Back to School App Favorites
“What are the best apps for back to school?” is a question BridgingApps is asked throughout the year. It is tricky business to state which apps are the best because like many things in life~ parents have different definitions of “best !” For some it may mean easiest to use (think hit the ground running) or high quality graphics~ for others it might be apps that track data (is she making progress?) or apps that have sharing features to communicate with their child’s teachers or therapists. Even among our team~ we have lively discussions about which apps we love the most and why.
At BridgingApps we ask reviewers to look at many different aspects of an app when trialing It with a child who has a disability. We look at alignment with curriculum standards, accessibility features, ease of use, customization features, level of developer support, high quality graphics, and the list goes on. Ultimately our goal is to offer as much detail as possible to allow parents to make informed decisions before purchasing and downloading an app to use with their child. Of course this process involves trial and error, so we invite you to try one or two!
Whatever your definition of best, we have some excellent apps with proven track records that have been vetted for you to consider trying .. With back to school right around the comer, we have put together an app list that focuses on various stages of reading development, writing, note-taking apps, telling time, and schedules. Get your app on!
Starfall Learn to Read
By Starfall Education
Starfall.com has been a staple of Pre-K and kindergarten classrooms since 2002. Learn to Read is a fun and interactive app targeted at emerging readers, ages 3-6 that helps children learn to read by giving them tutorials in short vowels, long vowels, phonics and chunking. Children are able to read their way through different categories, which include short vowels, long vowels, and phonics and chunking. Within each of the sections there are a number of different interactive games to help children practice their skills. The app has a variety of activities to do once the child gets into each category, including stories, word sorting, picture hunts, and more.
Super Why! Power to Read
By PBS KIDS
An app targeted at emerging readers ages 3-6 that teaches phonemic sounds, letter writing, spelling short words and beginning reading comprehension. Features the four main characters from the show Super Why. Alpha Pig leads a spelling game where the user Is asked to spell a word. A rhyming game Is played with Wonder Red. Kids play along with Princess Presto to work on letter sounds, tracing and word construction. And Super Why leads Story Saver where the child is presented with incomplete sentences and is asked to fill in the blank with 3 word choices.
Access Language Arts
By Attainment Company
Access Language Arts app is based on the curriculum Teaching to Standards: English Language Arts, which was created by Attainment Company and the East Tennessee State University. Research has shown both the app and curriculum to be highly effective in teaching language arts skills, that are directly aligned to the Common Core Standards, to students with an intellectual disability or autism.
Price: FREE, Full Version $59.99
Available for iOS, Free Version
Available for iOS, Full Version
Duck Duck Moose Reading HD
By Duck Duck Moos,. LLC
A early learning app targeted at early readers ages 3-7 that teaches phonics and reading skills in an exciting zoo-themed adventure. With word and letter activities, kids learn by playing with flamingos, monkeys, lions and more. There are nine word and letter activities to reinforce letter sound recognition for all consonants, short vowels, and long vowels. It also has a word practice game and team to read activities.
Todo Telling Time
By Enuma, Inc
Focuses on the full range of time concepts. Contains six mini games that teach time concepts. Each mini ~~~_.., game has multiple levels moving from a prekindergarten level to a fourth grade level. The games do not have a time limit so learners can work at their own pace. This app also uses no-fail or “errorless” learning and will give auditory and visual hints if needed.
Price: FREE / in-app purchase
By Bee Visual, LLC
Choiceworks is an app for helping children complete daily routines and tasks, understanding and controlling feelings and to improve their patience. Designed for caregivers to provide clear and consistent support to foster a child’s independence, positive behavior, and emotional regulation at home and in the community.
Kids A to Z
By Lazel Inc.
This program is a leveled e·book app that links with a paid online subscription for access to 800+ books that encourage children to read at their level, while a parent or teacher is able to track progress. The program includes books at 29 reading levels, running records, benchmark passages, the ability to have books read aloud, highlighted words and quizzes at the end of each book.
Price: FREE (Annual $99.95)
Voice Dream Reader
By Voice Dream LLC
The Voice Dream app reads aloud text that can be pulled from pdfs, web browsers, word docs, powerpoint, HTML, Dropbox and many more. A powerful resource for anyone struggling with reading or hoping to reinforce reading.
Price: $9.99 Android, $19.99 iOS
Main Idea- Sentences: Reading Comprehension Skills & Practice Game for Kids – Common Core Aligned
By Janine Too!e
Focuses on building reading comprehension by concentrating on important information in a text. Main Idea provides a user friendly context to identify the main idea of a small paragraph. The app aims to support reading comprehension skills through the dissemination of information in small chunks. The app has a built in reward feature in which the user may collect coins with each new level.
Reading Speed/Fluency Builder – Grades 2-5: SE
By Janine Toole
Targets readers in the middle of first grade through 5th grade and helps build reading speed and accuracy while reading independently. Provides ongoing reading practice to enhance reading skills and support struggling readers. Begins with simple appropriate texts and gradually builds based on the user’s progress. With each progress and challenge, the user is rewarded with coins to ‘cash in’ in the Rewards Center to play games or shop to customize an avatar.
By Ginger Labs
Integrates handwriting, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organizing so you can take notes your way. Discover the freedom to capture Ideas, share insights, and present information In one perfect place on the iPad. Students who need to stay organized can keep their notes or add them into subjects, which can be color coordinated. Notability gives you choice of pen color, thickness, paper choices, font choices and sizes.
Inference Clues: Reading Comprehension Skills & Practice for Kids Who Need Help to Become Stronger Readers
By Janine Toole
Inference Clues attempts to bridge the gap between reading and comprehension with their easy to use app designed for children ages 9-11. Upon launching the app users are given small paragraphs to read and asked to identify what in the text might lead them to infer a variety of scenarios and subjects. Each level is composed of 1 0 questions and they become increasingly more difficult as the user progresses.
Typ-O HD – Writing Is for Everybody!
By SecondGuess ApS
Helps students who have difficulty communicating and spelling. It is helpful for children who want to express themselves, but need assistance with their expressive language. Students who are nonverbal, but have some reading and writing skills can use this app to communicate (text to speech) by typing their thoughts and have them spoken aloud. Those with dyslexia or autism spectrum disorders who have difficulty with written language may also find this app helpful
If you are Interested in searching for more apps, creating your own list of apps and sharing them, please go to BridgingApps.org. BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about using mobile devices with people who have special needs.
Cristen Reat is co-founder of BridgingApps and a mother who found success when using a mobile device with her children who have special needs.
Amy Barry is the Content Manager and Editor at BridgingApps and mother of five children.
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This post originally appeared on our July/August 2017 Magazine