Literacy has been described as the ability to read for knowledge and write coherently and think critically about the written word (Wikipedia). Reading is one of the most important functional life skills that any child will learn (Browder & Spooner, 2006). The acquisition of reading and writing skills leads to success in both school and life, in fact, the law guarantees evidence-based reading instruction for all.
For highly visual students with autism literacy skills are paramount. Both expressive and receptive language is positively impacted when literacy instruction is initiated. Many students on the spectrum may not be able to speak or write clearly, but they can definitely learn to read and type. This is why the iPad combined with literacy apps are a win-win combination. Many of my students who have been struggling with literacy for years have made significant progress with the introduction of the iPad and computer technology.
Below is a list of student, therapist, educator and parent favorite apps for increasing literacy.
Any book app that has a hard copy companion is a great teaching tool. The student learns the words with the interactive app and then can read the hard copy independently to the class, friends and family.
FirstWords: Professional By: Learning Touch
Applications of this kind are fantastic for so many reasons, the obvious educational value of letter identification, word recognition and phonemic awareness, but mostly it brings students to-the-table. Students are immediately taken by the sounds and animations and will quickly become proficient at dragging the letters to corresponding boxes. Users are able to customize word lists from over 350 words arranges into 12 categories. FirstWords is frequently the choice app for reinforcement or leisure time with students.
Bob Books #1 and #2- reading Magic HD By: Learning Touch
The popular Bob Books beginning literacy series has brought its Reading Magic to the iPad. By slowly introducing new letter sounds, using consistency, repetition and stories your student interacts with the story to successfully learn to read. Each app contains 12 scenes with extensive word lists and 4 challenge levels. The animations that come to life after correctly completing the spelling puzzle make the pictures relevant and the words meaningful. Bob Books are highly motivating and stress free introduction to beginning reading, spelling and story comprehension.
Booksy: Learn to Read Platform for K-12 By: Tiptap Inc
Level readers with comprehension quizzes are available for the iPad with Booksy. This is a wonderful collection of attention-grabbing books that encourages students to read and interact with the content to ensure comprehension. Your students can have the book read to them, read it themselves and even record their own voices. Additionally, students can collect stars/rewards for reading while educators track the performance of up to 3 students.
This free edition comes with two complete books to get you started. Additional books are available as in-app purchases. Each additional book costs only $.99
Booksy: School Edition. Learning to Read Platform k-2 comes with 14 complete books. It may have features that a typical person won’t use, but at $9.99 you can save a few dollars on books and avoid the in-app purchase process.
Click on the image to the right for the school edition
Touch and Write By:FizzBrain
My students love Touch and Write iPad app! It is full of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic input that stimulates their sensory system. On the one hand, it is a favorite app to learn pre-literacy skills such as letter sounds, letter formation, spelling and words, on the other hand, Touch and Write is a terrific reinforcer. Touch and Write is packed with kid friendly, motivating features such as writing with whipped cream, cool sound effects, music, graphics and an array of luscious paper textures that keeps their attention and focus on task.
My favorite feature is having the ability to customize a word list, based on individual needs that the students actually want to practice.
Touch and Write iPad app comes pre-loaded with 2 high frequency word lists, 2 alphabet word lists, numbers 0-9, upper case and lower case alphabet lists so that students can practice the most common occurring words.
Lastly, the target area for writing the letter does not have rigid boundaries allowing for a bit of user error as well as stops and starts. This decreases frustration and abandonment of task. As one of my colleagues put it, “I wish I could write my reports in chocolate frosting.”
Little Speller & Sentence Maker By: grasshopperapps
$.99 eachThe combination of Little Speller and Sentence Maker have become a powerful tool in teaching language/literacy skills and meeting national standards in education for all my students at every age and ability level due to extensive customization features.
The graphics and audio are clear and concrete with brightly colored real pictures. Add, change or remove pictures, graphics and/or words to fit your individual needs and skill level. If that’s not enough, Little Speller and Sentence Maker let the user add their own pictures, words and letters to make the learning experience extremely personal and relevant. This is an important feature for students who may have challenges with generalization.
Little Spellerscreen Shot
For complete emersion into a language and literacy activity have your student take pictures of meaningful people, places and items in their environment. Then add these pictures to Little Speller so that they can learn how to read, spell and recognize their favorite words.Next use the same pictures to customize sentences and phrases in Sentence Maker.
Sentence MakerScreen Shot
For example, a student can take a picture of their backpack, put it into Little Speller to learn how to label, spell, read and recognize the word B-A-C-K-P-A-C-K. Then add it to Sentence Maker to create a phrase such as, “My backpack” or a sentence, “I have a blue backpack.” Best of all, the whole process only takes a few minutes to create a complete individualized lesson.