Common Sense


Best Word Game Apps for Young Kids

It's crucial to expose a wide variety of words to kids ages zero to five. Word apps and games can be a great option to get kids exploring the world of words, thanks to their easy-to-use touch-based controls and appealing, colorful themes. But many young kids aren't hearing and seeing a large enough variety of words. Unfortunately, this is an issue that disproportionately affects lower-income families. Over time, this word gap widens and has a severe impact on literacy. Close this gap with our hand-picked apps that'll fill kids' brains with words and jump-start reading and spelling.

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Top Picks


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Beck and Bo

Drag-and-drop adventure great for learning new words in context

Bottom line: Your wee one will enjoy animating Beck and Bo's world while developing creativity and logic.

PocketPhonics (Stories as IAP)

Strong phoneme development activities; good practice

Bottom line: An effective tool for phoneme-directed reading, although pictures of words often don't help kids understand word meanings.

Gappy Learns Reading - Teach Kids Spelling and Reading With Letters & Sounds - Educational Sight Word Games for Kindergarten

Simple spelling game hones in on specific reading skills

Bottom line: A basic -- if somewhat limited and tedious -- letter-sound matching game for early readers and spellers.

Homer: Kids Learn to Read App

A captivating, comprehensive beginning reading resource

Bottom line: Concrete phonics learning alongside books, songs, storytelling, and art.

Hooked on Phonics

Well-known curriculum adapts well to fun, easy-to-use app

Bottom line: Thorough phonics program offers a nice mixture of learning, practicing, and reading.

Montessorium: Intro to Words

Well-crafted app lets emerging readers and writers develop reading skills through word building

Bottom line: Basic reading skills are developed through word building, word play, and letter-sound recognition.

Monkey Word School Adventure

Delightful monkey means business on this challenging early reading app

Bottom line: Automatic leveling and mix of phonics and sight words make this a great addition to any early reading toolkit.

Noodle Words HD - Action Set 1

Words become toys in this playful yet powerful vocab-learning game

Bottom line: The words are presented in such a fun way that many kids will play with this app numerous times, helping the words stick.

Tiggly Submarine: Explore the Depths of Short Vowels & Phonics

Delightful, sea-themed activities explore short-vowel sounds

Bottom line: With the toys or without, kids will have fun practicing phonics.

Word Wagon - by Duck Duck Moose

Charming objects and animals turn spelling into play

Bottom line: Word Wagon is fun to use with students at various spelling skill levels.

Writing Wizard for Kids

Vibrant, playful tracing practice offers unique rewards, fab support

Bottom line: Writing Wizard offers fantastic, customizable tracing practice with interactive rewards.

HangArt: Play Hangman, Draw Pictures, Tell Stories

Games, creative activities give 360-degree view of common sight words

Bottom line: Combination of guided games and open-ended activities give kids a great opportunity for digging deep into words.

Montessori Crosswords

Gently ease kids into phonics with superb Montessori-inspired puzzles

Bottom line: The surprisingly great combo of Montessori principles and technology helps kids learn phonics without overstimulation.

Starfall Learn to Read

Delight emergent readers with lively phonics lessons

Bottom line: Easy-to-use, plentiful phonics activities keep emergent readers engaged.

Word Bingo

Word-recognition practice made fun -- plus cute bugs

Bottom line: Fun games for sight words practice work for a variety of ages, and lots of words keep play engaging.

Mystery Word Town Spelling

Old West crime-fighting takes kids on a spelling adventure

Bottom line: A challenging and really fun way for kids to practice spelling.

Osmo Words

Versatile word game challenges across content areas and abilities

Bottom line: Fun game-like way to review spelling or content vocabulary.

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