Literacy Apps

 

 Literacy Applications

Spelling- Phonics- Handwriting-Reading
 
I’ve recently discovered some excellent apps to use during literacy rotations. These apps extend my kids who are ready to push forward and learn more whilst supporting those students who are still learning the basics.
The challenge with any group needing additional support is keeping them engaged with material that traditionally has been taught through ‘skill and drill.’ These are students who are unable to recall or recognize the letters of the alphabet, make common sound associations and often have difficult forming letters correctly.
These apps enable me to keep these students engaged. Often I will use these apps after guided reading to reinforce the basics in a way that is fun and increases their confidence, reinforcing what they do know, rather then reminding them of what they don’t.
My first few posts will feature games and applications which help students who need extension of vocabulary and experiences which are rich in english language (perfect for EAL) students. I will also feature apps especially suited for students with disabilities, those who have not yet developed fine motor control and/or students who are having trouble just  ‘making it all click’.
What has amazed me most, is the sheer level of enjoyment the Prep’s have had using handheld devices, whether it be working individually, in pairs, groups or in a teacher guided activity with me. I hope you find the following reviews and suggested accompanying activities useful. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Spelling Apps

‘Futaba’- Word Games for Kids  (free but you can purchase upgrades and the ability to create your own word lists)

Multiplayer enables up to 4 children to play at once on an iPod. The benefit of this app is that is multiplayer and is great if you have a limited number of iPads in your class set. It creates an environment of participation, collaboration and engagement. Additionally, when you purchase the full version you are able to create your own lists, allowing you to create games for numeracy, literacy or any other curriculum area. You can also take photos and upload images to create your own topics.

‘Montessori Words’
This application is great (except perhaps for the very strong American accent) because it allows differentiation within the application. There are 6 choices you can make:
1- Simple words with 3 sounds.
2- Words with a consonant blend
3-Words of any complexity
4- Focus on 1 sound
5-Christmas Words
6-Moveable Alphabet
1-3 are most useful and have the option of a single linear word or a cross word style (seen in slide c) for a greater challenge.
The best things about this application is the constant voice over for those students who have not learnt their letters and their corresponding sounds. If they tap the empty box, the sound is given. They can then cross reference this with the alphabet below until they find a match, reinforcing the visual (the look of the letter) with the verbal (the sounds that it makes).

Montessori Words

Play Sight Words
‘Grade 1 and Grade 2.’
‘Spelling with Cimo.’
Spelling with Cimo is a great app for young children. It has 6 levels which allows you to increase the difficulty of each task. The levels are:
1. Sigh Words (KG)
2. Sight Words (Grade 1)
3. Sight Words (Grade 2)
4. Sight Words (Grade 3)
5. High Frequency Words.
6. Challenge
The students have to order the letter icebergs to make the word correctly in order for Cimo to cross the ice. If the order is incorrect Cimo falls into the cold water and misses out on a fish to eat!
‘4-Letter words’
This is a very basic spelling application with old school graphics. My students tired of it very quickly. It is ok for practicing simple four letter words but doesn’t offer much in the way of additional visual or sound support.
‘Sounds and Spelling’ 
This is a nice pre-school literacy app. Probably best suited to a support group at the beginning of Prep. It has nice graphics and an Australian accent with pictures to match the words but the students are simply revealing the letters not choosing them or putting them in sequence.
‘Play Words’
This game is good because is has the 3 different games within in. The lost letter level is a good one and kids seem to enjoy the graphics. Again, it is a little American but the selection of words is appropriate for this age level and there are four options for students to chose from when finding the missing letter.
‘Little Speller’
‘Word Magic’
Work Magic is a fantastic spelling app for the younger years. I specifically like this one because it measures and displays the student’s success rate. This ensures students are focusing on getting the answer right by thinking, rather than trial and error.
It allows you to select:
-Word missing their initial sound
-Words missing their middle sounds
-Words missing their ending sounds

Handwriting and fine motor skills  

If you think handwriting and getting the correct letter formation think again, the kids in my class LOVE these two applications. These are a lot of of handwriting applications out there and you can afford to be picky. 

The main thing I look for is an application that enables you as the teacher to choose the specific letters you want (very handy when used in conjunction with the letter/ sound i.d from english online interview assessment). Also, I like handwriting apps that DEMONSTRATE the correct way first and provide sequential MARKERS to ensure students start and end in the correct position (the grade 3 teachers will love you for it when they start joined handwriting!) Finally, Red Writing (in my opinion the best) allows you to choose your state (yes you can have Victorian cursive!) and has a calm, Australian accent (it also gives you virtual stickers for correctly writing the letter 3 times in a row, which the kids can place on their virtual sticker board.)

Here they are- try them, trust me, I am amazed at how much progress the kids are making thanks to programs like these.
Red Writing

iWrite Words

iWrite words was one of the first apps I ever tried last year. An oldie but a goodie, kids love making the crab eat all the numbers and killing two birds with one stone – learning numbers while learning their alphabet. The other advantage of this app is it enables you to change the size of the letter on the screen, enabling you to blow it up to a large size on an iPad (for those kids who struggle with fine motor) who shrink it down on an iPod for a bit more of a challenge.
i Write Words

Bright Start ABC 123

Super cute animals on this one, my younger Preps really enjoy the little frog and elephant who pop up to help and congratulate them. Again, you can choose lower and upper case and it gives the correct sequence to ensure accurate formation. This app also had a link to an online sight which enables you to create a ‘report card’ for each child. I use this for my low students as a form of assessment and monitoring their progress. The report card function also provides a nice opportunity to show those students who struggle their progress over a set period of time.
Bright Start ABC 123 Pro
 

Phonics Apps

‘Eggy Alphabet’
Age level: Early Childhood-Prep/Support Grade 1-2
This program has the advantage of allowing you to determine the difficulty level and also choose the voice accent (UK,AU or US). I set it at easy for Term 1 of Prep and felt the level was appropriate for most of the students in my classroom. There are lots of great phonics exercises, handwriting activities and word games. I have included some snap shots so you can get an idea of what the
‘Backyard Phonics Adventure’
Age level: Early Childhood-Prep
This application has wonderful graphics. It is best suited to a support group within literacy rotations, early Prep or student who require additional language support. This application is great fun when used in a pair, to maximize your hand held devices I would recommend purchasing some ‘splitters’. These enable 2 headphones to be plugged into the one device (just remind the kids to take their headphones off when talking to each other otherwise the noise level will drive you bananas!).
This is a highly VISUAL application. There is very little writing and all instructions are given aurally  (so those kids who can’t read yet don’t miss out).
In this app there are 3 options:

Sorting Sounds

This is an excellent app, particularly for students who do not know their alphabet and need additional practice with identifying sounds.

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