Menu

Literacy Apps

Vocabulary

A child's vocabulary can be expanded through repeated exposure to new words and by thinking about word meanings. We've found apps that engage young children in crossword and Scrabble type games. Other apps focus on specific word meaning skills by highlighting word opposites, synonyms, and homophones. Many of the games can be played together or side-by-side. Have fun and encourage new words!

Click through our recommended vocabulary apps below, and follow our links for other reviews.

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

Bookworm

Price: $2.99
Grade level: 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Skill: Vocabulary, Spelling
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Bookworm is a spelling and vocabulary building word search game. Children link letters left, right, up, and down to build words to feed "Lex" the bookworm. The longer the word the higher the score. The game can be played with or without time limits.

Chicktionary

Price: Free
Grade level: 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Skill: Vocabulary, Spelling
Device: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Chicktionary is a chicken themed spelling and vocabulary-building word game. Children create as many words as possible out of seven letters. Completed words can be tapped to view their definition. There are multiple levels and children can choose a timed or untimed mode. *Note: This is a noisy app — incorrect words receive scolding squawks.

Dr. Seuss's ABC

Price: $3.99
Grade level: Pre-K
Skill: Phonics, Print awareness, Vocabulary
Device: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Other

Dr. Seuss's ABC has three levels, "Read to Me," "Read it Myself," and "Auto Play," which allows children to grow with this app. Words highlighted are read out loud when tapped, and when narrated, children can follow along with the highlighted text.

Mad Libs

Price: Free
Grade level: K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

The Mad Libs app is just how you remember the classic fill-in-the-noun/verb/adverb game, but with a twist! Fill-in-the-blank sections are now interactive, and hints are offered to educate and entertain.

Montessori Crosswords

Price: $2.99
Grade level: Pre-K, K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary, Spelling
Device: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Montessori Crosswords helps kids develop literacy skills by dragging and dropping letters into a crossword grid to form words that correspond to the given pictures. Young children can drag letters around in the moveable alphabet and practice linking phonetic sounds to letters, while older kids can expand their vocabularies in the higher of three difficulty levels. Crossword levels include simple words with one-sound, words with consonant blend, and words of any complexity.

Opposite Ocean

Price: $0.99
Grade level: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary, Comprehension
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

In Opposite Ocean, Luna and Leo must master the magic of words by correctly identify the antonym that is the opposite of the given keyword. Children earn pearls when they drag the correct bubble word to the enchanted clam. Developed in association with the Virginia Department of Education.

Preposition Builder

Price: $7.99
Grade level: K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary
Device: iPad

PrepositionBuilder helps students learn the correct use of prepositions and learn how prepositions can change the meaning of a sentence. During play, the student is presented an image and must drag a preposition to complete a sentence about the image. If the student chooses the wrong answer, the image and sentence change to show the student the proper use of the preposition they chose and how it changes the image. Once a student completes a level they unlock a short animation that is part of a larger story. They must complete all the levels to see the entire story.

Same Meaning Magic

Price: $0.99
Grade level: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary, Comprehension
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

In Same Meaning Magic students help Luna and Leo, young magicians at magic school, toss word stones into the wishing well to earn gold coins and jewels by choosing the best synonym. Developed in association with the Virginia Department of Education.

Same Sound Spellbound

Price: $0.99
Grade level: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary, Comprehension
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Same Sound Spellbound is an adventure designed to help the player understand homophones (words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings, such as "bee" and "be"). Luna and Leo, young magicians at Magic School, must use their spell book to bring animal statues to life. In the game, students must correctly identify the homophone which best completes the puzzle sentence, in a given time. If the word is correct, the animal statue comes to life. If it's incorrect, the statue crumbles. Developed in association with the Virginia Department of Education.

Spelling Bee

Price: $0.99
Grade level: 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Skill: Vocabulary, Spelling
Device: Android, Other

Spelling Bee teaches and tests kids on spelling and vocabulary word skills. After studying a wordlist, children are presented with a definition and an audio prompt of the word. Quiz options include the ability to choose the length (5, 10, or 20 words), level of difficulty (beginner, easy, medium, hard), and whether the quiz should be timed.

The Opposites

Price: Free
Grade level: 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

The Opposites app helps children learn vocabulary and the corresponding antonyms by challenging them to match up pairs of opposing words in increasingly difficult levels. The game also helps children understand the importance of word context, and is an opportunity for them to think about how the words they use oppose other words. The Opposites consists of 10 different levels, each stage with a corresponding level of vocabulary. The app also offers a dictionary option that provides definitions and antonyms in a kid-friendly format.

Word SLapPs Vocabulary

Price: $4.99
Grade level: K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary
Device: iPad

Word SLapPs is used to teach vocabulary words specific to your child's world by allowing you to upload your own pictures and voice! You can also save your images into customizable categories and record questions to go along with them.

Word Sort

Price: $1.99
Grade level: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 4th and above
Skill: Vocabulary
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Word Sort is a practical way to practice parts of speech. Children sort words and phrases by parts of speech before time runs out. The information screen for each part of speech describes each in an informative way. There are three levels to Word Sort, each with a different number of words and phrases to sort at a time. The three difficulty levels allow play by both kids and adults.

Wurdle

Price: $1.99
Grade level: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
Skill: Vocabulary, Spelling
Device: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Wurdle, is a crossword style game that helps build reading and spelling skills. The object is to find and trace as many words as possible before the time runs out. The default letter grid size of 4x4 works well for beginners but those wanting a challenge can play on larger boards — up to 8x8. There is also the option of playing a timed or untimed game.

Sign up for our free newsletters about reading

Our Literacy Blogs

Dr. Joanne Meier
Dr. Joanne Meier
February 14, 2014
Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.
"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan