8 Literacy Apps for the Little Ones

Posted In: All posts, Reading

Playful Learning: 8 Literacy Apps for the Little OnesI am thrilled to have Rebecca from Thirteen Red Shoes with us today to share a list of her favorite literacy apps for young children. Enjoy!

Mariah asked if I could put together another list of some applications, which I have been using with my eldest child Master R who is four years old. Master R is very interested in numbers so any math applications I have presented have been very engaging and he is always keen to explore. Literacy, specifically writing, is not as popular with my little one so it is an area in which I am always looking for new and innovative applications. Here are some of our favorite apps that we have discovered along the way that focus on developing literacy skills such as letter formation, story telling and phonics.

      1. The ABC series by Peapod Labs offers creative and fun ways to talk about the letter names. This is not phonics based, it focuses on the letter names. Each word is spelled out and offers a number of different interactions such as links to YouTube videos as well as multiple images of the word in focus. Once a letter has been visited and you have looked at the images, they appear on the home page so that you can see what you have explored. These apps have a great design layouts and are very informative! Being a teacher who focuses on phonics, it makes it a bit hard for me to only focus on letter names, but besides that, these apps are simply adorable. Master R loves ABC go little explorers. I would love to explore ABC Food and ABC Music as well—I think these would both be fantastic.
      2. Night & Day Studios has created the very clever iPhone app, My A-Z. On My A-Z you can manipulate the pages so that each letter of the alphabet is represented by a photo you have—becoming a true family alphabet. You can have “D” for Dada, “p” for pup, “M” for Mamita and “b” for baby. Whatever you like! I cannot wait to take the photos. Actually, I may do this activity with Master R taking the photos to match the letter sounds. He is not really up to this stage at all but it may be a nice starting point to tell him the sound and for him to go on a treasure hunt around the house to find something!  Hmmm… a little provocation for a rainy winter afternoon I think! Oh and you can record your own voice or your little one’s saying the words. This might also be a wonderful opportunity for me to sprinkle a few French words into his vocabulary as Master R is learning French at school this year.
      3. Here are two more provoking apps from the clever crew at Montessorium. These applications are both aimed at the early reader and writer, which is just where Master R is right now. The applications focus on listening to the sounds in words, as well as learning about letter formation. The Alpha Writer app is a bit difficult for Master R, as after choosing an image, you need to listen carefully to the sounds. This is a stage he is just getting to, however any child who is beginning to know the letter sounds and developing connections between sounds and letters would find this application to be such a wonderful tool.
      4. Intro to Letters is based on the Montessori activity known as sandpaper letters and involves the tracing of letters, sight and sound recognition.
      5. The Ani’mots application is all about learning how to spell animals names.  It is an animal crossword, which has three language options: Spanish, French and English, as well as three difficulty levels.  You can choose the animals to be used in the crossword as well as the backgrounds. I customized an easy version for Master R based around animals that spend at least part of their day in or on the water.  I love that you can customize for children’s interest such as mammals, reptiles, birds, or animals from a particular part of the world.
      6. The Land of Me  which I have talked about before on my blog is fantastic and now available as a free app for the iPad! Master R loves manipulating the scenes and altering the stories. One app, three heroes, and 27 stories! So very very charming and the characters voices are simply precious!
      7. Here is another amazing new application  from the Ministry of Letters. The song alone is engaging and I love that you can write a word and hear the letters make their sounds or simply enjoy the little sounds in this adorable singing alphabet. The only problem with The Singing Alphabet is that you have to be very creative and only write words without letter repeats. I really wanted to be able to write the little ones names and hear them sung but unfortunately all of our names, well not the husbands, have letter repeats so therefore we cannot spell out our name and hear the little characters make their sounds. But we can simply touch on the letters and hear them sing! Adorable and a bargain! The Ministry of Letters also created the lovely picture book Operation Alphabet.
      8. And if you your little writer need to practice his handwriting, there is Australian Handwriting. There are many other handwriting options but to see the Australian script included is rare so this is wonderful. Master R is learning to write and I would like him to learn correct form, from the beginning as it simply makes handwriting so much easier.  This application lets you completely manipulate the instructions given as well as customizing to include the spelling of family names. You can include images, or even common sight words that your little one may be exposed to in both reading and writing. We recently added the names associated with volcanoes, as this is an area of interest both at school and at home at the moment.

I am certain that there are many more applications out there that would be perfect for this early writer and reader stage. If you have any suggestions please let us know! For my favorite math apps, be sure to check out my post on 10 Math Apps for the Little Ones.



Rebecca has a love for travel, the outdoors, and picture books, and enjoys spending her time sourcing delightful educational experiences to share with her two sons.With a background in early childhood and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Tasmania, Rebecca teaches at a private all girls school in Australia. Her passion for the philosophies of Reggio Emilia and Maria Montessori lead Rebecca to Playful Learning many years ago when she first enrolled in the online Playful Learning Spaces workshop.  She shortly became a regular contributor, mainly focusing on children’s literature. Rebecca is currently working on a modern day primer for children, called Alphabet Town under the label bec + georg.



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  1. We’ve only just got our ipad and I am busy loading it up with lots of goodies for our kids. We have a toddler a preschooler and 8 year old twins who need some help with letter formation so this list is fab, thanks!

  2. I am glad you like this list.  I am in the process of searching for some more letter formation apps as well as science and art/creativity applications, so watch this space!

  3. Brilliant!  There are so many apps out there (of varying quality) it’s great to have a signpost in the right direction.  I’ll be previewing all of these directly :  )

  4. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for an android smart phone.  We don’t have an iPad but I allow my little one to play apps on my android phone.

  5. Do you know if there is a way in My A-Z to make the personalized slides the main ones without deleting the originals? I want the whole alphabet to show his slides, not a mixture. Thanks!

  6. Endless Alphabet is one of our favorites, didn’t make it on this list so thought I’d add! Has lots of great vocabulary and the animations are simply adorable, my children love it!

  7. Hi Rebecca: I enjoy your blog and suggestions. Might I suggest you check out some of the PBS learning apps? They are tested, feature beloved PBS characters and many of them are free. Check them out here: pbskids.org/apps …. thanks!

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