5 Free Software Packages for Primary

Sometimes the best things in life are free. In this quick little list I’ve put down some of the best bits of free software suitable for primary pupils. With schools budgets being constantly pushed, free is the way to go! They are also all aimed at working ‘offline’. There are loads of free websites for you to use with pupils, but sometimes we have the nightmare experience of the net dropping. These are all perfect for that eventuality!

So let us begin….

Sonic Pi

Sonic Pi is a music and coding app designed to run on the Raspberry Pi. There is also a Windows version you can download that is great for schools. For me it really helps to bridge the gap between block based and text based coding. The kids get to type simple bits of code (Ruby) to create their own music. Super cool, and you can really challenge some of your higher ability with it. Warning, headphones are a MUST with this one!

Paint.net

For this one I don’t really need to do much a description. It’s basically a free Photoshop. Not as good, and missing some of the features, but for primary pupils it’s perfect! Below is a Sway of their work on our school buildings.

https://sway.com/s/TRAOQDWSPgSHh2nw/embed

MagicaVoxel 

MagicaVoxel is a free lightweight 8-bit voxel art editor, and is my new love! The kids adore it and will spend hours and hours creating on it. The advantage for me is that the models the kids make in the software can be 3D printed. The learning is huge when they can see their work going from digital, to being in the palm of their hand. My kids like to think of it as a more advance version of Minecraft Creative mode. They can build and create in incredible detail, while still building in blocks to keep it simple.

Kodu

Kodu allows your children to create games for the PC and Xbox using a visual programming language. It’s perfect for children with language difficulties, and is really engaging for pupils as they build their own 3D world. It can be used to create games, tell stories as well as teaching problem solving skills. While the software is free to download, you can purchase Xbox remotes that work with the PC. The game play and usability really improve with them, and the kids absolutely love it.

 Scratch 2

Everyone is using Scratch, everyone knows what you can achieve with Scratch, and everyone knows how it works. What everyone doesn’t know is that you can download it as an offline editor. This is great for 2 reasons. Firstly, it works when your net is down, and the kids don’t have to stress about remembering login details. Secondly, they can save their work offline in their documents folder. This stops teachers from having accounts filled with 5000 half finished projects all named ‘Untitled’!! For sharing and sending work though you can easily upload it to the Scratch website so don’t panic!

I’d also like to give a notable mention to Pivot animator and Google Sketchup 8. Both really cool bits of software, but 5 sounds better in the title!!

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