 PMThis app provides even young students with an introduction to coding – or computer programming.  The Hopscotch computer programming language is derived from Scratch by those at MIT.  It provides students with a choice of building blocks in 6 categories.  The blocks control the movement and actions of chosen characters.  Not only do students learn the fundamentals of coding, but they also have the opportunity to hone their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

The Hopscotch website has a link to their ‘Hour of Code’ tutorial and to 7 lessons that can be used in a classroom or small group setting.  The app itself has links to existing projects and a community section where projects can be shared and remixed.

Block Categories

  • Movement: move, rotate, change y by, change x by, set rotation, set position, set speed
  • Drawing: move with trail, set line width, set line color, clear
  • Control Flow: repeat/end, wait
  • Appearance: grow, shrink, set invisibility, change pose, bring to front, send to back
  • Values: set value, change value
  • Calculator: random
Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, Critical Thinking, Free, iPad, Math | Tagged , | Comments Off on Hopscotch

Ludo Classic

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 3.10.12 PMThe educational value of this app is questionable.  Yet, I still decided to include it because it is a good way for students to practice using strategy (combined with a little bit of luck).

Ludo is sometimes called ‘pachisi’.  The basic premise is to move all four of your game pieces around the square board without getting ‘caught’ by other players’ pieces.  You’re also trying to capture your opponents’ pieces.

Up to four players can play at once.  You can play ‘the computer’ or play with friends via a local wifi + Bluetooth network or Apple’s Game Center.  You also have the option of playing with one or two dice.  I find this game to be very addicting.  To emphasize its educational value – encourage students to focus on strategy rather than just moving pieces randomly.

Official In-App Rules

  • The goal is to walk around the board with the pawns and arrive at the center with all 4 pawns.
  • Roll a 1 or a 6 to put a pawn into play.  Rolling a 6 gives the right to roll again.
  • If a pawn lands on a place already occupied by another player’s pawn, that pawn will return to its starting position.  Again, it can only be put into play by rolling a 1 or a 6.
Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Critical Thinking, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Tagged | Comments Off on Ludo Classic

Number Link Pro

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 12.20.33 PMThis app strengthens students visual-spatial skills.  It’s more like a puzzle than a game.  The concept is deceptively simple – connect pairs of numbers (by creating a path) without leaving any empty spaces on the game board and without crossing over an existing path.  The board starts out with 5 rows of 5 and gradually increases in complexity to a 16 x 16 board.

It connects to Apple’s Game Center, but you do not have to choose this option to play.  There is a free version, but of course it comes with ads.  In-app purchases provide more hints and open up new levels.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Critical Thinking, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Comments Off on Number Link Pro

ABA – Problem Solving – What does not belong?

Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 7.26.27 PMThis app introduces young students to simple concepts such as colors and directions.  It displays four images at a time and requires students to choose the one item that is different than the others.  The difference could deal with color, name, type, or concept.

Students do not earn points.  But feedback concerning accuracy is given each time a student selects an answer.

Although the app is for young students, there are several customization options that enhance the experience and make it more difficult.  You can also add additional pictures, concepts, and game sounds.

Picture List

  • Advanced Shapes
  • Animal Shapes
  • Basic Shapes
  • Concepts

Play Modes

  • Nouns Only
  • Descriptors Only
  • Descriptors and Nouns Only
  • Progressive Difficulty
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As a gifted program teacher, my eyes are always peeled for apps that hone my students’ critical thinking skills.  This app does just that!  In it, students analyze one analogy and find the missing word or picture to complete another.  For example, “Cotton is to fabric, as English is to (language).  Immediate feedback is given.

The settings option allows you to customize the experience.  You can select whether each analogy is made up of words or pictures.  There’s also 3 levels.  Each round can contain 10, 15, or 20 analogies.

This app is well worth its price.  High-achieving students will certainly appreciate the challenge it provides.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, Critical Thinking, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Comments Off on Analogy


This is one of the pricier apps I’ll feature, but it’s worth every penny you’ll spend.  Those of you familiar with the visual perception game SET will be able to comprehend this app immediately.  Others can visit for an overview.

Users can choose between the basic and advanced decks.  Basic uses 3 features (color, symbol, number) and Advanced adds a fourth feature – interior shading.  MANY more customization features are included – from the color scheme to displaying the reason an identified set was incorrect.

In a classroom, you’ll most likely have a small group of students play SET.  However, this app also comes with six solitaire game modes – Classic, Sprint, Marathon, Puzzle, Arcade, and Rediscovery.  Individual students are free to explore each of these modes.

An interactive tutorial is also included.

A quick Internet search revealed the traditional card version of SET currently sells for $9.67 – more than the price of the app.  But in my opinion, the app version is MUCH better!  SET – in either form – is a must have for classrooms that promote critical thinking.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Critical Thinking, Game, iPad, Paid | Comments Off on SET Pro


This app is meant for your visual-spatial learners who are ready for a challenge!  This app is visually-appealing and simply complex!  It’s a 3-D puzzle that requires swiping and tapping to solve.  It comes with more than enough levels that are unlocked based on performance.

The app gives the user a small picture of the completed puzzle.  S/he will then need to slide and/or tap the individual cubes to correctly replicate the shown solution.

I highly recommend this app for use in classrooms where the occasional challenge is greeted with open arms!

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Critical Thinking, Free, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Comments Off on FLUP

Pebble Jump

This challenging game is a cross between checkers and peg solitaire.  The object is to clear the board by jumping over the pieces.  In order to do so, the last jump must land in the home space.

The app gives the option to receive hints, to reset the game board, and to undo a move.  All of these options will definitely come in handy!

The higher levels (medium and hard) are unlocked after the easy puzzles (40 in all) are completed.  This app will make a great addition to devices where students enjoy logic games.

Posted in 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th, Critical Thinking, Free, Game, iPad, iPod Touch & iPhone, Paid | Comments Off on Pebble Jump

Jump Start Preschool Magic of Learning

Little learners join Frankie the Dog in a tour of fifteen different activities that touch upon pre-reading, math, and critical thinking skills.  I stress that this app is for very early learners.  Advanced kindergarten students will not be challenged by the included activities.  Jump Stars are earned for correctly completing activities.  Once a student receives 25 Stars, they receive a code to unlock a game on

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