Ten Apps to Support Literary Skills

By Guest Blogger Carrie Wood

Here are 10 apps I have used with iPads that foster an early development of language skills required in Common Core and also work well with our ESL students. Use these apps on iPads in Daily 5 stations, guided reading, one-on-one conferring, ESL tutoring, intervention, writing workshop and independent learning. All apps below can be found on iTunes.

In the following examples, students are engaged to interact visually, tactically and with sound or music for learning critical Common Core skills.

TOP TEN APPS, Free to $3

  1. Little Speller: FREE
    Narrator speaks the name of the object, student manipulates the letters and is reinforced with sound. The plain background minimizes distraction. Great for ESL students learning basic names of items in their class and home environments.
  2. Kids Writing Pad: $2.99
    Students are given a tool to write without the hindrance of poor motor control. The option for plain background is great for students that haven’t leaned to “write” on the line, a common reason for students to be reluctant writers. Next step “paper” with large lines and use of red mid line helps too. Gradual progress to lined paper with narrow space and colored lines. Able to save and pick up the next day, download and print.
  3. Show Me-Interactive White Board : FREE
    Like a white board- draw, write, sketch with colored pens. Teachers can create customized lesson, record voice, use color and animation. Great for ESL students. Student writing or teacher created lessons can be emailed to parent for homework help-great for ESL parents. Offers peer collaboration,ability to store work, download and print. Great for homework explanations-“flipped classroom.” There are many good reasons to use this app in a writing workshop!
  4. Sound Phonics: FREE
    Grouped by sound features (Unit 1, step 1) PreK/K. Able to trace letters, listen, speak and record onset/rime Simple engaging graphics. Great for ESL students.
  5. Sock Puppets: FREE
    Love the collaborative feature, students work in partners or ESL teacher & student; can share with class when finished. Student can build a conversation based on choosing a setting and “sock” character of choice Students can take turns to record their part, play back like a puppet show. Choose alternative settings/characters, show how setting influences story (conversation). Allows saving and recording of progress.
  6. “Flip-Flop” Story by CJ educations: FREE
    Grades 1-2
    Highlighted text as story is read to student. Student turns pages, reinforcing early book handling behaviors. Offers button to find favorite pages for rereading or using text to discuss story elements with peer or teacher. Great for ESL students.
  7. Kids learning-photo touch concepts: $0.99
  8. Early concepts like above/below, less/more, same/different. Graphics attractive, simple, engaging. Students touch the object matching the narrator’s spoken direction. Great for ESL understandings.
  9. Tense Builder: FREE
    Reinforces subject verb agreement/tense by highlighting the text in two different colors. Students see it, hear it, and touch to interact with the practice portion. Great for ESL students.
  10. Phone 4 Kids: FREE
    PreK/K level to reinforce basic concepts. I like it for the number pad to allow practice for phone numbers and student id numbers. The “texting” feature allows for practicing keyboard skills and short dialogues. Great for ESL students
  11. Magnetic ABC: FREE K-3
    I love this for word study and recommend teacher observation/support for optimal learning. Use words from word wall, grade level words, guided lessons, LLI word work with consonant clusters, digraphs, prefix and word endings. Use for spelling practice games or spelling bees. Much better than getting magnetic boards and letters ready for word building-teachers and students love it! Can change the background, which is great for kids who have issues with black on white; it even has holiday-themed backgrounds.

Enjoy using these educational apps with your students!

Carrie Wood has 25 years' teaching experience and is the Literacy Trainer/Curriculum Coach K-8 for Ontario Local Schools, Ontario Ohio. Contact her at wood.carrie@ontarioschools.org.