While I am quite proud of the fact that I taught my daughter how to read, it wasn’t always sunshine and roses. Sometimes she hit mental walls and I had no idea how to help her. There were times, too, when my patience wore out and I doubted that we’d ever get her to read well. Fortunately, it all turned out as she now has exceptionally good reading skills and loves reading immensely. How I wish we could have taken advantage of the awesome reading apps that exist today!
Reader Bee and the Story Tree Review [iOS]
I recently tried out the Reader Bee and the Story Tree app and it’s really just so charming. Geared to children ages five and under, this iPad app makes learning to read fun with sweet stories and friendly graphics. Even my 13-year-old had a smile on her face as she helped me test the app out.
First off, I decided to read the “How it Works” section (tap on “Grown Ups” on the home screen). I’d highly recommend that parents go through this before starting to use the app. It explains simply the teaching approach, how parents can best help, and tips as the new reader progresses.
To lessen confusion, Reader Bee and the Story Tree focuses only the common sounds of letters. It is understood that names of letters and their varying sounds (long vowels, irregular pronunciations such as for “c” and “g”) will be introduced in a child’s later education. Letters are broken down into associated groups, arranged in a hexagonal shape, and referred to as daisies. One daisy group will be featured in each portion.
At one point, children are asked to drag giggling, happy-faced letters to their corresponding spot on the daisy. Sometimes they are slippery little things and can move pretty fast. It was hilarious to see Munchkin “chasing” the letters across the screen to grab them. If children do happen to choose the wrong pairings, the correction is very subtle and slight hints are given to nudge them to the right selection.
There are two difficulty levels – Pre-K and K. Choosing the Kindergarten setting will open the tracing activity and a typing game in which kids try to come up with as many words as possible in a few seconds. Also, in the Pre-K level, answers are given right away.
The story portion is well done and highlights the words just introduced. Narration is at a nice speed and tapping the featured words brings the pictures to life with cute animations. Kids will love this app an it’s only $1.99, MUCH less than just one printed sight word book.
Download the app here.
Reader Bee’s First Story Maker Review [iOS]
From the same developer as Reader Bee and the Story Tree comes the app Reader Bee’s First Story Maker. Children can now create their own stories using a custom Honeycomb Keyboard that can be installed on your iPad. Tapping a picture will turn it into a written word and visa versa.
While the idea sounds good, I was not impressed by this app. If a child has the skills to write connecting words and other basic formations of letters, they don’t really learn anything by adding pictures. If a parent has to help the child then, again, the interest can be lost quickly. The Honeycomb Keyboard was actually confusing to use and is more cumbersome than kids just selecting from the emojis they’re likely already familiar with.
Download the app here.
Reader Bee Pinterest Contest – Win an iPad!
Reader Bee wants to do more than just offer reading apps. To foster new and creative ways of introducing letters and words to children, Reader Bee is holding a fun Pinterest contest for which the prize is an iPad 2. Entrants have to be at least 13 years old and the entry has to:
- Relate directly to the contest theme (see “Theme” above);
- Be easy for others to duplicate, meaning it can be prepared in 30 minutes or less;
- Cost less than $5, preferably less than $2, to prepare, making it accessible to those with limited resources;
- Be fun and challenging for children ages 3 to 6; and
- Identify your experience helping children learn to read (teacher, daycare provider, tutor, parent, grandparent, etc.).
If you have any good ideas, you should definitely enter. Just make sure you follow the requirements and these steps.
- Be following Reader Bee at the time the Contest ends.
- Pin a description of your idea with at least one picture or video. Your pin must include enough information to show that it is an eligible entry. (See requirements above.) For ideas that need additional explanation, include a link to your video or blog post.
- Comment on the Reader Bee pin linking to the Contest announcement with a link to your pin describing your idea.
The contest will end January 15, 2015 so get your entry in. For more specifics about the contest and the prize, see www.readerbee.com/contest.
I was compensated for this post and promotion of the giveaway. All opinions are my own.