Pre-Reading Skills: Beyond Letters and Sounds

Preschool and Kindergarten students learn to identify letters when learning how to read.

Preschool and Kindergarten students (ages 4 to 6) learn to identify letters when learning how to read. It is also valuable for children at this age to practice rhyming, identifying letter sounds, segmenting words into individual sounds, and identifying syllables in words to support and strengthen their beginning reading skills.

 

Read with Doc McStuffins: Letters and Sounds

docmcstuffins

This app offers five pre-reading activities for preschoolers. It’s much more than an app to practice letters. The app focuses on the following skills: tracing and matching lower and upper case letters, recognizing letters and letter sounds, listening and matching rhymes, determining syllables, and hearing beginning, middle and ending sounds in words. The activities are expertly created and simulate lessons in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. The app will grow with your child as he learns the letters and gains reading skills. The animation and characters in this app come to life (no surprise from Disney) to motivate your child and help him focus on learning the skills. KinderTown is impressed with the quality of the content provided by the app. Our child testers enjoyed the balance of rewarding activities with the learning games. This app ranks at the top as one of the best we’ve seen for preschoolers.

 

Parents, watch your preschooler interact with the app and then simulate the activities in the real world with your child for extra practice. For example, the app uses common words to determine the number of syllables in a word. Ask your child questions like, “How many syllables do you hear in the word macaroni?” “How many syllables are in the word banana?” To imitate the rhyming games, ask your child, “Which word rhymes with cat, bat, or wagon?”

 

Check out the Power Pack: Letters and Sounds: Ages 5-6 for more tips about how to effectively use apps to help your child learn pre-reading skills, as well as hands-on activities you can do with your child.

 

Do you have a kindergarten or budding learner who investigating letters and sounds? This Power Pack is for you!



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5 Must-Have Apps for 6- and 7-year-olds

Six- and seven-year-old children are a sponge for learning. Their academic growth is exciting to watch. Use these apps to encourage and challenge them!

Six- and seven-year-old children are a sponge for learning. Their academic growth is exciting to watch. Use these apps to encourage and challenge them!

 

Rocket Speller

Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. Read Kindertown's review.

Spelling skills are emerging as children are learning to read and write more complex words and sentences at this age. Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. In addition, each word is presented with a picture to reinforce vocabulary development. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints), so students are reconstructing the word in order to build visual memory of the letters. Children like how getting a few correct answers leads to different choices for designing their own rocket ship and eventually blasting it off into space. From an educational perspective, Rocket Speller combines naturally occurring letter sounds together such as ck, ee, ea, and or. Rocket Speller offers some nice options for parents. There are several different categories of words to choose from, or you can mix them all together. Parents can choose to have the narrator say the letter name or sound. KinderTown recommends choosing the “sound” option when working on spelling words. Parents can choose between capital or lowercase letters to form the words. KinderTown recommends choosing lowercase for activities involving common words that mostly appear in lowercase print. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual and audible hints, and smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty and provide assistance called Adaptive Assistance. Rocket Speller is $2.99 and available for iPhone and iPad.

 

Todo Math

Todo in Spanish means “all” and is designed to inspire play with all the early childhood math concepts. Read the KinderTown review.

Todo Math is a free app designed to practice early childhood math skills. Todo in Spanish means “all” and is designed to inspire play with all the early childhood math concepts. It includes 20+ multi-level games. It has two different types of play, free choice and mission. In mission mode, the app gives a brief overview of each game and guides your child through each game one at a time. In free choice mode, all games are presented and your child chooses which one they would like to play. It includes multiple levels of math games and adaptive play, where the games automatically adapt to your child’s skill level. Other options for children are the Mathematical Missions, designed to motivate children to engage longer with the mathematical concepts. Parents, you can sign up for a parent account which will provide you with a more detailed look at how your child is progressing through the app. Compared to most apps, Todo Math does contain a worthwhile amount of free content practicing many different areas of math for children ages 3-6. There are additional in-app purchases to access more content.

 

Endless Wordplay

As children begin to learn to read they begin to notice patterns in words and how words relate to one another. Read the KinderTown review!

As children learn to read, they begin to notice patterns in words and how words relate to one another. Endless Wordplay practices this skill in a fun way! The lovable monsters are back! This time, with a focus on reading rhyming words. The monsters travel around a map with stops along the way. Once the monster stops, his mouth opens with a rhyming word. The word is sneezed out and the letters are scattered. Your child must reconstruct the word. The letter sounds are made when the letters are touched, and the word is read when the word is reconstructed. The app does require the child to reconstruct the word in letter order. The words continue to be presented and all relate to a rhyming family: ran, can, pan, tan. Once a series is complete, a sentence is presented with the rhyming words in context and the monsters act it out. The app is free and does have in-app purchases ($4.99) to buy more rhyming families once you complete the 3 free rhyme families. A great app for the beginning reader in your family.

 

Scribble Press

Scribble Press is a must-have app for the family who loves to read, story-tell and create books together. Read the KinderTown review!

Scribble Press is a must-have app for the family who loves to read, story-tell, and create books together. Like other book creation apps, you can easily add your own photos, your child’s picture, a title and text to create a book. Scribble Press walks you through creating a story by providing lots of ideas from the start, and supports your child until you are ready to add your finished book to an eBook reader, or my favorite–printing your very own book! Choose from book templates, or create your own book from scratch. Your child is sure to love the rainbow pen, stamps and stickers included in Scribble Press. If your child needs inspiration, there are over 50 story templates. The app encourages younger learners by providing complete stories where they only need to fill in the important details. Endless possibilities – endless fun! For the parents of young children, you will need to work with your child while using this app, since reading and typing skills are needed. Scribble Press is $3.99, and if you would like to have your child’s book published and mailed to you, there is a fee for that service. Scribble Press is appropriate for children ages 4-8.

 

 

Thinkrolls

In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. Read the KinderTown review!

In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. There are two levels of game play, easy and hard. Easy is recommended for children 3-5, and hard for children ages 5-8. KinderTown recommends that all children begin at the easy level to understand the goals of the puzzles. Your child does not have to spend a long time at this level to be ready to move to the harder levels, but this will set them up for success. A blinking “redo” symbol flashes in the corner to assist your child when they are stuck and unable to complete the challenge. The challenge is then reset with the maze. The challenges in the mazes come in the form of obstacles. Some unique obstacles include fire blocks, ice blocks, balloons, and KinderTown’s favorite, the jelly block. The jelly block allows your character to jump up from one area to another. Another child tester favorite was the fire block. Watch out! If your character rolls into the fire block, it will turn black and burnt, which our child testers loved! However, the goal is to not become burnt. Children eventually solved the puzzles after experiencing the burnt characters. As the levels progress, children have to use visualization skills to predict the cause and effect of several “moves” in the puzzle. Concepts about physics and chemistry are sprinkled along the way when children must make decisions about the moving gear box, figure out how to make the balloon pop and move the ice to squelch the fire. The app offers an amazing amount of content in the 90 levels of easy game play and 90 levels of hard game play. Be sure to read the Chapter descriptions in the settings section for parents in order to have a complete understanding of all the challenges presented in each level or chapter. There are nine levels of game play included. Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7.

 

 

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Super Why’s ABC Adventures and Base Ten Bingo

Read KinderTown's reviews of these educational apps.

Base Ten Bingo

Read KinderTown's review of Base Ten Bingo

Base Ten Bingo is appropriate for students developing number sense, counting skills and place value understanding from approximately kindergarten through second grade or ages 5-8. Base Ten Bingo begins with child creating a personalized avatar. Then your child may choose from Bingo, Practice, My Bugs or Home. In the Bingo section, children can choose to play with ones, ones and tens, or ones, tens and hundreds. Next children choose how large of a grid they would like to play on. Then a split screen appears with the numbers on the bingo board on the left and the ones, tens and hundreds counters on the left. In the practice section, students must read and make the number that appears with the ones, tens and hundreds blocks. For each section your child completes correctly a playful bug is added to their “My Bugs” section. Parents please be aware that this app only focuses on the concept of creating and counting numbers using the ones, tens and hundreds counters. Base Ten Bingo is appropriate for students developing number sense, counting skills and place value understanding from approximately kindergarten through second grade or ages 5-8. The app is $1.99 and is available for iPad.

 

Super Why ABC Adventures: Alphabet App

Read KinderTown's review of Super Why

Super Why ABC Adventures is hosted by the characters on the show Super Why! on PBS. The app does a nice job of providing multiple different ways to practice letters and their sounds. KinderTown likes how the letter sounds are repeated often to reinforce your child’s learning. Each of the five characters has a unique game to play with your child to practice the letters. Each time your child may choose upper case, lowercase or a mix of upper and lowercase letters. The games offer a high level of engagement for children. For example Alpha Pig helps your child take pictures of the correct letter, K, and then children get to see what the camera turns the letter into; a koala picture! Your child can help Princess Presto swim to the correct letter bubble underwater, or help Super Why! construct his treasure map to find the missing treasure. Students can earn souvenirs for completing activities correctly and decorate their map of the world. The app also includes 4 videos from the show Super Why! The app is appropriate for children learning to identify all of their letters both upper and lower case, approximately ages 4-6. This skill is most often introduced in preschool and mastered in kindergarten and first grade. The app is $3.99 and available for iPad.

 

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3 Fantastic Language Arts Apps for 4 and 5 year-olds

Do you have a child who is 4 or 5 running around with an iPad or your iPhone? Try these language arts apps.

 

Do you have a child who is 4 or 5 running around with an iPad or your iPhone? Try these language arts apps.

Language Arts Apps

These apps would be a great way to support their learning at home, or provide additional activities if you are teaching or supporting a Kindergarten program at home. Children at this age are sponges for learning.

 

Their minds are rapidly developing understanding around letters and sounds, words, visual patterns, and language. Here are some great KinderTown selected apps for 4 or 5 year olds you can download from the KinderTown app to support their learning. Download the KinderTown app and explore these language arts apps, located in the Language category.

 

Reading Raven

Reading Raven is a self-paced, phonics-based reading app for emergent readers. “Emergent readers” is just teacher-speak for children who are starting down the path of learning to read. Young children need to spend time in front of letters and words. Repeated exposure to letters and words will help children when they start to blend the sounds together to read on their own. Reading Raven has done a wonderful job of creating a variety of phonics activities that support and motivate children in practicing skills that will help them be strong readers. The app will take your child from just discovering letters through when they are blending letters together to make words. The app also seamlessly connects writing each letter to the phonics activities which helps reinforces letter identification and formation in context. Parents and teachers are given in-app tools for customizing their children’s learning experience. Make sure to read the parent and teacher guide in the app and visit the Reading Raven website for videos and more information. Reading Raven is appropriate for children ages 4-6, and is $2.99 at time of publication.

 

iWriteWords Handwriting Game

iWriteWords makes writing numbers and letters engaging. Kindergarten is sure to be full of lots of letter and number writing practice, so provide your child with a different way to practice. This is a beautiful and entertaining app that children can use long before they can handle a pencil, which makes this a great purchase. It includes lots of settings, three levels that grow with your child and small fun activities to break up the tracing. Your child will enjoy the unique playback feature to watch how they formed their letters and numbers. Gdiplus, the developer, has done a nice job of updating the app over time. Try using a stylus with your child to develop fine motor skills. iWriteWords is available for $2.99 at time of publication as is appropriate for children ages 3-5. This is a must-have app for learning to write numbers and letters!

 

Puppet Pals HD

Four and Five year olds love to invent stories, and Puppet Pals HD is an app that will bring out the creative story-teller in your child. One set of characters comes free with the app and additional characters can be purchased through in-app purchases. Check out the in-app purchase, Director’s Pass, for the most beloved feature of adding your own characters. We love the open-ended feature of this app for crafting and sharing stories. While making these stories, your child is developing critical vocabulary and language skills. In addition, children can learn to create a story that has a beginning, middle and end. Use a background from the app or again, add your own. Record yourself retelling and acting out (as you move the puppets around) your favorite parts of your fishing trip, family vacation or just a silly moment that you have on your camera roll. Export or play your new video right from the app. Check out the the website for the Parent and Teacher Guide. Puppet Pals HD is available for free with in-app purchases and is appropriate for children ages 4-8. Happy storytelling!

 

Show What You Know:

 

Playdough Letters

Children love playdough and there’s sure to be some around your house. In addition, learning letters and their sounds is a big part of Kindergarten. Take some time to practice this multi-sensory letter experience.

 

Tools:

Playdough

Stick, rod, pencil or building block for poking

Playdough roller or Kitchen Roller

 

Roll the playdough in long snakes. You child is sure to love this part! Roll lots and lots of snakes. Then have your child form letters using the pre-made snakes. Recall which ones were difficult or tricky from the apps you have been using with your child. Now, for each letter have your child say the letter name while poking holes in the playdough letter using a stick, rod, or building block. Make the holes follow along the same direction as they would write the letter (typically top to bottom). Alternatively, your child could say the letter sound if they know most of their letter names. See how many letters you can create, poke, and say the sound!

 

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