There are SO many incredible apps out there, and I know whatever list I come up with is going to be missing tons of great stuff. But I might as well start somewhere, right? So I thought I’d share 10 iPad and iPhone apps I love for helping elementary students with reading and writing skills. The majority of the recommendations below work with multiple grade levels and are free, but the paid ones are worth the investment, in my opinion.
Bluster!: Kids can practice rhyming words, prefixes and suffixes, synonyms, homophones, adjectives, and more in this colorful and engaging word matching game. Choose between single player and team mode. (Free)
StoryBots Starring You StoryBooks: If you’ve ever “elfed yourself” at the holidays, you know how entertaining and hilarious Jib Jab can be. Now the company has a special app that makes kids the star of their very own storybook. The free version provides one book, with additional stories available for individual purchase or through a monthly subscription free. Though the app lacks sound and interactivity, the story lines are appealing and the photo creates a great practice opportunity (and motivation) for kids to read. (Free)
Toy Story: This interactive read-along app allows kids to hear the story being read to them and record themselves narrating the text so they can listen to their own version as they flip through the pages. Games, finger painting, and sing alongs are fun bonus features. (Free)
Puppet Pals allows kids to create their own unique shows with animation and audio so that digital storytelling is simple. Children can write their own scripts around original stories or demonstrate knowledge about a particular topic (sure beats writing a summary paragraph.) Best of all, Puppet Pals is totally free. (Free)
Spelling City: Web-based SpellingCity is well known for its engaging spelling and vocabulary practice, and its mobile app doesn’t disappoint. Add your own spelling words or use an existing list, including compound words, sound-alike words, and SAT vocabulary. 7 interactive learning games ensure variety and engagement. (Free)
Aesop’s Quest: Leveled for grades 2-6, these reading comprehension activities require children to remember elements of a story in order to advance in the game. Children practice a wide range of reading skills, from author’s purpose to context clues. ($0.99)
The Three Little Pigs-Nosy Crow Animated Storybook: This classic fairytale seems to come alive through interactive features. In addition to lovely art work, an original soundtrack, and a narration conducted entirely by kids, this app offers lots of interactive opportunities. Find hidden characters, chase the pigs, and even blow down the houses by huffing and puffing into the iPad’s microphone. ($5.99)
Noodle Words HD: With Noodle Words, emerging readers can make the word “spin” actually spin, and the word “jump” actually jump. Though the word sets are limited at this time, the appeal to young children, easy-to-use interface, and creative word play opportunities make the app a worthwhile purchase. ($2.99)
National Geographic for Kids: The highly interactive apps from NatGeo supplement leveled text with photos, audio, and video in different ezines about animals and nature topics. Children can read the text themselves or use the read-to-me function. It’s a fantastic way for children to develop reading, writing, and listening skills while learning about the fascinating world of animals. (Free)
Rocket Speller: Perfect for new spellers and has increasing levels of difficulty. Join Zip the alien in building a new rocket! Each word kids spell correctly helps him choose the pieces he needs. Once all the pieces are in place, you can launch the rocket and watch it soar into space. 4 levels of difficulty ensure that a variety of ability levels are covered. (Free)
If you’re also interested in eBook reading programs, you might want to check out SnapLearning. They have been a longtime supporter of The Cornerstone, and I believe strongly in the value of their digital resources. They provide hundreds of grade-appropriate eBooks, both fiction and non-fiction, which you can assign to your students and send to their devices! The eBooks come with interactive exercises and assignments which you can later review and assess. Best of all, the content is Common Core-aligned. If you want to check out their close reading portfolio (which is an awesome set of interactive exercises), you can request a free trial demo.
What iPad and iPhone apps do you use to support elementary kids in developing reading and writing skills? Share your favorites in the comments.
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