Educational Apps for Literacy Practice
The following five Apps are great for students in grades K-2 in regards to growing and developing literacy; a very important skill for students to learn early on in their education. These apps could be used to supplement a lesson or at home as practice with parents. The Apps below are intended for iOS software; IPhones, IPads, IPods etc.
Word Wizard: Talking Movable Alphabet & Spelling Test for Kids
This educational app is one of the first of its kind to utilize natural sounding text-to-speech voices to assist children in word building and spelling. The movable alphabet within the app helps kids to hear the words they have built, as well as check their spelling with the built in spell check. The app is not restricted to actual words however - even non words the kids create will be translated into spoken words. For more structured use, Word Wizard in itself consists of many frequently used words such as body parts and family members just to name a few.
How can it be used? Teachers could use this interactive app to help supplement their instruction during or after class time. After learning some new letters and new sight words, teachers could reward the class with some extra time after to play with the app and create their sight words. In order grades (grade 2-3) teachers could use this app prior to a spelling test to help students practice. If students were each given their own IPad, the teacher could call out a spelling word on the list and the students could create it - this activity can be more fun than simply practicing the words with pen and paper. Also, the text-to-speech feature of this app can be used to help reduce barriers for students who struggle with this aspect of literacy.
Watch the video below to learn more about how this educational app works!
This educational app does a number of things including helps students learn to write upper and lower case letters, learn the letters and their corresponding sound, and begin to spell a couple of basic words. The app itself has four section: Alphabet, Trace, Spell, Play. In the Trace section, students are given the opportunity to practice printing upper and lower case letters (for some students using their hands is great practice if they are struggling with a pencil). The Play section is a memory game where kids match letters with a picture of an item that begins with the letter.
How can it be used? Personally, I would use this App after I have taught the alphabet to my grade 1 class and we have already practiced writing the alphabet on paper. Sometimes writing on a IPad or IPod is tougher, so it is better if students are taught on paper first. Like Word Wizard, I could tell students that once they are done an Alphabet assignment, they can spend the rest of the class playing the "Play" section of the game (of course, only if the class had access to a set of IPads at that time). I would also share this app with parents so they could help their children practice if they needed it.
Watch the following video to see some of the features Alphabytes has to offer.
Word Wagon by Duck Duck Moose
This literary app is best known for helping young students learn about letters, phonics and spelling. Parents and Kids can set the Word Wagon to four progressively harder levels: letters, phonics, and spelling of short and long words and also to display either upper- or lowercase letters. In the first two levels, kids are given the letters to match and form words, however in the second two levels, the kids are not given the visual cues and instead have to arrange the spelling on their own. One aspect of this app that makes it appealing is the multiple topics (food all the way to animals) it has to offer, as well as the customization that makes it appropriate for students at all levels.
How can it be used? Rather than having students do a written spelling test, a teacher could administer an assessment through this app. A big thing with this is that the teacher could have different students do different levels depending on where they are at in terms of spelling etc. This would obviously be hard to administer and monitor if every student is doing it at their own pace, so it may be smart for the teacher to pull a couple students aside at a time and monitor them as the other students are practicing.
The video below has extra information on how the app works.
This app, unlike the previous three, helps students with their comprehension and story writing rather than writing, phonics and spelling - consequently, this app should be used once the students are competent in writing, phonics and spelling. The app itself allows students to tap into their creative side and create stories through digital drawing and animation. Toontastic teaches key storytelling principles such as setting, plot, characters and conflict. Students simply press the record button and drag characters onto the screen and tell their stories. Once they are done, the app allows the student to play back their story so they can share with parents, teachers, and friends!
How can it be used? For many kids in younger grades, it can be tough to tell a story when your writing is still developing. Teachers could ask the students to write a story about cyber-bullying or any topic for that matter, and students could create a short comic with this app describing their ideas. The teacher could watch the stories after they were done to asses the students ability to put the pieces of a story together - without having to challenge them with writing one.
This last app, helps kids develop literacy skills by dragging and dropping letters into a crossword grid to form words that correspond to the given pictures. The app has multiple levels that let younger children drag letters around in the movable alphabet and practice linking phonetic sounds to letters while older kids can expand their vocabularies in the three most difficult levels. The crossword levels include simple words with one sound, words with consonant blends, and words of any complexity.
How can it be used? Teachers could use this tool as a part of a larger set of tools to help students create and learn words. The diversity in levels and activities would accommodate all learners at their varying levels of literacy. After completing some instruction on words and how they are formed, students could explore with this app and practice in a more engaging way.