Reading Raven App Review
App Name: Reading Raven
Overall Rating: 5/5
Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Kids’ Rating: 5/5
Skills Developed: Phonics, Letter Sounds, Letter Names, Reading, Phonological Awareness, Rhyming, Spelling, Printing, Handwriting, Vocabulary
Available On/Price: iPhone/iPod – $2.99
Reviewed on: iPad
Reading Raven is a comprehensive, phonics-based app that includes game-style interactive reading activities for children from ages 3-5 that are completely customizable, spanning five progressive lessons. As your child moves through each lesson with his own individual activities, he earns stickers and rewards to decorate his own multi-story treehouse with.
Each lesson is displayed on a map and your child journeys along a path of learning. Each lesson has its own fun theme, from the garden to the circus, and even into space. These lessons move from introducing a handful of consonants and a short vowel, basic CVC words like ‘cat’, and short sentences of 2-4 words through to simple digraphs ‘th’, 4 letter words like ‘thin’, and longer 2-8 word sentences. Some sight words (1-2 per lesson) and simple punctuations rules are also introduced (1-2 per lesson) to strengthen early reading skills.
There are a huge number of activities that can potentially be included in each lesson (11 in all), and I don’t have the space here to describe each in detail. The most important thing to note is that they are all phonics-based, engaging, developmentally appropriate, and deeply educational.
The navigation is straightforward, the games are engaging, and everything does what it should. Letters make their sounds when tapped – the focus is on intensive phonics but also includes some mention of letter names, words are read aloud when appropriate, punctuation rules are slowly included, and instruction can be repeated whenever necessary.
The available activities are:
Ages 3 and Up:
Ages 4 and Up:
Word building (spelling)
Ages 5 and Up
Reading aloud using voice recording
Word groups (rhyming and beginning sounds)
The included Parent’s Guide gives examples of all of these activities with screenshots and shares the scope and sequence of the material included in all five lessons. You can find the guide within the app itself or as a downloadable pdf on the Reading Raven website here.
As each lesson is completed it is checked off, but can be revisited by starting it over (this will erase the completed status). In progress lessons can also be restarted or continued and show a visual progress bar on the map showing how much there is left to go. Tapping the information button by each lesson can easily access the scope and sequence for each lesson.
The tall treehouse on the map stores your child’s progress rewards and can be visited and rearranged between learning sessions to arrange stickers and objects.
The options section allows you to check or uncheck any combination of the available tactivities to customize the app for your child regardless of his age,. Just choose any combination that provides your child with the skill building practice he needs.
Text style and case preference can also be selected here. Traditional ball and stick, modern D’Nealian, Handwriting Without Tears style, or classic Zaner-Bloser styles of text can be chosen for both reading and printing activities. Case can be displayed in normal/mixed case with both upper and lower case as appropriate, all lowercase, or all uppercase.
Parents can also adjust the volume and mic gain in the options.
Other Notes: This app doesn’t include ads, in-app purchases, or social media integration. The protected options section does a newsletter opt-in and link to write a review in the App Store. The parent’s guide contains text only links.
What We Liked:
Reading Raven is a fantastic, comprehensive phonics app. We use it as a core part of our iPad-based schooling for phonics review and practice with my 7-year-old and for simple, introductory letter sound and tracing activities for my 4-year-old.
The huge selection of activities lets you tailor the app for any child, you can use it in countless ways based on your child’s needs rather than moving them through an arbitrary array of exercises. The intensive phonics-first approach is my preferred way of teaching reading. The combination of letter sounds, decoding read aloud recording activities, and tracing the sounds and words being learned come together for a powerful reinforcement of core reading and early writing skills.
Not only is the app educationally effective, it’s also delightfully designed – great graphics, animation, and performance all the way around. Don’t miss this one.
What We Didn’t Like:
The ONLY thing I’d like to see changed with Reading Raven would be to have multiple player profiles available. I have two children using the app, and they both have different difficulty settings and each want their own progress and treehouse to decorate (naturally). My solution right now is to have the app installed on multiple devices and try to keep them away from the one that their progress isn’t on, but that’s tricky.
Finally – a seriously educational app that leads children from early phonological awareness and phonics right up to reading full sentences while integrating printing skills and teaching through games. Reading Raven is an incredible learn-to-read app, easily the best I’ve encountered to date in the App Store. I’m in love, and so are my kids.