If you have school-age kids, or are a kid yourself, you know the horror of that end-of-summer duty: the trip to buy school supplies. When my kids were in elementary school, this was a breeze. There was a box of preselected items such as pencils, erasers and hand sanitizer waiting for me at registration. But with a seventh grader and a freshly-minted high-schooler, this whole shopping for supplies business is getting more complex.
Fortunately, there are a ton of apps available to help the busy mom, and her children, be prepared for that first day of class.
School Supply List is a handy app available for 99 cents at the iTunes App Store that allows me to tap "All Students" to merge and list all the necessary supplies. School Supply List made me almost enjoy shopping this year. And I certainly reveled in the envious glances from other moms as I traipsed about the school-supply area at Target, humming “Heaven, I’m in heaven,” and gleefully tapping off needed items on my lists.
Once the supplies are purchased and school starts, the inevitable begins. “Mo-oom, she won’t get off the computer! I need to figure out where Lichtenstein is.”
With Atlas Pocket World Maps (99 cents), instead of hollering “Give your brother a turn on the computer!” I can say, “No matter, honey. Here’s my iPhone!” A quick flick through the scroll wheel, a tap on “view map” once Europe is chosen, and the angst is over—there’s Lichtenstein, right below Germany, squished between Switzerland and Austria.
If you want to keep that genius mystique going, there’s also the Dictionary.com combined Dictionary and Thesaurus (free, requires Wi-Fi to download from your iPhone). Never let them know you forgot everything you learned about the world in school with the World Factbook app (99 cents).
For user-generated encyclopedias, try sampling the Wikipedia Mobile app or, even better, Wikipanion, which allows for faster searching. True, your children are going to whine that their teachers won’t let them use Wikipedia as a source, but that’s when you teach them the golden rule—“Trust, but verify” (which also holds true for whatever they told you they’re doing tonight).
Math and science
Are you the creative type, who doesn’t know a linear equation from a differential equation? Me too! It’s okay! Your children need never know! When they ask for your help on a math problem, just puzzle over it a bit while surreptitiously stealing glances at your Math Ref app (99 cents, also a free version) and you’ll appear to be the genius your young scholars mistakenly believe you to be!
The Chemical Touch (both free and 99-cent versions) has literally absolved me from the guilt I’ve carried since my sophomore year of high school when I barely paid enough attention in class to pass.