Free (or cheap) iPhone/iPad Apps for Teaching Kids to Read

If you are a mom like I am, you struggle with the amount of time your child wants to be plugged into electronics. It seems unavoidable these days. Technology is everywhere. Many battles have been waged in my home over the quality of what they are using and the time they are using it. I want them to avoid games and apps that find them shooting anything and as a teacher, I prefer it be educational as well.

The battle is less difficult when the apps and games they are playing are a lot of fun while also having an educational foundation to them. Recently, I wrote about great apps for teaching math. Today I have collected another list of iPad and iPhone apps, and this time they will help your young one learn to read.

Whether free or 99 cents, these apps will surely get your child reading and ease the pain of all the time they want to spend plugged in. 

Free Apps 

Find the Words - This app is nothing more than a digital word search. What I like about it is that you can create the list of words your child searches for. Create lists based on past spelling tests or ask your teacher for next year’s word list (schools often use a standard list by Dolch but they should be able to provide you the coming year’s list). This will help them avoid slipping in what they’ve already learned and give them a jump on next year’s test.

Read Me Stories - This free app can be used on both the iPad and the iPhone. It will provide you with a free story every day with the option to buy more stories. Children can select the option to hear the story or read the words themselves. The pictures are bright, colorful and interesting to look at, however the stories, in my opinion, are low quality. This app would be best for 2-4 year olds.

ABC Phonics Animals - Talking & Spelling - This app is great for teaching letter recognition, letter formation and beginning phonics. The activities are easy to complete and will need little adult assistance. I intend to use this app with my 7 year old who struggles with letter formation as well as in my classroom next school year. It works on both the iPhone and the iPad. There are a number of other ABC Phonics apps that can be downloaded for long vowel, short vowel, rhyming words, and much more. All would be a good for your young readers.

Scholastic Reading Timer - This app will not help your child to read but it can be a great motivator for them to read more often. The timer is simply a timer that kids can use to record their time reading. But the app also has book suggestions for the child based on their age as well as tips and articles for parents to read. It pairs really well with the Summer Reading Challenge that Scholastic has going on now that gives kids digital rewards for the time they read. It can be a great motivator for them to do their reading each day during the summer (as a teacher, I would suggest that kids read 30 minutes to one hour each day).

99 Cent Apps 

Word Magic - Working with phonics is a must for early readers. This app allows the parent to tailor the activity to fit the level of phonics instruction the child is at. You can set the length of the word, the type of vowel sounds within the words as well as if you want it to target one letter or two letter clusters. It’s well worth the 99 cents.

C is for Cow - This app is not only educational but adorable as well. The graphics are done in soft, non-primary colors. This app will teach letter names by pairing them with animal names. It’s great for those youngsters who are just beginning to learn both letters and animals. Facts about the animals are available but those have to be read to the child as there is not currently a sound function integrated with the facts. It’s definitely worth the 99 cents, if for nothing than the atypical but wonderful graphics.

Little Reader - These apps by GrasshopperApps are great for teaching sight words. There are apps for three and four letter words as well as basic sight words. They can be fully customized by you which includes the words, the pictures used with them as well as the voice that reads off the words (record your own voice!). The only negative that I really see is that once your child masters 3 letter words, you have to spend another 99 cents to buy the four letter word app.

There are hundreds of apps available for free or cheap that can help teach your child to read but nothing replaces time spent sitting in your lap while you read a book to them. Electronic apps should always be used sparingly and in conjunction with traditional books. With that being said, you can feel good downloading these apps for your young children to interact with from time to time.