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Chester W. Barrows School Library: Free Apps for Literacy

Free Literacy Apps Recommended by Reading Rockets

The following apps have been reviewed and recommended by Reading Rockets.  The price (free) is current as of 2/6/2014.

Simplex Spelling with Reverse Phonics: Lite

Price: Free
Grade Level: Pre-K-and Up
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Simplex Spelling Lite is designed to improve spelling and reading skills in a fun and interactive way by using "reverse phonics." Simplex Spelling Lite contains over 50 high frequency English words; it also enables students to build on each word, which goes above and beyond the sheer memorization of words. Simplex Spelling Lite enhances understanding in a variety of students as it appeals to audio, visual and tactile learners. It is a great tool to have for kids learning to spell, remedial students, or those learning English as a second language.

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Price: Free
Grade Level: 2nd-4th
Device: iPad

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.

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Mad Libs

Price: Free
Grade Level: K-5th
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. 

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Professor Garfield Fact or Opinion

Price: Free
Grade Level: K-2
Skill: Fact & opinion
Device: iPad

Professor Garfield Fact or Opinion is part story, part game, and part online safety lesson. When Garfield's friend receives an "F" on his report about goats for using opinions instead of facts, Professor Garfield steps in to explain the differences between a fact and an opinion (particularly with regard to the Internet), how to read with a questioning mind, and how a fact can be verified. Developed by the Virginia Department of Education.

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The Electric Company Wordball

Grade Level: K - 4
Price: Free
Device: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

The Electric Company Wordball is a phonics game that integrates video clips from the TV show to teach reading and spelling. The game consists of two parts: watching a video about a letter sound or letter combination and tapping the "wordballs" with the featured letter or letter combination; then using the collected wordballs to complete words as they move across the screen. The object of the app is to teach lessons about phonics, reading, and spelling. For more information read Common Sense Media's review of Wordball.

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Price: Free
Grade Level: K-5
Skill: Story Planning
Device: iPad

Toontastic is a creative learning tool that empowers kids to draw, animate, and share their own stories through imaginative play. Toontastic teaches key storytelling principles. Children are walked through creating the story arc: setup, conflict, challenge, climax, or resolution. Creating a story is as easy as putting on a puppet show — children simply press the record button, move the characters onscreen, and tell their stories. Once they're're done, Toontastic will play back their animation and voice as a cartoon for them to share with friends and family. For more information watch Toontastic in action.

View in iTunes >

The above descriptions are provided by Reading Rockets Educational Literacy Apps,

accessed February 6, 2014

Subject Guide

Sue Rose's picture
Sue Rose
Chester W. Barrows School
9 Beachmont Avenue
Cranston, RI 02905

8 Apps to Introduce Reading By Graphite by Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media’s service Graphite, which offers independent ratings and reviews on learning apps and websites, has compiled this list of its top apps for introducing reading. For complete reviews, and for each app’s "Learning Rating," visit the Graphite website.



Learn with Homer
Price:  Free
Concepts:  Expression, creation, thinking critically, self-reflection
Grade Levels:  Pre-K to 1
Loaded with content,Learn with Homer keeps ages 3 to 6 engaged in activities where they can read or listen to stories; draw,;and record voices, plays songs and more. Phonic exercises help kids learn letter sounds, word recognition and comprehension. Read the full review.


Phonics Genius
Price:  Free
Concepts: Memorization, logic
Grade Levels:  K-5
Phonics Genius is a flashcard-style app that helps kids learn letter sounds and match them to words. Kids practice pronunciation and can record sight words in a library to playback their answers. Customizable features allow teachers to create and categorize lessons. Read the full review.


Price:  Free
Concepts:  Solving puzzles, following directions
Grade levels:  2-6
News-2-You brings social studies, current events, and other newsy tidbits to kids with special needs as well as beginning readers. The symbols-based and voice-supported articles make reading – and the news world – accessible and adjustable to readers of varying abilities.Read the full review.