The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recently recommended technology and interactive media as effective learning aids.

Initial research has shown that children using literacy apps on iPads score higher on literacy assessments than their peers, particularly in their level of phonetic awareness and ability to associate sounds with letters. As more school districts provide iPads and other tablets to use in the classroom, educators are looking for apps to include in their curriculum and to recommend to parents with young children.

Here are 10 education apps designed to develop early child literacy.


1. Look and Learn: Animal Alphabet (Ages 0-3)

What it offers: Children learn the alphabet and fine motor skills as they play six educational games filled with more than 60 different animals, 100 photographs, fun animal facts, and realistic sound effects.

Why get it: Awarded the 2013 Parents’ Choice Foundation Approved Award.

Availability:  iPhone and iPad

Cost: $1.99


2. Kids ABC Letters Lite (Ages 2 and Over)

What it offers: A collection of fun games to help preschoolers learn the name and shape of each letter. The “Naming Letters” game helps them learn the name and appearance of each letter. “Forming Letters” challenges children to create letters out of puzzle pieces. In “Recognizing Letters,” they help a cat catch fish with the requested letter. “Identifying Letters in Context” tests them on their ability to find letters in words.

Why get it: Downloaded over 1 million times.

Availability:  Android, iPhone and iPad

Cost: Letters A-H free, $3.99 for full alphabet.


3. Read Me Stories (Ages 3 and Over)

What it offers: An app that reads children’s books aloud accompanied by fun animations and pictures. As the voice speaks, the app highlights the corresponding word so that children can follow along.

Why get it: Offers a full library of children’s stories, with a new book added every day.

Availability:  Android, iPhone and iPad

Cost: First four books are free, $1.99 for each four additional books.


4. iWriteWords (Ages 3-5)

What it offers: A game to help children learn to form letters within words. A friendly crab guides them as they trace the shape of a letter on the screen. A cute drawing appears as the reward when children complete a word.

Why get it: Rated by the New York Times as one of the “Best iPhone Apps for Kids.”

Availability: iPhone and iPad

Cost: $2.99


5. Learn With Homer (Ages 5 and Under)

What it offers: Interactive games and stories that teach children phonics, spelling, fluency, and vocabulary. Children develop their reading comprehension through a library of stories and folktales, science and history adventures, and songs and rhymes. A dashboard lets educators review lessons and progress.

Why get it: Selected in 2014 as the “Top App of the Year” by Creative Child Magazine.

Availability:  iPhone and iPad

Cost: Limited version free for one month, $7.95 monthly subscription.


6. Reading Raven (Ages 5 and Under)

What it offers: Games that take children from pre-reading to reading full sentences. Starting with letter matching and tracing, children progress to spelling, reading aloud, and forming word groups – all while meeting circus acrobats, underwater sea creatures, and snow monsters.

Why get it: Selected as a Spring 2013 Recommended Mobile App by Parents’ Choice Foundation.

Availability:  iPhone and iPad

Cost: $3.99


7. Monkey Word School Adventure (Ages 5 and Under)

What it offers: Six games to help a monkey and his friends explore the jungle. Children help “Monkey” with spelling, letter writing, solving a word wall puzzle, recognizing sight words, and rhyming.

Why get it: Adjusts the difficulty of the games automatically so children are challenged, but not discouraged.

Availability:  Android, iPhone and iPad

Cost: $1.99


8. Endless Alphabet (Ages 5 and Under)

What it offers: Monster-themed activities help children learn their ABCs and build vocabulary. Short puzzle games with monster animations and talking letters challenge them to learn fun words like “gargantuan” and “cooperate.”

Why get it: Designed by the creators of Sesame Street’s The Monster at the End of This Book.

Availability:  Android, iPhone and iPad

Cost: $6.99


9. Montessori Crosswords – Spelling With Phonics Alphabet (Ages 5 and Under)

What it offers: Children practice reading, writing, and spelling skills by learning how to build words from their sounds.  Uses 320 word-image-audio-phonics combinations to help them sound out words and memorize the phonics associated with each letter.

Why get it: Based on the proven Montessori learning method.

Availability:  Android, iPhone and iPad

Cost: $2.99


10. Sentence Builder (Ages 6-8)

What it offers: A game to practice building sentences by dragging the words into the proper order. Children can click words to hear the sound and record their own voice. Educators can customize the app with pictures, words, and sentences related to their curriculum.

Why get it: Designed by a software developer, who quickly learned English to attend graduate school.

Availability:  Android and iPad

Cost: $1.99 Android, $4.99 iPad



If you want to learn more tools to engage students and improve your skills as an early childhood educator, you may be interested in Capella University’s Master’s in Early Childhood Education program. The degree focuses on how to design effective educational experiences for children up to age eight. It emphasizes research around child psychology and child development, and teaches graduates about the latest educational techniques, tools, and technology.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.
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