Before my daughter started Kindergarten, I downloaded a few apps on our iPad to help her get caught up with her ABC's and 123's, as well as story sequencing. She would play around with the apps for a little bit, but soon after, her attention dropped off and she wasn't nearly as excited to play with them as she was with, say, Angry Birds. In fact, she began to equate the iPad with "work" and would put up a fuss whenever I slid it in front of her to do some exercises. She did this with her speech therapist, too, negotiating that if she had to play with Milo the Mouse, she should also be able to play a few rounds of Angry Birds. She's pretty clever, that one.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about a new app called Reading Raven--an early reading app that has so many fun features for kids, they hardly know they're actually learning something. No, really, I kid you not. My daughter absolutely loves this app. It's almost as if the folks who developed the app conducted a focus group of 3-5 year-olds, asking them what sorts of thing they liked. Either that, or they're parents who are in tune with what kids like. (Which, I'm guessing, it's the latter, though I'm amusing myself with the visualization of 25 3-5 year-olds sitting around a table, throwing out ideas). Butterflies and bugs? Check. Balloons and rockets? You bet.
The graphics on the app are gorgeous and super colorful, and the music is not at all annoying, even though each lesson has its own loop. It actually works nicely in the background while kids hear prompts and congratulatory soundbites from other kids ("Keep Going!" and "Amazing!")
Reading Raven has several activities that focus on building reading skills. I love the repetition of it because it doesn't feel repetitive, yet it focuses on simple words with all kinds of drills from word or letter matching, letter tracing, and phonics. One of my daughter's favorite part of the lessons is when she can record her own voice reading a word.
Right now, Reading Raven is only available for the iPad. You can find the app in the iTunes store for $3.99. Today, though, is "Read Across America" day and the app is available for half off!