Kids adapt easily to the technology and can often find their way around most games and apps a lot easier than many adults. Many children and teens now own mobile devices such as iPads, tablets and smartphones. The sheer magnitude of apps on the market geared towards children and teens can make it daunting for parents to know which ones to select.
When choosing reading or comprehension apps for children, some factors to keep in mind are:
- the age of the child
- the reading ability
- the type of devices your child has access to
Early Learning Apps for Kids
Using learning apps can be a great way to encourage beginning or reluctant readers. Here are five excellent apps for kids in the beginning stage of learning to read. All of these work on the iPad.
- Pocket Phonics: This app works with the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. Geared towards the beginning reader, this app from helps kids sound out words as well as write letters. This app has sound, so be sure that the sound quality of the device you are using is good.
- Endless Alphabets: This app is great for children who are already reading and learning phonics. It works with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, but may only work with the newer operating systems (iOS). This app helps with vocabulary, spelling, phonics and definition, and is wonderful for children aged 5 years and older. The animation that is part of the phonics section will keep kids entertained. Parents can use this app with their child to help them improve their spelling, but this one is also good for kids who want to play and learn on their own.
- Learn to Read: This app is actually three games geared toward helping kids learn to read. They are Learn to Blend, Try Reading and Make Words. The first enables kids to tap letters and listening to word pronunciation. The Try Reading game allows kids to match words to pictures, and the Make Words game is all about developing spelling skills by matching letters to spell words. The animated turtle and other cute animals will appeal to many kids. This is part of a three app program – Kids ABC Letters and Kids ABC Phonics. This works with the iPad.
- Bookster: This fun app is a read-along story book that not only encourages reading, but teaches vocabulary as well. This app also enables kids and parents to record their voices and listen to them. Kids of all ages will love this app as it has many features such as interactive pages that enable tapping of words, and pages that actually turn. The colorful illustrations and voices of kids reading will hold children captive. Parents will love this method of teaching through story-telling. This app works on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
- Reading Raven: This app is for the iPad. This can be customized so that it is suitable for three different age groups, 3+, 4+ and 5+. This easy-to-use app is ideal for helping kids develop reading skills. Instructions are given through games and voice over. Kids especially will love being able to record and listen to their own voices as they are reading.
Choosing Apps for Children
For the best results, when choosing apps for younger children up to 10, find those that allow you to join in the fun. This is a good way to bond with your child as you build their reading and vocabulary skills.
Older kids and teens will have an idea what they want, but you can also play a part in helping with the selection. A librarian or teacher can be a great resource in helping you find education apps for kids of all ages.
Other great apps to check out are: Montessori Crosswords; Starfall Learns to Read; Marbleminds Phonics; Speech With Milo; Reading For Kids: 100 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read; and ABC Animal Phonics and Reading Eggs Sight Words.
Pros and Cons of Reading Apps
Like everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages to this technology. However, when using reading apps to help children learn to read, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Some of the main concerns about apps and children are:
- Mobile devices can be distracting and kids may much rather play games than use the apps for educational purposes. Kids can be easily distracted, so finding ways to keep them engaged is important. Using apps that includes games and role play is one way to keep distraction away. Kids will learn if they find it fun, and that is one of the big plusses about apps.
- Some people cite affordability of devices and apps as a concern. However, most households have one or more of these devices. Your public library and some school libraries may also have tablets available for use, so availability is no longer a major issue. Also, many of the apps available for helping children learn to read are either free or quite affordable, with many costing under five dollars.
- The fact that not all apps work on all devices poses some challenges, however, there are many good apps available, so finding suitable ones for the device you have is not a major issue, unless you want a specific app.
As a librarian, I have found that using learning apps is a great way to get reluctant readers reading. Even kids who hate to take up a book gravitate to using electronic devices such as the iPad, tablets, ebook readers and Smartphones. Libraries know this and are now making some of these devices available, so that users can have access to what they need and want, and improve their reading while having fun.
Quillen, Ian. Parents Want Kids to Use Mobile Devices in School. (2013). MindShift. Accessed July 8, 2013.
Things You Should Know About Mobile Apps for Learning. (2010). Educase. Accessed July 7, 2013.
Robledo, S. Jhoanna. Mobile Devices for Learning: What You Need to Know. (2012). Edutopia. Accessed July 7, 2013.© Copyright 2013 Jessica Crooks, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Parenting