Phonics instruction helps children learn the relationships between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language. Children are taught, for example, that the letter ‘n’ represents the sound /n/, and that it is the first letter in words such as nose, nice, and new. We've found great apps that give kids practice with basic phonics skills, including recognizing the letters of the alphabet, learning uppercase and lowercase letters, alphabet matching, and word building. These apps help kids work on listening skills while also practicing spelling and building their vocabulary.
Many of the reviews we link to are from Common Sense Education, a trusted resource for learning about apps and other edtech tools.
Avokiddo ABC Ride continues the adventures of the sibling team Beck and Bo, this time discovering letters. Parents can customize kids' experience in the "for parents" section, choosing uppercase or lowercase letters, letter name or phonics sound, including word spelling or not, presenting letters in random order or alphabet order, and turning off narration and background music. Kids can also choose a specific letter to discover. With minimal instructions, kids discover the fun and learning on their own.
ABCmouse—Early Learning Academy
ABCmouse—Early Learning Academy is the companion app to the subscription-based ABCmouse.com. Teachers can sign up for a free account online and use the same login for the app. Kids explore different activities in a virtual world. They can go directly to the day’s featured activity or work through a learning path that features five activities for their level, which can be customized by the teacher. Kids can learn letter and number skills as well as animal facts through simple games, books, puzzles, and coloring pages.
Articulation Station provides speech professionals, teachers, and parents with ways to help kids improve pronunciation and articulation. Using very specific exercises, games, and stories that focus on just one letter sound for 22 English language sounds, this app can improve pronunciation and understanding of how letter sounds form words. With more than 1,000 target words, kids will likely not get bored with this app. Adults have easy ways to track kids' progress and can track up to six kids at once. Note: To get full use of this app, you have to purchase the Pro version or buy individual letters with an in-app purchase option.
A powerful educational tool for teachers and parents working with dyslexic learners or anyone else still learning the foundations of blending sounds (phonics) and the multisyllabic rules of English. Create a deck of phonemes that can be substituted and manipulated to create various kinds of blending activities. The decks enable users to practice decoding simple words, and multisyllabic words, too.
Bob Books Reading Magic #1
Bob Books Reading Magic #1 is an educational app that will teach your young children early phonics. This app teaches the sounds that letters make and how to combine them to make short words. Drag the letters for the given word to the proper place below the picture, while the app sounds out the letters and reads the word aloud. Children's efforts will be rewarded when the black and white screen transforms to color and the drawings become animated.
Bob Books Reading Magic #2
Bob Books Reading Magic #2 is an interactive book app that uses spelling, repetition, and phonics to build beginning reading skills. Each 12-page book can be played at 4 different difficulty levels — beginning readers drag and drop letters to match words while the app sounds out the letters and reads the word aloud, more advanced readers select letters on their own. Children's efforts are rewarded when the black and white illustration fill with color and become animated.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC
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.
Duck Duck Moose Reading
Go on a phonics adventure in the zoo! An award-winning app based on Common Core State Standards, Duck Duck Moose Reading teaches phonics and reading skills in a fun zoo-themed adventure. With word and letter activities, kids learn by playing with flamingos, monkeys, lions and more. Keep track of progress through a new parent reporting tool.
Duck Duck Moose Word Wagon
Word Wagon helps kids learn about letters, phonics, and spelling with Word Wagon. Parents and kids can set it to one of four progressively harder levels: letters, phonics, and spelling of short and long words and also to display either upper- or lowercase letters. In the first two levels, kids can match the letters to form the words; in the latter two levels, there is no visual cue, and kids have to arrange the spelling of the word on their own. There is also a nice variety of word topics such as animals and food to choose from.
Letters transform into living toys that voice their names. Children quickly learn that one letter works with others to build words and sentences. Another app in the series, Endless Spanish, is ideal spelling practice for both native English and Spanish speakers.
FirstWords Deluxe helps kids learn to spell words in five categories with FirstWords Deluxe: Animals, At Home, Colors, Shapes, and Vehicles. Parents can add more categories with in-app purchases. Touching the picture reveals the name of the object. As kids drag and drop letters into boxes to spell the object featured, they can practice sounding out letters with the phonics feature or hear the actual letter names as they're placed — or go all out and turn off the sound. Kids get good spelling practice while working on listening skills and building their vocabulary.
Homer: Learn to Read
A learn-to-read app incorporates drawing, voice recording, stories, songs, and more, along with more traditional phonics exercises. Features 1,000+ lessons on phonics, sight words, and ABCs, and ffers 200+ stories that build vocabulary. Encourages kids to think critically about what they've read or listened to through answering questions.
Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read
This app is based on the award-winning Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read system, and teaches Concepts of Print, Phonological Awareness, High-Frequency Words, Letter-Sound Correspondence, and more. Note: The app offers a 7-day free trial, and unless cancelled can be converted to a subscription-based program, with monthly, yearly and lifetime subscriptions.
Monkey Word School Adventure
Monkey Word School Adventure is an early-reading app for preschoolers and young elementary-school-age kids, designed for kids who are ready to start recognizing letters and words.
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.
Montessori Words and Phonics
Montessori Words helps kids learn and understand two fundamental concepts. First, the app helps kids understand that words are made up of sounds or phonemes (phonemic awareness). For each word, your kids can touch the empty rectangles where letters must be dragged to complete the word, and hear the sound the corresponding letter produces. Secondly, the app helps kids memorize the phonics associated with letters by providing a phonics-enabled alphabet where kids can touch each letter and hear the associated phonic.
Planet Lettra is an app for experimenting with word building and hearing what you've made. Children arrange a set of letter blocks any way they want and hear what they've built. Blocks are designed to guide your child in building the most important sight words for reading fluency and exposure to important letter blends.
PocketPhonics uses a phoneme-centered approach to teaching kids to read. When kids see a phoneme, they say it, write it, and then use it in a word. When they've completed a packet of phonemes and word constructions, they get a number of stars (from one to three) based on how well they traced the letters and how many mistakes they made choosing phonemes to form the words. Teachers can set up multiple accounts for individual students and sign up to receive progress reports for each.
PocketPhonics Stories is a comprehensive phonics program to teach kids to read. It's designed for multiple kids, so it's great for a classroom or family with more than one emerging reader. Kids master a set of letter sounds, a mix of vowels and consonants, and then read books built around those sounds. Parents can view reports of achild's progress, and when kids complete a lesson, and you can print a certificate.
Simplex Spelling Light
Simplex Spelling Light is designed to improve spelling and reading skills in a fun and interactive way by using "reverse phonics." The app contains over 50 high-frequency English words; it also enables students to build on each word, which goes above and beyond memorization of words. It can be a helpful tool for kids learning to spell, students who need additional support, or those learning English as a second language.
Sortegories features nine activities that target essential literacy skills and concepts in a web-based practice setting. Multiple layers of word knowledge — phonemic, phonological, semantic, morphological, and syntactic — are woven together to give kids the chance to apply reading practice. Sortegories is for kids who need practice with phonics, vocabulary (word meaning), and syntax (phrase and sentence meaning) to become fluent readers and comprehenders. A variety of subscription plans are available.
Starfall ABCs lets children interact with letters, showing them each letter as both upper and lowercase, and then shows how the letters are used in sentences. Children can also play letter games, such as word mazes.
Starfall Learn to Read
Starfall Learn to Read is an app version of the popular learn-to-read website, Starfall. The app has the same content as the "Learn to Read" section of the site. There are 15 mini-books, each focusing on a specific vowel, along with videos and activities to enhance literacy learning. As with other Starfall apps, the thorough and careful design keeps kids focused on learning.
Wonster Words: Spelling with ABC and Phonics uses entertaining, silly videos to introduce young readers to pattern words and word families by having them match letters to their outlines to spell the words on the list. Each list contains eight words that have the same ending pattern or a matching phonic element such as th, sh or ch sounds.
Word Wizards for Kids
Word Wizards utilizes natural sounding text-to-speech voices to help kids learn word building and spelling. Movable Alphabet help kids hear the text they wrote, as well as verify spelling using the built-in spell checker. This app has the ability to turn whatever words kids create — even words that do not exist — into spoken words. This app also consists of the most frequently used words, body parts, family members, and more.
Customizable app that helps kids practice tracing letters, numbers, and words while learning letter names and phonetic sounds.