Editor's Note: OV Parent contributing writer Krenna Allender's early childhood students at West Liberty University are engaged, among other projects, in evaluating developmentally appropriate curriculum and assessment based on the needs and interests of young children.
Given the task of finding appropriate early childhood websites and apps for children and families, the 18 students researched and compiled a list of high-quality, early childhood websites and apps for the young learner. Here, with an emphasis on early learning, is a partial list of these tools that will provide a fun and engaging experience for the whole family!
First Word Sampler - This is an educational tool designed to help children with sounds, spelling and pronunciations of words. Children can easily navigate through the application placing letters in the correct spots to spell words. The pictures, letters and sounds on this website create an interactive experience that provides young children with the beginning tools for learning about letters and words.
Endless Reader - Endless Reader is a creative and inviting app for children that encourages them to playfully practice skills such as phonics, spelling and reading. The whimsical characters challenge children to say the sound of each letter, while dragging and dropping them in the correct order to spell the word. Children can advance to spelling and positioning words in sentences. Be sure to have your volume on while using this free app and you will be guaranteed a few giggles!
Pocket Phonics - Pocket Phonics is a wonderful app to use for furthering a child's development with letter sounds, writing and creating words. With the guided help from the app, children hear the letter sound while tracing that letter. The app also requires children to match sounds with the correct letter. Children will love this app because they can see what they write and recognize their work.
Little Writer - Little Writer invites young children to trace numbers and letters. It builds upon those skills with your child eventually being able to write his name! For a personalized touch, a photo of your child can be added.
Yellow Duck - Yellow Duck provides more than 90 interactive games for children ages 2 to10 years old. This app focuses on key early childhood skills and concepts such as: colors, shapes, music and words. With difficulty levels indicated with stars, this app is able be personalized to your child's age. This app is the free version, but there is a full version available for a small fee with upgraded/new activities.
Felt Board - Mother Goose on the Loose - Here is a whimsical app that includes all of your child's favorite Mother Goose nursery rhymes. The "flannel" board is designed for children to enjoy with caregivers or parents. To navigate through the app, children move the felt pieces, sing along with the device and tap the screen to go along with the nursery rhymes.
Emotions, Feelings, Colors - This is a free app that will help to get your young child ready for school. It is full of educational art and social development games for kids. With this app, children learn primary colors, secondary colors and even learn about emotions through short animated stories.
Elmo Loves ABCs - Elmo Loves ABCs is an app in which students can trace uppercase and lowercase letters with one of their favorite characters. The "Trace to Unlock Letter Fun" feature requires your child to trace the letter correctly before moving on to fun activities such as coloring a picture, alphabet videos, letter recognition activities and much more! Elmo invites your child to participate in a joyful learning experience filled with music, games and many surprises throughout the app.
Brain Train Kids: Numbers Rock - Brain Train Kids: Numbers Rock focuses on number concepts. This game is perfect for young children who are familiarizing themselves with written numbers. With its imaginative graphics and inventive sound effects, this game will capture the attention of any child and promote early learning with mathematics.
Seasons - Seasons is centered on teaching children about the seasons, weather conditions, what to wear and the days of the week. Not only will your child be engaged in learning a variety of concepts and ideas related to science, but he will also be provided with many opportunities to make choices and play weather games as well.
ABC Circus - This app is for children just learning how to write and recognize letters. When the letter is on the screen, the letter is pronounced, annunciated, drawn, and then the child is prompted to trace the letter. This is a great app for preschool children because it promotes learning in identifying letters, sound, forming words and much more.
Little Speller Three Letter Words - Little Speller Three Letter Words is an excellent source to use with your child just learning the alphabet. While playing this game, the letters of the word are mixed up and the children must put them in order at the bottom. There is also a picture of the word that is being spelled, which helps visual learners.
Leo's Pad - Preschool Learning Series - This app is fun, engaging and designed for parents and children to share in the joy of learning preschool concepts and skills. There are several adventures your child can go on with Leo that include several interactive challenges. From shapes and letters to colors and numbers, your child will have fun learning with Leo in this free app.
Kids ABC Phonics - Here is an educational, pre-reading game for preschool and kindergarten children. Letter sounds and basic blending of letters to form words is the main focus of this app. It is categorized into the following sections: Learn Letter Sounds, Build Letter Blocks, Pop Letter Bubbles and Make Words. The breakdown of sections allows children to master each level before moving onto the next step of learning about phonics and reading.
Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Games - This app features 12 games that maintain children's interest and focus from start to finish. Children will be engaged in interactive games and activities that focus on letters, spelling, math, shapes, colors and more. Some key features include voice narrating and colorful graphics.
Shapes Toddler Preschool - Shapes Toddler Preschool is a free app that has a lot of educational value to offer to your preschooler. It includes a variety of options such as a sticker collection, read aloud stories, quizzes, flashcards, toy box for games and puzzles. Not only will your child have fun with this engaging app, but he will be learning at the same time as well.
Preschool Find and Match Alphabet Letters and Numbers - This app will help your child learn early literacy and mathematic concepts using goldfish images. It has four modes that challenge preschoolers to identify and match alphabet letters and numbers. These distinct modes provide individualized learning tailored to the specific learning needs of your child. Parents are provided with options on how to determine your child's ability level, increase tasks and/or increase the level of difficulty.
Cookie Doodle - Cookie Doodle was named Parents' Choice Recommended Award winner by the Parents' Choice Foundation in 2011. Cookie Doodle exposes children to a variety of subjects: Math-Geometry (shapes) and measurements; Reading and Writing; and critical thinking skills. This positive exposure is achieved by allowing children to create their own virtual cookies.
Kids Learn to Read - This app from IntelliJoy is a great resource for helping your child with their reading skills. Your child will learn to blend words, make words and read words. The app focuses on gaining reading skills through fun, interactive games and activities.
iTouchiLearn Numbers for Preschool Kids - This app helps your child count from one to five in an interactive and fun way. It also includes a variety of games in which counting can be incorporated, as well as music that your child will love counting to, and love to dance to as well! This is a great way for an early learner to build a strong beginning with number concepts.
First Phonics and Letter Sounds - First Phonics and Letters Sounds takes your child through a fun, interactive adventure with a monkey as your child's guide, exploring phonics and letter sounds. The guide takes your child through a colorful and musical world filled with animals whose names start with all different letters, which your child will sound out and identify. For free, your child can learn the sounds of "S, M,T, and A," and for the whole alphabet, you may purchase the full version.
ABCSounds Lite - ABCSounds Lite focuses on phonics and helping to teach your child early phonetic skills. It combines sounds, words and videos to help your child gain the understanding of commonly used words. The information on this app is comprised of many YouTube videos and phonics videos, and were created by an early childhood educator.
Little Stars Toddler Game - This app that challenges preschoolers to identify colors, shapes, and quantity. Children respond to each prompt and earn stickers for correct answers. This interactive game is visually stimulating, and progressively challenges students as they advance to the next level.
Preschool Edukidsroom - Preschool Edukidsroom involves the preschool learner in games and activities related to matching, sorting, letter identification, telling time, shapes and much more. There is a free version of the app, and also an app to purchase that offers more activities.
Build a Word Express - Build a Word Express is great for learning how to spell. It has three features: Learn, Practice and Test. Under "Learn," your child will have help sounding out words and will have to find the letters to create that word. Under "Practice," it says the word for the child but does not reveal it. Under "Test," it allows the child to spell the words without assistance and keeps track of progress.
Early Childhood Websites
www.scholastic.comScholastic.com focuses on raising readers and lifelong learners. With a wide variety of resources and activities, children and families will enjoy this website! Reading stories from Storia.ebooks, participating in the variety of literacy activities, and visiting the Family Playground game section are just a few of the many features on this website. Children and families will celebrate and enjoy the love of literacy with Scholastic!
www.Learninggamesforkids.comLearninggamesforkids.com is a fun and interactive way to engage in learning. It is great for children of all ages. From songs and videos, to educational games and activities that focus on subjects such as letters and numbers, to concepts such as problem-solving and social skills, this website is a great way to jump into the world of early learning. Parents can also be involved in their child's learning adventure by exploring the free parent newsletters, and educational resources.
www.Knowledgeadventure.comKnowledgeadventure.com is a will capture your young child's attention and invites him into a fun world of learning! It provides engaging, educational games that focus on letters, numbers, colors, and other various subjects for your child to enjoy. It is easy to navigate, and the website is sorted by age, subject, and grade level.
www.seussville.comSeussville.com is a remarkable website full of fun, interactive, and educational activities and games based on your favorite Dr. Seuss books. It includes free printables of activity sheets such as "Add with Cat" and "Animal Homes." Some games include "Fishin' for ABC's," in which children spell words, and "Fox in Socks," in which children learn about rhyming words.
www.nickjr.comNickjr.com offers a variety of preschool games, printables, crafts and music featuring characters from popular Nick Jr. television shows. Games vary from "Dora's Alphabet Adventure" to the "Umizoomi Shape Bandit Game." This website is both parent and kid friendly with a wide variety of educational resources. It includes interactive games for the whole family, or games for individual play.
Fun.famileducaton.com offers parents developmentally appropriate content and ideas that focus on involving preschoolers and family members in fun learning experiences! Your child will continue to learn and stay engaged with the large list of activities and games that are detailed on this website. These games and activities support the physical development of children, such as their fine and gross motor skills and will keep them physically active. It also helps promote early learning skills. This website focuses on multiple curriculum areas for your preschooler to learn and explore while having fun.
Disneyjunior.com places an emphasis on all of your child's favorite Disney Junior shows, while involving your child in key learning concepts and technology applications! Your preschooler can play a variety of fun learning games, activities, and watch educational videos while exploring on their computer, iPad or tablet. Children can also watch shows live on Disney Junior from this website. There is also a section just for parents that provide a variety of information and resources.
Spatulatta.com is a great website for parents and children to access to get children interested in cooking. Children can search through countless recipes and use the easy to follow steps with an adult. Young children love to help in the kitchen, and this website allows them to have the opportunity to learn these life skills in a safe way!
ABCya provides activities ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. The easy-to-use website provides voice instructions and large buttons to navigate through games focusing on the following: number concepts, shapes, addition, matching and reading. Your child will especially love the e-story books and holiday games!
Storyplace.org is an inviting website that provides families with the opportunity to read animated stories together! While the story is being read, your child is engaged by clicking to turn the pages. A detailed list of reading activities and suggested readings are provided for families, and the website promotes the importance of enriched literacy opportunities at home. The website has received many awards and acknowledgments for being an outstanding, quality literacy resource for children, families, and schools!
Starfall.com is an educational website for early elementary children. It is used to make reading fun and for children to be excited to learn to read. This website is used at home and in school, and it is designed to make practice with phonemic awareness and overall phonics approaches a fun and motivational atmosphere for children ages 4-8.
ABCMouse.com is an educational website that helps children to learn phonics. It also offers lessons in math, art, social studies, music, and more! The age range for this website is ages 2-6, and it is appropriate for preschool and kindergarten children. There is a fee for this website, but it offers a free trial before deciding to purchase it.
www.storylineonline.net/Storylineonline.net is a free website that inspires children to develop a love for reading and encourages them to improve on the following skills: the ability to read, writing and communication skills, logical thinking, concentration and a positive attitude towards school. It consists of various artifacts of children's literature, and each story is read by a different celebrity that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Such celebrities include: Betty White, Elijah Wood, Rita Moreno, and more!
BookFlix is a login, varied-by-price, website owned by Scholastic Books. Do not be discouraged due to a price. It offers a free trial, and it is a literary resource that consists of video and e-books. BookFlix promotes and helps to develop early reading skills, and it introduces children to a world of knowledge and exploration.
www.readingrockets.org/Readingrockets.org is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, and children. The "Fun Stuff" section on the website features a variety of hands on activities for children. The activities include reading adventure packs, e-cards, web widgets, door hangers and other literacy printables. In addition, the website offers a variety of free reading guides and resources for parents.
www.sesamestreet.org/homeSesamestreet.org is overflowing with fun and educational activities for children. On the home page of the website, children can access games, videos, playlists and art activities. The activities are tailored to meet the needs of all children. Children can even watch their favorite episodes of Sesame Street right from the computer! The website even features a section for parents that focus on topics such as potty training, recipes and meal planning, family fun crafts and more!
www.jumpstart.comJumpstart.com is filled with educational games that journeys through 5 different "lands" all intended for learning key skills and concepts! It also provides printable materials and various activities for use, as well as a variety of parenting tips and strategies to use with your child. The games cover science, math, reading, English and promote learning through engagement and fun!
www.uptoten.comUptoten.com provides educational games for children up to ten. It incorporates math, English, science and history games, as well as free homework help. The games help with coordination, puzzle solving, and recognizing pairs and differences. Your child will love the challenge of the interactive games, and you will love the help with homework.
www.cookie.comCookie.com was designed with the help of child experts and educators to create a website the helps build the skills your child will need to succeed in school. While playing these interactive and educational games, your child is learning math, science, language, art and more. This website offers games and print-outs for those children who are English as a second language learners, as well as English as a first language.
Fisher-price.com features a variety of interactive learning games for your toddler or preschooler. It offers topics like ABC's, 123's, making healthy choices, and music. In order to determine the age appropriate games and activities for your child, the easy to navigate website allows you to sort them by age, character and learning concepts.
Crayola.com highlights fun, creative games for your preschooler. Children are invited to explore a world of imagination that encourages them to use their natural creativity. Some of the features include creating vehicles, monsters, snowmen, flower gardens and even a fireworks show! A new addition to the website is the Story Studio, in which kids become characters in their very own story.
www.deepspacesparkle.comDeepspacesparkle.com dedicated to enhancing the lives of children through art. Parents can browse hundreds of free art lessons, watch a video tutorial and learn how to engage their child in art experiences. This cutting edge site provides quality art instruction for even the most inexperienced, offering helpful advice for all ages and abilities.
pbskids.org/PBSkids.org is a great website that has a lot to offer for young children and parents. It is aimed for children ages 3-6 and designed to help kids learn many new skills and prepare for the school years. It has many games, videos and crafts for kids and many parenting tools for adults. While using media and technology, it is geared toward building knowledge, critical thinking and imagination and our youngest learners.
www.highlightkids.comHihlightkids.com has a variety of activities for children to explore. They will enjoy engaging in the "Play It," "Read It," "Make It," and "Share It" sections on this website! It offers a wide variety of animated stories for children and families to enjoy, and it even features articles about animals, crafts, science experiments and family fun recipes!
The NASA Kid's Club website is designed to be an educational tool for children. It provides a variety of sequencing games that teach sequential order, patterns, and arrangement. There is also an interactive learning game geared toward identifying letters and sound recognition. Children can even learn about past space missions and can see pictures from space!