Do you have a student with attention problems? Sometimes apps are a great way to teach those children how to read. Apps take on the burden of entertainment, while an educator can guide the student through each level and encourage him to say words sound-by-sound. The best apps to teach reading can be hard to identify.
After working with an app, a student with attention problems can then transition to reading phonics books.
I’m a firm believer that reading apps should be used with a parent or educator to avoid letting the student simply use the app for amusement. Sure, the pictures and animations are what sell the product. But they don’t do the teaching. A reading mentor can encourage the student to use the app appropriately.
Here are some apps I recommend for young readers:
Starfall Learn to Read
An excellent app! Starfall helps children with articulation problems, because they show exactly how the mouth says each sound. They also provide leveled phonics books that encourage students to use phonetic knowledge. Since the books are phonics-based and leveled, a struggling reader can pick up this app and start to learn how to read.
Criticism: For some not-so-genius reason, the app creators designed this product so students can simply touch a word and hear the word. This encourages sight reading and memorization. Do not let the student simply touch the words. Encourage sound-by-sound reading, even if that means you have to turn the volume down.
Bob Books app
Student often read Bob books over and over and over (ugh! I’ve met many students who have memorized Bob books); once this happens, turn to the app for new material. Students should not read a book more than 3x, and each reread should not happen before five days—or else students begin to think reading is about memorizing (which it’s not).
Criticism: Bob books are only good to teach short vowels. Beyond that, they are woefully misguided. It’s no wonder the creator of Bob books only taught Kindergarten. Beyond that Kindergarten level, turn to other material (especially if you’re teaching struggling readers).
Reading Raven HD
Reading Raven is a fun app. Take your student on an adventure through many wonderlands, including outer space, a castle, and a circus. The app encourages sound-by-sound reading with some low frequency phonetic words. The app also teaches children how to trace letters. If you are bored with other apps, try this one for a new adventure.
Criticism: Who teaches writing on an app? I don’t quite understand this. Writing requires fine motor skills that are difficult to master for young children. To learn, students must lean on a table, set their hand down and hold a pencil. Do not use the app to teach writing skills, because students will be set up for failure.
Do you have any app suggestions for teaching reading? I’m currently in the process of buying and using more. I’ll let you know what I think of these new apps soon.
Reading Elephant offers Systematic Printable Phonics Books.