It’s crazy that something that I do each and every day can be so hard to teach my children. But I don’t remember how I learned how to read, and chances are you don’t either.
I was not an early education major in college. I never learned the methods of how teach reading. I only recently learned what a CVC word is (consonant-verb-consonant like the word dog) and that when an e comes at the end of a word, it make the first vowel say its name and the e itself is silent (thank you Talking Words Factory!) like in the word note or cane.
And I’m homeschooling my five year olds for kindergarten. Talk about pressure and feelings of guilt for not knowing what I am doing, or if I am doing it right.
But, I also don’t want to put a lot of pressure on them right now to learn how to read as it’s not my main reason for homeschooling. I’m kind of the unschooling philosophy when it comes to education, but also really want them to know how to read, and know that I can help them a lot in that department, seeing as I read and write everyday.
I decided to ask in some Facebook homeschooling groups I belong to what websites and apps (free and paid) they enjoy and find benefit them and their children. All of the following were recommended to me. I have not used most of them, but will certainly be looking into them myself over the coming weeks and months to use with my kids. If you have a favorite (or least favorite) among the following, I’d love to hear it in the comments!
Best Educational Apps and Websites for Kids (Especially Homeschooled Ones)
ABC Mouse offers a full online curriculum for kids ages 2-7 and covers reading, math, science, art & colors, and music. I have heard some very good things about their program, especially because they offer a Free 30-Day Trial. After that is $7.95/month or $79.99/year. They also have it available as an app for Apple and Android.
ABCya! is the leader in educational apps for kids PreK-Grade 5. They offer educational skills in letters, numbers, strategies, and skills. The games are all free on their website, but many, especially their Bingo games, are available for download on iTunes for $0.99 and up.
Duck Duck Moose Apps
There are 22 apps from Duck Duck Moose that are award-winning educational apps. Duck Duck Moose apps encourage kids to explore and learn in a safe and fun environment. We work with educators and do lots of play-testing with kids to ensure our apps are frustration free for little fingers and full of whimsy and wonder for all to enjoy. Best designed for kids ages 2-6. Download them for Apple, Android for $0.99-$1.99 or check them out on their website.
Education.com is a great website offering custom worksheets, activities, workbooks, games, worksheets, science projects, lesson plans, and more. It is a fantastic resource for both home educators and classroom teachers. However, several of their resources cost money, but you can get unlimited access to all their stuff and the Brainzy Learning Program for only $3.99/month. However, you can get $10 Off a Brainzy Annual Subscription with promo code BRAINZYT.
I wrote all about K12’s EmbarK12 program almost two years ago. It is a complete and comprehensive preschool program for the home or online. The online version offers over 83 interactive activities with 12 units of activities. It’s only $59 for a 12-month subscription. And you may be able to still use the promo “EmbarkSpecial” to receive the subscription for half off, or only $29.50 for a year. (Please let me know if it still works!) Otherwise, the comprehensive version is $99/year.
Endless Alphabet App
Endless ABC is a high quality and very creative app that provides interactive learning opportunities in reading, spelling, and vocabulary for toddlers and early learners. It was the 2013 App of the Year Runner-Up. So many parents and kids love this app! It really does look pretty cool. You can download it for iPad or iPhone for $6.99 or on Android for only $4.99.
DragonBox Algebra 5+
My husband is a college math teacher and current Math Ed PhD student and was very excited to find this DragonBox Algebra app! He downloaded it for our five-year-olds to use and it’s pretty cool and makes algebra visual and easier to understand. It is $4.99 to download on Apple or $5.99 on Android. They also have versions for kids 12+.
FarFaria provides access to more than 800 children’s stories – with five new ones added every week – which can be read automatically aloud, highlighting each word as it reads, or independently, letting a child turn the pages themselves. This app is geared for kids 2-9 years old. We’ve also used this app. While some of the stories have been interesting, my daughters enjoyed it and were sad when our subscription ran out. This could be helpful for kids who are assigned to read for 15-20 minutes every night in school as well. You can get it on iTunes or for Android and try it out for free for a limited number of books, or pay $4.99 monthly or $3.33/month if you do a year plan, or just pay $74.99 once and have lifetime access.
Homeschooling can be super expensive if you let it! Free Homeschool Deals is a great resource for free printables, deals on curriculums, educational teaching ideas, and so much more!
Fun4TheBrain offers a lot of games to help students with math, English, and Science for ages Prek on up. They are simple, fun, flash games that many kids enjoy and learn along the way. Free and online.
Handwriting Without Tears
We all want our children to learn and develop correct handwriting skills and keyboarding skills and Handwriting Without Tears equips educators with information on how to teach pre-writing skills, proper grip, pre-keyboarding skills and more. They offer free Webinars and how-to videos on their website.
Reading and Math enrichment for kids grades K-5, K5Learning is a personalized online learning program. You can try it out for free with sample lessons and a free assessment, and a 14-Day Free Trial. It is $25/month ($15/month for additional kids).
IXL is a website that makes Math and English practice feel like play. They have learning lessons and materials for grades PK-12. What I really like is that they break down the different skills being taught so that you can more easily work on one skill at a time and practice them as needed. All the skills are standard aligned. The website is great but so is the FREE iPad app or Android app.
PBSKids is a great place to play games and watch videos based around some of your child’s favorite TV shows like Sesame Street, Curious George, Super Why!, Arthur, and Bob the Builder. The games can be educational and also fun for the kids. You can download the PBS Kids Video app and other specific show apps on iTunes and Android for free.
Preschool EduKitty App
These are great educational apps for toddlers and preschoolers to help them understand early learning concepts in a very fun way! You can download it on iTunes for $2.99 or the limited Free version on Android.
Reading Eggs is a fun educational website that boasts that it will teach your child to read in weeks. They provide a comprehensive range of online reading lessons, activities and ebooks that teach kids aged 3-13 the core literacy skills needed for reading success.They offer a 2-Week Free Trial too! Then it is $49.95 for a 6 month subscription or $59 for an entire year. You can receive 50% off a second or third child as well.
Reading Rainbow Skybrary App
Reading Rainbow is now on Netflix (at least the first season) and it also has a great app! Hosted by LeVar Burton, the reimagined Skybrary App includes an unlimited library of books and video field trips to encourage your child’s love of reading. Kids can read by themselves or be read to, as well as earn rewards. You can try it free up to 5 books and a sampling of the educational video field trips. Subscriptions are $9.99 for 1 month; $29.99 for 6 months; and $49.99 for 1 year. Get it on Apple and Android.
The Rosetta Stone Kids Reading App is one of the few apps we’ve used. I wrote about this app almost a year ago and was gifted a free year subscription. My kids use it as part of their school sometimes, and seem to enjoy it. It’s challenging, and also let’s me know what language concepts they need more practice with, like counting syllables or rhyming words. I think it’s a pretty good app. You can try it out for free when you download the app for iPad but then it will be $69.99 for a 12-month subscription or $19.99 for 3 months.
We have watched quite a few episodes of Sesame Street in our home. They are kinda the original educational programming. Their website offers fun videos, games, arts, muppets, and music to interact with and learn from all for free. And of course, they have a variety of Free and paid apps available from Apple and Android.
Stack the Countries
Like Stack the States, this app is awesome for learning country capitals, shapes, abbreviations, landmarks, major cities, continents, border countries, languages, flags, country shapes, and more. Download it on iTunes or Android for $1.99.
Stack the States
Stack the States makes learning about the United States of America fun. With these apps your child will learn the capitals, State shapes, abbreviations, bordering states, location on the map, nicknames, and flags. Parents and kids love this app. Download it on iTunes or Android for $1.99.
I have heard wonderful things about the Starfall curriculum and app. The website is free to use up to a certain point and then they ask you to sign up for a subscription for $35/year (it’s tax-deductible). But, you can test out how it works for you and your family before you commit (which is super nice!). They offer great resources for learning how to read as well as mathematics, and offer complete homeschool curriculums as well. You can also download the StarFall Apps on Apple and Android. It looks like one costs $2.99 and one is free. You may have to pay a subscription fee for all the content.
I am hearing more and more about Teach Your Monster to Read! People are loving it for their kids and so are their kids. Teach your Monster to Read is a series of games that help children to master the key first stages of reading. Covers letters and sounds to reading full sentences. Designed in collaboration with leading academics and has won multiple awards. The computer version is 100% free (forever). It is als0 available now on iPad for $4.99.
Time4Learning.com provides an interactive, customized, easy-to-use online curriculum for PreK-12th grade. The curriculum covers language arts and math as well as social studies and science. They combine the technology kids love with the education they need to make learning fun. It’s a great resource for homeschooling families. They charge $19.95/month for grades PreK-8th grade and $30/month for high school grades. However, they offer a 14-day money back guarantee with no contracts and you can cancel anytime.
I hope these apps and websites will give me a leg up when it comes to teaching my children how to read, calculate, learn geography, science, and so much more. Homeschooling is awesome, but I sure wonder how to teach things that I do not remember learning!
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Every homeschool and every home needs a great place to share ideas and keep track of life and learning. I’m excited to be partnering up with my friend Jodi of Meaningful Mama for this awesome giveaway of a gorgeous Ghent glass dry erase board and an awesome Quartet diamond mesh fabric bulletin board. These are valued at almost $400 together!
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*Update: The giveaway has ended and the winner has been notified.
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