Give it a try – our pick of the best free apps and tools, part 2

Each week in our newsletter we highlight a favourite free or low-cost app/tool/resource/piece of software and give a brief rundown of how you might use it in the classroom. Every month or so we round them up here on the blog. We’d love to hear what you think about them if you give them a go, and any others you’d like to share – leave a comment in the box below. Catch up with all the tools in Give it a try, part 1.

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Tinybop homes
Tinybop homes


Make and share 3D worlds
CoSpaces Edu is an online platform where you can create 3D virtual worlds and share them to mobile VR so students can experience a world that they have created themselves. The new basic package is free and allows logins for one class.

A camera calculator
Use the rather cool Photomath app to photograph a maths problem with your ipad or phone and promptly get the solution. Most importantly, it will also show you the working, which is useful for when pupils are stuck and want to see how they could have solved the problem – but don’t forget to encourage perseverance first and only use as a last resort!

Interactive lessons
We discovered 
Nearpod at BETT. It’s a very versatile app that allows you to make more meaningful use of your devices in the classroom. It works well on iPads but is completely cross-platform and will also work in a browser or other tablets. It lets the teacher present to pupils’ devices instead of the board and share a range of exciting content with them including a bank of virtual reality scenes. It will also enable you to assess pupils.

Tinybop online
We also noticed at BETT that the beautifully crafted content from the well-established
Tinybop series of apps is now available to those without devices through their new online content portal. If you haven’t see the apps or the breadth of coverage, take a glance, as one or more might just be a perfect match for one of those hard to resource topics (ages 4 upwards).

We like the look of this Tinybop app exploring homes in different locations around the world. Children can use the app to observe and interact with different animated living spaces in Mongolia, Yemen, Guatemala and New York.

Edison robot
Many schools are familiar with a range of controllable robots – some small, some larger, some very simple and some quite complex and sophisticated. We are currently checking out the possibilities offered by a fairly recent arrival on the scene, the Edison.

While very small, it has an interesting range of features. Raspberry Pi style, many of its electronics are visible under a clear plastic lid. These include sound and light sensors and it has the built-in capacity to be programmed via a barcode, perhaps for initial exploration, as well as through an online portal (similar to Scratch) with a range of languages – it can even interface with a range of TV remotes. It has two small wheels, and Lego bricks can be attached. One to watch!

Civilisations AR app
With BBC Two’s much heralded new series
Civilisations starting tonight, why not try out the augmented reality app created to accompany the programme? Released on both iOS and Android, it allows users to view and explore artefacts virtually – for example, looking at a mummy inside a sarcophagus. You can also “rub” through layers of history to revive a faded sculpture to what it would have looked like when it was first made.

Duck Duck Go
With concerns about privacy, tracking and sponsorship, people are moving away from Google search and using Duck Duck Go as their preferred search engine. Showing pupils that there is more than one search engine available is an essential part of digital literacy learning.



Hello Ruby
We came across  through Miles Berry at Roehampton University. Linda Liukas is a Finnish programmer, illustrator and storyteller who has created beautiful resources to support children to learn about computational thinking and programming. We recommend checking out the whole site and resources – it’s a delight.

2Race for maths
Purple Mash from 2Simple has just released some great new features. Its new 2Race game supports maths – the faster you answer the questions, the faster you race – and a whole class or selected pupils can participate. It is configurable in a variety of ways, covering different types of maths questions, there are some ready made examples to try out or use without fuss, and scores are captured and available to the teacher to review and export if needed. It’s not just racing cars either, there are snail, mermaid and rocket options too.

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Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

- 15:30
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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