Nature Apps for Homeschooling

submitted by Stephanie Elms, Annandale

What could be better or more convenient than having access to multiple field guides or star maps when you are out and about? Digital nature apps allow you to carry a variety of field guides with you at all times. The digital aspects of these guides make them extremely interactive, providing not only the traditional text and photos, but also audio and video. Add to that, robust search capabilities and even social sharing options and you will quickly see what great educational resources these can be.

Audubon Guides

The National Audubon Society offers 23 nature apps covering birds, mammals, butterflies, fish, insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians, owls, mushrooms, wildflowers, and trees as well as regional guides. These guides are extremely extensive and are wonderful tools for exploring the world around us.

From the website:

The Audubon Guide apps use updated and expanded content from the authoritative National Audubon Society Field Guides to cover thousands of plants and animals. The apps include more than 8,000 professional color photographs, over 2,300 bird songs and calls, thousands of range maps, in-depth species descriptions with updated information about behavior, habitat, the natural history of plant and animal families and species, extensive reference material and much more.

Available for iOS/Android/Nook/Kindle for $4.99-$9.99 (keep a lookout for frequent sales)


The iBird series of apps provides you access to a wealth of app options to enhance your birding experience. The apps provide photos, illustrations, audio bird calls as well as a huge amount of information about the birds and their habitats.

Available for iOS/Android/PC/Kindle for free – $19.99.


Leafsnap is an app developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution that uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. Containing beautiful high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruit, petiole, seeds, and bark, Leafsnap currently includes the trees of the Northeast and will soon grow to include the trees of the entire continental United States.

Available for iOS for free.

The Night Sky

The Night Sky app allows you to point your device into the night sky and identify the stars, planets and satellites overhead.

Available for iOS/Android/PC/Mac  for free or $.99

Star Walk

The 360-degree, touch control star map displays constellations, stars, planets, satellites, and galaxies currently overhead from anywhere on Earth.

Available for iOS for $2.99

Google Earth

Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. My kids love seeing other parts of the world through Google Earth.

Available for IOS/Android/Mac/PC for free.


Read the previous posts in this series: 

Stephanie Elms is constantly trying to find that elusive state of balance in her life while enjoying her two energetic yet vastly different boys. You can read about their ongoing exploits on her blog, Throwing Marshmallows. Stephanie also volunteers as a member of the VaHomeschoolers Board of Directors.



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