The digital revolution has introduced new tools for parents, not the least of which is the ability to calm a fussy child for a few moments by slipping him your Android phone. Fortunately, it’s a guilt-free crutch, especially if your phone is filled with mobile reading apps that will build phonetic and word identification skills, promote fluency in reading, and help develop in your child a lifelong love of the written word.
The next time you’re shopping for an educational Android app to entertain your kids, check out these popular reading games.
Before your child learns to read, she needs to learn the alphabet and each letter’s associated sound. This simple, interactive game (available on multiple platforms, including Android) encourages three-to-four-year-olds to tap on a letter to hear its sound and then perform a screen task using a verb that begins with the letter. Jumping from A to B to C is simple, but making a jump to, say, Y, requires the child to hold down that letter for several seconds—a hiccup of design that most kids will figure out quickly.
Kid’s ABC Phonics
The maker of this second game in a series is Intellijoy, a premier educational game designer in the Google Play store that provides a whole series of reading development games that can be bought bundled at a discount. Kid’s ABC Phonics builds on a child’s basic letter recognition and goes a few steps further into rudimentary reading skills. The first game strengthens basic letter recognition and phonetic skills, the second and third games test aural skills to match an object’s first-letter sound to the letter itself, and the fourth game uses letter sounds to build three-letter words.
Is your child ready for four- and five-letter words or larger? Is her vocabulary expanding exponentially? This app offers up a small dictionary of larger words along with definitions. While the child swipes letters to match the ones in the word, those letters wriggle and make their phonetic sounds. Once the word is completely filled in, it becomes animated. Goofy little creatures march in to demonstrate the meaning of the word, whose definition is then spoken aloud. A great early-vocabulary building game.
Sight Words Learning Games
Sight words are short, common words that early readers are encouraged to learn “by sight,” that is, without having to sound them out letter-by-letter. Learning sight words makes reading easier and more fluid, so it’s a great advantage to a child just starting to master sentences. Opt for the paid version of this app, which has three times as many games as well as the more entertaining ones.
Kids Learn To Read (Lite)
A free preschool app on Android, this collection of games helps children blend individual letter sounds into words by slowing down or speeding up the pace. A matching game and a word puzzle game helps children learn to read short words. The inexpensive paid version expands the number of sight words considerably. This educational Android app was recommended by the “App Smart” column of The New York Times.
Also recommended by the “App Smart” column of The New York Times, Booksy is a great next step for children who have already mastered many sight words and are working on the reading skills of fluency and expanding vocabulary. Designed like a standard eBook reader, Booksy has additional features that make it especially useful for children, including the ability to tap on a word to have it pronounced, or the option to have the book read aloud. The app itself is free and comes with two books. Books of incrementally higher difficulty levels are available for purchase for about a buck each.
Moderation is always wise when it comes to screen time for your young children. Make the most of it by choosing apps and games that’ll give them a step-up in school.