H i Cool Mom Tech, I just got a NOOK for my five-year-old. Any suggestions for inexpensive learning apps? – reader, via Facebook
Ooh, lucky kid you’ve got. Having a fun device like the NOOK is certainly a great way to encourage reading and learning–tablets most definitely have that effect on kids. Now I will say the app selection for the NOOK isn’t nearly as expansive as it is for iOS or Android devices–in fact, it’s pretty hard to find well-reviewed apps for kids at all, let alone ones with halfway decent graphics that meet our standards. You’re probably better off with books on your NOOK.
I spent a lot of time and did find one $0.99 app, but the others that I can truly recommend cost at least $1.99. And while you probably don’t want to load up on paid apps (we know how those add up!), I think it’s better that your kid spend time with a few great educational apps than a lot of not-so-great free ones.
Here are a few that I think are worth the investment.
“Sight words” is a term that you will become more than familiar with come kindergarten. This app (shown at top) features 400 of them, and actually grows with your child by including even more sight words for grades K-4. It also offers audio pronunciation to help your child recognize the word when he hears it. And yes, it’s cheap! ($0.99)
This app is perfect for your five-year-old because it just focuses on the alphabet and spelling, which can be tough for the pre-K and kindergarten set to grasp at first. It includes three spelling game with varying levels of difficulty, and when words are spelled correctly, kids earn a star. Enough stars and they get to build their own rocket ship. Which of course is the pinnacle of awesome when you’re five. ($3.99)
If your kid is a fan of this great PBS show, then this is an app worth checking out. I love that math fundamentals are taught through music, with really creative activities and lessons to tie it all together. Kids can learn numbers, how to count by ones and twos, and even create their own song with characters from the show.
There are several other PBS Kids’ apps for NOOK that are worth a look too, especially if there’s a character or show in particular that your child already loves. Nothing like a familiar face to get you counting, reading, and spelling. ($1.99)
You can never go wrong with Dr. Seuss, and this app brings his classic ABC book to life, helping kids go beyond the basics to start reading. Kids can try reading it themselves or use the “Read to Me” mode so they can become familiar with the words and sounds. In narration mode, highlighted words let kids follow along with the story–but of course you can read it to him too, and point to each word just like in a regular book. ($3.99)
While this last app doesn’t exactly classify as a reading or math app, it definitely gets kids’ creative juices flowing so I’m so happy to see it available for NOOK. Kids engage with Mo Willems’ best-loved characters, including that manic pigeon, to draw, dance, drive buses and collect virtual stickers. A great app for when kids need a fun break from the rigors of learning how to read. ($2.99)