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An illustration of two tablets with arms and hands coming out of them, and the hands are shaking.

Teaching children about empathy and giving them the inspiration and know-how to support their peers is a life-skill lesson that plays an important part in the classroom. Students should understand the power of collaboration and what it means to come together for a common mission. The umbrella of helping others can include working with a friend, making a difference in the world, and taking time to show people that you care.

When thinking about the best way to teach students how to help others, iPads probably aren't the first things that come to mind. There are mobile apps that empower students to create and share with one another, learn about the needs of others around the world, and post or send their knowledge and favorite tips for anyone to see. Explore the following list of iPad apps to gather ideas about using tablets as a medium for teaching students how to help others.

Drawing Together!

Drawing Together! is very cool app that lets users of any age wirelessly connect their iPad screens. Students can then work on the same shared screen from their own device to draw together. They can choose from coloring-book pages or a blank canvas. Another nice feature of this app is the ability to do a voice call as you draw. Whether older students are helping younger students illustrate a story they've written, or you're looking for a new way to connect pen pals, Drawing Together! is a neat choice.

Gro Recycling

Introducing students to the concept of sustainability and the environment is a fantastic way to teach empathy and the importance of helping others. Gro Recycling is a kid-friendly app that shows students the importance of recycling. Using a variety of cartoon characters, students will watch reusing and recycling in action.

Kindoma Storytime

Students who need extra help as readers or children who want to share their own love of reading with a struggling peer will love Kindoma Storytime. This partner-reading app connects two people through the wireless internet connection on their tablet. Sharing a view of the same book, users can watch the pages turn together, see each other's face, and hear the voice of their friend all at the same time. Kindoma Storytime is a great app for having students choral read or work with a buddy to practice fluency and comprehension.

WeCookit

If your students want to make a special treat for their friend or classmate, you'll want to check out WeCookit. Designed for children, this app is full of simple recipes, cooking tips, and facts about food that are perfect for first-time chefs. It includes colorful pictures that will make it easy for kids to create a fantastic dish to share with a friend or family member.

WWF Together

The World Wildlife Foundation has created WWF Together, an informative app to teach people about endangered species and help them learn how to support their dwindling populations. It includes lots of pictures, maps, and interesting facts about animals like the giant panda, monarch butterfly, and marine turtles. Kids can learn how to help these animals by reading about their habitats and the threats that they face.

Snapguide

Helping others can include teaching them what we know. Snapguide is a creation tool that makes it simple to design how-to or step-by-step guides using multimedia. Users can combine pictures, video, and text to make a guide that's easy for others to follow. This can help them solve a problem or figure out how to create something new. Your students can search through the user-generated guides to gather new ideas in addition to creating their own.

Just for You - Little Critter

A picture book that can help children think about helping others is Just for You from the Little Critter series. Your students might already be familiar with Mercer Mayer's characters. This story focuses on Little Critter as he tries his best to help out around the house. It includes interactive storybook features like "read to me" and the ability to add your own narration.

What apps have you used to teach students about helping others? Is there a tech-friendly activity that you've tried in your classroom?

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Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Teaching Middle School 'Technology, Engineering & Design' in Northfield, NJ

Great post! Empathy is a big deal in my classroom, for many reasons, not the least of which is its role in the design thinking process. Totally unrelated to design thinking however, I like to show this video as an introduction to a unit on empathy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jByfWOLmjo

It NEVER FAILS to churn up a lot of emotions and the kids ALWAYS CHEER at the end. It's a great context for discussion of empathy, which we take on via this blog and series of posts:

http://blogs.ncs-nj.org/problemsolvers/

Each class takes a different blog post and comments in response. It's gone very well so far for us!

Thanks for sharing these apps! I will pass the on to our 2nd grade team as they have a set of iPads they share.

Best, kj

Nick Jaworski's picture
Nick Jaworski
Former Edutopia Intern (Social Media) & Music Educator

Amy: What a great idea for a list of apps! Seriously, I've never come across anything quite like this. Thanks for sharing!

Kevin: This was the perfect way to start the day! What a great way to show empathy and how it can impact learning. I'll definitely be sharing with my teacher friends.

Ram Gangisetty's picture

Well written Monica. Empathy is hard to teach. If anything iPads are not seen as fostering interpersonal skills where empathy is an important element. You beautifully discuss some apps and ideas to instill and improve empathy.
Thanks.
Ram

Rachel's picture

Monica, Thank you very much for your app ideas! I am always looking for more apps for the iPads to help teach more content areas. Teaching empathy is difficult, but these apps look like they will be helpful as well as make the learning engaging and collaborative. Each one would seem to target interests in my students. I am always looking for more ways for collaboration in my students' learning, as well as finding topics that interest them.

Thank you for the great ideas!

Rachel

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