Skip Nav

8 Apps that Keep Kids Smart Over the Summer

8 Apps that Keep Kids Smart Over the Summer

There are so many choices parents can make for their kids' summer experiences. Do you want your kids to have a mental break from school? Do you plan on homeschooling  them over the summer? Are you enrolled in a daycare that gives kids fun learning experiences through the break? No matter which path you take, it's easy to squeeze in learning with this list of reading apps, many of which are free. Your kids will be having so much fun they won't even notice they're sharpening their language and reading skills.

A Note About Learning to Read: We read all day, every day. From the box of cereal in the morning to the bedtime stories at night. Even if your kids don't make sense of the text like you do, they are being exposed to the beginning of reading! Your non-reader is seeing all this print and learning about what it means. Your new reader is able to sound out the letters and remember common words. Keep reading and talking about print with your kids to build their knowledge and vocabulary.

Now to the apps! 


Apps That Teach Letters and Letter Sounds

Little Writer - Tracing Letters, Numbers, Words and Shapes

Suggested ages: 3 to 6    

What it teaches: Language (Letter Writing), Math (Shapes, Number Writing)

Why we recommend it:  This app adds shapes and words to the usual letter and number practice. Tracing is supported in the app with enough leeway to not frustrate young children. Shapes include stars, diamonds (remind your child that a diamond is also called rhombus), half circles and smiley faces. Words are built a letter at a time but when finished your child’s own writing labels the picture. 


For: Universal (iPhone & iPad)

Get it here, Free.*

Montessori Letter Sounds HD 

Suggested ages:  3 to 6   

What it teaches: Language (Letters and Sounds, Phonics, Letter Writing)

Why we recommend it: Montessori Letter Sounds gives parents and children a progression of early literacy skills that fully integrate the philosophy of self correction. Four levels start children playing with sounds and increase in sophistication until they are building words. Writing, pictures and sounds are integrated into activities that our children testers loved, such as recording themselves saying new words, making name tags, tracing and smoothing out letters in the sand.

For: iPad

Get it here, $2.99.*


Apps that Make Reading Fun


Suggested ages: 3 to 5     

What it teaches: Language (Storytelling), Art (Creativity)

Why we recommend it: This free app includes an eBook with all the best features of eBooks: highlighted words, meaningful interactivity, and an excellent story to tell. Record yourself reading the story and add to your child’s delight. Game play inspires creativity as you choose from 14 colorful pages to add “squiggles” to from a well-stocked art tray. Press play in the top corner to watch the whole picture animate in cute and surprising ways. Every child who tested this app loved it, including a 2 1/2-year-old.

For: iPad

Get it here, Free.*

iLearn With Boing: Ice Land Adventures! HD

Suggested ages: 4 to 7    

What it teaches: Language (Letters and Sounds, Listening, Phonics, Spelling)

Why we recommend it: i Learn With Boing: Ice Land Adventures! encourages a strong foundation for reading with delightful game play and meaningful phonics activities. Log on multiple children and watch as they progress through playing with letters, sounds and spelling. Game play is really fun as kids slingshot letters, drag and drop to spell words and help bears slide down icy mountains, picking up scoops of ice cream.

For: iPad

Get it here$2.99.*


Apps that Make Phonics Easy and Interesting

The Electric Company Wordball!

Suggested ages: 7 and 8

What it teaches: Language (Phonics, Spelling)

Why we recommend it:  The Electric Company Wordball reinforces all those difficult phonics rules with interactive videos and engaging game play. First, choose from nine music videos that teach phonics rules like silent-e or transformer h. While watching the video tap on the wordballs as they appear on the screen. You then use all those wordballs to create words following the rule you just practiced in a fast paced, entertaining game. We love how this app gets kids' brains ready to practice phonics by using interactive videos that support their learning. 

For: iPhone

Get it hereFree.*

Simplex Spelling Phonics 2 Syllables - Spell To Read

Suggested ages:  5 to 8    

What it teaches: Language (Phonics, Spelling)

Why we recommend it:  With each of the Simplex Spelling apps, kids learn through supportive self-correction, short teaching moments, and applicable lessons that pair well with their educational experiences. This app goes beyond spelling practice to actually teach and connect a tremendous amount of educational content in small, manageable bites. The line of Simplex Spelling apps are favorites of KinderTown reviewers, parents, teachers and kids.

For: Universal (iPhone & iPad)

Get it here$4.99.*


Spelling Apps That Kids Love


Age: 7 and 8    

What it teaches: Language (Spelling)

Why we recommend it: Mini Word is six levels of addictive, word-making fun in an easy to control app that will keep you on your toes. Individually lettered balls drop into the screen. Gravity is at play as the spheres shift and roll as you move the device. Tap on the letters to build words. Earn points and keep track of scores right in the app. Extra special feature: when you need a break from all the letter balls piling up, tap on the “i” to see the definition of the word you just made.

For: Universal (iPhone & iPad), & Android

Get it here, Free.*

Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop

Age: 6 to 8    

What it teaches: Language (Sight Words, Reading, Spelling)

Why we recommend it:  Learn over 200 sight words thoughtfully broken up into 24 levels with three different activities. “Flashcard” shows and speaks each word with an option to turn on "quiz mode" and read words yourself. “Word Challenge” quizzes your child to find the word from a series of 4 choices and “Spelling” gives your child a spelling word to type out.  You can easily see your child’s progress in the app and create custom lists for his or her needs. 

For: iPad

Get it here$2.99.*

Carolina Nugent is an experienced educator and the Director of Education for KinderTown, an educational app store that helps busy parents find the best apps for young kids. Sometimes referred to as the "Chief Curation Officer," she's evaluated more than 1,000 apps for kids. See more of her reviews in the FREE KinderTown App, available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Image Source: Squiggles!
Latest Family