APPealing and APPropriate APPs for students

Apps are an excellent way to support students with language and learning difficulties at home. They are also an effective way to engage students who are turned off from the traditional methods of instruction. However, we have found that apps can promise a lot and deliver very little. We have also learned that many educational apps are not “set and forget”.

APPsolute holiday fun


Holidays are fast approaching and kids are usually busy with play dates, trips to the movies and family trips. But it is still beneficial to continue consolidating the skills they have learned at Gameplan. Rather than sitting the kids down to fill in worksheets, we recommend using Apps and games to help facilitate practise of language and literacy skills in a fun and exciting way. It is also important for kids to talk about what they are doing, and discuss their ideas and new vocabulary with you while they’re on the iPad.

Puppet Pals is great for younger kids who want to practice sequencing and narrating a story verbally. The kids can choose their characters and record their story to be shared with family and friends.

Scribble Press is a fun and handy app for writing and illustrating your own story. Practise writing a draft first, then your child can type up the story in this app and illustrate it with their own drawings.

World’s Worst Pet-Vocabulary

This game has a number of games that help students expand their vocabulary. Students are required to match synonyms, antonyms, find match words to descriptions and put the words in a sentence. There are a variety of levels and sets and words are grouped by specific categories. This app would suit upper primary to secondary school students and is a great was of learning new words to incorporate into your writing. And it’s free!


Beat the clock and spell as many words as you can! Wurdle requires players to find as many words as they can by connecting letter tiles. You can play against the clock, or against another play in split screen mode. This app can be modified to include a smaller or larger number of letters or to give players a longer amount of time to play. It’s great for sounding out words and spelling. Appropriate from ages seven and above (even adults can get addicted!).

Word Scramble is an engaging word game which involves making words from the letter tiles provided. This App allows kids to practise their spelling and phonics, but can be a challenging game for younger kids.

Audiobooks The Audible by Amazon App allows you to listen to books on the go. Audiobooks are a great way to motivate reluctant readers to engage in the process of reading, even if it is just by listening. Children are still able to access a range of vocabulary and practise their listening skills. They’re also great to use during long road trips or flights these holidays.

Smiley Minds is modern meditation for young people. It is a unique web and App-based program, designed to help bring balance to young lives. It is a not-for-profit initiative based on a process that provides a sense of clarity, calm and contentment.

This website suggests various fun language and literacy activities to do with your kids these holidays:

Language games:


A fun family game which targets receptive and expressive language. Take turns to describe your partner’s picture using the necessary vocabulary. This is a great variant to Celebrity Heads.


A game for generating items within a category while thinking about letter sounds.  You can also download printable score sheets online and modify the difficulty level for your kids.

Other games:

  • Rory story cubes
  • Articulate for kids
  • Boggle
  • Scrabble
  • Scrabble Trickster
  • Upwords
  • Quiddler Junior card game
  • Charades for kids
  • Pictionary
  • Rapidough (Like Pictionary using play dough)


Gameplan wishes you a wonderful festive season and a great start to the New Year.

Enjoy the holidays!

Language and literacy development during the holidays


Summer holidays may create significant gaps in language and literacy acquisition. Such a break in learning may be particularly detrimental for vulnerable children such as those with language learning difficulties, and those from lower socio-economic or non-English speaking backgrounds.

When we begin seeing our clients after the long break, we often see a decline in their performance. Regular, consistent engagement in fun language and literacy activities may help to reduce the effects of summer learning loss whilst providing kids with the break they deserve. Thanks to Violetta for the compiled list of fun activities below.


Make regular trips to your local library and find out about any holiday activities or events that may be happening. Encourage your child to choose books they find interesting. Also check out your local library website. Access to audiobooks, music, craft activities and much more is just at your fingertips.


Cooking is the most holistic language, literacy and numeracy activity. Weighing, measuring, reading and following instructions are combined in one, language rich, learning activity.


Encourage your child to read signs, directions, travel booklets, street names, and timetables of trains/buses. Have them research and organise a day trip to a local landmark that they haven’t visited before.

Shopping challenge

Your child can write the weekly shopping list for you. They can check the fridge and pantry to decide what needs restocking. Then, estimate how much they might need and send them to the supermarket whilst you relax with a cuppa.

For older children who may need to buy school supplies, encourage them to do some online research to look up prices and store locations. is a great place to locate second hand books.

Special place

Help your child to create a comfortable area at home which they can use as their ‘reading and relaxing’ place. This can be a window seat with comfy cushions, an indoor tent with a cosy blanket, or a spot in the garden under a tree. Let the rest of the family know that this is this is your child’s special reading spot and if they are there, try not to disturb them.

Magnetic alphabet

The magnetic letters can be stuck onto the fridge and kids can make a word every time they come to the fridge. Discuss the sounds of the words made, what is the first or last sound? What is the vowel sound? Is that a real or made up word? Ask the child to put that word into a sentence.

Excel workbooks

For older kids, the Excel workbooks are great for practicing grammar, punctuation and spelling over the school holidays. Encourage your child to set their own tasks, making sure they are reasonable and achievable.

Books we like

Lower Primary: Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester

Sophie Scott is only nine years old, but she’s going to Antarctica on an icebreaker with her dad, the ship’s captain.

Upper Primary (8 – 12 years): After by Morris Gleitzman

A remarkable book looking at a challenging period in history. It explores issues of identity, loss, grief, friendship, choice making, and problem solving.

See Speech Pathology Australia for more book recommendations:


Audiobooks are great as they allow children to gain the benefits of language over the holidays, without the demands of decoding challenging words. Audiobooks can be purchased from Amazon, the ABC Shop, or and they are ideal for travel as they can be loaded onto an iPod or mp3 player, or even listened to in the car with the family.

Kids (0-4):

The Animal Fair and Other Stories. "Listen and Play" encourages pre-school children to observe the world with theirs ears and offers more than just songs, more than just stories, more than just rhymes. It takes children on a journey through sound that offers the opportunity to interact with the audio.

Teen (13 and up):

The Night is for Hunting: Tomorrow Series #6 by John Marsden, read by Suzi Dougherty. The sixth book in the Tomorrow Series, Marsden's talent at creating suspenseful, action-packed scenes and utterly believable teenagers does not falter in this novel.

Games we like

  1. “I Spy...” can be played by saying the first sound of the word for younger kids (rather than the first letter).

  2. Describe it. As a variation of “I Spy,” this game targets descriptive language, whereby you take turns to describe something that you see. Make your description as clear as you can so that it requires only one guess.

  3. “I went to the shop and I bought…” In this game, each player says an item, which needs to be remembered by the next player before adding their own item.  This game develops memory, vocabulary and understanding of categories.  Variations include, “I went to the zoo (beach, park, farm..) and I saw…”

Apps we like

K12 Timed reading and comprehension practice ($3.99).
This app helps to improve reading fluency and comprehension.

Toontastic Cartoon creator (Free!)
Toontastic is a creative storytelling app that allows kids to draw, animate, and share their own cartoons with friends and family around the world.

SparkleFish (Free!)
A fun audio story completion game with an emphasis on parts of speech.

Websites we like

Oxford Owl
This UK website provides access to over 250 books online. There are also online reading games and activities that are great for primary school kids.

Raising Children Network
he Raising Children Network has some excellent ideas for developing language and literacy.