Utilising the iPad to enhance Primary Science lessons

Many of my posts look at ways to use the iPads in Literacy and Numeracy to enhance learning and engage, motivate and inspire children. But how can using the iPad also help children in other subjects like Science, History or Geography? Here are some ideas about how using the iPad can help the children show, share and develop their learning in these subjects with a distinct focus on Science.

Starting a Topic

Normally at the start of a topic, children will be asked to design a page in their books with the title and pictures relating to the topic. Or children may be asked to make a mindmap of prior knowledge, one which can then be repeated at the end of the unit to show the difference in the children's learning. One of my favourite mind mapping apps (available through the website too) is Popplet.  Another lovely way to see what the children already know and then contrast this at the end of the topic is using a Word Cloud. There are a few websites which will allow you to create word clouds such as Wordle and Tagxedo  there are also some apps which are great for this such as TagCloud or WordFoto. As an eye catching way to start a topic, it gives the children a great way to show what they already know. To see some examples of both apps click here for TagCloud and here for WordFoto:

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It is a great way to assess pre and post learning, as making a word cloud at the start of the unit and then repeating it at the end will show how much more the children know and what knowledge the children have acquired during that topic.

Labelling and Identifing 

Many units in the science curriculum ask children to learn names and identify different parts of a specific diagram or picture. There are a few apps which are great for children to show their understanding by labelling, annotating and matching terms to pictures. To incorporate more aspects of ICT, the word processing app 'Pages,' can be used to match pictures to scientific terms. Here is an example I used with Year 1 who were looking at the different stages in a human life cycle. They had to match the picture to the correct stage but I also used it as an opportunity for the children to learn how to format and change the text and text box - Read more about the lesson here:


Another useful app for labelling pictures or diagrams is Skitch. This free app allows children to add text and highlight different parts of the pictures or text. If children had to label parts of a plant or parts of the human body then this app would be perfect for children to show their understanding.

Here is an example from when we used the app to label a map of our school - read more about the lesson here.

Another example is to use the app TypeDrawing which is where children can draw pictures using words. I have used this app when children were looking at the human body and they drew word art skeletons labelling different bones, here are some examples - read more about the lesson here:

Children can also label pictures using the app Pic Collage. Children can label pictures showing their understanding of different terms or scientific facts, here is an example- read more about this lesson here:

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Children can also identify and label different pictures using iMovie, creating slideshows of pictures which they can then record themselves narrating over, here is an example of Year 1 sharing what they know about their science topic of Minibeasts - Read more about this lesson here:

What do we already know about our new topic - Minibeasts? from Davyhulme Primary School on Vimeo.


Using the iPads to plan, carry out and analyse investigations has been amazing. The main app that I have used for this has been BookCreator.  Generally this is one of my favourite apps, it allows children to import different media - pictures, video, sound as well as text.

Firstly, children can plan the investigation, share pictures of equipment, write the process and even make predictions. What makes this app great for this process is that rather than write everything children can record themselves, making it easier for children who maybe struggle with their writing therefore letting them purely focus on the science and the investigation.

Recording - Children can use the iPad camera to take pictures or record themselves carrying out the experiment or if the process will take a longer period of time, time lapse apps such as iLapse could be used to record the results - here is an example of this app although it wasn't used in a scientific context:

Trialing iLapse in our Classroom from Davyhulme Primary School on Vimeo.

If the children needed to make a graph to display results they could use the app Numbers or use the app Doodle Buddy to create a graph - read more about this app here.

Again using Bookcreator, children can analyse and evaluate their investigation using text or recordings. Every little bit of the investigation is kept in an eBook which can be saved and shared online. Here is an example of an investigation a Year 4 class did looking at proving whether air is a material - read more about the lesson here:

Using BookCreator for a Science Investigation from Davyhulme Primary School on Vimeo.

Explaining Processes and Sharing Facts & Research

Another great way for children to demonstrate their learning by explaining processes is to use the app Explain Everything. Again one of my favourite apps as it allows children to really be creative in the way they showcase their understanding. Children can use pictures, videos, text, highlighting tools while recording themselves explaining a process such as - the life cycle of a plant, or the relationship between Earth, Sun and Moon, or explaining how different circuits work, the possibilities are endless.

An alternative to this would be to use the app Puppetpals to create animations to explain processes or demonstrate learning from research. The app allows children to add characters, backgrounds and move them while recording themselves discussing their ideas. Here is an example Year 3 did to show their understanding after researching the first moon landing:

Class 3A explain the Lunar Landing using PuppetPals App from Davyhulme Primary School on Vimeo.

Children could also use iMovie Trailers to explain a process, children can change text and use pictures or videos to show their learning in a creative and different way in the style of a movie trailer, here is an example:

These were just some ideas that I have used to enhance learning in Science with iPads. As mentioned at the top of the post, word clouds can be used as a way of assessing children's understanding during a topic. Socrative is also a great way of assessing the children's learning, quizzes can be made by the teacher which will test the children and results can be exported into an excel file.

Most of these apps and ideas can easily be used in other foundation subjects such as Geography, History, RE and will have the children approaching the subjects with enthusiasm, creativity and motivation to further their learning.


  1. Thanks so much for this, this was a great help on engaging some of my boys through their Ipads into science fair this term!

  2. Thank you for the information. I'll be using sonic pics and puppet pals. I'll look into Socrates to help with assessment.

  3. Great post! Using iPads for education purposes has been one technological innovation that is doing great things for our kids right now. Keep up the good work!


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