Singing a song to learn the alphabet is so turn of the century. If you want your preschooler to become immersed in their LMNOs, introduce them to a few of these spelling apps for smartphones and tablets. These spelling and reading games are about more than just restating that B is for buh, buh, ball. They will guide your kid through handwriting skills by tracing letters, put those letters into context (sometimes via weird animations), and turn those words into pictures they can recognize. Here are the best reading apps that will have your 3-year-old saying, “Now I know my ABCs.”
Tiggly Words ($30)Ages: 4-8
Imagine taking those Hooked On Phonics books you grew up on and throwing them into a roaring fire. Don’t cry, this is a better, more interactive way. Parents get to control the difficulty (there’s a cursive option — like anyone will ever use that again) and visual and audio prompts help kids do everything from tracing to sounding out words. Sorry phonics, looks like you were useful after all.
Yes, A is for apple, but it’s also for antlers, arch, and amble. This reading app literally morphs the letters into each word that pops up on screen (and it’s not all lame go-tos — who else thinks that D is for dawn?) Preschoolers will be mesmerized by the fact C becomes a cone that turns into a siren on a car driven by a caterpillar. Actually, so will you.
For your little MINI Cooper (and if your kid’s name is Cooper, even better), this is one reading game about cars, trucks, and things that go that will teach them something. Words take on various modes of transportation, and even come with their own version of Uber Facts about the vehicles they see. It also links to related, kid-safe videos. Because even adults need to be wary of taking a wrong turn on YouTube.
$2.99 (iOS) Ages: 3+
Dr. Seuss ABC
You can play it on a box. You can play it in your socks. You can play it in a house. You can play it with a mouse (although you shouldn’t expect too much from a rodent). This reading app drops letters into words, and shows them, via Seuss-y visuals what those words mean. Not only does your child know not to hop on pop, but they’ll know how to spell it.
Interactive Alphabet ABCs
This reading app is for younger kids. Fair warning, it does sing the alphabet song. (Listen, you knew one of them had to.) Each letter is read aloud and presented with a flashcard for a visual cue. Speaking of which, why is apple always the go-to for A? What do they have against Aardvarks?
$2.99 (iOS) Ages: 3+
Instead of sounding it out, this reading app has you build it out with a puzzle. There are 3 levels of difficulty depending on your kid’s age. It will automatically make sure they piece together the word they were supposed to — because nothing is worse than a frustrated child smashing a $400 piece of electronics because they can’t spell antidisestablishmenterrianism.
$1.99 (iOS) Ages: 2-6
Intro to Letters by Montessorium
Siri is great for things like setting timers or converting meters to feet, but sometimes you want a familiar voice teaching you important educational milestones. Intro to Letters lets the little ones do the talking and the listening. After they successfully trace the word they can record their own voices sounding it out. Next step: top-rated podcast on iTunes.
$4.99 (iOS) Ages: 4+
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