Free apps for kids

literacy apps for kids

Our Free Apps For Kids page is a listing and review of some of our favorite literacy apps available to help children learn essential early literacy skills. The apps listed below are either FREE or very inexpensive but here's the key: If it's listed on our app page, it is a GOOD app. We won't put junk up here and in the world of educational apps, quality trumps quantity everyday. 

Mobile apps represent a new, and often inexpensive, resource now available to parents, teachers and others who try to help young children struggling to master early literacy skills. New apps proliferate so rapidly that it is often difficult to keep up with them. Hopefully our collection of favorites here organized around the big ideas in reading will help you find the best apps for your kids.  

letter knowledge

Letters A to Z True Learning

Description: Letters A to Z is a captivating set of animated flashcards designed to help toddlers and preschoolers learn the letters of the English alphabet in a fun and engaging way. Each flashcard contains adorable characters and creatures that come to life in beautifully illustrated scenes accompanied by entertaining sound effects. $0.99

Our Review: This app is well worth the .99 price. The color illustrations and sound effects are engaging for children. Best for preschool ages or kindergarten students struggling to learn their letters.

Letter School by Boreaal

Description: LetterSchool makes handwriting incredibly easy to unravel. Kids simply pick a letter, kick back and enjoy the activities. Kids not only learn how to write the letters but also the letter’s name, its sound and a word to go with. Every letter has three awesome games: tap, trace and write. Free version & $2.99

Our Review: This app is simply one of our favorites. Both Steve's kids (ages 2 and 4) love this app and play it frequently. A must have in any collection of literacy apps because of the unique handwriting features.    

ABC Alphabet Phonics by Grasshopper Apps

Description: ABC Alphabet Phonics is a straight forward yet effective app that allows kids to easily learn letter names. Children are presented with three letters and then prompted by voice to pick a certain letter. Positive feedback is given each time the correct letter is chosen. FREE

Our Review: This app is simple but we like it. For a free app it provides an effective way for children to practice their letter name knowledge. We've found that sometimes all the bells and whistles are distracting for kids and this app practices exactly what it claims to teach, the ABCs. 

Alphabytes by WFH Interactive

Description: A bit of education in every byte with 4 entertaining ways to learn about the alphabet, writing, spelling, and memorization. Kids will love learning the alphabet with fully animated interactions for every letter. They can also learn to write uppercase and lowercase letters through the repetition of tracing. A new twist on the classic memory game helps your child associate letters and words with visuals. Made with child education in mind. $1.99

Our Review: We. Like It. Alot.

Little Writer by Innovative Mobile Apps for Kids

Description: Kids are able to trace letters (lower and uppercase) numbers, shapes and words. A voice feature allows kids to hear the names of the letters, shapes and words as well as receive positive feedback for correct tracing. FREE

Our Review: A straightforward tracing app. One of the better FREE apps in this domain but we'd pay the $2.99 for LetterSchool and never look back. But if you want a FREE app that works on letter formation, Little Writer is a solid option.

phonemic awareness

ABC Reading Magic 1 - Short Vowel Words by Preschool University

Description: Through games and a focus on segmenting and blending, the app helps children develop basic phonetic awareness and pre-reading skills. The app has a built-in feature to encourage readings skills, rather than dependence on pictures. FREE

Our Review: The market for pure phonemic awareness apps is limited but we love this app!. Why?  This literacy app provides wonderful explicit practice with phoneme segmentation and phoneme blending, the two most important phonemic awareness skills. The app also practices basic code words and helps build the bridge between sounds and letters for children, not too shabby for a FREE app.

alphabetic principle (phonics)

Sight Word Flip It By

Description: This is our app and we think it is fantastic for teaching Sight Words and advanced phonics patterns (AKA advanced code). Learn more about Sight Word Flip It on our Sight Word Flip It Page. $2.99

Starfall ABCs By Starfall Education

Description: The "ABCs" section of's popular website now in application format. $2.99

Our Review: This app could fit in the Letter Knowledge Section as well. Everyone loves and the ABCs section is a great way to learn beginning letters and sounds. Since the app places a heavy emphasis not only on letter names but also their sounds as well we think it is great for this section as it teaches early sound/symbol skill development. This app is not FREE but's website is, so you can Check out the ABC section if you want to learn more. The app is basically the same as the web version.

ABC Pocket Phonics: Letter Sounds & Writing + First Words by Apps in My Pocket Ltd.

Description: Kids hear the sounds, see the letter and are asked to trace the letter. Once a few letters are practiced kids are prompted to build short basic code words with the letter just practiced. FREE app version & $2.99 version.

Our Review: We like this app because it combines letter sounds, letter writing and basic words spelling and reading. This app also claims an independent study confirming that kids learned 9x faster with Pocket Phonics than a regular classroom lesson. We're a little suspicious about the psycho-metrics of this study but thought we would mention it. One downside to this app, the graphics are not great and the letters are a bit too small. The application is still strong enough to make our list because of the clear learning targets but we recommend you test the FREE version of this literacy app before making the $2.99 purchase.   


K-12 Times Reading Practice Lite by k-12 Inc.

Description: Allows K-4 students to use repeated reading method to practice reading fluency. This reading fluency app allows kids to time themselves and calculates words read per minute on the spot. FREE 

Our Review: We really love this free app for a nice twist to traditional repeated reading practice to build reading fluency. Our students love it too. The app is more effective if you listening to the student read so you can review their reading errors but the app works great in a read to self or word work center as well.

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Sight Word Flip It by Reading