5 Best Educational Reading Apps for Little Kids
Screen time for little ones is controversial, I know. I don’t really see a problem with limited time playing an educational game on the iPad. We have always allowed our kids to play on the iPad every so often and if I’m being honest here — I think its great! It’s a totally quiet and mess-free way to let the kids explore letters, reading, and even math concepts! I’ll allow my kids to have a bit of screen time every once in a while either while I’m rocking the baby for nap, cooking dinner, or sometimes even while we are out shopping (it can be a real life-saver in a store as many of these games are on my iPhone)!
All that being said, not all “educational” games are created equal. I’ve seen many games that claim to be “educational” that are actually far from it. At least in my own opinion. Perhaps I have high standards when it comes to what I allow my kids to have access to. I always test out the app before my kids and often will sit next to them and play with them.
Out of all the apps I’ve looked into for the past 3 or 4 years, these are my favorite for reading. Disclaimer: I received 3 months of reading eggs free and was compensated for my time. This post may also contain affiliate links. As always, all my opinions are my own. Please read my full disclosure policy
Top 5 Educational Reading Apps for Little Kids
I was really excited to try out Reading Eggs! My good friend and co-host for our podcast, Homeschooling in the North Woods, (Didn’t know I had a podcast? Go check it out!) has been using Reading Eggs for 6 or 7 YEARS! Also, they just launched Reading Eggs Junior which is perfect for my younger son or kids ages 2-4! If you haven’t heard of Reading Eggs, they are a multi-award winning online reading program for children aged 3–13. Reading Eggs is designed to progress at the child’s pace with an understanding that every child learns differently. With an easy to use parent dashboard, the program allows parents to track their child’s progress and access detailed reports on how many lessons they have completed, books they have read, their estimated reading age, and quiz scores.
One feature I thought was SUPER cool was that my 5 year old (who is an excellent reader) was able to take a placement quiz to see where he was before he starting playing. Why is that so cool? because he was able to skip to map 10 (out of 12) or lesson 93 (out of 120) This means he wasn’t bored playing through stuff he already knows. Not only that, but because he is so close to finishing Reading Eggs’ lessons, we can move up to Reading Eggspress.
Reading Eggs is more than an app because it’s a website too! I prefer to download the free app then log in with my information because I think the iPad is easier for little kids. My son did have fun playing with the mouse and keyboard on the computer just as well, though.
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I should also mention that Reading Eggs also has something called MathSeeds that is a really fun way to learn math concepts but that could be a whole other post 😉
Endless Alphabet was one of the first apps we let our first child play. He loved it and I loved it. From there we went through all the Endless games (Endless WordPlay, Endless Reading , Endless Numbers, etc. — they also have endless Spanish we haven’t tried). I love how Endless Alphabet teaches phonetics and helps build vocabulary in a really fun way.
Here’s the thing, these are SIMPLE games but that’s the beauty of it. Basically they give you a word, like FAMISHED (really one of the words) then the kids drag the letters like a puzzle to spell it. When the touch on the letter to drag it to its spot they hear the phonetic sound in a really cute and fun way, with each letter having its own personality (which really helps with the recognition or memorization). Once the word is spelled it shows a short 30 second or so video that helps define the word while they tell you the definition . Famished means you are really REALLY hungry.
Both my boys will choose these games first on the iPad they both still love them all. At age 2, my younger son is really into endless numbers (not reading related) and Endless Alphabet. At 5, my older son LOVES Endless Wordplay — the robot in the game always makes him laugh but he will still play the other Endless games.
Hooked on Phonics
As you know, I’m a BIG fan of Hooked on Phonics, it’s the curriculum we use for our reading. I was super excited when I found out that they put out an app. Now, it’s PRICEY, BUT… I still really like it because for us, we are able to use it in conjunction with our lessons. It’s just a fun way to incorporate our lessons on the go.
Learn with Homer
Wiggly Ears Cheers (one of the sayings from the app)! Learn with Homer is full of positive feedback and is a beautiful word for kids to learn to read. I will tell you I did end up deleting this app because there were too many in-app purchases, but it’s a free app so you get what you pay for I guess…I really liked everything (except the in-app purchases) about Learn with Homer, it incorporates drawing, voice recording, stories, songs, and more, along with more traditional phonics exercises. A beautiful map on the main page presents all of the options kids can explore: Learn to Read, Story Time, Discover the World, and Homer’s Clubhouse.
This is one of my 5 year olds favorite apps! But, then again he is the reader. Hehe. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically Netflix for children’s books! It’s an app (can also use it on the computer) that gives you access to over 20,000 books for kids ages 12 and under. There are audio books and read-to-me books as well. SO MUCH GOOD STUFF! It’s only $4.99 a month and you can create up to 4 reader profiles (which actually can be a bummer because some homeschooling families have more than 4 kids) but I have read that the company is working on and changing that.