Looking for high quality apps specifically designed for early readers? To go with classroom themes? Or to target core vocabulary for kids using AAC? Then check out the well designed series of apps by Libby Curran, an award winning teacher, at The Reading Train. Of course these apps will need to be on a separate device than the one being used for AAC.
Reading Train Full STEAM Ahead Books, Songs, Games by The Learning Station, LLC
• over 200 books organized into 10 categories (story park, colors, shapes, numbers, animals, animal groups, creature features (body parts), life science, physical science & earth and space). The inclusion of science STEAM topics in early readers will be particularly helpful for those of us looking for age respectful resources to use with older patients/students who are still at an early reader level.
• Levels A, B & C. It’s great to have these levels within early readers so you can start off very easy and work up in small steps.
• listen, read and record modes
• tap and hold to have a word highlighted and read to you
• built in picture word dictionary with over 450 words. This area can be sorted alphabetically or by categories/subcategories. I’ve used this dictionary area to help teach kids vocabulary and simple definitions.
• 20 songs
• set up unlimited number of users
• fun train game at the end of each book
• high quality voiceovers and music
• nice graphics and large font against a plain white background
• can easily toggle off the intro song on the home screen
• intuitive app interface
• secured parent/teacher area
Just a few examples of Core Vocabulary in these books:
* Here & come: Level A – Colors – The Gray Book, Blue Vehicle Book
* Is: Level A – Colors – The White Book, The Red Book
* See: Level A – Colors – The Green Book, The Yellow Book
* Look: Level A – Colors – The Black Book, The Orange Animal Book
* Like: Level A – Colors – The Pink Book, The Purple Book
* Am: Level A – Colors – The Brown Book
(Free lite version to try before you buy: Reading Train Starter Books, Songs & Quizzes by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-starter-books-songs-quizzes/id702227884?mt=8)
They also offer an app specifically geared towards the earliest readers: Reading Train – My First Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-my-first-books-songs-games/id1201673979?mt=8, $19.99
It is similar to their first app but has over 140 books. Most are also found in the first app but there are 4 categories unique to this app: ABC, animal homes, story town & story land.
Their third app has 72 books with a sole focus on the alphabet themed books. Alphabet Park is the same as the ABC section in the Reading Train – My First Books app. But this app also offers level 2 (Alphabet Town) and level 3 (Alphabet Land) sections that are unique to this app. It also contains a picture word dictionary and the section of 20 songs. Reading Train: Alphabet Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-alphabet-books-songs-games/id903741015?mt=8, $3.99
(Free lite version to try before you buy: Reading Train Free Alphabet Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-free-alphabet-books-songs-games/id957316999?mt=8)
They also offer a Christmas themed app: Reading Train Christmas Books, Songs & Games by The Learning Station, LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-train-christmas-books-songs-games/id1056021768?mt=8, $1.99
See the app developer’s website for more info about the apps and how to use them: http://www.readingtrain.org
Wishes for future updates for all of the apps in this series:
• add the ability to adjust the length of time a user has to tap and hold to have a word highlighted and read aloud.
• add the option for auto page turning when a book is in “listen” mode
The FAQ section on their website indicates that they have plans for this. These features would make the app more special needs friendly.
It would also be nice to have a couple of songs added that would be more interesting to older users who are still functioning at an early reader level.
Note: Prices are from the USA App Store at the time this review was posted. App prices can vary greatly over time. You can search for the pricing history on any app on the AppShopper website. Prices will vary outside of the USA based on the exchange rate. This post does not contain affiliate links and I do not get paid to post reviews about apps.
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 27 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.