10 awesome apps for K-6 literacy

March 14, 2013

in apps and websites, fabulous resources

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)

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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Angela Watson was a classroom teacher for 11 years and has turned her passion for helping other teachers into a career as an educational consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has published 3 books, launched a blog and webinar series, designs curriculum resources, and conducts seminars in schools around the world. Subscribe via email for blog updates, exclusive tips & tricks, activities, printables, and more.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Suzanne March 18, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for the great apps!
Another one I am using is Scribble My Story, it’s free! Kids can write their own stories, illustrate and record their voice, great for primary. They have another paid version with a little more capabilities, Scribble Press, $4.99. Both are great!

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2 Angela Watson March 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Thanks for sharing, Suzanne! I’ll check that out.

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3 Ralene A April 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Check out story kit! Free and lets you add text, audio, photos and drawings to create your own story. It’s also pretty neat for assessment when used by a teacher. Each student can be a story.

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4 Angela Watson April 11, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Thank you, I hadn’t seen Story Kit before! What a great free resource.

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5 Alba July 23, 2013 at 4:07 am

I like:
1. Kids Discovery (Free)
2. This Day (Free) helps me plan lessons. It’s got special events by date.
3. Ocean Science is free, and it shows the 7 essential principles of ocean science. It’s got great visuals, and will be read aloud to my 2nd graders (probably in small group since I only have 1 iPad), It’s probably at 4th/5th/6th grade reading, but again, can be read aloud.
4. News-O-matic (Free) – a kid friendly, interactive way to know about the daily news….I like this one a lot!

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