Apps I Love for Learning Letters & Practicing Letters
This list of apps focuses on letter identification and formation. Some of the apps have letter sound activities embedded in them, but the focus here is on knowing the letters and practicing writing the letters. One of my all-time favorite apps is Letter School. This app is excellent and I am not kidding you, it was always one of my kindergartners' faves, as well! Engaging letter formation practice that they LOVE. I also like how some of the other apps on this list allow students to practice not only letters, but their names and some sight words, as well.
When I assign one of these apps, either in a 1:1 setting or during centers, I always give my students specific tasks. I usually provide a list of 5 tasks and tell them they need to pick at least 3. The tasks are always targeted to that week's learning objective, for example, in Letter School I give them certain letters to practice depending on what we are learning that week. They know that they can't spend their whole time in Letter School ... they need to practice those letters and then move to their next task. This keeps them focused on the objective. I used pictures of the app icons and stuck them to my whiteboard using magnets. This allowed me to add the additional info (like letters I wanted them to work on) and easily move the icons around. You can read more and see examples of how this looked if you scroll to the bottom of this blog post.
My kindergartners used Kidblog as a digital portfolio, so they learned to take screen shots of their work and post to their blogs before moving on to the next task. This provided an accountability piece - I could go back and look at their blog and see if they were on task or not. It also allowed parents to see what they were working on, and became a good assessment tool, as well. During report card time, I would often scroll through my students' blogs to see the work they had done and progress they were making. If you're looking for an awesome free option, I recommend Seesaw, which allows your students to create digital learning journals.
Some of the apps on this list are great for use during Process Spelling time. I use Doodle Buddy, Paint Sparkles and Educreations (all FREE!) interchangeably for this task. Instead of students working on whiteboards, they use one of these apps to participate in the Process Spelling lesson. When I only had a few iPads in my kindergarten, I rotated students so that each day a few of them were able to use the iPads for this task while the other kids were using traditional whiteboards. They loved this!
If you're able, I think it's great to purchase styluses to use with the iPads when they are practicing letter formation. The students are then writing and tracing using a traditional pen-holding technique, and not just writing with their finger. I used AppCrayons in my classroom, and education pricing is available. I have also used these styluses and have liked them, and I have gotten good feedback on these styluses, particularly due to the replaceable tips. You can buy some styluses very inexpensively, like these, but many teachers report that they don't last very long.
Apps I Love for Letter Sounds & Word Work
This next collection is apps that I would use for letter sounds or word work practice. Some are repeats from the ABC apps above, some are new. These work well whole group in a 1:1 or 2:1 setting, or in centers. As I mentioned above, I would be sure to provide specific tasks, depending on my objective and curricular needs. Many of these apps allow you to customize the words you are working on, so you may enter your current spelling words or sight words.
Apps that Combine Literacy & Math
My favorite apps that combine a variety of math and literacy learning skills are the Teach Me apps. You will enter each individual student as a player, so you can track their progress and they can accumulate coins to "buy" things in the Teach Me store. They love this! You can also differentiate by utilizing the different grade level apps - in my kindergarten class, I had Teach Me: Toddler, Teach Me: Kindergarten and Teach Me: 1st Grade and I assigned students to a particular app depending on their skill level. Click the image below to visit the developer iTunes page and view the different apps.