Learning to Read and Write with Toys and Apps

September 8, 2016 Published by

Being able to read and write are fundamental skills - in fact, you’re doing one of them right now! Children learn best through play, so in this article we’ll be taking a look at a few ideas from the Good Toy Guide and the Good App Guide, where everything has been tested by children and endorsed by experts.

You can also take a look at Dr Amanda Gummer’s articles to find out more about:

How children learn to read 

How children learn to write

Pre Schoolers

Toys to Support Reading & Writing



Muddle Zoo (Ages 2-3)Muddle-Zoo

Take a trip to the zoo with this magnetic book. There are lots of activities on every page to keep children engaged while you read, using the collection of magnetic animals included. The rhymes are also good for introducing phonics.

Great for: Pre-reading Skills





Mr-Tumbles-AlphabetSomething Special Mr Tumble's Alphabet (Ages 3-4)

Young children will love joining the familiar Mr Tumble as they practise phonics. This interactive toy has 26 chunky keys which light up when pressed to teach children words and letter sounds.

Great for: Practicing phonics, Word, letter and sound recognition




G_TOY_G_Match_&_Spell_RMatch and Spell Game (Ages 4-6)

Two games in one! Try to collect the letters needed as fast as possible, or see how many words children can sound out. The simple game style makes practising more fun.

Great for: Letter recognition and Phonetic word building



Apps to Support Reading & Writing



Mario's Alphabet App Recommended by the Good App GuideMario's Alphabet (Ages 3-5)

Children roll, jump, fly, or sail around Mario´s Alphabet, in a world filled with early reading and funny characters. As they play children see and hear the letters of the alphabet, so they learn without even realising it.

Great for: Learning the alphabet, Phonics 





app_montessori-letter-sounds_image-01-rMontessori Letter Sounds (Ages 3-7)

This collection of games is based on the Montessori method, which encourages children to be active learners. From I Spy to Mix and Match, the app offers a good variety for all-round learning - we particularly like that children can practise tracing letters with their finger.

Great for: Building vocabulary, Letter sounds, Handwriting, Spelling





G-Toy-G-Tiggly-Words-R-250x227Tiggly Words (Ages 4-7)

These letter shapes bring Tiggly’s learning apps to life. In a series of fun games - from diving into an underwater world to pretending to be a doctor - children can interact by pressing the pieces onto the tablet screen.

Great for: Consonant, Vowel, consonant words (CVC), Vowels, Phonics, Spelling, Letters




5 to 10 Year Olds

Toys to Support Reading & Writing


Magnetic Words and Board - Reception Year (Ages 4-6)Good-Toy-Guide_763_-magnetic-words-Reception-year-R-250x227

This set features the 45 high frequency words children will be learning in reception year, so it’s ideal for supporting their learning at school. With the dry-wipe board included, children can play lots of different activities, practise writing sentences, or simply stick the magnets on the fridge for easy-access practice.

Great for: Handwriting, constructing sentences, spelling, reading





Trugs at Home (Ages 5-7)Trugs at Home Recommended by the Good Toy Guide

Three multiplayer games based on traditional card games - Get it, Match it and Take it - so children can practise phonics with the excitement of competition. The set has five steps so it caters for different levels of ability and also means children can progress their skills as their confidence grows.

Great for: Phonics, Building Vocabulary




BananagramsBananagrams (Ages 8-11)

This is a hugely fun game that can get really competitive! Players race to use all their letter tiles by building crossword grid; the fast-paced game is a great way for children to practise spelling. Plus it comes in a handy banana-shaped bag (why not?) so you can keep playing and learning on the move, no board required.

Great for: Spelling, Building Vocabulary



Apps to Support Reading & Writing


Hairy Phonics 1 (Ages 4-6)G-App-G-Hairy-Phonics-R

Children can save the funny little 'Hairies' while learning nine phonemes; sh, ch, th, ck, ff, ll, ss, zz, ng. There are lots of different activities that get children recognising, hearing and writing these phonemes on their own and in the context of different words. This app is the first of three, each covering a different set of phonemes.

Great for: Phonemic awareness, Handwriting, Spelling





the sight word adventureThe Sight Word Adventure (Ages 4-8)

Join the forest animals for a whole range of games, from popping balloons to whack a mole. There are five levels which correspond to the high frequency words needed from nursery through to year three, supporting children’s learning in school and helping progress their skills as their confidence builds.

Great for: Sight words, Reading, Spelling




GappG_me_books_RMeBooks (Ages 2-10)

MeBooks is a fantastic app that really brings stories to life and offers endless amusement. Children can record themselves reading the book - or making up their own version - and add sounds effects to every page. They can choose between hundreds of books, from classics like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit to modern favourites such as Disney’s Frozen.

Great for: Reading




For more inspiration on how you can encourage your child to learn to read and write, take a look at our reviews on the Good Toy Guide and Good App Guide  - more reviews are added every week!



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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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