What’s That Tree? Leafsnap Knows
At my school, we take a Montessori ap-
proach to kindergarten and incorporate
science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics (STEM) into our lessons. So
I am always looking for apps that will help
my youngest students explore STEM subjects in a hands-
on way. When I found Leafsnap, I knew I had a winner!
Developed by researchers from Columbia University, the
University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution,
Leafsnap allows my students to work collaboratively while
observing different classifications of leaves.
They can research different types of plants while on a
nature walk or when capturing pictures around school. My
students love to compare the specimens they find with
those contained in the electronic database, and they use
higher-level thinking skills when determining how to identify
What makes Leafsnap so special is that students are actually using nature with the app. They are outside touching,
breathing, and taking in their environment while learning!
Nicole Cooper is the lower-school technology coordinator and educator for grades K– 6 at Visitation Academy in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. She has been an elementary school teacher since 2002 and holds a master’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis in educational technology. She njoys spending time outside with her husband and two children.
Here are a dozen more apps that our members recommend for learning about nature:
A Life Cycle: Covers different life cycles, including
frogs, butterflies, rocks, and plants. Ages 2–10.
iOS, Android; $1.99
iNaturalist: Users record observations from the
natural world and contribute them to iNaturalist.com.
iOS, Android; free
ABC Wildlife: Explores monkeys, tigers, and more through pictures, videos, and interactive scenes. iOS; $2.99
Journey North: Users track and submit the migrating patterns of birds, butterflies, and mammals. iOS, Android; free
Bermuda Reef Lite HP: Features more than 240 images in 14 sections showing the Bermuda Reef. iOS; $4.99
Creek Watch: Users input data to help monitor local watersheads. Info is shared with water agencies. iOS; free
NatureTap: Includes descriptions and photos of North American birds, bugs, frogs, and flowers. iOS; free
Project Noah: Users share wildlife encounters and help document the planet’s biodiversity. iOS, Android; free
Geocaching: Provides coordinates for 2 million hidden geocaches worldwide. iOS, Android; $9.99
Science Fun To Go: Offers activities, videos, blog posts, and more to make science engaging for kids. iOS, Android; free
iBird Pro: Offers descriptions, photos, drawings, and songs of hundreds of North American birds. iOS, Android; $29.99
What’s Invasive: Displays local lists of top invasive plants and animals identified by various agencies. iOS, Android; free
Got an app for that? Email a description of your favorite app to firstname.lastname@example.org.