Best Apps for Handwriting
Handwriting is an essential skill for early childhood development. Learning to hold a pencil or marker and then construct meaningful lines is a process that leads to learning letter and number formation.
Many of the following apps work not only for handwriting, but also for other skills associated with reading development. Learning to name letters, form them correctly, and associate the correct sound with the letter are all processes developed during the pre-reading stage of development. Try out these apps to develop early handwriting skills. If your child is able to hold a pencil, try a stylus for easier transfer of the skill from the iPad to paper.
abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words brings several important language skills together into one app. In abc PocketPhonics, children learn to recognize letters, hear letter sounds, form letters by tracing, and use the letter sounds to build words. Parents are able to create multiple users, control the font and letter types, choose the letters their child will work on, and determine how skillful the writing needs to be. The app introduces letters in small groups and works on each individual letter before moving on to the next group of letters. As each letter is introduced, the app gives the letter sound and tells your child to repeat it. Encourage your child to say the sound out loud as they play the app. Parents can opt into a weekly email that provides an update on your child’s progress. The app tracks the user’s answers and does not advance them without first demonstrating mastery of the basics. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and costs $6.99.
LetterSchool learn to write letters and numbers is another best app to add to your child’s collection of letter and number writing experiences. Letter School clearly introduces each letter, sound, or number (1-9) with an additional 3 levels of interaction that supports your child from tracing a line to forming the letter all on their own. A variety of animations keep the content fresh and interesting for kids. Use bubbles or railroad tracks to trace over the lines. The positive, motivational feedback encourages your child and will keep them wanting to use this app! Check out the lite version to try out some of the content for free. The app is appropriate for children starting to use crayons and markers for the tracing portion of the app and should last up through mastery of the letters, approximately ages 3-5. The app costs $4.99.
iTrace – handwriting for kids provides a simple approach to practicing handwriting. The main menu offers clean choices of practice with uppercase letters, lowercase letters, or numbers. In addition, there is word section that has an area to practice writing your child’s name, thematic words, or a customizable word list. The app has a few distinctive features, such as left-hand friendly modeling and individual tracking, and it supports multiple users.
Related Blog Post:
Does My Child Still Need to Learn Handwriting? (Demme Learning)
Tags: development, early childhood, handwriting, language arts, letter sounds, letters, pencil grip, practice, Reading, tracing, words
Back to School Reading Apps
Back-to-school time is here, and these apps are great to supplement your beginning reader!
Reading Train Learn to Read Books, Songs & Games is a uniquely designed app for emergent readers. No other app is as specifically tailored to the needs of beginning readers. Reading Train includes 200 books for children who are beginning to read. Children are typically at this stage of reading during their kindergarten or first-grade year, depending on their development. Many children progress quickly through these stages, while others need more time. This app would be an asset to those children needing more time at this level. The app has a kid-friendly train where children choose books based on their level and desired topic. Parents, you will need to assist your child during their first interactions with the app in order to create a user and guide your child to the appropriate level. The books offer three different options: Listen, Read, and Record. Children like the books, but the app does not offer enough entertainment value that your child is likely to choose this app freely. Children are rewarded with a songbook after reading books and completing review activities. Some children won’t have enough patience to sit through the longer song and may tap the screen in anticipation of interactivity in this area. Also, this app should not be used in isolation because children need to learn the valuable skills associated with handling real books, such as reading left to right and orienting the book correctly. There’s no real substitute for creating a love of real books! The app would be a great supplement to a literature-rich environment. Reading Train Learn to Read Books, Songs & Games costs $3.99.
Duck Duck Moose Reading is a solid phonics practice app for your beginning reader. Children quickly progress through five varied phonics activities, each focused on a specific set of letters. Games are entertaining to play and are designed to focus kids on individual sounds, letters, or both letters and sounds in the context of words. Kids earn animals to add to their zoo after each series of activities. Parents are given a progress report for multiple kids who log into the app. We’d like it if parents were able to customize which letters and sounds are given to each child to practice. Overall, this is a good phonics practice app with the high quality visual and touch screen design that Duck Duck Moose is known for. Duck Duck Moose Reading is perfect for children at the Kindergarten or first grade level and costs $2.99.
Related Blog Post
Pre-Reading Skills: Beyond Letters and Sounds
Tags: back to school, books, letters, phonics, Reading
Pre-Reading Skills: Beyond Letters and Sounds
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
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.
Tags: Kindergarten, letter sounds, letters, preschool, Reading, rhyming, skills, syllables
Power Pack: Letters and Sounds Ages 5-6
Do you have a kindergartner, or budding learner, who is investigating letters and sounds? This Power Pack is for you!
Check out the apps we recommend for learning letters and sounds, and a few offline activities you can explore with your child, like Letter Jump, and Letter Stories. Access the Power Pack through the KinderTown app (remember, you must be signed in)!
This Power Pack features the apps:
Tags: free, learning map, letters, offline, power packs, resources, skills, sounds
Back to School: Spelling Apps
Now that school is back in full swing, you may find yourself practicing spelling words at home as part of your child’s weekly homework. Check out these spelling apps to spice up that time.
If you are looking for a spelling curriculum to use in your home school environment, or supplement another educational experience, check out our Spelling You See
Enter a real cowboy town set up with a sheriff, school, general store, post office, and bank. Each area of the app, has letters hidden like gold around the scene. Children tap the letters to add letters to their bank. Then to progress through the scene children are prompted to practice a spelling word, and when completed correctly, they advance to the next part of the scene. The app has very interesting graphics and makes practicing the spelling words feel like a game. Children will forget they are practicing spelling. Download KinderTown to read the full review.
Word Wizard – Talking Movable Alphabet, uses app technology to enhance traditional writing and spelling activities. Children write sentences and spelling words while Word Wizard helps by saying the sounds of each letter as they are dragged onto the page. After each word is built, Word Wizard speaks the word as it is spelled and highlights it in red if it is spelled in a non-traditional way, or in white if it has the correct spelling. Download KinderTown to read the full review.
SpellingCity has created one app for parents and teachers to access spelling practice activities for multiple kids in kindergarten through grade 12. Seven spelling activities support kids learning new words, in playfully practicing spelling lists and working through spelling tests all right in the app. Download KinderTown to read the full review.
Follow KinderTown’s board Spelling Activities on Pinterest.
Tags: alphabet, back to school, letters, spelling, spelling you see, words, writing
Hip Hop Hen Hits the Mark!
If you have a budding pre-schooler at home just learning to write their letters, Hip Hop Hen is for you!
Hip Hop Hen review
Hip Hop Hen is a delightful app to practice writing letters and learning their sounds too.The app opens with pleasing, calming music and cute graphics. When your child hits play an adorable alphabet appears. Click on one of the letters to practice writing the letter. The letter appears on lined paper and children can choose which color crayon to write the letter with. KinderTown really likes how each letter is presented in conjunction with the coordinating sound and shows the letters in lower-case. Lower-case letters are most often seen in print, so children should learn to identify them first in preparation to read. As the children correctly write the letter they earn balloons on a board to pop once the letter is completely written. Our kid testers loved popping the balloons and KinderTown loves that the letter sound is made each time a balloon is popped. KinderTown would like to see the letter name stated as well as the sound when the letter is presented. Both the letter name and letter sound are important early literacy skills. There is also a “free draw” area for kids, when children need to take a break. This app is designed for pre-schoolers (ages 3-5) who are learning their letters and is $2.99. Hip Hip Hooray for Hip Hop Hen!
Tags: language arts, letters, sounds, writing
Top “Learn to Read” Apps
Learning to read is a skill that evolves over a long period of time. Watching kids develop their reading skills is especially fun as they grow in confidence and become excited about books they can read by themselves. Remember that learning to read is a journey and not a race, so enjoy your child’s development along the way. These apps work best as one of a few approaches to reading, including reading aloud to your children, and listening as they read aloud: a perfect recipe for success! Check out KinderTown’s top rated Reading Apps!
Learn with Homer
Learn with Homer is a full “Learn to Read” series of lessons for kids. The app features letter-sound instruction, sight word introduction, read-aloud stories, and a mixed review of concepts. The app introduces a letter and through game play children must identify the sound in the beginning, middle and end of words. This is a essential skill for developing phonemic awareness in preparation for learning to read. Also included in the progression through the lessons is the introduction of sight words. Sight words are words that can not be “sounded out” but rely on more instant recognition to develop fluent reading skills.
The app does a nice job of mixing instruction with a review of previously-taught concepts and the reading aloud of real books, which are all key components of learning to read. This app would be appropriate for children who are learning their letter sounds and are just beginning to read, or who need a review of the letter sounds. In addition, the app encourages children to record their voice saying the letter sounds, and reading the books and words included in the app. Children are most often at this developmental level during kindergarten and first grade. In addition, the developers of Learn with Homer conducted research using their app on children who were beginning to read and showed that the use of the app 15 minutes a day led to an increase in their beginning reading skills. KinderTown agrees that working 10-15 minutes on apps focused on reading skills into your beginning readers’ routine will encourage their development in this crucial area. Check out their website for a free 1 month trial. Read with Homer is free to download but does include in-app purchases to buy additional lesson content.
Reading Raven is a self-paced, phonics-based reading instructional app for emergent (beginning) readers. This app does a wonderful job of creating a variety of phonics instruction activities that will keep children interested. Parents and teachers are thoughtfully given in-app tools for customizing their children’s learning experience. Throughout the app, children are learning about letter sounds and word parts. Make sure to read the parent & teacher guide in the app and visit their website at www.readingraven.com for videos and more information. Reading Raven Vol. 2 expands on the content learned in Reading Raven such as long vowel patterns and blends. Reading Raven is appropriate for children beginning to learn their letter sounds, and Reading Raven 2 is appropriate for children who have learned most of their letter sounds and are ready to identify patterns in words. Most children are at this level when they are ages 4-7. Reading Raven is $3.99 and Reading Raven Vol. 2 is $2.99.
Montessori Crosswords creates a valuable learning environment for children to practice identifying individual sounds in words. The activities are leveled and the app will grow with your child who is just starting to identify letters, to when they are reading and writing words at a first/second grade level. The app uses color coding and chunking to reinforce spelling concepts. Families will find interacting together with the movable alphabet to be quite enjoyable. In addition, the movable alphabet could be used with children to practice spelling words or sight words they are learning. Check the settings to set a time limit for the beautiful and fun sensory rewards. They can be distracting to the overall learning if not limited, but our child testers loved playing with them as a quick reward. Montessori Crosswords is appropriate for children ages 4-7 and is $2.99.
Tags: language arts, lessons, letters, phonics, Reading, sight word
Creepy Crawly Apps
Kids are fascinated with bugs, some love them, some hate them, but all kids seem to be curious in some way about these little creatures. Check out the best creepy crawly apps.
The Little Bug
The Little Bug offers a pleasing story about a caterpillar who is fascinated with all of her bug friends. The story has calming background music and would be ideal before bedtime. The story offers many facts about bugs and has interactive pages to hold the youngest child’s interest. Children can make the grasshopper move, highlight the segments on a bug or make the bee buzz. The art on each page is well done and communicates the story in an effective way. In the story, key words are in bold that children can tap on a have repeated to them. KinderTown likes the parent section that includes questions to ask your child before, during and after reading the story. In addition, visit their website for printable activity sheets. The Little Bug is $3.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-6.
Meet the Insects Pack
Meet the Insect apps are packed with information, videos, pictures and an observation journal. The app includes an Insect Story section which provides diagrams and narration in a storybook format with interactive areas for kids to learn about insects. The See Insects section provides detailed information regarding each type of bug. The scientific name is used and real pictures and facts are read aloud to children. The quiz section offers two different types of interactive quizzes. KinderTown’s favorite section is the observation journal. This would be a great tool to study insects around your home environment, at the park or over a period of time. Children can add their own photos of the insect and record the location, weather and notes about the insect. There are three different editions of Meet the Insects; Forest Edition, Village Edition and Water and Grass Edition. These apps would be an excellent addition to a study on insects or a resource for writing a report on insects. Each individual Meet the Insects App is $4.99 or you can purchase the app bundle for $9.99. Meet the Insects apps are appropriate for children ages 5-8.
Bug Art provides an informal environment for children to learn and play with bugs. The free paint area allows children to paint and use stickers to depict a bug scene. The bug designer area allows children to choose a basic stencil and then design a unique bug around the stencil. Pictures can be saved in the app and shared with friends. The app also has free play areas where children can race bugs or use the iPad to make them fly through pathways. This app is a fun creative experience with bugs. Bug Art is $2.49 and appropriate for children ages 3-5.
ABC Bugs brings learning through research and discovery to the youngest learners. Traditional encyclopedia-style presentations combined with videos, interactive activities and quality images makes the ABC apps from Peapod Labs truly special. The pictures are extremely captivating and appropriate for young learners. The app is organized with pictures of bugs in ABC order. Your child will be learning letters and words along with interesting facts about bugs. ABC Bugs is appropriate for children ages 3-6 and is $2.99.
Bug Mazing – Adventures in Learning
Bug Mazing – Adventures in Learning covers four important preschool skills; Letter, Numbers, Colors and Tracing. All of the games are designed with bugs as the central characters in the game play. For the letters and numbers activities, children must guide the bug through mazes choosing the correct letter or number that comes next. For the color activity, children must guide the bugs through the maze while only using certain colors. The tracing activity allows the children to trace a path and the bug will follow the path. Children earn gems for completing activities correctly and can play with the bugs in the adventure section. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children ages 3-5.
Tags: art, bugs, colors, interactive, language arts, letters, math, numbers, painting, preschool, tracing
KinderTown Flips Over Osmo!
My Osmo product arrived this week, and KinderTown was giddy with excitement! Osmo is a unique game system for iPad. Osmo comes with a stand and a mirror that attaches to the iPad and allows for the integration of real objects into the play associated with the iPad. There are 3 apps that can be used with the Osmo system. When you open your Osmo system, assemble the red mirror device onto the iPad, and the iPad on to the stand. Download the free apps and you are ready to begin.
The Osmo Tangram kit comes with tangram pieces that interact with the iPad. Download the free Osmo Tangram app to get started. Osmo offers a nice “getting started” section to familiarize your child with the use of the pieces and their interaction with the screen. The child must arrange the tangram pieces to match the on screen arrangement. While constructing the pictures, your child is developing important visual spatial skills. After your child completes the “getting started” section, the app offers different pictures for your child to choose from to construct with the tangram pieces. The app also indicates the level of the pictures from easiest to hardest by color coding them yellow, orange and red. The yellow puzzles offer color clues and the orange puzzles offer black and white shapes. The app does offer a hint button if needed to complete the puzzles. The hardest level offers just one solid black outside line. Arranging the tangram pieces was challenging, engaging and also fun to complete with a friend.
Osmo Words is played with the letter tiles. One set of letter tiles is blue and the other is red. To play, you can either play alone or with a friend. To compete with a friend was challenging and loads of fun! Osmo Words shows you a picture and the number of coordinating letter tiles. For example, a picture of a tree and 4 blank tiles. You must race your competitor to see who can throw the correct word tiles out first. The letters can be tossed into the playing space in any order. KinderTown really likes how more than one child can play with the tiles and the iPad to develop cooperative play skills. One suggestion KinderTown has is that the letter tiles are all in capital letters. Most words when written in text are lowercase. It would be great to see both upper and lowercase forms of a letter on a tile, maybe one on the front and one on the back. Children need exposure to both forms of the letters, especially when learning to read.
Osmo Newton uses the Osmo system to reflect the space, and the players choose which objects they use from around the house to affect the space. Osmo Newton drops balls from the top and supplies targeted areas that the balls should reach. KinderTown used blocks, paper clips, pencils and drawing lines on the paper in the space to change the movement of the balls to reach the targeted areas. Osmo Newton was challenging and does require persistence on the part of the player to solve the puzzles. As you continue to play, the number of targets increases and objects around the targets are added to increase the challenge. KinderTown recommends using 3D objects to affect the space. The drawing of lines was helpful but more difficult to change (erasing) when we wanted to change the direction of the moving balls. This app uses your child’s thinking and problem solving skills to interact with the screen in a challenging way!
Tags: games, interactive, ipad, language arts, letters, matching, osmo, problem-solving, Shapes, spelling, words
Super Why’s ABC Adventures and Base Ten Bingo
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
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.
Tags: counting, Kindergarten, language arts, letters, math, number sense, numbers, place value, sounds