Over the weekend my five-year-old started playing around with an app called Reading Raven, which I downloaded months and months ago, after seeing speech and language therapist Nikki Heyman’s recommendation for it. Nikki has a blog called Talking Talk and she writes a lot about educational apps for kids, plus posts on learning, speech and reading. I’ll always be grateful to Nikki too for assessing my son last year, and reassuring me that he was perfectly fine.
Nikki wrote a great blog about the five best reading apps for kids, which I’m featuring here. Who better to write such a post than someone who teaches, and who knows what is needed in order to acquire the skill of reading.
According to Nikki, grade 1 is one of the most critical times in your child’s education as it is the time in which the foundation for the rest of their school career is set. Your child will move from pre-reading skills to building crucial language skills for reading, spelling and writing.
“Every parent wants their child to succeed to the best of their ability. The iPad provides some excellent educational resources for helping your child learn to read successfully,” says Nikki.
Here are her top apps for developing literacy skills in grade 1:
Reading RavenReading Raven is phonics-based engaging learn-to-read app that provides step-by-step reading lessons designed to help young children build a solid foundation for reading. The app leads children from early phonological awareness and phonics right up to reading full sentences while integrating printing skills and teaching through games. On iOS for $3.99. Feed Me targets a variety of skills as the child feeds the correct answers to the purple monster. The monster thinks of what he wants to eat, which the child sees in a thought bubble. He is happy when kids feed him the right answers. He frowns or his tummy turns green when a kid feeds him a wrong answer. On iOS for $3.99
Hear2ReadHear2Read addresses the important relationship between letters and sounds. These skills are crucial for the development of reading and spelling. Students need to know how to analyze words into their component syllables and sounds and manipulate the sounds in order to create new words. This is called Auditory Analysis.
Two exciting games ‘Squash the Spider’ and ‘Pop the Balloon’ serve as motivation for the students and can played at different intervals.
The app has seven levels with a total of 356 practice words. Level 1 can be used by children from approximately four years of age. Available on iOS for $7.99.Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 provides 42 instructional lessons in phonics and spelling rules. Each lesson builds upon the skills learned in previous lessons, and students piece their spelling words together in a fun and interactive way. Spelling patterns and a wealth of spelling knowledge are contained within a beautifully simplistic interface.
The hint system phonetically sounds out each word while letting the student see all of the possible ways that a word can be spelled phonetically. Each word can be pieced together from its smallest or simplex sounds, and spelling hints and rules are provided to students in context and only as they are needed. Children can easily pick up and use Simplex Spelling as the introductory spelling list contains spoken instructions that gently guide the child through the app’s entire feature set.
Parents or teachers can set up over 40 user accounts that allow you to keep track of the progress your child is making as the work there way through the app. Having over 40 user accounts means that one teacher can set it up for their whole class.
Available on iOS for $4.99
Sky Fish Phonics
Sky Fish Phonics is a game based phonics app. The object is to get his Sky Fish across the sky through a series of physics-based puzzles and reading activities, while avoiding destructive flying objects to collect stars and unlock costumes for his Sky Fish when he completes a level.
Each question has to be answered correctly in order to move on. If an incorrect answer is selected, the narrator gives the correct answer and the level starts over again.
There are 20 levels of gameplay and the next level is unlocked as the child progresses through each task. There are three reading tasks per level.
– Sound/letter correspondence – which one starts with the letter ‘a’?
– Sound blending – which picture matches this word?
– Phoneme substitution – substituting individual sounds in CVC words to create new words.
The monitoring section, shows what sounds each child has mastered. And the game play is just perfect for the age level, incorporating work on skills like problem solving (how can the path change to get all of the stars?) and impulse control – tapping too soon may cause a fish fry!
You may find your child wanting to use and re-use an app that you deem too easy. Remember, feeling successful is especially important for early readers, so let them continue to review what they already know as it just cements the knowledge, and makes them feel good. This learning is the foundation for all the rest!