There are many concepts to conquer when you first learn to read. Within the educational app world, there are many apps that help with the reading readiness aspect of reading, however, there are not as many apps that help kids once they have already conquered intro-level reading. What makes this part of the learning process particularly difficult is teaching students the relationship between letters and sounds in order to master what is known as the alphabetic principle is essential for reading fluency. The alphabetic principle is the understanding that there is a predictable system and direct correlation between letter patterns and spoken decoding. In addition, the English language does not always follow the same rules. While the majority of our words prove phonetically correct around 84 percent of the time, rule-breaking words are within the top 25% of words that are used on a regular basis. Herein lies the problem in teaching reading, as some words cannot always be decoded using the same formula. There are numerous sophisticated processes that drive comprehension including inferential and deductive thought processes, observation, analogical reasoning, and reflection. Children need a strong foundation to build up to these higher level thinking skills in order to become strong readers. TWA went back to look at some of the most popular apps to help assist with this challenging task and have come up with this collection of apps to aid instruction for those already on the road to reading. Reading is essential - cultivate it!
The Sounding Out Machine - Assistive Reading Device by FizzBrain is a brilliant app and has been built specifically for decoding purposes. It helps children focus on hard words for them when reading, and then models/teaches them how to sound out difficult words. Children are able to isolate and enlarge a challenging word with the Word Window. Then, the app “models how to chunk the word into syllables and use phonics skills to blend the phonemes together and sound out the word. Children can use their own digital word card to practice and become independent.”
Pyxwise Software Inc. has many apps to help take decoding to the next level. Their apps focus on teaching literacy skills by breaking the complexity of the English language down into small manageable parts while providing sufficient scaffolding to help students master the phonological and phonemic awareness skills needed to become life-long readers and spellers.
Word Wizard by L'Escapadou - An exemplary app for multi-sensory, play-based learning of pre-literacy skills. This app has sophisticated text to speech capabilities used in conjunction with moveable alphabet tiles. This unique text to speech feature gives children the opportunity to play freely with letter sounds and with letter combinations, as well as to practice building spelling skills in a structured quiz mode. The developers are a homeschooling family, who have been inspired by the Montessori method. They have a strong belief that creativity is essential to a child’s development and well-being so, therefore, have incorporated that into all the apps they have developed. Word Wizard is a unique app that lets kids hear the sounds of letters and words using a talking movable alphabet. Featuring advanced text to speech capabilities, the app can pronounce and spell-check an unlimited number of original words.