It has been 6 months since I last brought you our favourite app recommendations, and in that time we have been busy discovering lots more so I thought it was about time that I brought you our new recommendations of 10 great kids apps! Many of the apps in the previous post we are still using and enjoying, so do check out that list too if you missed it the first time around. This time I have split the apps into literacy, numeracy, and play and imagination categories.
I recently shared a post with reviews of over 10 resources to help children with their reading. They are primarily paid services or products, and I do recommend all the products included in that post. I believe it’s definitely worth investing in educational products and services, as anything towards the children’s education and development is money well spent!
However, I did promise that I would share some free literacy activities and literacy games here on the blog too. So here’s a selection, not just posts from me but also from fellow parenting bloggers with some of the best fun and free literacy activities for kids. These are all activities which can be done at home to help encourage kids interest in letters, reading and writing. I’ve also included some posts which are not activities but are really useful resources for children’s literacy.
Recently we have been reviewing lots of literacy resources. It’s important to support children’s reading at home. It’s hard for children to get enough one to one time and attention in school in a class of 30 so I am always interested in different ways to encourage reading at home, to help my kids get in more practise in fun ways.
Here are some of the products and ideas we have been impressed with. Hopefully some of these recommendations will suit you too! These are predominantly for infant school aged children (4-7 years). I will do another post with the younger ideas some time soon!
Grandma’s Trunk is a fun 5 in 1 set of literacy games from Learning Resources. This set is so beautifully made, and Mr Z enjoyed playing it with me.
Recently we have been reviewing lots of the best literacy products around for children. One of the great products Mr Z tried out is the Hot Dots High Frequency Words Card Set from Learning Resources.
This is the first time we have tried a Hot Dots product, and Mr Z really enjoyed working with it.
Learning to read is so much more than just learning to decipher the sounds on the page. It’s always good to talk about the books that you have read with your children to make sure they have understood what has happened in the story, and encourage them to think a little deeper.
This week we have been reading “Go to Sleep or I Let Loose the Leopard” by Steve Cole.
Throughout January we have been reviewing lots of literacy based products and services on the blog. Reading Chest is proving to be one of our favourites!
Reading Chest is a reading book subscription service. This fits in perfectly with busy lifestyles and supplements school reading books perfectly.
By In The Playroom in Education, Other Reviews, Toy Reviews 30 Comments Tags: childrens literacy, electronic learning toy, help your child learn to read, helping with reading at home, interactive books, leapfrog leapreader, leapfrog reading systems, learning to read, literacy
Lately on the blog, we’ve been looking at different products to help with children’s literacy. The LeapFrog LeapReader is one that I was really interested in trying out with the boys.
The LeapReader is an electronic reading and writing system in the form of pen which is compatible with a wide selection of books. The LeapReader interacts with the books when your child places the tip of the pen down onto certain parts of the page, this allows the child to get a hint or prompt on words they are finding difficult as they can touch those words and hear them read. It’s great for very early readers as they will need more support and can get it easily through the LeapReader which should help to feel less frustrated with their reading. More
[Keep Reading to the end for your FREE trial codes]
I have been using Reading Eggs with Z since he was about 3 and a half. He is now 5 and a half and has finished the Reading Eggs programme, but still working his way through some of the extra Skills Banks and will be moving on to Reading Eggspress. T (4) is now starting towards the beginning of the Reading Eggs Maps. So, although I was asked by Reading Eggs to review their Reading programme on the blog it’s by no means a first impressions review. We have been using Reading Eggs for 2 years, and I can foresee us still using it many years into the future as R (2) will be starting it up in another year or so too!
Since the first time I started Reading Eggs with Z, I was really impressed with it. I felt that compared to the phonics he learned in nursery, which was really just focusing on letter sounds and nothing else, Reading Eggs added a lot of fun and it also allows the children to get started on reading words almost as soon as they begin, and sentences soon after. This approach gives them so much more confidence, from my experience. Z could quickly see a lot of benefit from what he was learning, as he was putting it into action with Reading Eggs. Of course phonics and letter sounds have their place, and these are covered extensively in Reading Eggs too – but by including words and sentences in the lessons this gives it more context. All of the phonics sounds and all of the common sight words are covered by the end of the Reading Eggs programme.
There are 12 Maps within Reading Eggs, giving a total of 120 lessons overall. Each lesson has around 10 segments (this does vary, for example some are 9 some are 11 and so on) which will always include 1 book along with a variety of games to reinforce the letters, sounds, words or topics covered in that lesson.
Here’s an example of the book from the first lesson, which reinforces everything about the letter M
The lesson starts with introducing Sam, the first of many fun characters who will help your child through the lessons, and then asks the child to click on the letter M as it keeps appearing on the page. They are then asked to choose the correct letter (M) when shown a selection of 3 letters. They will then go on to listen to words and correctly choose which one starts with the letter M. This is all great for beginners and I feel it gave Z a really firm grasp of the letters going through them in this way.
T is currently at these beginning stages and really enjoys these activities. Each activity can be repeated as many times as your child needs, if they want to take a little longer to reinforce what they have learned. T has Autism and severe speech and language difficulties so it does take him longer to learn what other children may learn more easily. The letter recognition activities are great for him, and encouraging him to copy the sounds is also very good for his speech. Repeating isolated letter sounds is something he normally tends to resist, as he finds it boring – but he likes to do it with Reading Eggs!
Each of the first lessons introduces a new sound or letter and soon the children are able to read and make words. This is an example from the 2nd map – lesson 11.
For a child to be able to progress very quickly from a total beginner with no prior knowledge into these kind of activities, I think is really great. As it is all done via the computer or tablet (Reading Eggs is now iPad and Android tablet compatible) it is a lot of fun. My children are always interested in doing Reading Eggs, I don’t have to ask them to do the work they will ask me because they love it. They are always asking to do more one lesson, which is great as they are learning without me having to nag them or get into any conflict.
As the child progresses through the levels, they will be given short books to read and also work on their reading comprehension and general reading knowledge – like learning about verbs, nouns, compound words and more. This is an example of a book from the last map:
I would say that the books at the end of the programme are not massively challenging, compared to some of the reading scheme books available, as the texts are pretty short. They do cover all of the sounds and just reinforce everything that has been learned though so they are very good to reinforce and give your child extra confidence. The lessons also include a lot of reading comprehension so that extra element is there. You can feel secure that they would have learned everything very well, as it is all repeated and revised throughout the programme, so it gives them a brilliant foundation in reading.
As your child goes through the Reading Eggs Programme, you can log into the Parent Panel at any stage and see how they are getting on. The progress is shown like this:
As my child has completed the programme, you can see all the skills are filled in but while you are progressing through it will show how much they have learned and how much they have left to do. You can also see what scores they got in any lessons, games or quizzes they have been doing.
After completing the lessons, Z still wanted to continue with Reading Eggs and luckily there is still more content available after the lessons are done! You have the option to move on to Storyland and complete the story maps – either the Castle land or a Pirates land which will be available soon. This is more reading comprehension based but is less challenging than Reading Eggspress, so it is a good middle ground. Here’s a couple of example activities from Reading Eggs Storylands:
If your child is ready to move on from Reading Eggs, then the Reading Eggspress subscription is included in the same package. This includes texts at a more challenging level, helps to learn new vocabulary from the dictionary and more. Mr Z has done a couple of levels on it and I think this will be really great as he continues through primary school as it goes on to a more advanced level.
Here’s an example from one of the earlier levels:
Once he has gone a little further on Reading Eggspress I can give you some updates on how it’s going, but my first impressions of it are good and as I trust the Reading Eggs brand, I would be surprised if this was not just as good.
If you are wanting to focus on numeracy with your child as well as reading and comprehension, then Reading Eggs can also cater for that with their Mathseeds programme. Z was really eager to try this out as he loves maths so much, but unfortunately for him the level is too easy for his stage. I would love it if Reading Eggs produces something more advanced for maths – like the Reading Eggspress equivalent of Mathseed and I would have no hesitation subscribing to that for Z.
I did find Mathseed good for T as he is younger and still at a much more basic level with his maths so this will definitely benefit him as he moves through the lessons. He enjoyed the early lessons which had activities on counting and recognising the numbers and it is an ideal way for him to learn.
Mathseed is aimed at children from 3-6 and covers numbers, fractions, 2d and 3d shapes, time and more. It is all just as much fun as Reading Eggs with the same format of games and lesson maps.
As I don’t have any screen shots from Mathseeds you can take a look at this video to get an idea of it:
Reading Eggs also now have a wide selection of apps which will work on Apple or Android devices. I prefer using the full programmes but these are great as extras and it may be worth having a look to see what’s available.
I do really recommend any of the programmes from Reading Eggs and if you have not tried them before, it’s definitely worth giving it a go. The trial is no obligation and does not require you to sign up for paid access afterwards (although you may end up wanting to).
YOUR FREE TRIAL CODES:
These will give you 4 weeks instead of the regular 2 weeks free trial.
Reading Eggs 4 Weeks: UKB26RET
Mathseeds 4 Weeks: UKB26MST
- Visit www.readingeggs.co.uk and click on the ‘Parents Click here’ button
- Register your email address and create a password
- Activate your account and add your child
- Once set up is complete add your promotional codes (shown above) in the ‘Have a promo code?’ box located on your parent dashboard and click ‘redeem’
- No credit card is required for the trial
Wordsearch Junior is a brilliant game from Drumond Park. We have tried out a couple of Drumond Park games recently (Doh Nutters and Dinobite) and although all of them are great fun, this is my favourite so far. With 3 different levels of play there is hours and hours of fun here and I love how much learning is involved while they are playing.
Wordsearch Junior, as the name suggests, involves picking out certain words from amongst a grid of letters. This helps to sharpen up observation, concentration and spelling skills but as it is in a competitive game format none of that felt like work to the children!
The game includes a board with spinner, 4 sets of coloured counters, and 9 double sided game disks (so 18 disks overall!) The disks are split into Blue, Red, Green for varying levels of difficulty. This is great as the blue level is suitable for pre-readers who do not yet recognise their letters, and this made the game accessible for Mr T (nearly 4) as well as Mr Z. This blue level involves recognising patterns which is a useful skill to help littler ones at the start of their reading journey. Red is the next step up, where the word is written but with a picture at the front to give children a hint and make it much easier for them to manage, while still reinforcing the words and letters. The green level is for those who are able to read, and is the most like a traditional wordsearch. This is the level that Mr Z (5) plays if Mr T is not joining us in the game.
I think the recommended age of 4+ for this game is spot on, and if you got the game for a child of just 4 then they will get years of use out of it as they progress through the different stages!
The boys both really enjoyed the game and all the pieces are very good quality too. It is a well made game which feels like it will last really well. To read the full rules of the game you can get more info on the Drumond Park website and if you would like to win your own enter via the Rafflecopter below. It would be an ideal family game for over the Christmas holidays 🙂
a Rafflecopter giveaway