The Best Literacy Apps for Kids

Yesterday I talked about a handful of engaging math-based apps for smart phones and tablets, the kind that used games to teach numbers, math, and patterns to young children. Since they love playing on our phones so much, why not turn into something to actually help educate them, instead of just distracting them.

Use your phone as an educational tool, photo by tinkerbrad

Use your phone as an educational tool, photo by tinkerbrad

To continue the discussion, today I want to look at literacy-based apps for kids.

Interactive Alphabet ABCs – This is a basic but very child (and adult) friendly app designed to teach kids their letters, upper and lower case and phonics sounds. There is even a mode for babies, that will keep the letters moving every few seconds regardless of what buttons the kid pushes. Kids use the touch screen to activate different letters, causing them to make sounds, zipper for Z, dog for D, etc.

Hangman – Sometimes the old games are the best games. I grew up playing hangman on chalk boards and on notebook paper, and I still use the game to help my second grader with her weekly spelling words. It’s a timeless, simple word game, and now it has a slick app version loaded with bells and whistles. You can select your difficulty level, and even a category of words (food, geography, animals, holidays, SAT words, and TOEFL words), and you can play against the machine, or go head to head without another app user. Oh, and best of all? It’s free.

Mad Libs – Another classic kids word game, re-invented for new phone technology. This game is insidiously educational, being so creative and fun to play that kids won’t even recognize the fact they are learning about sentence structure. This is more or less a fill-in-the-blank game, with the players having to finish sentences and stories with choosing random words. The game comes with voice recognition to make it easier to play on the go.

Word Wizard – One of the best word apps on the market, the basis of this app is children dragging and moving letters around the screen and putting them into order. The app reads the letters aloud, spell checks, and makes the phonics sounds as letters are combined and words are built. It will read entire sentences, challenging the child to make longer and longer words and combinations. Fun and colorful, and also comes with American and British voices.

Clueless Crossword Party – This app is for slightly older kids, from nine to twelve, as its more challenging then the other listed. This app comes loaded with several thousand different crossword puzzles, of different themes, sizes, and difficulties (including my favorite, a timed “blitz” game where you have to clear out all the letters). And contrary to what the title of the app is, there ARE clues available for the puzzles. The fewer clues you use for a puzzle, the more points you get.

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