Using iPads for Research

For this month's "You Oughta Know Blog Hop" I wanted to share my favorite tips and tricks for using iPads as a tool for student research.  (Some of these tips can be used without iPads in the classroom on a desktop computer, laptops, or other tablet)

Before I decided to stay at home with my baby girl, my school district was moving towards a more inquiry based approach to teaching content.  We often had students engaged in different projects requiring them to investigate and find information on their own.  Yes, even in Kindergarten! It can be kind of scary to send kids off to conduct research not knowing what they may encounter, especially on the internet. So here are some things that have helped me make the most of research while teaching students independence and embracing their curiosity.

1. Conducting a Web Search
  • Teach students to type their question into a search engine
  • Have students add "for kids" afterwards 
  • This will bring more relevant results and be less likely to lead them to inappropriate content
2. Image Search
  • Students can learn a lot from pictures!
  • Allow students to do an image search (if it is appropriate for their question)
  • Use Google Images and be sure students use "for kids" again to filter content
  • Alternatively you could have students search their topic on a stock photo site such as Shutterstock or Dollar Photo Club (even without a subscription you will be able to see image results)
3. Use the iPad Dictation Tool
  • This will make searching the web so much easier and faster for young students with limited typing and spelling abilities!
  • Students simply click the search bar in Safari, then tap the microphone button and ask their question. (e.g. How do bees make honey? How many different kinds of penguins are there? What machines do apple harvesters use?) 
  • Poof! Results just like that!
4. Use the iPad Text to Speech Option
  • Turn on the text to speech option so that students can have web pages and other text read to them.
  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech Selection
  • Slide it to "on" then choose the speed you'd like the text read
  • You can also turn "Highlight" on so that the text will be highlighted as it is read aloud
  • Teach students how to highlight a word, sentence, paragraph or entire page of text.  When you have the text highlighted you will now have the "Speak" option along with the other options such as copy and define.
  • The voice is a bit robotic, but you no longer have to answer "what is this word?" 127 times during research time (total game changer for me in a kindergarten class full of emergent readers!)
5. Other Websites/Apps that may be helpful
  • Brain Pop Jr.
  • NSF Science 360
  • Science Kids
  • Watch Know Learn
  • iTube List (This is a FREE App that you can use to search You Tube playlists of videos regarding a topic. I usually find a set of videos and load it for the group to view so that I know the content is appropriate.  They cannot click to other You Tube videos and there are no advertisements. You can set up parent controls so they cannot even search without your code.
6. Use QR Codes
  • Download a FREE QR Code reader
  • Create QR Code links to content specific for your topics of study
  • QR codes can be generated for free on many different websites.  Here is the one that I like for it's simplicity:
For more help with creating and using QR Codes you can check out my post here:

Thanks for joining me for this month's You Oughta Know Blog Hop!


  1. This is great! Thank you so much! We are always looking for ways to get our kids researching. We have not played with QR codes at all and would really like to give them a try. Thank you!

    1. Great I hope you find the link to my other post helpful :)

  2. I just love QR codes and I have to get better at using the Ipads with my students. Isn't it amazing how they gravitate toward this kind of technology? Even Kindergarteners!
    Mrs. Dailey's Classroom

    1. I'd love to see how well your second graders do with research! I'm amazed at how quickly they learn when technology is involved!

  3. I love that your kinder are researching!! My class are always motivated by QR codes, too!!

    1. Thanks Kathie! I just love seeing them practice skills that they will surely use in the future. Plus they are just so stinkin' cute when they are loving learning new things!

  4. Love all of your ideas and I love how you mention that kids learn so much from pictures! As a Kindergarten teacher I know just how true that is! Turning the text to speech option on is a great tip! Thanks so much for sharing!!


  5. Thanks for sharing so many great ideas for student research on the iPads! I like adding "for kids" in the search engine.

    Kindergarten Planet

  6. Thanks for the text-to-speak hints. We're going to start researching habitats on Tuesday. Great timing for us!

  7. Thanks for the text to speak tips. I always forget about that! I will definitely remember that for next year.

  8. Thanks for sharing your tips for research with iPads. I did a few research projects with my first graders last year before I got my iPads. I haven't done it yet this year unfortunately, but I'm thinking that it would be a great idea for these last weeks of school!

    Buzzing With Mrs. McClain


Back to Top