Archive for the ‘iphone literacy apps’ Category

Building Readers, One Word at a Time

April 14, 2011

It’s hard for me to believe, but my baby girl will be five next week.  FIVE!  She will begin kindergarten in the fall.  As a mother and an educator, I have made an effort to find a balance between just being mom, yet providing learning opportunities for my children.  One thing I have always encouraged, but never pushed is reading.

I have read to my children from the time they were born.  Not a day goes by that we don’t read something.  I believe that it’s this full immersion in language that has created readers out of my children.  I never once pushed my son (eight years old, now) to read before he started kindergarten, yet he was reading above grade level when he began kindergarten – and I had no idea!  I had no idea, because I simply didn’t push him, I let him learn to read at his own pace.

My daughter, on the other hand, is showing signs way before kindergarten begins of wanting to read.  She is already reading a few Mo Willems books to me and she knows about fifty sight words.  Again, I have done nothing out of the ordinary with my children except read to them every day.  Oh, and I have also provided a print rich home for them.  We have books on every floor of our home and magnet letters on the easel.  And, I allow them to watch educational TV shows.

One show my daughter enjoys watching is WordWorld on PBS.  I don’t mind her watching, because I know it’s educational and she is learning how letters make sounds and connect to make words. But, I do like to make connections to what my kids are reading or watching.  And, actually, making connections is a comprehension strategy that they will use as they become proficient readers (so, in a way, I’m prepping them for their future reading endeavors!).

Here are a few ways we might make connections to an episode of WordWorld:

1. Make a list of the words from the episode and build our own words.  For example: If Duck is used in an episode, I may create something like this for my daughter:

We saw the word duck in the last episode of WordWorld we watched.  What other words might sound like duck? And then she will tell me words that rhyme with duck.  I write them down in a list under the word duck and then she will determine if they are spelled the same way. This is a good way for her to learn chunks, but also begin to recognize some blends such as ch- or tr-.  She also has an opportunity to begin to write words using the chunk as you see with the word, muck.

2.  WordWorld also provides episode related activities on their website.  I like the connections that the activities make to the actual show and the learning that continues from the hands-on fun we have.  Research has shown that preschoolers learn best through play.  I feel better about TV time when I know that my children are watching something educational and then we are extending beyond that TV show into more learning in a hands-on, educational way.  And there are a TON of episode related activities that extend beyond the show and into the realm of hands-on, literacy learning.

3. I’m a fan of “literacy on the go.”  As a child, I always had a book with me.  I encourage this for my children as well, who will often bring books with them even for short car rides somewhere.  However, if we forget a book and we find ourselves in a situation where we are waiting, most times one or both of the kids will ask for my iPhone.  I don’t have a problem if they use my iPhone, because I have packed it with educational games and books.  One app my daughter just became familiar with is “Snug as a Bug” which is an e-book app offered by WordWorld.  This particular book uses the same “word things” that the show uses.  She can have the book read aloud to her or she can turn the speaker off and read it herself (she isn’t there yet!).  There is some interactivity in the book, which keeps her engaged.  The great thing is WordWorld offers these e-books as apps on iTunes for the iPad or iPhone, but they also offer them for FREE on the Word World website.  The e-books are read-aloud versions of the actual TV episode, so after reading the book, you and your child can compare the e-book to the episode.

How do you help to build a reader, one word at a time?  Do you allow your children to watch educational TV?  How do you connect literacy to TV?

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

iGames – Fun for the iPod or iPhone

January 21, 2010

I’ll admit that I was a bit resistant to an iPhone at first.  My husband, who loves all things technology, bought me one when they were first released.  But, I fell in love quickly!  Especially, when I realized the educational opportunities the phone provided for my children.  My phone is always with me, and therefore, I always have something to occupy my children at any given time.  The only problem is when I have both kids with me and only one phone!

My son is older (almost seven), so the types of educational apps I have downloaded for him consist of math facts practice, sight word recognition, and books to read.

My daughter is three and a whiz on the iPhone.  It’s really amazing how quickly small children pick up new technology.  And rather than fight it, I say go with it.  The games I download engage her and educate her.  She practices writing her letters and actually spelling words!

So, here are few apps that my children have played or that I would like them to play:

Letter Tracer

This is one of my daughter’s favorites because it allows her to practice writing her letters.  The game provides kids the opportunity to practice “writing” their letters and numbers on screen.  There is an option for capital and lower case letters.  There are three options for the child: simple recognition of the letter, opportunities to trace the letter, or an option to free write the letter.

Clifford’s Be Big with Words by Scholastic

My daughter LOVES this game!  And I love it, because it teaches her how to spell words.  And she is learning how to spell words. . . at three!  A child chooses a letter, and based on what is chosen the child is then provided with different letters until he/she spells a three letter word.  The sound of each letter is pronounced.  The word is stated out loud.  A picture is then shown and the word is used in a sentence.

Word Magic

In this game, kids are provided with an option to find the missing beginning sound, middle sound, or end sound.  A picture is provided and the word is announced.  Children are then given the option between several letters and must choose the correct letter.  This game provides great phonics practice as it allows children to listen to the sound of the letters and determine their location in a word.

Learn Sight Words

This game is clear and simple and provides 300 sight words for a child to practice and know.  Children can choose to learn 25 words at a time or go through all 300 words.  If a word is unknown or difficult, children can flag the word.  They also have an option to go through the flagged words, which gives them the opportunity to review those words.

Spelling Magic

Children can play 4 different games with provided words or words you submit yourself.  So, in essence, you can record your child’s spelling list each week and your child can study on your iPhone.  I love this aspect of this app because children have focused words to study instead of just any old word to spell.  My only complaint is that it is a bit “girlish” with unicorns, princesses, and castles.  I think it could have been designed a bit more generically.  I’m not sure how quickly my son (or any other 6 or 7 year old boy for that matter) will jump to play because of this.  It’s also a bit difficult to hear the words clearly.   But, it’s a free app, and you can add your own words, so it will do.

**Note: I have not been able to find a great spelling app.  If you are familiar with any, please let me know! **

Children’s Picture Book Apps

There are a lot of options for picture book apps.  Three that I would recommend are:

Pic Pocket Books


Mobistories (Disclosure:  I sit on the Parent Advisory Council for Mobistories)

If you have any recommendations for iPhone/iPod literacy apps, I would love to hear them!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.